Light in Motion under the effect of Gravity

Here is a gallery of amazing photos of elliptical spiral-like moving light.

I discovered this technique during the Covid pandemic of 2020.

If a lit flashlight is connected to a wire fixed to a high support (e.g. a photo tripod with a horizontal bar), if launched perpendicularly to the vertical plane it is in, the flashlight light will, under the effect of Earth’s gravity (the flashlight’s weight), describe an elliptical movement in the horizontal plane around its equilibrium position (flashlight’s resting position).

In addition, away from its equilibrium position, the moving flashlight will come back to its equilibrium position after a certain amount of time.

The result is an elliptical spiral-like trajectory, with more or less depth depending on the difference in height between the initial position and the flashlight’s equilibrium position.

In order to capture the motion of light, I operate under the following conditions: low ambient lighting (in the dark or dimly lit – you can simulate low ambient lighting by adding a ND filter), my camera set to bulb mode, the lens (a Sigma Art 24-105 mm / f4 used at the 24 mm focal length) pointing vertically towards the flashlight, manual focusing, the aperture sufficiently closed to have a sharp image of the depth of the spiral.

As my camera is a Sony, I use the Sony Imaging Edge Desktop software which, connected to my camera via USB, helps facilitate the implementation as everything is done remotely from my computer: focusing with or without loupe, choice of ISO (100) and aperture (f / 11, f / 16 or f / 22), programmed trigger and stop possible. Photo retouching is possible from the software as well as time-lapse mode.

By playing with the shape of the flashlight as well as the initial impulse (angle and speed), very beautiful and surprising photos of moving light can be obtained.

Configuration achieved with a flashlight

Configuration achieved with two flashlights

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