Light Streaks




Introduction: Light Streaks

About: I work at a environmental education program, as well as do freelance graphic design and photography.

Learn to create light streaks similar to the sprint commercials.

One of my hobbies (besides photography of course) is astronomy. I love the night sky and all of the wonders that are held within it. One night, during the Leonid's meteor shower, I got the idea to try some light tracing photography.

I'm sure most of you have seen pictures of this before, and if not, here is the gist.

Step 1: Get What You Need!

To start out, you will need:

- empty space that you cam move around in

- black clothes

- LED or flashlight

- camera with "bulb" or up to at least 3 sec exposures

- tripod

- wireless shutter release(optional)

Step 2: Set Up Tripod!

Set up your tripod about chest high, pointed in the direction in which you will be standing.

Step 3: Set Timer!

Set your camera to timer mode (mine was set to 3 sec). I also used a wireless shutter release due to the fact that I wanted the camera to focus when I pressed the shutter. I did so by shining the flashlight at myself, and pressing the remote shutter until it beeped.

Step 4: Set Shutter Speed and ISO!

Set your camera to about a 2.5 or 3 second exposure at a low ISO (I used ISO 200). This is where you will want to experiment.

Step 5: Get All Dressed Up for Showtime!

Dressed all in black, turn out the lights and get in front of the camera (I used my flashlight to find my way...Safety First!).

Step 6: Focus and Release the Shutter!

Using the wireless shutter release, press the shutter to focus the camera, and wait for the timer countdown.

NOTE: If you are not using a remote shutter release, have someone or something stand in for you and focus on that. Make sure to set the lens to manual focus so that it doesn't change on you.

press the timed shutter and get in front of camera.

Step 7: Let There Be Light (streaks)!

As soon as you hear the shutter, make your design in front of you, making sure to keep the light pointed at the camera. I found that moving very fast worked best, as you only have a couple of seconds to complete your design.

Step 8: Done!

If done correctly you will be completely invisible and all that will remain is the light trail. I used a LED flashlight with 3 LEDs in it, Hence the 3 distinct lines.

This is a very easy, and probably doesn't need a tutorial, but I personally find it a very rewarding way spending the day with my camera.

Note: If there is anything you don't want in your image, just fix in post (photoshop).

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    7 Discussions


    11 years ago on Introduction

    this is something you can do without planning and its very rewarding!

    Erik Lindemann
    Erik Lindemann

    11 years ago on Step 8

    This is pretty nice. I'd do it if I had a nice camera. Instead, I do this with photoshop.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Nor is it as organic. It would take a lot of work in Photoshop to replicate all the minute details in these images. I really like this, I might have to try it at some point.


    This is pretty cool, I've done some work like this but it was always outdoors.. If you have the bulb setting you could use that with the smallest aperature (usually 16 for me) and then you wouldn't always need to dress in balck and you could pop a strobe when you've finished your design to include yourself or the surrounding in the picture.