We are sure you have seen photos of amazing creations done with light, otherwise known as lightpainting. While this art has been around for a long time, it has gained immense popularity over the past several years. There are many forms and styles of lightpainting and the possibilities are endless.
The basic way to create a lightpainting is to set your camera to a long exposure, either with the timer function or in Bulb mode. A tripod (or other fixed surface) is mandatory to prevent the image from being blurry during the exposure. There are many “tools” that can be used to create the patterns with light, but LEDs (light emitting diodes) are by far the most popular. LEDs give a nice bright light and come in a variety of colors. The can also be programmed to turn on and off and certain intervals.
There is a strong community of lightpainters around the world, and the most fun is having meet-ups with other people to collabaorate on creations. The shot above was done with several lightpainters from Austin, TX in July 2010. Many of these artists have created custom tools and styles that have helped push the art beyond what was possible even a few years ago.
Anything can be used, as long as it creates light, even fire. The following shot was done simultaneously with blue LEDs and a flaming tennis ball.
As an art form, we can create wild photos using various tools and our imagination. These images are all created in a single camera exposure, with no editing after the fact. Basically what you see in the image all happened in one shot. This image of the Mustang was done during a meetup with our good friend Mike. He is a master at lightpainting and is known worldwide for his skill and development of custom tools to achieve the various effects you see here.
During the same session, we created the most ambitious light painting I have been involved with. I made a video during the 17 minutes it took to create the Solar System, which I compressed into 90 seconds. There were four of us working together to create the final product which you can see at the end of this post.
The final product!
You can find more light painting images on our Flickr site, with links to some of our friends that are also involved in this awesome art form. Many have posted how-to photos and videos, and they are some of the nicest people you could ever meet.