Light Painting at Night with Noel Kerns

Learn and practice specialized techniques to make unique photographs at night by painting with light.
Upcoming Workshops

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Join photographer Noel Kerns for this exclusive workshop and be part of a small group of shooters who will learn the fine art of night photography and light-painting from one of the world’s most recognized artists in the genre.

Noel’s eerie, luminous photographs of ghost towns and abandoned locations across America have been featured on ABC News, Huffington Post, Slate Magazine, Texas Highways and Digital Camera Magazine. His book, “Nightwatch: Painting With Light” is captivating readers and photographers around the world with surreal images of places society has left behind.

Student photo from previous workshop at Sulphur Springs location.

The supplemental lighting in Noel’s photos is created using the technique of light-painting, the process of carefully applying light onto a subject from handheld light sources such as flashlights and photographic strobes. These techniques are executed in the field, in real-time, while the camera’s shutter is open.

With exposure times measured in minutes rather than fractions of a second, hidden details that are invisible in the darkness make their appearance in the final image. Careful planning and serendipity each play a role in the creation of these surprising and surreal photographs. The movement of stars, clouds, water, taillights from passing cars; all of these elements take on new weight and drama when captured over time.

Noel’s mastery of the artistic and technical challenges associated with light painting, combined with his dramatic compositions sets his work apart in the field. The subtle tones and textures he coaxes from his subjects create powerful, eye-catching images that captivate viewers and pull them into his abandoned, post-apocalyptic world. His best photographs of abandoned buildings share much in common with fine, intimate portraits of interesting people near the end of long, interesting lives.

Student photos from previous workshop at Sulphur Springs location.

The workshop will include two nights of shooting at historic locations in North Texas and two afternoons of classroom instruction & critique. The first classroom session will focus on long exposure camera techniques and include detailed tutorials on the light-painting process Noel uses to create his images. The second classroom session will center on digital workflow and final image editing. Noel will work with each student individually to select their best work and end the edit session with a projected slide show of everyone’s best work.

While shooting on location at night, you will put these new techniques to work while receiving hands-on, in-the-field help from Noel and his assistant.


  • Equipment and Tools: The right equipment makes all the difference
  • Fundamental of Exposure: Adapting what you already know about exposure to night photography
  • Managing Camera Settings: Choosing the right combination of settings to create the best photos from any location or lighting condition
  • Understanding Ambient Light: How to use existing light sources most effectively to enhance the image
  • Focus and Depth of Field: Special challenges in Night Photography
  • Light Painting: All the Secrets Revealed!
  • Examples: Technical breakdowns of some of Noel’s more complex lighting setups
  • Post-Processing Techniques to create fine art quality images

The first day includes location classroom setup and we’ll gather together for dinner at a pizza place. The next day will start with editing at DCP.

  • Location: Two field locations & classroom sessions on-location and at DCP in Dallas.
  • Cost per person is $455 early registration, $495 late registration.
  • Registration cost includes location fees, security fees, assistants and a set of gels.
  • Level: Intermediate to advanced.
  • Advance registration and payment is required.
  • Maximum number of students is 14, minimum number to make a workshop is 10.
  • See Requirements and Terms & Conditions for more information.

Photos by Noel Kerns


First day:
2:00-2:15 – Arrive individually at shooting location in Sulphur Springs, about 1.5 hours from Dallas. Detailed directions will be emailed before the workshop.
2:15-6:15 – Classroom lecture and demo of light painting techniques.
6:30-7:30 – Dinner together at a local restaurant. Price not included in workshop fee.
7:45-9:00 – Back at shooting location for property walk through to scout positions and set up for shooting.
9:00-11:15 – Night shooting and light painting (Option to stay until midnight for those who want more time).

Second day:
2:00-6:00 – Meet at DCP and set up laptops for individual/group critique and processing tips for previous night’s shots.
6:15-7:15 – Dinner together at a local restaurant. Price not included in workshop fee.
7:30-8:15 – Meet at the Fire Museum location (near Loop 12 and I-30) for property walk through to scout positions and set up for shooting.
8:15-11:00 – Night shooting and light painting.

There are additional skill and equipment requirements for this workshop. Please visit the Requirements tab to view more details.

Photo by Noel Kerns


  • You should have experience using your camera in full manual mode including control of aperture, shutter speed, white balance, ISO and focus. The DCP DSLR 1 & DSLR 2 evening classes or the Full Day Beginner Workshop would be perfect preparation for this workshop.
  • You will be downloading, selecting and exporting your images in class using the editing software of your choice.
  • If desired, you will need image enhancement skills with Lightroom, Aperture, Photoshop or similar.


  • DSLR or other camera capable of full manual control and Bulb exposures. If you’re not sure, ask via the Contact page.
  • A stable tripod capable of supporting your camera.
  • A remote, locking shutter release for long exposures.
  • Laptop and editing software for selection and processing of your images.
  • A variety of flashlights, from low to high power. Specific suggestions for equipment will be sent out ahead of the workshop. Noel will have just a few extras on hand.
  • Appropriate shoes and clothing depending on weather.


  • A photographic strobe with manual power settings and a trigger button. Like the Nikon SB series, Canon EX series, Vivitar 285, etc. If you have questions contact us ahead of time.
  • Theatrical Gels. You can bring your own variety of colors or Noel will provide a basic 3 or 4 color set to each student.

An email will be sent out after you register with Noel’s specific recommendations for flashlights, remote triggers and strobes.

This workshop has special terms and conditions that supplement and/or replace the general terms found elsewhere on the DCP website.

Workshop fees, assistant fee, location entry fees, security personnel fee and a set of colored gels for each attendee. Cost of meals is not included in workshop price.

The early registration discount is in effect up to 10 days before the workshop date.


If you cancel more than 21 days before the workshop begins we’ll refund any payments made less a 10% processing fee. If you cancel from 8-20 days before the start date of the workshop you can receive a 50% refund or 100% credit toward another similar class within 3 months of cancellation date. If you cancel 7 days or less before the start date of the workshop you will forfeit 100% of the total workshop fee. If you can’t attend you are welcome to send someone in your place. If the workshop is already sold out and we have a waiting list, we may be able to find someone to take your seat in which case you will receive a 75% refund.

Dallas Center for Photography reserves the right to cancel a workshop at any time for low enrollment or for other reasons and will promptly refund all payments made to date. In the event of a workshop cancellation, DCP and Spot Studio, Inc. are not responsible for reimbursement of non-refundable airline tickets, hotel reservations and other travel arrangements. If you’re coming from out of town we recommend that you purchase travel insurance.

We all hope for clear, cloud free skies but the workshop will go on if it’s cloudy or rains. Bring umbrellas and the right shoes and we’ll still be able to make good photos. We may have to substitute one or both locations depending on conditions. The workshop will only be cancelled due to weather if it becomes severe enough to be dangerous or prohibit all photography.

You will be required to sign liability waiver forms for each location. There are no exceptions and this is a requirement of the owners of those locations. Those forms will be supplied to you after registration and they must be signed and returned before you can attend the workshop.

Q: How do I receive the TPS discount?
A: The first 2 TPS members to register get a $50 discount to this workshop. If you are already a member of the Texas Photographic Society, email Amy Holmes George for the coupon code. Membership to TPS starts at $40. If you’re interested in becoming a member please visit Texas Photographic Society.

Q: Do I have to have special equipment for this workshop?
A: Any DSLR or mirrorless camera capable of long time exposure of around 2 minutes can be used. You will need a tripod and some other accessories. See the Requirements tab for more details. An email will be sent out after you register with Noel’s specific recommendations for flashlights, remote triggers and strobes.

Q: Are there any special physical requirements?
A: The locations are chosen because they are ramshackled, distressed or otherwise photographically interesting. That means you’ll have to step carefully and be able to work in near darkness. If you have any physical restrictions that you think may be an issue please contact us before registration.

Q: Will it be cold/hot/wet/buggy or otherwise uncomfortable?
A: Though we try to time the workshops for decent weather and conditions, sometimes we can be surprised. Be prepared!


Noel Kerns

Noel Kerns is a Texas-based night photographer who specializes in capturing the abandoned landscape of the American Southwest.  Growing up in the central Texas Hill Country, he developed his photographic skills shooting large format black & white landscapes.  The slow and deliberate nature of the large format photographic process was a perfect launching pad into the art of digitally photographing the nocturnal world.

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