One of the wonderful things about the festive season is the abundance of bright coloured lights. You can do a lot of things with them. This is a simple tip for doing some light painting…
Light Painting with Static Lights
You don’t need to move the lights to paint with them. Simple. This image was created with a strung out set of fairy lights. Here is how it was done.
- ShutterSpeedValue – 1 seconds
- ApertureValue – F 5.6
- Flash – Flash not fired
- FocalLength – 173 mm
- ISO Value – 100
- Exposure mode – Manual
- Focus mode – Manual Focus
Auto-focus must be off or the lens will keep trying to focus and spoil the line; the lens must be pre-focused to ensure the lines are sharp. Manual exposure is best, because the auto-exposure setting will not allow the right exposure time.
The shot was taken in a daylight lit room. It was overcast outside and the lights were not on – so it was gloomy in there. The fairy lights were strung out in a tight line on string. They were arranged so the light-bulbs were all pointing directly at the camera so that each point source was at its brightest.
In the prevailing light conditions (low light) everything in the room was lost except the bright lights. I could see perfectly well. However, the camera, @ F5.6 and ISO100 could not get enough light in a 1 second exposure to see anything but the brightest light source.
Now, to create the effect. While held to my eye, I rotated the end of the 200mm lens in a tight circle. Point-of-origin around and back to point-of-origin in one second. It took a bit of practice and ‘chimping’ at the results to get a pleasing effect. After about 10 shots it began to look appealing.
There are some simple points to gain from this shot project.
- You can fix a light and move your camera to do light painting
- Exposure is more important than the ambient light. If you set your exposure to capture only the brightest point of light everything else will be lost in darkness. This relys on there being about 8 to 10 stops of light difference between the ambient light and the bright point sources of light.
- You control the movement by moving the camera and not the light – the shapes you produce are limited only by your creativity
Have fun with your camera!