Light Painting


  • Light paintings are a fun and creative way to expand your photographic portfolio


  • The goal of this project is to successfully create at least 3 light paintings that you are proud of


  • Settings for light painting:
    • f/8
    • ISO 400
    • Manual (M) on Mode Dial
    • Bulb (go past 30 seconds)
  • You can choose to work with a partner or in groups of 3
  • Each person must hand-in at least 3 of their own light paintings
  • Spend a lot of time experimenting first
    • Painting shapes
    • Outlining objects
    • Painting objects with light
    • Inside / Outside
    • Try using props to tell a story
  • Use a variety of light sources
    • LED flashlights
    • Coloured flashlights
    • Non-LED flashlights (different colour temperature)
    • Flash
    • Coloured gels
    • Strobe / flashing light
    • Sparklers / Safely used fireworks
  • Try different shutter speeds and different apertures.
  • Try using a flash to freeze motion
  • Be careful not to block the line of sight between the camera and the light source
  • Get creative and have fun!
  • Choose your best 3 photos
  • Create a frame for your light paintings
  • Re-size to 10" / 180 dpi
  • Save as JPEG, maximum quality
  • Handin to server folder - "Light Painting"

1) Content

I'm looking for creativity in your light paintings, not just a happy face drawn with light. There are some excellent examples of creative light painting on Flickr.

Light paintings are great for conveying a sense of mystery and drama. Objects can really come alive with light. Take some time to think about what story you want to tell, or what feeling you'd like to convey. Then choose your location, props, and light sources accordingly.

2) Marking - Wow! Factor

I'm looking to be impressed. Your paintings should pack a punch. The best light paintings leave the viewer wondering, "how on earth did they do that?".

Each light painting is worth 20 marks.

3) Professionalism

Professionalism is based on the attention paid to the accurate and careful presentation of the final project. Marks may be deducted for a lack of professionalism.

This project will be handed in as follows:

  • 3 properly named JPG photos submitted to the "Light Paintings " folder on the server. These pictures must have been taken by you!
  • Save the final result (at large size) as a PSD for your own files
  • Re-size to 10 inches on the longest side and save as a JPG
  • Use canvas size to increase the smallest size to 8 inches, resulting in an 8X10 file

Proper naming of portraits:

  • username_lightpainting1.jpg
  • etc.

4) Journal Entry

Planning Entry - 4 ideas. One paragraph per idea. Write about topics such as: Describe the light painting you plan to create. What lights will you use? Where will you shoot? Who or what will you shoot? Will you draw with lights, paint with light, or both? What story are you telling? What emotion are you conveying? How will you make it more dramatic? What props / clothing will you use?

Reflection Entry - 3 paragraphs - one per light painting. Write about the process of creating each light painting. Does it tell a story or convey an emotion? What techniques did you use? What difficulties did you overcome? What did you learn? How did you refine and improve your light paintings?