Take your light painting game to the next level with these unconventional techniques

Jun 23, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Take your light painting game to the next level with these unconventional techniques

Jun 23, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Light painting is typically done one of two ways. Either you have a flashlight and wave it around your scene from behind the camera to light up your subject over time or you have the light source actually in the scene and you’re creating a long exposure of its movements. But there are many light sources besides flashlights that you can use for light painting. In this video from COOPH, we take a look at five ways to paint with light.

Lasers

Now, this one has to come with a warning. Lasers, even low powered laser pointers, can be VERY dangers. So, never point them towards peoples eyes or highly reflective surfaces like mirrors or chromed objects unless you’re wearing some sort of eye protection.

That being said, lasers can produce some pretty interesting and unusual looks. The shot above reminds me a lot of the charcoal sketch style filters in Photoshop. You can also use other forms of laser, like the handheld barcode scanners often found in supermarkets and other stores.

Projectors

Light painting with projectors has been going on for a very long time, all the way back to the days of film. But computers offer us far more options than we used to get with slide projectors. Now we have absolute control over the colour, and we can even animate the projection over time for some very cool effects.

DIY “Strobe Pencil”

These are essentially DIY versions of the Light Painting Brushes we’re already familiar with. And while the Light Painting Brushes are excellent value for what they offer and let us create some amazing results, making our own DIY version allows us to make them in any shape we desire. The trick with this technique is to use a flashlight that has a “strobe” option.

“Classic Light Painting”

This technique has become quite popular over the last few years, mostly thanks to photographers like Eric Pare and Zach Smidt. While there are a number of commercial options out there to give you “tubes” to paint with, Eric’s posted instructions on how you can make your own (and how he makes his).

Drone Painting

This is another technique that’s only been possible over the last few years as drones have become more capable and lights have become much smaller and more powerful. As a technique, this one is still in its very early days, and you can go simple by simply strapping something like a Litra Torch 2.0 to your Mavic, or you can go way over the tip, like Ivan Miranda and Tom Stanton.

Which of these techniques have you tried? And what others do you use that weren’t mentioned?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One response to “Take your light painting game to the next level with these unconventional techniques”

  1. Dennis Ryu Bär Avatar
    Dennis Ryu Bär

    Should have mentioned Phill Fisher who did some groundbreaking work with drone light painting.