Technique for Light Painting Photography

Technique  for Light Painting Photography

Light Painting Photography, also known as light drawing or light graffiti is a photographic technique in which exposures are made usually at night or in a darkened room by moving a hand-held light source or by moving the camera.

In many cases the light source itself does not have to appear in the image. The term light painting also encompasses images lit from outside the frame with hand-held light sources.

The first known photographer to use this technique was Man Ray in his series "Space Writing" created in 1935. The photographer Ellen Carey discovered Man Ray's signature signed by penlight nearly 74 years after the pictures had been taken. (wikipedia)

In this tutorial we gonna try different Technique  for Light Painting Photography and demonstrate how you can use a flashlight as the only light source.

Technique  for Light Painting Photography

Light Painting

Light painting technique will help have a better understanding of one of the essential concepts of photography: Time.
Time in photography is controlled by the shutter speed setting on your camera.

Shutter speed

Shutter speeds sets how long time the light (image reflected) will be entering the lens and projecting onto the sensor.  While the shutter is open you can use any light source and project it onto your subject.

Lighting as Airbrushing

Think of a flashlight as an airbrush. If you point and hold an airbrush in one spot, it will produce a blotch of color in one area. But if you would move it evenly over the surface it will produce the most even and consistent spread of paint. That’s why this technique is called “light painting” you almost literally paint with the light. Light painting will give you similar control of the light as an airbrush would give you to control the paint.

Dark Set

To avoid ambient light from registering  in your shot a totally dark room is required  You might want to consider photographing at night or blocking all the light around your set with black cloth or black foam boards, as Robert did in the video above.

What best delay for shutter speed?

Whatever time setting will give you enough time to light paint your subject is the one.  You might need 5 seconds, 10 seconds or 30 seconds. Most DSLR cameras have a maximum shutter speed setting of 30 seconds. If your image requires more time to complete you might consider setting your camera to BULB.

Bulb setting

Bulb (“B” setting on camera dial) allows your camera to keep the shutter open endlessly.  When the shutter release button is pressed, the shutter opens and remains open until the shutter release button is pressed again. So push the button and begin painting with light and when you feel that you are all done push the shutter release again.

Technique  for Light Painting Photography

Watch the Video

Digital photography took away some of the magic that used to happened in the darkroom (what's a darkroom? During the dark ages of photography, about 10 years ago, you had to: take a photo, then wait untill you were done with the roll, develop the roll of  film, then spend hours in the darkroom printing images, and did I mention measuring and mixing chemicals?... it was awesome and now long forgotten. Nevertheless,this good old technique of light paintings brings some of this magic back into our digital time.

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