How to Add a Smoke Effect to Light Painting Photography

Admit it: Light painting is awesome. It’s like painting in 3D. You can create anything you want, with any color, and with whatever background you choose to photograph. You’re limited only by your artistic ability…and maybe by daylight. Light painting really opens up a realm of creative opportunities. This fun video by photographer Wen-Jié Yang shows you how to add to your light painting images by creating a smoke effect:

The best part of this technique is that you don’t need real smoke, just more lights. Although you are going to need a fairly dark location in order to keep the shutter open for so long. Your best bet is to wait till the sun goes down or find a dark room.

long exposure light paint

Purple smoke effect created by lighting painting

It may be possible to stack some ND filters and use a very small aperture to buy some more time for lighter areas, but you’re still not going to be able to shoot mid-day.

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