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Creative Photography Challenge

Lesson 8 of 10

Challenge #8: Painting with Light


Creative Photography Challenge

Lesson 8 of 10

Challenge #8: Painting with Light


Lesson Info

Challenge #8: Painting with Light

One of the ways to capture people's attention for your images is to use unexpected or unusual lighting, and that is what this challenge is all about. What we're going to do is we're going to shoot in a dark room with long exposures and use light as our paintbrush before we get shooting. I have to talk about the set up a little bit because there's some technical elements that need to be considered. First of all, you have to shoot on a tripod. You're going to be using very, very long exposures, and if you're not on a tripod, it does not work. The next element of this is you need to be shooting in a completely dark space, meaning no ambient light. Before I start lighting, I take a picture, a long exposure without me, you know, introducing light to the scene, and I try to determine if there is light showing up and in the next part is that your subject needs to be really still. In this case, I have my subject sitting in a chair with back that way she can lean and be a little bit more stable...

, and it's not that she can't breathe during the image or move a little bit, but drastic movements are going to be the problem. So when you're photographing a person and your illuminating them, this is what you have to keep in mind. Whatever you light is the only thing that will show up, but also five light here and then my subject moves. It's not going to be blurry because I didn't light it again. But if you were using a light and holding it on there for a long amount of time, that movement will register. So you actually have a little bit more leeway for doing long exposures for my camera settings. I'm not actually going to use anything special. They make remote triggers that let you do endlessly long exposures. What I'm doing is I'm switching my camera over to manual, and I'm giving myself the longest shutter speed possible, which on my camera is going to be 30 seconds. I'm going to be using a small flashlight. I'm also going to be using gels. I also have a couple other tools that I'll try out. So let's get started. I'm going to try something inspired by kind of fiery tones to begin with. I am going to light her briefly. Close your eyes. It's really bright. Great. Make sure I'm focused on her eye lock down my tripod so it doesn't move and change it to manual focus. Because since I'm shooting in the dark when I go to take the picture, if it's on auto focus is gonna search. And then one more thing is going to help me out. I'm gonna turn on my self timer as if I were taking a picture of myself. I'm going to myself two seconds. So I have the extra two seconds to get into place. I don't have to waste those two seconds that I could be doing, like painting one the entry. Okay. Don't man all right letting her face beautiful. Now let me light this person atmosphere behind her. Fighting for some atmosphere. Fire looks like fire to me right now and I'll lay under here a little bit. Perfect. Let's see. Oh, yeah. Super cool. Super cool. You look extremely firing. I'm gonna try blues and cool tones. I'm gonna try one of those alert like little light up Children's toy that we're going to see what that does with an experiment with it, right? Lighting her face, perfect, now filling in the shadows of her face of blue. Pretty none. Using these for cool effects. I don't know what effects will be, but they'll be cool. I would do it until my timer goes out. All right, let's see what I got. Great. Okay, cool. Taking a look at these images. That's pretty cool techniques. So now it's time for you to give it a try to share your images. Use the hash tag, creative photo challenge. And if you'd like to join the Facebook group, look forward to seeing the magic you create with paint with light.

Class Description

Feeling stuck and uninspired behind the lens? Stop scrambling for ideas on your next portrait.

Take Our Creative Photo Challenge

We teamed up with master portrait photographer, Lindsay Adler, for a bi-monthly series of FREE photography challenges designed to push you well beyond your comfort zone. Named one of the top 10 best fashion photographers in the world, Lindsay knows how vital it is to grow and explore to thrive as a photographer.

To spark your creativity, try a new (totally doable) challenge to help you discover and harness new techniques. Each 5 minute video will outline simple steps and ideas for a unique portrait. Take a moment to think about your point of view and deliver something outside of your norm.


  • Upload your photos and tag it on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter using #creativephotochallenge.
  • Have questions or want to check in with fellow photographers? Join the Creative Photo Challenge Facebook group.
Step outside of your routine, see the possibilities and discover what you love to capture!

By RSVPing to this class, you agree to have your email shared with Lindsay Adler.


Jid Kwinka

I am so much more willing to participate this challenge, tho' i don't have the materials and studio equipment. I only have a tripod, a camera, a softbox, a flash and a reflector but it ain't gonna stop me. I'm eager to learn new things, I love creative live, I love Lindsay, and I LOVE Photography! So thank you all for this free class! keep inspiring us!

Adiel Ahmed Munir

I loved it, I highly recommend this class. It's super informative and Lindsay is a superb Photographer and teacher. Thanks for sharing

Beyond Neverland

OMG! Is this for real? Lindsay is not only an amazing teacher and very knowledgeable but super creative! Such an inspiration! I watched this during my lunch break and now just want to grab my camera and go try some of these techniques!