Light Painting Photography Tips and Techniques

Traced back to the year 1914, when Frank Gilbreth used small lights to track the motion of clerical workers with a camera’s open shutter, light painting photography is a technique that has become part of artistic photography and encompasses exposures created by a moving light source.

There are various different ways of doing light painting photography with amazing results.

1) Hand held lighting

This is created by moving a source of hand held light, usually some type of a flashlight in a dark room or outside at night illuminating your subject of photography. Normally, your camera, with open shutter for timed exposure, is placed still on the tripod while the light is moved around illuminating parts of the subject or the scene of photography.

By doing so, and by illuminating the subject selectively, the light hence creates a picture by shining the light back into the lens of the camera. This techniques is best done with slow shutter speed while the source of the light comes from an off camera position. This is because light coming straight on does not create an appealing effect.

2) Camera painting

This technique is done by moving the camera in a dark room or outdoors under the night sky. The camera is hence taken off the tripod and moved in stroking patterns. By use of creativity and using the camera as a paint brush, the outcome is unpredictable artistic abstract images.

3) Image projection

This is another light painting photography technique that can be used. This is achieved by projecting images on to irregular surfaces like buildings, bodies or faces.

Considering the long exposure time that is involved, a tripod is a necessity. If not, one can place the camera on a solid support. In order to reduce camera shake, it’s advisable to use a self timer or shutter release cable.

When it comes to lighting, there is a wide range of popular lights that can be used to achieve astounding results. From hand held flashlights to light devices using fiber optic light pens like the hose master. Other popular varieties of light sources that can be used include fireworks, candles, light flints, matches or glow sticks.

Through technology integration, light painting photography, through the use of a webcam, can now be done interactively. The painting can be viewed on a monitor or projector while still drawing. By adding an uncertainty element and experimental touch, light painting demands creativity while remaining highly unpredictable. For more information about light painting photography visit at: