Now that things are settling down a bit after NANPA (www.nanpa.org), I have worked some with a few of my light paintings from Joshua Tree. This is one of my favorites and larger views display the thousands of stars visible in this image. To bring out the number of stars, I had to composite one image derived in ACR (Adobe Raw Converter) for the stars and another image for the tree. Both were taken from the same RAW Nef file (Nikon RAW file). I then dragged one on top of the other and then used a layer mask to create the combination.
Light painting is not that difficult with digital, it just takes some practice. You will need fresh battery(ies), a flash light ( I use a Maglite with colored gels, a Brinkmann QBeam 2 million candle power spot with filters that come with it, and Streamlight Stylus lights for small work), a cable release with long exposure capability (I use a Nikon MC-20 with my D2X), camera and tripod.
Put your camera into Manual mode and set your aperature to your desired depth of field. Make sure that Long Exposure noise reduction is active on your camera. Choose a time (start with 1-3 minutes) for your exposure. It should be short enough to exclude whatever ambient light is around (or not if you want a different feeling for your image). Then paint with your light over your subject. Keep the light moving, otherwise you will get a hotspot where it lingers. Wait for your image to process. Check you painting technique on the camera's view screen and modify as needed. It will take some practice to use this technique, but digital makes this so much more fun than when we did it with film. The only drawback is not having REALLY LONG exposures with digital (I mean 1-4 hours at night for great star trails). I am working on ways to capture star trails with digital, but if anyone out there has any ideas, let me know. Until next time, keep shooting out there.