creative light painting

Creative Light Painting


By Wendy Atkins Photography


Once you have mastered the basic controls of your DSLR camera you will want to start having some fun and creating some extraordinary images.  Light painting is a perfect place to start but it is not for the feint hearted!

cretive night light painting

IS0 200; F8; 13secs


There is a little bit of equipment you need to be able to do this effectively, for the photo above we used a metal kitchen whisk attached to a small length of metal chain.  Inside the whisk we put some fine grade steel wool – you will need a lot of this.  Fine grade can be purchased at the hardware store by the box.  The idea is, that when you have everything ready you light the steel wool and swing the chain around in circles to create large loops of fire.  Note the steel wool will create a lot of sparks so make sure you have the camera well away and nothing that can be damaged near by.


This is pretty much a two person activity, someone to take the image and someone to swing the fire.   I must also stress the importance of safety with this project.  You must wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from any errant sparks; I would suggest gloves as well.  In addition choose your location very carefully, obviously free of any fire hazards – the beach is ideal.  The image above was taken in a disused brick tunnel.  Also it is prudent to have a fire extinguisher on hand and always wear covered shoes (handy for stomping out any sparks).

light painting


In order to photograph the light you will need a sturdy tripod, a cable release and a camera that you can turn to “bulb” mode.  It will take a bit of experimenting to get the exposure length correct but other than that it is simple and fun to take.  Choose the native ISO for your camera (100 or 200), a smallish aperture such as F8, and experiment with the exposure times – the image above was taken on IS0 200, F8 for 15 seconds.


You can try different patterns, my favourite is the circle because it is easy to do and looks effective but other patterns are fun to try as well such as Infinity below:

night photography tutorial


A safe location is the beach – lots of water if anything gets out of hand!

night photography



Have fun and don’t forget to share your images here on this site!




Copyright: Wendy Atkins Photography


About Christian Tudor

professional photographer, main editor at Academy of Photography and owner and principal photographer of Tudor Photography