A thick fog surrounded us as the campfire softly flickered at William O’Brien State Park. After a day of hiking, we were all exhausted and ready for bed, but I had other ideas. I convinced Jackie and Lauren to take make the 2 mile hike back down into the park. It was now dark, foggy and icy.

As we came up on the location I had in mind, I quickly started to frame up a shot.


I set up a symmetrical composition with Lauren standing centered in the aisle between rows of benches. I had Jackie stand behind her with a spotlight in order to backlight Lauren. The fog helped to keep the scene clean while also adding drama to the scene.

The biggest challenge in this shot was to have Lauren hold really still. I boosted my ISO up to 1000 in order to get a faster shutter speed of 4 seconds. In this shot Lauren spins a sparkler in a circle, and I needed to have a long enough shutter for her to complete the circle. In order to get sharpness through the entire scene, I set the aperture at ƒ/11.

Once my camera was all set up, Lauren lit the Lighter and Jackie clicked on the spotlight. As soon as I saw the lighter come to life, I told Lauren to start rotating her arm in a circle. I opened the shutter, she performed a perfect circle, the shutter closed and we had our photo! Simple as that!


Maybe not quite that simple.

We may have stood in the cold fog for a couple hours taking dozens of photos to get one we liked. Welcome to light painting photography.


Thanks to Lauren and Jackie for sticking it out!!

Light Painting Sparkler

Camera: Nikon D7000

Lens: Tamron 17-50 @ 26mm


4 seconds

ISO 1000

Format – NEF RAW