Jeff Jacobson Photography


Light Painting Photography for Beginners

Although it may appear difficult at first, light painting photography is actually rather simple and quite gratifying. One way to get interesting and unusual pictures is to use a long exposure with light sources like flashlights or steel wool to “paint” in the air. To kick off your light painting journey, here is a breakdown.

Get Ready (Without Going Overboard)

Fancy gear isn’t necessary to begin. If you don’t have a DSLR, tripod, and remote shutter release, any camera with a long exposure setting will do. Try using steel wool, LED lights, or flashlights (with taking all necessary safety measures, of course!) as light sources.

Laying the Groundwork for Light Drawing

The first step in creating a light painting is to locate a dark area, such as a park at night or even your living room with the lights turned off. For best results, try shooting in manual mode with a low ISO (around 100), a small aperture (f/8 or larger), and a lengthy shutter time (beginning at 30 seconds).

Embrace Your Creativity: Exploring Light Painting

Now that you have your camera and light source ready, the fun can begin! To get you started, here are some simple light painting methods:

  • Make whirling patterns or streaks of light by directing your light source in different directions.
  • To outline an object, such as a person or a tree, in a scene, you can use your light source.
  • A fun way to add a creative touch is to use your light source to write words or draw simple shapes in the air.

Connecting the Dots

Have fun trying new things! Light painting relies much on imagination and experimentation. Light painting is something everyone can master with some effort. Get a dark place, your camera, and let your light painting spirit go!