Long Exposure Photography and Painting With Light


Long exposure photography has many uses. Besides the fact that we begin to see it more often now in advertising (so it can make you more money) it also allows us to do many more things while unleashing our creative side by painting with the light. Here are a few reasons to make the world your canvas through shooting long exposures.

Making Regular Things Into Something Unique

Long exposure allows you to take a drab old landscape and turn it into something totally magical. For example, if you’re talented enough you can probably tell a whole story through the use of stick figures using different shots and different backgrounds. That being said, why not go out in your backyard at night and paint pictures of bunnies? Something else that you can do is take the trees in your backyard and draw a critter of some sort trying to shyly hide behind it.

Chris Says Hi


Long exposure shots are sometimes called, “Light graffiti.” This is because of the fact that one can take a simple landscape of some sort and “paint it with light,” if you will. This allows for a greater sense of expression that’s perfectly legal and shouldn’t get you those years in prison for graffiti art.

Taking this further, you can write simple messages to your viewers. In the above photo, I wrote (rather poorly), “Chris says Hi.” Perfecting writing backwards for the camera takes time and patience. On top of that it also requires that you pay careful attention to exactly where your light is going.

If you’re a photographer, think about how nice it would be to ask your long-time lover to marry you via a long exposure photo of some sort. As another idea, if you’re a poet why not create some sort of poem as a caption to your photo?

Lexie writing her name


Long exposures allow for your creative juices to start flowing as you try to decide what to make and how to make it in the selected amount of time that your DSLR will allow you. Depending on what tool you are using to create your drawings, you can get different effects and looks to your photos. I usually do my long exposures with a pen light or a laser pointer, but in the photo above my subject used her lighter to try to write her name. While spelling out the name, “Lexie” was done with some degree of success one cannot deny the fact that using her lighter gave off a really nice effect that you don’t often seen in long exposure shots. As stated in the Fireworks posting from earlier, make sure your focus is sharp. Try manually focusing instead.

The Awkward Heart

People Stare at Your Pictures Longer

This is the bottom line that you may probably care about the most: long exposure shots forces people to stare at your photos longer. You don’t ever want to be the photographer whose photos are simply just flipped through very quickly. Let’s say you’re writing a message to someone like, “I Love You.” Someone out there is bound to be in awe when they see that and they will obviously stare at your photos longer. Additionally, because of the fact that you are taking an ordinary thing and painting it with light the human eye tends to stay and follow the lines and shapes that you make.

Long exposure shots have a certain sense of beauty to them: and we as humans stare at and are fascinated with beauty.



  1. says

    What a great collection of Long Exposure Photography and Painting with Light. It’s is pretty amazing what you can do. I love the abstract qualities in the purple painting with light.

    @ Mike your effect is really neat as well. Have you ever thought of having any images printed on canvas?