Light painting with lasers

This past week I had a chance to play with light painting and lasers while camping in Linville Gorge in NC. I have been going back and forth to Morganton, NC to work with Seth Hawkins, MD on his Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship (URL). More on that project later. I got to go camping with 1 former extern and the 2 current externs and one of the EMTs from Burke County. We all were sleeping in hammocks (mostly from ENO (Eagle Nest Outfitters) based out of Asheville). They guys had never done any light painting, so I was showing them light painting with my flashlight and colored gels. One of the guys brought out a green laser that is used for wilderness SAR and we decided to play.

To use a laser, think of it in your hand light a brush or pencil. Everywhere you point it will record a bright line of laser light. First, get your exposure long enough that you can paint everywhere you want. I usually pick an exposure that records some ambient light to give some detail to the scene and we were using 10 -15 second exposures. Play with you iso and aperture to get the correct setting. Review the image and make sure you can see some of the scene without any laser light. Then play with the laser. Some time I just shined it all around the scene. Sometime I tried to follow geometric shapes (trees, hammocks). I even got to sign the image with my initials. We also discovered that shining the laser through the campfire smoke in one direction gave you a cross section of smoke. Shining it from the camera allowed you to create patterns in the smoke. As with any laser, make sure you never point directly at a person and especially at their eyes. Let me know if you come up with other creative adventures for lighting with lasers..

Pre Laser

Post Laser Treatment

Light Painting with Laser signature

Finally, Self Portrait by my friend Ben Abo


Let me know if you come up with other applications for laser light in light painting. And remember, no pointing at people or aircraft!


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