Light Painting 101

Lately many of my assignments have been at nighttime. I don’t mind though because I’ve really gotten to practice with flash and long expose, something I haven’t done much in awhile. I’ve been getting a handful of comments and messages asking me what the best settings are to do this. To be honest, it really depends on where you are and what light is available. I can give you a starting point and you can adjust your settings accordingly. It’s much easier than you think and it looks a lot better than boring point and flash type photos.

You’ll need an external flash with an off-camera flash cord for the best results. I use a Canon 430 exII and a Vello 6ft cord.

You can also use a flashlight. The purpose of the flash/flashlight is to “pop” your subject into place, so you’d turn it on and off again. Your camera shutter will be open but the light will burn your subject into the frame while the light is dragged around.

I recommend using ISO 100 ( or 400 for when it’s really dark) , an F-stop of anywhere between 7-11 depending again upon available light at night. I find that f/8 usually works best for me. Shutter speed should be set at anywhere from five seconds to ten seconds, again depending upon how much light drag you’d like. Smaller, skinnier drags will come from a higher f-stop and faster shutter speed, fatter, longer drags will come from a slightly lower f-stop and slower shutter speed.

The Shindig Festival shot for The Baltimore Sun - f/5.6, ISO 100, 1 second shutter speed

The Shindig Festival shot for The Baltimore Sun – f/5.6, ISO 100, 1 second shutter speed

Halloween Lantern Parade shot for The Baltimore Sun - f/9, ISO 400, 6 second shutter speed

Halloween Lantern Parade shot for The Baltimore Sun – f/9, ISO 400, 6 second shutter speed

Halloween Lantern Parade shot for The Baltimore Sun - f/9, ISO 400, 8 second shutter speed

Halloween Lantern Parade shot for The Baltimore Sun – f/9, ISO 400, 8 second shutter speed

Halloween in Fells Point shot for The Baltimore Sun - f/11, ISO 125, 2second shutter speed

Halloween in Fells Point shot for The Baltimore Sun – f/11, ISO 125, 2second shutter speed

Halloween Lantern Parade shot for The Baltimore Sun - f/8, ISO 400, 10 second shutter speed

Halloween Lantern Parade shot for The Baltimore Sun – f/8, ISO 400, 10 second shutter speed

Halloween in Fells Point shot for The Baltimore Sun - f/11, ISO 125, 2second shutter speed

Halloween in Fells Point shot for The Baltimore Sun – f/11, ISO 125, 2second shutter speed

Halloween Lantern Parade shot for The Baltimore Sun - f/5.6, ISO 400, 6 second shutter speed

Halloween Lantern Parade shot for The Baltimore Sun – f/5.6, ISO 400, 6 second shutter speed

Halloween Lantern Parade shot for The Baltimore Sun - f/9, ISO 400, 9 second shutter speed

Halloween Lantern Parade shot for The Baltimore Sun – f/9, ISO 400, 9 second shutter speed

I hope this answers your questions! If not, there are tons of other blogs that go a bit more in-depth on this technique than I do that you can Google. Ultimately, it comes down to just experimenting and understand how light works. Try practicing on your family and friends. With it getting dark out so early now, there’s no better time 🙂

5 thoughts on “Light Painting 101

  1. Pingback: Night Sky Photos 101 | 120 Pearls

  2. Pingback: So, What Do You Buy a Photographer For Christmas? | 120 Pearls

  3. Pingback: I said “Hey! What’s Going On?” | kaitlinnewman.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s