Light Painting Shoot in a Secret Tunnel...

Well what a night !!! met up with friends as we had a flare to produce some amazing creative images, as it was a rare wet Saturday night in Sydney, we took the opportunity to disappear down a secret Sydney Tunnel and let the colours of light painting display the magic that was to unfold. Thanks to our Wonderful model and the many light sources that were either bought or made at home in a cost effective way. Along with some simple Light Painting Tools and a Creative/ Wacky mind you can achieve some amazing results.


What is Light Painting?

Light painting, or light drawing, is a photographic technique where exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source while taking a long exposure photograph, either to illuminate a subject or to shine light in front of the camera, or by moving the camera itself during exposure. This unique technique is used for both scientific and artistic purposes, as well as in commercial photography. Light painting has long inspired photographers with the technique capturing a moving light source whilst taking a long exposure photograph which can be very challenging to perfect but can produce exciting results.

Light painting using handheld lights to illuminate or colour parts of the subject or scene or to evenly light large architectural interiors has been used in professional photography since the 1930s. Light painting requires a slow shutter speed and can imitate characteristics of traditional painting - transparency can easily be achieved by moving, adding or removing lights or subjects during or between exposures.

A variety of light sources can be used, ranging from simple flashlights to dedicated devices, Other sources of light including candles, glowsticks, Simple flash gels, various L.E.D Lights and Poi are also popular.

The Pixel Stick offer users the ability to control their light source in order to create images from letters to pictures that they have imported.

A lot of these tools can be either purchased or replicated as buying some basic items from the hardware and making them yourself.

A tripod is usually necessary due to the long exposure times needed, A shutter release cable or a wireless remote is generally used in order to minimize camera shake.


  • Camera – Any digital camera capable of manual settings (Bulb).

  • Tripod – One of the most important tools to produce light paintings is a sturdy tripod. In most cases your shutter is going to be open for several minutes and it is very important that your camera does not move during the exposure.

  • Shutter release – Either use a cable release or a remote shutter release to begin your exposure. If you don’t have either of these, use your camera’s timer function to initiate the shot. To light paint, it is very important that you never touch your camera or tripod to prevent vibrations during the exposure.

  • Stop watch – A stop watch or some other way of timing your exposures is helpful, since most of these exposures are going to require your camera set to Bulb.

  • Light source – Many different types of lights can be used to do light painting. These light sources are your brushes and may include: flashlights, torch lights, lasers, glow sticks, flash or strobes, cell phones, or even candles. Just about anything that can produce light can be used as a brush to do light painting. Different light sources will produce different colors of light. For example, a LED light source will produce a cooler (blue) colored light, while a halogen source will produce a much warmer (orange) colored light.

  • Color gels – Colour gels can be used over your lights to alter the tint of your light and add colour to your painting.

Some of the tools i use are from the Brand called Light Painting Brushes - Please see:

Camera Settings

  • Use the Manual mode setting, which allows you to set your shutter speed and aperture.

  • Image quality – Set your image quality to RAW, which allows you to capture as much information about your image as possible.

  • White Balance – If you are wanting to balance your lighting to the light source, choose Tungsten setting. However with light painting sometimes experimenting with other white balance settings can produce interesting light effects. Daylight white balance is good to start with as if you want to use the colour tones of your light sources.

  • ISO – Set to a low ISO, such as 200 or 100

  • F-stop (Aperture) – Stop down to f/8 or f/11, which enables you to get more depth of field and you able to use a longer shutter speed.

  • Shutter speed – Its best to set it to Bulb.

  • Histogram – Use your histogram to help check your exposure. If the histogram charts heavily over to the left, your image is going to be mostly dark.

  • Image Stabilization – Set to Off. With your camera on a tripod, image stabilization turned on can fool the camera and cause potential blur.


Focusing your camera is the all important process before you start and in the dark it can sometimes be difficult to do this. The easiest way to get your focus is to shine a light source to directly at your scene that you want in focus. Using autofocus, place your focus point on the light and make sure your camera is focused on that point. Now change your camera from autofocus to manual and your focus is locked in. Important to remember, if the camera moves you must turn your autofocus back and refocus.

Painting techniques

  • Paint from the sides – Paint flat surfaces from the side this will bring out the textures of the surface.

  • Don’t stand between the camera and your light source or you will show up as a silhouetted in your image.

  • Wear non-reflecting clothing and keep moving. Again, you do not want to appear in your image!

  • Don’t shine the light source back at the camera, or else you will create a bright spot in the image.

  • Different surfaces are going to react to light differently. Wood surfaces may require more light than shiny surfaces such as metal or glass, as rougher surfaces will absorb more light compared to smooth surfaces.

  • Keep your light moving. Move the beam in slow strokes to add light and make faster strokes in areas where less light is needed.

  • Paint just like you would if you were applying "paint"

  • Patience as you will more than likely not get the shot you visualise on the first exposure and it may take several exposures to get what you are looking for and what you are satisfied with. Its important to keep a record of how much light was added to each surface and your aperture and how long your your exposure lasted.

Be Creative

These are a few basic tips to help you get started with light painting. There is so much more you can do with this. Be creative and fearless about trying new things. Once you start to get the idea of light painting, there is no limit to the images you can create with your camera in the dark and a few creative light sources.

Norman Herfurth

Indigo Photography

Yours In Adventure

"This Blog is of the Opinion of my own Personal Experiences and are not necessarily Fact.. and is written to the best of my knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes. This blog is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as any kind of advice."

#paintingwithlight #lowlight #lightpainting #nightphotography #Night #dark #LongExposure #sydney #tunnel #model #scene #creativity #sparks #fire #spinnign #LEDLights

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