• Light Painting

    A Lomography Guide

    What Is Light Painting?

    Light painting is when you control the light that enters the camera’s lens and use it to 'paint' something on the photograph. It’s usually done in low light situations and is a great way to create unique photographs which explore the endless possibilities of photography. There are an infinite number of ways to light paint, beginning with your source of light and ending with what you draw!

    Light Painting Photos →

    What You'll Need

    You

    A Camera

    Tripod

    (or a solid surface)

    A Light Source

    (a torch, match, glow-stick etc...)

    How To
    Do It

    #1

    Light painting works best in low light conditions. So either wait till dusk or go into a dark room.

    #2

    Set up your camera on a steady surface or tripod. And make sure no one moves it while you make art.

    #3

    Set your camera to the B shutter setting - This allows for a long exposure and means that the shutter will stay open for a longer time so more light will enter the lens.

    #4

    Use a lighter, a small torch, match, glow-stick, light pen or any other small source of light that you can find...get creative! Tip: Try using a sparkling candle to see sparks fly!

    #5

    If you want to write a message on your picture, remember to do it backwards if you want it to be legible after processing. Alternately, just draw something or wiggle around or trace something, experiment!

    #6

    Get your pictures developed and marvel at your newly-discovered light painting skills!

    A Few Suggestions

    Use your surroundings to paint for you.

    If you are in the city at night, set up your camera and take a long exposure of the light trails cars leave as they drive past. At a carnival or amusement park let a spinning Ferris-Wheel do the painting for you.

    Play with multiple exposures

    Make a picture of your cat, a flower, a car, whatever, then light paint a cat, flower, car on top of the initial image for a crazy effect! The possibilities are endless, but one thing is for sure, light painting is a hell of a lot of fun!

    Star Trails

    Set up an ultra-long exposure, position your camera on a Tripod, point it up at a clear night sky and see the path that the stars make once your image is developed. Read more about star trail photography in this article by blueskyandhardrock.

    Pro-Tips

    What to Avoid When Doing Light Painting

    It’s so easy to get carried away with this fun technique. Make sure your shots are effective by following these helpful pointers!
    Read more →

    A Guide to Steel Wool Light Painting

    Here’s for the bold and the brave: something to try if you’re feeling mischievous with light painting.
    Read more →

    Commitment to Sparkle Motion: Sparkler Portraits and Light Painting

    How do you make your photos shimmer and sparkle? This trick shows you how.
    Read more →

    Light Painting: Dancing in the Dark

    Here’s a fun way to explore the creative possibilities of light painting – by doing some graceful dance moves!
    Read more →

    Light Painting FAQ

    How long should I expose for?

    This depends on what you are trying to capture - If you are drawing something just leave your shutter open for as long as you are painting for. If you want to capture a night scene with moving objects, you should be safe with a 5/10 second exposure (depending on the speed that the light source is moving at). But these are just guidelines – Experiment and find out what works best for you!

    How will I know if I'm standing inside the frame properly?

    This can also be a little complicated but basically, just try and take a look through your viewfinder. If you are in the dark then illuminate the scene so you can see, then try and mark how far you can go vertically and horizontally so that you’ll remain inside your frame when the photo is taken.

    You say I have to draw backwards? How do I do that?

    This can definitely be tricky! But some letters such as T,I,O,M,H,Y,U,W,X,V & A are disaffected by this mirror writing rule - So if you don’t want to bother with writing backwards just fiddle about with those letters. If you do want to use the rest of the alphabet or want to draw an image, just imagine you are looking at it in a mirror and write it that way.

    I don’t have a B Shutter setting. What should I do?

    Maybe your camera has a manual shutter release? If that is the case then get your friend to hold your shutter open for you while you do the painting.

    When should I enter the frame in the photo?

    Since you will be in relative darkness, nothing will really affect your picture until your light source starts shining.

    What ISO film should I use?

    Use a film of ISO 400 or even ISO 800 for the best results.

    For more Light Painting advice, read this article Welcome To Neon Town by j_robert

    Who We Are?

    Lomography is a Magazine, Shop and Community dedicated to analogue photography.

    It all began with a fateful encounter in the early 1990s, when two students in Vienna, Austria, stumbled upon the Lomo Kompakt Automat – a small, enigmatic Russian camera. Mindlessly taking shots from the hip, and sometimes looking through the viewfinder, they were astounded by the mind-blowing photos it produced – the colors were vibrant, with deep saturation and vignettes that framed the shot – it was nothing like they had seen before!

    Upon returning home, friends wanted their own Lomo LC-A, igniting a new style of artistic analogue photography that we now know as Lomography!

    Find out more →

    Glossary

    Exposure Time

    The amount of time that passes while the lens is open, allowing light to hit your film and an exposure to be made.

    Shutter Speed

    This is the speed or time in which your shutter opens and closes, allowing light into your camera. It is closely related to the exposure time.

    Viewfinder

    This is the window in your camera which you look through when composing your shot.

    Aperture

    This is the size of your lens opening. Apertures are described using f numbers. A large aperture (large lens opening) will have a small f number like f.2 or f.4. A small aperture (small lens opening) will have a large f number such as f.16 or f.20. If you would like a lot of light to enter your lens, you should use a large aperture (with a small f number). If you would like less light to enter your lens, you should use a small aperture (with a large f number).

    B Setting

    The B stands for 'Bulb'. The B setting allows you to manually hold the shutter open and this gives you full freedom over how long you want to expose your photo for. Some Lomography Cameras which have a B setting are the La Sardina, Fisheye No.2, Sprocket Rocket, Belair Cameras, Lubitel 166+, Diana F+ and Diana Mini.

    Shutter Release

    The button you press to take a photo!