Light Painting with A Flashlight

2009/9/10 (Thursday) | Filed under: How To/Tech,Landscapes,San Diego,Uncategorized

Lifeguard tower in Oceanside, CA

Here is a little trick you can try to get some interesting scenic photos in low light. All you need is your camera, a powerful flashlight, a tripod, and some patience.

For the shot above, I set my camera to manual mode and my aperture at f16 so I could get a slow shutter. I played around with the shutter speed and took some test shots until I liked the look of the sky on my LCD screen. I ended up with a shutter of 2.5 seconds.The sky looked great but the tower was completely dark.

To get the tower lit up, I released my shutter and “painted” the tower with light during the 2.5 seconds using a 2 million candlepower flashlight. This way, the sky is properly exposed and the tower appears to be lit.

The possibilities with this technique are endless but evening scenes with a foreground object are the most obvious choice. Longer shutters will give you more time to light paint so it is best to wait until at least 15 minutes after sunset or try it in complete darkness.

I bought my 2 million candlepower flashlight for around $20 at an online hunting store. It is rechargeable and will run off your car’s DC outlet or charge on a regular household extension cord. This thing is bright. It has proven to be very useful for both photography and camping.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. Nice shot, bro. I dig it. Less is more.

    That flashlight works well for people walking between condos at 3:00 in the morning as well. Makes ‘em run like they were trying to outrun Usain Bolt.

    You gave me an idea to post one of my light painting projects.

  2. This is a BEAUTIFUL shot! I love how you list your tips and tricks! :) Thank you!

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