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Have you ever wondered how people achieve those photos holding a light and writing their name in the air with it or creating some cool lit up abstract pattern? Did you know you can do it with just a smartphone and something to light up the dark? When it comes to night time activities, there’s no better way to create something artistic and fun than to do some Light Painting with an LED Glow Staff! Follow these simple steps ahead and you will be well on your way to capturing incredible photos while you light up the night!
Step 1 - What will I need?
You will need a camera with the ability to change the shutter speed to at least 5 seconds. Most DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras provide this feature using "M" mode on the dial.
Camera with Manual Settings
There are also some apps for iOS and Android that give you this functionality. We've picked out one for iOS and Android.
Android App: Footej
iOS: ProCam 6
Step 2 - Keeping the camera still
Okay, you have your camera, now you need something to keep that camera still for the duration of the shot. It's super important that the camera is still otherwise it will blur everything in the scene and not just the light you are painting with. We recommend using a tripod to keep the camera perfectly still but you could also rest your camera on something stationary like a table to keep it still as well!
Step 3 - Getting the settings right
We're going to try a 10-second exposure for the Shutter Speed. This will give you 10 seconds of time to paint with your LED Light Staff. If you are doing this alone you will also need to set a delay timer before the 10 second exposure time begins so it gives you enough time to get back in front of the camera and start painting with light. If you have a friend, they can press the shutter button when you are ready to start your light painting.
DSLR / Mirrorless: First up we need to put your camera into Manual Mode. This can be done by rotating the dial on top of your Camera to the "M" mode. This mode is called "Manual" and will give you the ability to choose your own shutter speed which is going to be very important for capturing your Light Painting.
Now you should see the ability to change the Shutter Speed on your camera. It will look something like 1/60 or 2". Using the physical wheel you can adjust this higher or lower. For our light painting, we will use 10 seconds or in camera language 10". This will give us 10 seconds of exposure to perform the movement with the light.
iOS / Android:
Tap on Exposure.
Tap on Shutter (right side of the screen)
The top slider adjusts the Shutter Speed
Open the Control menu and select "Light Trail" and the desired Shutter Speed.
Step 4 - Preparing the Scene
Has the sun already set? Are you in a dark room? Then you are now ready to start capturing light. Now you need to turn on the LED Glow Staff and set up your phone or camera on the tripod and make sure the scene is well composed for where you will be Light Painting.
Tip: Setting the focus to manual and focusing where you will be painting while the lights are on is helpful to get a sharp shot even though most cameras will be good enough to autofocus once you begin Light Painting.
Step 5 - Delay Timer
With the shutter speed set, we can either set a delay timer before the exposure begins so you have enough time to get back in front of the camera to start your Light Painting OR you can get someone else to press the shutter button when you are already in position and ready to start.
All that is left to do now is start your Light Painting. We recommend just playing around to get used to where the boundaries of the photo frame are. This way you can fit in your whole artistic light composition!
Bonus Step Feeling tech savvy?
We've played with the Shutter Speed, but there are two other exposure settings we can play around with. They're called ISO and Aperture. ISO will determine how sensitive your camera is to the light so for example, the higher the ISO the more light per second it will capture compared to a lower ISO setting. This does come with a trade-off in image quality though. I am sure everyone has seen a very grainy night time photo at least once in their life. The grain comes from a high ISO setting. The other setting, Aperture means how much light the lens lets in per second. This one is slightly more tricky because it's all backward. The higher the F-number (Aperture) the lower the amount of light is let in and the lower the F-number, the more light is let in.
We recommend using the lowest aperture you can with your current set up, set the shutter speed for how long you need it to be to complete your light painting and then adjust the ISO according to test shots.