How to create awesome light orb photographs

What you'll learn

1. How to use light painting techniques
2. How to use long exposure photography creatively
3. How to work in a dark environment 

Light orbs are one of the most fun light painting techniques to experiment with. As long as you understand the basic tools and techniques involved, the rest comes down to practice and experimentation!

What you'll need

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Triggertrap Mobile Kit
  • Android or iOS device with Triggertrap app downloaded
  • A string of battery operated LED/fairy/holiday lights
  • Whatever batteries said lights require
  • A role of preferably dark coloured gaffer tape
  • Scissors
  • A dark location to shoot in – with plenty of swinging space!
  • Torch
  • coloured gels (optional)

A bit of theory

Got it! Next please.


Light painting is a pretty broad subject and it typically comes in two flavours: light painting which involves painting light onto a subject (which this tutorial covers) and another which involves using the light source to paint streaks of light. These two techniques can be be used independently or together for effect. Light painting typically involves a long exposure and a hand held light that someone draws with. The person holding the light is normally moving too fast to be visible in the photo. A light orb is created by swinging a light source around in a vertical circular motion whilst slowly rotating. This kind of photography requires either a very dark room or for it to be night time.

Before going much further, you should really have a basic understanding of using your camera on Bulb, manual exposure and manual focus. If you’re not sure on any of this, check out our basic tutorials.

Light painting relies on using your camera to make really long exposures, then using a torch or other light source to ‘paint’ the light where you want it. As with all long exposure photography, it’s pretty crucial that your camera is securely locked down on a tripod and it’s even better if you use a cable release. Seeing as creating a light orb will take an undefined amount of time, we suggest using a cable release that allows you to lock the shutter open and step away, create your orb, then close the shutter when you are done.

Creating light orbs requires a couple of tools, the first of which is normally a string of battery operated LEDs. You’ll need some gaffer tape in order to gather your lights together and very importantly to cover any lights on the string of LEDs that you do not want for your orb. Lastly you might want to think about colour, so some coloured gels or sweet wrappers are a useful tool to add to your kit! Lastly, you will be moving around in the dark, so we’d suggest keeping a torch in your back pocket.

Final set up

Capturing the photos