At the heart of it, light painting is a pretty basic photographic technique: find yourself a dark room, set your camera up on a tripod on a long exposure (10 or 20 seconds should do it) and wave a light source near the object you want to shoot. Repeat.
There’s something beautiful about the organic nature of shooting like this. Indeed, it would be impossible to get two identical results — which is both rewarding and yet frustrating at times, as it can take over a minute to photograph, check, reset and start shooting again.
For this shoot I used the Canon 5D, but you could arguably use any camera that allows you to do long exposure photography, including many smartphones. The important thing is to keep the camera very stable during this time — even the action of pressing the shutter down can cause enough shake to throw the shot off. If you’re shooting on a DSLR you can usually get a remote trigger pretty cheaply which can help, or similarly (but more expensive) I have the Pulse by Alpine labs which has lots of features (when it works) that you can control remotely from your phone. The light source used is actually the torch from my iPhone, covered with different gels to give a different colour effect. Simple, but effective.
I’m hoping to do some more light painting photography like this – the simplicity of sticking the guitar on the floor is great, but I’d love to create some more abstract art with the guitar (or another object) in mid-air, and also to use neutral density filters to allow me to use lower apertures so I can experiment with different effects that a shallow depth of field might cause, and perhaps using very fine light sources like fibre optics. Watch this space!
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