Light Painting Photography the Essentials

Light painting is a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source while taking a long exposure photograph, either to illuminate a subject or to shine a point of light directly at the camera, or by moving the camera itself during exposure – Wikipedia.


So far I have photographed flowers and toys (Kindly click on the link to see sample photos). I have learnt a few techniques in terms of how to capture photos of flowers and toys,  as well as develop a tad bit of my own post-photo editing style. However light photography is quite different and a bit of a challenge.  Although I have tried this five years ago, I can say that I was not so satisfied by my shots.  Here are some of my earlier attempts on light painting.


My interest was recently rekindled.  Thanks to a fellow photographer (@Edson). This time we tried doing it during the night. It is important that the surroundings are dark.  I took several photos.  It was a great experience. I have learnt some unconventional methods in doing it. And I would have to say that my shots, although there are definitely rooms for improvement,  are relatively better than my earlier attempts.  Here they are.


Nitty-gritties of light painting

I took note of the fundamental essentials of light painting photography.  So here are some things I have learnt.


Camera set-up..

Note: Any DSLR camera are capable of long exposure that is needed to do light painting photography.

So, your cam must be in…

  • manual mode
  • open aperture to its largest setting
  • set shutter speed to 30 seconds or bulb mode if available
  • use remote control if not set camera timer to avoid camera shake


Things needed
Aside from your DSLR camera and tripod, the following are needed.

  • Fine steel wool (Other light source like cellphone,  flashlight can also be used, but they would not give a similar outcome. Look at the comparison above)
  • Sturdy string
  • Old metallic egg whisker (used to hold the steel wool in)
  • Lighter
  • Big umbrella (this is optional)

Important note:
If your light source is fire,  then please do this in an open space where there are little to none vegetation. It could be dangerous especially during summer.

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