Light Painting - Overview

14 posts / 0 new
Last post
stephenk
stephenk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: 01/30/2016 - 05:09
Posts: 1307
Location: Australia
Light Painting - Overview

This thread came about after an off-topic discussion on the Q8 thread a few weeks ago.
I’ve been light painting for a few years, and whilst far from being an expert, I’m trying to learning many different techniques.




All my light painting photos are here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenk1977/albums/72157654803029354

Light painting tools

Flashlights – a no brainer for light painting, flashlights or torches can be used off-image to illuminate a scene, in-image for “light drawing” or illuminating a light painting tool. My most commonly used lights are:
- Ledlenser P7QC – for red, green, and blue light.
- Ledlenser P7.2 – the zoom and momentary switch are useful for as a light brush for illuminating specific parts of the image.
- 3 x Convoy S2+ (with biscotti) in warm, neutral, and cool white (the differences in tint can look beautiful). Strobe is useful for orbs and light trails.
- Convoy L6 – for when I need high output or short exposure times. Lack of auto step-down on Convoy lights is useful.
- Assorted headlamps – for finding your way in the dark.

Gels or cellophane – these can be used to create a range of colours either by placing on the lens of the torch, or sticking to the edge of light blades. Cellophane is very inexpensive, though easy to burn a hole through!

Diffusers – useful for basic light drawing, or diffusing the beam for illumination.

Light painting tools – loads of different tools can be attached the flashlight to create a huge range of light trails, orbs, and effects. I highly recommend the lightpaintingbrushes.com system which allows for the connection of torches with heads between 25mm and 38mm diameter (Convoy S2+ fits perfectly) using the Universal Connector. Light painting tool options include:
- Fibre optics – both white (whole fibre illuminates) and black (only end illuminates)
- Light blades – plexiglass blades cut into various shapes, which can be modded with different edge treatment, gels, and tape to create cool effects.
- Swords, sabres, and lightflutes – semi-transparent PVC or light sabre effects.
- Light pens and writers – used for light drawing
- Bottles – give a fat beam effect.

It is also possible to make homemade tools, using 25mm and 35mm plumbing or garden watering connecters to connect the light to the tool. T8 and T12 fluorescent tube guards are popular homemade solution. In fact, light painting is a modders paradise!

EL wire – used for a mist effect when wiggled about. I got mine from Gearbest, and Banggood also sell them.

Steel wool – can be set alight in a whisk, and spun around. Be extremely careful not to set things or yourself on fire!

LED strips – attached to poles or stick of wood can be used to great effect. I bought a 1.2m LED strip from a hardware store, cut off the power supply, and attached a 12V AA battery holder. A commercial version is called the Pixelstick, and there are many homemade versions using Arduino controllers as well.

Other – any other portable light emitting device can be used for light painting, such as glow sticks, sparklers, and finger lights.

LPB Universal Connector linking Convoy S2+ and Denis Smith Lightflute CH48

2 modifed Light Blades, one from LPB and the other custom made.

EL Wire

Convoy S2+ Diffuser

Exposure techniques

You need an interchangeable lens camera (SLR or mirrorless) capable of 30 seconds or longer (bulb) exposure and a tripod. Exposure is trial and error, and it sometimes takes a few practice shots to get things right. In most cases as the base scene is dark, the focus needs to be set first, and then switched to manual before exposing. Remote shutter release and timer delays are critical in getting good photos.

Aperture – f/8 for best sharpness (though depends on lens), f/13 or narrower for starburst effects, f/6 or wider if you need to keep down exposure times or increase the background light.

Exposure Time – vary as to how long you need to do the light painting. I quite often use bulb mode with remote shutter control for longer than 30 second exposures. If you have an illuminated model in the photo, you may need to keep the time short – just a few seconds.

ISO – vary as to get the required exposure. For non-blurred photos of the Milky Way, you’ll need ISO1600 or higher.

Fancy techniques – zoom pull, camera rotation, and lens swaps during a single exposure (covering the lens or blackout during each change) are becoming increasingly popular.

Post processing

Most light painters don’t photoshop, though photoshop can allow for some amazing art. Adobe Lightroom and other RAW editors tend to be the most popular. Techniques vary – personally I usually reduce highlights to minimum, shadows to maximum, then adjust white and black point as required. Exposure, clarity, vibrancy, saturation, noise reduction, contrast curves, temperature and tint are adjusted as required. Occasionally tripod shadows, tripods, feet (below orbs), and internal lens reflection need to be edited out with the heal or clone tool.

Useful links
Light painting tools:
http://lightpaintingbrushes.com – (LPB) lots of cool light painting brushes based around the Universal Connector.
http://denissmith.com.au – Australian seller of LPB, and also makes his own range of lightflutes, arclight blades, and “Ball of Light” tool for spinning orbs.
http://liteblades.com – Canadian based seller of light-blades that fit the Klarus XT11GT light.

A good starting point for light painting inspiration including tips and tricks:
http://lightpaintingphotography.com

Edited by: stephenk on 06/24/2017 - 03:32
The Miller
The Miller's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 12/14/2015 - 12:08
Posts: 9630
Location: Charente France

Wow thanks, very nice.

WestBam
WestBam's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 45 min ago
Joined: 02/23/2016 - 17:04
Posts: 327
Location: Hungary

Wow, the first picture is something amazing. Thumbs Up

stephenk
stephenk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: 01/30/2016 - 05:09
Posts: 1307
Location: Australia

WestBam wrote:
Wow, the first picture is something amazing. Thumbs Up

Thanks. It is also surprisingly easy to create. It was created using a lightflute (PVC pipe with holes) connected to a Convoy S2+ (with Biscotti) on strobe. Standing side on to the camera, I was holding the torch and connector with an outstretched hand. Keeping my shoulder in the same place, all desired movements were based around only moving the shoulder joint to create a half orb.

The surrounding trees were illuminated with ledlenser P7.2 on zoom so that only specific parts of the image were illuminated.

bibihang
bibihang's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 10 hours ago
Joined: 11/10/2011 - 09:32
Posts: 2387
Location: Malaysia

Sorry for the stupid question, do you think it is possible to do light painting with smartphone? Maybe with some special apps installed to control the exposure time?

stephenk
stephenk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: 01/30/2016 - 05:09
Posts: 1307
Location: Australia

bibihang wrote:
Sorry for the stupid question, do you think it is possible to do light painting with smartphone? Maybe with some special apps installed to control the exposure time?

There may be some apps that can allow long exposures on smart phones – possibly apps that stack photos. I’ve not used any of these apps so can’t recommend any.
hIKARInoob
hIKARInoob's picture
Online
Last seen: 8 min 14 sec ago
Joined: 08/28/2016 - 08:15
Posts: 4030

Hey Stephen how are you doing man? I bumped into these lights from Jaxman; perhaps you can appreciate them? They really look nice and shout “buy me”, hehe.
https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/JAXMAN-E2L-color-3LED-TIR-LENS-Red-Green-Blue-Yellow-light-18650-flashlight/1812094_32815613600.html?spm=2114.12010615.0.0.RHVX8O

stephenk
stephenk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: 01/30/2016 - 05:09
Posts: 1307
Location: Australia
hIKARInoob wrote:
Hey Stephen how are you doing man? I bumped into these lights from Jaxman; perhaps you can appreciate them? They really look nice and shout “buy me”, hehe. https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/JAXMAN-E2L-color-3LED-TIR-LENS-Red-Green-Blue-Yellow-light-18650-flashlight/1812094_32815613600.html?spm=2114.12010615.0.0.RHVX8O

Thanks for the heads-up – I wasn’t aware of these.

To be honest, my Ledlenser P7QC covers most of my RGB colour requirements (and Convoy S2+ 4C covers the yellow), and is bright enough for light painting! However, the Jaxman E2L colour blue has a much more useful wavelength of 465nm than the P7QC at 405-425nm which is quite violet.

The cheap 10-colour changing Colourshine Light from eBay is quite popular with light painters at the moment – I have one on the way!

goshdogit
goshdogit's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 hour 38 min ago
Joined: 12/03/2015 - 21:28
Posts: 1026

Stephen, your photos are amazing! Nice job on the ‘how-to’ as well. Thumbs Up

I saw your Flickr page a while ago when you linked to it in another thread.

I really like the photos that include your silhouette and glowing head. Big Smile

bibihang wrote:
Sorry for the stupid question, do you think it is possible to do light painting with smartphone? Maybe with some special apps installed to control the exposure time?
I’ve used an iPhone app called ‘Slow Shutter Cam’ from Cogitap Software.

Here’s a link to their website with more info and sample photos.

hIKARInoob
hIKARInoob's picture
Online
Last seen: 8 min 14 sec ago
Joined: 08/28/2016 - 08:15
Posts: 4030
stephenk wrote:
hIKARInoob wrote:
Hey Stephen how are you doing man? I bumped into these lights from Jaxman; perhaps you can appreciate them? They really look nice and shout “buy me”, hehe. https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/JAXMAN-E2L-color-3LED-TIR-LENS-Red-Green-Blue-Yellow-light-18650-flashlight/1812094_32815613600.html?spm=2114.12010615.0.0.RHVX8O

Thanks for the heads-up – I wasn’t aware of these.

To be honest, my Ledlenser P7QC covers most of my RGB colour requirements (and Convoy S2+ 4C covers the yellow), and is bright enough for light painting! However, the Jaxman E2L colour blue has a much more useful wavelength of 465nm than the P7QC at 405-425nm which is quite violet.

The cheap 10-colour changing Colourshine Light from eBay is quite popular with light painters at the moment – I have one on the way!

Thumbs Up
I hear you. But they look so pretty all four lined up… Big Smile The P7QC is also an awesome piece of equipment…
MRsDNF
MRsDNF's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 hours 47 min ago
Joined: 12/22/2011 - 21:18
Posts: 12983
Location: A light beam away from the missus in the land of Aus.

Love the pictures Stephen. You are one very creative and talented person. Thumbs Up

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

stephenk
stephenk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: 01/30/2016 - 05:09
Posts: 1307
Location: Australia
hIKARInoob wrote:
stephenk wrote:
hIKARInoob wrote:
Hey Stephen how are you doing man? I bumped into these lights from Jaxman; perhaps you can appreciate them? They really look nice and shout “buy me”, hehe. https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/JAXMAN-E2L-color-3LED-TIR-LENS-Red-Green-Blue-Yellow-light-18650-flashlight/1812094_32815613600.html?spm=2114.12010615.0.0.RHVX8O

Thanks for the heads-up – I wasn’t aware of these.

To be honest, my Ledlenser P7QC covers most of my RGB colour requirements (and Convoy S2+ 4C covers the yellow), and is bright enough for light painting! However, the Jaxman E2L colour blue has a much more useful wavelength of 465nm than the P7QC at 405-425nm which is quite violet.

The cheap 10-colour changing Colourshine Light from eBay is quite popular with light painters at the moment – I have one on the way!

Thumbs Up
I hear you. But they look so pretty all four lined up… Big Smile The P7QC is also an awesome piece of equipment…

Yes, they do look pretty, but unfortunately I’m trying to limit the number of lights I’m carrying around rather than increasing them (and not doing too well at that)!

MRsDNF wrote:
Love the pictures Stephen. You are one very creative and talented person. Thumbs Up

Thanks. There are however much better light painters than me!
bibihang
bibihang's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 10 hours ago
Joined: 11/10/2011 - 09:32
Posts: 2387
Location: Malaysia

goshdogit wrote:
Stephen, your photos are amazing! Nice job on the ‘how-to’ as well. Thumbs Up

I saw your Flickr page a while ago when you linked to it in another thread.

I really like the photos that include your silhouette and glowing head. Big Smile

bibihang wrote:
Sorry for the stupid question, do you think it is possible to do light painting with smartphone? Maybe with some special apps installed to control the exposure time?
I’ve used an iPhone app called ‘Slow Shutter Cam’ from Cogitap Software.

Here’s a link to their website with more info and sample photos.


Hi, thanks for the recommendation but I use Android phone.
geoffrey.elgey
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 1 week ago
Joined: 10/26/2018 - 07:29
Posts: 1
Location: Australia

I’m looking at getting into light painting, so this post is a great roundup.

I have the Dennis Smith CH48 light flute and a universal connector, and I’m just looking to get a flashlight or two to go with it. I’m thinking about a cool white Convoy S2+ and warm white Convoy S2+ to start with. I’m looking at the aliexpress store and there’s various options for output (7135×3 = 1050 mA, 7135×4 = 1400 mA, etc). I’m assuming that I should choose the 7135×3? Is that enough for most situations? Or should I go brighter?