Light Painting World Alliance - Light is Paint, Night is Canvas



                    Text by LPWA Canadian Local Representative Derek Lawrence. All images are clickable.

Photos by Dan Whitaker, Kris Foot, Derek Lawrence, Norman Siemens, Michelle Lark, Britt Bruneau, Lady Kenai, Yasmina Cherkaoui, Mana Arabi and Rick Phillips.


The BC meetup took place May 19-21  2017, In 3 unique and beautiful locations in the Fraser canyon BC. The focus of the meetup was the two collaboration locations. A camp location on the Nahatlatch river in the middle of the wilderness of the area was chosen for those who wanted to camp and get the full experience of the area.


Alexandra Bridge would be the first location chosen for a collaboration. Originally built in 1861 as part of the Cariboo road it was rebuilt for automobiles in 1926 on the original footings spanning 90 metres across the Fraser river now it is maintained as a tourist attraction along the highway.


The second collaboration location chosen was the Othello Tunnels. These decommissioned railway tunnels originally part of the Kettle Valley Railway now maintained as a walking trail in Coquihalla provincial park. With wood, concrete, and stone structures making these tunnels. We prepared a proposal letter and gained permission from the park operators to enter the tunnels after hours. and would not have to use a backup location of yale ghost town.


Thanks to Sea to Sky parks and Jenna Hitchcock (our contact at Sea to sky parks) for allowing us permission to use the tunnels after hours. Thanks to Kris Foot for helping select the locations. Thanks to Michelle Lark for Location Pre Scouting.
The first night was intended to be a night to set up camp for those camping get to know each other and free shoot in smaller groups learn from each other bond and start to build some trust. Collaborations can run for quite some time and a little trust and knowledge of each other could go a long way. It also allowed us to see what kind of talents people had and how they could best be used during the collaborations. Michelle Lark was the first to arrive, followed by Patrick Collier, Yasmina, Cherkaoui briefly Dan Whitaker, Lady Kenai, Makkie, Norman Siemens, Rick Phillips all came to sit by the fire and do some fun painting together. The night ended with various tricks being shared and new friendships born and a couple great images created.

From group discussions, we had no clear ideas that anyone was enthusiastic about. We decided to create something in the bridge that would involve as many participants as possible in a real manner and utilise the entire location. Discussions led us to make a decision on a final image until we could see the scale and possible camera angles of the location. We got a feel for the location and the sheer size. It was amazing to most of us that a bridge like this could be out here in total darkness and maintained. A group meeting was help to prepare and work out the final idea for the bridge The group was split into three teams: Camera team, led by Dan Whitaker. Steel wool team led by Kris Foot. Colour Team led by Derek Lawrence. We began at 11:30 splitting into teams for the Spark Highway making gold sparks representing the gold rush that the bridge was built for, across the length of the bridge that sits atop the original foundations from 1861. Each captain making a plan for his team's job. Cameras  were deployed to a few different angles 9 painters placed at different locations to paint the scene, and whisks packed with Kris Foots special steel wool recipes.

Spark Highway Raw-1

5 two-way radios were used to coordinate our actions over such a large distance. Mistakes and miscommunication where the story of the first hour. This was a massive undertaking that required a few breaks Lots of running by Kriss Foot and queuing people as he passed, and a couple trips across the bridge for Derek Lawrence. We used improvisation to get some different looks at a great shot taking advantage of trains passing in the background to light the more distant background. In the end Dan said “This may be the biggest area we have covered in a collaboration like this.”

Credits for both images:

Location Supervisor: Derek Lawrence
Direction: Dan Whitaker, Kris Foot, Derek Lawrence
Camera team:
  Captain Dan Whitaker (UK)
  Blake Nicholson (Canada)
  Norman Siemens (Canada)
  Rick Phillips (Canada)
  Britt Bruneau (Canada)
  Patrick Collier (USA)
  Mana Arabi (Canada)
Steel wool: Kris Foot (Canada)
Colour Team:
  Captain Derek Lawrence (Canada)
  Yasmina Cherkaoui (Morocco)
  Mack Armstrong (Canada)
  Lady Kenai (USA)
  Michelle Lark (Canada)
  Ian Sawyer (Canada)
  Jennifer Love (Canada)
  Makkie (USA)
Discussions led to the light train idea being the plan for the tunnels. in honour of their history as a part of the kettle valley railway. To simulate a train a large mobile frame would have to be constructed to mount the lights onto to move through the frame. The frame was designed and made in Victoria BC by: Steve Lawrence and Derek Lawrence. Adapted from a Sergey B Churkin design it was made to both be transported to the location and to be large enough to simulate the type of train used on the railway. Reassembly would have to be done on location and we would have the frame to create a realistic sized train.The problem would be to add details to create a magical atmosphere for this light train.


The tunnels location is a lightpainters paradise and one night was not enough time here. The many looks from 10 exits and entries to the tunnels over 700 metres. Varied looks of construction allowed many unique shots to be taken by all the participants. On location, at 9 to explore and warm up. We gathered at 11 and began tests. We tried several colours, fireworks and many light set ups.We had to discard the cart and use Kris Foot as the the wheels and engine of the train. Without him who knows if we would have been able to produce a usable image. After some tests and failures we were able to fine tune the image to something we liked. With the direction of Blake Nicholson on all of the details. The Light Train came together.  

Michelle Lark collab   BC_10

Location Supervisor: Derek Lawrence
Direction: Blake Nicholson
Camera Control: Dan Whitaker and Norman Siemens
Concept: Sergey Churkin (Russia)
Light train build: Steve Lawrence, Derek Lawrence and Patrick Collier
Light Train Operation: Kris Foot
  Yasmina Cherkaoui (Morocco)
  Blake Nicholson (Canada)
  Kris Foot (Canada)
  Rick Phillips (Canada)
  Dan Whitaker (UK)
  Derek Lawrence (Canada)
  Britt Bruneau (Canada)
  Mack Armstrong (Canada)
  Lady Kenai (USA)
  Michelle Lark (Canada)
  Norman Siemens (Canada)
  Patrick Collier (USA)
  Jennifer Love (Canada)
  Makkie (USA)
    The BC meetup featured great lightpainters, new lightpainters. All amazing people who came together to make some great images. Lightpainters are truly great people who come together when the going gets tough. A trip to be with other lightpainters is always a good bet.


On group photo from left to right: Rick Phillips, Norman Siemens, Michelle Lark, Ian Sawyer, Jennifer Love, Yasmina Cherkaoui, Blake Nicholson, Britt Bruneau, Kris Foot, Patrick Collier, Mackie, lady Kenai, Dan Whitaker, Mack Armstrong, Derek Lawrence.

The locations were epic beautiful and well worth the trip just to see. I would recommend the Othello tunnels and alexandra bridge for anyone passing through the area. Don’t go out to these areas alone at night unless you are brave. Bring your ideas and creativity and plan to stay up all night and maybe an extra day. Bring along a couple of friends as these are huge locations best painted with the help of others. For the next LPWA meetups care might be taken to organize less driving back to camp after shooting all night the locations were worth the drive but camp was moved close to the tunnels to avoid this on the second night. Time together before the collaborations is a huge benefit and if you attend one of these events or organize one plan to make that part. 


Thanks to all the artists, volunteers, builders, organisers who made this possible. Everyone bringing your great personalities and attitudes made it possible to put on a successful LPWA event. Enjoy the images. Next stop in Moscow, then Mt st Helens, for the LPWA. After that start your own LPWA meetup!


Yasmina Cherkaoui impression: "There are things that I will never forget and I always find with lightpainters all over the world: complicity that unifies the artists and the silence, more, the respect that reign on us when we start drawing the pictures!
The most beautiful architecture in the world is the one created by nature herself!!! Fraser canyon is one of the most impressive, wonderful places to visit on earth!!!
Canadian people is still pure and innocent!!! Thank you!"

More photos from this event in dedicated FB album.

Comment by Unknown
Well done "everyone" It was my first big gathering of light painters and I enjoyed every minute! Beautiful country & people, its something I would love to do again and again!

Made by UliSoft