Light Painting is a great way to create striking images and illusions using a camera, a light source, and a little practice. When the camera shutter is open (and the room is dark) the film or digital sensor acts like a blank canvas. It’s as if the image is being drawn or painted by the light source as it moves through space. It’s also possible to create interesting effects by exposing the same subject multiple times, for example by shining a flashlight onto parts of a body, or turning the lights on and off briefly and moving between takes.
Almost anything that projects light can be used as a light source, so this activity can be very low tech: an old analog camera will work, and even the moon can be used to paint with! Or, you can use high tech light sources, such as programmable LED to switch colors, EL wire, or even an iPad. Once visitors start playing and seeing the results of their efforts, creativity is sparked and lots of ideas are generated. Working with a partner also seems to be very satisfying.
What are the qualities that we value in this activity?
Generating Interest and Raising Questions
It is easy to make a first light painting, and the digital camera provides immediate feedback to inspire making more. Each new painting is often
started by something more surprising the painter noticed, or a question the painter had from a previous attempt.
This is an activity that allows you to creatively express ideas by experimenting with the color and qualities of the light source, and other elements that effect the aesthetic qualities of the light painting
Learning From Each Other
Watching others make their light paintings often generates new ideas and questions.
High Tech/Low Tech
This exploration is a good example of a low-tech activity that works well on it’s own, but can be made more complex and interactive utilizing the PicoCricket and programming.