Painting with light

This term we will be working with light and I have been tasked with finding examples of light use within Photography, or other Arts, that I find interesting. Doing a trawl around the internet has provided me with a wealth of examples of light use, of which I will detail in another post . For now, I am concentrating of the use of light to create the picture, rather than enhancing , it becomes the scene itself.

If you look at the word Photography it derives from the Greek words Phot – meaning light and graphos – meaning drawing. So in essence, taking a photograph is creating a drawing with light. Indeed it is true that without light , photograph would not be possible. It is as much an integral part of the process as water is to life. Without light, photography would be impossible.

The first examples of using light to create the picture that I can find come from Étienne-Jules Marey and Georges Demeny. They we studying Physiology and came up with the technique of attaching incandescent bulbs to limbs to capture the movement of the body whilst walking.


What I find interesting about these early examples is that they were created primarily for scientific purposes rather than artistic endeavour . Such examples can be found in the work of Frank Gilbreth. He created studies of workers carrying out tasks and recording them with long exposures. His work aimed to to provide factory managers and workers with a more efficient way of working. The two images below show this process and paved the way for Gilbreth to become know as a pioneer of motion study.

The above images were taken around 1914 using long exposure times.

From these early experiments with capturing light motion within photography came its use for more aesthetic purposes. Man Ray created these images in a series called Space Writing.

From these early works a whole practice of working with light to create the images has arisen with photographers ever keen to push the boundaries of creativity.


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