Painting with Light.

Creative Photography: Painting with Light

2 mins read
2 mins read

We have all seen instagram photos of people writing with light in the night sky. This article covers how to paint with light in five easy steps. All you need is a camera, tripod, a torch and a dark room and you will be drawing with light in minutes.

Step 1 : Setting Scene

Lock your camera securely on the tripod. Frame your shot having a friend stand in front of the lens drawing out their name using their finger. Bear in mind you are going to be taking photos in complete darkness so make sure the area around your tripod is clear to ensure your camera remains save.

Step 2 : Camera Setup 

Set up your camera. Set the ISO to 100, and use manual mode with a shutter speed of 20-30 seconds. It is also possible to use bulb mode if you want to have complete control of the duration of capture. This is useful if you are using the paint with light technique with younger children.

Painting with Light

Step 3 : The Light Source

Find a suitable light source. For the above image I used a 4 LED wall light from Ikea which was easy to hold and created a multi light stream. Really any light source will work a small torch with a fine point is ideal. 

Paint with Light

Step 4 : Paint with Light

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 suggest an additional torch for the camera operator or easy access to the main light source in the room.

Step 5 : Post Production

Once the drawing with light fun is over, import your photos into your computer. Now  use your photo editor to flip the images 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.


Understanding Depth of Field
The Long Exposure eBook
FlixelPix Lightroom Presets


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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