Light Painting is a photographic technique that has been around for quite some time now, the first samples dating back to 1914 by Frank and Lillian Gilberth. A lot has evolved since then and with the advent of the digital camera, practically everyone who owns a decent one (some point-and-click and most DSLRs) can help you accomplish this.
The idea behind light painting is to take a camera, keep its shutter open for a duration longer than is required to take a single static photo, and capture the movement of a light source(s). You can use LEDs, Christmas lights, flashlights, laser pointers, burning balls of steel wool (dangerous – requires great care), etc. to paint with light. I personally think that objects that have a natural rhythmic movement make excellent light painting subjects. These include amusement park rides, fireworks, children’s toys, etc.; the more symmetric, the better. For best results, I recommend the use of a tripod, however, randomness can yield interesting results too; chaos theory, baby!
In the pictures that follow, I captured the movement of some rides at Barkers Funfair in Coventry, UK using my trusty Nikon D7000 at a shutter speed that was anywhere between 1 to 3 seconds. Considering that these photos were taken without a tripod, I am more than satisfied with the results. Hope you like them too.
After all is said and done, It’s really not that difficult. Just take your camera into a relatively dark space, use the settings mentioned above, grab a few LED lights and paint away. I’m always here for you if you need help with this. Just comment on this post and I’ll get back to you.
p.s. If you aren’t using a tripod, don’t forget to hold your breath and try not to move for the entire duration of the exposure. 😉