Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Inspirational Photographers - TCB / Twin Cities Brightest

I started a monthly Inspirational Photographers segment in October. Then I didn't blog at all in November. Now I am picking it back up here in December as if nothing happened! Okay, so...

hollow heart

TCB, short for Twin Cities Brightest (or Them Chernobyl Buds depending on your street cred ;) ) is a light art performance photographer in the Twin Cities. This Saint Paul native combines photography, graphic design, and performance to create  unique, magical, almost supernatural images and landscapes, or "lightscapes" rather. What you see here has not been edited or manipulated. As Crack For Your Eyes put it, "What you see before you is as real as it can get. No PhotoShop, no hallucinations but straight up real art, with the world as a canvas and light as brushes." Sounds beautiful, doesn't it?


TCB, who's real name is Dana, is addicted to light art performance photography, or LAPP, and take one look at these photos and you'll understand why. Descended from light painting, LAPP is accomplished using one-shot long time bulb exposure, performed additionally with movement of light to create the different effects. TCB goes to great extents for his art, putting in lots of time and energy. He is also more than willing to teach others his craft.

21% oxygen
What started as trying to find the best places to skateboard turned into finding interesting places to paint graffiti. That caused a lot of drama in his life, though, so eventually the graffiti fell off and he became more of an urban explorer. With the Twin Cities' many drains, bridges, and abandoned buildings, there are innumerable unknown and out-of-the-way places to discover.


One day in a pitch-black tunnel, I was taking pictures, and at this point I was just documenting the expedition, and I accidentally made some light paintings by doing long exposure photographs. The flashlights we were using to see looked like paintbrushes in space, and I soon realized that you could create a composition by considering the aperture size and shutter speed along with the location.

cosmic background radiation

A week or so later I had been to every toy store in town searching for cool light up toys, and ended up spending about twenty bucks on different stuff. The results were so cool; I couldn't stop thinking about it at that point.
He discovered sites like Flickr.com, drawing inspiration from groups like Light Junkies where "some people were doing some amazing things with light." He started making tools out of lights and other props like hula-hoops, poles, and wheels to create different effects. His first big breakthrough was putting lights on a wheel attached to a paint roller extension. The images created with it produce perfect "spirographs" of light. The total cost of the tool to make this picture was about $10, but just look at the results.


He is more than a light photographer, too. He really has an eye for composition. And as you can see, his love for bright, light colors transfers over to that work. Whatever style, TCB's work is truly unique and inspirational.


You can view more of TCB's photos at Flickr. Also a graphic designer, he has recently launched his own website, TwinCitiesBrightest.com. There are also videos and tutorials available at both locations so you can see how the magic happens.

Sara Duane-Gladden is a freelance writer and photographer in the Twin Cities area of the great state of Minnesota.