When most people hear the term “lightpainting,” they conjure up images of sparklers tracing hearts and signatures through the night air. But what often gets written off as amateur can actually come in very handy when shooting product photography, allowing you to illuminate an object or background in new and interesting ways.

DIY Photography has a handy tutorial courtesy of Philippines-based portrait photographer Laya Gerlock, who shows you how to create cool effects and unique product images using only your iPhone and iPad as light sources. All you need is a tripod (or another steady surface or mount for your camera), your tablet or mobile device (a flashlight will also do in a pinch), and a room where you can turn off all ambient light.

Gerlock walks you through the very simple process, which really boils down to set-up and experimentation. With the lights on, set your camera up on a tripod and aim at your subject, pre-focusing and then switching to manual focus or on camera so you can click the shutter once the lights are off. Gerlock suggests starting with 20sec ISO 200 @ f8, but every lightpainting session is a lot of trial and error, so it’s really up to you. As long as your shutter speed is ten seconds or longer, you’ll be good to go.

Once you’re set up, hit the lights, making sure there is zero ambient light creeping in, and when you’re ready, hit the button and start waving your light source around the subject (purposefully, of course). Gerlock used the iPhone to light his cameras and bottles and an iPad app with different graphic patterns to create cool backgrounds, sliding it in a slow arc behind the subject to finish the shot.

If you’re hungry for a little more instruction, Gerlock also uploaded this video to YouTube demonstrating exactly how waving your phone around can light your subject and create interesting backgrounds. Check out the tutorial, and his results, here!



Via DIY Photography

For more from Laya Gerlock, check out his website or follow him on Flickr.