Light painting has been around a long time and has been used in various ways since the early days of photography. Today, the technique enjoys continued popularity among photographers applying it to a diverse range of subjects.
With technology bringing us LED flashlights as one example, both cheap and expensive versions are widely available as one of many tools for photographers to not only paint their subjects but create other effects as well.
This brings me to a great eBook from photographer and Photoshop Hall of Famer; Ben Willmore. Titled The Fine Art of Light Painting, Ben has explored a variety of locations and subjects to create a pretty impressive collection of images utilizing various techniques. From old cars stuck in the ground to people, ghost towns, natural arches, and light streaks in air, this book is loaded with fun and interesting techniques.
I admit that I have wanted to dabble in this myself for some time and this book provided the info I needed. Ben includes all the details starting with the basics of light painting to the various tools you can use for a variety of different effects. But there is so much more.
He covers how to paint a subject with light but also how to add streaking light effects that add an animated type effect that Ben calls Light Graffiti, such as this Super Hero image of Ben himself. Other fun techniques are included such as how to write in the sky, spraying sparks, and creating light orbs (remember Spirograph)?
Any book by Ben however would be incomplete without the techniques he uses in Photoshop. Thinking about it, you could do some of these light painting techniques by spending the night outside lighting your subject in a variety of ways and all on one image capture. ‘All done in the camera’ as some would say and that is how it was done in the film days.
Shooting digitally however, gives you so many more options like the ability to experiment with different angles of light, different brightness’s, and different colors before selecting and combining the best frames in Photoshop. This is in my opinion, a much better way to work and easier in many ways. Fortunately, Ben shows you exactly how to do that with a section on Photoshop compositing.
It’s all here! Everything you need to know for a jump start into light painting. I highly recommend Ben’s book as a fun alternative to outdoor photography.
Gotta go, I am off to find some more LED flashlights.
Get the book:
PS: For more commercial applications of light painting, check out Aaron Jones, the inventor of the Hosemaster back in the 90’s. The device is no longer available but there are still some used ones floating around.
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