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Here's how to do Light Painting or Light trails with a smartphone

(Topic created on: 26-01-2022 01:33 AM)
Samsung Members Star ★★★

I was asked the question in another post, so I decided to rewrite my answer here and talk a bit about the technical side.

This is a translation. If you don't understand a specific lign or have a better translation, feel free to tell me.


Courtesy of CHMultimedia Samsung Expert level 5 

Note that taking photos of light trails follows the same principle but a longer duration will be required especially if there is little traffic.

To do Light Painting is to make luminous lines with different luminous items such as flashlight, laser, stick of fireworks that we light and which make sparks/sparks which will make the main part of the photo. All you have to do is wave the lamp in front of the camera in a dark place and try to draw a picture in seconds

Light Painting is easy when you know the Pro Mode, you have a tripod and a good Phone Holder.... Here, I was trying to make the initial of Samsung's Members  ( SM) 


To be successful in photography, you need to understand how a camera works.  In automatic mode, as soon as you press the shutter button, a certain amount of light enters through an aperture F: xx  and will be sent to a sensor which will determine the speed at which the photo must be taken for it to be successful as well as an ISO number representing the level of sensitivity that had to be set so that your photo is not over or under exposed.

Thus, if we are in the daytime, we will need a shorter time to bring in a certain amount of light to succeed in the photo as well as a lower ISO number which represents the sensitivity, while if we are in the evening where the brightness is lower and you will need a longer time and a higher ISO number to succeed in a photo. An ISO figure above 400-800 will leave what is known as GRAIN in the image and therefore the image will be full of large pixels visible when printed or enlarged. To get the best quality images possible, the best photographers choose the lowest possible ISO number.

If we send light directly into the sensor and let the automatic mode decide, the photo will be taken in a few thousandths of a second, the aperture will close quickly and you will only have a photo with a capture of the lamp and what surrounds it but no light trail and this is not the desired goal. This is where the Pro mode comes in.

Pro Mode gives you the power to decide the adjustments to get the shot you want and the effect you want, so let's start with what we saw above: to prevent the aperture from closing before you've had the time to make your drawing, you already know that you will need a long time, either 2 or 3 seconds. But you also know that a lot of light will come in having chosen 2-3 seconds and that your lamp will go unnoticed if you do it in daylight.

SO, we know that the photo must be taken in the evening/night in a very poorly lit place so that there is not too much light on the sensor. We also know that we must make the sensor as less sensitive as possible otherwise the photo will be pixelated so it will be necessary to lower the ISO figure as low as possible, i.e. 50. 

And finally, on smartphones there is often only one possible aperture which is F:1.5 but you may also have a second aperture on high-end devices which will be F:2.4 which will be the one you I recommend if you have it. Strangely, the smaller the number, the larger the aperture, SO  if you want the least amount of light to enter, you will choose the smallest aperture, F:2.4

Here are the settings I used in the darkest room in my house, my bedroom, and here is the result I got. I had given the following link to those who asked me the question to show them how to 

I put here an french article on the subject written by Frandroid: so you can compare and decide what helps you the most. *

I did not modify my photo to put it in Black and White because I thought it was a shame to lose the colors of the beam used and I did not use the Lightroom editor to adjust the contrast, the brightness, the shadows etc. I only used Samsung Editor to change the settings to my needs and that was enough. 

Basically, I decreased the brightness to the maximum and increased the contrast to the maximum. I also tried the other buttons like shadows etc but very little. So I didn't waste my time to make my photos perfect, I just wanted to show you how easy it is to do when you know your camera and the Pro mode.

Here are my camera adjustments:  (all that's left to do is move the light in front of the camera when pressing the shutter/timer). Since I had an S-Pen that serves as my trigger, I only put 2 seconds as a timer but you will have to put a longer time to have time to place yourself. The  time required for the realization can be different from one device to another because the sensors differ according to the models but the principle and the technique remain the same.   


ISO 50,  Aperture F 2.4, Time = 2 seconds, Timer 2 seconds, Format 4:3, Autofocus and the rest automatic.. I might have had a better result by not choosing Multizone playback...but the central zone but I am satisfied with my results. (PS Multizones and central zone are no longer available on Android 12 One UI 4.x, too bad) On the other hand, a level has been added to have beautiful well-framed photos, bravo Samsung

Since I had an S-Pen that serves as my shutter release, I only put 2 seconds as a timer for the camera to focus but you will have to put a longer time to have time to get in front camera or use voice-activated shutter on your  device. Note that I did not focus with the laser not knowing if it would damage the sensor and that is why the photo is a little blurry.   e.g. 5 or 10 seconds. 

Please note  that when you set the timer, you will see on the screen the time remaining before the shutter activates if your screen is placed in front of a mirror.  (In my case, I had the 2 mirrored wardrobe doors which reflected the screen)  .

Here is where you can change the brightness, contrast or other in your Samsung Editor to have a better light painting photo:


It is possible that you do not have this opening on your camera but that does not change the possibility of doing paint lighting which will be compensated by the duration in seconds that you have chosen or with another underexposure. If you have F 1.5, you will have to reduce the exposure time by 1 second because F 1.5 captures a little more light than 2.4 (but so little) or you can do more lines of paint lighting if you decided to put my parameters. 

The goal is to have fun testing your device and not get discouraged if you don't get it right the first time. 

Photo taken with a double laser beam before modifications:


cropped photo


The following photo was taken with a flashlight as a beam. 

I did not put the photo of the original before treatment because my face was visible but here is what it gave by adjusting the contrast and the brightness. Note that the adjustments were the same on the 2 photos and I only took 5 minutes to take these photos before editing them in Samsung's editor.


Note that the photo taken with the flashlight was much brighter than the one taken with the laser beams, so I had to lower the brightness to Maximum in the editor and play with the contrast but I'm happy with the result

Here's another one I took, it took me 3 seconds rather than 2


And one with the double laser 


The flashlight used has 5 light beams, you would have had finer lines with a flashlight having only one thin beam. It's up to you to choose which result you want to have.


Well, that's as simple as that !

We can also succeed in this type of photo (source Samsung)


Where you take your photos can sometimes be just as important as how.  To capture this image, Nordan and his children set up in a pedestrian tunnel with a tripod.  "A low-light environment gives you the ability to increase your shutter speed," says Melissa Nordan.  For the light painting effect, she wrapped fairy lights around a stick and had her daughter pose as still as possible.  “This is another great situation to enable voice-activated shutter release to avoid touching the camera and adding any unwanted camera shake,” she says. Using Pro mode to control the shutter speed to around 0.5 seconds gave him plenty of time to paint with light while minimizing motion blur for his model.

* If you have any questions, don't be shy to ask me.

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you'd like wire wool photography too.. thank you for taking the time to explain this.. most kind.! ...
Samsung Members Star ★★★

Hey @lahoof , you're right,  steel wool photography is in the same line but like people are playing with FIRE, this can be dangerous but the result are awesome.  I put the following link because the guy is showing the Samsung's camera settings but you'll need to enable subtitle to understand.

Some Steel wool photography here :





 and some round light ball photography that could also be made with the Pro mode  of your smartphone or any other camera



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