Light Painting

Light Painting

I found this video that gives very basic info about how to do light painting.  I think light painting is a really cool technique! I have seen some really beautiful light painted photographs.  I would love to become more proficient at Light Painting.

Light painting can be done in  a variety of ways. Both use a long exposure with supplemental light.  You can take a flashlight and draw letters or designs in the air while the camera’s shutter speed is set to a long exposure. Then you will see streaks of light in your final photograph. The other way to do light painting is to place the subject in a dark room and then selectively light specific areas of the subject with the camera set to a long exposure.

If you have never heard of it before, this video will provide some good basic info to get you started.


Pen sized mag light with adjustable beam with accessories- fiber optic adapter, IQ switch that allows you to adjust the brightness or make it flash. The mag light is a warmer light than the LED lights.

LED lights are cooler in color temperature so they have a blue cast. Use a small hand held batter operated LED light.

Custom white balance your camera using the light that you plan to use for light painting. Read your camera instruction manual to learn how to custom white balance your camera.

Large Mag lights give off a lot of light

LED flash light with multiple small LED lights.


Use only manual mode

Reduce the ISO as low as possible to reduce the amount of noise or grain in the final image. ISO of 100 is recommended.

Set camera aperture to F11. This is a good starting point for many lenses. The higher the aperture the darker the image will be, the lower the aperture the brighter the final image will be.  If  the light painting is coming out too dark lower the aperture. It it is too bright raise the aperture.

He uses an 18-55 lens

Shutter speed is dependent upon how long you want to paint the image.   Start with 1 second and then experiment with longer shutter speeds. If you need to go longer than 30 seconds you will need a cable release or wireless remote for your camera. Read the instruction manual for your camera.  “Bulb” mode will allow you to hold the camera shutter open as long as you hold your finger on the camera shutter. Bulb mode works well with cable releases- you simple lock the shutter open.

Sometimes using ISO 400 with an aperture of F3.5 works best if you are using dimmer lights or shorter shutter speeds.

Manual focus the camera because it will be too dark for the camera to see to focus.


Light Painting