Photo and post by Rick Sammon

Here’s a technique called “painting with light.” It is fun and easy and creative! It can turn a boring shot taken with a flash (left) into a much more artistic image (right).

All you need is a flashlight, which you’ll use as a paintbrush, and tripod to start the fun. Oh yeah, you’ll need a camera and a subject, too.

First, you’ll need to work a very dark room, because you don’t want any ambient light falling on your subject.

Second, mount your camera on a tripod and set the ISO to 400 or 800.

Third, chooses the manual mode and choose a shutter speed of at least 10 seconds. Set your aperture at f/8.

The ISO setting and f-stop/shutter speed combination mentioned above are starting points. After playing around a bit, you will need to vary these settings mostly depending on the brightness of your flashlight.

Forth, set your camera on self-timer and then press the shutter release button.

Fifth, once the shutter is released, begin to paint the subject with light, using the flashlight like a paintbrush. Start with the main points of interest the girls face and hands in the case. Try to stand at least three feet away from the subject. That will prevent hot spots caused by the beam of the light. Never point the flashlight toward the camera lens.

Because you’ll be painting (moving the flashlight) at different speeds, you’ll need to experiment with this technique. It took me about a dozen tests to get an image I liked.

To light an image like that, I’d need to use 4 strobes or hot lights: look at the hair light, the light on her face, the light on her right hand, and the light on the head of the guitar.

Have fun with this one.


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