Light Painting Photos of Rock Climbers Wearing Glow Sticks


What do you get when you combine rock climbers, glow sticks, and long-exposure photographs? Answer: some pretty neat light painting pictures.

St. Paul, Minnesota-based photographer and rock climbing enthusiast Matt Holland was able to experiment with rock-climbing light-painting photography recently when he went climbing at night with a group of friends in Jasper, Arkansas.


All the climbers were decked out with red headlamps and bright chemical glow sticks. The glow sticks were of the bracelet/necklace variety, so they were worn on arms, legs, helmets, harnesses, and shoes. The headlamps helped illuminate the rock face while the glow sticks added colorful light trails showing the climbs.


Holland was using a Canon 7D and a 15-85mm EF-S lens, “wide open at f/3.5 and zoomed out”. To capture the exposures, he used a cheapo Canon cable intervalometer as his remote shutter release, and used bulb mode to start exposures when the climbs began and stop them when the climbers reached the top.

Exposure times for full climb photos ranged from around three minutes to around five minutes.

Here are a few of the resulting light painting photographs from the climbs:





Holland tells us he was inspired to send in these photographs after seeing our post earlier this week on photographers who dropped glow sticks into waterfalls as a light painting experiment. You can find more of Holland’s photographs from the light-painting climbing session here.

Image credits: Photographs by Matt Holland and used with permission

  • IAR

    I need to get my self some glow sticks!!

  • 3ric15

    This is so awesome!

  • m1rad

    Somebody starts a trend and everyone follows this. This series is just yuck. What is good in this set of photos! Totally sucks. The glow sticks on the waterfalls was cool.

  • Jonathon Watkins

    Great to see the creativity sparking from one post to another. :-)

  • Matt Holland

    For what it’s worth, I was inspired to SHARE these photos by the waterfall ones. I bought the lights and took the photos before I knew the waterfall ones existed.

  • Four Letternerd

    Interesting idea, but the results are too busy for my taste. Makes me want to try shooting a top roped climber on a route he could do quickly. Lighting is, at most, one stick per ankle and wrist. Then I’d try it with most of the glow stick taped over.

  • ripley

    I thought the initial idea sounded lame, but the outcome is actually really cool looking… I might have to start doing some experiments with long exposure :)

  • Eric Pare

    Thanks Matt for sharing these photos. It must have been a very cool experience doing that climb.