Rajasekar Alamanda‘s love for art has always been in one form or the other since childhood. He has been into portrait drawing and painting for the past 30 years, primarily working on watercolor, pastels and charcoal. Although he had interest in photography, he was hesitant to experiment a lot in the film days because of the cost involved and the laborious process of documenting the settings for studying the results. The evolution of digital cameras and the need for a camera when his first son was born in 2005 rekindled his interest in photography. He then purchased his first camera, Canon Powershot A610 with all the manual controls over Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO that allowed him to experiment and teach himself all the controls. Once he started realizing the need for trying different genres of photography, he purchased his first DSLR Nikon D70s. With this camera, Rajasekar explored the world of photography namely still life, macro, architecture, landscapes, natural light portraits, studio light portraits and wedding candid.
During his photographic journey his urge to make his images stand out from the crowd has always kept him on a constant search for an evolution. He then came across light painting work by great photographers like Eric Curry, Scott Peck, Harold Ross and John Corcoran and got instantly inspired. When he started practicing, he got fascinated by the painterly effect and the surprise element involved in every single shot and started exploring a different dimension in photography. Inspired by Eric Curry, Rajasekar wanted to try his hands on automotive light painting. He learned the process and started experimenting on his friends’ cars. A good photography friend of him introduced his work to a couple of vintage car collectors in town. Fascinated to see the past work, the vintage car owners accepted to offer their cars for Rajasekar’s light painting work.
The light painting process involves shooting in a relatively darker environment with almost no light spill from the surroundings. So he mostly picked locations outside of town where the light pollution is minimal. For lighting he uses a LED light through a softbox that is mounted on a boom arm. While the shutter is opened on a bulb mode, the light is carried around to “paint” the areas of the car with light. Due to risk of overexposure and long exposure noise, lighting is not done on the whole car at one stretch. Instead it is lit part by part and later merged via layers in Photoshop. as far as the settings go, he prefers the lowest ISO setting for minimal noise and an aperture of f/11 to f/16 for a deeper depth of field. He says a tripod and a shutter release or a remote is a must to avoid any shake to the camera. Most times he gets assistance from friends so that someone clicks the shutter and he walks around the car with the light, but the other times is all by himself. Though the process is laborious and tiring, the thrill of looking at the final output is more rewarding. Apart from light painting, Rajasekar also does studio portraits using speedlights and light modifiers.
After the first 7 years of photography, Rajasekar came to a realization that neither his Nikon D70s nor Canon 5D Mark II plus at least half a dozen lenses mattered the most for the results he wanted – it’s the light.