Last night, we drove out to the Courthouse Towers View in Arches National Park and spent a few hours light painting the surrounding formations in the area. While the actual temperature was exceptionally comfortable (you didn’t even need a jacket or gloves), the sky was totally socked over with thick clouds, preventing even the full moon from shining its light down. Still, that did not prevent our motley bard from lathering these gigantic rocks with millions of candlepower worth of light. I’m relatively new to light-painting but am rapidly learning best practices and techniques thanks to Randy Van Duinen and Rob Sylvan. While Nicole and Rob went off to light paint the Three Gossips, Randy and I took our time illuminating the Tower of Babel.

If you’ve never seen it, let me simply say that it is rather gigantic… especially when you’re standing just 30 or 40 feet from it. It was also the perfect time to test out an advanced copy of the new Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 lens that was sent to me yesterday. Let me not mince words here – this lens is fantastic! It put out images so sharp, I could slice bread with it. Corner to corner, it output beautiful photos. So, rest assured that this is a very worthy lens to add to your arsenal. I’ll be putting it to more use in an hour or so when we head back to for more landscape shooting.

I used my Sony A7s with the aforementioned Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 lens. The Sony A7s is such a freaking champ with low-light photography. Initially, I just set my ISO to 16,000 and exposed a quick 1″ shot. I’m then presented with a photo so bright, you’d swear it was daytime. It makes composing at night an absolute breeze. I had the camera sitting on my Really Right Stuff TVC-34L/BH-55 tripod, safely planted into the ground with my rock feet.

This is actually a five image composite, where I blended in each illuminated section of Courthouse Rock. It was a pretty easy task in Photoshop by simply using the Lighten blending mode from layer to layer. Stylization was done using Color Efex Pro 4, part of the Nik Collection by Google. Again, big thanks to Randy for hiking wayyyyy off into the desert to side-light the rock, thereby casting really pleasing shadows and adding depth. My favorite panel was the edge light that we saved for the end. Just look at the very left side of the rock and you’ll see what I mean. It really ties the image together.