My name is Jason D. Page and I am a light painter. If you are not familiar with Light Painting it is the Art Form of using handheld light sources to create color and design within a scene during a long exposure photograph. Many people think that when the sun goes down it’s too dark to take a picture, but that is when Light Painters are just getting started! I want to introduce you to a world of photography you might not even know existed!
In this article I am going to explain the different Light Painting techniques and show you a few examples that I have created. It’s important to remember that all of my Light Paintings are created in real time and captured to the camera in one single photographic frame, there is no photo editing used to create anything you see.
Before we get into the techniques this is a list of the gear you will need and some settings to start with.
Camera: Your camera should allow you to open the shutter for an extended period of time say 10, 20, or 30 seconds or more. Just about every DSLR camera has a manual or Bulb setting, this is what you want to shoot in. Shooting in bulb or manual mode a good place to start to create your first light painting is with the following settings:
BULB or MANUAL MODE
Shutter Speed: 30 Seconds
If you don’t have a DSLR, there are several apps for your phone such as Light Bomber that you can use to get started!
Tripod: Using a tripod is an important part of light painting photography because you generally want to keep your camera as still as possible to create sharp focus and avoid any unwanted light streaks. If you do not have a tripod, placing your camera down on a steady surface can be just as good, just be careful not to accidentally move the camera during the exposure.
Light Source: To create a light painting you can use just about anything that emits light. A flashlight is your best bet to get started but you can even use the light from something like your cell phone. Coast Flashlights are excellent lights for light painting and you can also check out Light Painting Brushes for a bunch of cool Light Painting Tools.
There are three basic Light Painting techniques: Light Drawing (On Camera Light Source), Light Painting (Off Camera Light Source), and Kinetic Light Painting (Camera Painting). The best part is there are no rules, you can
use one or a combination of all of these techniques to create some pretty cool images.
The first Light Painting technique is called “Light Drawing” – this is where the light source can be seen by the camera. Using this technique you can leave traces of light within your images, creating various colors, shapes, and even text with the frame. Because the camera shutter is left open the camera will record the movements of light during the exposure. Here are a few examples:
The next Light Painting technique is called “Light Painting”, and this is where the light source itself cannot be seen by the camera. The light source is either projected into the scene from behind the camera, or you can also walk into the frame and selectively illuminate parts of the scene with a handheld light source. Here are a few examples:
The final Light Painting technique is called Kinetic Light Painting or Camera Painting. Unlike the other light painting techniques with Kinetic Light Painting the camera is not staying stationary. It is still a long exposure photograph and everything is created in a single exposure but instead of moving the light sources you will move the camera itself to create the design work within your image. Here are a few examples of Kinetic Light Painting
I hope that this sparks some interest in the Light Painting Art Form and you go out and give it a try. Here are some resources to help you get started and to find some creative inspiration:
Light Painting Arts and Artist http://lightpaintingphotography.com
Light Painting Tools: http://lightpaintingbrushes.com
More Tutorials: http://lightpaintingbrushes.com/pages/light-painting-tutorials
Jason D. Page Artist Bio
My name is Jason and my passion is creating and sharing the Light Painting Art Form. I have been creating my Light Painting work since 2004. I have exhibited my light painting work in shows and galleries around the world. My work has been in publications such as Shutterbug, MAKE Magazine, Photo Professional, Fotografe Melhor, and Photography Master Class. I have also been featured on online publications including PetaPixel, FStoppers, DIY Photography, Phoblographer, Popular Photography, Juxtapoz, and The Creators Project. I am the founder and administrator of LightPaintingPhotography.com and I created the Light Painting Brushes, a system to make Light Painting tools simple and universal for all photographers.
Personal Website: JasonDPage.com