Let there be light painting!
The technique is simple, but you might need several attempts to get a result you’re happy with
01 Full beam ahead
The most important tool you’ll need for light painting (after your camera) is the torch itself. You’ll need one with a strong beam, able to reach the distant landscape. We used a 1,000,000-candle-power torch, and took extra batteries with us in case the ones in the torch ran out.
03 Lock the focus
Place your camera on your tripod. Autofocus is difficult in low light, and since the AF lamp built into your camera won’t be bright enough to reach the distant landscape, use your torch to light up your subject, autofocus a third of the way into the frame, and then switch to manual to lock it.
05 Paint with care
You may need a friend to make sure you paint evenly – it’s easy to leave the torch in one place and get hot spots. Standing back from your subject (up to 40 feet) and using long sweeping movements will help prevent this. Angling the torch to the side helps define the shape of the rocks.
02 Make it quick
To speed things up, turn off long exposure noise reduction (found in the Shooting menu on most camera bodies). Long exposure noise reduction takes a second black frame with the shutter closed to record the noise generated by the image sensor, doubling the time each shot takes.
04 Slow things down
We set a narrow aperture of f/8 to ensure a decent depth of field, a low ISO (ISO100) to minimise noise and a very slow shutter speed (20 secs) to expose the photo correctly. Use the self-timer to trigger the shutter, to avoid camera shake, and begin painting your subject with the torch.
06 Adjust and experiment
Check your shot. If light from your torch is flaring into the lens, put a lens hood on. Adjust your shutter speed if the exposure needs altering. We painted our scene from the left for the duration of our 20-second exposure, but you may not need to paint for that long.