I shot a light painting circle with an Instant Camera

Sep 4, 2023

Eric Pare

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

I shot a light painting circle with an Instant Camera

Sep 4, 2023

Eric Pare

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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Is it possible to do light painting using an instant camera? That’s the challenge for today!

An instant camera… with a slow shutter speed limited to one-quarter of a second. There’s not a chance I can do this that fast. All of my long-exposure images are between one and thirteen seconds. 

My typical light painting process

My usual workflow is pretty simple: I paint with light behind a dancer, while my camera captures the motion of the light. The only source of light is the one in my hand. Because of this, I have to think about two things at the same time: lighting my model, and creating a visually appealing trace that blends well with the surroundings. Here is a selection of what those photos look like.

light painting circle with an Instant Camera - samples of previous work

The challenge with lighting painting and instant cameras

But, for this project, there is another constraint. The camera that we are using has a set exposure of a quarter of a second. So, I’ll have to do it all within that time frame. (This is the exposure from our camera of choice). I tried a bunch of things, like moving at different speeds, mostly very fast, but nothing was working.

Sadly, this is not the only issue. Another problem is that there’s a long delay between the moment we press the button and the moment the camera actually takes the picture. Also, the settings are all automatic, so my movement would hit that one-fourth of a second if I’m lucky. But there is also a good chance that I would miss it altogether.

A light painting solution

I had to find a way to have my light in continuous, fast motion, so no matter when the exposure starts, I’ll have a moving light. To meet this limitation, I made a small tube, which I attached to a shoelace. And just like that, I was much closer to getting something decent.

I took over 200 pictures in total for this project, only to have this single one I liked.

I’m pushing the camera to its limits, light-wise, so, of course, the end result is quite noisy. But at an aperture of f/2, ISO 1600, and a shutter speed of 0.25 seconds, I finally got something I’m happy with. Here’s our final image: Exposure #008

light painting circle with an Instant Camera - Exposure #008

About the light-painting tool

At first, I used a small sugar tube from my online store, but it was unidirectional, and the circle was not looking good. I then made a custom light painting tool using small pieces of holographic stickers. This created a tool that emits light in all directions. I then used a flashlight, and I attached the whole thing to a shoelace for spinning.

light painting circle with an Instant Camera - the tool

About the camera

The chosen camera for this project is a Fujifilm Instax mini Evo™. Norcal Guy chose this one before coming up with the art project. He bought it for his daughter as it was a way to have an instant camera that can also print, without having to print all of the images (this is a digital camera with an integrated printer).

While the Instax Mini Evo creates a lot of headaches for us, it also had one thing going for it: The Evo has a 28mm lens, and I shot from quite a short distance. That meant that I was able to be juuuuuuuust outside of the frame to spin the light (that’s why I’m not visible at all).

Final thoughts

No one asked us to create a light painting photo with this camera. I didn’t even know if that was possible before I decided to participate in this project. But the idea of getting this new challenge was quite exciting, and it’s been a total pleasure to work on this with the team. Thank you so much Norcal Guy, for coming up with this art project. I can’t wait to see where the camera is going to travel next.

light painting circle with an Instant Camera - The digital version of our image
The digital version of our image. Created in August 2023 at the Xangle Studio. With Kim Henry, Christian Dion, Guillermo Castellanos and Andrés de la Rosa

About the Author

Eric Pare is a Canadian visual artist who has been performing light painting all around the world since 2013. You can find out more about him on his website, or follow his work on 500pxFacebook, and Instagram. You can also follow Kim on Instagram.

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One response to “I shot a light painting circle with an Instant Camera”

  1. Mike Avatar
    Mike

    It’s a fun and neat idea, but unfortunately the Instax Mini Evo isn’t really an instant camera. It’s a digital camera with an Instax printer built in, which kind of negates it.

    I think a better idea would be to use an instant camera with bulb mode like the instax neo 90 or Lomo Instant automat