LOVE Light Painting Tutorial: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step-by-Step Guide to Light Painting

Here is a list of the equipment you need and the steps to trying it on your own:

Equipment needed:
1. Tripod
2. DSLR Camera (or a point and shoot that can do at least a 30 second exposure)
3. Flashlights (I recommend 1 flashlight per letter) and 1 high powered flashlight or video light 
4. At least 2-4 people
5. Shutter release (recommended--I have the Vello Shutterboss, but you could get away with not using it if you don't have one, but you will only be able to do up to a 30 sec shutter speed).

Here are the steps to get this shot:

1. First, know the word you want to spell and also realize that when you are facing the camera all the letters you will be spelling are backwards. For example, if you are spelling the letter "L" you will need to spell it like "_I"

2. Set up your camera on the tripod and have someone stand in front of the camera about 15-20 feet away (where you want to do the light painting) and frame your shot exactly the way you want it.

3. Shine a high powered flashlight on that person while having the camera in AUTO FOCUS. Also, turn the image stabilizer OFF whenever you are using a tripod so nothing inside the lens is moving when doing a long exposure as you don't want the pic to come out blurry).

4. *IMPORTANT* Focus the camera on the subject and then switch the camera to MANUAL FOCUS. That way when you hit the shutter button the camera isn't going to look for the focus because you already have the subject in focus. 

5. Grab your shutter release and set your shutter to 60 seconds and put the aperture around f/8. If you don't have a shutter release then try to start at 30 seconds at f/13 and do a test shot and adjust the settings from there. It might take a few test shots to get a good exposure so be patient. (My camera settings for the shot above were 60 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100, 31mm with my 18-55mm Canon lens)

6. Have everyone face the camera at the same distance you focused the camera on the subject, hit the shutter button (preferably either the shutter release or if you don't have one use the 3 second timer so the camera does not move AT ALL when you hit the button as ANY shake of the camera can make it blurry). 

7. Then spell the word you want to spell all at the same time. For example, if you are spelling the letter "O" you shine the flashlight at the camera and go in a circular motion until the camera stops. 

8. And remember to always have fun with the whole process as it might take 3-4 times or more before you get that one shot that is AWESOME, but it doesn't matter how many attempts it takes to get that "wow" shot as long as you get it!

I hope this tutorial helps you understand all the steps it takes to doing light painting and if you decide to go out and do it I'd LOVE to see the pic you get. Thanks for reading and if you found this helpful please feel free to share this blog post.

Click here to go to the LOVE Light Painting pic 

--Steven Archdeacon