Light Painting by Palm Desert/Palm Springs Photographer Scott Campbell Photography

Light Painting Photography, also know as Light Graffiti and Painting with Light, is a form of fine art photography that is mesmerizing, captivating, thought provoking and beautiful.  Scott Campbell has been doing long, exposure light painting with many different tools and techniques since the 1980’s.  Scott’s college thesis and final college show was held with light painting photography.

Technically all photography is painting with light. However, Light Painting Photography has become the creative and beautiful art of capturing moving light, mixed patterns of natural light or adding and mixing fields of light into or onto a scene and over time in an exposure long enough to blur point sources or burn in and blend light fields.

For example flashlights, glow sticks and LEDs make great point sources for writing a word or creating patterns in long exposures. Colored gels over lights or flashes work fantastic to create beautifully blended fields of light creating every color you can imagine.  Candles, car headlights, fire pits, flaming batons, heck, anything that makes or reflects light can be used to to paint with light in your photography.

You’ll want to make the exposure long enough to create some sort of light trail. Since it’s a long exposure, you’ll want a tripod or other steady surface to place your camera.  As long as the ambient scene is exposed to where it looks good and your painting source is not too bright, you’ll capture amazing light drawings.

Personally I particularly like creating and blending fields of color using flashes and colored gels. Or to create long exposures of pre-lit objects such as carnivals or car lights on streets.

Use your imagination, your results will always surprise you.

To get your creative ideas going, here are a few links to my favorite inspirational and technique oriented sites:

Light Painting Photography

Tripwire Magazine

The Coolist