I find light painting a really interesting and versatile technique. If you’d like to start experimenting with tube light painting, Eric Paré and Kim Henry have prepared a fantastic tutorial for you. In only two minutes, they share all you need to know to get started with tube painting.
First of all, it’s good to know that light painting tubes are really easy to make, and they’re dirt cheap. All you need is a plastic tube and a flashlight.
As for the tubes, you can buy them at a local hardware store for about $3. Alternatively, you can roll your own using acetate, laminating film or baking paper.
Once you have the tube, add the flashlight to the bottom and you’re ready to roll. You can add various objects to create different effects. For example, add a feather to the top, or a birthday sparkler.
Set your camera on a tripod and use long exposures to capture the trace of light. Use a radio remote trigger and set the camera to bulb mode. Then, press down the button during the duration of your light shape.
If you want to create stripes, use two flashlights and set one to the blinking mode.
As for the camera settings, always expose for the background first. Then, adjust the flashlight power to match your camera settings.
Eric usually starts shooting at sunset at ISO 50, f/14, 1 sec exposure and the flashlight at 2400 lumens. He ends with the stars with ISO 3200, f/1.4, 6 sec and 20 lumens.
Posing and painting with light
If you paint with the light tube behind the model, ask the model to stand perfectly still in order to prevent blur.
Also, make sure to stay perfectly aligned with your model so you aren’t visible in the photo. You can read more tips about it in this tutorial.
If you want to make perfect circles, Eric suggests you keep your arm straight and fix a point behind the model’s back. To avoid any overlap, start and stop behind one leg of the model.
This is just a quick guide, but I think it has all the basics you need before you get started. From here on, you can experiment on your own, learn some more, and most importantly – enjoy and have fun.
[Tube light-painting tutorial | Eric Paré ]