How To: Light Painting Photography

Introduction: How To: Light Painting Photography

At a first glance of a light painting picture, it looks difficult but its actually pretty simple. Basically its all about shutter speed and your source of light. In this instructable I will be showing you what you need and my technique I use to take light painting/long exposure photographs.

Step 1: Step 1: Gathering Materials

The materials are pretty simple. All you really need is a camera, tripod and a source of light.

1. Cameras

I will be using a DSLR but you dont have too. I will be using a Canon T3i with a 18-55mm lens and i also will be trying the 50mm 1.8 lens. If you dont have a DSLR you can use a ergular point and shoot camera as long as it has a shutter speed capable of atleast 15 seconds. Click the link for a list of point and shoot cameras that can go down to a 15 second shutter speed.


2. Tripods

The tripod is used to stabilize the shot. Since the shutter is open for so long if you are hand holding the camera it will cause shakiness in the picture. It can make a really nice shot turn ugly FAST! Here is a list of 10 great tripods!

3. Light Source

You can use anything for the light source. I prefer sparklers, steel wool and LED lights. You can probably find all of these except the steel wool at a local dollar store. The steel wool can be found at hardware an home improvement stores.

Step 2: Step 2: Camera Settings

First off, MANUAL MODE!

I personally think you should always use manual mode for full control of your camera.

So first off turn the dial of your camera the the M, for manual.

For this type of photography i typically use shutter speed between 15-30 seconds.

I keep the ISO to the lowest it can go to create and image with the best quality and least noise.

To make the image brighter I switch up the aperture. I like to stick around f5-f11.

Focusing can be tricky. You can use auto focus at first but then switch it to manual mode. Use your LED to point it towards your subject and auto focus it. Then switch your camera to manual focus so the camera won't hunt for focus in the dark while you try and take the picture.

Step 3: Step 3: Taking the Picture

Now comes the fun part, taking the picture! So once you have followed all the above steps, setting up the tripod and all the camera settings now you get to play around with the effects of the light streaks. You can do anything you want. Write words, write your name, draw a picture and even trace objects. I will be using steel wool and sparklers today. For the steel wool, I put it in to a whisk and twirled it around so the sparks fly around and off the steel wool. For the sparklers I just lit them and wrote whatever I wanted into the air.


Here are the final result of my light paintings. I hope you enjoyed this intstructable. :)

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    5 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent tutorial! Thank you for sharing this. Your finished photos look great!