Long Exposure Photos of Rock Faces Lit by Flashlights, the Moon, and the Stars


Earlier this month, we featured a neat light painting experiment by photographer Matt Holland that involved long exposure photos of rock climbers wearing colorful lights. The climbs resulted in colorful light trails that tracked the course each climber took.

Over the past four years, photographer Neal Grundy has also been working at combining long exposures, light painting, and rock climbing. Unlike Holland, however, his work is more focused on illuminating the faces of large cliffs rather than creating squiggly trails of light.

Grundy produces his photographs in the Central Weald area of South East England by himself using a head torch and various flashlights. His goal is to light massive rock faces using light from his torches and the glow of the moon and stars.

To do this, Grundy used exposure times of up to an hour for individual photographs. He tells us that this allows him to “fully capture the ambiance of the sky and the light trails from stars.”

The light also reveals things about the climbs:

Whilst the images are exposed a Neal climbs a particular ‘line’ or route whilst wearing a head torch. This illuminates the route and traces the movements of the ascending climber resulting in a striking juxtaposition between natural forms and artificial light. Areas of concentrated light indicate the more difficult ‘crux’ moves of the routes climbed, which may have taken the climber longer to complete.

Here are some of the photographs Grundy has created so far:


















You can find more of Grundy’s work over on his personal website.

Image credits: Photographs by Neal Grundy and used with permission

  • chubbs

    Very cool stuff!!!

  • Jonno

    Those are amazing!

  • Jim Koalaburn

    if you expose for longer than 20 seconds your not taking pictures of stars, you’re taking pictures of rice grains. Hold your exposures to 20 seconds or less for better results.

  • N2Narcosis

    Jim I get what you are saying but the stars in this case are not the subject of the images. Its the route up the rock by climbers. From a film I watched with guys creating these the exposures were around 15 – 20 mins not secs in some cases so the route of the climber shows as a coloured streak up the rock face.