How to Light Paint a Car

The following section will cover how to photograph a light painted car in low light conditions. A light painted car can create a very nice effect for your photograph, and something shiny you can show your friends.


STEP 1: Setup- your camera

STEP 2: Set the settings – Refer to the next page for the settings

STEP 3: Take a Test Photo

It is always important to take a test shot first to see if your composition and settings are correct. Thus click away and take your first photograph. When you completed review the photo and see if you have the correct composition and exposure in your photograph. If you are not happy then play around with the aperture, and move the ISO a little bit up by 400 and play around with shutter speed until you have the desired effect.

Step 4: Follow the steps as indicated on the right hand drawing:
STEP 5: View Playback

In playback make sure that all the Light painted car shots have pinpoint accuracy. If they are not very sharp then re-focus your lens until the ultimate sharpness can be obtained. If your photo is sharp then sit back and admire your first photograph.



Live View: Switch off the Live View functionality, as this will reduce your battery power.
Noise Reduction: Turn OFF your camera’s Long Exposure Reduction setting (consult your camera manual to do this).
Metering Mode: I always set my camera to spot metering for car shots, due to the amount of light emanating from the reflection on the car.
 White Balance: I would suggest setting your camera’s white balance to Auto White Balance, as this will give you flexibility if you want to edit your photo later on.
Aperture: I would recommend using a wide aperture range to increase the depth of field – from f/11 to f/13.
Shutter Speed: Set the shutter speed to 16 seconds. But allow yourself enough time to light-paint the car correctly
ISO: Set your camera to a low ISO (6400) – depending on your light. If you see the photograph is to white then change it to 3200.
Exposure notes: If you like controlling your camera’s settings then set your camera to M (Manual), but if you are not so confident then set your camera to TV (Time priority) and play around with your shutter speed. If your camera is in TV mode then it would allow you to change the ISO as well, thus I would suggest reading the next sections as well. If your camera is in M (Manual) then this will provide you with greater flexibility to set the right conditions to your favour.

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