How to use an iPad or laptop as a light source for portraits, still lifes and more

How to use an iPad or laptop as a light source for portraits, still lifes and more

Use your iPad to paint with light

Use your iPad to paint with light

You can illuminate a still life by painting it with a moving light source. Traditionally done with a flashlight, a torch app downloaded onto your tablet or smartphone will also do the trick.

Set a long exposure (we chose five seconds) and make sure the room is dark, then press your camera’s shutter button and use the beam of light to paint around your object.

Use your tablet to paint with light

You can simply draw around the shape or use the light to illuminate part of the scene. The slower you move the light, the brighter it’ll be in the shot.

Translucent objects like coloured glass and flowers work really well with this technique.

How to paint with light using your iPad or tablet

Make the light the subject!
For the main shot at the top of this page we placed our light behind the glass jar to keep it out of sight, but you can also use your portable light source as part of the picture. This needs a steady hand and careful timing!

First, choose an exposure long enough to give you time to paint your shape. (We went for an exposure time of five seconds, which meant we needed an aperture of f/16 and an ISO setting of 100 to get the exposure right.)

Use the camera’s self-timer so that you’ve got time to get into position, then start moving the light when the shutter opens. You might find it takes a few attempts to get the shot right.

If you finish early, keep the light at the end position until the shutter closes – don’t move it out of the frame because it’ll leave a streak. It’s best if you wear dark sleeves and keep your body as far out of the way as possible.

The main thing is to avoid any light spilling on to your arm, otherwise, it might show up in the picture.

PAGE 1 – DIY Photography Hacks: using an iPad to light a portrait
PAGE 2 – DIY Photography Hacks: use your tablet to create cool catchlights
PAGE 3 – DIY Photography Hacks: use your iPad to light your still life photography
PAGE 4 – DIY Photography Hacks: use your tablet to create a background for macro photography
PAGE 5 – DIY Photography Hacks: create rainbow cross-polarisation effects using your iPad
PAGE 6 – DIY Photography Hacks: use your iPad to paint with light

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