Light Painting a Ghost Town

It’s great to have friends to meet up with and share experiences with when we’re on the road! Especially when we all get to learn about photography from each other at the same time.

Last year one of my blog readers contacted me when it looked like we were coming his way and invited us to stay at his small RV park in Moapa, Nevada, which is how we ended up at the Valley of Fire. Don and Marsha Davis are wonderful hosts who are very generous in sharing the beautiful locations they have discovered in Nevada, and I’m so happy we have become friends. Check out Ray’s review of their RV park. If you’re planning on visiting the Valley of Fire, and you’re in an RV, this is a great spot for a home base for day trips.

We enjoyed it so much that this year we decided to go back and another great experience was waiting for us. Don had arranged for us to go on a night shoot at a nearby ghost town! Not only that, but we were meeting up with a friend of his, another photographer, who has recently been learning about light painting. Cool!

So off we went to a ghost town called Nelson, in El Dorado Canyon, about an hour away from Las Vegas. It was exciting to explore the ghost town looking for a good photo location and figuring out how we were going to light it. We settled on this abandoned gas station with a cool old car in the garage. We stayed in this one spot and played with different lights, shining them this way and that for hours! I have a lot to learn, but this is my best shot from the night.

Gas station in El Dorada Canyon, Nevada, by Anne McKinnell
Please click the image to view a larger version.

This is a 30 second exposure, during which we all ran around shining lights on the building and the signs and there was also a flash with a green gel on it set inside the car.

I learned that light painting is as much about the shadows you create as it is about the light.

I have to thank Jim Sage for showing me his light painting techniques. Next year I might go on one of his Cowboy Trail Rides – that would be fun.

Now I can’t wait to go back to this place next year because there were a lot of different photo ops both for day and night shooting.

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  1. Bob Willoughby says

    Love it.
    Last time I tried light painting I was shooting film. Hopefully your post will get me to try my hand at it again with digital.

  2. Shirley says

    Hi Anne.
    Just love, love this one from every perspective including the beautiful night sky, mountain ridges in the background and the gorgeous old building. I adore all things ‘old’ but in this I am also caught up in your surrounds. Thanks for sharing a great shot.

  3. says

    I really love this shot Anne! The green gel inside the car draws me right into the picture – great idea. I have always wanted to go to a ghost town. I think there are lots of amazing photo ops there!
    Michael Glover recently posted..Hotel du CanadaMy Profile

  4. says

    Fantastic idea. I was at Valley of Fire in Apri 2014 after staying friends in LVegas. Went to Zion, Antelope and Grand Canyon approx. 2400 miles in 16 days. Love reading about your trip and the Ghost Town, which means I need to go back. Bodie Ghost town in California is on my list too.
    Great photo thanks.
    Chuck Kuhn recently posted..Photo A Day 2014My Profile

  5. says

    That is a fantastic shot, Anne! I’ve played a bit with light painting and know how difficult it can be sometimes to get even lighting and not overdo it. Love it!

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