Light Painting - Art Or Business?


I have often been asked why I am a light painter, why I put so much effort into my paintings. Again and again I ask myself why I sometimes go to extreme lengths to capture a single image. Moreover, there is always the risk that the planned picture will not work. It can happen that I work for days on a new tool or a new technique, drive 400 kilometres to a cool location and then have no picture on the memory card. That can be very frustrating. So what's the point of it all?

Ich wurde schon häufiger gefragt, warum ich Light Painter bin, warum ich mit so viel Aufwand meine Bilder mache. Immer wieder frage ich mich selbst, warum ich zuweilen extreme Anstrengungen unternehme um ein einziges Bild aufzunehmen. Zudem besteht immer auch das Risiko, dass das geplante Bild nicht funktioniert. Es kommt schon mal vor, dass ich tagelang an einem neuen Tool oder einer neue Technik arbeite, 400 Kilometer zu einer coole Location fahre und dann kein Bild auf der Speicherkarte habe. Das kann schon sehr frustrierend sein. Also wozu nun das Ganze?

Model: André - Nikon D750 - Laowa 12/2,8 - f8 - ISO 50 - 131 seconds


One aspect is physics, which is a purely technical aspect. I want to understand how light works. For this reason I like to work with prisms, mirrors, filters and light from the invisible spectrum.

Ein Aspekt ist Physik, also ein rein technischer Aspekt. Ich will verstehen wie Licht funktioniert. Aus diesem Grund arbeite ich gerne mit Prismen, Spiegeln, Filtern und Licht aus dem unsichtbaren Spektrum.

In this image I used infrared and ultraviolet light, in a single exposure. I set the white balance to the infrared light. This makes this part of the image look like a black and white photo. Since both infrared and ultraviolet light are invisible to the human eye, it is not so easy to work with them in light painting. I usually use a UV/IR pass filter. This blocks the visible light spectrum and only lets IR and UV light through. So I can switch on a light source from the visible spectrum, usually green to be on the safe side, to see anything at all.

In diesem Bild habe ich infrarotes und ultraviolettes Licht benutzt, in einer einzelnen Belichtung. Den Weißabgleich habe ich auf das infrarote Licht gesetzt. Dadurch sieht dieser Teil des Bildes aus wie ein schwarz weiß Foto. Da sowohl das infrarote als auch das ultraviolette Licht für das menschliche Auge unsichtbar sind, ist es nicht ganz so einfach damit im Lightpainting zu arbeiten. Meist verwende ich einen UV/IR Pass Filter. Dieses blockiert das sichtbare Lichtspektrum und lässt nur IR und UV Licht durch. Somit kann ich eine Lichtquelle aus dem sichtbaren Spektrum, meist nehme ich sicherheitshalber grün, einschalten um überhaupt etwas zu sehen.

The number of failed attempts is much higher with such photos than when working with light from the visible spectrum because you cannot see what you are doing. Such pictures are usually not masterpieces. It's more about the purely physical aspects. But the knowledge I gain from such experiments will certainly be useful for "normal" light paintings at some point.

Die Anzahl der Fehlversuche ist bei solchen Fotos ungleich höher als bei der Arbeit mit Licht aus dem sichtbaren Spektrum weil man eben nicht sieht was man macht. Solche Bilder sind dann auch meist keine Meisterwerke. Da geht es eher um die rein physikalischen Aspekte. Aber die Erkenntnisse, die ich durch solche Experimente erlange, sind sicher irgendwann auch nützlich für "normale" Lightpaintings.


I have been exploring abandoned places with my camera since 1989. Often the inspiration for my pictures comes from a special abandoned place. Matching the location, I try to breathe some life back into the abandoned place with my torches.

Ich erkunde seit 1989 verlassene Orte mit meiner Kamera. Oftmals kommt die Inspiration für meine Bilder von einem besonderen, verlassenen Ort. Passend zur Location versuche ich dem verlassenen Ort mit meinen Taschenlampen wieder etwas Leben einzuhauchen.


Art is not in the eye of the beholder. Art lies in the soul of the artist. Art is free. I do what comes to my mind. In my opinion, art cannot function any other way.

Kunst liegt nicht im Auge des Betrachters. Kunst liegt in der Seele des Künstlers. Kunst ist frei. Ich mache das, was mir in den Sinn kommt. Anders kann Kunst auch meiner Meinung nach nicht funktionieren.


Success? I don't compare myself with others. Well, at least I try not to compare myself with others. What's the point? I am me. And my art is my art. What is success in art? Lots of likes from bought followers on Instagram? Articles in important journals? Winning a competition? In the meantime, I'm no longer interested in all this nonsense. A few years ago I won a competition including a FIAP gold medal with this picture. It's certainly not my best picture, nor the best of the four submitted for that competition. This picture had the same "value" for me after the competition as before. So what's the point? I don't want to compete with others. I don't want to win. If I win, it means that someone else loses. That's not a good plan for life for me. However, that does not mean that I would not be happy about applause. On the other hand, I don't jump out of the window when there is no applause.

Erfolg? Ich vergleiche mich nicht mit anderen. Na ja, ich versuche zumindest mich nicht mit anderen zu vergleichen. Wozu auch? Ich bin ich. Und meine Kunst ist meine Kunst. Was ist denn Erfolg in der Kunst? Viele Likes von gekauften Followern bei Instagram? Beiträge in wichtigen Fachzeitschriften? Gewinn eines Wettbewerbs? Mittlerweile interessiert mich dieser ganze Quatsch nicht mehr. Vor einigen Jahren hatte ich einen Wettbewerb inklusive FIAP Goldmedaille mit diesem Bild gewonnen. Das ist ganz sicher nicht mein bestes Bild, auch nicht das beste der vier eingereichten Bilder für diesen Wettbewerb. Dieses Bild hatte für nach dem Wettbewerb den gleichen "Wert" wie davor. Also wozu das Ganze? Ich will mich nicht mit anderen messen. Ich will nicht gewinnen. Wenn ich gewinne bedeutet es, dass jemand anderes verliert. Das ist für mich kein guter Plan für das Leben. Das bedeutet allerdings nicht, dass ich mich nicht über Applaus freuen würde. Andererseits springe ich aber auch nicht aus dem Fenster wenn der Applaus ausbleibt.


Art is not a business and should never be. I am not a hooker, after all. Just because someone earns a lot of money doesn't mean they are a great artist. You earn a lot of money if you are a good businessman, constantly rattling loudly and emphasising your own greatness. You earn a lot of money if you always have your finger on the pulse of the times and do what's hot at the moment. If an important, successful light painter is waving around with some kind of tubes, hundreds of people have to copy that, hoping to be just as famous and rich one day. You can do anything. But it doesn't have much to do with creativity and art.

Kunst ist kein Geschäft und sollte es niemals sein. Ich bin schließlich keine Nutte. Nur weil jemand viel Geld verdient bedeutet das nicht, dass er ein großer Künstler ist. Viel Geld verdient man wenn man ein guter Geschäftsmann ist, permanent laut klappert und seine eigene Großartigkeit betont. Viel Geld verdient man wenn man immer am Puls der Zeit ist und das macht, was gerade angesagt ist. Wenn ein wichtiger, erfolgreicher Lightpainter mit irgendwelchen Tubes rumfuchtelt müssen das hunderte Leute nachmachen, in der Hoffnung irgendwann genauso berühmt und reich zu sein. Kann man alles machen. Hat aber nicht viel mit Kreativität und Kunst zu tun.


At the end of the day, it's all about the fun, the special experiences with pleasant people. I like to remember the special outing with like-minded people, whether I go home with 10 great light paintings or not. I wouldn't want to miss those special experiences. They are my greatest motivation. I'm already looking forward to the next outing next weekend.

Letztendlich geht es nur um den Spaß, die besonderen Erlebnisse mit angenehmen Menschen. Ich erinnere mich gerne an den besonderen Ausflug mit Gleichgesinnten, egal, ob ich mit 10 großartigen Lightpaintings nach Hause fahre oder nicht. Diese besonderen Erlebnisse möchte ich nicht missen. Sie sind mein größter Antrieb. Ich freue mich schon auf den nächsten Ausflug am nächsten Wochenende.



Light painting is a unique form of art. The darkness is illuminate by the artist with diverse light sources and light traces are paint into the picture with various light tools. Various techniques are use, such as camera rotation or other movements of the camera during the exposure. The creative possibilities are almost unlimited. All the pictures were taken during one single exposure. Apart from denoising, sharpening, cutting and possibly adjusting the white balance, the pictures are not processed on the computer.



If you like my art visit for more Light Art Photography and informations about Light Painting. Join me on Flickr Twitter




For more great Light Art Photography, Light Painting and inspiration check these light painters: @marlasinger666 @fadetoblack @fastchrisuk @dawnoner @oddballgraphics @martbarras @stepko @rod.evans.visual @yo-hoho @maxpateau @gunnarheilmann @neilru75 @maximepateau @ryuslightworks @lightstabeu @candelart @lacelight



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Really excellent points you've brought up here.

This picture had the same "value" for me after the competition as before.

This is echoes my own perspective and experience.

Art is not a business and should never be. I am not a hooker, after all. Just because someone earns a lot of money doesn't mean they are a great artist.

😂You mean you don't like the art whore game? Dead on in what you're speaking of here. Status and money do not equal great art, they equal selling out one's true creative potential for trinkets that mean nothing, at least to me.

Success, for myself, is if I have created something that makes me pause and go wow, can't believe I did that (whatever it is). That doesn't happen often. My focus though, is always on play, on the fun and enjoyment of the process in the moment. If I had companions, that would be included in the fun.

The infrared and UV combo is intriguing. I like those. I can completely appreciate the fascination with light and exploring it. Some great shots here I haven't seen previously. The blue and orange light are my favourite contrasting complimentary colours. Really loved the abstract nature of the one with all those oranges and fire feeling. Also liking white figures with those giant yellow hands. Powerful image.

I'm curious about the ones not picked for the competition you won, what would be your pick of those four.

Success, for myself, is if I have created something that makes me pause and go wow, can't believe I did that (whatever it is). That doesn't happen often. My focus though, is always on play, on the fun and enjoyment of the process in the moment. If I had companions, that would be included in the fun.

I forgot to mention this important point. It is always a very special moment when the crazy idea becomes visible on the camera's display.

I'm curious about the ones not picked for the competition you won, what would be your pick of those four.

I don't remember it that clearly. The competition was a few years ago. But I'm pretty sure that this picture was there and that it was my favourite. I took this picture in 2015. I still like it. 😊

Haha! Yes, it is. I think of it as "the reveal", since I don't have a good look at any shoot until I get home.

Ohhh! I completely see why you like this one. the light flowing down is like tentacles. Did you wear a mask for this one?

No, I really look like that. 🤣

So not quite. I have glued a mask with EL-Wire.

No, I really look like that. 🤣

Then you're a man of many faces! LOL!

I really like your use of masks. I have no idea what El-Wire is, but I'm going to search that and find out.

🤣 You will find EL-Wire easy. It is cheap but not that bright.

LOL! Cheap and not that bright, well that brings a lot of things to mind that I won't mention.

We collected already a looong list of theses cool experiences. So many cool places I would not have known without you! Thank you soooooo much man! Hope for many more!

PS Epochale Kunst = Svenschondenschon!

Guter Beitrag, unterschreibe ich sofort!

Du sprichst mir aus dem Herzen. Ich werde auch oft gefragt, was ich an der Kunst verdiene. Mein Gegenüber ist um so erstaunter, wenn ich antworte, dass mich Geld nicht interessiert, sondern dass ich diesen Aufwand für mich betreibe. Wenn ich Anerkennung ernte, indem ich meine Bilder zeigen oder sogar verkaufen darf, bitte. Ich habe nie nachgerechnet, ob ich Geld gewonnen oder verloren habe. Eines kann ich aber mit Sicherheit sagen: Lightpainting macht mich glücklicher. 🙂

Ja, genau so. 😊

W U A O!! this is BEAUTIFUL

It was very interesting to read all this. And the greatest pleasure is to view all the pictures in the post. Unreal beautiful

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