Learn Light Painting Photography In 4 Super Simple Steps

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light painting with flashlight

We’ve all seen those Pinterest photos. You know the ones, a couple is joyfully kissing while a swirl of sparkler lights magically wraps around them. If you are like me, you’ve wondered how they were able to achieve such a creative shot. Well, wonder no longer!  This tutorial will walk you through the fundamentals of light painting photography. Plus, we’re going to be using flashlights for this tutorial, which is safer than sparklers and steel wool light painting methods, so feel free to get the kids involved!

Light Painting - Photo by: Kendra Swalls

Gather Your Light Painting Photography Equipment

When doing a Google search for “light painting” I came across light painting kits that included various tools and brushes, however, you don’t need a fancy light kit to get started. All you need are a few basic items: a digital camera that is capable of long exposures, sturdy tripod, flash light and a dark location.

You can also add a remote trigger for your camera if you don’t have an assistant helping. Colored tissue paper or gels if you want to add color to your light source. Lastly, you’ll also want to make sure you are wearing dark clothing as not to show up in the image.

Light painting equipment - Photo by: Kendra Swalls

Step 1: Set Your Camera on the Tripod and Set it to Live View.

This is the easiest way to make sure your composition and focus points are correct. If you have an assistant, have them stand in the location where you want the light to show up in the image. Use them as your focus point and set your focus. If you don’t have an assistant, find a chair or an object you can use as your focus point. If you’re shooting in a dark location, it’s best to use a light to ensure your focus is sharp. Just remember to cut the light out again when you start your painting.

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