Light Painting
December 13, 2009 8:13 AM   Subscribe

The light paintings of Picasso photographed by Life photographer Gjon Mili in 1949 are well known, but the photographs that inspired Picasso (figure skating 1, 2, 3, 4, etc) are not nearly as frequently noted. Mili also traced the movement of a bow of a violin, fencers and a housewife. Examples of light painting that are not a tiring overuse of the technique seem to be few and far between since then.

A few recent entrants in the category of "a good application of a technique is one you barely recognize" are:

Dave Black, who seems to believe that no photographic subject is too large to light paint;

Troy Paiva, who explores the abandoned corners of American West at night with a torch and a bag of gels; and,

Chris Becker (Urban, Organic, Archive).
posted by ianbanks (8 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this. I teach photography. The light painting assignment is one of the most enjoyed my students. I show a few of the examples you posted, but I hadn't seen them all. I'll be adding your post to my lesson.

There really is something approaching magic with this technique. And now, with the instant feedback of digital photography (even with the noise issues) students can zero in on getting it to work pretty quickly, then make some interesting images.

As Diane Arbus said: "Expose for the secrets, develop for the surprises."
posted by cccorlew at 8:27 AM on December 13, 2009

Wow! I have always loved those Picasso photos and to have more info on them is great. Thanks for this post. These are my favorite light contemporary light photos.
posted by podwarrior at 9:31 AM on December 13, 2009

Sometimes only the light itself, and not its source will appear in the photograph.
posted by Tube at 10:09 AM on December 13, 2009

I didn’t know Picasso had done this.

I’d have to say that the old ones you linked are separate from the highly-formed approaches—the light is a technique or medium, not a style.
posted by stilist at 10:13 AM on December 13, 2009

Fantastic post-- thanks.

Are there any particularly great tutorials online for long-exposure lightpainting? I'd love to see the methodology behind stuff like this.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 11:25 AM on December 13, 2009

posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:26 AM on December 13, 2009 has great tutorials on this...

dig through the site for more.
posted by artof.mulata at 3:10 PM on December 13, 2009

I like Dave Black's work a lot, thanks for the link. Here's another, by Dean Chamberlain: Albert Hoffman portrait
posted by sea at 7:44 AM on December 14, 2009

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