Camera Painting

July 21, 2012

Camera painting might be thought of as light painting in reverse. With light painting the camera is usually steady or on a tripod and light, such as a flashlight, is then waved, painted and drawn in the air. With camera-painting, however, the camera moves across lights that are usually stationary. Your particular type of camera movement results in patterns or lines that create an abstract composition.

Digital photography makes it easy to 'camera-paint'. You move your camera to paint lights -- which is not just a phrase, it is exactly what you will be doing. It's a lot of fun and really exciting when you get a colorful composition. (

Camera-painting involves the creation of abstract patterns by moving the camera -- usually at night -- across lights at slow shutter speeds. Exposures in this exhibit range from 4 seconds to 16 seconds, with most being about 8 seconds. (Rick Doble)

Wheel of Colors

How to capture Light Painting:

The very trick for this kind of Photo is the slow-shutter speed technique.  Make sure to set your camera to manual mode and for an amateur like me, it is necessary to place your camera on a tripod.

Generally you will want the shutter to be open for a long time such as eight or more seconds. If your shutter priority won't let you shoot more than a second or two, put the camera on manual and set it for eight seconds for starters. After some experience you may want to set the shutter at an even longer time. Some cameras allow a B (bulb) setting which will open the shutter for as long as you like. Read your manual for the exact instructions on using your B setting. My advice is that once you have decided on a shutter speed, do not change it to adjust the exposure but rather change the ISO or the aperture. Of course, if the lowest ISO and highest f/stop results in overexposed images, you will need to shorten the shutter speed.

Focus can also be a bit tricky especially in night situations. I suggest you lock in a focus as some cameras will allow or set the camera on manual and set the focus manually. A general rule of thumb is to focus on the light that is at a middle distance, if the lights are at varying distances.

You will need to set the ISO at the lowest number possible, such as 50, because your shutter will be open for a long time.

Adjust the camera so that the aperture is set it to the highest possible number such as f/11 or f/16. This serves two purposes: it allows a longer exposure and also allows a greater range of focus.

Light Traffic 

DO THE TRICK: I prefer DSLR for you to do light paintings, since the technique requires long shutter exposure and complemented with adjusting the aperture and ISO. Good luck neophytes! For this requires patience and a lot combination of settings to experiment for you to come up with a good shot.  Best results come up with composition of elements in a photo, so better extract your creative juices!

PS: Sorry for not indicating the settings that I used in taking these photos, I forgot to jot it down! Instead, take notes of the instructions above as professional guide brought to you by an amateur like me.

Camera: Canon D60

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