How To

Light painting

Painting with light
Light painting
Painted chair

Most light painting is done in a way to create streaks of light and patterns across the screen. While this is cool, what if we wanted to get a different or more traditional look for one of these?

What if we were to use the source of light to just light an object?

If done properly the results can be dramatic and have a very impressive effect.

To create these I would:

Set the camera on a long exposure, say 30 seconds.

Then would focus on the object to paint.

Trip the shutter, walk into the frame and keep your body in front of the light so that the bulb, or whatever you are using to illuminate the shot is not seen by the sensor.

Continue to "paint" with the light until the exposure is finished.

Move around the shot or you will be seen as a ghost.

The car and the chair were both lit using a cellphone while the wall was a 15 LED flashlight.

Hints and tips:

Find an area that has some decent lighting at night. I used my alley and my backyard for the shots included in this story as it was not pitch black.

If you tried to use a pitch black area, the foreground details would fail to exist and the photo would not look as dramatic.

Watch the shadows. This is especially true if you are using some sort of fill light (street light, porch light). If you stand in one place to long your shadow will be seen in the photo.

Be sure the light is not "seen" by the lens. This will only ruin the effect that is being attempted.

Take your time. Some of these shots were only successful after 10 or so attempts. The headlights was incredibly hard as the light kept bleeding from the headlight area onto the chrome thus ruining the effect.

Learn from your mistakes and make some are!

Here are some of my attempts.

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4 responses

  • Myke Morelli

    Myke Morelli said (12 Oct 2009):

    I'm going to try this. excellent variation.

  • Zachary Zalneraitis

    Zachary Zalneraitis gave props (28 Nov 2009):

    This is great! A lot of room to experiment.

  • Brian Meeks

    Brian Meeks gave props (3 Dec 2009):

    I really enjoyed your article. I think I am going to play with this a bit.

  • Samuel Zanti

    Samuel Zanti gave props (6 Feb 2010):

    Nice article, I have to try this.

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