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.