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Motion Exposure: Light Paintings of Kayaking And Canoeing

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Motion Exposure: Light Paintings of Kayaking And Canoeing


Traditionally, sports and action photography require the athlete to be the focal point of the image. Take the competitor out of the picture, and more often than not you’re left with little to look at. Canadian photographer Stephen Orlando did just that in Motion Exposure, but with an interesting twist. The Ontario-based artist replaced the athletes with LED light, creating a breathtaking series of kayaking, canoeing and swimming photographs.

Utilizing Canada’s beautiful waterways as a backdrop, Orlando strapped a programmable LED light to the arms and paddles of his subjects and set them on their way. With a long exposure, usually 20 to 30 seconds, every graceful stroke and slice through the water was illuminated. The subjects became invisible and all that remained in the photographs were the graceful light patterns of their movements. Every photograph resembled an enchanting light show while also showcasing the precision and perfection of the athletes’ form.

In an interview with Bored Panda, Orlando discusses his initial interest and thoughts on the finished product:

“I’m an avid outdoor enthusiast and photographer. I also have an engineering background. These three things culminated in the production of these photosThe shape of the light trails turned out to be what I was expecting. I did a lot of planning for these photos and I plotted out the expected path beforehand. The unexpected result was how visually appealing they are. The lights trails in these photos were not created in Photoshop, nor are they composite images. They were made with careful timing, proper lighting and patient friends.”

The photographic technique behind Motion Exposure is known as light painting, which dates back to the late 19th century. Orlando was inspired to create this project by the work of Étienne-Jules Marey, one of the first people to experiment with extended exposure photography.

Although Motion Exposure mainly focuses on the movements of aquatic athletes, Orlando also includes light paintings of tennis players, soccer players, cyclists and karate enthusiasts. To check out the complete collection or to buy a print, visit Stephen Orlando’s website. Also follow the artist on Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter.


Whitewater Kayaking







Photos: Stephen Orlando