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Light Painting Party Trick – Write with Light Slow Shutter Speed

This is an idea for a shot I discovered playing while playing around with a toy flashlight.

Here’s the result:

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Camera capable of manual mode shooting.
  • A small led flashlight, something you can easily handhold and draw with.
  • Tripod
  • Flash capable of being manually triggered. Any old Canon or Nikon flash will work, as will an old school Vivitar or whatever you got! 😉

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Mount the camera on a tripod.
  2. Dim the room as much as you can. You may need a flashlight to hit your subject to set the focus, then lock the focus so it does not hunt during the frame.
  3. Set up the camera in manual mode, with a middle aperture (I chose f8). You’ll also need to set a fairly longish shutter speed, at least 5-10 seconds (This exposure was 10 seconds).
  4. Trip the shutter, and have the subject write their name with the small flashlight. I like to use a cable release for this, and put the camera in bulb mode. That way you can do the whole frame, then close the shutter without worrying that you’re going to miss the end of the frame.
  5. After they are done writing, the subject poses.
  6. Trigger a flash manually or via remote to freeze the subject in their pose before the shutter closes. Depending on your aperture, you may need to change the flash power setting or move the flash forward/backward to get the exposure right.
  7. Once you have your shot, you’ll need to flip it so the wording works left to right (It will appear backwards when you shoot it). You can do this in Lightroom, Photoshop, or Picasa pretty easily.


I’ve found this to be a lot of fun at parties, especially if you can shoot tethered and everyone can see the photos as they come up.

Here’s a few more to get you thinking…

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