How You Can Paint with Light

A highly interesting way to take photos at night is by light painting. This is a technique where you use external light sources to ‘paint’ over your subjects in really dark situations. Even on a pitch black night, something can be brought to life by throwing some external light on it.

Now you must be thinking what’s so cool about putting light on an object and then taking its photo, but that’s not all. Light painting is done by using a very long exposure setting on your camera, allowing you to move your light around the subject to enhance certain parts of it.

How to Start Painting

Once you have determined your subject, the first thing to do is get your camera ready. You’ll need a tripod for this purpose and ideally a remote shutter release as well. After this, you should work out how the ambient light, if any, can be used to light up your scene. For outdoor shots, you can use the light from a street light or just the moon, and for indoor shots you can place a light somewhere near your frame to add some fill light.

Set your camera’s exposure setting to Bulb. This will allow you to keep the shutter open as long as you want, until you press the camera’s shutter button again. Once the shutter is open, start lighting your subject and move the light around slowly. You can focus on certain parts of the photo more than others by this method. The more your shine you shine the light on a portion of your subject, the better exposed it will come out to be.

Getting Creative

There are many cool ways to use light painting in your photos. You can either use the technique itself to create complete photos or use it to enhance your subjects. For example, you can use burning steel wool and rotate it all around to create very interesting photos. You can also use glow sticks, flashlights, and other kinds of lights for enhancing your photos or to paint over your subjects in an interesting way. Have a look at the following examples for some inspiration:

 

There is really a lot you can do with light painting. This type of photography cannot really be taught; you have to go out and experiment for yourself night after night until you figure out how you want to do and which type of light painting you prefer.