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The Light Dance

Interview by Editor Thomas Thomopoulos
Published the 15th of July 2020

Larry Deng's  outstanding picture with a special and excellent light effect blew me  away at first sight. 
So, I decided to ask him to reveal us more about the making of this beauty.


'The Light Dance' by Larry Deng


We have here a very nice picture with an excellent light effect here, dear Larry.
But first of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, why are you taking pictures? You say that photography is for you a hobby and above all, free time, but what do you do outside of photography?

After I retired, I took up photography as a way of showing others how I saw the world and it quickly became a passion of mine. Outside of physically taking photographs, I am the president of a photography club with lots members and we engage each other online, I teach classes about my methodology and thought process behind taking the shots and how I edit them, and we go on excursions to fly out and take shots together.


Before coming to this famous light effect, I noticed that on the picture, we see on the left a camera on a tripod. An oversight on your part? What is this camera used for?

The tripod In question in the frame actually belonged to that photographer who brought the model with him. I left the tripod there just to respect him.


What do you want to express through this image? You put a woman model in the centre of the image who seems to have the ability to handle light, in the middle of nowhere. Is it to show the magic of light?

The shot itself is composed of two parts: a model holding their pose and another person using in this case a light bar with sparklers at the end in constant motion to create this effect. Although it sounds simple in theory, there’s things to consider. The person holding the bar cannot be moving randomly but with purpose and in a fluid movement that looks attractive and smooth. This takes practice and failed shots to finally get right. You also have to keep in mind the model's height, making sure areas of the light have good levels of height without ever touching the ground by accident. Finally, you should have a sense of what colour you’re looking for, choosing fewer is better. Keep in mind the colour of the environment you’re shooting in and light level.


Most of your pictures show a technical mastery of the photographic art. Which camera do you use? Which software? Do you have any advice to give?

I use Nikon D810,D850 and D7100 with lenses of 14-24, 85, 70-200, 300, and 500mm. For image processing I use Photoshop and Nik Collection.

In regards to the photograph in question, I use a slow shutter speed to ensure I capture the moment and enough light.

To set yourself apart from an amateur photographer, it is important to understand composition and photography in a structural sense, which is why learning the rule of thirds is crucial. To get started in photography, just keep practising. Take lots of photos as I have several TB hard drives (terabyte memory card) full of my photos that aren't good enough.

You're not going to take the perfect shot right away. Be open to constructive feedback and remain humble. Look for photographer communities where you live and join one!


Let's come to the famous light effect. How did you do it? Is it technically complex or do you think it can be done easily with a little practice?

This photo was taken coincidentally during an excursion to Thor’s Well and while I was there with my group, another photographer came with a model to take this shot. We were welcomed to take our own shots and I was one of the many who was able to get great shots thanks to the efforts of that photographer and his model.  I for one appreciated the atmosphere and beauty depicted by this light effect.


Did you have to do a lot of post-processing on the software, or is it mostly the result of the camera?

In regards to post processing, it varies based on the shot and what I believe it needs. I try to respect the natural composition of the shot once taken but I take a look on my computer to see if I would like to add my own artistic flair to each one. Thinking of ways to convey emotion and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t!


Once again, congratulations for this beautiful image and I hope we will have the opportunity to appreciate your art with all the merit it deserves, Larry.


I have no words for this shot except: stunning creation!
Thank you Fabio ++
Beautiful work!
Thank you master Li
Dear Larry ! Thank you for the beautiful, professionally executed photo. I think that an interested viewer should have a few questions. A man with sparkler in his hands had to be dressed in all black so that he would not appear in the frame? The trajectory of the Bengal fire is quite large and, accordingly, there was a large exposure. How did you achieve a sharp image of the model? Or maybe you used a flash for this? There are probably some other points you can talk about. It will really be interesting. Thank you Larry ! Thank you Thomas ! Thank you Yvette !
Hi Vladimir The man with sparkler was in indeed dressed in black and I did not use the flash. The spark on the bar was not large and the light you can adjust in PS to achieve a better result. Here is the settling f5.0 16mm ISO250 4"
Thanks Larry! I am very grateful for your answer. All the best. Vlad.
Excellent work, Larry!
Thanks so much John for your encouragement and support all the time.
Excellent work! Congratulations.
Thank you df Li ++
Thanks for revealing us how this splendid image was made and for your fine collaboration, dear Larry. Best regards, Yvette
Many thanks to Thomas Thomopoulos and Yvette for the interview. Best regrds. Larry