Painting with Light: 15 Long-Exposure Light Art Photos

Words, ghostly forms and streaks of ethereal light take shape when photographers move a light source around in a frame while taking a long-exposure image. Variously known as light art, light graffiti, light drawing or light painting, this art form can involve glow sticks, flashlights, small LED lights, illuminated toys, sparking steel wool – even rockets and iPads.

Abandoned Garage by Andy Hemingway

(image via:

Ribbons of eerie, phosphorescent blue light pour over gritty urban surfaces in this series, captured in an abandoned Houston parking garage by photographer Andy Hemingway.

Lily Lighting by Andrew Nourse

(image via: standup)

For a series called Shining Light on Cancer, Andrew Nourse took a 30-second exposure of a pink lily, painting streaks of light around it.

Green Rocket by Steve Jurvestson

(image via: jurvetson)

A glowing night rocket with 24 blinking multicolor LED lights, shot up into the air and photographed in a long exposure, resulted in this highly unusual work by Steve Jurvetson. The photographer says that the image was actually a result of “my high-power rocket suffering a fairly catastrophic failure.”

Tagging with Lights by Apai Biszign

(image via: biszign)

No property damage here… light tags are a temporary phenomenon that can only be viewed in a completed long exposure. With a fisheye lens, Malaysian photographer Apai Biszign demonstrates an ‘outline stroke’ from an unusual perspective.

Red Orb by DaMongMan

(image via: damongman)

This light painting photo demonstrates how objects can be ‘drawn’ into a scene by repeatedly sketching them into the air with a light during the exposure.

Blue & Red by Philip Bitnar

(image via: philip.bitnar)

Light painting can produce really cool results even when you’re just learning. Philip Bitnar captured this blue and red image in his very first experiment.

Christmas #30 by Kevin Dooley

(image via: kevin dooley)

Abstract compositions are Kevin Dooley’s specialty, as he demonstrates in this image named Christmas #30. Such precise lines, resembling a computer-generated image, are the result of a steady and practiced hand.

Angel Sunrise by Andrew Nourse

(image via: standupp)

Another ordinary object is turned surreal with the use of moving lights in Angel Sunrise, another from Andrew Nourse’s series Shining Light on Cancer.

Ala Moana by Kyle Nishioka

(image via: madmarv)

Multi-colored lights on the end of a wand or string can be spun around in ever-growing circles to create an image like this one, by Kyle Nishioka.

Light Dressing by Simon Peckham

(image via: speckham)

An unusual light source created the cool rainbow effect in this image by Simon Peckham: an iPad. As the model stood still, Peckham – dressed in dark clothing and holding the iPad with a brightly colored image on the screen – ran around her during the exposure.

Kuro! by Joey

(image via: joo0ey)

Another fun (though somewhat dangerous) trick is to burn steel wool and spin it around, which will produce flying sparks.

Showing Some Tricks by DaMongMan

(image via: damongman)

Photographer DaMongMan demonstrates some of the different effects that are possible with light painting, all in one photo.

If My Thoughts Were Light by Joel Montes de Oca

(image via: joelmontes)

Joel Montes de Oca sat on a bed holding a flashlight, which he spun around in the air above him, to achieve this effect.

Wings by VFS Digital Design

(image via: vas digital design)

LED flashlights and a lightsaber turn a solitary man in a dark room into a mysterious winged being.

Kapiolani Park by Kyle Nishioka

(image via: madmarv)

Twilight can be a great time to try light painting, since the scene is light enough to illuminate the background and any figures in the shot, but the moving lights are still highly visible.