Tutorial: Painting With Light

Discussion in 'Graphics Programs and Photo Gallery' started by Canon Fan, Jul 5, 2004.

  1. Canon Fan

    Canon Fan TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    May 28, 2004
    Messages:
    1,125
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Purgatory, Wisconsin
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Thought I would take the opportunity to offer my first tutorial here. First off I would like to state that this is soley based on my personal experience and may not be "correct" in the eyes of seasoned pro's. However I have had some good results.

    Painting With Light
    Basically painting with light is just as it sounds. All you need is a camera that can hold the shutter open for a long period of time and a flashlight in a dark environment.

    Most of my light painting has been done by trial and error. There really is no exact way to determine an exposure for this type of photography. To start with I usually guesstimate the amount of light I want to use. If the subject does not fill much of the viewfinder, or I am using a small light source I will start out with a setting similar to f/3.5 (or the lowest number your camera will allow) and a very long shutter speed, say 30seconds. A decent tripod and self timer is essential for these shots!

    How to do it?
    1. Set your "guessed" exposure on the camera
    2. Make sure the camera is focused and set to self timer mode
    3. Press the shutter button to initiate the self timer
    4. Whe the shutter opens turn on your light source and paint!
    5. Check the LCD display to determine if you need to re-shoot the picture

    If the pic is dark/light you have two options. Increade the f-stop/shorten the shutter speed or use the light source for lees/more time during the exposure. If background or ambient light source is a problem you can only reset the f/stop and or shutter speed to correct.

    Also sometimes dark shots can be corrected with your image editing software. Keep in mind though this only works one way. Dark images can usually be "lightened up" to correct an under exposed condition, while overexposed shots will normally look terrible if they are darkened in the editing suite. This is due to the fact that once the highlights are overexposed (or "blown out") the detail is lost forever while you can normally resurect it from dark shadows.

    Here is an example of a basic test shot

    [​IMG]

    The streaks on the ground and flowers were created using a 20second shutter time at f/5.6. As soon as the shutter clicked open I turned on the light and just started painting with it taking care to shut it off as I moved from one area to the next. However this particular light (a 500,000 candlewatt power handheld spotlight) was slow to completely shut off, thus creating the orageish red streaks about mid frame. This side effect would be lessened with a less powerful light source.

    After some more experiments I managed to capture this cool shot of a bird bath later in the night. The levels were slightly adjusted in photoshop7 after the fact but not by much.

    [​IMG]

    Hope it's not too confusing! I'll be here to answer questions if you have any. Now grab some flashlights and get out there in the dark! Let's see how well your flashlight works as a paintbrush! Make Picasso proud!
     
  2. malachite

    malachite Heavily Medicated For Your Protection

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
    Messages:
    975
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Not in Arizona anymore
    If you really get into this stuff like I am right now, look to the gurus as well. Troy Paiva: Lost America gives some excellent how-to advice as well. Larrie Thomson @ Night Photographer dot com has some awsome work as well as the best links page for seeing what people are doing in the dark.

    Curious if you are doing any exposures in excess of 2-3 minutes and getting the light aberations typical of extended time exposures with digital. I've only ever heard of it myself and only got to see first hand one image recently where this happened.

    Keep it up though and post more. 90% of my night work is only done 5 days around the full moon once a month so getting out is limited. And as I shoot 100ISO film and slower, my exposure times average in the 5-15 minute range. Not exactly burning through film at that rate so image production is a bit slow.
     
  3. ZacKrohn

    ZacKrohn TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Messages:
    253
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sebastopol Ca
    I'm kinda not quite clear on what you mean by paint...where is the light source comming from?

    -Zac
     
  4. drlynn

    drlynn TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Messages:
    722
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    In the Basement
    The light source is a handheld flashlight. Or some people use a flash unit that can be popped manually.

    Then you just move the flshlight around just like a paintbrush and "paint" the area with light. The film picks this light up and "poof" exposure.
     
  5. ZacKrohn

    ZacKrohn TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Messages:
    253
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sebastopol Ca
    ahh okey that makes sence :p thanks guys.
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page
light painting photography tutorial
,
light painting tutorial
,
light painting tutorial canon
,
light painting tutorial settings
,
moon painting tutorial
,
paint with light tutorial
,
painting light tutorial
,

painting with light tutorial

,
painting with light tutorial canon
,
painting with light tutorials