I set my Nikon D7000 on a tripod and tried a 20-second exposure while I used spotlights to selectively light up the scene.

Caryn Esplin Night Kayak Ride

After a night ride...

Caryn Esplin - Redrock Starry Night

Red Rock Starry Night


Caryn Esplin - Lake Powell Pinnacle

Centering sometimes works.



I set my tripod in the water to get the angle and reflections of these two kayaks, then I light painted the scene.

Sometimes Light Painting can be quick and easy.
I just had to try light painting some red rock formations on our recent trip to Lake Powell. This was one of those lucky times when everything went smoothly and it only took a few tries to get the light balanced, and find the right camera setup. After a long day playing in the beautiful, warm lake, the family had just abandoned the fire to sleep under the stars. This is when I set up my tripod to start some nighttime fun. The only problem is that my spotlight must have flashed across our little cove to disturb another houseboat on the opposite shore. Soon they were shining a big light in our direction. It was some kind of Morse code, but luckily I did understand the message. I got the hint though and finished up quickly. I was able to get a few scenes painted before I decided to let everyone go to sleep. 🙂

I like the creativity of Light Painting. It enables you to isolate a subject and leave other areas dark for contrast. I believe it is a more artistic type of photography, because you are actively painting in the light, during the exposure. Then it is also fun to get creative in post-production. This takes some planning in advance though. For example, I blended four images together to get the balance of light correct on the first photo. This works well, as long as you leave your camera on the tripod in the exact same position during all the exposures. For one of the exposures, I would concentrate on lighting up the left side of the foreground. In another shot, I would work on lighting the large rock from the right side. I continued this until I had light coming from different angles…again leaving some areas in the dark for contrast. I always try to light things from the side (off-camera) for more interesting and realistic shadows. Then I layered the images in Photoshop and masked the parts I wanted from each image for the best possible creative combination. The remaining four images are single shots that last about 20 seconds.