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Lightpainting – Colorful light paintings with the smartphone

2 minutes reading time
3-17 years
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Foto: unsplash.com/Luca Iaconelli

Have you ever seen those beautiful photos where light was used to paint or write? The pictures look spectacular and can even be implemented with the smartphone.

What is Lightpainting?

Lightpainting translates as painting with light. This involves taking photos in low light conditions or in the dark. Flashlights, LED lights or sparklers can serve as additional light sources. They can be used to draw pictures or letters in the air and capture them on a photo. In the process, beautiful light paintings are created. The technique to do light painting yourself, many families have at home. Because light painting is possible with many smartphones.

Image source: unsplash.com/Brunetto Ziosi

Light painting as a family project

Light painting can be a beautiful media project with the whole family. Even small children (from about 3 years) can participate by moving light sources. Older children can learn how light painting works with a smartphone or camera. Everyone can live out their creativity together.
For such a project, all you need is a smartphone, a darkened interior (with a little experience, you can also do it outside) and a few colorful light sources. If you have a digital camera and a tripod, you can create even better light paintings. Here’s how:

  1. Check if you can set longer exposure times of about 30 seconds on your camera. With the smartphone, it is important that the camera app allows longer exposure times. If that’s not the case, there are also special camera apps available for download (e.g. B. Light Painting, free in the App Store or LightPainting by AIRC, also free for iOS but only in English or Italian; LL Cam for Android, free but with ads in the Google Play Store).
  2. If the technique fits, find a dark place (indoors or outdoors) where you have enough space to take photos. The darker the place, the better the light painting succeeds. Tip: Put on dark clothes if you don’t want to be seen in the picture, but want the painting to be in the foreground.
  3. Place the smartphone securely – either with a tripod or in a similarly stable place. If the camera or smartphone is held in the hand, the image may blur easily.
  4. With the smartphone, an exposure time of 30 seconds and the use of the self-timer is recommended. The self-timer prevents it from shaking while taking pictures. This would result in blurry photos.
  5. Now you can stand in front of the camera and paint in the dark with the selected light sources. Light sources such as sparklers, pop-up lights, LED lights, smartphone screens (there are apps for these, too), or flashlights that can change color are all possible for light painting. If you do not want to see one of the light movements on the image, you must turn off or cover the light source.

The images created during a light painting activity can be sent – printed out or via smartphone – to friends and family.

On a page of the Landesanstalt für Medien Nordrhein-Westfalen you will find a picture tutorial that is easy to understand even for children.
And you’re ready to go! Keep in mind that it takes a little practice to get great images. However, with a little patience you can take a New Year photo with sparklers and the year numbers or photo of passing cars on the highway. A night action in the summer vacations or winter indoors. Together with your child, you are sure to come up with many creative motifs!

For more on light painting and photography with kids, check out Camera Kids.

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