Light painting with Nokia Camera

Published by at

One of the unique facilities in Nokia Camera for Lumia smartphones is that the shutter speed can be set as long as 4 seconds. With low enough light levels and some imagination, all sort of creative light painting can be done, using torches, LEDs, candles and so on. There are some cracking examples over in a new tutorial over at Nokia Conversations today, along with how-to tips and a nice video.

From the article:

...We followed light painter, Ian Hobson, on a night of capturing this up-and-coming form of photography using only a Lumia 1020 smartphone.

So what exactly is light painting?

Ian Hobson: Light paintings are created by moving a light source in front of a camera to create an image. To create one with a Lumia 1020, use the camera app to set the exposure time to four seconds, which will capture the flow of moving light.

You can create a light painting with any kind of light source, such as LED’s, flames, or even your Nokia phone light, and it will work more or less anywhere as long as it is dark.


What’s so fun about light painting and why are you passionate about it?

IH:  I first started light painting before digital cameras existed, and with their invention it suddenly became possible to see what you were doing. I’ve followed the work of other great light painters around the world for inspiration.

I’m fascinated with the interaction between a human moving different coloured light sources and objects in front of the camera and the understanding of the time and space required to create beautiful and unusual photography.



The article article also share some tips on how to create your own light paintings:

  • Set the Nokia Lumia on a steady surface or tripod
  • Access the camera control panel by swiping the camera icon left for adjustable settings
  • Set the ISO at a low level – 100 – 200
  • Set the shutter speed to four seconds
  • Set the white balance to the ‘light-bulb’ setting
  • Set focus to infinite
  • Set the self timer to 10 seconds
  • Experiment with different light sources for stunning effects
  • To make the most of the four seconds, get your friends to join in to create more light trails in a single shot

Good tips, though the sheer amount of both imagination and work that goes into creating any of these examples will probably be underestimated by most.

Ian even admits in the full article that he created 'his own LED light painting tools' for this sort of work - I'm imagining lengths of plastic with multiple LEDs and a battery pack - that sort of thing. Some way to get as much custom moving light into the frame in the short time available. You can see some of his home made tools in the demo video below:

I loved this extra shot from the video, by the way. Such lovely blues:

Blue light art

This example also shows the importance of the right location - it seems as if tight urban structures help enormously with reflections and atmosphere.

Comments? Dare us lesser mortals challenge such works of light art as these? All that's needed is a Nokia Lumia phone with Nokia Camera installed, though the more capable the sensor in low light conditions the better, obviously. Ian was using the Lumia 1020, but I'd be interested to see how budget handsets performed too.

Source / Credit: Nokia Conversations