A few years ago a friend and I jumped at the opportunity to spend a few days in the backcountry of Algonquin Park on Thanksgiving weekend. After setting up camp on Misty Lake, dusk turned to night at the early hour of 6:30 p.m. With dinner finished and site chores complete, I grabbed my new DSLR to experiment with some long exposure shots. To include ourselves in the photos, we took turns standing extremely still, while one of us illuminated the other with a headlamp. Several successful shots later, my fascination with light painting was born.
Light painting uses a slow shutter speed and various light sources to create color and design in an otherwise darkened image.
During a long exposure the shutter of the camera remains open and allows all available light to hit the sensor. If you do this for a second or two in bright conditions, the image will turn out overexposed or even white. However, in dark conditions, all available light is recorded so if you walk across the frame with a light source you create a bright line. Or, if you bathe your friend in a headlamp’s glow they become visible standing in the dark. With the immediate feedback of being able to view photos on your digital camera you can really fine-tune the look.
There are two ways to paint with light. The first...