This Is What Happens When You Take Pictures In Complete Darkness

How I use light to paint…..

Photo By: Jacklyn Miller

Several years ago I decided to try something different. In photography school, we’re taught that light is your friend. The more the better.

After stalking this guy named Patrick Rochon online for a couple of months, I decided to give his technique a try. They call it, “Light Painting.”

Photo By: Jacklyn Miller

It’s the total opposite of everything you know about “regular photography.”

In an ideal situation, you need complete darkness. I’ve found that an empty garage works best for me.

With the lights on, set up your camera on a tripod. You don’t have to have a remote shutter release but, it helps.

Turn on automatic focus. Either snatch your homeboy out of the kitchen or find some inanimate object and place him or it approximately 5 feet in front of your camera and focus. Turn off autofocus.

This is an important step. If you leave autofocus on your camera will continuously try to focus in the dark, unsuccessfully.

If you have white tape, it’s easy to see in the dark, tape off a square on the floor so you know where to stand when it’s time.

Go back to your camera and put it in manual mode. Dial-in the lowest ISO your camera allows for. The lowest ISO will result in crystal clear photos with no grain.

Start with an aperture of F11 and a slower shutter speed, somewhere between 10–30 seconds.

Set the timer on your camera if you don’t have a shutter release. Be careful not to move your camera when you release the shutter. When the light starts blinking, hurry over to the spot you taped off with your flashlights in hand.

Get into position and wait for the shutter to open.

Photo By: Jacklyn Miller

You can use anything you want as a source of light. I had a set of various size flashlights that I would modify depending on what I was trying to do. You can use colored paper, different kinds of plastic, nail polish, or colored tape to change the colors.

Then I graduated to these.

They are f*cking amazing.

Remember this whole process is experimental. If you want to keep a log of the different camera settings you’re using, you can. I don’t. I use the metadata in whichever software I’m using to tell me which settings I used for the photos I like the best.

You should know, this shit is addictive. Don’t stress. Put your headphones in and buy yourself a Mad Dog (so what, it’s cheap and it works), or whatever you drink.

Make minor adjustments as you go. It’s much easier to get the hang of it this way. The only limit is your own imagination.

If you try this, I’d love to see the results.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store