Light Painting Photography: NCEA Level 2

Last Updated on April 2, 2023

This article features Level 2 NCEA Photography by Jessica Louise of Long Bay College, Auckland, New Zealand. Jessica was awarded Excellence for this project.

NCEA Photography Level 2
NCEA Photography Level 2 by Jessica Louise

Light is an essential element of photography. This portfolio submission explores the use of light as the medium required to record images and as subject matter for the photographs taken. Jessica has used light in various ways to ‘paint’, creating images that depict movement and expression.

Light is important in relation to the technical aspects of photography. Capturing light (and specifically moving light) in the dark studio environment requires a tripod and a camera set on a slow shutter speed. To capture the motion, long exposures are required. The contrast between the play of light and the dark background in all images creates a unified body of work as well as creating images with visual impact. The limited colour palette allows the light and colour in the images to stand out.

This NCEA Photography submission experiments with a wide range of photography conventions. As both a Painting and Photography student, Jessica wanted to find a connection between her two projects. This led her to the art of ‘light painting’. To create this portfolio submission a lot of experimenting was required. The art of light painting involves creating images by capturing and recording the play of light.
In this project, the play of light has been used in conjunction with the human body. The images therefore create expression through the use of light and the interaction it has with the portrayal of the body.

Jessica tackles style in her work through a number of different interpretations, influenced by various artist models. The idea of light painting was inspired by work from the photographer Patrick Rochon.

Rochon’s The Light Painting KATA series is of images created using light and movement, inspired by martial arts. Rochon mentions “the trace we create and leave behind”. This aspect of his work can clearly be seen in Jessica’s project.

Rochon also refers in his work to the “form and order of the process” of kata (a Japanese term for ‘way of movement’ or ‘detailed choreographed patterns of movements’). This can clearly relate to the process of light painting. To create successful images the artist must understand what they are photographing and how they can go about capturing images in the studio environment. The importance of understanding how photography works is illustrated in a project such as this.

creative photography: NCEA Level 2
NCEA Level 2 Photography: The top part of panel 1

Many of these pictures (from the first panel of the portfolio) are created using layering and fading effects on Adobe Photoshop. Bagrad Badalian’s Insanity series inspired the sequence of images in the second line.

car lights photography
Although Jessica said the above images only took half an hour to shoot, they make up a substantial part of board one of her portfolio. While taking this sequence of photos would have required planning, Jessica said that this also shows how important the “just do it” attitude is in photography. Leading lines have been used as an important compositional device in each of these images. Long exposure times were required to capture the light from street lights and moving vehicles which created the lines and shapes in the image. Photoshop was also used to create these photographs. The lines of light were used as a link to the multiple image on the next board.
Light painting photography project
The images on the top of panel two are where Jessica felt that real ‘light painting’ started to take place for her. Again, careful planning and experimentation was required to create these images. Requirements for this image included a laser (purchased from the $2 Store), a dark room, a camera set on a tripod with a long exposure setting, and a very still and patient model. Jessica said that minimal post production editing was used on these images. The fact that “everything was created in the moment” relates well to her artist model Patrick Rochon. Rochon’s photography works very much with “elements of chance” in his work.
Human figure: NCEA Photography
These images show how a number of conventions have been used within each photograph. The plain black background contrasts with the lines of light. The human form has been used to divide the images vertically and diagonally in half. Jessica created her images in a studio space with a black backdrop. A separate set of light images were created by the student running around the room with her camera on long exposure. She then overlaid these on top of the studio images in Photoshop.
Photography ideas NCEA
These were influenced by Bagrad Badalian’s ‘In the Flesh’ series. Both images were created in the studio with the camera on long exposure and the model moving during this time. The first image was further manipulated using the clone tool in Photoshop. The second image shows the model throwing around a blanket for the colour and effect.
final photograph NCEA Level 2
Using similar methods to that above, this image was created in an outdoor space at night and then further manipulated using Photoshop.

These final images are from the end of her folio. Jessica aims to combine Rochon’s methods of a sense of movement and motion of light painting, with the experimental ideas of Bagrad Badalian’s figurative work.

This article was written using information provided by Jessica Louise. If you enjoyed this photography portfolio, you may wish to view our other Featured Photography Projects from high school students around the world!


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