Each December for about 50 days, Finland’s northern region has a period were the sun never rises above the horizon. Photographer Hannu Huhtamo embraces the prolonged darkness by making it the canvas for his beautiful light-painting long exposure photos.
“Darkness is the canvas and light is my brush.”
Based out of Helsinki, Hannu uses light and long exposure photography to paint stunning images. Long exposure photography is the art of using a slow shutter speed (long exposure) to capture the cumulative effects of time passing in a single image. This technique allows you to capture clouds as they travel across the sky or the lights of traffic as they move along the highway. Hannu’s shots usually vary from a few minutes to a few hours.
Hannu has been light painting since 2008, but it was back in the 1990’s when he shot his first light painting image. He was shooting a death metal band and wanted to draw out a pentagram with a lighter so he opened the shutter of his camera and created his first light painting image. After that, Hannu moved away from shooting other light painting images; until LPP featured artist Janne Parviainen showed him some of his images. From that moment on, Hannu was hooked on light painting.
After drawing sketches of what he’d like to create, he grabs his camera gear, flashlights and goes out to shoot. Thus, with his patience and skill, Hannu brings light and colour to the darkness; creating surreal artworks without any digital manipulation in Photoshop. Many of his works focus on organic forms, like amazingly beautiful flowers.
Painting with light is easily accomplished with a long exposure photography. Therefore, all you need is a dark location and friends holding flashlights or glow sticks. For camera settings, try setting your aperture to f/11, your ISO at 100, and your shutter speed between 11 and 30 seconds. For a longer exposure, you’ll want to switch to bulb mode. Take a look at Hannu’s technique below.