In this post I’ll be covering what light painting is and some of my studio practice in Lens class. The other day we split into groups and were asked to capture light paintings, which we had just learnt about in class.
There a two different types of light painting, one where you can violently shake the camera or light source around, and another where you have a dark area and want to light up an object, sort of painting in the light to show it. I’ll be focusing on the former technique in this post.
To create a light painting photograph, you need to have certain camera settings + a tripod to keep the camera steady. A very low shutter speed is a must, as that determines how long you have to move the light source around and capture the exposure. When I made my light paintings, I generally kept my shutter speed from around 1-10 seconds.
Aperture is also important, as that determines how much light is let into your camera and how bright the image will be. Generally photographers use a small aperture to let in more light, but I personally found that my camera captured too much light using the lowest setting so I kept to a medium aperture size.
ISO can influence light painting too, as it will make your image either more or less grainy. When I was taking my photos, it automatically changed my ISO to match my aperture even though I was on manual mode, so I don’t think I had full control over this.
Anyway, here are some examples of light paintings below:
As you can see, photographers can get really creative about how they use light painting in their images, whether that be creating wings, stick figures, seemingly other worldly portals that I want to escape through from Dr. Strange, giving instruments an awesome glow, or painting pictures and words in the air. To create these images, the photographer has moved the light source around to capture these photos while on a long shutter speed.
I think that light painting photography is so interesting because you can get lots of different results from it, and you don’t have to be an expert to try it yourself. Of course it will take a little to get the hang of, and to create images/words in the air can take quite a bit more skill than shaking a camera around.
Now here are some of my amature attempts at light painting:
These two photos are both apart of my first attempts at light painting, where I used a small light up fan to create the patterns and colours. I was initially experimenting to find out how it works, before we covered this subject in class. I really like these images because I think the motion stands out, as if you can actually see the light source moving, with the colours capturing your attention.
I included this image because I really like the two different types of light sources in the photo. The bottom streaky white lights almost look like shooting stars, while the above red/blue light is similar to the aurora. The ghostly sheet in the background also seems to give a feeling of offset, as if something isn’t right.
The light in this photo somehow reminds me of the traffic flow of cars. How seamless it can be, with the cars intertwining together to create a sense of flow. I think the colours could also remind me of traffic signals, with the red, orange, green, while blue perhaps symbolises technology.
I really like this photo because the light trials look very curly, almost bush like. The reflection on the ground also helps to make it glow, which I think looks quite interesting.
In this photo you can also see more of the background, and how someone is moving the light source around. I think the colours compliment each other which makes the composition look pleasing to the eye.
Overall, I think these photos are okay for first attempts and I know I can definitely improve more if I were to do this again. After looking at what other people have achieved while using light painting, I want to maybe try to draw pictures or words, making the photo even more interesting.
In total, I think learning light painting in Lens was really interesting and helped me to start creating my own light paintings. I highly enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next images I create using light.