Let There Be Light! Light Photography Tutorial for Toys

4:22 AM

I had fun playing with light last night and I thought of making a simple tutorial using the other set of photos. I just went crazy twirling lights all over Mari, Taiga, Danboard and Mayoi! Anyway, I'm using a DSLR so this tutorial is for that camera only. I will not be teaching you on how to do those shapes because it's entirely up to your imagination! However, if you're using a point and shoot camera, or a camera phone you must be familiar with some terms I'll be using here.

Here's my set up last night, I was slumped on the floor and I was surrounded with lights all over. HAHAHA. My computer desk at my room was too narrow so I choose to set it up on the floor instead, but I had to keep my dog and cat outside or else they'll just sit anytime while I'm doing my shots.

See what I mean? XD

To get started, I used two sets of christmas lights, two lampshades (the head was wrapped in a thin cloth which acts as a diffuser) and a sheet of black felt paper (for the background) coz the darker, the better. I just positioned my camera across where the figures are. I used a 50mm 1.8 lens, which I currently have at that time, you may use a standard kit lens (18-55mm), doesn't matter because we'll just use a small aperture for light painting.

1. Prepare your camera for a long exposure shot by setting it to 5 seconds, f/8.0 and ISO 100. This is the part where you have to experiment. I played with 5 seconds and f/8 as a trial and error at first until I get the thickness of the light streaks that I want. Yeah, actually it matters! If you're familiar at how a camera's aperture works which is, the bigger the apperture, the larger amount of light it will get in.

Look here, in this shot, the aperture is f/5

Notice the lines behind Mayoi, this one is f/8, see the difference?

You'll get thicker lines on an f/5 aperture, which I used mostly on the later part of the photos.

2. Next, position the figures according to your desired composition. Make sure that it is secured enough so that it won't get knocked down while you're playing with light which is on Step 3.

3. Get the lights! Now for the previous photo, I freely swayed the christmas lights around Mayoi to get that pretty light streaks. Pretty cool, huh? :3 You may actually use a pen light, small led light, even a laser light as long as it's not too bright or else it will be just the light you're gonna capture. 

For this shot, I carefully used the tip of the christmas light to draw a light force thingie on Domo-kun and Taiga's swords. It's like an epic light battle LOL!

Danbo got a little thunderbolt on his hands. I bet Thor wouldn't mind.

Kirino: Ohh, look I'm playing with light!

Taiga's wooden katana suddenly showed a burst of light!

TIP: You need to do the light painting thing within 5 seconds (or whatever exposure you timed it in) before the shutter opens, or else you'll get a mess of light around the picture.

You may use your imagination while playing with light! If I wasn't on the floor and had a bigger area, I could've written my name using those christmas lights! But hey, there'a always a next time! ;) I hope you enjoyed my simple tutorial!

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  1. Galing talaga nito. Nice tutorial

  2. I really enjoy this blog :3 thanks for the effort :) -kimchi

  3. I really enjoy this blog :3 thanks for the effort :) -kimchi

  4. Waah! I feel totally stupid for not knowing that you could do this so easily! I always though light painting was done digitally. *facepalm*

    This has inspired me to start playing with light before Christmas. If I do, I'll mention your tutorial! ^^

  5. Oh thats really nice, thx for explaining it a bit moree, I actually never tried it lol

    The first Mayoi pic is so wonderful ^^ Im also a big fan of the straight lines.

    Oh you also have a dog, lovely ˘◡˘
    It looks like the dog is eating Danbo XD

  6. This looks really fun! Thanks for sharing this. Might do some light painting when I get home from work! (≧∇≦)/

    Can I link back to your site if I decide to dedicate one blog post using light painting for toy photography.

  7. Ooh good read! I've played around with light painting but you're much better at it than me :D

    Thanks for this!

  8. Sorry for my silly question but how do you move the christmas lights without your hands getting in the way of the figure and without them showing in the picture?

  9. @dencio @Kimchi @Tian
    Thanks so much and I'm happy you enjoyed my post!

    Now you know hahaha! I look forward seeing your creations! :D

    Hello there! Yes, they really look pretty! As for Danbo, Boss (my dog) doesn't have an appetite for boxes XD

    Sure thing! I'm happy you liked it! :D

    You need to be quick in doing a light painting within 5 or 10 seconds. If not, you may wrap your hand with something dark like black socks (but this only applies on dark backgrounds like this), but real trick is the speed on how you draw them lights :3