The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

A poet, a torch and a 30 second exposure

Last night I was out creating a photo of my friend and poet, Mark Williams to fit with a poem of his, "A Drunk Man Dances With a Lamppost" – more on that next month.

On the way home from the shoot it was a cold, clear night and I thought I’d stop and try photographing the stars. I didn’t have much success in capturing anything interesting, but while the camera was out, I figured we could have a go at a bit of light painting.

With the camera sitting on a tripod, I asked Mark to stand as still as he could and set the timer for 30 seconds. After clicking the shutter release, I then moved the torch around the edges of his body – slowly up one leg and arm, over his head and back down the other side. Because the exposure is so long, and I was moving, my presence wasn’t captured, although if you look closely, you’ll see a couple of dark shadows either side of him, which was caused by me standing still for a few seconds while I moved the torch.

With the glow of the town on the horizon and the stars in the sky (you can see Orion’s belt just up and to the right of his head if you look carefully) behind him, it gives a slightly sci-fi feel to the image, like he’s just landed.

We did it a few times, and this was the best one. We might have done a few more, but by then our fingers and toes were going numb, so we packed up, climbed back in the car and set the heater on full blast.

As usual, feel free to click on the image for a larger version.


Ruby said...

Kim I love, love it, I wish I had one of those for me, and of each of my kids too! :)

Dale Wilsey Jr. said...

Very cool. Nothing like experimenting.

Carole said...

This might end up being my favorite for 2013, but who knows what other ideas you will dream up by then. Makes me wish I could afford to come to Scotland to have you do a picture like this of me so my kids and grandkids will think I way cool.

angryparsnip said...

Outstanding !
So glad I clicked on the image (not that that works every time I try)
What a wonderful photo besides the light I like the stars.

cheers, parsnip

hope said...

Out of this world indeed!

Looks like the opening lines of a story itself. (Or a poem, Mark) :)

savannah said...

a hit right out of the box, sugar! i love the shadow you on each side, as if he was being protected as he gazed on a new land. xoxoxox

mapstew said...


Now I just need to find a friend who...... :¬)

Kimberly said...

Very cool...thanks for sharing.

Kim Ayres said...

Ruby - if you have, or can get hold of, a camera that allows you to set a long exposure time (10 seconds or more), then you just need to be able to keep the camera steady for the duration - on a tripod, or a table or chair or wall or something. And then all you need to do is start playing and see what works :)

Dale - inspiration rarely comes when we don't give ourselves space to play :)

Carole - it would be really wonderful to see you here in Scotland :)

Parsnip - you don't have to have a starlit background to have fun with this idea. If you check my blog post The Moon, Mars and Torchlight Ghosts from a few years back, you can see when I first played with this idea :)

Hope - I've made the comparison before with people between photography and flash fiction :)

Savannah - I love your interpretation :)

Mapstew - would that be a doctor, who... ?

Kimberly - you're welcome - thanks for taking the time to comment :)

katierobertsart said...

That's a really amazing photograph Kim, stunning. Very clever idea, very simple but brilliant! Professional sci-fi mover poster shot, but better!

Pat said...

Fantastic when you click on it.
I'll bet he was pleased:)
Those heavenly stars.
Patrick Moore - move over!

Guyana-Gyal said...



This one's a hit!

It looks like something from a big movie.

Kim Ayres said...

Katie - thank you :)

Pat - fortunately he was really pleased with it :)

GG - wide-angle lens, shot from low down - always gives a more epic feel :)

Conny said...


Kim Ayres said...

Thank you Conny :)

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