Light Graffiti Photography

How to Create Light Graffiti Photography

Light graffiti photography is the newest craze to hit both professional and amateur photographs alike. It is a method that nearly anyone can do, with nearly any camera, and it makes an awesome effect that is unlike any other in photography. Light graffiti is the term coined for the art, as it allows the photographer to ‘draw’ on surfaces that otherwise could not be touched. This is done with a light source, and is visible only on the picture, making it truly unique. It is very simple to get started with light graffiti, and requires relatively inexpensive equipment, which you’re likely to already have around the house. Follow the next steps to begin producing your own art.

Items Needed:

Digital camera with shutter speed control

Light sources


Step 1:

Learn how to control the shutter speed on your digital camera. This will be detailed in the manual that came with it, though it’s likely to be as simple as accessing the camera’s photo settings.

Step 2:

Get a wide array of light sources. These can be anything that glows – glow sticks, LED lights, traditional flashlights, etc. Each one makes a different type of light in the finished product, and each one will look different depending on the speed you move it. The best way to see what they look like is to play with them in sample pictures.

As a general rule, LED flashlights with magnification lenses will make thick, smooth-looking streams, while simple bulb pen lights will make thin, ‘normal’ streaks. Laser-lights can be used to make very fine lines, and using tape to band together two or more lights will make an even more interesting effect.

The key is to be creative, and pick a light or series of lights that will work best with your picture.

Step 3:

Place your digital camera on a tripod and point it at the object you want to ‘draw’ over. Set the shutter speed to a lower setting, and take the picture. In however many seconds the camera takes the picture, draw in front of the camera with the light source.

You will probably need to play with the shutter speed several times for each picture before getting the timing right. Also, depending on the light conditions and the speed of the shutter, you may need to reduce the exposure of the camera to a lower setting in order to avoid a bright, ruined picture. This is usually only necessary for pictures taken in the day time, or for extremely long shutter delays.

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