How to Create a Light Painting




Introduction: How to Create a Light Painting

In this tutorial you will learn how to make a Light Painting


  • Camera with adjustable shutter speed
  • Shutter speed is very important when making a light photo because it allows you to add more light to the photo
  • Tripod or flat surface to set camera on
  • Very dark room to take photo in.
  • Flashlight or other source of light. (This is flexible)
  • Masking tape (Optional)
  • Another person to help (Optional)

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Step 1: What Will You Be Drawing?

The first step in making any piece of artwork is planning it out. If there is no planning, there is no art. When planning out your design take into consideration the location where you will be shooting your photo and look at restrictions on size of painting.

Step 2: Setup

Setup camera on tripod or flat surface depending on what you have. Keep in mind a steady surface is a must. Figure out where your painting will fit in the frame of your camera. Do a couple of practice shots with the lights on to get the timing right before you take the actual picture. You might have to change your shutter speed if you feel rushed.

Step 3: Shutter Speed

It is easier to take the picture when your camera is set to shutter priority. This is because in shutter priority mode most of the other settings, such as the f-stop, will automatically adjust. You can also use a manual setting if desired. Set the shutter speed on your camera to a long setting. (i.e. 5 - 20 seconds). Some cameras have a bulb setting. Bulb allows you to open the shutter for as long as you want just by holding it. The reason you want to have a long shutter speed is because of light. When the shutter speed is longer more light is let in, allowing for the line effect. You also want to have a low ISO. I have mine set at 100 but 200 works too. Finally the F-stop should be very high in order to increase your depth of field (DOF).

Step 4: Taking the Photo! (Part 1)

If you want you can put some masking tape on the ground beforehand so you know where to stand you can do this. If you are taking the photo by yourself you might be able to set a 5 second timer for you to get into place. Some cameras don't have this setting. If you have another person to help you, they can take the picture for you.

Step 5: Taking the Picture! (Part 2)

When taking your picture there are a couple of basic things to know. If you point the light source at the lens of the camera you will get a direct/hard light. If you want a less harsh/diffused light, you can put something in front of the light source such as paper. There are a variety of things you can experiment with in order to get the desired effect.

For the photo that I took, I had someone stand in the shot while I waved the flash light behind them. This technique also works with objects

Camera--------------------->Person/Object------>Light source

Step 6: Finito

You are done now. If you followed the steps properly then you should get an amazing light painting.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments.

Have fun :)

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    3 Discussions


    5 years ago

    one of my first light paintings


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I love the look of the light painting behind the silouete. I've never seen that before.