Light Painting Tutorial, Plexiglass Color and Texture

Light Painting Photographer Darren Hopkins has been doing some amazing things using his plexiglass Light Painting Brushes. The colors and light textures he has been producing are simply beautiful. We asked Darren if he would share some of his secrets  and he provided this excellent tutorial showing exactly what he is doing to modify his Light Painting Brushes to create his beautiful imagery.

Plexiglass Light Painting Brushes Color and Texture Tutorial by Darren Hopkins:
In this tutorial I am going to explain how to get different textures and colors from the plexiglass Light Painting Brushes, using simple items to customise them. I will also explain the camera settings I use and the techniques that work for me.

Equipment you will need:
Camera capable of bulb mode (or Long Exposure)
Remote or Cable Shutter Release
Plexiglass Light Painting Brushes Attachment
Torch or Flashlight
Colored gels
Masking tape
Sellotape or Transparent Tape
Cling film (Saran Wrap)

Customising the Blades
The tools that I use are the Light Painting Brushes Plexiglass Attachments. I use the 9" Rectangle, Diamond, Feather, and 4x6 plexiglass attachments. I customize the plexi's with colored gels, masking tape, Sellotape (transparent tape) and cling film (Sarah Wrap). 


I cut strips of colored gels to go around the edge of the plexiglass and attach them with the transparent sellotape. Using a combination of different colours on the edges will give an interesting effect when waved. Also you can half cover some of the blades with extra large masking tape which gives a smoky/milky effect and is a nice contrast to the vivid edges.

Set up

Set up is simple – just the camera on a tripod focused on the area where you will be waving the blades.

To set focus you turn the lights on. Mark the area where you will be working. Zoom in pull focus (either on manual or auto focus) once you have the focus set switch the camera to MANUAL focus and then pull back out and frame the shot. Switching the camera to manual focus will make sure the camera will remain in focus when the lights are off.

The camera settings I use are f/11, bulb mode, white balance daylight and ISO ranging from 100 to 320. I usually keep the settings the same and adjust the ISO until I’m happy with the results.

The lens is set at about 28mm for most of the shots (full frame); I stand about 1.5m – 2.0m away from the camera and use a remote to release the shutter.

With the Light Painting Brushes Plexiglass you can use just about any torch attached via the Universal Connector. I use the Klarus XT12 and RS11 lights, the Klarus torches have a maximum lumen output of 930 lumens, I sometimes use them on 1/2 power mode to get a pulse width modulation effect. I also use the LED Lenser M7 with a 400 lumen output.

The technique is trial and error but I’ve found some movements give more interesting results:

A twisting, stabbing motion towards the camera gives a messy textured look with the appearance of lots of layers and a bit of light flare as contrast.

Dragging the blade from left to right, swirling in the middle, gives a tidier look and can produce nice loops with different colors.

Swinging the blades out towards the lens and back to your body produces an arch of different colors.

 I also hold two or three blades in one hand for these techniques, which gives more texture and interesting patterns as the light from one blade passes through another. Using the strobe mode on the torch also adds a different look.


Happy waving.

Check out more of Darren's work at the links below:
Darren's Facebook
Darren's Instagram