How to : Paint with Light

3 mins read

There are a number of great photography projects you can enjoy with your family, one of the best is a night in the dark painting with light.

This article will cover how to paint with light with a quick and easy set up that offers some easily achievable results. The best thing about this project is the entire family can take part, if they can write they can draw with light.

I took this photo last October and gave it the title “Green Peace” ! All you need is a camera, tripod, a torch and a dark room and you will be drawing with light in minutes.

Step 1

Lock your camera securely on the tripod, frame your shot having a family member stand in front of the lens drawing out their name using their finger. Bearing in mind you are going to be taking photos in complete darkness I would make sure the area around your tripod is clear to ensure your camera remains save.

Step 2

Set up your camera. I set the ISO to 100, and used manual mode with a long exposure of around 20-30 seconds. Perhaps in hindsight the bulb mode might have been easier to allow the younger members of the family time to spell their name out.

Step 3

Find a suitable light source. We used a 4 LED wall light from Ikea which was easy to hold and created a multi light stream effect but any small torch will work, the finer the point of light the thiner then light line it will create.

Step 4

Now the fun starts. Close the curtains / blinds (best to do this at night anyway) and turn off the lights. Click the camera shutter button while the person in front the camera spells their name an appropriate word. I would definitely suggest an additional torch for the camera operator or easy access to the main light source in the room.

Step 5

Once the drawing with light fun is over, import your photos into your computer and use your photo editor to flip them horizontally so the text is readable. You can obviously play with the image in photoshop for example adjust as in the photo above.

The next stage is to take your long exposure journey a little further with The Long Exposure eBook.


David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.

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