I'm so glad you found me! I'm a San Francisco photographer, and this blog charts my journey in the ever-evolving world of photography. One of the things I love about photography is that it's a journey, not a destination. I'm constantly learning and meeting wonderful people. Please peruse the blog to your heart's content, then check out my website and feel free to contact me! (I love hearing from you.)

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow." – Imogen Cunningham

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen

Light Painting

f/2.5, ISO 640, 8 seconds. 85mm lens. 

Here it is, Tuesday again. Amazing how time does fly. And I said that I would do something vaguely photography related on Tuesdays, didn't I? Oh, Jessica. You always speak too soon . . .

Well, ok, I actually had this topic lined up. But Tuesday still came faster than expected.

So, light painting? What is it exactly? Truth is, I'm not exactly an expert, This was the first photo I've tried it out on, but I dare say it won't be the last. Basically, you find a subject (that's pretty much always the first step in photography - what do you want to take a picture of? without a subject, you won't get very far) and set up your tripod. Yes, tripods again. And it has to be night time, because otherwise you won't get your lights to show up. Then you set a base exposure, focus manually (at least I have to, because the 5d won't focus after 6:00 - it keeps union hours), and make sure in general that you're good to go. Set up a self-timer, or use a remote trigger, or what not.

Then we come to the gear you need. To successfully do some light painting, you need a camera, a tripod, and a light source. I recommend a flashlight, the more powerful the better. The newer LED flashlights are also pretty great. You can also pop your flash at low settings multiple times within the frame, but that's a bit harder to control and takes more practice and tweaking.

Invariably, it all needs some tweaking. You'll take quite a few exposures. Ok, so once you're all set up, try a test run. Decide what you want to illuminate, set your camera up, take the shot and run your flashlight or other light source over the part of the photo you want to make brighter than the rest. You can get some really cool results, especially if you have a few different colored lights. Keep in mind, though, that the more complicated what you're trying to do is, the longer of an exposure you need, and the larger the number of shots you'll probably have to make before it turns out well. Make sure you check your histogram after the first shot; you may have to change your exposure slightly.

Ok, hope that made sense! Please feel free to ask questions in the comments if something still isn't clear.


  1. This is very nice! I love the rich colors, and the lighting is fantastic. Nice work and explanation. Over the last year I have gotten into light painting. It can be highly addictive!

  2. This is really cool! I bet it's a bit tricky, but the effect looks fantastic! Where did you find a boat skeleton covered in Christmas lights?


I love comments! I read and cherish every single one. Go ahead, make my day.