You Don't Need a $2.75M Maserati to Try Automobile Light-Painting, but It Doesn't Hurt

Not all photography how-tos have to come from photography websites or YouTube photography channels. This video that addresses basic light-painting of a car comes to us from an automobile YouTube channel. If you are new to light-painting or want to give it a try, this video provides an excellent introduction.

Light-painting automobiles isn’t new, and many terrific examples can be easily found with a simple search. What I like about this video from AMMO NYC and photographer Mike D’Ambrosio is how simple they keep the process so that beginners with a basic understanding of photography can follow along. It’s obvious the video is targeted at automobile lovers who may also be interested in photography. But that doesn’t mean Fstoppers’ readers can’t enjoy this video and perhaps learn something. It’s refreshing to see a how-to video that doesn’t stress the need for expensive camera gear or lighting. Use a basic camera that permits the photographer to control the exposure, a light, and a tripod, and some interesting images can be created.

I typically don’t do a lot of light-painting myself, but I have used it from time to time. It’s a great tool to have in the photography tool bag, especially when a shoot unexpectedly needs lighting that you weren’t planning for. Don’t have any speed lights or strobes with you? Just find almost any portable light source, and start painting away. I’ve even seen people use their cellphones as light sources.

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17 Comments

Brandon Silvera's picture

That was honestly terrible.

Douglas Turney's picture

Sorry, you didn't like it. I thought perhaps for some people who may have just gotten their first camera over the holidays that this very simple video might inspire them.

Gregory Tillman's picture

Terrible is a harsh word, but overall i'm in agreement with Brandon. When I was starting out I would have preferred a video tutorial on how to execute a light painting shot properly. There's a lot of great resources out there today on Youtube from very talented people like Moe Zainal, Trevor Jolin, Pepper Yandell, and Damian Plisko that I always recommend to people interested in automotive photography.

Brandon Silvera's picture

I don't think terrible is too harsh. A lot of those guys you mentioned would feel the same way. Haven been critiqued by those guys, trust me. For someone that's "professional", this is terrible.

https://automotivelightpainting.com/learn

^ Best tutorial on light painting and how it should be done.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Usually people with their first camera take pictures of the Xmas tree, the dog and the kids. Very few decide to light paint a car in a service bay.

Maserati or Camry, it ain't great.

Brandon Silvera's picture

I understand but there's definitely better videos out there from people who actually know what they're doing. In no way am I bashing you for wanting to help. I'm just a little frustrated at the outcome of the photo and how it was executed haha.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

It seemed to me, as I skimmed it that the host had never seen a car shoot or a light painting shoot, and the photog was new at the technique as well. A lot of "gee whiz that's cool" going on...

user-156929's picture

Well... Not stunning but not terrible either. :-)

Benoit Pigeon's picture

I was surprised he did not shoot tethered since he had his laptop. Adjusting direct from camera is kind of taking the risk of a slight shift.
The other thing would have been to shoot one with the car's headlights on. Doesn't have to be used but can be a nice option. This can be done with 2 battery powered strobes as well but probably some light painting could help speed up capturing details like the windshield and some other curves.

Leigh Miller's picture

Not really...tried it on my Jag and I still sucked...

Rifki Syahputra's picture

try to switch your jag with Maserati.. might work..

Graham Taylor's picture

The photography/technique itself isn't so bad, but the choice of frames to use and the post-production definitely need work!

David T's picture

Should have edited it to be shorter and more concise. Title is "5 Steps", but I am still unsure what the 5 steps really are. Content is solid,I agree.

Robert Nurse's picture

My brother-in-law just got a Porche! Another fun project for me!!!

Could save a lot of time and effort by using an Olympus E-M1 with Live Composite, instead of shooting blind and then putting it together in PS.

Step 1: Pick a better location. That looks bad in that setting.