What do you do when the room your in (in this case auditorium) is literally a black out and you need a flashlight to see your feet. One option is to move on to another location or make some light. Most people think about adding light using a flash mounted on your camera or other means. That will work but the control without any modifiers can spill light where you don't want it. If that's all you have so be it. Another alternative is a simple hand held flashlight and use the beam to add light where you want it. You can create drama or just light it up and show everything. Another advantage of light painting is to light up very dark areas where there is a light source say the moon and a rock or tree in the foreground is too dark. You could take two photos and blend but that is not light painting.
Shooting in the dark will cause you to shoot manual and not just camera settings. Manual settings can be the camera or the lens. Without light the auto focus will keep searching for something to focus on, the camera won't even fire or a very blurry photo. On this trip with a group I ask someone the question on how they focused. Got the look....what? I ask how many photos were in focus because they were auto focusing. Even with light painting the light is moving all the time to get an even look. I told them to light up an area of subject and then auto focus on that spot. Turn off your auto focus. Another way is just manual focus. In this case the subject a piano could be light painted with a single flashlight or what we did was set all the cameras and ready set go, trip the trigger and one person paints. It takes practice on how long the shutter or how much light the flashlight is needed. You will normally get a different look each time. What about a larger area. Get bigger lights. I took along two 2 million candle power lights. The kind people use at night to spotlight deer. The bigger the area you light the more light you will need. Or you can jack up your ISO to compensate the lack of light. Also you need to keep the lights moving or you can over expose an area quickly. Photoshop can add the red but what fun would that be. I want it to have the look of flickering flames.
Who says you need a white light. Red filters were used with the large lights and then just paint as you would normally. I like to do something like this for a series "THE GATES OF HELL". A quicker way to get this would be to use Photoshop and use layers but fun would that be? And light painting is not restricted to indoor projects. It will work anywhere you need to add light to your subject. My series started in a grave yard at night in Philly. I had thought about this for awhile and why not start there or I may have got the idea after I did the red light paint. PRACTICE, PRATICE AND PRACTICE will always lead to better photography. A little secret, go along with someone who does this so you can see first hand instead of reading this blog.
MT MORIAH "GATES OF HELL"