Tutorial: how to do lightpainting for beginners

Tutorial: how to do lightpainting for beginners

Instructions: your own light painting in five minutes

"Painting" with light looks more difficult than it actually is. We will show you how to photograph your very own "light painting" in just five minutes.

How it's done

The magic words are "time exposure". For this you will need a (reflex) camera on which you can adjust the exposure time. Even compact cameras often offer programme settings for time exposures.

You will then also need a tripod or a stable surface (e.g. a table), a dark environment and a torch. With grey filters you can also make time exposures by daylight, but a dark room is more suitable for first attempts. For our shots it was useful that we at ifolor continue to develop photos from colour film. This meant that we were able to simply use our dark room.

Triggering and painting

Set up the tripod and camera and focus manually in the still bright room. As a reference point it is best to use the wall in front of which you are going to be stood. As an alternative you can also mark the spot with a chair and focus on that. At first, choose aperture 8 for a larger depth of field. If there are two of you, one can of course stand in front of the camera and the other can carry out the adjustments.

Now adjust the exposure time. First try it out with ten seconds; this way you can find out whether you are standing correctly and will get an initial impression of what you can do within the set time. Increase the exposure time for the other shots.

Tutorial: how to do lightpainting for beginners


Switch the torch on and trigger the camera; either by remote release or self-timer, or your assistant can press the button.

Now you can start to "paint". You can let your imagination run wild; you will find lots of varied inspiration online. Experiment with different exposure times and different coloured illuminants. You can combine different shots in one picture using an image-processing programme (this is how we created our title picture).

Tutorial: how to do lightpainting for beginners

By the way, you can of course use your pictures as interior decoration: light paintings look great as wall decorations because of their strong graphic effect.

Have fun light painting!

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