Looking for an inexpensive way to enhance your creative long exposure photography?
Meet the Lomo Light Painter by Lomography, a $10 tool that will elevate your abstract photo experiments to new heights! If you’re currently using a run of the mill flashlight for light painting (more accurately, light drawing) as I was, you need to give this awesome handy tool a try.
What’s the Lomo Light Painter?
Given the price point, you may be confused about this tool’s capabilities. Now Lomography also offers a pricy, advanced version called the Pixelstick. Boy would I love to get my hands on one of those bad boys. Sadly, at $350, the Pixelstick remains out of my price range. At least for now. The Lomo Light Painter represents a pocket sized, bare bones alternative for night photography enthusiasts on a budget.
The small key-chain size makes for super easy transport and portability. You get 8 different light modes to work with, including a couple of cool color changing options that produce striking effects. Just push the little button to change colors from blue to green, red, etc.
The only drawback to the super simple push button color shifts is that it’s harder to draw with only one color. I say that because I’m used to turning my flashlight on and off to control the light beam i.e. move my position to draw another object or add detail to a light illustration. You can get around this by placing your hand over the light source to block it as you move and keep the same color, which feels a bit cumbersome on timed exposures in my experience.
At any rate, I found changing colors while shooting produces somewhat unpredictable results. The unpredictability can be fun and I believe in embracing the lack of control to stay in the instant film spirit. I hope you’ll appreciate the spontaneity I see in the images from these tests.
Lomo Light Painter instant film photos
I conducted my first Lomo Light Painter tests on my Lomo Instant Wide instant film camera, of course. This awesome analog camera shoots Instax Wide film, which gives you plenty of space for light art in a frame. Plus the Lomo Instant Wide allows long exposures through Bulb Mode, a feature most instant film cameras lack.
I started off shooting in our bedroom with the lights off. I recommend this approach while you’re getting used to the device because it gives you more control over the lighting in your scene. I chose a relatively challenging first concept—a double exposure self portrait. I used the standard lens and switched between a lights on exposure with a 1-2m focal length and a lights off shot at the same length. I tried doing the light painting frame with the focal length set to infinity, and preferred the size of the light art with the portrait focal length. As you can see, the results show me surrounded by colorful light hearts.
Next I ventured outside for freeway overpass pics by the 118. I’ll warn you that selecting the right environment for outdoor night shots is tricky. You want just enough light to clearly illuminate your photos without overwhelming the trails from your Lomo Light Painter. Seeing as how you’re working with fixed aperture at f 8 along with 800 ISO instant film, you don’t get very clear shots with well defined light trails. I ended up with one long exposure traffic photo I liked as well as these 2 funky light paintings of flowers and a floating fish.
For the final film test, I did another round indoors with the lights off. This time I felt pretty comfortable with the process and stuck to single exposures with a focal length between 1-2ms and infinity. It’s tough to pinpoint the exact exposure time on these as I used the lens cap remote control to open and close the shutter manually.
Lomo Light Painter DSLR pictures
As much as I love the sense of freedom instant film affords, I felt especially excited to try the Lomo Light Painter with my Canon Rebel t3i. Reason being, I knew full manual controls and digital precision would allow this tool to truly shine (pun intended). So I setup my tripod, put the focal length from 18mm -22mm, f stop from 14-22, ISO at 100, turned off the lights (indoors), and recreated a few of the film photos along with some spur of the moment new concepts.
I haven’t tried the Lomo Light Painter outdoors on my DSLR yet. Still, I think these pics give you a good idea of this tool’s utility and creative potential. I give it 5 stars for the price, ease of use, and color variety. I highly recommend you invest the $10 bucks for endless hours of fun!