Light Painting

If any of you have seen my Flickr before, then the following post is old news! But I wanted to share this for those who haven't seen it.

Light-painting is a cool element in photography that I learned about while taking a film photography class while out in California (at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo). The teacher of the class was a cool guy and showed us some of his own work that he shot while in one of the national parks a few hours away. In a few of the photos he took at night, he used a long exposure (camera is open for a longer time, aka slow shutter speed) and used a large spotlight to literally "paint" the trees. He used color film covers to change the color of the light that he was "painting" the trees with light. I think this is a really cool intersection of PAINTING and PHOTOGRAPHY. Because it is dark out, the lens can be open longer and light is slowly let into the camera, thus you can manipulate it.

Above is an experimental shot I took while still at my house. So it wasn't perfect, but it gives the concept for what I was going to be doing. Because it was so dark, I have enough time to run in front of the camera, kneel down, and use a flashlight to literally paint the letters and/or image I am trying to create.

Hope you enjoy the photos! They take some time to get right, but once you do...it is very cool stuff.

Grab your camera when its dark out and give it a try. You can change the exposure time by going into the manual setting (cannot do on AUTO setting). My old point and shoot camera had the option to do up to 8 seconds - which is enough time to experiment! If you have a Digital SLR it is much easier. Two options: use the M (manual) or T (shutter speed) and set the time to either a few seconds, 30 seconds if it's very dark, or use the BULB setting if you know how to (I have a shutter release cable that locks - so I can do a long-exposure shot for an hour if I wanted)

If you don't feel like going out into the middle of a city after midnight and looking quite foolish to people, then try a dark room inside first and use a flash light - or even a cell phone.

It will look something like this if you do a circular motion...


  1. I think this is the coolest thing I have seen in such a long time!!!!!

  2. Thank you by the way! Sorry, sadly I have neglected my blog for over two months! Time to come on back to making posts!