Automotive Light Painting How To

Automotive Light Painting How To

hey relax we're in a super glamorous locations my garage but we're here for an important reason I've gotten a lot of requests for videos on light painting so since a it's summer and a thousand degrees outside and Sun actually it's not that cool in here it was really hot it's not air conditioning and partly insulated so that doesn't really make sense but we are I guess in the shade so you'll see me sweating a little bit but more importantly we can make this place pitch dark during the day and that's one of the main things that we need for lightning so without further ado let's jump into the process we'll talk about camera settings we'll talk about different soldiers the white I use things like that so let's get started so here's the like we're going to be using this is a LED light I got from Harbor Freight I will put a link in the description to the light big shout out to BP photo on Instagram for the tip on this and it's actually worked really well it has two brightness settings and it has kind of double edged so you can control it from either size but it seems to work really well for for what we're doing the next thing that's really important for lightning is you have a really good tripod you can't really move when you do this so I have my tripod set up there my camera set up let's go over and check out what settings we have for this so the settings that I found that work really well for this environment is we're going to be shooting at a 10 second exposure at f-14 and we are at 100 ISO the biggest thing when you take a test shot you want the environment to be completely flat you want to completely control the light that's going easier with just your legs aiming device so you don't want any stray light here is what that frame looks like the other thing that I recommend is I recommend putting your camera on self timer mode so as you can see when we take a shot we are going to get a few seconds to get into place then the camera will fake is actual exposure so you'll be doing less feeding right now and then it will stop and then that's one frame so let's see what that looks like now all right so we're all set up we're ready to take our first shot we need to make it completely dark in here so we're going to go pitch-black we're going to go grab our life we have our light on and we are going to take our this will be our completely dark exposure w's on the bottom frame and now we are going to do our second exposure lightening car so we'll turn our light on wait for click so we want to get a good even stream or the car a little bit of things got wheels and here's the back for your foot so we'll say another one it looks right from that far we get enough like on back so let's go with one more time turn on our life so let's get more back here back kneel overall car on the car front wheel maybe a little bit I feel like you can probably get a little bit more far then we'll go on a little bit closer one across that one is more than I think we still need some more light on the wheel and the good thing about that too is you can take separate Kroger's so we'll get an even closer get a lot of light on that and then while we're here and then we'll do that kind of same thing for cross [Applause] good I like that you got in the back let's take this inside plug it into here so we have okay everyone now we're back Ian Lightroom I've loaded all photos that we just took and let's go through them really fast and here is the initial exposure that we took as you can see when we were taking it I said we want to have a completely dark unfortunately I was not able to get the environment completely dark Lee a light was shining through the top of the garage door not a big deal in the corner I can easily clone that out if we need to where it gets a little bit stickier and things that you'll want to watch out for when you do this is we have some of those reflections on the car if it's in a difficult spot it may be hard to clone out or it may is many has a different light color things like that so that's just something to watch out for when you're actually going to do this so let's click through the photos really fast and then I'll show you how we're going to process these so here's the first exposure as you can see overall it's pretty good things to watch out for though when you are picking this is it caught me the light stick or the one directly on so you can see right here we have a direct reflection whereas if you look here it's more just the light itself as we go on you can see it was a little bit better here we got some weird wavy stuff so that's another thing to watch out for here is a lot smoother again back here we have a little bit of that clone that out no problem there same thing here this is where it gets a little bit more tricky because we're going to row back and body line and another body line so just when you do this things to watch out for aside from that though like this nice even lighting here it really cut that body line out looks really good to me at least and then your same thing we go back this is when we started working on the wheels itself again not a ton of light we got on that real as compared to like the front we held that light in there a little bit longer and we're able to get more light on that and that's why we did that second exposure back here we've got a little bit more light on so I think the first thing to do is with the LED it's a pretty cool life and that we're shooting in RAW I didn't worry about changing the white balance in camera because you can do that after the fact here so what we want to do is we want to warm this image up a little bit just to get the colors looking more control didn't take much I think that's pretty close to what the car actually looks like so quick tip if you hold down shift click on the left image and then hit think you can synchronize that change across all of the photos so what we're going to do is we are going to shift click from the first to the last image we will right click and then we will go edit in open-end layers and Photoshop and after Photoshop has a second to think about that it will pop us up an image so here we are in Photoshop um one thing that I recommend doing that I actually just did is if you click on the top layer click on the bottom layer and then you go into edit and Auto align layer and keep it on auto and just click OK what Photoshop will do is it will go through the image it will look for different part for the images and it will auto align them so if you think about what we did in the while we were shooting we took like seven different exposures and the chance of us involved in that camera a little bit in between each one of them even though we're locked off the stable tripod is still pretty good and you can see here from the outline of the frame it did shift slightly so that's always something to think about um the way these images are arranged right now if you look here we have our solid black image on the bottom or almost solid black and then above that I put the front wheel above that I put the back wheel above that is a good middle exposure I really like the way the car looks right in here this one is the I don't hopefully use this one and this one while these two the good thing about these is the top of the car we don't have any nasty reflections from the light in the windows so those are both good so I'm going to show you two different ways to go about this the first if we hide the rest of the layers we go to the first one and we are going to option click the layers so now what we did is with a black layer mask we have hidden that layer so we want to grab our feed for our brush tool or you can click here with white as our foreground color we can go in with a let's go with a medium kind of flow here we can go in and we can start painting in that front wheel layer and so we're painting on a layer mask so if we make a mistake no big deal we can go back in and you can just paint black on that layer mask and erase it out so there we go we have left that front wheel kind of shine through let's do the same thing with the back wheel again we're going to hit option or alt and then the layer map with B still selected and with white as our foreground colour selected keying on the layer mask we're going to go in here and we're going to paint that back real minute so again we just wanted to kind of merge into the front layer there paint back here and as you can see where we just started the paint there we got into the front a little bit if that happens you can X to go to black and you can just push that back the goal is to kind of get a good middle ground there and then maybe even we can one where they pass me a bit or the flow with black selected we can go and kind of push it in so we have a nice fade the next layer was our good middle ground so we'll do the same thing there with that layer selected we're going to click option click that layer mask and we're going to go in and paint right in here so let's switch our colors to white as a foreground color and we'll just blend those two together you will bring in a little bit more of it here so that would be one way of doing it as you can see we kind of have a good middle ground here we would need go in and finesse this a little bit more probably get a little bit more light in the background here and we tell them out of it so that's one way you could go is by using the layer map getting a nice blend out of the layers that you're looking for the next one that I'm going to show you we're going to delete the layer mask let's start where we were just second go and with this one either technique in the right or wrong it's good to know bold it's good to know limitations Bowl so this one what we're going to do is we're going to change the blend mode to life and so now what lighten does is it's going to look at the layer below and anything that is brighter is going to allow that to shine through so where you'll see this really thing into effect is when we click on the next layer so the previous layer everything in the front of the car is um lit really well and that everything is lit really well so what we're going to do is we're going to change this to lighten and as you can see it allows those two to build on top of each other the problem you get with this technique is around here we have gotten much brighter and we've also introduced the light when we were waving the light around the camera obviously caught that so let's do one more layer and then I'll show you how we're going to go about fixing some of that so we will go to like and again on the third layer again this is where the middle was really good so now you can see our car is lit pretty evenly all the way across we look good from that the foreground actually looks really good I like the way that that look we need to go back and probably darken this down okay I don't mind seeing that some of this is back here and seeing the environment but this is definitely distracting so how do we get rid of this we want to go into this layer so this is the front of the car we're going to leave that as a white layer but with our brush tool we're going to increase our flow to maybe fifty percent and we're going to paint in black this time so what black is going to do it's going to hide all of that stuff and then as you get to the edge once you can do is you can bring your flow down you can bring the brush up and that'll just feather that transition nicely and I can probably do a little bit down here too so that takes our that layer we can do the same thing for this one same thing we'll do a white layer mask let's make a brush a little bit smaller and bring that flow up for this initial piece get rid of most of this light and now just a blend things in let's bring our flow back down you know 12 14 2007 like that make a brush a little bit bigger and then we can just go and feather all of that a little bit better alright and then we have one more layer to worry about so if we go up here again the same technique we will increase our float a little bit we can paint this out and we didn't really get in the middle but we can go back over that just just make sure so as you can see me have kind of based exposure on the car um some things that we did wrong that we probably want to go back and take another shot or things that we should look at or we would need to fix here is you can see in here we have some light reflecting you can find out which layer that is and kind of get rid of that the other thing that I'm not super excited about is the light in the windshield or the windows we do have an exposure here where we could layer that on so if we make it black if we make a black layer mask on this one we can go through with our brush and we can just paint that out and then if you go too far you're on the layer map and switch the color and then you can go back and just paint that in so azimuth II I mean that's a quick one over I'm not going to go through the entire retouch on this I'll show you the finished product here but hopefully that quickly explain the theory and kind of some of a practical aspect of doing like painting some of the things to watch out for when you do this just be cautious to look out for things like this that you don't have to come back and fix in Photoshop later same thing here those are just some things to look out for one thing that I didn't mention that you want to do is when you are taking the pictures get get strong focus on the camp are on the car or whatever you're taking the picture of and then turn it to manual focus if you try to take picture in the pitch black in autofocus the focus is going to hunt and your frustrate yourself and half of your shots are probably going to be boards so you want to make sure that you switch that to manual focus once you have focus blocks on your subject and then go from there so hopefully you guys enjoy this hopefully you learned something if you get out and do this and post some photos on Instagram or Facebook or wherever daddy and I'm leave me a comment I wait to see them I love checking out what you guys are doing I love you guys put into practice kind of some of the stuff you've learned here so until next time take care


  1. Gidday from Australia. Great Tutorial mate. Everyone has different likes. I like your quick descriptions. You just get straight to the point. Love buddy. Keep em coming.

  2. This is kind of like doing it in reverse. One could take several well aimed shots with flash strobes and use the other images as layers to balance the image. Then you could use your brush to darken certain areas for the desired effect. There are various ways to skin a Cat. This is another great option if you do not have strobes or even if you have to try this method. It gave a great result.
    Thank you for sharing. πŸ‘πŸ‡¦πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί

  3. Great tutorial. If you fold a piece of tracing paper around the LED light, the reflections will be more "smooth" and you won't see the LED's in the reflection.

  4. when i do this, photoshop doesn't show me all photos at the same time like in the video, it shows the photos on top of each other (each individual layer).. anyone got some help?

  5. Thank you Nathan great and very helpful tutorial. I did my first light painting a couple of weeks ago and had pretty good results. I'm excited by the possibilities. Thanks for your time and talent.

  6. I never get rid of those strong light reflections like you had above the back wheel. They especially are all over the side most of the time. Do you have a tip for me to get rid of them from the beginning?

  7. I love watching your tutorials. Thanks for the upload and I'm really enjoying all your IG photos too 😊

  8. Thanks for uploading this! Going to give this a try, although my car is white not sure how it will turn out

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