Try it out: Painting With Light


"World Peace"
I "painted" (with light) this photograph about a year ago, just for fun. I decided to write up this little tutorial for anyone whose interested in testing out their painting skills!

It's pretty easy, but here is a warning: you might have to open the user manual that came with your camera.. I hate user manuals. I'd rather spend hours trying to figure things out without using the user manual than open that dreadful pamphlet. I guess it's sort of like men and asking for directions. Anyway, if you give this a shot (no pun intended) let me know how it worked out!

*Note: I used a digital SLR in my project, but most point-and-shoot cameras will do just fine
**Another Note: I painted "Peace" behind a map. I hung a wall map from my ceiling, stood behind the map and painted- that way you can see some of the map details where the flashlight hit.

  1. camera (point-and-shoot or SLR)
  2. flashlight
  3. tripod / sturdy surface
  4. some space in a dark room / outsid
Directions: These directions will get you a result similar to mine! But experiment.. change everything if you want.. it's fun!
  1. This is where you may need to consult that manual- See below*: Put your camera on the manual setting and chose 13 seconds (13") and F5.6. (A good place to start.)
  2. Set up your camera so that it's pointing at some empty space (where you have room to stand and move around- plan to be 6-10 ft from the camera.) If you have a tripod, great. If not, use a tabletop, but be careful!
  3. Set the self-timer and focus your camera on any object that is near where you will stand. (Definitely use your self-timer so you have time to walk over to your spot while the timer counts down to the shot.)
  4. Turn the flashlight on, turn off the lights, snap the shot, and position yourself in the space you chose.
  5. When your camera starts taking the picture start drawing. Draw slowly and point the flashlight straight ahead towards the camera.
*Put your camera on the "M" setting for "Manual" (This may also be called "long exposure" or "long shutter.") Use the buttons to increase or decrease the amount of time the shutter will be open until it says 13 seconds (13".) I did my shot at F5.6. You may not be able to control that number, but if you can chose 5.6. You may have to do some trial and error to get it right, but start here. 

Some other light paintings to caputre:

Stars! Airplanes flying. Cars passing by. Amusement Park Rides. Anything that lights up! yay!


  1. Wow! That's awesome! When I'm done with finals I may try if I can figure out my camera xD

  2. OMG! I loved it I heared about that but I have never tried. So I will give it a try well done you! Your photo looks great! Thanks for sharing the tip. xx

  3. I've always wondered how people did this! Awesome!

  4. It took me a while to figure out how you did that... that's amazing! I can't wait to get a camera for my birthday this year and play with all of the photographer tricks. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  5. I'll bet you'll be able to do some amazing outdoor light painting in Yosemite!

  6. awww that's so cool!

  7. I totally want to do this too but my camera is crap :(

  8. I am going to have to play with my camera now!

  9. Ive always wanted to try this but never had the time! Will definitely do it this summer and show you the results! haha :)

  10. thanks so much for sharing this! I really want to get creative with my photography and this would be a great start! I will definitely try it!

  11. Thanks for this tutorial - I planned to improve my poor photography skills and this is such a great inspiration :)

  12. i really enjoy light painting, and you put there a nice tutorial for others to learn how to do it. good job! oh, and if you do have a flash, light painting gets even better and funnier!!

    nice blog btw :)

  13. WHAT?! That is amazing! I SO need to try this! LOVE it!

  14. WOW :O This is the coolest thing ever! I did not even imagine this was possible. Thank you for the tutorial. I definitely need to try this out soon!

  15. This is AWESOME! Though I probably don't have the skills to successfully accomplish this... hahaha

  16. I did this a few posts ago ... It's such fun painting with light!
    Well done on the tutorial - I didn't know how to explain it ;-)

  17. That is so cool! Such a neat idea. I am definitely putting this on my bucket list for the summer :) Thanks for the tutorial!


  18. I've always wanted to try this! And now I finally have an Digital SLR and I'm totally trying it. Thanks!

    House of Shoes

  19. That photo is amazing! I'm defiantly going to try this out - thanks!