Light Fare at the Bar

Two notes: YouTube made me upgrade my Adobe Flash today before it let me see the videos. They might make you upgrade, too. And, as always, if you are reading this in an email or RSS feed which does not support embedded video, click here to get to the original post.

Strobes are taking the day off today, in favor of some of the most creative continuous light photography I have seen in a while -- UK photographer Atton Conrad shot a campaign for Hennessy lit with nothing but light painting.

The video above is just a taste. If you want the full glass, hit the jump for a more in-depth look at how they produced some of their light sources. Including perhaps the most appropriate, tastiest gel, ever.

Extended Version

Honestly, I was a little blown away by the creativity in those DIY light sources. And the idea of a gaffer's tape and cardboard-driven national ad campaign gets me all tingly.

I contacted Conrad to get a little backstory:

The story of how the project came about is also a story about blogs.

I shot the 'Future's Light' editorial for 125 Magazine which was picked up by a number of blogs. It was the web presence this gave me that got me the Hennessy brief (I even sent an email of thanks to them) -- and I really thing this is the direction things are going in.

The concept was developed by Tim Chapman at Time Zone One agency. And they needed someone with knowledge of Light trail creation and studio skills, hence my dear self.

I put forward the idea to light paint the entire work including the bottle, as I thought it a more authentic approach. The agency and Hennessy were both fantastic and supported me fully -- in line with the campaign slogan 'Blended with Talent' (referring to Hennessy working with creative talent as well as the product itself).

Yeah, yeah, whatever, man. I'm still stuck on the genius of using the booze as a lighting gel.

I mean, can it get any better than that? I submit that it cannot.

If you are an AD looking to do a campaign with light painting, Conrad is looking like your guy right now. More light painting photos, including the "Future's Light" fashion shots mentioned above which combine light painting and strobe, at Conrad's site.

(Thanks to Thomas for the tip.)


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Blogger john said...


April 15, 2010 1:26 PM  
Blogger morozgrafix said...

Simple, genius, impressive and inspiring.
After watching those videos, I really want to experiment with using light painting product shots.

April 15, 2010 1:39 PM  
Blogger cabe said...

I really want to go and get one of my bottles of whisky and have a play now. That lambent amber glow is so difficult to get with gels.

humm none of my bottles are full....TO THE OFF-LICENCE!

April 15, 2010 1:44 PM  
Blogger MorneC said...

That's an insane level of execution.

I love that this is done for real and isn't generated as a purely digital project.

Real work = real results.

April 15, 2010 1:49 PM  
Blogger Dennis Pike said...

I gotta say, I am really not a fan of the light trails in photos. I've been seeing it done more and more in wedding photography. I'm all about painting with light, but leave the trails out, leave the light source out of the photo. to me, it just looks really cheesy, like it should have been popular in the mid 80's. just my opinion.

April 15, 2010 2:15 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

These are great!

You might also likemto see how Rick Guest shot some Canon Ads:


April 15, 2010 2:33 PM  
Blogger Michael Tissington said...


April 15, 2010 3:03 PM  
Blogger GVS Photo said...

Interesting. I've been experimenting with light painting of wine, beer, plants, toy soldiers etc. in the past few months. I always get a huge kick when I see the results-they always look cool and a bit surreal.

If anyone is interested take a look at my FB page

Sorry for the length. And keep up the great work David!

April 15, 2010 3:46 PM  
Blogger Carlos Eliason said...

Glad to see ads using real means of talent. I wonder how much cheaper, if at all that made the production in the long run.

April 15, 2010 4:28 PM  
Blogger PaladinPhil said...

I have shot my pop up flash through beer, it comes up with some interesting colours depending on the beer.
Here's one with the beer and effect:

And here's two more with a dark ale:

April 15, 2010 4:54 PM  
Blogger Camere Photography said...

Light painting is fun.. I use it for my car photography... but this one is very similar to what he did... i used a single flash to light up the object.. but had some fun with the lightpainting...

and here is sample of my car photography with lighpainting...

I am planning on incorporating light painting as a way to do portraits... as well.

April 15, 2010 5:00 PM  
Blogger Vincent T said...

I will say this: It makes me want to go buy a bottle of the stuff!

I love the 'floating' label that was shown in one of the photos at the end. I'm guessing that was taken with the bottle that he broke the top off of? Very cool stuff.

April 15, 2010 9:17 PM  
Blogger P_M_D said...

Without the Vid I will scream Photoshop. This is increadible, reminds me of Dean Collin and his lens-advertisement shot.

Thanks for sharing!

April 16, 2010 1:27 AM  
Blogger OaklandMisfit said...

That made me thirsty. Guess what I'm drinking right this instant.

I love light painting, and this is pretty much light painting pr0n. Very cool.

April 16, 2010 1:41 AM  
Blogger Christian said...

Wow! Beautifully done.

Have you also seen The most advanced/elaborate light painting I have seen so far.

April 16, 2010 4:34 AM  
Blogger Dominique LACOUTURE said...

Whoah, don't know if the interview was shot at his home, 'coz I'd swear it's my library : Peter F. Hamilton, Jasper Fforde, etc. Will have to talk to my wife to check things out!

Coming back to the topic, I wonder how they did the floating label trick... PP?

April 16, 2010 7:48 AM  
Blogger Dave6163 said...

Fun stuff! Can't wait to try some of that myself. Light painting of course!


April 16, 2010 7:54 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Brilliant! And it tastes great too!

I experimented with some light painting a year or so ago with slightly less awesome results. Then again, I didn't have a very dark place to work in nor an all black outfit to hide myself with.

Looks like I should give it a go again with this new inspiration.

April 16, 2010 11:36 AM  
Blogger Jo Ann said...

I really love these stories about tinkerers who experiment and build things that work really well out of unlikely materials. Very creative - and it helps that I love the gentle swirls in the images he produced.

The subtlety of the light (no blown areas) and simple color palette just make it.

April 16, 2010 12:32 PM  
Blogger seanp said...

Light painting is fun... I need to play with it more.

I just saw this photo today - how about strobist by way of flare or rocket?

April 16, 2010 4:23 PM  
Blogger Andy Jones said...

Blue Peter even got a mention !! It doesn't get any better than that.

April 16, 2010 5:26 PM  
Blogger Davidikus said...

Great video & very interesting post. I use light painting to make my students understand that light is almost literally light painting. We have never achieved results which are that good, though!

April 17, 2010 4:25 PM  
Blogger Davidikus said...

Forgot to say: the use of the bottle as a gel is a great idea. Make up people often use a bit of the lipstick to mix with the foundation in order to get the carnation right. Occasionally, I have used fabric on lights to create the same effect (one of the dress is used "as a gel"). You have got to be very careful not to overdo it; & very careful as to what fabric you are using... Some fabrics catch fire even without direct contact with the light. A bit of warmth can be enough to burn fabric.

April 17, 2010 8:50 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I've thought the stuff by Dave Black was great use of light painting.

April 18, 2010 12:51 PM  
Blogger Metasyntactic said...

Anyone know the music playing in the background of the long video?


April 19, 2010 3:40 AM  
Blogger matt said...

Wow very inspiring. I always look at light painting with awe similar to what Micheal Bosanko does (

April 19, 2010 3:58 AM  
Blogger Shawn Chamberlin said...

thanks for sharing, thats such a great concept. i've played around with this before, it may be time to re-visit this idea. it really wouldn't be that hard to do, just need black clothes, a subject, and start playing around.

April 19, 2010 5:36 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

wasn't a big fan of light painting especially when it looks like the light is the main subject, but when its done right its not so bad. I think that the "booz" is the perfect choice for a gel, regardless of what you are selling, because the color matches the product perfectly. as obvious a choice as it was I see they were still looking for a traditional gel, but creativity is a process its not instant.

April 20, 2010 1:51 PM  
Blogger Jon Woodbury said...

LOVE the Brian Regan reference! I always knew you were awesome. Now you've gone and proven it. Take Luck!

April 24, 2010 4:31 AM  

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