Weekly Challenge: Dust in a beam of light

Updated: Oct 30, 2018


This week is a guest post by talented UrbanX photographer Sue Rakers Enjoy her adventures through abandoned buildings. In this post, she gives you a few tips on how to capture that beam of light - even if you aren't amongst the ghosts. @srakersphoto

This week, the theme is to:

Photograph dust in a beam of light

Capturing a beautiful light beam at just the right moment is always a nice bonus for photographers. Sometimes nature cooperates and does all the work for us, as in this photo taken in an old barn loft. But it can also take a little work to get the light and the dust in the air to combine and create something special. There are several tips and tricks you can use to enhance the beam without using any post production.

Photo by Sue Rakers

Shoot at an angle from the light source and try to look for a background with the most contrast. In this first shot, I was facing more toward the window and the light source so there was not much contrast in the background. I quickly moved over to the left and was able to get much more of the beam from the side along with the darker background. I also lowered my exposure a bit to add more contrast.

Photo by Sue Rakers

Photo by Sue Rakers

Another thing that will help bring the sunbeam out is of course, dust in the air, or any particulate matter for the light to bounce off of. For the previous photos, we took a handful of dirt and tossed it into the air.

For the next photo, my friend was at the top of the stairs and she kicked the dirt and dust down the steps. I highly recommend using a respirator or dust mask if you do this in certain locations. Much of this “dust” can consist of lead paint, asbestos, mold…etc. Even with a mask, its best to get your shots quickly and move on. A much safer alternative however, is to use flour, or if you are able, a fog machine or spray water.

Photo by Sue Rakers

Finally, have fun! In these final photos we were awestruck by how strong the sunbeam was in this factory. There was already a lot of particulate in the air, and a lot of great contrast. We were able to play with some shots first, then took it a step further, tossing some dirt around one another for some great effects. It was a great discovery, and besides, a little dirt never hurts anyone!!

Photo by Sue Rakers

Photo by Sue Rakers

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Guest Contributor:

Sue Rakers

Much of what I photograph is called abandonment or decay photography. I am fascinated with abandoned spaces and the stories they have to tell.

Find more of Sue's photos on her website or follow her on Instagram.

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