Photography Tricks You Should Try: Light Painting

October 06, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

You’ve probably seen some photos on the Internet with these amazing light trails and wondered, “That’s new. Wonder what that’s called.” This is called light art, “light graffiti”, or (the most common moniker) light photography.

Light Painting Portrait

This kind of photography involves long exposures so that one can create lines, curves, or figures with light. Light photography is usually done during the evening or in the dark so the light source stands out. The duration where one can create light photography usually varies, usually from seconds or minutes. Creating light graffiti also involves devices that act as a source of or give light such as a flashlight, cellphone, tablet, etc.

LED light paintings by darren pearson

Before you indulge in light photography, you’ve got to have the following equipment:

  • Camera – To create a photograph, you need this. It’s unimaginable to take a photo without one. A DSLR would do.
  • Tripod – A tripod holds the camera steady so the foreground and background aren’t blurred when viewed.
  • Light source – A flashlight, cellphone, strobe, or just anything that emits light would do.

With all these devices in your hand, you’re now ready. Here’re some steps on how you can go about this.

Step #1: Make sure your camera is set to long exposure

How do you do that? Set your shutter speed way above normal settings. The prolonged exposure allows your camera to capture the light trail. How long? Well you're gonna have to experiment on that, but I recommend you start at 20 seconds.

Step #2: Place the camera on the tripod

The tripod holds your camera steady, as mentioned above. You can now sketch with the light source properly. Remember, in addition to keeping the camera from shaking, the tripod keeps your photo clear. There’s nothing more frustrating than taking a photo with really nice light art, but then having a blurry image after.

Step #3: Use the light source

Once steps #1 and #2 are done, step in front of the space within the camera’s view and “write” with your light source. Be as creative as you can be. Start out with simple lines, words, then curves, shapes, and whatever else you can come up with to your imagination’s delight. Keep in mind that any art pro had to practice, practice, and practice even more to become really good at what they did.

light photography

Light painting may seem new when used in conjunction with wedding photography, but just think of the many applications that fit. Couples can use prenuptial photography and use the play of lights to accentuate places in the background.

light photography

Wedding invitations can also get a touch of light photography. Imagine writing your whole wedding invitation with a light source? It would be tedious yes, but the end product would absolutely awesome and unique! Ever seen a wedding invitation done purely with light photography? Why not have yours done that way?

This method may be new, but it might just add that sparkle you and your significant other need for your once-in-a-lifetime event together. Here’s to hoping you saw the light with this photography article.


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