A while back I stumbled on the light painting work of Jan Leonardo Wöllert, and was immediately taken. By now, you probably know all about light painting, but if not, it is the art of using bright objects to “paint” imagery in total darkness. As light hits the sensor it ‘paints’ the final image.
JanLeonardo is no different and his work is done only with photography in total darkness, painted with light. No layers work and digital composing. I asked JanLeonardo for more information about his work which he gladly shared with DIYP readers.
How did you start photographing, and Light Painting specifically?
I’m an autodidact—I learned all by myself. I never read a book about photography or painting. My parents are creatives but not artists. I grew up in Worpswede, Germany, a little but known artist village near Bremen. I’ve always been very creative but in my youth I used my creativity to make mischief. My whole life I’ve always just made what I thought was fun. I think that’s one reason why I had success. I started with Landscape Light Painting in 2005, I started with LAPP in 2007.
And how did you start with Light Painting?
In May 2007, I took photographs in a morbid old warehouse in the port of Bremen. After a few hours inside the building, I wanted to go home but the door was closed and I was trapped overnight in this warehouse. I had to pass the time so I started to play with some special LED Lenser torches with an acrylic stick on the top. I backlit some steel joists und forgot to switch off camera. For replacing the light, I walked around with the torch in my hand. When I came back to my camera, I saw something amazing. The acrylic stick of my torch left a white glowing light banner on the camera sensor. I thought it was unbelievable and I suddenly had many crazy pictures in my head
What role does technology play in your work? How does it enable you to bring your creations to life?
Technology is important for my art. In some pictures, I worked with Lenovo devices in the front of the lens. I love to create photographs with the color of the screens from Lenovo tablets and smartphones. It’s amazing to capture the brilliance and motion of a screen. My Lenovo Horizon touch PC is the largest, most effective and most beautiful colored pencil I’ve ever had. My art does not depend on technology, but expands its capability.
Tell us about the locations you’ve visited to create your pieces. What was the coolest and/or strangest place you went? Where have you not been yet that you dream of going?
Wow that’s a good question. In the last 9 years, I have been in so many wonderful old buildings and amazing places all over the world. One of these places was 3820m up on top of the little Matterhorn in Switzerland. It was strange, amazing and cool. I worked there 4 nights. We drove with a snow buggy, we slept in the mountain station and climbed in a crevasse. Another wonderful place was Detian Falls in China. During the LED Lenser China Adventure Tour in 2010, I stayed at the Chinese-Vietnamese border for 4 nights and did photographs in the falls.
I dream of going to Greenland and photograph the eternal ice with the wonderful aurora borealis or go to the Great Wall of China. In the future I will continue to look for old, lost, pristine places
Which camera and lens do you use? why did you choose them?
My absolutely favorite camera is the Sony A7R, together with Sony FE 35 mm F1.4 ZA or Carl Zeiss Distagon *T 2.8/15 with a Nikon to Sony adapter Lenses to get the sharpest photographs. The Sony A7R has the best Live-View for focusing at night. Together with a bright Led Lenser torch and a View Finder he can perfect focusing over the Live Fiew. This Camera is brilliant for his Night and LightArt-Photography, because full size sensor have a perfect high dynamic range.
Was there enough light to shoot pictures? Did you use any other auxiliary light source?
I am only working only in dark night with long time exposures and very bright torches from Led Lenser (Led Lenser X21R.2), with a special Advanced Focus System. This Focus System is unique on the world. But I am also lightning with flashes, pyro technique and flammable gases. I use children toys and build new creative light sources. I love the fantastic Chinese shop from www.dealextreme.com.
Whats your latest project?
I am engaged with the International Light Painting Award. It is a contest where you submit your light painting photos and can win a Sony A7R +
a Carl Zeiss Lens 2.8/35 lens or an exhibition during the Photokina 2016. While for this project I will not take any photos, I want to create a larger stage for this kind of art and hopes to fascinate a larger group of people for Light Painting. Plus it gives me great pleasure to promote the next generation of Light Artists.