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Night Photography: How to Shoot Light Painting with EOS R


Light painting, one of the techniques in night photography, is an interesting take on light and photography. There are tools and skills necessary to make that work and create a painting of light and colours at in the dark. Follow our tutorial and learn how to create colours, shapes and outlines at night with the help of EOS R.

EOS R, RF28-70mm f/2L USM lens, f2.8, 28mm, 11 secs, ISO100

The things you need for light painting

The tools needed for light painting are simple: a camera, tripod, light sticks and a torch light. For this shoot, we are using Canon’s first full frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R, which captures amazing photos even under low-light conditions. The camera boasts a low-light autofocus of EV-6, enabling one to focus effortlessly on a subject even in the dark. Equipped your camera with a memory card and battery (pack extra if you intend to shoot all night), as well as torches and light sticks with a variety of colours.

Find the right location

Look for a dark spot such as an indoor space (e.g. your home), an underbridge, abandoned site, or a beach to do shoot your light painting photos. You may be surprised by how bright the city gets even at night, thus it is advisable to avoid street lights as those may interfere with your photos. Only crack your light sticks when you get to the location to ensure the chemical reaction remains active throughout your shoot. 

The different patterns you can try

EOS R, RF28-70mm f/2L USM lens, f2.8, 28mm, 11 secs, ISO100

Before you begin the shoot, switch your camera to Bulb mode for long exposure, set a low ISO (100 to 400) and a wide aperture. Alternatively, you can use Manual mode and adjust your settings accordingly. This will allow just sufficient light to reach your camera sensor without excessively brightening the image. In Bulb mode, find your focus through the camera viewfinder or LCD screen, and then press and hold your shutter button. Alternatively, use the Canon Camera Connect app to control your shots remotely and reduce the risk of shaky camera and motion blur.

Try to create a pattern–by swiping up and down or in this case, form a heart shape– for about 10 seconds and then release the button.

Learn other ways to create night shots using Bulb mode in Filling Your Frame Completely with Blooming Fireworks in the Night Sky, or read up more on light painting in Tips to Create Light Painting Photos with Torch and Glow Sticks.

EOS R, RF28-70mm f/2L USM lens, f2.8, 28mm, 10 secs, ISO100
Use a variety of light sticks at once, create an outline of your body with a torch or write letters in the air, light painting is as imaginative as you want it to be. 

Learn what a slow shutter can do in Slow Shutter Art: 3 Brilliant Tips for Photographing Light Paintings, or find out how to create amazing night shots in Essential Tips for Shooting Landscapes at Night.

EOS R, RF28-70mm f/2L USM lens, f2.8, 28mm, 11 secs, ISO100
Watch the light painting tutorial video below and try to create your own!

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