How to paint with light | Photography Tips
For this type of painting with light you’ll need a small bulb such as an LED torch or exposed torch bulb.
You can either run randomly through your scene, weaving an interesting trail as you go, or you can use the light to trace the outline of an object in your scene, which produces a really interesting ‘neon sign’ type effect.
1. Find a dark room or wait until after the sun sets and turn off any nearby lights. You’ll need a light source such as a flashlight to draw with too.
2. Set your camera to the lowest ISO, usually 100 or 200. Then set your aperture around 2.8 or 3.5. You can put a timer on the shutter between 5-15 seconds, or use the “bulb” function and have someone else hold the shutter release button for as long as you want to draw.
3. Press the shutter release, then turn on your flashlight and start drawing! You can quickly move it around, or take it slow and draw with detail, just like you would on paper. Review your image and you can adjust the aperture or shutter speed as needed. After a few adjustments you should have it down, and ready to draw anything with the flashlight!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Camera – one which allows you to take long exposures, preferably with a “bulb mode” setting. Set it to its lowest ISO setting and use manual focusing.
- Tripod – essential for shake-free images.
- Light source – either a normal torch or a small bulb depending on which type of painting with light you want to try. If you don’t have a small bulb, try unscrewing the top of your torch to reveal the bulb.
This is difficult to judge, so needs some experimentation. A good starting point is to carry out a trial run, where you start behind your camera and then run around your scene, illuminating the objects as you go. Time how long it takes you to do this, and then use that as a starting point for your exposure time.