Light painting, although sometimes meticulously planned, can apparently happen spontaneously. When recently grilling out and making s’mores (smores?), inspiration seems to have struck, and I was able to photograph some of my friends waving flaming palm fronds around using a long exposure with my DSLR camera, which made for some great light-painting photographs.
Check out the gallery after the “read more” thing below to see the results. What’s seen to the right is a long exposure of a palm frond being waved around, but we tried dropping charcoal, running around with it, and even photographing a lighter!
All you will really need to do this is a DSLR camera and some source of fire. I used a Canon T2i, which I really like, but most if not all of this camera type are capable of this type of shot. This was really easy to do, and had a cool effect. Definitely something fun to try at your next barbecue. For most of these shots, my exposure was set at 2 seconds or 3.2, but longer would have worked too if everything was held steady. A tripod is best, but I leaned against a tree which helped steady everything a lot.
Although from a photography standpoint, there’s really no wrong way to do this, it goes without saying that one should practice good fire safety and make sure everything is extinguished before leaving the area!
If you’re not into random lines and swirls, why not check out some light paintings that I’ve done using a CNC router? Using an LED light and some mechanical tricks, I’ve been able to draw some cool shapes with it.