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Beginner’s Guide to Light Art Performance Photography & Light Painting

light painting

Light Art Performance Photography, (often abbreviated as LAPP) is a unique type of art that was developed and invented by JanLeonardo Wöllert and Jörg Miedza. Unlike different forms of light painting, LAPP is one of the first types of art that uses light as the medium to get widespread attention.

Not only does it require the illumination of existing objects, it requires the photographer to capture and create new subjects based entirely on light. The main reason as to why it differs from other photographic forms such as light writing and light painting is due to the inclusion of a background in the photo.

LAPP is an easy form of art; all you need is a DSLR or a Lomo camera that has a shutter frequency under 5 seconds. Despite the appearance, LAPP does not require the artist to have any Photoshop skills. The additional tools one can use in creating this art form include a source of light e.g (glow sticks, laser beams, poi balls, LED lights), a tripod, flashlight, flash and strobes, lenses and tape.

As simple as it sounds, LAPP requires certain techniques to be followed in order to achieve the best results. However, you are not entirely restricted to solely using them.

Here are some of the techniques you can use for creating perfect Light Art Performance photographs.

Using Different Angles

Using different angles in creating the images is the key towards making your light photography come to life. It helps bring out interesting three dimensional effects to the objects you are photographing. A great example would be when taking the pictures from the ground, hold the beam down low, then pan the light above the ground.

When you are working with different angles don’t let the object stand in between the light and the camera or else the resulting picture will be a silhouette. Other than just presenting light from behind the camera around the object, try painting it from the sides. This could involve illuminating the sides of flat surfaces, which will allow you to bring out the various textures of the surface.

Appropriate Use of Light

Avoid shining the source of light at the camera directly, as this will create a bright spot on the image. Flashlights with red filters are great to use, as they will prevent you from ruining your night vision. They also come in handy when you need light and want to make camera adjustments.

Keep the light moving; the beam should be moved in slow strokes in the areas where less lighting is required. Just like you would paint with a brush, paint with the light; up and down or side to side strokes. Make sure the clothes worn are non-reflective, so as to ensure you don’t appear as a ghost in the picture.

Choosing the Right Surface

This is important when shooting objects on surfaces. Since different surfaces react differently to light, it is good to note the right surface to get the desired result. Surfaces such as wood are believed to require more light because the rougher the surface, the more light is absorbed. For shiny surfaces such as glass or metal, it is quite the opposite as they reflect light at maximum exposure.

Camera Settings

Adjust the following camera settings accordingly:

  • Aperture: Make sure the aperture setting is high. This is because you’ll need the lowest amount of light hitting the sensor as it counters the long shutter. Any aperture set above f/8 will work perfectly. It may seem odd to take images at such a high aperture, but you can always decrease or increase the exposure when editing. Photoshop and other photo editing tools can assist in adjusting the image to the right exposure.
  • ISO: Photographers report that the lower the ISO setting, the better the shots. You can try out different settings to choose the most suitable in your setup.
  • Shutter Speed: Try shutter speeds of a few seconds for the initial LAPP shots and scribble with the flashlight. Then adjust the ISO and the aperture depending on what you want to paint. Once the pictures are starting to appear as you wish and you want more time to draw the images, move towards the bulb setting on the DSLR.

Additional Light Source Techniques

There are three light sources that one can use in light art performance photography. The three most efficient light sources are the on-camera light source, off-camera light source and the kinetic light.

  1. On-camera Light: This involves creating the lighted image where the element that is illuminated can be viewed by the camera. This source is appropriate when creating light drawing, graffiti, photo booths and light writings.
  2. Off-camera Light: This involves creating the image where the illuminated element is not visible to the camera. This involves having the artist or object behind the camera during long exposures. Light is also projected into the scenery to create the design and required color within the frame ow by using light painting brushes.
  3. Kinetic light: This involves the process of leaving the light stationary and moving the camera around to create motion, colors and designs within the frames. A great example of using kinetic light is holding the camera with your hands and opening the camera’s shutter for long exposure while using the moon’s light to create drawings.

If you are ready to experience a unique art form, get innovative and you’ll be surprised with what you can create. You don’t have to follow this guide to the letter, try out something different and discover the possibilities. Create your own mix of composition, color and lighting, and blend them together to invent astonishing pieces of art that stand out in the world of photography. This is what true art entails.

About the author: Melissa is a young and energetic writer, a mom to a sweet little boy, and a fur-mom to two perfect pooches. Before becoming the Associate Content Director for Project Female, she was a journalist specializing in topics related to women in politics and policy affecting women.

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