Capturing the allure and charm of painted light

The origins of the word photograph stems from the Greek words phos (“light”), and graphis (“paintbrush”), together giving us the essence of the hobby ‘drawing with light’. The camera has become an integral part of everyday accessories – a smart phone, DSLRs or even GoPros are something everybody already has or plans to. ‘Pictures, or it didn’t happen’ is a phrase that is very relevant in today’s social media run society. Whether its themselves, other humans around them or interesting things, people are quick to take their cameras out, click a photo and instantly share it on social media. There is a constant fight for the most number of likes.

Although people have the devices, not everybody has the talent or eye to take photos that truly impress an audience. Photographers, even those using their phones, use their technical expertise, creative skills and conceptualise the perfect composition to produce images that not only gain the likes but impress those that do traditional photography.
Sayed Faisal is one such talent. Photography has always been Faisal’s passion and hobby. Every moment he sees he makes sure he has some form of a camera in handy. Although he enjoys taking images of still life, he also likes taking pictures of people displaying a more artistic side of them. His biggest inspiration is ‘night time’, saying, “the night interests me a lot, trying to get the most out of the dark.”

Sayed Faisal
Canon 7D

With social media full of inspiration, it isn’t difficult to find the perfect challenge to try one’s hand on. Before he knew it, Faisal was experimenting with light and his camera.
Going through Faisals Instagram, it is impossible to ignore the immense skill this man possesses but what grabbed the most attention were his creative pieces done in the dark using a singular hand held light source and long exposure – he called them light paintings.
Although there is more detail that he later explains, Faisal says that light painting isn’t difficult. In his own words, he said “Light painting is very simple.”
Faisal’s light painting has gone a long way. In the initial days, he would use embers and steel wool. He would attach them together and spin them around. The pictures he took were shared amongst his friends and they were amazed at his creations. He did give a word of caution, this technique is not safe and he does not advocate it. He has now shifted to easier and safer methods. His current tool of choice is something that every kid and those young at heart dream of owning, a light saber. He made his own DIY light saber and this is now his paint brush.
Along with his Canon 7D, light saber and his ‘muses’ – Faisal heads out to the outskirts of the city. He sets his camera at a shutter speed of four seconds. These crucial four seconds is when the model uses the light saber to swing around as she likes, the end result? A design created with light, perfectly captured on film.
Although this seems like a simple process, there is a lot of work made on the camera to ensure they capture the perfect shot every time. When shooting in the dark, the shutter is left open so the camera can absorb any light that might disturb the final image. During the shoot, a passing vehicle or airplane above can create an unattractive streak of light destroying the composition. But this is also how these beautiful images are created, whilst the shutter is open, it captures the total movement of the light thus creating an extraordinary end result.
These kind of images are difficult to shoot in the city, with bright lights around it is difficult to take long exposure shots as the excessive lights can pollute the wanted result and leave an image looking overexposed. He does one-day shoots in the noted landmarks in the city, but with constantly passing traffic, it is a difficult task. He does not plan on shooting photographs in the heart of city any time soon.
Some of the other external issues he has faced are people getting concerned about somebody waving around a light. He shared that there were many moments where the police on duty would come to check what the source of light was and what the people involved were up to, but most times they would be supportive and also be fascinated by photos, often staying back to see how these masterpieces were being created. There have also been times where the bright light has attracted mosquitoes and even foxes.
Faisal shares that his favourite location to shoot is in the corners Yeti village. Abandoned and undisturbed by light, it’s the perfect place to create his wonderful light paintings.
Light photography is created in many different methods, depending on the results the creator wants.
The first kind is Light Drawing where the camera is held still and during a long exposure shot a light source is used to draw a desirable design. The second category is Kinetic Light Painting wherein the source of light is stationary whilst the camera is shifted to create the design. The last type is Light Photography where a light source is used in different parts of the frame to illuminate certain areas during a long exposure photo shot. Although all produce different results, the artist’s perfect composition and skill always results in a stunning work of art.
Faisal’s choice of social media is Instagram. It gives him the platform to display his work and gain inspiration from. He gets to meet a lot of other likeminded users who would share their input and support their fellow hobbyist. This was the reason, Faisal and others like him came up with the idea of forming a local group that would bring together Instagram photographers like himself and join them in a community that could support and inspire each other. They called it @igersMuscat (not to be confused with @igersOman). They started doing Insta-meets with the idea being that all these instagrammers could meet at one place, share ideas, take photographs and just have fun.
@igersMuscat also have a whatsapp group which is their main communication platform. This is where discussions about meetups, photographs and even advices are shared. Often members put forth their support to fellow photographers helping them better their skills before posting their images on social media.
The moderators decide the logistics of these meets but there are no restrictions, anybody who is interested in meeting likeminded people or sharing their passion for photography is welcome to join these meets.
The page does a daily feature on Instagram where a Muscat-based member’s photograph is showcased on the page. This keeps the members on their feet, submitting their best images and working hard to better their skills.
Overall, Faisal’s talent is undeniable and his love for the hobby goes beyond himself. As a moderator of @igersMuscat, Faisal ensures that he gives fellow hobbyists full support and at the end of the day makes sure it is all good fun.

Titash Chakraborty