Intro to Light Painting

Step One - Supplies


Photo by atiabii from Pexels

The technique for Light Painting is the same as it is for shooting Fireworks.  If you haven't yet, check out my post here about how to take firework and sparkler photos.  Many of the steps will be the same!

Before we begin, you will need a few things for it to work correctly.  


     1.  Camera. I said you can do it with any camera but that isn’t entirely true.  You can do it with a camera with the ability to change modes or settings.  Not necessarily manual mode, but you will need to be able to slow down your shutter speed (that is the click you hear when you take a picture.)

  • You can use a smartphone if it has the ability to change the shutter or has the ability to change to a “fireworks” mode.  Don’t worry if you don’t…  The default camera app on my phone doesn’t have that ability either.  You CAN download another camera app and use that one for these instances.  I have an app called Open Camera.  I only use this when I need to do manual settings.  For the most part the default app on my phone does an amazing job!!

  •  Most Point and Shoot cameras will have the ability to change the scene modes.  Again, you will want to switch it to the “Fireworks” mode.

  • DSLR.  I highly recommend you give this is shot on Manual mode!  I know, I know.. but it’s not as scary as it seems. I will walk you through it.  If you do not want to use Manual, most of the consumer lines of DSLR’s have the different modes as well. 


     2. Tripod. You will need a Tripod or something to prop the camera on.  This technique requires the shutter to be open a longer time so it needs to be perfectly still.  The shutter is the click you hear when you take a picture.  That is what opens up to let the light or the image into the camera.  The faster it is the less light is allowed in. The slower it is, more light is allowed in.  The light is what becomes the picture.  It is very important that the camera is as still as possible for this.  If you have a DSLR or POS  I like this tripod.  I also use this one for my smartphone.


     3. Light source.  Sparklers are very popular but can be hard if you have someone that is afraid of getting burned.  I have a young child that likes them but will throw it to the ground quickly if he thinks it is getting close to his hand (note have a hose at the ready!) Other options:  glow sticks (my favorite to use), a flashlight, cell phone light.   Really anything that has a light can be used.


Next, we will talk about the technique!