Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Painting With Light

Check out this awesome SPM video on Painting with Light, by John Michael Cooper (AltF).

Here are the basics of the technique:

  • A completely dark room
  • Low ISO - 100 ISO
  • Tight aperture - f13+
  • Long exposure - 15-30 seconds
  • A "snooted light" created by wrapping a dense and dark material around a lightsource to avoid light leak out the sides (like Sticky Black Craft Foam Sheets)
  • A handheld light such as a video light or flashlight
  • Tripod or table - whatever you need to make sure the camera doesn't move
  • A subject that can stay still (doesn't work so well with pets)

Once you've mastered the basics, play with the light in different ways:

  • Use different colored lights, or create a gel for your flash light by using wax paper and colored permanent markers
  • Turn the light off, move the subject in a different location and turn the light back on, all within the same exposure for a double exposure effect
  • Try using the light at different angles to create different effects and highlight different parts of the image
  • Vary the intensity of the light in different places by being closer or farther from the subject with the lightsource
  • Create spotlighting or selective lighting by turning the light off when moving from one part of the scene to another
  • Create shadows and silhouettes on walls with objects off-camera
  • Draw pictures with your light source
  • Have fun with things like sparklers, glow sticks, and other light emitting goodies

Check out the cool things that Polite In Public has done with light painting!

View more inspiration on the Light Paint and Light Painting Flickr Groups!

Share your experiments on your blog and post your link in the comments section below to improve your Search Engine Optimization and to share your mad skillz with others!


  1. LOLOL. Yeah, definitely doesn't work so well with pets. Thanks for the link Anne!

  2. i love how you just dumped your camera equipment on the floor..haha

  3. ...Did you actually just dump the gear on your floor?

    Oh, my.

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

  4. Hi, I also like to do painting with light photography but have not been successful with people yet. I stick to static objects! See one on my blog (photoboost.blogspot.com)

  5. Beautiful Painting with light photography!


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