Photo ideas: Use colored plastic cups for stunning light painting

Put a fun new twist on light painting photography by taking some plastic cups and torches outdoors after dark

Watch video: Photo ideas – Use colored plastic cups for stunning light painting

Ever since pioneering photographer Georges Demeny attached light bulbs to an assistant and told him to leap , back in 1889, photographers are ‘painting’ with light. So it’s time for a fresh approach to the favored technique – why not use reflective surfaces to reinforce the effect? Whether you employ water, glass, mirrors or maybe Photoshop image-flipping, a touch reflected symmetry can take amazing light-painted patterns to an entire new level.

If you’re new light painting, you’re certain a treat. Less challenging than steel wool spinning, it shows how exciting photography are often once you experiment together with your exposure. a light-weight -weight painting is formed by moving a light source through a dark scene while the camera’s shutter is locked open. the sunshine builds through the exposure, so your torch acts like chalk on a blackboard.


You can do that outside in the dark or during a dark room. Once you get the fundamentals right, enjoy experimenting with different light sources and moves to make wonderful patterns.

(Image credit: Future)

01. Use a tripod

Wait for near-dark then found out on a tripod. It are often hard to urge the framing right, so compose loosely. You don’t want the lens hunting to focus, so pre-focus on some extent within the scene then switch to manual focus to lock it. lookout when shooting within the dark near trouble .

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(Image credit: Future)


02. Set bulb mode

The shutter speed on a Nikon maxes out at 30 seconds, which isn’t long enough when you’re fumbling around with torches within the dark. So set Manual Mode and dial the shutter speed right down to Bulb. this manner the shutter stays open for as long because the shutter button is engaged.

(Image credit: Future)
03. Attach a shutter release

Use a foreign release to lock open the exposure – either a cable release or a wireless one like this Hahnel release. Alternatively, if your Nikon has Wi-Fi, you’ll use your smartphone app. Start and end the bulb exposure remotely while concentrating on the sunshine painting.

Your aperture and ISO depend upon the strength of your torches and ambient light. Use test shots to figure it out; start at ISO100 and aperture f/8, begin an exposure and shine your lights. If it’s too dark, open the aperture or raise the ISO. If it’s too light, do the other .

(Image credit: Future)
05. Make your own kit

There are specialist light painting products out there, but you almost certainly have items reception which will work well. We used a few of colored cups and shone torches through each. We taped these to a tripod leg (but any stick or pole would work), which we swung to and fro.

(Image credit: Future)
06. Create sinister figures

Creating sinister-looking silhouette figures just like the one on the previous page is fun. All you would like to try to to is move the lights behind an individual while they stand perfectly still. Next, flash a light-weight twice through a green colored cup ahead of their face to make the glowing eyes.

Photo idea: Riverside symmetry
(Image credit: Future)
Sketch out half a shape with a torch

Kit needed:
• Nikon D-SLR
• Tripod
• Remote release
• Torch and colored cups

Light painting with a torch is like drawing with a mouse – the results are often wobbly and childlike, but that’s a part of their charm. to form a symmetrical light painting using outdoor water, position the camera across the river or pond and lock open the shutter, then use a torch and colored cups attached to a stick with paint half a symmetrical shape, starting at the water’s surface and changing colors quickly. The reflection does the remainder . Keep your picture in mind as you paint with the torches. It’s a touch of a game , but whenever you are trying you’ll learn more and obtain even better.

(Image credit: Future)
Paint a well-known skyline with an iPad

Kit needed:
• Nikon D-SLR
• Tripod
• Remote release
• iPad or tablet
• Torch
• Water tray

Whether painting outside in the dark or during a dark room, the technique for light painting remains an equivalent . To recreate this image, place a toy figure like this Statue of Liberty ahead of a tray of water. Then, use an iPad screen to color the buildings. Prepare a group of images of straightforward colored outlines for every individual building, then slowly scroll through the pictures while shifting the iPad across the water’s edge to create the town , one building at a time. a couple of torch flashes within the background complete the effect.

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