(NOTE: This is a special post contributed by guest poster Lisa Bettany.)

Even if you are not familiar with the term light painting, you’ve probably already experimented with it. Have you ever swirled your camera around the twinkling lights on your Christmas tree to create spirals, shapes, or the initials of your name? Have you ever captured the twisting, turning trail of sweet glow sticks or a Poi spinner at some crazy full moon party in Thailand? Then you, my friend, are a light painter!

Light painting is a photographic technique where you physically ‘paint’ light into your camera frame during a long exposure, either by manipulating a light source like a flashlight, flash or by moving the camera around a light source.

During our star shoot at the Aperture Nature Photography Workshop, Scott Stulberg pointed out a beautiful Mormon barn and suggested that we light paint it.

Light paint a barn? Oh yes! The idea seemed crazy to rest of the group because many of us had little to no experience with light painting, but Scott was determined, so onward we went!

We set up in front of the barn and starting testing different settings. Because it was impossible to grab focus, I ran up close to the house and shone the headlamp on a window. Once Scotty got his focus set, we used these settings with his Canon 5D with the 16-35mm f/2.8 lens: 25s exposure, f/3.2, ISO 1250. We tried for a while but weren’t getting the light composition we wanted. It was too dark and the shot was a little flat:

Light Painted House (Jacksonhole, WY)

Martin was with us and suggested that we light up the barn using a short blast from a car’s headlights. So we moved a car about 200m away from the barn, angling the lights at the barn and the adjacent trees. Timing was a bit tricky, as the headlights could only be on for less than a second or they would blow out the shot like the photo below.

ANPW: Light painting a Mormon house

I took this view from the car on top of the hood. You can see the group setting up for the shot.

I was the gal in charge of turning the lights off and on so I didn’t get a chance to grab this shot. But here’s Scotty’s shot. He had a little extra light from a passing car. That is why the foreground is lit. Pretty cool effect, don’t you think?
Lightpainted Mormon Barn_ScottStulberg
Photo by Scott Stulberg. Settings with 14mm: 20s Exposure, f/2.8, ISO 800.