Light Painting

Man on Fire

Light Painting by Dennis Calvert

Light Painting by Dennis Calvert

In this light painting tutorial I’ll explain how to create the fire effect in the above photo. If you aren’t familiar with light painting, check out this post to understand the basics.

What you need:

  • eveready electric glow sticks (no, the company does not compensate me for telling you to buy their brand, these glow sticks just work better than others for this effect)
  • a flash or flash light

How you do it:
Overexpose the area behind your subject with a flash or torch, but maintain a dark silhouette. Fill in the silhouetted area by jiggling the glow sticks around. Yep, that’s all you have to do for the fire effect… just jiggle glow sticks.  The overexposed background helps ensure you don’t color outside the lines with the glow stick. This isn’t a precision trick, but spatial awareness is helpful.

Camera Settings:
f/8 – 400 ISO is a good place to start. You may need to compensate for ambient light and other variables. Give it a shot and adjust accordingly.

Time-lapse making of vid:

The video step-by-step:

  1. I first shine a flash light onto the scene to ensure I have the composition I want.
  2. I step into position and point to flash light at myself as I trigger to camera to help with auto focus.
  3. I have a speedlite strapped to my back and set to full power which is triggered on the first curtain.
  4. I jiggle the red electric glow stick everywhere I was standing to fill in the silhouette created by the flash.

Note: There was no post work done for the final image. It’s a single exposure straight out of the camera. The making of video is not the same take as the final image I have presented. A car drove by while I was recording the time-lapse and hosed the shot so I had to do another one.

eveready electric glow sticks
electric glow sticks

I hope you find some inspiration in this post. If you have any questions about the technique leave a comment and I’ll get back at you.