Light Painting Tips and Tricks

Lapp or Light Art Performance Photography is a style in which you literally paint your pictures with light. If you own a digital SLR camera or even a Lomo camera, this could easily be you’re new favorite hobby! The crazy part is, Lapp is created with only one picture. There isn’t any photoshop skills needed, by simply grabbing a flashlight you will create spectacular works of art:



  • DSLR camera (or any camera with shutter speeds slower than 5 seconds)
  • Tripod
  • Shutter release cable (or the camera’s self timer can be used)
  • Flashlights of any color

Now here’s how to create simple photo paintings. Start by getting all the camera settings correct for the scene you are going to paint. It could be real tricky to get the lighting correct the first couple tries, but will become easier after your first successful photo painting!

First start planning on what you want to create whether it be a light globe, a sentence or name and so on. Having the shutter open for extended periods of time means you will have to pay close attention on how much light you are feeding the sensor. Big objects like globes spanning from head to toe will produce huge amounts of light even if you are able to finish the picture in under 60 seconds. For beginners we recommend starting with a completely dark room (even small lights like computers, or your phone charging light will end up ruining your photo) Once you learned all the variables with of painting with the light, then try different outside scenes with surrounding light.

Setting the Aperture – with such extremely long shutter speeds, means you will need to dial up the aperture setting very high, you want the least amount of light hitting the sensor to counter the long shutter. Usually any aperture above f/8 will work. I know it feels weird using such a high aperture in the middle of a dark room but don’t forget you can always post edit the image to increase or decrease exposure.

ISO – as iso settings go for all circumstances the lower is always the better, same goes with light painting photography. Experiment by taking a couple sample shots and try lowering the iso as much as you could.

Shutter speed– For the first couple LAPP shots try shutter speeds of a couple seconds and try just scribbling with your flashlight. Then you can quickly adjust the ISO, and Aperture according to what you plan to paint. Once the photos are looking better and you want more time to draw your photograph move to the bulb setting on your DSLR.


There are a couple more tips that will help tremendously

Always keep the light dead strait towards the lens, if you curve your hand and point it sideways (trying to add depth) the camera wont pick it up.

Make sure to have the light in front of you and not step in front of it, if you do end up stepping in front of your light it will make a silhouette of yourself!

ALWAYS spell everything backwards like if you were writing in a mirror, that’s the trickiest part is learning to write every letter backwards.

That’s about all it takes to create mind blowing Lapp paintings that will expand you’re creativity, and your portfolio!

-reblogged from James Bern

Colleen Stavrakos