Pendulum Flashlight Art
by Scott A. Ensminger


      In the early evening while camping several years ago I needed more light to review topo maps of the area. A piece of string hung down from the rafters of the picnic shelter I was sitting in. I tied a flashlight with a lanyard to the string and the light hung about three feet above the picnic table. A gust of wind set the light swinging back and forth. I watched the brightest spot of the flashlight’s beam as it swung back and forth across the map in smaller and smaller arcs. I reached up and pushed the light giving it a circular motion. The bright spot of the light moved in ever smaller spiraling circles. I wondered if there was a way to photograph this.
      At home a few nights later I hung the light from a rafter in my basement. The light was three feet from the floor. I turned off all the lights in the basement, turned on the flashlight and gently swung it in a small circle. A one minute exposure resulted in just a big spot of light on the floor. Too much light I thought. So I covered the flashlight lens with cardboard and poked a pencil hole in the middle of it. The result was better, but still far from what I hoped to capture. A smaller hole worked even better but the was still to much light scattering from the painted basement floor.
      I wondered what the light looked like from below. I gave the light a push and laid on the floor under it looking up. With the darkend background of the bacement ceiling the bright spot of the flashlight was a tiny point of light spiraling above my head.
      I stopped the swinging flashlight. Then I set the camera on the floor and pointed it up at the flashlight, centering the bright spot of light in the viewfinder. I started the flashlight swinging and took a one minute exposure. The result was similar to number eight below.
      Experimenting with the swing of the flashlight and length of the exposure yielded many different and intriguing shots. The colored ones are a small LED light that changes color every few seconds. The longest exposure, number two, was four minutes. Several layers of yellow cellophane over the hole in the cardboard gave the light a golden hue. A laser pointer as a light source also worked quite well.

Below are 12 examples of my Pendulum Flashlight Art.
Click on an image to enlarge it.

Flashlight Art 01
Flashlight Art 01
Flashlight Art 02
Flashlight Art 02
Flashlight Art 03
Flashlight Art 03
Flashlight Art 04
Flashlight Art 04
Flashlight Art 05
Flashlight Art 05
Flashlight Art 06
Flashlight Art 06
Flashlight Art 07
Flashlight Art 07
Flashlight Art 08
Flashlight Art 08
Flashlight Art 09
Flashlight Art 09
Flashlight Art 10
Flashlight Art 10
Flashlight Art 11
Flashlight Art 11
Flashlight Art 12
Flashlight Art 12



A few tips if you want to try pendulum flashlight art.

      A swivel on both ends of the string gave the flashlight a smoother swing.
            The ones used in fishing worked quite well.

      Adding weight to the flashlight gave it a steadier more rhythmic swing.
            I taped several lead sinkers around the end of the flashlight.

      A digital camera with a wide angle lens works best.
            Mine also has a “bulb" setting allowing for long exposures.

      Turn off all other lights in the room.


Copyright © 2007 by Scott A. Ensminger.
This information may not be reproduced without written permission.

    You can send me e-mail at:falzguy@verizon.net
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