Long Exposure: Playing & Writing with Light

The fun thing about photography is that there are SO many things to experiment with when it comes to lighting. Lighting can completely transform a photo, and the more you know about lighting, the better your pictures will be. I am still learning and perfecting my techniques, but I wanted to share with you a simple "lighting" technique that we will call "light writing."

Light writing is extremely simple if you know how to adjust your camera settings. First and foremost, to be able to write, you must be taking pictures in a relatively dark setting and have some kind of light source to write with. In the above example, I am in my backyard and have a headlamp (flashlight) that I am using as my light source. Even though it doesn't look like a very dark night, the moon was very small and the sky was not bright at all. My camera settings enhanced the color of the sky (and trees), while allowing me to write with light.


Here are the steps: 

1. Mount your camera on a tripod

2. Manually focus your camera approx. where you will be light writing

3. Adjust your settings. The above picture is set at: 6400 ISO, f/8, 20 Second Shutter Speed

4. Put your camera timer on (either 2 or 10 seconds)

5. Press your shutter and run in front of the camera

6. Draw, write, etc. facing the camera

Helpful Hints:

-Write backwards. This takes some practice :).

-If you don't want to be seen in the photo, you must be consistently moving.

-If you want to be in the photo or would like to have another person in the picture, make sure they stay REALLY still {You can light them with a flash, but that's another technique}.

-Play around with your settings to change the effects. The shutter speed is probably your most important setting, and you will have different looks with different shutter speeds.

Thanks for reading, and have fun experimenting. It is the best way to truly learn and understand what your camera is capable of.

Ashley Meier

Guest Blogger

BlueHaus Studios