Light painting is a complicated photography technique which focuses on creativity and precision. You can capture the light (yes you can!) with slow shutter speed in a dark environment, and this is the reason why light painting photography is made at night.
To create stunning and magnificent light painting pictures, the very first thing you should do upon shooting is to gather various types light sources; be more precious, you should prepare different light sources in red, green and blue. Like in painting, all colors of light can be made from mixing three primary colors. In painting, yellow, blue, and red are the three primary colors, while for light painting, they are green, blue and red.
Red and green light make yellow; where green and blue light produces cyan light. Blue and red light make magenta light. By mixing color lights, you can create a dynamic and dramatic light painting.
Portability is the Key
Before the presence of Magilight, I used anything from flashlights and string lights to gather the three primary colors that I need. I have a lightsaber exactly look like the one in the Star War, it is a long light allows you to create swirls pattern in the air quickly, but that toy costs me US$400, I consider it is not so pocket-friendly.
Another thing I don’t like about the lightsaber is the size; it is very long and hardly fits my backpack. Shooting outdoor is fun but spending an evening shooting in the outdoors means carrying more than just a camera, so the portability of the light source is crucial.
Equipment for light painting
Since I’ve purchased Magilight, I’m not using my lightsaber; Magilight is very lightweight, very easy to master and create fantastic and striking smooth shapes, it comes with two positions handle. Magilight works with rechargeable batteries, and it lasts for up to 8 hours.
Magilight’s light design is elegant yet simple, the body is made of titanium alloy and comes with 144 LED strip. The thing I like Magilight the most is there is a ring on the handle, and it allows me to spin the LED strip easily and create circular shapes.
In addition to the default images, Magilight allows you to customize any pictures you desire. Let me tell you how to do it: The first step is to select an image and open in Photoshop; please set the resolution to 144 pixels, and rotate the image clockwise 90 degrees then save it. Then select the file, use ‘save as’ on the file menu and choose ‘bmp’ from the format menu, then specify a filename in English. Next, select Windows file extension in the popup window, select 24 Bits, click OK, and then a custom image is done. All you need to do is copy the image to the TF card folder for Magilight to read.
How to film light painting
Do you know that Magilight can also produce light painting animation? So here are the tips and tricks. There is a default eye blinking animation sequence, select the first image and go to the Settings menu then turn on the animation preference. Put the camera on a tripod, and with appropriate setting, you can start shooting. Using the prolonged exposure and turn on Magilight, start moving it. After the prolonged exposure, the first animation is done. Magilight will automatically switch to the next image after exposure; the next thing you have to do is going back to the beginning and press OK. Repeat the above process with the images for other scenes until you have created a video file for each different image that will be in your final animation.
Lens for light painting
The truth is you can use any type of lens for light painting. My personal preference is 50mm plus wide-angle lenses, as they do a better job to capture your surroundings; for a beginner, you may consider using 35mm first and then go wider with fisheye lenses. To create a stunning light picture, you don’t have to set your camera larger than f/8, even so, if you need a larger aperture to let more light in, then a wide aperture such as f/1.8 could be your option.
Autofocus could work when taking pictures of cityscapes when it comes to light painting photography, the manual focus always wins. To ensure that everything’s sharp, or if you don’t trust yourself focusing in the dark, a flashlight can help. Just place it exactly where you plan to position your model in the frame; if you are uncomfortable with manual focus, you can still turn on the autofocus mode and half-press the shutter button on your camera until the subject is in focus.
Light Painting Background
Finding an excellent location is crucial in light painting, you don’t have to go to a famous landmark, and your background doesn’t have to be that remarkable and pretty either. It could be a beach, a park or even your neighbor’s garden. What matters is how you use the space and surroundings for light painting photography. But one thing you should bear in mind, to create a cohesive image, you should incorporate the elements in the background as much as you can. When looking for a location, try to consider the ambient light around it, as you don’t want a bright background to drown out your light painting.
Something to remember
Have you heard that everything in life worth achieving requires practice? Life itself is nothing more than one long practice session, a continuous effort of refining our motions. Whether you are a gymnast, pianist or photographer, practice is the key! To create an exceptional light painting, you need to practice and practice. The more practice that you get, the more flexible and capable you will be, and eventually you will be able to capture a perfectly-timed light painting photograph.