Lightbomber belongs to a venerable group of iPhone photography apps devoted to bringing specialized photographic processes and techniques, especially those pre-dating digital photography, to mobile image-making. Tilt-shift photography, through-the-viewfinder (TtV) techniques, light leaks—all have been popularized by apps such as Lo-Mob and TiltShift Generator.
Light painting is essentially a form of long-exposure photography, requiring both an extended exposure—a few seconds or more—and the presence of lights in the image. By keeping the shutter open, you’re able to use a flashlight, sparkler, or other light to “paint” in the image, even writing words. Think of an image of a highway at night, with the trails of lights from car headlights and taillights: That’s light-painting photography. The resulting images often have a wonderfully abstract or surreal quality.
Because light painting requires manual shutter-speed control, you can’t really do it—not consistently or easily—with the iPhone’s built-in camera app or other popular camera apps. That’s because the iPhone doesn’t offer manual exposure controls; it sets the shutter speed and aperture automatically. Lightbomber, an app designed specifically for light painting, is programmed to keep the shutter open in order to allow you to produce long-exposure effects.
- Ability to adjust exposure length.
- Specialized “lights” for use with a second iPhone camera (or a traditional camera with long-exposure capabilities)
- Ability to upload images to Lightbomber community
- Gallery of popular and recent Lightbomber images
- Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
- Requires iOS 4.3 or later
Lightbomber (and light painting) basics
Light painting photography requires preparation. Bright sunlight? Forget it. A relatively dark room or nighttime scene works best.
To get a sense of what’s possible with Lightbomber, choose a room in your home that you’re able to make relatively dark and light a candle or turn on a light, such as a penlight, with a relatively “thin” beam. If you have holiday lights, use them—they produce astonishingly colorful light-painting images. Don’t overthink things for this initial experiment; you can even achieve interesting results from the tiny red or green LED lights on a stereo or other electronic device. Turn off the other lights in the room, close the shades—yes, you’ll need to do this at night—and open the Lightbomber app on your iPhone.
After the app is open, tap the camera icon to enter Capture mode. Stand about eight to 10 feet from your light, tap the camera icon again (it will turn red to indicate it is capturing an image), and wave your camera this way and that. Lightbomber shows you the light painting as it’s produced. A few seconds of waving your camera around may be enough; don’t overdo it, or you’ll end up with an overexposed mess. Tap the camera icon again, and then press “Save” on the Preview screen. Your image is saved to your iPhone’s Camera Roll, and you’re now ready to take another image.
Light painting requires lots of experimentation. Your results will depend on the brightness of your lights, your distance from them, and the ambient light in whatever setting you’ve chosen. The more light from the sky, streetlights, or nearby rooms, the more likely you’ll capture what’s in the scene, for better or worse. Any lights will do, but fireworks, a campfire and city lights can produce appealing photos. Planning helps, but a certain amount of trial and error is inevitable.
Lightbomber provides a number of handy controls to take some of the guesswork out of light-painting photography:
- Flash: By using the iPhone’s built-in flash in tandem with other lights, you’re able to “freeze” your subject. When this works well—and it doesn’t always, in part because of the weakness of the iPhone flash—you’re able to get a contrasty image of a person or other subject with lights painted around it.
- Timer: Tap the clock icon to turn the app’s timed exposure feature on or off. (The exposure time is displayed when this is on.) You can adjust the exposure time by tapping the gear icon at the bottom right of the screen. Next, adjust the Exposure Timer slider from three seconds to 60 seconds.
- Ambient light adjustments: Another slider, also available from the gear icon, lets you adjust the exposure for the amount of ambient light. If your scene is dark, drag the slider toward Low; if not, drag it toward High. A Low setting will brighten the image, while a High setting will darken it. In practice, the High setting is the more useful one, as you’re likely to encounter times when you want to create a light painting but the scene isn’t quite dark enough.
Tripod or motion?
If you’re waving your camera around a scene, typically as a way to produce an abstract image with Lightbomber, you don’t need a tripod. But that’s not the only approach to light painting, and you can achieve other types of effects by placing your iPhone on a tripod with a tripod mount.
If a person in the scene remains motionless, or your scene is a still-life, you’re able to paint light streaks around the image. With enough ambient light, you’ll have an image with both light streaks and your subject. Using a tripod even allows you to write messages with light. Just be sure to write backwards.
From the Capture screen, you may have noticed a switch at the top right of the screen to toggle between a camera icon and a squiggle. Flip to the squiggle, and you’ll see a selection of lights for use in your light-painting photography. You use these lights just as you would a flashlight or other light. Then how do you use Lightbomber to take photos? Well, you need another iPhone, with Lightbomber on it (or a traditional camera with long-exposure capabilities), and either a tripod or a helper. One iPhone will be used to paint, and the other iPhone will be used to capture the results.
To get started with Lightbomber’s built-in lights, flip through the lights at the bottom of the screen, with their off-the-wall names (Aquarius, Doozer, Champion, and others), and select one. After it’s selected, tap the screen, and the “light” will fill your entire screen. Now you have a colorful light for your light painting.
Here’s one of the chief downsides of Lightbomber: The images are low-resolution (720 by 720 pixels). That’s right: a half a megapixel. The developers plan to address the resolution issues in future releases.
Lightbomber is built by photographers in love with light painting and long-exposure photography, and it shows. It lets the light-painting newbie get started quickly with this photographic technique, yet it also includes sophisticated tools, such as flash integration and timed exposures, appreciated by photographers already familiar with light-painting photography. Though the low-resolution issue hampers its appeal, the images Lightbomber produces can look brilliant on the screen of an iPhone or on the web.
What we like: The app’s mix of ease of use and sophisticated light-painting controls.
We don’t like: Low-resolution images.
Allan Hoffman is the technology columnist for The Star-Ledger and the author of "Create Great iPhone Photos." He misses the smell of fixer in the darkroom, but he loves having a darkroom (and camera) in his pocket with the iPhone. He blogs about iPhone photography at What I See Now.
Oct 28, 2015
Oct 27, 2015
Oct 27, 2015
Oct 27, 2015
|Patrick Finds Inner Peace by ecastellon|
from Your best photo of the week!
|Forks by Kukla|
from Arranged everyday objects
Seven simple rules to make sure you get the most out of your next photography outing.
Vitec, the company that owns popular accessory maker Manfrotto, has just acquired JOBY and Lowepro for a cool $10.3 million in cash. The acquisition adds JOBY and Lowepro to Vitec's already sizable collection of camera gear brands.
A master drone pilot has captured one of the most incredible (and highly illegal) drone videos we've ever seen by flying around, inside, onto, and under a moving train.
Intel just debuted their 8th generation desktop CPUs, and the lineup packs a performance boost for 'content creators' that photo and video editors might be intrigued by.
Canon is developing a 'Free Viewpoint Video System' that will turn real life sports games and events into immersive 3D interactive experiences. It's video game-like camera control IRL.
A veteran photojournalist, Rick Wilking secured a spot in the path of totality for the August solar eclipse. While things didn't quite pan out as predicted, an unexpected subject in the sky and a quick reaction made for a once-in-a-lifetime shot.
The new iZugar 3.25mm F2.5 super fisheye lens offers an insane 220-degree angle of view. That means it can basically see behind itself... good luck keeping your feet out of the shot.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll remember that time you took a picture of the frozen pizza baking directions.
A Craigslist poster has discovered the worst possible way to photograph a car: taking pictures of pictures displayed on a cracked and scratched up smartphone screen.
With the iPhone X coming out soon, the title probably won't last, but the iPhone 8 Plus is officially the best smartphone camera DxOMark has ever tested, and the iPhone 8 is second.
Kodak's new Facebook Messenger chatbot is trying to bring back the 'Kodak Moment' by digging up your old social media photos and trying to sell you prints and custom coffee mugs.
Affinity Photo for iPad was touted as "the first full blown, truly professional photo editing tool to make its way onto the Apple tablet." This update makes it that much more convenient.
Yashica has released a new teaser video, and this one claims they'll be releasing an "unprecedented camera" in October on Kickstarter. Ready... set... speculate!
Storage solutions company Synology has just released its very first 6-bay NAS tower. Combined with the DX1215 expansion units, it can hold and control up to thirty drives.
We're always expanding our collection of product overview content, and we've just added videos for the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, the EOS Rebel SL2 and EOS M6.
The venerable Canon PowerShot G1 was announced seventeen years ago this week, marking the start of a line of enthusiast-focused compacts that's still alive and kicking.
Super macro photographer Can Tuncer captured these incredible close-ups of a single peacock feather using a special setup and three different microscope lenses.
After successfully crowdfunding the Biotar 75mm F1.5, Oprema Jena is at it again. This time they're bringing back the Biotar 58mm F2: the world's only lens with a 17-blade aperture.
Adobe's move to a subscription model is treating it very well indeed. The company has posted record revenue for the second quarter in a row, hauling in a mind-boggling $1.84 billion.
More details have emerged about the potential sale of Blackstone's 45% stake in iconic camera brand Leica.
Popular mobile editing app Snapseed just got a major update that includes a new interface and 11 new presets for both Android and iOS, as well as adding the Perspective tool to the iOS version.
It might sound like a strange idea, but taking macro photos of boiling water can actually result in some really cool photographs. A good photo experiment for a rainy day.
The database was created to "break with the narrow lens through which history… has been recorded" by equipping those who commission photography with "the resources to discover photographers of color available for assignments.
Lensbaby has released two new optics for their special "optic swap system." The Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic gives you that trademark sweet spot of focus, while the Creative Bokeh optic gives you 9 different drop in aperture plate options to play with.
TechCrunch has already posted their review of the upcoming iPhone 8 (not yet the iPhone X), and they're calling it "a look into the augmented future of photography."
Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That's it – pay for it once and you're done. And we think it's actually pretty darn good.
Instagram is currently testing a major change to the app's profile layout: replacing the 3-photo across grid with a 4-photo grid... and some users are NOT taking the news well.
A report by USSRPhoto is shedding some light on the return of the famed Zenit camera brand. It seems the full-frame mirrorless camera they're working on will be made in part by Leica using components from the Leica SL.
According to a reliable Korean report, Samsung is developing a smartphone sensor that's capable of super slow motion. Translation: Samsung's next batch of Galaxy smartphones may be able to shoot 1,000fps.
This simple photograph of a seahorse and Q-tip has taken the internet by storm. We spoke to photographer Justin Hofman about how it was captured, and what it means to him.