Abandoned Houses with Gary Cummins

Abandoned Houses with Gary Cummins

@garycphoto combined his fascination with abandoned houses and his passion for drone light painting to create an EPIC #LitByLume photo. Of course, we had to get down to the bottom of exactly how he used Lume Cubes to pull it off! Read up on Gary's night photography strategy, camera settings and more on how he created this amazing photo!

abandoned house in middle of empty field at night

Where was this image taken?

This image was taken in Ontario, Canada. About 2.5 hours north of Toronto.

Is there a story behind this abandoned house and how you found it? Pretty creepy looking, did you come across anything unexpected while exploring the property?

Honestly, I don’t have much information on the property. I couldn’t track down the landowner to find out somethings about the property. I intend to in the future and give him a print of the photo. As for anything unexpected...The house looks good upfront, but the rear was a mess.

abandoned house with cloudy storm sky above


Did any pre-planning go into capturing this shot?

This was my first time going to this location. That said, I treat these shoots like all the other night shots I do. I live in Canada, you can’t trust the weather here lol. I just go and hope for clear skies.

Even when I go back to locations I’ve been to before, it can be looking clear on the drive there, but when I get there the clouds roll in.

What camera/lens/drone did you use? And can you share your camera settings used here?

For this shot, I used my Nikon D810 & Nikkor 20mm f1.8 lens. I used the Mavic 2 Pro with Lume Cube Attachments. I took two separate photos for this shot. One exposure of the house, light painted my the drone and a separate shot of the sky.

The house was shot at a 13-second exposure f2.8 ISO 500
The sky was shot at 1-second exposure f2.8 ISO 1600

It looks like you love shooting abandoned houses. How’d you get started doing that?

Yes, it is true, I love capturing them at night. This was the house that ignited that passion. They have a story to tell, something unique to each one. There is so much history, so many questions to be asked. Sometimes they are best left untold. I always have a strong feeling of awe and wonder about these places.

I want to keep exploring and finding more to immortalize them under the stars.

How many Lume Cubes were used in the shot and where were they?

I used two Lume Cubes 2.0s in this shot. They were both mounted on the Lume Cube mounting brackets made for the Mavic 2 Pro.

How did you get started light painting with Lume Cubes on a drone?

I have always been a fan of light painting night scenes. This came to mind on that very night. I had tried to light paint with a regular LED light I have and then decided to give the drone method a shot.

Can you explain your post-process? We know how hard it can be to remove all traces of the drone from the shot, how do you do it?

My post-process has changed a bit from this initial shot but the premise is the same. By shooting the house and sky separately I was able to drop the sky in during editing and it eliminates the light streaks from the drone. Sometimes the lights do end up on the house.

Now I take multiple photos of the house while light painting it and do it in sections. When ready to edit I load the photos as layers in photoshop and change the blend mode to lighten on each one. Bit by bit the house will appear awash with light. Then to remove the light trails I add a layer mask to each layer and brush them out one by one with a black brush. This will remove the trails without affecting the image. I also like to point my Lume Cubes downward at a 45-degree angle.

This allows you to paint the house in such a way that it’s easier to eliminate the trails as the area painted is below the drone's actual flight path.

Did the image turn out how you initially envisioned it?

To some extent yes, lol. I never know until I get home and edit it. That’s the fun of it though. I know I got the shots but I never know where the edit will take me.

abandoned house in a field

Any plans to go back to this location and try something new?

No plans as of yet. I have many other places to explore. I use google earth and street view to find some places. I also have a trip home to Ireland for Christmas coming up, so I am going to turn my attention to some castles! Weather permitting of course.

I also have plans to visit the prairies of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, along with a potential jaunt in Virginia.

Describe Lume Cube in 5 words or less.

No light does it better!

About Gary Cummins

Gary Cummins

My name is Gary Cummins. I am a creative photographer originally from Ireland, living in Toronto, Canada. Photography for me is my meditation. An opportunity to escape the busy and create. Whether it's shooting street photography or illuminating old houses at night, it's the process from start to finish that I love.

See more from Gary at @garycphoto or on the website:www.garycphotography.com.

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