Light Painting Basics

Over the years, especially with the advancement in digital imaging, I have seen some amazing photographs using lights as paintbrushes on very high shutter speeds. This was my first formal trial (with a DSLR) and I thought the results could have been better, had my daughter not been chasing me around while I was ‘painting’ with light. Anyways, the photos below shows how easily one can coordinate his/her movements to make interesting effects. If you own a DSLR camera, you can have fun with these techniques too in just a few simple steps:

  1. Get a hold of some LED or Laser lights; these seem to work best as the light emitted from these is relatively focused on one point. Having said that, I suggest you try using some other light sources, like toys, to get some really interesting outputs.
  2. Set your DSLR camera to Shutter Priority mode (S mode), and choose a shutter speed; you may need to experiment a little with the speeds depending on what you are trying to paint, but generally, anything between 10″ and 30″ should do the trick. Remember: the higher the shutter speed, the more time you get to paint on one exposure.
  3. Set up your camera right in front of a dark wall, and take a test shot with the room lights open to gauge the ‘canvas’ area that you’ll be getting to do the painting.
  4. Turn off all the lights in your room; stand in front of a relatively dark wall, if possible, so as to eliminate any light bouncing back from it.
  5. Press the shutter release button, run and take position in front of the camera.
  6. Paint your heart out till you hear the shutter close again, signified by a barely audible click.

It was about 12 am when I started and I went through with it even though I could see my wife’s angry gaze piercing through me. So naturally, I wanted to write ‘I love you’ for this test to show my wife that I loved her more than I loved my camera. Then midway through the shoot, I decided it was more interesting to draw a heart and write the word ‘love’ in the center. I took these four photos in sequence at shutter speeds between 10 and 15 seconds, and the end-result was not bad at all, given that it was my first time (kind of). Enjoy!

First Attempt

Second Attempt

Third Attempt

Fourth Attempt

Here are a few other images I have done using my Nikon D7000 DSLR as well as my trusty old Cybershot DSC-W130, and they were creating using some of my daughter’s toys.

Outta Control

One of my daughter’s favorite toys – may it rest in peace (or should I say ‘pieces’?)



Of Pencil Sharpeners and D7000s

Even a simple pencil sharpener looks exotic with the new D7000. My first photo with the new camera.

Reflections and Refractions

I love the concept of reflections and refractions. The physics behind them? Not so much. Light plays an essential role in a proper photo composition and I believe that one can achieve a lot by exploring new ways to play with it. The images below are part of my experiment with these two amazing phenomena.

The one shown below demonstrates refraction (and magnification) and I achieved this by placing a water-marble on top of a Pakistani five-rupee coin.

Pakistan - written in Urdu and magnified within the marble

The second piece portrays reflection, the main principle behind perception and color distinction. The effect was achieved using decorative glass stones stolen (ehem, borrowed) from my mother’s show-case. See if you can find a reflection of me and my camera somewhere in this photo. Happy finding!

Man-made Inspiration: Architecture That Demands Respect

Four – the number of countries I have visited in my 30-year existence (including the country I live in; pathetic, isn’t it?), although I’d like for this number to at least go into the double-digit range by 2013. On my journeys, I’ve come across some marvelous architectural feats that just mesmerized me, demanding me to stand there and appreciate every crevice.

Here are some shots I took at my favorite locations. Every single image represents a culture, a race, a civilization, a story. Hope you enjoy them.

The Corridors of Time - Souk-al-Bahar, UAE

Iranian Dome-ination - Ibn Battuta Mall, UAE

Round and Round - Ibn Battuta Mall, UAE

Painted Palace - Emirates Palace, UAE

Timeless Beauty - Emirates Palace, UAE

Praise the Lord - Sh. Zayed Masjid, UAE

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue - The Address, UAE

Broken and used - Empress Market, Pakistan

Eternal Rest - Quaid's Mausoleum, Pakistan