Skip Nav
Geek Culture
49 Free Templates For the Coolest Jack-o'-Lantern on the Block
Geek Culture
35+ Pixar Costumes to Make Your Halloween Bright and Terrific
Geek Culture
Break the Internet With These 50+ Clever Costumes

How to Light Paint

Capture the Coolest Summer Photos in Just 5 Steps

Source: Instagram user jan215parichadr

Light painting, the night photography technique where streaks of light and color move through a still picture, results in the coolest photographs on the web. Even better? It doesn't take years of professional experience to master. On a recent photography excursion with Sony, I light painted with the company's camera experts and learned it's nowhere near as intimidating as first thought — plus, long Summer nights are the perfect excuse for practice sessions. Learn to create messages, drawings, or whatever inspiration may strike with these five steps to light painting like a pro.

Source: Instagram user thirdeyefoto

The following suggestions are best used when light painting with multiple people: one (or several) to control the light sources and another to work the camera. Use a shutter remote ($25) to control the camera if working as a one-person photography unit.

  • Set up a tripod — Light painting calls for long exposure times, which can cause slight unwanted shakiness (and not of the light paint streak variety) in the camera when held by hand. Set up a tripod like the Vista Explorer 60-inch tripod ($20). If a tripod isn't an option in your photography adventure, substitute another stable surface like the ground or a nearby table.
  • Pick your light options — We used sparklers (which you'll want to be very careful with) and glowsticks in our Sony camera-sponsored light painting session, but you can look to practical light sources as well including flashlights, flashlight apps, or LED light-up keychains.
  • Shoot in the darkness — If you're light painting inside, get to a dark room and make it even darker. When outside, get as far from street lights and cars as possible. Those "painting" the light should wear dark colors to limit their appearance in the picture, unless that's what you want.
  • Put camera in manual — Set the camera to manual mode to manipulate settings as needed. Use manual focus when light painting so that the camera isn't constantly autofocusing and interfering with the finished photo effect.
  • Adjust the shutter speed — Adjust the shutter speed to the longest setting possible. Some cameras may have up to a 30-second shutter speed, meaning once the shutter is pressed, the camera will capture light for 30 seconds. For more control of the shutter, use the bulb, which lets you have the shutter open for as long as desired; a press of the shutter button triggers it, and it won't close until let go.

Should you want to also include a subject in the image, use a flash to capture more than just the paint streaks.

Front Page Image Source: Flickr user cleristonm
Around The Web
Join The Conversation
How to Back Up My iPhone
What Does the iPhone 7 Plus Portrait Mode Look Like?
Facebook Photo Hoax
How to Watch Orionid Meteor Shower
How Do I Fix My iPhone 7 Home Button?
How to Curse on the iPhone
What Is the Facebook Cloning Scam?

POPSUGAR, the #1 independent media and technology company for women. Where more than 75 million women go for original, inspirational content that feeds their passions and interests.

From Our Partners
Latest Technology & Gadgets
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds