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Light painting techniques and tips

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Thought it would be an idea to shed some light (sorry!) on some helpful techniques. This is assuming that you want to have some nice shots of the location which you may not have the opportunity to visit ever again. For some its about the experience and photography is just incidental and I can totally get that vibe too.

Its a fact that most places we explore are a tad on the dark side for one reason or another and quite often some extra light is needed. A torch is one of the 2 essential pieces of kit - along with toilet paper ;) - and for cool light painting its important to have a tripod at all times. You can get really lightweight and compact ones like the Manfrotto MKC3 - it does the job well and isn't all that expensive.

So you're in a dark location. Set the camera on the tripod and compose your scene. I'm not going to bore you with all the technical stuff about different in-camera settings, just go with what you're used to and comfortable with.

The great thing with light painting is you can move around and shine your light from different places and angles. Just set the countdown self-timer and keep out of shot :thumb There are all sorts of different types of interior so different techniques can be used!

A lot of it is trial and error, if you don't like it adjust the exposure or how you shine the light. No problem....we're not shooting on film here :D The fun comes from experimenting!!

You can wave the torch around directly to get an even spread of light but this can give a washed out look and harsh shadows


The better way if possible is bounce the light off a wall, ceiling or other surface by pointing the torch away from your subject. That's what I did here, there was some light in the corridor but the room was in darkness. See - no nasty shadows on the ceiling light, although looking again I should have cropped this :???:


The next two were taken at night in an underground nuclear bunker. Only light was my Lenser P7.2 - an average torch. First one is a combination of 2 shots - one in the room out of shot and the other in the corridor at the far end, adding some extra interesting light


Torchlight from outside the room gives a nice look and is better for picking out the textures


Again I shone the torch away from the drinks cupboard for a softer, more even light


In this there was a little light coming in on the right but nothing to light up the machine so I played around, shining at specific places to get the effect I wanted.


In the theatre shot I had to light up all the seating. This was using a kick light from Rift labs with a warm colour setting. I did one shot of the near seats and another lighting the further ones, merged together in post-processing.


Boarded up house? No problem with a kick light!


Hope this helps and don't forget to be careful waving lights around ... attracting unwanted attention :cool:

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Great post, I bought the same torch for exploring & haven't got round to tinkering with lighting with it much yet, that'll save me some noob experimenting for sure :)

Gorgeous drinks cabinet shot too, love the processing.

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Done properly dark photography can be amazing, personally i use a spot light and a lenser but always long exposures, usually F8, ISO 200 And 30 seconds plus depending on where i am.

Also set your focus to infinity if you have a lens with the marker, if not manually focus on something in the distance and lock it in place.

Edited by Lenston

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