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Light Painting Tutorials

Light Painting Photography is the Art Form of using handheld lights to paint and/or draw in a scene while the shutter of a camera is left open during a long exposure photograph. By shooting in a dark location and using photographic technique of LONG exposure photography (lets say a 30 second exposure) the flashes, streaks, colors, textures, and trails of light created by our light painting tools and modifiers can be captured in your photograph without the use of any post production. Exposure times for light paintings can range from just a few seconds up to an hour or more. 

Below you will find detailed instructions on what you need and how to create your first Light Painting. If you are familiar with the basics here are some links to more specific light painting photography tutorials created using the Light Painting Brushes:

Light Painting Portraits (Video Tutorial)
Making Your Own Light Painting Tools to Fit the Universal Connector (Video Tutorial)
Light Painting an Electric Light Orb (Video Tutorial).
Plexiglass Light Painting Tools Tips and Tricks (Video Tutorial).
Light Painting Spirographs and Physiograms (Video Tutorial).
Creating Light Painted Wings (Video Tutorial).
How To Light Paint a Light Man or Light Woman (Video Tutorial).
How to add color and texture using the plexiglass Light Painting Brushes.
Light Painting Fiber Optic Silhouettes by Maria Saggese.

WHAT YOU NEED TO CREATE A LIGHT PAINTING: Camera with Manual Controls, Light Source, and a Tripod

CAMERA WITH MANUAL CONTROLS: Your camera should allow you to open the shutter for an extended period of time say 10, 20, or 30 seconds or more. Just about every DSLR camera has a manual or Bulb setting, this is what you want to shoot in. Shooting in bulb or manual mode a good place to start to create your first light painting is with the following settings:

BULB or MANUAL MODE
Shutter Speed: 30 Seconds
F-Stop: 8
ISO: 100

LIGHT SOURCE: To create a light painting using the Light Painting Brushes System you need a handheld light source. Using the Universal Connector you can attach any light emitting device, flashlight, or torch that is relatively round and has a diameter of .975" to 1.5"  to a variety of our custom light modifiers

TRIPOD: Using a tripod is an important part of light painting photography because you generally want to keep the camera as still as possible to create sharp focus and avoid and unwanted light streaks or lens flares. If you do not have a tripod placing your camera down on a steady surface can be just as good, just be careful not to accidentally move the camera during the exposure.


HOW TO CREATE YOUR FIRST LIGHT PAINTING: 

STEP 1: Get the camera settings properly adjusted (Shooting Mode, Shutter Speed, F-Stop and ISO), put your tripod in place, and get your light source ready. Now go ahead and frame the shot that you want to create this is best to do with the lights on; if you are in a dark environment turn on your light source to project light onto the scene so you can frame the shot.

STEP 2: Next you need to focus the image, if you are in an place where you can turn lights on and off TURN THEM ON FOR THIS PART. Zoom in as far as you can to the part of the frame you want in focus, if the lights are on you can use your auto focus. Once you have the focus set your lens over to manual focus and leave it there, now zoom back out and reframe the shot. If you are focusing in the dark set the focus on manual, illuminate your light source and place it in the shot next to the part of the scene you want to have in focus, zoom in, pull focus on the illuminated light source, leave the lens on manual focus, zoom back out and reframe the shot. This will ensure you get a sharp image. 

STEP 3: Turn all lights off. Open the shutter of your camera to begin the long exposure, illuminate your Light Painting Brushes tools and begin to paint. 

STEP 4: Go to the back of your camera and have your mind blown at the beauty you just created.

Light Painting video tutorial using the Light Painting Brushes System.


There are 3 basic Light Painting Photography Techniques: The On Camera Light Source, The Off Camera Light Source and Kinetic Light Painting Photography (See descriptions for each below) There are no rules! These techniques can be modified, combined, or ignored and you can create your own!

The On Camera Light Source: This is creating a light painting where the element illuminated by the light source can be seen by the camera. With this technique the light painting artist stands in front of the camera during a long exposure photograph and uses an illuminated light source to create color and design within the frame. Examples of using this technique are Light Writing, Light Drawing, Light Graffiti, and Light Painting Photo Booths. Some of the Light Painting Brushes modifiers used for this technique are the Light Painting Brushes bottle , Light Painting Brushes Plexiglass, and Light Painting Brushes Fiber Optic. Here is one example:

 (Above Image by: Jason D. Page)

    The Off Camera Light Source: This is creating a light painting where the element illuminated by the light source can NOT be seen by the camera. With this technique the light painting artist either stands behind the camera during a long exposure photograph and projects light into the scene to create color and design within the frame or using the Light Painting Brushes Hood and Color Filter Set the artist can enter the scene and selectively illuminate parts of the image without the light source being seen by the camera. Using the Light Painting Brushes Hood and Color Filter Set vibrant colors can be created within the scene. Here is one example:

     (Above Image by: Jason D. Page)

     

    Kinetic Light Painting Photography: Kinetic Light Painting is where the light source stays stationary and the camera is moved to create color or design within the frame. A example of a Kinetic Light Painting would be holding a camera in your hands, opening the shutter for a long exposure and using the light from a full moon to create a moonlight drawing. Another Excellent example would be using a Camera Rotation Tool to spin the camera in a 360º motion during the exposure using stationary city lights to create the image below. 

     (Above Image by: Jason D. Page)
     
     (Above Image by: Chris Thompson)


    Ready to have your mind blown... Innovation is a huge part of our light painting community and we encourage it! The Light Painting Brushes Universal Connector was designed to not only fit our custom line of light painting tools but it also fits any standard plastic water or soda bottle. If you are on a budget, an innovator or just a crafty creator you can create your own light painting tools out of empty plastic bottles. Don't throw bottles away and ruin the planet, take that trash and turn it into a custom light painting tool! Check out the video below to see how the Universal Connector works with plastic bottles!

     

    To learn even more about Light Painting Photography including, Artist Profiles, History, Tutorials, and Tips check out the website LightPaintingPhotography.com

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