How Is Light Painting Photography Done?

Light painting photography is a captivating and creative technique that allows photographers to capture mesmerizing images using light as their brushstroke. It combines the art of long-exposure photography with the deliberate movement of light sources to produce stunning and often ethereal results. Whether it’s drawing intricate patterns, tracing shapes, or illuminating objects, light painting offers endless possibilities for artistic expression.

The process of light painting photography involves a few key elements: a camera with manual settings, a tripod or stable surface, a dark environment, and various light sources.

Also, Read: How To Do Pet Photography?

Steps And Guidance

You’ll need a camera that allows you to control exposure settings (such as a DSLR or mirrorless camera), a tripod to keep your camera steady, a remote shutter release (optional but helpful), and various light sources like flashlights, LED sticks, or glow sticks.

Find a dark environment or shoot during nighttime to minimize ambient light. Set up your camera on the tripod and ensure it’s stable. Compose your shot by framing the subject or the area you want to capture.

Switch your camera to manual mode and adjust the settings. Start with a low ISO setting (e.g., ISO 100 or 200) to minimize noise. Set a small aperture (e.g., f/8 or f/11) for a greater depth of field. Lastly, set a slow shutter speed (several seconds to minutes) to allow enough time to capture the light trails.

In low light conditions, autofocus might struggle, so switch your lens to manual focus and focus on the subject. You can use a flashlight to illuminate the subject temporarily for focusing. Once focused, switch the lens back to manual focus to prevent it from refocusing when taking the shot.

Start the exposure by pressing the shutter button or using a remote release to avoid a camera shake. Once the exposure begins, move the light sources creatively in front of the camera to create light trails or patterns. You can “paint” the light onto your subject or create patterns in the air. Experiment with different movements, speeds, and distances from the camera to achieve desired effects.

After the exposure is complete, review the image on the camera’s LCD screen. If you’re not satisfied with the results, adjust your technique or camera settings and try again. Light painting is a trial-and-error process, so don’t be afraid to experiment and iterate.


Once you’re finished with the shoot, transfer the images to your computer. You can use image editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to enhance the colors, contrast, and sharpness of your light painting photographs. However, this step is optional, and you can also enjoy the images as they are.

Light painting photography is a fascinating art form that encourages experimentation and creativity. With practice, patience, and an imaginative approach, you can create stunning and unique images that evoke a sense of wonder and awe. So grab your camera, and some light sources, and delve into the world of light painting to unlock your artistic potential.

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