Mark Steines Answers Questions on Light Painting

What’s The Main Idea Behind "Light Painting?"
When you "Light Paint" you are taking a photo of something in the dark, and making visible only what you want the camera to see by shining a focused beam of light in a strategically chosen direction or directions. You are literally painting your picture with light.
What Equipment Do You Need?
You need a point and shoot camera with manual mode. If your camera is on autofocus, it will get stuck adjusting focus and you won’t be able to get a picture. You need a tripod to stabilize the camera. You can use anything in place of a tripod, a box, or even a dresser drawer. You need a dark place and a focused light source. Depending on what you are shooting, you can use a large floodlight, small penlight, or even glow sticks. As long as you have a light source whose beam of light can be directed at the subject of your photo, you are fine.

What Do We Need To Know About Photography In Order To "Light Paint?"
You need to know two things: aperture and shutter time. Aperture is how much light you let into the camera. Shutter time is how long you allow that light to go into the camera. To Light Paint we want to decrease the amount of light we let in the lens of the camera, while increasing the amount of time the shutter stays open. The longer the shutter of the lens stays open, the more action it can capture in one still image. Every camera is different, as is every photography scenario. Play around with your camera until you get the desired look you want for your photo.

Can You Use Light Painting Professionally?
The cool thing about light painting is that you can get precise lighting without a complex or expensive lighting set up. You have the time to get the lighting just where you want it. For example, you could be a food blogger that wants professional photos of their food, but can’t afford a traditional set up, can take their photos in their own closet. Entrepreneurs can get their products out there with low overhead cost.
Can You Take Landscapes Photos?
Absolutely! The best time to take a landscape photo with the light painting technique is at twilight. That is about an hour after sunset. There are many apps that can tell you exactly when twilight occurs in your area. A favorite of mine is called Golden Hour. You want the least amount of light pollution possible. Definitely avoid a full moon. Cameras are so sensitive these days; you could capture shadows created by the moonlight.
I went down to the beach and photographed a Lifeguard Stand. Because I was in a larger outdoor space, I used a large floodlight to get the photograph I wanted. It’s easy to find in stores. Brinkman makes this lamp. It cost $35, and it comes with a car charger for convenience.
Can You Photograph Objects That Move?

The answer is yes; by using the light source itself as the object you are capturing! Remember how we talked about how the longer the shutter is open; the more action is captured in one still image? If you set your shutter time to 15 seconds, that means you have 15 seconds of time to use your light source as a paintbrush and literally paint a picture. You won’t capture yourself manipulating the light in the dark. You’ll only see the path of the light creating an image. What Do Kids Get Out Of Light Painting? First and foremost, it’s fun! You can make a charade-style game out of it. They can pull suggestions of what they could paint out of a hat. Then you try to guess what they have painted.

They learn about time, spatial relations, and most importantly, they learn to think on their feet while stimulating their creativity!
Do You Have Any Advice For A Beginner?
The main thing is to have fun and experiment with your camera! Take your time and you will get the image you want!

Mark's DIY Light Painting

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