Creating a Light Painting Composite

There are many different and interesting forms of light painting. This includes things like wool spinning, creating objects such as orbs, writing messages, animations using tools like pixelsticks, and lighting up specific objects in a frame. In this post, I will discuss the process I use to process an image that contains an object that is lit up in a dark scene using a flashlight.

Photoshop makes it very easy to create composite images, especially if the individual images all contain different areas that are bright. Let's look at the steps required to create the following image:

During a recent class that I taught out at Hot Sams in Lakeville, MN, we spent time light painting this aircraft. To keep things simple, I created three different parts of the aircraft using a gelled Coast flashlight. First, I painted the front of the aircraft. I then moved to the side behind the wing and painted the side of the aircraft. Finally, I lit the ground underneath.

In most cases, there would be many more shots taken lighting just specific parts. In this case, the idea was to keep things simple. Here are the three shots that were taken:

Front Light

Side Light

Bottom Light

The first step is to import the images into Lightroom, and select the proper profile. The profile tells Lightroom, how to interpret the raw file. In this case, I chose camera standard. Since we will be making a composite, at this point refrain from making any other edits in Lightroom.

The next step is to select the front and side lit images, and open those as layers in Photoshop

Once Photoshop opens, select both of the layers: