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Long Exposure Shots of Neon Waterfalls

long exposure shot of waterfall with glowsticks submerged

There are two things that are creating these images of incredible illumination. The first is the inspiration of a neon light. Neon technology is believed to go back as far 1675, pre-dating the age of electricity when Jean Picard, the French astronomer noticed a faint light emanating from a mercury tube when it was shaken, creating a glow which would come to be known as barometric light. Fast forward to the 20th century and you have Georges Claude first unveiling the modern form of the neon at the Paris Motor Show in December, 1910. Neon signs were extremely popular in the United States peaking from 1920–1960. Today, examples from that era are especially sought after by collectors.

waterfall with glowsticks submerged in water

glowsticks creating light trail down waterfall

The second item is a glow stick. Wikipedia describes it as a “… self-contained, short-term light-source. It consists of a translucent plastic tube containing isolated substances that, when combined, make light…The light cannot be turned off, and can be used only once. Glow sticks are often used for recreation, but may also be relied upon for light during military, police, fire, or EMS operations.”

red waterfall scene with glowsticks

long exposure of waterfall with neon glowsticks

Neon Luminance is a one of a kind photo series. When Sean Lenz and Kristoffer Abildgaard attempt to simulate the glow of neon, they choose waterfalls as the means to carry light along with the help of some inventive camera tricks. Using glow sticks, they immerse these illuminated objects into the running waters, and then capture the motion using very slow shutter speeds to create the faux neon images. What you get are these huge streams of cascading colors gracefully contoured by the waterfalls. It is absolute neon nirvana.

neon waterfall cascading down

neon waterfall neon luminance photo series

You can view the photos at From the Lenz where there is also a brief description of the project.

“Like a freak midnight rainbow, this ongoing series of lit waterfalls titled Neon Luminance is part of collaboration between Sean Lenz and Kristoffer Abildgaard over at From the Lenz. The duo dropped high-powered Cyalume glow sticks in a variety of colors into various waterfalls in Northern California and then made exposures varying from 30 seconds to 7 minutes to capture the submerged trails of light as the sticks moved through the current. To accomplish some of the more complicated shots they strung several sticks together at once to create different patterns of illumination. For those of you concerned about pollution, the sticks (which are buoyant) were never opened and were collected at the end of each exposure, thus no toxic goo was mixed into the water.”

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Patricia Ramos the author

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.

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