Smartphone Light Painting

Light Painting with a Smart Phone

Use your smartphone to create unique light images!

1) You can light paint using a smartphone camera, I have an android phone and used the Long Exposure App. This is a free app which lets you save your image at a low resolution.

2) You will need then need to hold the camera steady. You can do this with 2 bulldog/binder clips.

3) Once you have the smartphone steady, app loaded and set to ‘Trace’ or exposure set to manual on 5-10 seconds, you will need a dark room with as much space as possible.

It’s good to have a dark painted wall behind you too if you can, you could hang a sheet up!

All you need is a dark space so it’s lots of fun to do this outside at night.

4) With the lights on have a look at what the camera sees, and this is now your 3-dimensional, light painting canvas.

5) To start with give yourself 5-10 seconds, choose your light source, draw shapes in the air, remember you have the whole space to do this in.

Always point the torch/light source at the camera so the camera can see what you are doing.

Circular spiral of multi-coloured lights produced by light painting.

This is how it looks with the lights on. Here I am using Christmas Tree lights and swinging them around in a circle.

This is how it will look with the light off.

6) Some light sources are too bright for the tiny sensor on a smartphone, you could put a piece of paper over the source to dim it down a little. If you are writing your name or drawing a shape with a torch make sure you switch it off in-between words or cover over the end with your hand so the camera does not see the light.

Heart shape in light against black background.

This heart was done in the air using a small torch with the smartphone app set to 10 seconds on ‘Light trace.’

Sometimes ‘less is more’ so don’t paint for too long in one area, use the whole room/space.

Face in light using light painting technique.

7) If you have a wide-angle lens attachment for your phone these work well too. The iOS light painting app we used was Magic Lights. LUMNart is a good one for android.

You can do the same thing outside with any camera set to manual and long exposure. With a small torch I drew a face in the air, it takes a little practice.

Three faces captured on one light painting.

8) You can also light yourself so you can be in the picture. Turn the light on and off quickly, move and repeat then you will be in the picture twice, you can do this until you run out of time and have lots of you in the same photo.

Experiment with different light sources and move around the whole frame. have fun and share your light painting images via Oldham Lockdown Museum.