Shooting Challenge: Body (Light) Painting

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: Body (Light) Painting

Light painting...a body. This idea may sound a bit esoteric at first, but hear me out and I can almost promise we'll achieve the most memorable Shooting Challenge results yet.

The Challenge

Photograph a person who is somehow augmented by light painting. What I mean by that: glowing exoskeletons, cartoony heads and psychedelic auras. (I mean it, someone please make an awesome exoskeleton.) Put differently, you should reimagine the portrait with light. The light painting shouldn't be your stereotypical someone spelling a word or neat glowing orb in the background. The light should be part of a subject.


Also, I should also clarify, we're not looking for the use of light painting that's more subtle in which you can use a flashlight to control general exposure in a scene. We're looking to see trails of light.

The Method

Light painting is an specific version of long exposure photography. You'll want to set your camera on a tripod and expose shots for 10-30 seconds or more while (probably another subject) draws with a light source, like a flashlight, LED, candle, sparkler or glowstick.

Freddie Wong, maker of this epic light painting battle, offers very practical advice without getting too focused on technique. His best tip? Have those doing the painting (the non-subjects) wear black to blend in.

Abduzeedo suggests using a low ISO to avoid noise and figuring out your aperture by taking a test shot first without any light in it. And if you like that tutorial, here's another that explores use of elements like flash.


The Rules - READ THESE

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos need to be taken the week of the contest. (No portfolio linking or it spoils the "challenge" part.)
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 800px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. (The 800px image is the one judged, so feel free to crop/alter the larger image for wallpaper-sized dimensions.) DO THIS!! IT MAKES OUR JOB MUCH EASIER!
6. One submission per person.


Send your best photo by Sunday, July 18th at 11PM Eastern to with "BodyPaint" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameBodyPaint.jpg (800px wide) and FirstnameLastnameBodyPaintWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

[Lead photo by minamac88. Note the extension of light panting as part of the figure.]


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Ok, have been reading a bunch of these contests over the past 3 months or so and would like to start entering in some of them. I do not own a camera that can do some of the cool things that these challenges require, so... can you guys tell me where I can start to do some research on what camera would be good to use / buy? Thanks.