How To: Light Painting Photography!!!

For Chinese New Year, I did an interesting experiment with my Nikon Coolpix p520, that of the famous light painting! Like this:

smiley light painting

First, I’d like to share the video tutorial that led me to discover this amazing art:

Watch it if you want to know how to do it, because here I’m mainly going to show how it’s not necessary to have all these high tech equipments to achieve the same results.

Basically, here’s what you need to do light painting:

– Torches (any colour! or many colours! I actually used my phone’s flashlight, which was downloaded on Play Store :P)
– Any camera that can be manually set to low exposure (low shutter speed)
– Something stable to put your camera on, like a tripod.
– Preferably a remote control, like in the video above, so as to again minimize shakiness. Because pressing the shutter button directly can make the camera shaky, I guess.
– And most importantly: friends!!! Yeps, and have fun! I had my sister and cousins with me 🙂

Now, I don’t exactly have a pro camera, nor a tripod, nor a remote control. However the last 2 are kind of really important so as to keep the camera stable, as if you are passionate about photography, you might know that a very low shutter speed low enough to make these drawings in the air in matters of several seconds makes the camera very prone to shakiness.

First, I’d like to point out that you do not need to have a pro and expensive camera to do light painting. As long as you have manual mode and can reduce your shutter speed, you’re good to go! I used a 8″ shutter speed (the minimum my camera can go) but I tried 6″ too and it’s also fine, and I guess that if you draw fast enough you can go even higher like 4″…

For the ISO and f-stop settings, I’ll briefly say that I kept them very low. Just play and try 🙂

All right, now how to do light painting without a tripod but while still keeping the camera stable?

Tip: At any cost, DON’T hold the camera. Hands are the least stable of camera stands, although it can feel that it is stable. Don’t be fooled.

What I did is kind of obvious: since we were at a hotel, we went to the main bar and took a table. Yes, a table is all you need. Maybe add some books if you’re at home 😛 Fortunately the bar was built a metre higher than the ground, thus giving more height to my camera, and in addition the pool made a lovely effect behind:

name light painting

In this one, I actually wanted to write my name, ‘Daph’, but I didn’t take into consideration that the camera would capture it with the mirror effect… So I ended up with ‘hpaD’ xD

Anyway, now, seeing that in the video tutorial, the guys used a remote control instead of directly pressing the shutter button, made me think of another alternative: the timer!!! I used a 2 seconds timer, which is enough time for the camera to be stable again and shoot, after being briefly shaken by my finger pressing on the button.

Sincerely I didn’t try it without the timer, so I’m not sure if it’s really necessary or if you can simply press the shutter button directly. You may try if you want 🙂 Don’t forget that I’m not a pro and this is all fun and beginner experience!

So now, you have it! The secret not so secret formula to light painting!

Also, practice makes perfect 😉

Before ending this post, I’d like to share with you a few light paintings my sister and cousins did:

light painting 1 DSCN1063 DSCN1070

I can’t believe we did so much more!

Anyway, have fun everyone!

An Evil Nymph.

10 thoughts on “How To: Light Painting Photography!!!

  1. I loved these pictures. I’ve seen some incredible light paintings; extremely creative endeavor.

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