How to Create a Dramatic Effect in Your Landscape Photography by Using Light Painting

There are many creative ways to explore within each genre of photography. One that is both challenging and fun and can deliver mysterious and incredible results is light painting.

Technically, photography already means “light painting” or “painting with light,” but a specific technique where you light up parts of your scene is also called light painting. In my latest video, I use this technique to lighten up and create some interest in the foreground of my night photo of a dolmen within a stone circle.

As the scene has stones standing in a circle, it can be hard to distinguish them from each other. By applying some light, either at the side of the stones or between them, you can make them stand out to each other. It is basically the same effect the sun can create when it lights up parts of your scene while leaving other parts in shadow.

Playing around with light painting really hones your analytical skills for what works and what does not work. In my experience, I found that side and backlight worked really well, while I had to tone down the front light and only use it as a fill light. For added control of which parts of the scene you want to lighten, you can take several photos, where you light different parts of the scene and then add them together in Photoshop. I show how I did that in the above video. This technique is the same as adding car streaks to a blue hour or golden hour photo. just a bit more complex. as you might very well end up with many more photos. I also added in the Milky Way above the stone circle and dolmen for that extra symbol of something ancient and mysterious.

Check out the video above and let me know if this is a technique you would like to try out.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Danish Fine Art Landscape Photographer and YouTuber. He is taking photos all over the world but the main focus is the cold, rough, northern part of Europe. His style is somewhere in between dramatic and colorful fantasy and Scandinavian minimalism. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel for epic landscape photography videos from around the world.

Log in or register to post comments

The video wasn't included in the article.

Also, Many National Parks in the USA do not allow Light Painting. I know, I just left Arches NP this past week.

I just looked this one up. According to what I'm finding only Arches, Canyonlands, and Grand Teton national parks, and 2 national monuments, restrict light painting. You're allowed to do it if your light source is dim enough not to disturb wildlife.