Learn Light Painting Photography In 4 Super Simple Steps

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Step 2: Set Your Camera to Manual Mode

Manual mode will give you control over the settings and exposure length. It’s best to set the ISO around 100-200 to allow for a longer exposure and reduce noise.  Set your Aperture to f/5.6 and then adjust as needed.

From there you should be able to lower the shutter speed to the desired length. The length of the exposure you use will determine how much time you have to create a light design as well as the amount of ambient light that will show up in your image.

You’ll need to make sure your shutter speed is long enough to finish drawing your light painting. Stop down your aperture (to a larger f number) one increment at a time until the desired shutter speed can be achieved with acceptable results. Experiment with various exposure lengths to achieve the finished look you prefer.

Camera Settings - Photo by: Kendra Swalls

Step 3: Release The Shutter and Start Painting With Light

Once the camera setting are the way you want them, you’re ready to start playing. Get into position with your flashlight and have your assistant press the shutter or use the remote trigger to release the shutter. I found setting my shutter on a delay allowed me a couple extra seconds once the shutter was released to get ready. Once the shutter is released use the flashlight to draw your design.

The longer the exposure, the more time you have to create a light design. Start with a simple circle or star then work towards more intricate designs or words. You can even play with turning the flashlight on and off to create separate letters or shapes.

Painting with light - Photo by: Kendra Swalls

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