Light painting on the Huawei P20 Pro

  • 1 August 2018
  • 5 replies
Light painting on the Huawei P20 Pro
Userlevel 7
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Picking a subject for my first blog in this community was an absolute no-brainer, for me the obvious choice and by far the easiest subject to write about is the one feature of my P20 Pro which first made me go “wow”, it’s the feature I return to time and time again to experiment with and each time I am more and more amazed that a mobile phone can do this. What am I talking about? Light painting.

If you are a P20 Pro user with even a slight interest in photography and you haven’t tried out Light Painting then you’re missing out. To briefly explain what light painting is – it’s a camera technique where you use a light source to essentially draw on an image. Think about those shots you see taken at night where a cars headlights leave a long trail behind it and you’ve got an idea of what light painting is.

The process
DSLR cameras have been capable of doing this for quite some time but it can be a rather complicated process which requires at least a basic knowledge of how ISO levels and apertures work and it almost always involved a lot of trial and error to get the right shot. The biggest problem when shooting this kind of photo using a DSLR is that it often requires you to leave the shutter open for a long period of time and this comes with it a risk of letting in too much light and blowing out the image. The P20 Pro takes a slightly different approach to this technique by taking one initial shot which it uses as a background layer and then it keeps on adding extra data to this by taking continuous shots which focus solely on capturing areas which are emitting light, this means that the background layer never gets blown out by too much light and you can keep shooting for as long as you like to capture more details. The one caveat to note, which applies to both DSLRs and the P20 Pro, is that you absolutely need to use a tripod to capture this type of photo otherwise your images will come out blurry.

Star trails
The very first night I took my P20 Pro home I set it up in my back garden on a tripod with a mobile phone mount and took a photo of the clear sky using a sub-setting within the Light Painting menu called ‘Star Trails’. At first I was presented with a dark image however within seconds the image changed to show my garden all illuminated as if it was taken hours earlier when the sun was still out. A few seconds more and stars started to appear in the image. In total I left my phone on that tripod for just under one minute and the result was astounding considering it was taken on a phone, the sky above my garden was littered with stars and my neighbours houses were lit up better than I could see at that moment with my own eyes. It’s an incredible feat that a mobile phone can capture photos like this and I urge everyone who owns one of these phones and has access to a tripod or some other method of keeping the phone perfectly still to get out and try one of these shots.

The Huawei P20 Pro, time and patience
To get really good results you need a fair bit of luck with the weather; dark clear skies with little to no moon activity is ideal and unfortunately for me I haven’t had much of that. I took two separate trips recently to the Lake District in England and the Isle of Skye in Scotland where I spent 3 days wild-camping with the P20 Pro hoping to capture some great night shots but sadly the weather had other ideas and the cloudy skies ruined my chances. As with most hobbies, photography takes a lot of time and patience. You aren’t always going to find yourself in the right place at the right time but when you do it’s important to have the right tools with you. Even the most dedicated of photographers don’t carry their cameras with them 24/7 so having the ability to take DSLR-quality photos on a mobile phone is a massive benefit to someone like me.

We are living in a time now where the biggest draw of a mobile phone is how good its camera is and there really are some excellent devices out there, but very few of them venture beyond taking “good” photos – the P20 Pro not only takes good still photos but also gives you the tools to be quite creative with your photography and this is why, as a photographer, this is my phone of choice.

Want to know how to take night photo's? Go to this how to on Night mode and Light Painting mode.

5 replies

Userlevel 7
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This blog is amazing! Thanks Tony, keep up the good work!
Userlevel 7
Badge +7
Thanks everyone 👍
That was some blog Tony!! So much quality info!
Userlevel 6
I really really love that, great work well done @Tony
Amazing! I'm yet to test the capabilities of my p20 pro