Drone light painting is a combination of traditional light painting but achieving the effect using a light attached to a drone. Traditional light painting is a photography effect where the camera is typically setup on a tripod and switched in to a slow shutter speed. This allows the camera to capture a lot of movement in the shot, generally you shot a still landscape and then move a light within it. This is often done with a torch, led wand or even burning steel wool like in the image below. The result is a normal looking shot of a landscape with a really nice vibrant light trail effect in it.
Light painting is something you can fake in post production using something like Adobe Photoshop but you will never get as nice an effect. The beauty of light painting or drone light painting in this case is that you can paint in 3d and the light will reflect beautifully off any wet, shiny or reflective surfaces.
Drone light painting and light painting in general does take time and patience. Some would argue that using a drone is cheating as you can just plot its course and let it robotically create the effect for you. But its also a great way to practice your manual flying and really nail some perfect flight patterns.
Aerial drone light painting has so much scope for creativity because you have such a huge canvas to create amazing effects. We have seen everything from UFO’s to waterfalls made from light trails. The only limitation is your imagination, you can even shift perspective and shoot yourself from the air doing handheld light painting. You may get a little wobble in your longer exposure drone shots in windy conditions but its all about practice and having fun.
Always remember that flying at night can be dangerous and that you will need to maintain safe distances from people not under your control whilst also maintaining line of sight with your drone at all times.
If you need some lights to get you started in drone light painting then check out our ‘Lights for Drones’ post to see whats right for you. Also check out the great feed of drone light painting below to get the creative juices flowing and go have fun out there!