Light Painting – Creating The Orb

response to dynamic loads (by { tcb })The following article is a guest post by Dana Maltby a.k.a. Twin Cities Brightest a.k.a { tcb } an addict to Light Painting.

In the last Light painting installation we saw the huge variety of tools and toys I use for creating Light Painting Art.

One of the things that came strong in the comments was the need to bind those tools to the actual process of taking the image. Well, now I am going to do just this.

So let’s talk about the hottest and most natural object to paint with light, the orb. Also known as a sphere. The good news is that orbs can be made with light quite easily.

What You Need


 sophisticated framework of rational choice (by { tcb })

The basic tool you need is a light on the end of a string. It can cost as little as one dollar if you just tie a single LED on the end.

The photo above, for example, uses two LEDs on the end of a string.

And Here Is How You Do The Orb

What you do is pick a point on the ground and once you spin the light around keeping it the same diameter, you walk in a circle making sure the lights reach the point on the ground each rotation.

See what I am talking about in this video:

On/Off Control

In the photo above, you can see where the lights had to be turned on at the beginning of the shot, and hence leave a trail of light up to the orb. One solution for this is to walk out into the shot and with your body between the camera and the light, turn on the lights hiding them from the lens.

I used the method of hiding the lights from the camera for a while and then realized that I needed a device with a switch so I could turn off the lights without ‘reeling’ in the string. The problem was solved when the holidays came around and I found battery operated holiday light strands at the store.

Right away I realized I could hold the battery pack with a switch in one hand, and spin the lights with the other. On some strands I needed to cover up a few lights so there was enough cord to swing them, other strands had a few feet of wire before the lights started.

Messed Up Orb

3 screw ups for you (by { tcb })

Above, you’ll see a messed up orb. Just a reminder of some things to avoid.

You can see my body slightly and you can see where the spinning of the lights stopped and was incomplete. Remember, you.must.complete.the.circle.

Like everything else, you may be very good at orbs right away, or you may never get one to look perfect but light painting is a style. You will develop your own style and maybe never care to do orbs. However it’s always worth a try since spinning lights around in the dark and turning in circles has never looked so good =).

  • friendly helper

    put your dslr into manual. shoot with your iso speed around 100, and use an f/5.6
    thats how i do it