Light painting: Difference between revisions

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File:Lightshow2.jpg|Long exposure photo of a light show dance using finger lights.
File:Lightshow2.jpg|Long exposure photo of a light show dance using finger lights.
File:Lightpainting_Strich.jpg|Waiting for better times
File:Lightpainting_Strich.jpg|Waiting for better times
</gallery> STFU
== See also ==
== See also ==

Revision as of 17:45, 14 October 2011

Example of light painting
Example of light painting moving the camera
Example of light painting

Light painting, also known as light drawing or light graffiti is a photographic technique in which exposures are made usually at night or in a darkened room by moving a hand-held light source or by moving the camera. In many cases the light source itself does not have to appear in the image. The term light painting also encompasses images lit from outside the frame with hand-held light sources. Light Painting Photography can be traced back to the year 1914 when Frank Gilbreth, along with his wife Lillian Moller Gilbreth, used small lights and the open shutter of a camera to track the motion of manufacturing and clerical workers. The Gilbreth’s did not create the photographs as an artistic endeavor; they instead were studying what they called “work simplification”. The Gilbreth’s were working on developing ways to increase employee output and simplify their jobs. While they were not using light painting as an artistic medium they did produce the first known light painting photographs. The first known photographer to use this technique was Man Ray in his series "Space Writing" created in 1935. The photographer Ellen Carey discovered Man Ray's signature signed by penlight nearly 74 years after the pictures had been taken.

Moving the light source

The light can either be used to selectively illuminate parts of the subject or to "paint" a picture by shining it directly into the camera lens. Light painting requires a sufficiently slow shutter speed, usually a second or more. Like night photography, it has grown in popularity since the advent of digital cameras because they allow photographers to see the results of their work immediately.

Light painting can take on the characteristics of a quick pencil sketch. In 1949 Pablo Picasso was visited by Gjon Mili, known photographer and lighting innovator, who introduced him to some of his photographs of ice skaters with lights attached to their skates. Immediately Picasso started making images in the air with a small flashlight in a dark room. This series of photos became known as Picasso's "light drawings." Of these photos, the most celebrated and famous is known as "Picasso draws a centaur in the air." [1]

Flash lights or light pens can also be used to create Full Bleed images. Different colored lights can be used to project an image on the CCD.

Moving the camera

Light painting by moving the camera, also called camera painting, is the antithesis of traditional photography. At night, or in a dark room, the camera can be taken off the tripod and used like a paintbrush. An example is using the night sky as the canvas, the camera as the brush and cityscapes (amongst other light sources) as the palette. Putting energy into moving the camera by stroking lights, making patterns and laying down backgrounds can create abstract artistic images. Also known as "Camera Toss."

Making a light painting doesn't necessarily need to be done in a dark room or at night. Sometimes using artificial light, like LEDs and mobile phones, or through the limited sunlight beaming in a curtained room creates a shadowing effect.

Live light painting

Light painting can be done interactively using a webcam. The painted image can already be seen while drawing, e.g. using the monitor or a video projector. Additional digital processing can be applied directly in the computer. This can be used e.g. to enable light painting during the day. A free software for that is myLightPainting.[2]

Using projections

A technique known from light art is to project images on to irregular surfaces (faces, bodies, buildings etc.), in effect "painting" them with light. A photograph or other fixed portrayal of the resulting image is then made.

Technique and equipment

A variety of light sources can be used, ranging from simple flashlights to dedicated devices like the Hosemaster, which uses a fiber optic light pen.[3] Other sources of light including candles, matches, fireworks, lighter flints, glowsticks, and Poi are also popular.

A tripod is usually necessary due to the long exposure times involved. Alternatively, the camera may be placed on or braced against a table or other solid support. A shutter release cable or self timer is generally employed in order to minimize camera shake. Color Gels can also be used to color the light sources.

Manual focus is often used since autofocus systems may not perform well in low light. In addition, photographers often use a slow film speed or low ISO setting on a digital sensor to minimize grain (or digital noise) and increase exposure tolerance, as evaluating exposure is often tricky.

Aperture is also an important variable in light painting. Smaller apertures such as f16 or f22 generate a sharper image and preserve a large depth of field, creating deep focus. This technique requires longer exposure times but creates interesting results. Larger apertures such as f5.6 or f2.8 often blur the lines drawn by a light pen or LED source.



See also


  1. ^ ""Pablo Picasso" by Gjon Mili". VP Gallery. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  2. ^ Merchel, Sebastian. "myLightPainting". Retrieved 2010-11-24. 
  3. ^ Greenspun, Philip (2007). "Studio Photography". Retrieved 2007-09-26.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)