The weather in Leighton Buzzard on the evening of Wednesday 24 April was dry.

This was fortunate because LBPC had an outdoor practical evening “of photographing wire wool spinning and light painting” planned.

We took along our cameras and tripods.  And experts Kingsley and Amy Summers from Milton Keynes came along to show us how this stuff is done and provide the necessary subject matter.

We started with a presentation from Kingsley.  He told us about his own photographic journey.  It all began in 2012 when, following an operation to remove his gall bladder, he picked up a serious infection.  For a long time, he was not able to do much and movement was very difficult.  He started playing with the camera on his phone and eventually Amy gave him a bridge camera and told him to get on and do something with it.

He’d never previously been interested in photography.  But he was interested in the sky.  So he started photographing that.  His first pictures were, in his own words, “absolute rubbish”.  But he persevered, took some decent shots of the moon, and soon progressed to a Canon 1100D.  He did “some other sky stuff” and began specialising in time-lapse videos.  This involves taking lots of photos at regular intervals over a period of time.  These photos are then put into a video which shows them at 25 frames a second.  Time thus appears to move much faster than in reality.

And, over time, the photography and video making turned into a commercial venture.

Kingsley also showed us a selection of his photos (including the solar eclipse, moonscapes, Aurora and other Astro, wire wool spinning and light painting) and timelapse videos.

Some examples can be found at:

After a break for tea/coffee, allowing darkness to fall, we moved outside for the practical part of the evening.  Instructed by Kingsley and Amy we set up our cameras on tripods and put in the appropriate settings for some long exposure shots of wire wool spinning.  For the uninitiated, wire wool spinning involves stuffing a whisk with steel wool, setting it on fire and then whirling it around in a circular motion while others take long-exposure photographs of the resultant light trails.  Kingsley provided the necessary pyrotechnics and we took the shots.

Then with more help from the Kingsley and Amy, we made any adjustments required to capture better images and had another go.  And then another and another and so on.

After a while, we moved on to some light painting with Amy waving and twirling a home-made light stick.  As a grand finale, we then combined the two – wire wool spinning with added light painting.

With the expert assistance of Kingsley and Amy, we all seemed to get some decent shots, learn a bit more about using our cameras in manual mode, and have a jolly good time.  And all without setting fire to the school where we meet.

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