My name is Rod Evans
I am 44 years old
I currently work as a primary school teacher and live in the hills near Byron Bay, NSW, Australia.
How did you get started in light painting?
The first time I tried light painting was with my friend Caroline Fisher who herself had recently discovered it and was experimenting regularly with all sorts of light toys.
I remember doing my first steel wool spin on the street outside her house and being completely blown away when I saw the image on the back of her camera.
From that moment on I was hooked.
How important is light painting to you? Is it a hobby, your primary job?
For many years I was extremely addicted to light painting but since COVID hit, I have kind of slowed down a bit. I also moved house last year so I don’t have my amazing backyard pool to practice my reflection shots with. I do still get out my tools from time to time but not as much as I use to. It is summer here in Australia though so that may be why I’ve slowed down, I generally like to shoot in winter because the nights are longer and the Milky Way is shining bright early in the night.
At the moment, light painting is just a hobby. I do have a Red Bubble store where I sell prints but that’s not a huge income.
What do you like most about lightpainting? And least?
Light painting for me is a form of meditation as it brings me into the moment and allows me to momentarily put my worries aside. It’s a way for me to focus on simple things like body movement and how I’m going to position myself to create the image I have planned in my head. Most of my light designs are hand drawn so I really love the connection between mind and body when I’m creating shapes, in particular using my peripheral vision to keep my spacing consistent.
Living in the paradise of the Byron Bay hinterland is one of the main motivators for me to get out and light paint, especially the fact that my backyard has very dark skies so the Milky Way and stars are extremely bright, so I tend to combine astrophotography and light painting in a lot of my images.
What has been your biggest photographic challenge or the photo which was hardest for you to acheive?
My mushrooms under the Milky Way image was a big challenge. My goal was to do the image in a single exposure but that proved to be more difficult that expected. In the end I spun about 20 shrooms and then chose the best 3 (most of them looked terrible) to combine into a single image in Photoshop.
I know a lot of light painters are strict on shooting SOOC (straight out of camera) but I love using Photoshop and Lightroom to improve my work. I have no problem with that and I will always state my workflow when publishing an image on social media.
If you could only keep one photograph, which would it be and why?
I do love my 360 steel wool shot, it’s such a powerful image (me standing on a tiny planet with swirls of light radiating around me). It’s the ultimate self-portrait.
What equipment do you tend to use?
I use a rifle bag to carry my light painting gear. It most always contains:
A black fibre-optic brush from Light Painting Brushes
A homemade PVC pipe with slots and holes cut in it
Coloured acrylic tubes
An assortment of small coloured plastic toys that I can attach to the ends of the acrylic tubes.
Homemade plexiglass blades.
Water blaster pool toys
A ‘Lightpainter’ flashlight from Ryu’sLightWorks
A Nitecore P26 flashlight
A Klarus ST15R
A couple of RGB flashlights from @lightexcursion
A Fiberflies Pixel Whip
Coloured acrylic rods
Glow in the dark stars that I can place on the ground to use as markers/reference points
Grey water hose adaptors and butterfly clamps that allow me to attach tools to my flashlights.
Electrical tape/Cello tape
The camera gear I carry is:
A Yongnuo speedlite/flash
Yongnuo remote shutter control
Insta360 ONE X (360 camera) and tripod
And the most important thing….LOTS OF SPARE BATTERIES!
Which photographers, light painters or other artists have influenced you?
So many amazing artists out there but I would have to say that from the start I have always been inspired by Tom Hill and his complex orbs/light drawings.
He’s a true master of his art.
What, or with whom, would you like to shoot?
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) lives down the road from me so hopefully one night he’ll be able to join me for a shoot.
Where would you most like to be able to do a light painting session?
I would love to pack up my gear and go check out some sights in China, India or Nepal. Basically anywhere that has amazing mountains and waterfalls. Patagonia in South America would be awesome as well.
I’d also love to do some light painting in the Australian desert (I’ve never been out there).
Underwater light painting would be fun to try too one day.
Can you tell us any funny stories which have happened whilst you have been light painting?
I wouldn’t say they’re ‘funny’ stories but I have found myself in some precarious situations at times. One occasion saw me perched over a stream at the top of a 20ft high waterfall doing some orbs. I was alone and didn’t tell anyone where I was so if I fell and hurt myself I would’ve had a pretty hard time as it was quite a remote location.
Another time saw me nearly start a bushfire while spinning steel wool. A stray spark landed in a tuft of grass and set it on fire. Luckily there was water nearby so I quickly extinguished the blaze but I definitely learned my lesson that day. I’m now very careful about when and where I spin steel wool.
What advice would you give to new light painters?
Just get out there and practice.
Build your own tools.
Try new techniques.
Think outside the box.