Light painting photography is a captivating technique perfect for the darker winter months that allows you to create stunning images by manipulating light sources and using long-exposure camera settings. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced photographer, these seven essential tips will help you take your light painting skills to the next level.
What is Light Painting Photography?
Light painting is a technique that uses moving continuous LED light sources in a dark or low-light environment to create an image with the use of long-exposure photography.
Long Exposure Photography, where the camera's shutter is left open for an extended period of time during the taking of an image, allows for the capture of movement and patterns created by the light source that you can't capture with the naked eye or with a short shutter length. As the light source moves, the camera captures the trails of light, resulting in a single image that combines all the light movements within the frame.
Choose the Right Location
When it comes to light painting photography, location is one of the key tips. Look for places with minimal light pollution, such as remote areas or abandoned buildings, to ensure that your light sources stand out. Experiment with different environments to add depth and interest to your images.
If on location photography, consider whether light from cars or buildings in the area may affect your image. Or, if in the studio, ensure any extra lights are covered and that you're using a dark enough area. Consider using a black background.
Pick your Light Painting LEDs
Ideally, the best kinds of LEDs for light painting are those that are small enough to be handheld during your photography. So, this can be either mini LED Panels, or light tubes or sticks. Consider what kind of shape or pattern you want to create with the light. If you want to create words or a drawn effect, a mini panel will be your best option.
See similar: (Blog) A Beginner's Guide to LED RGB Light Tubes
Godox C5R RGB Panel
The Godox KNOWLED C5R RGB LED is a pocket-sized and battery powered unit with high colour accuracy and bluetooth control enabled via the Godox Light App so you can control the colour of your light from your phone!
The C5R also comes with a diffuser cover which can be added to the light to soften your light and avoid individual LED chips showing up in your image.
The mini R1 RGB LED is also similar and will create more of a round shape to your lettering.
Godox TL Series Light Tube
The Godox TL Series of light tubes include a range of size options depending on what you need, with Godox Light App compatibility and high colour accuracy, as well as a range of lighting effects built-in which can add some interesting effects to your light painting photography!
See related: (YouTube) Light Painting with the Godox TL60 RGB Tube- with Jason Vaughan
PiXAPRO Rainbow Tubes
If you're after a budget-friendly option and you want to use multiple light sources for your shoot, the PiXAPRO Rainbow tubes may be a great option! With 320 degrees of light around the tube, remote control, and a 3-hour+ battery, these lightweight tubes can be purchased in 90cm versions or 120cm.
KYU-6 RGB Bracelet
The innovative KYU-6 snap-bracelet design LED light has a lot of different uses, including for light painting! Use as a flat light, or use on models' wrists as a bracelet for light painting photoshoots for an interesting effect.
These lights have a range of 14 colours to choose from, plus a handful of effects including Breathing, Police, Fire, TV, and Fireworks.
Consider Clothing Choices
If you're aiming for a dramatic and highly contrasted image, make sure whoever is doing the light painting in your shot wears black for the shoot. If they wear colourful or reflective clothing, this will likely show up in the image and be distracting.
In other ways, if you are including models in the light painting shot or would like your light painters to be visible, it may still be smart to discuss what they plan to wear during the photography shoot so you can plan your lighting choices accordingly.
Plan Your Composition
Before you start painting with light, take a moment to plan your composition. Consider the elements you want to include in your photography frame and how they will interact with the light. Experiment with different angles, perspectives, and focal points to create visually striking images.
Use a Tripod
Stability is crucial in light painting photography. To avoid blurry images, use a sturdy tripod to keep your camera steady throughout the long exposure. This will allow you to focus on creating precise and controlled light movements without worrying about camera shake.
Experiment with Light Sources
Don't limit yourself to traditional light sources. Get creative and experiment with different tools and materials to achieve unique effects. LED lights, glow sticks, flashlights, and even sparklers can all be used to create mesmerizing light trails and patterns.
Master the Lighting Painting Photography Technique
Light painting photography requires patience and practice. Start by setting your camera to manual mode and using a long exposure time. Check how long you have for the image, and practice the pattern you need for the shot.
As you gain confidence, try different techniques such as light orbs, light drawing, or light stencils. Remember to experiment with different shutter speeds and aperture settings to achieve the desired effect.
Edit with Precision
Post-processing is an essential tips of light painting photography. Use editing software to fine-tune your images and enhance their impact. Adjust the exposure, contrast, and colours to bring out the best in your light painting creations.
By following these tips and practicing regularly, you'll be able to master the art of light painting photography. Remember, the key to creating captivating images lies in your creativity and willingness to experiment. So grab your camera, find a dark location, and let your imagination run wild!