Step-by-step through a complex light painting setup
before it gets dark. Troy Paiva taught me this lesson many years ago, and I've found it to be one of the most important lessons I've ever learned. There's only so much you can scout out in the dark, even if you think you've got perfect night vision.
Second, it's important to get a base exposure before spinning and twirling your flashlights, strobes and glow sticks. Not only does the base exposure let you set the correct exposure for the background, but it gives you a better idea of how to implement your light painting.
Third, you many have to light the scene many times from different locations in order to get the perfect result. Just because the final result looks simple, it doesn't mean that it was simple to implement.
If you enjoy Joe's guide, you should consider immersing yourself in one of Joe and Troy's three-day night photography workshops (the April 2010 workshop is sold-out, but you can get on the waiting list for the Fall 2010 workshops).