Step by Step Guide to Light Painting Photography Ideas, Tips and Techniques Like A Pro

Contents

Step by Step Guide to Light Painting Photography Ideas, Tips and Techniques – illuminate your imagination as we cover the fundamentals of light painting photography, from tips to camera settings to equipment to help your light painting photography ideas.

Have you ever come across those shots of vibrantly lit words and shapes full of light online and wondered how to reproduce them?

Painting light is an easy and enjoyable practice, from aspiring to professional photographers. It is referred to as light painting because that is precisely what you are doing, painting with light when your shot is being taken.

If you’re an aspiring photographer and want to learn more about photography, Try purchasing this book called “Digital Photography Complete Course: Learn Everything You Need to Know in 20 Weeks,” which is the best overall offer.

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Introduction of Photography with Light Painting

Light Painting Photography Ideas, Tips, and Techniques – Light Painting is a photography technique that uses a handheld light source for long exposure to “paint” or “draw” light into the image. Painting with light is a common photography practice, mainly because it’s pretty easy to achieve great results, needs little specialised equipment, and you can get some fascinating results.

11 Amazing Painting with Light Photography Ideas
source Instagram @sebastianvalenta

Light painting photography ideas, also referred to as light drawing or light graffiti, is a photography technique that uses a moving light source—such as a torch, a glow stick, a light brush, or even a smartphone—to change the picture when taking a long exposure shot. Instead of merely capturing an image, light painters add another aspect by highlighting an object or producing streaks, colours or flashes in the picture.

Check Our Articles about Long Exposure Photography in here:

3 Primary Light Sources for Light Painting Photography Ideas

For light painting photography ideas, there are three primary types of light sources:

3 Main Source of Alternative Light Photography Ideas
Source Instagram @warrenadrientang @edo.mbois @christianuitz

1. On-camera source for light painting photography ideas

A light source on the camera means that the light element is a visible subject. With this method, you simply walk into the picture frame and use a light source to “paint”. It’s a good idea to wear dark clothing if you choose this technique, so you don’t show up in the image yourself.

2. Off-camera source for light painting photography ideas

You can shine a light from beyond the camera frame with an off-camera light source onto a part of the photograph. Light sources outside of the camera are suitable for highlighting particular objects or changing the picture’s overall tone. 

3. Light painting photography ideas with kinetic light

You are merely going to transfer the camera, not the light source, with kinetic light painting. So, you might make a candlelight painting, for instance, with the light emitted from a candle.

What Equipment Do You Need for Light Painting Photography Ideas?

Equipment of light painting photography camera settings
Source Instagram @rgclicks2903 @satrio_yuono @exodus_of_light @warrenadrientang @mario.passera.fotografia

Camera

The first thing to create light painting photography is a camera with manual controls. At least changing your camera’s shutter speed is essential. Light painters produce pictures on digital and video cameras. The most common type of camera used in light painting is a DSLR camera, so you can check your image instantly on location.

You will find the best camera you might ever like below here!

Canon 6D Mark II

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Canon EOS 6D Mark II with EF 24-105mm IS STM Lens, WiFi Enabled
  • 26.2 Megapixel Full frame CMOS Sensor
  • Optical Viewfinder with a 45 point All Cross type AF System
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with Phase detection and Full HD 60p

Lens

If you own a higher-end camera, the lenses are interchangeable. There are hundreds of lenses for any camera type. If you’ve been painting light for a while, you may feel like a photographic virgin. Generally, the sooner you can open the lens, the better. If you’re light painting out in the darkness and want to catch a starry sky in your scene, you’ll want a lens that allows you to carry the most light. Zoom lenses allow you to create amazing light-painting images.

You will find all of the lenses you might ever like below here!

Rokinon 14mm

Rokinon FE14M-C 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Lens for Canon (Black)
  • Ultra wide-angle 14mm lens with an approximately 90° angle of view using an APS-C camera, for dramatic effects
  • Lens has a minimum focusing distance of 0.9' (28 cm) for enhanced close-up shots. Lens includes a built-in petal-type...
  • Maximum Diameter: 3.4”(87mm). Aperture Range: F2.8 to F22

Sigma 24-105

Sigma 24-105mm F4.0 Art DG OS HSM Lens for Canon
  • Offers stable and fine image quality from wide to mid-telephoto range
  • This lens has a combination of fixed aperture and a good zoom ratio that is kept as high as possible
  • minimum focusing distance of 45cm and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.6. great for close up photography;Includes...

Tripod

A strong tripod is an integral part of light painting photography ideas. Tripods come in a range of sizes and materials; carbon fiber tripods are a great choice but can be very costly. Some items to check for when you purchase a new tripod are weight limits, how far the tripod can stretch, and whether the tripod has built-in levels.

I strongly recommend that you spend a little extra money on a piece of light painting equipment. Your light painting exposures vary from 5 to over an hour. When you open your camera shutter and light a 30-minute scene to come back and see your tripod slipped, it hurts.

Neewer Carbon Fiber

Neewer Professional 61 inches/155 Centimeters Aluminum Alloy...
  • With the use of a tripod,it can achieve greater performance and maintain image quality for cropping larger picture...
  • With a handle for adjustment of different angles.Non-slip feet design,which keeps the tripod steady on virtual ground...
  • Extends to 61"/155cm tall,folds to 28"/71cm.Three section aluminum adjustable-height legs.

Remote Shutter Release

Cable releases, also known as a shutter release or intervalometer, vary in difficulty and are a perfect addition to light painting photographers’ arsenal. Some shutter releases are a primary trigger push button, and some are computer-controlled. The more complicated, the more costly they become. Costs range from around $10.00 to hundreds of dollars.

Higher shutter releases such as the PIXEL 2.4G Wireless E3/N3 allow limitless delay and exposure combinations. A shutter release doesn’t necessitate light painting photography, but it’s an excellent accessory.

PIXEL 2.4G Wireless E3/N3

Remote Shutter Compatible for Canon, PIXEL 2.4G Wireless Shutter...
  • Compatible with Canon EOS 10D 20D 30D 40D 50D 5D 5D Mark II 5D Mark III 5DS 5DS R 6D 7D 7D Mark II 1D 1Ds 1D Mark II 1Ds...
  • Compatible with Canon XT XTi XS XSi T1i T2 T2i T3 T3i T4 T4i T5 T5i T6i T6 SL1, EOS 1300D 1200D 1100D 1000D 760D 750D...
  • Compatible with Pentax istD istDL istDS istDS2 istDL2 K100D K110D K200D K500 K100D K20D K10D K30 K50 K7 K5 K511 K511s K3...

Neutral Density Filter

Neutral Density Filter also known as ND Filter is a dark, color neutral filter used to monitor the amount of light hitting the film or sensor. ND filters can be used during daytime hours or when light source is particularly bright.

A good ND filter is one that can be modified to suit your existing lens, such as the K&F Concept 49mm. You can also get cheaper ND material and make your own filter system.

K&F Concept 49mm

K&F Concept 49mm Slim HD Multi-Coated Variable ND Neutral Density...
  • 【Includes】K&F CONCEPT 49MM Adjustable Neutral Density Professional Photography Filter ND2~400 + Professional...
  • 【Material】 ND Filter: Made by Completed Professional Optical Glasses instead of Optical Resin. Microfiber: This...
  • 【Professional Design】 Using Super Slim Original Design to Avoid Vignetting When You Taking Photo.

Light Sources for Light Painting Photography Ideas

This is where you can decide the photos you want to make. You may use natural light sources such as the moon or all sorts of artificial light sources such as sparklers and torches. There are several styles of ‘light sticks,’ from relatively cheap to very costly! By adding a string of LED lights to a bamboo stick, you can even generate light! You may use colour gels to change the light colours.

A lot of tools are available to help you make good light-painting pictures. Only a quick look online will show a variant of quality tools.

Headlamp

Coast HL27 360 Lumen Pure Beam Focusing LED Headlamp with Twist...
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  • TOUGH & RELIABLE: Backed by the COAST Lifetime against defects in materials and workmanship. IPX4 rated design for water...

1050 Lumens Tactical Flashlight

Cree XP-L LED 1050 Lumens Tactical Flashlight,Soonfire DS30 USB...
  • Direct Recharging Function:Micro-USB general charging port,red and blue battery indicator.
  • Battery:Uses one 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery (included) or two 3V CR123A Lithium batteries.
  • Digitally regulated output:Maintains constant brightness,1050 lm max for 1 hr.,10 min.,lower 8 lumen 350h.

Flashgun

Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite for Canon Nikon Panasonic Olympus...
  • Vertical Rotation Angle: 0~90 degrees, Horizontal Rotation Angle: 0~270 degrees; Note: Don't support TTL and the camera...
  • Compatible with for Canon Nikon Panasonic Olympus Pentax Fijifilm and Sony with Mi Hot Shoe cameras,like a9 a7 a7II...
  • Power Management: Switch to the ON, the flash will start charging (the charging indicator is dim)

El Wire

7 Pack - Jytrend 9ft Neon Light El Wire w/ Battery Pack (Green,...
  • Flexible
  • Battery Pack Controller (4 Modes: on/off Mode, Solid on Mode, Flash Mode, Fast Flash Mode)
  • Great for Parties, Costumes, Decorations, Christmas, Car, Light Signal, Burning man, Halloween

Windproof lighter

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LED wires

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LED Fairy String Lights, 12-Pack 20 Micro Lights On Silver Copper...
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  • 【EASY TO USE】Small battery pack is easy to hide, non submersible battery pack, CR2032 batteries ( include ) are...

LED Key Chain Lights

Finware 5 Pack Mini LED Keychain Flashlight, Ultra Bright Key...
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Wheels with attached LEDs

Levitation Wand

Elite Flow Levitation Wand - Short String Light Up Leviwand...
789 Reviews
Elite Flow Levitation Wand - Short String Light Up Leviwand...
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  • INFINITE CUSTOMIZATION: Combine 3 pre-programmed LED light modes and 20 stunning colors for beautiful light trails....
  • SPINS LIKE A DREAM: Each Levitation Wand is balanced and weighted for a light and stable flow at 120g. Also includes 2...

Glowstick

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300 Glow Sticks Bulk Party Supplies - Glow in The Dark Fun Party...
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  • MULTI COLOR ULTIMATE GLOW STICKS PARTY PACK - This pack was thoughtfully designed to provide the ultimate glow party...
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Laser pens

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Klein Tools 56026 Pen Flashlight, Inspection Penlight with Laser...
  • LED penlight for up-close lighting in dim areas
  • Laser pointer aids in pinpointing objects in out-of-reach locations
  • Glow ring tip charges while the light is on and allows for easy retrieval in the dark

Poi Balls

LED Poi Ball Swirling Light Rave Toy (Set of 2)
  • Includes Two Poi Balls With Black String & Finger Straps
  • Features 6 Different Light Up Functions
  • Great for Raves, Outdoor Festivals, Carnivals & More!

Tape

The tape is the best friend of light painters. Gaffers Tape, Gorilla Tape, and Duct Tape have numerous applications in light-painting photography. Gaffers tape is best to use when removing it you don’t want to leave any residue behind, it’s a sturdy tape that will pull away clean, but it’s pricey.

The next best tape is Gorilla tape, suitable for light-tight flash boxes and protecting everything you need to protect. Often, duct tape is a handy tape when you’re light painting.

Colored Gels

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Arteza Holographic Self Adhesive Vinyl, 12x12 Inch, Set of 16,...
  • Color-Shifting Vinyl Sheets: Create magical decals and stickers with this opal adhesive vinyl that sticks to plastic,...
  • Cut & Weed Custom Designs: Each sheet is designed to be compatible with most cutting machines and can be cut with a...
  • Incredibly Durable Sheets: These vinyl sheets are made from durable PVC and will stay put until you’re ready to remove...

Steel Wool Fireworks

In light painting photography, fireworks are used to produce some of the most dramatic effects you can make, and they are the most fun to work with light painting photography ideas.

Selens Photography Props Steel Wool Fireworks for Light Painting...
  • Do this in a Safe Place,Keep far away from the Crowd,Vehicle and Explosive.
  • Fantastic Picture with the Firework Graffiti.Help Take Amazing Picture at Night.
  • Enough Exposure time so that can be shoot by Common SLR.

LED Fiber Optic Whip

GloFX Space Whip Remix [PROGRAMMABLE LED Fiber Optic Whip] 6 Ft...
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Lightshow Orbital Rave Light Toy

EmazingLights 4-LED Spinning Orbit: Orbite-X3 Lightshow Orbital...
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  • Featuring reversible microlights - Flip your lights inside-out for a vibrant inner glow! The Orbite-X3 comes with 4...

Light Painting Brushes

Light Painting Brushes Universal Connector is the LPB device base. This simple rubber connector revolutionized Light Painting Photography Ideas tools, enabling Light Painters to quickly and easily attach unlimited lights and light modifiers.

Using Universal Connector, you can make your own DIY tools or use Light Painting Brushes’ professional light modifiers.

Light Painting Brushes Universal Connector 3 Pack

Light Painting Brushes Universal Connector 3 Pack
6 Reviews
Light Painting Brushes Universal Connector 3 Pack
  • The Universal Connector works with any relatively round light that has a diameter of .975"-1.5".
  • Works best with lights that have an on/off switch near the rear of the light.
  • With the Light Painting Brush System lights and light modifiers can be quickly and easily interchanged.

Light Painting Photography Ideas: Camera Settings

Guide for Light Painting Photography Camera Settings
Source Instagram @evanmaroun

Like any advanced photography, you’ll want to play around with your camera settings to find out the exact ones to use for the effect you want.  But some details will help you start with light painting photography ideas.

The most significant thing that’s different from most of the pictures you’ll probably take is that you’ll want a long exposure. We talk long: at least 30 seconds, if not longer, depending on what you make. A long exposure allows your camera to catch motion while stationary objects remain crisp. In light paintings, movement would be a light source.

Here are the most simple settings to set on your camera to get that long exposure successfully and produce a light painting photography ideas:

  • Mode: Manual, bulb
  • Shutter speed: 30 seconds
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • ISO: 100
How to Setting Camera for Light Photography Ideas
Source Instagram @vrixder

Note that these are just starting points and that you may need to adjust these settings to make the picture brighter or darker for your particular situation.

Besides manipulating exposure settings, light painting requires adjustments to the image’s white balance.

White balance relates to the image’s colour temperature, precisely, colour casts that appear to have a colouration that creates neutral tones such as white.

You may need to use the tungsten or incandescent white balance setting (but don’t be afraid to try one of the other options too), depending on the light you use to paint the scene.

On your part, this will require some experimentation, but the objective is to generate light that is true to colour.

Your camera might have trouble finding the focus on its own since you’re going to be shooting at night.

You can simply illuminate the subject with your light (turned to maximum brightness) to get around this so that your camera’s autofocus system has the best chance of obtaining focus.

In order to lock the focus in place, switch your lens to manual focus once the focus is set.

As long as you don’t move the camera, all of your photos’ focus will be set. Alternatively, to ensure you get a clear, crisp shot, you can learn how to focus your lens manually.

The last camera setting for Light Painting Photography Ideas is to shoot your light painting images in the RAW format. Unlike JPEGs, this format retains all the details that the sensor captures and provides you with more information to work with post-processing.

Find The Right Background to Light Painting Photography Ideas

light painting photography background ideas
Source Instagram @ethereallightart

In light painting photography, it is critical to find an excellent location. Find a way to interact with the environment and make it seem that your orbs are a part of the environment.

Your background doesn’t need to be a famous landmark. It doesn’t always have to be so gorgeous, either. It might be a park filled with trees or even a backyard for you. What matters is how you use the room for photography with light painting.

For a balanced composition, think about where to position yourself. When possible, you should also try to use elements in the background to make the image of your light painting look more cohesive.

Consider the ambient light around it when searching for a location. If it’s too bright, your light painting may drown you out. The best background should be dark enough to enable you to use up to thirty seconds of shutter speed. It should not overwhelm the light source that you are using, either. Otherwise, it’s going to be hard to see what you have drawn in the air.

4 Basic Light Painting Photography Tutorial: Step by Step

Light Painting Photography Tutorial How to Make
Source Instagram @monika_aleksandra_2017

Setup

As mentioned previously, an aperture of f/5.6, a shutter speed of 30 seconds, and an ISO of 100 is an excellent place to start with your camera settings.

However, these are all general guidelines, and tweaks will almost undoubtedly need to be made depending on the particular situation you are working in.

Long Exposure Portrait Photography Light Painting
Source Instagram @giampics

Get your camera on your tripod, make sure image stabilisation is OFF, and turn off long noise reduction when your camera is equipped.

Illuminate the subject with light and use the light to allow your camera’s autofocus system to concentrate on the subject (or you can do it manually if you like). Once the focus is reached, switch the lens to manual if it is not already locked.

Small Subject

As you explore light painting photography ideas, try to keep your enthusiasm in check and start with a small subject instead of immediately try a masterpiece of grand light painting.

Light Painting Photography Portraits Photo Ideas
Source Instagram @penza.tfp

By selecting a small subject, such as an old rusty truck, you can work the shot in one light and exposure.

With this simple setup, you can focus on ironing out exposure settings and light settings to get the photo right.

When your gear is in place, take a couple of test shots at the highest possible exposure. You would also want to change the white balance to your light source. The white balance can be changed in your camera, and you can also alter it if you have a light like LitraPro that has an adjustable colour temperature. The goal is to have a fine, clean, colour neutral light.

Focus to The Light

The last thing you want is to light up yourself while the scene is being painted so that you might focus on the light.

This means maintaining the source of light targeted at the subject and away from the camera.

Painting with Light Photography Portraits
Source Instagram @penza.tfp

This also means you need to keep the light source moving – as it’s a long exposure, your movements won’t appear in the shot, so as long as you keep moving with your light from one spot to the next, you won’t make an accidental shot appearance.

If you wear dark clothes for light painting, it’s useful. A dark long-sleeved shirt and dark pants will absorb the light, making you invisible.

Experiment and Try again 

You should take a few shots while playing with the light in each of them.

Light Painting Photography at Home
Source Instagram @penza.tfp

If you stand far from the subject (say, five or more feet away), the light will be expansive, gentle, and even. However, if you want to increase the light’s brightness falling on the subject, you’ll need to get closer to less than two feet.

Either way, you can make a beautiful picture of light painting. And as you master these basic techniques, you will step into more complex lighting techniques, such as multiple lights, coloured lights, multiple exposures, and stacking them together.

5 Tips and Techniques for Light Painting Photography Ideas

Light Painting Photography Tutorial Tips
Source Instagram @warrenadrientang

There are a variety of different tips and techniques for light painting that are useful to remember. These include, among others:

1. Painting from various angles

Light Painting Ideas Creative
Source Instagram @miriam_fauler_fotografie

Try painting objects from the side or above to bring out their textures, rather than shining a light from behind your camera (or directly at it). To add dimension and detail to the surface, shine a light source at ground level. This effect is particularly excellent for grassy areas.

2. Wear the appropriate clothes

light painting ideas creative poses
Source Instagram @victorvivesr

If you are using an on-camera light source, by making them wear dark, non-reflective clothing, and make sure your light is the subject of your picture.

3. Use a red filter to perform the test

light painting photography ideas creative
Source Instagram @victorvivesr

It’s essential to keep your eyes accustom to the low-light environment when setting up your shots. Try attaching a red filter to your test lights rather than using conventional flashlights, which will ruin your night vision.

4. Experimentation with various surfaces

the best awesome light painting photography ideas
Source Instagram @donald.kenworthy_photography

In light painting photography ideas, reflective surfaces such as metal, glass, and mirrors can create surprising effects. More light is absorbed by rougher surfaces such as stucco and wood for other applications, while transparent materials such as cloth can filter your light source in exciting ways.

5. Experimenting with the speed of movement

Awesome street night light painting ideas
Source Instagram @bildmusik

How bright your light painting will depend on how fast you move your source of light. For example, the longer you hold a light source in a particular location, the more time it will have to be absorbed by your camera sensor, and the brighter it will appear in the finished photo. In order to create shading effects that add complexity to your photos, experiment with fast and slow movements.

11 Best Works of Light Painting Photography Ideas

11 Best Works of Light Painting Photography Ideas
11 Best Works of Light Painting Photography Ideas

Many images concentrate on capturing a real-life scene or subject. Without photo manipulation, photography seems to be about actual things, artfully captured.

Light painting is an exception to this generalisation. When photographers paint, they manipulate the subject rather than editing the picture. They create scenes from their imagination using slow shutter speed with simple tools like flashlights and light wands.

So here’s some 11 awesome light painting photography ideas you can try:

Macro

light painting ideas macro photography
Source Instagram @ivan_lucio_light_painting

Draw something

How to Light Drawing Photography Ideas, Tips, Technique
Source Instagram @elves_of_jupiter

Spin some Steelwool

Steel Wool Photography Ideas Light Painting
Source Instagram @uniqueography_

Take a light painting portrait

10 Stunning Drawing with Light Photography Ideas
Source Instagram @osterholtz

Write your message to the world

Love light drawing photography ideas
Source Instagram @pilot_runner

Light paint an object

Crystal Ball Light Painting Ideas
Source Instagram @hobbyrambler

Reflections

10 Creative Light Painting Ideas, Tips, Technique
Source Instagram @d_13drone

Do a double exposure

20 Amazing Double Exposure Light Painting Ideas
Source Instagram @merlin.lightpainting

Do an Orb

20 Awesome Orb of Light Painting Ideas
Source Instagram @inkerman_photography

Recreate an epic fight scene from a movie/comic

30 Awesome Light Painting Photography Ideas Creative
Source Instagram @plastic.lyfe

Use your zoom

30 Awesome Ideas for Light Painting Photography at Home
Source Instagram @noa_is_stpd

Conclusion: Get creative with light painting photography ideas

Photography of light is a trial and error method. It takes many criteria to come up with a successful result, so be prepared to screw up. By using the wrong settings or forgetting your choreography for light painting, you can ruin your image.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember with light painting photography is to experiment, have fun and develop your style. Light painting a medium that gives you so many ways of expressing yourself, so dive in and see what you’re getting.

Photography requires plenty of practice and a healthy dose of creativity, whether you are just starting or have dreams of becoming a professional. Fighting!

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