I took this photo at Palouse Falls State Park in eastern Washington State while on a cross-country photography trip. Before I came to the park, I envisioned capturing an image of the 200-foot falls in its enormous natural amphitheater that would highlight the white water and make the adjacent rock walls recede in comparison. I wanted to do this at night using light painting.
In order to get this image, I camped overnight at the state park. There were several other photographers also camping there overnight. Before I set out to do some light painting at night, I checked with the other photographers to make sure I would not be interfering with any photography they might be doing.
I captured this image a couple hours after sunset on an early May, moonless night. During the afternoon I scouted a position at the top edge of the amphitheater cliff to take photos. I mentally marked the exact location I wanted to place my tripod that evening, so that I could be as far back from the cliff edge as possible and still be able to capture good images. I also memorized the path to and from the location so I wouldn’t get lost in the dark. After dark I carefully walked by headlamp and set up at the predetermined spot.
I used a spotlight to light paint the falls and adjacent amphitheater walls. Since it was very dark, the lighting was dependent completely on how well I light painted. I tried multiple times to get the lighting I wanted. For each image I took, I mentally counted how many seconds I painted each part of the scene and then adjusted the timing for each part as I captured more images. I also used a long exposure (30 seconds at ISO 800, f4.5) to give myself ample time to paint different parts of the scene. The long exposure also helped give a very soft feel to the plummeting water and spray. This was the best exposure in terms of light painting and shape of the white water and spray.
I used a Pentax K-1, Pentax 28-105 lens set at 28 mm, a Slik tripod, and a hand-held spotlight. And a lot of concentration on the work at hand to overcome my fear of heights.