The first known light painting photographs were made way back in 1914, when Frank and Lillian Moller Gilbreth used small lights and long exposure photos to capture the motion of workers. Subjects ranged from handkerchief folders to bricklayers. The photos weren’t meant as art, but were instead made to help develop ways to increase employee output and simplify job tasks. Read more…
Did you know that Pablo Picasso was a light painter? His most famous light painting image shows him drawing a centaur in the air, but there are quite a few lesser-known photos showing the master dabbling in the art. LIFE writes,
Renowned LIFE photographer Gjon Mili, a technical genius and lighting innovator, visited Pablo Picasso in the South of France in 1949. Mili showed the artist some of his photographs of ice skaters with tiny lights affixed to their skates, jumping in the dark — and Picasso’s lively mind began to race. This series of photographs, since known as Picasso’s “light drawings,” were made with a small flashlight or “light pencil” in a dark room; the images vanished almost as soon as they were created.
Head on over to LIFE to check out a gallery of the light painting photos.
Glow Graffiti is an aerosol can-style light painting tool similar to the one by artist Aïssa Logerot that we featured back in September. It’s powered by a UV light rather than the interchangeable LED lights used by Logerot, but the Glow Graffiti comes with a special UV-sensitive backdrop on which paintings are visible for around 30 seconds (the kit contains letter stencils too). You can pick up a set for $39 from Photojojo or Amazon (it’s prime eligible).
German photographer Berthold Steinhilber has an awesome technique for lighting expansive locations at night: he tediously paints in the light manually with a powerful 1.8-pound headlamp powered by a 12-volt car battery. Depending on the scale of the location, his large format film exposures last anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, with the aperture set between f/8 and f/16. The above photo took 1.5 hours at f/16. Read more…
On a rainy day recently, light painting photographer Jeremy Jackson was playing around with a green laser pointer when he discovered something interesting: all the out of focus raindrops in the photograph had a lined pattern in them — and each one was unique! These “water drop snowflakes” were found in all of the photos he took that day.
If you have some translucent film canisters lying around, you can turn them into DIY glow sticks for light painting photography. Fuse three of them together into one translucent tube, stick a small flashlight into it, wrap it with a colored translucent sheet, and voilà, you have yourself a cheap and simple glow stick. It’s a way to add some thickness to your light painting “brush”.
Artist Brian Hart creates amazingly detailed light painting photographs, sometimes spending nearly 20 minutes exposing a single one. The above photo, titled “apartment light drawing”, took 17 minutes to draw. Read more…
“What is Life?” is a creative stop motion animation created by a group of students at the MAPS Film School in South Australia, featuring the responses of people around the world who were asked that three-word question. Every single frame in the video is an individual light-painting photograph drawn with lights and torches and captured through a long-exposure shot.