Pablo Picasso paints with light. 1949. Photographer: Gjon Mili

Pablo Picasso paints with light. 1949. Photographer: Gjon Mili


Does the name PABLO make sense now? Pablo Picasso wasn't the first artist to create a lightpainting, he was just the most notable.

The wikipedia definition of lightpainting is as follows:

A photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source while taking a long exposure photograph, either to illuminate a subject or to shine a point of light directly at the camera, or by moving the camera itself during exposure. The technique is used for both scientific and artistic purposes, as well as in commercial photography.

That's not bad! But more simply, lightpainting is the combination of an open camera shutter and a moving light source.

While your camera shutter is open, any lights that pass in front of the lens will leave a trail. Ever seen a photo of a freeway at night, the tail lights and headlights all stretched out? Well that's a lightpainting!

Headlights and Taillights Highway Lightpainting

Now, imagine that you picked up one of those cars and moved it around in front of the camera. It would leave a trail in whatever shape you moved it in. Cool right? Lightpainting is the art of manipulating those shapes to draw shapes, write words and illuminate subjects in interesting ways.

As for light sources, you can use any light. A flashlight, a candle, a sparkler, a camera flash, etc. But the best lights are LEDs. You can also add colored gels to change the LED color. For more info on lightpainting tools, check out this informative post on LightpaintingPhotography.com.

The possibilities for lightpainting are truly endless. We created PABLO as an intro into the lightpainting world, and we created the PABLO Pro App for anyone who wants to take their lightpainting work to the next level. Wherever you're at, we encourage you to stay inspired, keep shooting and keep challenging the amazing art form that is lightpainting.  And for more ideas on how to use the Pablo App, stop by our Gallery.