Painting with light: what you need, and where and how to do it

Light painting tutorial

Light painting tutorial

Image copyright David Clapp

Painting with light in 5 easy steps


Canon DSLR menu settings: Live View

1 Get some focus
Set up the camera and shine a light source on the main subject so you can focus the camera. Use Live View to help you focus accurately.

Painting with Light: take a test exposure

2 Take a test exposure
Try shooting at f/5.6 for 30 secs at ISO800. If more ambient light is needed, increase the ISO to increase the sensitivity, or set the camera to Bulb mode. If less ambient light is needed, set a narrower aperture. Do not decrease the shutter speed.

3 Start painting
Now you can experiment with torch light. Try to avoid painting from behind the camera; light the scene from the side and the subject will have more definition. Experiment with angles and colours (if possible).

4 Take your shot
Once you’re happy with your 
light source, press the shutter release and then paint your subject until you hear the shutter close again. Keep an even flow with the torch, making sure the light source moves at all times to avoid excessive light on one spot.

Painting with Light: review your images

5 Review the results
Examine the image for sharpness and focus. It’s all too easy to forget to check images for quality when you get caught up in the excitement of painting. Check the histogram as well as the image, as this will give a clearer idea of how accurate the exposure is.

PAGE 1: What is light painting
PAGE 2: What you’ll need when painting with light
PAGE 3: Painting with light in 5 easy steps


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