Nov 01, 13
Using light to create luminous lines in photography is not necessarily a new concept. For as long as there have been film cameras, people have been able to capture streaks of light using long exposures and slow shutter speeds. As digital photography has evolved, light painting has become increasingly popular, with artists using the medium to create stunning images and animation. Light painting has turned into a full blown art form that is evolving just as quickly as the technology being used to create it.
There are those who consider themselves to be light painting artists, but you certainly don’t have to be one to create photographs with similar effects. Light painting is a fun and fairly easy activity that can be done by just you or with a big group of friends. We recommend having a group with you, that way you can create more complicated designs in one picture. After trying our hand at it, we at 1000Bulbs.com have compiled a list of basic materials and steps you’ll need to take to begin creating your own light paintings!
The Essential Items
- Darkness. Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, make sure you’re in a dark enough space that your lighting painting will show up.
- A digital SLR camera that has Manual or Bulb settings
- A sturdy tripod. This will keep your camera completely still. If you don’t have a tripod, you can try using any flat, steady surface, such as a table, to keep your camera from moving.
- A light source. This can include anything from a flashlight, LED tape light, light sticks, sparklers, etc.
If you are going to be light painting outdoors, make sure you have all of the necessary equipment to protect your camera from the elements.
Before you begin, make sure you are using the right camera settings. For the best results, use a digital SLR camera. These cameras have manual settings that allow you to control the shutter speed. The slower the shutter speed, the longer you have to draw your light painting.
For the light painting picture below, we used Manual or “M” setting, and put the shutter speed at F22, the highest F-stop. This keeps the shutter open for 22 seconds. If your camera has a Bulb or “B” setting, this will work even better. At the Bulb setting, you can keep the shutter open for as long as you like so that you’re not restricted by time. You will also want to turn your camera down to the lowest ISO level possible. This will minimize any noise, or visual distortion, in your picture.
The best way to know if your camera is capturing the light painting you want is trial and error. Take a few test shots at a regular shutter speed without the light source to make sure you have the correct exposure. When you’re happy with the exposure, change your shutter speed settings to the desired position.
Now, you can begin light painting! Once you’re positioned in front of the camera with your light source and ready to go, have a friend press the shutter release button for you. You can do this yourself, but having someone do it for you is much easier than stepping in and out of the frame each time.
Once the shutter release is pressed, begin moving your light source. To get certain spots brighter than others continually move your light source over that one spot as if you were coloring with a large crayon. Using all of the steps above, an LED flashlight, and an LED tape light suit (DIY tutorial here), we created the image below.
Light Painting from an LED Light Suit
Are you planning on creating any light paintings of your own? Tell us about it in the comments below, or drop us a line on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus!
Have you been wondering how to make the same costume as the little toddler in the very popular and recently viral, “Baby LED light suit Halloween costume preview” video? Due to popular demand, we have brought you this quick tutorial on how to make an LED light suit costume. A video will be created this coming week, but in the meantime, here’s our guide.
- Sweat Pants (one with pockets is best)
- Adhesive spray, fabric glue or tape. Be careful with the clear tape as it may become illuminated from the light. However, that could give you an interesting look if done correctly.
Unfortunately, we don’t sell these last two items, but you can pick them up at any electronics store, such as Fry’s.
- 9V battery snap, with 3-inch wire leads. You might want two of these just in case.
- (8) AA cell battery holder, standard snap terminals. You may want two of these as well.
How to make the LED Light Suit:
Attach the 9V battery snap to the AA cell battery holder.
Cut off the end of the y connector. Attach both of the 12-inch Y-splitter interconnection cable wires to the 9V battery snaps wires. We suggest that you use electrical tape and possibly caps to keep them connected.
Once the wires are connected, simply attach the piece of LED tape light to make sure it works. Be sure to have the arrow on the Y connector on the top left side when you connect the tape light. Otherwise, it won’t turn on.
Once it’s connected, this is what it should look like.
From this point on, how you connect it all together is up to you and will vary based on height and size. We suggest that you connect the 36-inch interconnection cable to one of the Y connections and lead the 36-inch interconnection cable up through the inside of the sweat shirt. We did this to make the right arm connect.
For the center, hood, and left arm, we had all of the LED tape lights connected to each other. The middle strip of lights on the hoodie leads up to the beginning of the hoodie on the left side. Once you’ve connected all of the tape light around the hoodie you can connect the hoodie to the left arm. We left this clasp undone so that taking off the hoodie would be easier.
For the legs, it’s pretty simple. Your last two connections from the Y connection cable should be used for your legs. We suggest that you have the strips go all the way up to the waist band for the best stick figure effect.
Now you’re all set! Have a great Halloween! If you liked this tutorial or have a question let us know by sending us a message or leaving a comment.
The 2-inch interconnection cables are for maneuverability. It’s not required, but we do suggest that you have 1 or 2.
- If you buy the 24-volt high output tape light, the light from the strips will be too bright for you to take any photos. You quite literally will light up the entire room and become a blur in photos and video. However, if you do decide to go this route, it will still work as a regular light suit if you purchase a dimmer.
- Each of these tape light pieces is only five watts, so there’s no danger in harming yourself if you have a lot of them connected to each other. For example, we connected nine at once with no problem.
- Tape the battery pack and put the strips on the hoodie one at a time.
- Make sure the right sides are connected to each other.
- Using the 3-inch interconnection cable sometimes loses the current if more than one strand of tape light is used.
- Try to leave some wiggle room in the neck area so the LED tape light doesn’t get disconnected every time you move your head up and down.
If you haven’t seen our version of the LED light suit baby, check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ok3ZCvtv0IM
Warning: Just remember to use care when around electrical equipment. We are not liable if you accidentally shock, electrocute, or harm yourself in any way from using this tutorial. That being said, it’s highly unlikely that will happen.
Bonus: LED Light Suit Painting
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