Light painting without a tent

When we first showed light painting in a bright exhibition hall at Photo Booth Expo 2016, the industry was amazed. This post explains how to use light painting at indoor venues with an open or closed booth using DSLR Remote Pro.

You can use the same technique with DSLR Remote Pro Multi-Camera .

DSLR Remote Pro Multi Camera animated GIF (5 cameras). Flash with 3 second exposure.

What equipment do I need?

  • Camera
  • Photo booth software that lets you control the camera settings
  • Flash
  • Black backdrop
  • Lighting props

Camera: we recommend using a Canon DSLR camera. Webcams and iPads are not suitable because you need complete control over the exposure and settings (including aperture). This is not possible with a webcam or an IPad.

Photobooth software: The examples here use DSLR Remote Pro and DSLR Remote Pro Multi-Camera. You can use the same technique with other programs which allow you to control the camera settings.

DSLR Remote Pro with open photobooth at Photo Booth Expo 2017

Flash: You need a powerful flash to freeze the subject at the start of the exposure. We like to position the flash high up so that people are less likely to look directly at it and be dazzled by the light. The flash also acts as a cue to the guests to start light painting. Ask them to pose until the flash fires and then start moving the lights.

Black backdrop: the light trails show up best against a black background. If you have a light background you may get ghosting (dark shadows) when guests move around.

Lighting props: guests’ phones, colored torches, LED batons or more elaborate props such as pixel sticks.

How do I use DSLR Remote Pro to control the camera to create the light trails?

  • Use external flash mode
  • Set a slow shutter speed
  • Use a small aperture and low ISO to cut out ambient lighting

External flash mode: Run the photo booth setup wizard; select <Advanced Settings> and check the box to set external flash mode. If you also check ‘Mirror output images’ the words guests write with the lights will be reversed to read correctly:

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Photobooth Settings screen: check boxes for External flash mode and Mirror Output Images highlighted

Shutter speed: You need an exposure of at least 1 second to create the light trails. We find between 2 and 3 seconds is best. (Guests start to run out of ideas with exposures longer than 3 seconds).

In the <Advanced Settings> screen select camera settings mode Bank 1, then click on the <Camera Settings> button to the right. This takes you to the camera settings screen. You need to adjust the Bank 1 settings for both taking photos and live view.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Photobooth Settings screen: select Bank 1 and click on <Camera Settings>

Camera settings: Start with  exposure (Tv) set to 2″ (2 seconds), aperture (Av) 22, ISO 100 and white balance ‘flash’.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Camera Settings screen: Bank 1 ‘taking photos’ settings highlighted

Live view: Select Tv: bulb for a bright live view image and White balance: Auto (ambience) for reliable colors.

DSLR Remote Pro 3.7.3 Camera Settings screen: Bank 1 live view settings highlighted

In a brightly lit venue you may need to reduce the length of the exposure or use a screen to dim the ambient light.

DSLR Remote Pro Multi-Camera users should use the same technique.

Ideas for lighting props

Colored torches (DSLR Remote Pro with open photobooth)

The simplest props are guest’s own mobile phones and colored LED torches. A set of LED finger torches can be glued together.

LED baton (DSLR Remote Pro with open photobooth)

Our most popular props are made from LED lighting strips wound round a foam baton and powered by rechargeable batteries. Pixel sticks can be customized for branded events.

For more ideas search for specialist websites such as lightpaintingphotography.com

Copyright Breeze Systems Ltd 2017

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