Photography, light painting, graphic design, fine art, they all have one thing in common. They rely on design principles to work. Recently inspired by other forms of art, I am taking my light paintings in a new direction focusing heavily on the principles of design. These include principles such as composition, line weight, color, pattern, balance, etc.



The Tools

Last year I bought a disco ball for my wedding. The ball came with a couple can lights and 4 gels. The gels are yellow, blue, green, and red. I found the gels recently and decided they would be a great addition to my light painting tools collection. With the gels in hand and principles in mind I got busy.

Colored Gels

The Setup

I first put together a layered triangle using poster board and light stands. You can see the layout in the sketches below. Next I had Jackie stand about 6 feet (2 meters) behind the triangle near the wall. I positioned her so I could see her upper body through the triangle. The lights clicked off, the shutter opened up and I began to light paint.

File Mar 22, 6 13 03 AM File Mar 22, 6 14 09 AM

I started with the green gel on the front of Jackie, then her back with a red gel. Next I painted the top layer of the triangle with the red gel, followed by the sides with the blue and green. It was all trial and error to get the right exposures on her and the cards. As I dialed in the shots, I adjusted her in the frame, her pose, the amount of time I lit each element and even experimented with painting the background in.


In this final shot my settings were as follows.

My camera was set on Bulb mode for a shutter speed, the aperture was ƒ/10 and an ISO of 100. The shutter ended up staying open for 61 seconds in order for me to paint in all the details.

Thanks for reading!

-Dan McCreight




Camera: Nikon D7000

Lens: Tamron 17-50mm

Flashlight: Guidesman