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Abstract Photography: Light Painting Guide

Updated on June 17, 2017

Fun with light

Taken on the beach in 2010
Taken on the beach in 2010 | Source

In the wide world of photography, it is always interesting when someone does something a little different. With lightpainting, you can actually use the area around you as a blank canvas, and make light a paintbrush. There are a few different types of lightpainting, but no matter the type, the setup is the same and simple.

The Setup

The setup is much more simple than the water drop or smoke photography. You only need a very dark space, a tripod, a camera with a remote or timer setting, and a camera that you can change the shutter settings on, and a flashlight.

Place you camera on the tripod, and set the timer or remote setting. Focus to the point that you will be painting.

Creating you Own Photograph

The photograph above is an example of creating your own photograph. You can paint whatever you like, or flail around like a fool and see what comes out. In either scenario, you will set your camera to the bulb setting, and create your picture. It is best to do this in a place with little light, as there is the least amount of light pollution.

Changing the Landscape

Changing the landscape is very easy. You can have a little more light than creating your own photograph, but you will need different colored gels to place on your flashlight. You can then color in pieces of the landscape to whatever colors you would like. You have to be aware that the colors do mix like regular paints, due to the photo sensitivity of the film or sensor. You can paint building pink, or trees purple.

Tips for Lightpainting

Lightpainting takes practice. It can be done with a variety of materials, but if you want to draw actual pictures, it takes work. There are no lines in real life, so you have to find a way to visualize what you have already done if you have no way to trace it. Flashes are not very useful unless you want to capture certain elements of the photographs before you paint. You will also be more successful with light painting if it is done at night, since the sun will overpower any sort of painting you can do.

Happy painting!


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  • s.wilson profile image

    s.wilson 6 years ago

    Thanks everyone for your comments! I will look through some of my other lightpainting and see what I have. I plan on doing some later with sparklers and maybe steel wool. I will let you know how it goes!

  • profile image

    UrsulaRose 6 years ago

    Lucky for us the world has photographers that like to try something somewhat different.

    This is new to me and I like what I see. I will be follow your Hub Articles to see what other fabulous treats you come up with in the future.

  • carcamping profile image

    carcamping 6 years ago

    Very interesting. Inspires me! Thanks

  • rockdresses profile image

    rockdresses 6 years ago from Turkey

    Thanks a lot for your brilliant post~

  • Reynold Jay profile image

    Reynold Jay 6 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

    I'd like to see a few more photos as I love the ONE you did post. I stumbled across this HUB by accident and then I found I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. I suspect you have writing talent and time will tell I guess. Keep up the great HUBS. I must give this an “Up ONE and awesome.” I'm now your fan! RJ

    Based upon your HUB, you might enjoy this HUB…