Daniel Mercadante

The Rainbow Road Series

I began playing with light-painting as a way to add some warmth to the images that I was making, and the idea of rainbows sort of just popped into my head. Harnessing the rainbow and grounding it to be this imaginary road that could be walked on feels like a nice balance between the magic of nature and imagination. It began as a playful experiment, but I loved the results of the Rainbow Road, so I’ve put more effort into continuing the project.

After moving from California back to his New England hometown in the winter of 2018, Daniel Mercadante was inspired by the cold blue evenings to experiment with rainbow lights and long exposure. The results: The Rainbow Road series. In the latest set of these “light painting” images, Daniel’s switch to the X1D has become essential for executing this surreal, enchanting path and making it even more tempting to follow.


Making the Rainbow Road

To create the Rainbow Road, Daniel built a lighting device deemed the “Rainbow Rig.” Attaching household LED lights with strips of colored gels onto a broom, Daniel sets a long exposure and runs through the frame carrying the Rainbow Rig. Shooting his images at f/8 or f/11 and ISO 100, exposure time can vary between 30 seconds and 2 minutes depending on the brightness of the environment.

Most of the Rainbow Road images have been taken in Connecticut and Northern California, but the magical path has also made its way down to Guatemala. Chosen based on their nature landscapes, adding to the fantasy feeling of the Rainbow Road, Daniel plans to take the project all over the world to multiple environments.


Capturing the Rainbow Road with the X1D

I was using a few different SLR’s for the Rainbow Road previously, and I wasn’t really happy with the process of working with any of them. Also, when I went to test some large-scale prints, I wasn’t very happy with the results. After getting the X1D, I realized it is an entirely different animal. Between the experience of shooting with it and the results I can achieve with it, I’m continuously impressed and inspired to make more photos.


The images the X1D produces are leagues ahead of anything else I’ve ever worked with.  With the Rainbow Road, I am capturing bright highlights and deep shadows. The latitude of the camera helps me enormously to prevent overexposing the rainbow and underexposing the environment. When I inevitably need to lift the shadows, there is so much image information that I can mine. Even when I need to go to extreme lengths because of underexposure, the noise readout of the camera’s sensor has a beautiful organic film-grain like quality, unlike anything I’ve seen in other cameras.

Seeing in the Dark

“With these images, I’m capturing long exposures during blue hour into the night. It becomes really difficult to see what I’m doing. The design of the X1D’s button placement and software is so clean and simple that working in the dark is never a problem. I can see every bit of what I’m doing. The screen shows huge numbers counting down the length of the exposure, and I can stop it early if I need to. The timer is similarly simple and easy to operate and it flashes bright signals, so I can see from really far away.”

About Daniel Mercadante

Daniel has had a camera in his hands for as long as he can remember. Originally a filmmaker, he’s focused his attention on cinematography rather than still images. While directing television adverts in his professional life, photography has become Daniel’s personal meditation and creative recess from film sets. See more of @danielmercadante’s work here.


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