Light painting fun!

Large open spaces provided opportunity for some nocturnal play on our recent trip to the countryside in Sea Ranch. Have you tried light painting? If not, read on and I’ll explain :)

F/5.6, ISO 200, 40 seconds

Light painting generally involves sweeping light over an area with a flashlight while taking a long exposure.  The camera sees and records the light, as well as stationary objects in the scene that are absorbing the light. Moving things, such as the person holding the light, are not recorded, thus becoming invisible. Pretty cool eh? For the shot above my sister, facing the camera with a flashlight, wrote Aswirly in the sky. She’s there in the scene, but the camera didn’t pick her up.  Light painting like this is alot of fun if you have an open place, friends and kids, and a camera. You can do it with a point and shoot too as long as you have a tripod, or at least somewhere to rest the camera so it doesn’t move during the exposure.

F/5, ISO 400, 30 seconds

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~ by aswirly on February 27, 2011.

48 Responses to “Light painting fun!”

  1. These are so cool. And fun!!!

  2. Wow! I love these. I think my favorite is your swirl in the bottom photo. It’s like a setting moon shining over the earth.

  3. Very neat how you do that. I would have guessed, had you not told me, that you had done it in photoshop. The fact yu could do it while taking the photo makes it even more cool! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you Leslie! Yeah, there are some pretty fun things you can do with just a camera that look Photoshopped. THis is one of those things I always wanted to try :)

  4. My question is about your settings…I see you bumped ISO to 400. If you use a long exposure, why bump ISO? I have struggled with this over time, wondering if the long exposure justifies low ISO. Curious about your thoughts.

    • Well, the two shots were taken on two different nights. I like to keep my ISO as low as possible to reduce noise, and on the first night that was just fine. But on the second night the circumstances were a little different. It was later, and therefore darker, and I wasn’t able to get enough of the foreground shooting at 200. Also, I couldn’t extend the exposure because a storm was rolling off the ocean and the moisture in the air was blurring any shot I took that was longer than 30 seconds. After some trial and error I found that 30 seconds at 400 gave me the shot, and the crispness, that I wanted :)

  5. Did you switch your pictures? I looked quickly yesterday (on google reader) and thought I saw different pictures?
    These are FUN! Something that’s on my list to try some day.
    Does the person with the flashlight need to wear dark clothing for this?

    • haha, well… yeah, I was a little fussy last night and moved one pic off. Every now and then I get fussy like that. lol. Thanks Michaela :) Dark clothes are definitley a bonus although the main thing is keep moving!

  6. You took away the first photo?? (saw it in my email notice).

    I LOVE lightpainting! These are so well done! Good job!

    • I know I know. I like it because it’s me and my sis, but the “cut out” feel of it was driving me a little bonkers and I was fussy last night. lol. Thanks Tracy!! :)

  7. Clever, I’d love to give this a go with the boys. Need to look at my old camera in more detail, I run a mile when photographers talk about ISO settings! :-( The light in the sky is also amazing. It looks a beautiful part of the world even in semi-darkness. Great post, very informative. I might come back to bend your ear!

  8. Light painting is lots of fun – at least the little bit that I have tried. I am amazed your sister was able to write backwards so legibly with a flashlight, and in the dark! Kudos. The second shot is very cool. Love the comp and the could streak.

    • Thank you Mike! I KNOW, my sister was ace with that flshlight!! I couldn’t write anything. lol. All I could get was that swirl. She wrote all sorts of things in the air for my dad and I.

  9. Very cool! but i guess asmalltowndad.wordpress.com is asking to much? But very cool!

  10. FANTABULOUS !!! And so are you and your sidekick and mini-clone, your sister. Hee-hee

  11. Great fun! I love the surprise element – because writing / drawing in the air isn’t the norm for any of us, you only get to see how it all turned out when you look at the photo afterwards. I’m going to have to try this – once the weather is actually warm enough to stand outside after dark!

    • Thanks Jayne. It was so much fun, and you’re right… writing in the air is pretty strange. I should have posted all of our bloopers. THose were real funny!

  12. Great fun! I’ve often wondered what light pictures were, couldn’t suss it at all. Thanks for the explanation and of course the photos.
    :)

    • Yeah, in the past I often though such pics were Photoshopped. It really is a fun trick and relatively easy to do. Thank you Val!! :)

  13. This is such fun..and oh-so-very creative. WOW!

  14. I can’t believe she wrote that backwards – well done!

    My friends and I tried this with sparklers a few years ago (one person per letter), and trying to get a shot where everyone got it right was almost impossible!

    • Yeah, she was really a champ with that flashlight! That sparkler idea sounds great if only everyone can write quikly in mirror image.

  15. I agree…Ali did an excellent job writing backwards! These shots look great! so much fun

  16. Pretty cool shots! Looks fun to do also. I was wondering what type of light did you use?

    By the way, I love your work.

    Anne :)

    • Oh thank you so much Anne! Um…we just used a simple flashlight. I think you can use just about anything from a penlight, to a sparkler, to a big ol’ flashlight. It’s alot of fun!

  17. Wow this is too cool! I need to try this once. Gr8 stuff!

  18. Wow, this looks like fun and great results. I’m always partial to spirals, but your sister has great light penmanship.

  19. This surprises me actually. Not so much the amazing photography, but more the fact that they let you out at night. lol. But then I guess you were at least supervised. ;)

    I kid as always. These are stunning A, and I love the little illuminated house on the hill too.

  20. So cool. This isn’t as easy at it sounds, you rocked it.

  21. I have always wanted to try this, but keep forgetting. Thanks for the inspiration to try to do this very soon (well, when it is warmer to be out at night. :-) )

  22. This is so cool awesome

  23. Wow! That’s a fantastic idea, I must give this a go. Very impressed with your results!

  24. I must give these a go, they look so cool. Love the bottom one with the sky in particular.

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