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Capturing Emotion Through Light


I saw a post from a fellow light painter that grabbed my attention and implanted itself into my brain — something that I haven’t been able to let go of. He asked: “We know by looking at painters’ brushstrokes how they were feeling at a certain time. In light painting, we “paint” with light. I would be curious to see if emotion could be shown in the brush strokes of light painting too.”

My response was that I don’t think you could necessarily capture individual strokes of light and know that much detail from the light itself, but from someone with experience with light painting, you can most definitely factor in different variations of speed used and flow for sure from one’s understanding about light painting just from looking at an image.

I think the overall creation is more of an accurate representation of an emotional state of mind for an artist within their light painting. If you know what to look for, the stories are easy to find.

I’ve thought a lot about this. And what better of a time than now with me dealing with so many different emotions from my broken marriage?

If you really look at an image from any artist, you can definitely see emotion. There really is so much you can read and learn from an image about an individual if you learn to see the details, which most definitely are a representation of emotion either in that moment of time or an individual in general.

I’ve been thinking about how you could transfer emotion into light so that someone seeing that light within an image could know the exact emotion you’re trying to convey.

This made me think about how important color really is and how it’s a direct correlation to emotion. Our brains are wired to color. Basically in order to share an image that depicts a particular emotion, color is a huge contributing factor.

Below are my creations putting this theory to the test.

Alone or Loneliness
Shock or Fear
Peace or Balance
Anger or Grief
Trust or Love
Broken or Sad

To my surprise, people have actually been pretty accurate when guessing the emotion I was trying to convey in each photo.

All light painting tools used were from Light Painting Brushes and Coast flashlights. Camera equipment was a Canon 6D and Sigma 24-105mm.

About the author: Jason Rinehart is a light-painting photographer who holds a Guinness Book of World Records achievement in light painting. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.