Tinkerbell Lighting

March 20, 2008 By: erik Category: Geeky, Photos 544 views

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LED SketchingI’m not sure how I found it, but I was recently fascinated by this article about using an LED flashlight as a light source for still life photography. I was especially excited because I had only recently acquired, for the first time ever, a camera that could take long (multi-second) exposures and an LED flashlight.

The other night, I thought I’d give it a try. Because I don’t have a remote control, and my little miniature tripod is so flimsy that the camera moves when I press the shutter, I had to set the camera on ‘timer’ mode, press the shutter, let the camera settle from the movement of me hitting the shutter, run across the room to turn off the lights, and feel my way back over to where the camera was by the time the shutter opened.

At first, I tried waving the flashlight in front of the camera by hand, but the results weren’t very pleasing. The lines broke at sharp angles as I changed direction. To smooth things out, I had the idea to dangle the flashlight from a string, thus producing nice sweeping arcs.
LED Sketching

I like how some of the lines are fainter than others. Presumably when the LED was moving faster.

LED Sketching

This is my favorite, I think. There’s a real sense of depth. The light swung from about 10 to 150 cm from the camera.

And finally, I tried it with a subject, producing these images here. Once the shutter opened in the pitch black room, I turned on the flashlight and moved it all around, while pointed at the subject, sometimes casting huge elephant shadows on the wall. Overall, I’m quite pleased and look forward to more experimentation of this sort.

  • Very interesting Erik. I have a one for you to try. It is called Camera Toss. You don’t move the light source but the camera. You toss the cameara or flip it. The more you can flip it the better. Just be sure to catch it or toss it over a pillow for a soft landing. Have a look at some of my examples.



  • Yes, Husar, I’ve heard of that, too. No offense, but it’s one thing to toss an A95 into the air, and another thing to toss a 40D. Thanks for your suggestion, but I might have to grow a pair* before I try that.

    *of zeros on my bank account.

  • True, I don’t toss my dslr either. Good reason to get point and shoot to go a long with it. 😉

  • Yes, my DSLR has done enough free falling lately.