Light Painting

oil can

oil can

Last year my wife gave me a subscription to Kelby Training for Christmas. Since she is the type who purchases her gifts early my subscription began closer to Thanksgiving than Christmas. Let me just say that this was a great gift. It‘s the type of gift that keeps giving the whole year long. Had it not been for that whole “job situation” occurring a couple of months ago I would now be deciding whether to renew the subscription for another year. If you find yourself thinking about it, I guarantee that it is well worth the money that you’ll spend.

One of the last videos that I watched was Dave Black talking about Light Painting. If you are interested in discovering more about this technique you’ll want to check out Larry and RC’s segment on D Town TV.

Light Painting involves photographing a subject in total darkness over a period of time, while painting it with light. Dave would set his camera for a number of seconds. However, I chose to set mine on Bulb. This allowed me time to concentrate more on the painting technique and less on the amount of time that I had left to use.

When painting the subject, the light should only be seen on the subject. The problem with using a small flashlight is the light can also be seen around the face of the flashlight, and even a small flashlight gives off a lot of light, making it is hard to control. To combat these problems, Dave recommended placing a small snoot on the end of the flashlight. I cut a section from a ball point pen and taped it to the end of the flashlight using black electrical tape. This seemed to work great giving me more control over the light.

I used an old rusted oil can as a subject.  Afterwards, I processed the image using Adobe Lightroom and Nik plugins. I’m sure that my technique will change with experience but I couldn’t have been more thrilled with my first attempt. Have you ever attempted light painting? I would love to hear your story.






  1. Marc December 11, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    Nice job with this Phillip. I have read up on this technique and must give it a try. Agree with your comments about Kelby Training, it’s a valuable learning tool for sure.

    • Phillip December 11, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

      Thanks Marc. It was a lot of fun. I’m going to have to try it again!

  2. Len Saltiel December 12, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    Really well done Phillip. Great textures. I agree with you on the Kelby Training. I have been a subscriber for a few years and they keep adding some cool stuff.

    • Phillip December 12, 2011 at 9:59 am #

      Thanks Len. It great to know others who have used Kelby Training. I’ll subscribe again once everything gets back to normal.

  3. Jimi Jones December 12, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    Hey Phillip! Really nice job with this technique. I like how the image came out. This is something I’ve yet to try but surely will someday. 🙂

    • Phillip December 12, 2011 at 10:04 am #

      Thank you Jimi. I really enjoyed watching Dave, he really got some amazing results.

  4. Rob December 13, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    This turned out great! The textures pop. I have tried this. My attempt was to shoot the stars to create a circular star trail pattern while painting the massive pines and spruce with light. It failed miserably. However, I did get a nice star trail. I shall keep on working on this.

    • Phillip December 13, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

      Thanks Rob. Your project was a little larger than mine. I listen to a guy, I believe featured on Camera Dojo with Kerry Garrison, talking about large projects. He would go to abandoned buildings and even an abandoned amusement park. It was really interesting.

  5. deniseippolito December 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Nice job Phillip, I like the texture and lighting.

  6. Caryn Caldwell December 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    That sounds really cool! And what a fun idea to purchase something you’ll find useful forever! I love the texture in this shot, by the way, and the colors are really nice.

    • Phillip December 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

      Thanks Caryn I appreciate it.

  7. Andrew Graeme Gould December 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    The effect is brilliant, Phillip. Looks like some kind of valuable ancient artifact on display in a gallery!

    • Phillip December 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

      Thanks for the great comment Andy. I don’t remember where my dad got this oil can, but I do remember as a child that it was once painted green. One day I was working outside and found where it had been lost for years. So thanks for calling it an ancient artifact that really makes me feel good. LOL

  8. Eden December 21, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Lovely! Very cool 🙂

  9. Adam Allegro December 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    Lovely Phillip! I think it was a huge success. I was considering getting a Kelby Subscription for myself and may think a bit more about it. i did some long range light painting when I was in Sweden a couple months ago. it was pretty much my first attempt as well. Here is the post if you care to look: Happy Holidays!!

    • Phillip December 23, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

      Thanks Adam. If you do subscribe to Kelby you won’t regret it. They really do it right! I remember your picture. What a great idea!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *