How To Paint With Light

Painting with light — the process of illustrating or writing with light in a slow exposure photograph — is a pretty stunning effect that’s surprisingly simple to accomplish. Here’s how to do it.

What You’ll Need

  • A still camera with manual settings
  • Tripod
  • A light source (like a flashlight, LED, or glowstick)
  • Someone to help you out (although it is possible to do this alone)
  • A dark environment (like your creepy basement, or just outside at night)

Vimeo Video School has a wealth of video lessons, such as how to paint with light. So how do you do it? The way you accomplish your light painting will depend on what you want to do. If you’re just staying in one place and capturing a series of photos, you can simply take prolonged exposures with your camera and paint with a flashlight like it’s a paintbrush. As you might imagine, this can take a lot of planning. Sometimes it helps to draw out what you want to do first so you’re prepared when you’re actually taking the photo (or series of photos for a video). Here’s an overview of the entire process:

For more information, including specific camera settings to be aware of, visit the full Lesson on Vimeo Video School.

Painting with Light | Vimeo Video School

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