Light painting has surely spawned its share of enthusiasts, one of which is Stephen Orlando. Light painting is a photographic method in which exposures are created by moving a hand-held light source while taking a long exposure shot. This is done either to illuminate a subject or to shine a point of light right at the camera. Light painting can also be works where the camera itself is moved at the moments of exposure. Orlando does this fun little trick, but brings it to the next level with his kayak stroke motion exposure photography.
Utilizing exposures of up to 30 seconds in fairly low light conditions, Orlando captures the movements of trails of passing kayakers who are using special paddles with LEDs fitted along the shafts. The results are amazing light patterns otherwise impossible to create organically.
Orlando balances the exposure levels in his photographs so perfectly that the actual kayakers do not appear visible as they pass through the pictures. All one sees are the dazzling lights of the LED paddles and the various shapes they create. These patterns of colored light are astoundingly consistent and even, showing the level of precision each kayaker has in relation to their respective teams.
No Photoshop was used here, just good old fashioned in-camera techniques. To help create the flawless images, the LEDs on the kayaking and canoe paddles were programmable and could be changed through different color spectrums during the exposure.
Orlando has also dabbled with karate, tennis, football, cycling as well as swimming in his motion exposure collection. He says that he was inspired by the works of Étienne-Jules Marey, one of the pioneers of extended exposure photography. “I’m fascinated with capturing motion through time and space into a single photograph. Using LED lights with custom color patterns and long exposure photography, I’m able to tell the story of movement.”
See his comprehensive works here.