A different type of light painting tutorial: use handheld flash during long exposures

A different type of light painting tutorial: use handheld flash during long exposures

One of the easiest ways to boost your lighting repertoire is to take the flashgun off your DSLR and walk around the subject with it in your hand, lighting the scene in different ways. In our latest light painting tutorial, we’ll show how by doing so, you’ll be able to illuminate your subject from different angles and at multiple locations during long exposures.

A different type of light painting tutorial: use handheld flash during long exposures

It’s a great skill to master, and one that’s a little like light painting – but instead of using a high-powered torch you’re just using a regular flashgun. Twilight is a great time to try this different type of light painting tutorial, so we headed to the standing stones at Avebury, Wiltshire. This ancient monument was an ideal subject to experiment with, although most photo locations with good foreground interest will do.

The technique in our light painting tutorial is about using the flashgun to light the stones during a long exposure by flashing it manually from different angles. This makes the rocks stand out against the deep blue sky…

A different type of light painting tutorial: step-by-step

 

Light painting tutorial using handheld flash: step 1

01 Keep your camera still
To ensure there’s no camera movement during the long exposure (30 seconds), use a tripod. Lock the mirror in the up position to avoid vibration when the shutter is released, and a use a cable release or self-timer.

 

Light painting tutorial using handheld flash: step 2

02 Take control in manual
Switch to manual and establish a good exposure for the sky using the histogram. Also, set your flashgun to manual and select half or quarter power. This will give a faster recycle time, enabling you to fire more shots.

 

Light painting tutorial using handheld flash: step 3

03 Move while you flash
Release the shutter and fire the flash at your subject from a distance of about 3ft. Keep moving so that you don’t get recorded. Don’t point the flash directly at the camera or accidentally capture yourself.

 

Light painting tutorial using handheld flash: the final result

And the final result!
By following the simple steps in this light painting tutorial using a handheld flash instead of a torch, you can easily achieve the same effects. And the great thing is you can try this anywhere!

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