Light Painting 101 – Quick Tips

The following video by Canon is a simple but pretty useful list of techniques and tips for creating basic, yet fun light paintings.

To create a light painting you will need a camera and preferably a tripod (although you can do this from a flat surface lie a table or even from the ground, just make sure you don’t hand hold your camera while you shoot or else you will get blurring in your image).

First you will need sort of lighting – preferably something small and portable like a LED flash-light, There are plenty of other more specific tools (some of them also have color) which you can check out here as well as here.

Next, you might also need a shutter release of some sort (wired or wireless – some of the new cameras also allow for triggering using WIFI from and app on your smartphone.

Now for the actual light painting tips, either you or the person doing the painting should be dressed in black – a very dark place is preferred – a dark room, ally with no lights, the desert etc. Tale your lighting tool and start painting – you can do this around existing objects, or just creating completely new objects or even text.

Use a long exposure 10-30 seconds (or even use bulb mode to start and stop when you want) and a closed aperture (f/11 or f/16). As for the focus – you can set it up before using AF – just light the subject that you want in focus in the image, set the AF and than turn off the light and set the focus to MF and make sure you don’t change it again by accident.

Light painting is lots of fun and it is all about experimentation, trail and error and being creative – don’t be afraid to try something (and try again and again) until you get it right and the most important part – enjoy the experience!

Here on Lensvid we have an entire section devoted to light painting which is in our view one of the coolest photography genres.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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