new icn messageflickr-free-ic3d pan white
Painting with Fire in the Dark | by Gabriel.Lascu
Back to group

Painting with Fire in the Dark

For this shot I have used:

----- Canon 50D DSLR (in bulb mode)

----- Canon 18-200 lens;

----- wireless remote trigger;

----- tripod;

----- cigarette lighter;


I took this photo a while ago and thought it could become a source of creative inspiration for some of you guys. Painting with light in complete darkness could be a fun way to spend the Earth Hour today, Saturday March 26 (from 8:30-9:30 PM), when presumably all of us will be turning off the lights in our houses.

I'm sure you can do better than I did with a bit more perseverance and nobody around, including your partner ... ha ha (he/she might get the wrong impression if he/she catches you running in circles with your light or waving it in complete darkness :-). You want to avoid that, OK?


I'm just about to reveal the top secret recipe for painting with light in the dark. Nobody knows this technique besides me and half of the people on the planet LOL (make sure you don't tell the secret to your friend, who belongs to the other half :-) ... you want to impress him or her with your cool creation.


Here you go: set up your camera on a tripod or on a steady surface. Switch the camera to manual mode "M", set it on long exposure (point and shoot cameras generally allow a maximum of 15 seconds exposure, while DSLRs double that). Set the timer on your camera to 5 or 10 seconds. Turn off the lights in your house (it is already 8:30 PM and the Earth Hour has just started). OK ... you may leave a tiny ambient flash light or candle on (much further away) to avoid banging your head against something in the dark and blaming me afterwards. Assuming that you already have a composition, use a flash light to illuminate it and half-press the shutter button to focus on it (smart). Turn your flashlight off and fire the shutter button. Right after the timer stops beeping, you are allowed to go nuts :-))) ... use a tiny flashlight, a small led light or maybe a cigarette lighter (like I did) to paint over your composition in a more or less controlled manner. Remember: you only have between 15 and 30 seconds to express your talent, while the camera's shutter remains open. You can chose to paint a basket full of fruits with your light for instance. You could draw a heart for your lover and sign your name underneath or write "Earth Hour" and submit it to flickr ASAP.

It takes a bit of practice to write imaginary text in space (you can write the normal way and reverse it in Photoshop after).

Now here's the bad news: 15 or 30 seconds won't do a lot of justice to your creative composition. For best results you should set your DSLR in bulb mode and get yourself a wireless remote trigger which allows you to stop the shot once your creation is done.


Have fun and give me a shout if you come up with a cool creation.

3 faves
Taken on September 18, 2010