Picture of Sparkler Photography - DIY Light Painting

Sparklers are a fun addition to any outdoor activity - campfires, camping, and just backyard fun - but after noticing the light trails you can see when playing with sparklers, we've been toying with capturing the magic of these novelty items using long exposure photography. The possibilities are vast with a medium like this and each one will turn out a little different, making the experiment all the richer.

We took many of these after typical summer bonfires in my parents' backyard with our friends and theirs participating and since it was such a hit, we did it again at my parents' New Years party - hence '2014!' in the first photo. There's usually no plan of what to make ahead of time, just a bunch of excited people playing with sparklers and then someone says, "OH! What if...?" and someone grabs a camera! One friend is an art history buff and saw these glowing spheres in haunting images and wanted to recreate them; we did a lot of playing with other shapes and patterns; sometimes it's just fun to paint with the range of your body like my arm arcs. Now, I doubt there will be a gathering at my parents' house where my mom doesn't have a dozen boxes of sparklers ready just in case :-)

Note: All photos are mine except for the 2014 photo, which was taken by my brother (I'm in this photo, painting the '2').

"2014!" by Dan Irwin is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

pi5261 year ago

Awesome photos. Thanks for the great step-by-step instructions. Sparkler light painting sure to be a family favorite for us!

acoens (author)  pi5261 year ago

Thanks, pi526 ;-)

Many more experiments to try! Might this make a good and unique family holiday card?!

pi526 acoens1 year ago

Yes! Holiday card...I am going to make this happen...thanks for the suggestion! I'll post the picture after we take it in December or January. :-)

Wow, gorgeous! I've seen pictures like this on the internet and always wondered how they did it! Cool!

Thanks, Danger! Glad to shed some light on the situation for ya ;-)

(I hope you're a fan of puns...)

Have you tried spinning steel wool before? The effect is similar but quite dramatic. I'm wondering if spinning sparklers would have a similar effect. I'll have to try it out.

acoens (author)  gravityisweak1 year ago

I saw another Instructable for spinning steel wool but I haven't tried it yet! Light painting can be done with so many things and it's relatively cheap to experiment with if you have the camera already. Please share what you come up with!

szwgns1 year ago
Love it so much
acoens (author)  szwgns1 year ago

Thanks, szwgns! I hope you make your own :-)

I love this technique, your photos turned out so beautiful!

acoens (author)  lindarose921 year ago

Thanks, lindarose92!

Nice instructable! Try dressing in all black with thin black gloves and balaclava to avoid being seen in the pictures where they are "painting" around the subject.
acoens (author)  bmackinnon21 year ago

Good idea! If you're going for that look, those are all solid tips.

Some of these turned out better because you could see people, like the one with the arcs. I think it'd be fun to try with some reflective clothing, too!

Wow the pictures all look so pretty. Thanks for sharing how you created them.

acoens (author)  MsSweetSatisfaction1 year ago

You're very welcome! Thanks for your kind words. I hope you make your own light paintings and share them :-)