How To Shoot Light Painting Photography Without a DSLR?

With a rapid increase in socialisation, netizens have taken up new and innovative ways to present themselves on social media. Plain portrait and sceneries are getting outdated. Now people have come up with a new and really an interesting kind of photography which, certainly can get anyone mesmerised! It’s Light Painting Photography.
A good way to make your presence noticed on any social media platform, light painting photography can fetch you quite an attention.
But is it that simple to shoot a light painting photograph? Does it ask for more than a smartphone?

Light Painting Photography

Light Painting or Light Drawing is an art of capturing a long exposure photograph of an illuminated object in motion. The effect thus created looks as if the path of the illuminated object is itself is lit up!
Usually, the artist ‘draws’ with the help of a hand-held object making an awestruck effect. The technique is used for artistic purposes as well as in commercial photography.
Don’t worry we won’t dive into the technicalities of the technique.
Let’s see some of the mind-boggling samples of light painting photography.
A perfect example of light painting photography using colorful lights

A perfect example of light painting photography using colorful lights

Using a sparkler, the man 'drew' wings

Using a sparkler, the man ‘drew’ wings

These were shot by professional photographers. But can we imitate even half of them?
Today, through this concise and to-the-point article we’ll learn how to shoot light painting photography without a DSLR in easy layman’s language.


  1. Any smartphone with a camera, which supports Professional Mode in its camera application. Now, getting your mobile phone to professional mode is dead easy. You just have to switch ON your camera applicable installed on your device and get to the settings and enable the ‘Professional Mode’. In many android devices, the option is available right at the bottom of the screen in the slide-menu.
  2. A light source: Now this is the main object which will indeed give the signature effect. It could be anything like a torch, candle, camera-flashlight or even another’s mobile screen. We’ll recommend you to use a phone’s flashlight to start with. To make the effect more dramatic you can also use colourful lights. This is can be done without needing any other device. Just download Screen Flashlight, to equip your android device-screen with different colours, bringing a majestic look to your light painting photography.
  3. A dark room/place: Now this is self-explanatory. To bring up the effect of the illuminated object you ought to have a dark background to make the object aptly visible. It could be a room or outdoors at night without the moon!
And that’s it! No need of a DSLR or even a tripod and you’re ready to go.

Let’s Go!

1. Since light painting photography is no usual photography, it requires different camera settings to shoot images. As mentioned earlier, Light Painting requires a long exposure, which can be achieved by reducing the shutter speed(NOTE: reducing the shutter speed means to increase the time of capturing the photograph, that’s why long exposure).
So firstly, being in the ‘Professional Mode’, we’ll increase the time of capturing the photograph. We recommend setting the shutter speed for at most 10 seconds(i.e you may choose shutter speed for 15seconds, 30 seconds or more).
2. Now hand over the mobile to one of your friends and ask her to keep it still all the way the camera lens is capturing the photograph(i.e if you have the shutter speed set at 10sec, then the camera lens if record everything happening for 10sec in the frame).
3. Next, get the illuminated object and stand in the frame.
Drawing 'O' for light painting photography

Drawing ‘O’ for light painting photography

4. The important part is to map out in advance the figure or design you’re going to ‘draw’ during the capture time(say ‘O’). Practice a path that you will follow during shooting the photograph. And keep in mind the time shutter speed
5. When you’re ready, ask your friend to click the capture button on the screen. As she does, begin with following the path that you have had it plotted in your mind.
And if you finish painting in the air before the shutter speed, keep your self at the same place and switch off the flashlight and wait for the image to be captured.
You’ve just learnt to shoot light painting photography without the use of a DSLR and that too in the easiest way possible.
If you find yourself stuck somewhere, reach out to us, we’ll guide you.

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