Skip to main content

How To Lightpaint For Beginners


Light painting became very popular in the last years. Did you know that you can create your own light painting easily with pretty cheap accessories or even things you probably already have at home? Here is how to do it:

What is lightpainting?


Lightpainting describes a photograph technique of moving any kind of light source while taking long exposure photography. That way it is possible to "paint" with the light source and get pretty nice results.


For light painting, some accessories are essential to get a nice result. These things you should have for light painting photography:



That's obvious, but you need a camera which has manual settings, and if possible bulb mode.



Because of the long open shutter, it's extremely important to keep the camera still. The best way to do this is to use a tripod. If you want a high-quality tripod which is pretty stable, I would recommend spending at least a 100 Dollars. Of course, you can also use a cheaper one, but it won't be as stable and durable as a more expensive one.



Of course, for light painting, you need any kind of light source. This can be a flashlight or even the display of your mobile phone. In case you want to create better-looking light paintings, there are lots of accessories for light painting that aren't that expensive, too.

Optional Stuff

Some other things who make your light painting way better and more interesting, are:

- As already said, there are lots of cheap accessories for light painting, with which you can create extremely cool looking images

-It can be very helpful to have a stopwatch to time your light painting

-Also very helpful is a shutter release, but you can also use the timer function of your camera

-If you want, you also can place some kind of object, which reflects light in the center of your photo, so there will be some cool reflections in the image!

-The last thing is just some sort of black or dark background. This will make your photo look way more professional, too.

How To Shoot A Light Painting?

Basically, it is very simple. A light painting can be shot anywhere, it just has to be dark enough. So, you can shoot your photo outside at night, or home in a dark room. Then just grab your tripod, put the camera on it, switch to manual mode, and change the settings.

Scroll to Continue

Camera Settings


-ISO should be as low as possible (at most cameras 100 or 200), so you don't get any noise in your photo

-Aperture should be set at around 7-10

-If your camera has long exposure noise reduction, turn it off

-Shutterspeed: It depends on how dark your environment is, and how much time you will need to paint. Just try it out and adjust the shutter in case the image is under- or overexposed.

-If you don't have a shutter release, activate the timer function of your camera.


In the dark, it can be very hard to focus. The simplest way is to increase the ISO until your object you want to focus on is bright enough to focus on. Once you focused, decrease the ISO back to 100 or 200.



When you have done all preparations, you are ready to shoot. Just press the trigger, and be creative.

Extra Tips & Tricks

-Use other light sources; This photo technique can be done with every light source, you can use Cars as your light source or even stars will get you brilliant images

- Be creative; Don't have any fear of trying new things out, why not moving the camera instead of the light source? Just be creative.

-Create your own light painting gear; There are tons of tutorials out there showing you how to build your own light painting accessories. You can also use everyday things and combine them with any kind of light source to get a totally new look.

Anyways, here are some more examples of what you can do with light painting:

created with steelwool

created with steelwool

made with light wand

made with light wand


Yannik Eska (author) from Germany on October 11, 2020:

If you have any more tips, let us know in the comments!

Related Articles