Shooting Challenge: Dual Sparkler Exposures

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: Dual Sparkler Exposures

We've done long exposures. And many of you have blown things up with fireworks. For this week's Shooting Challenge, we're combining the ideas in a technique that looks hard but anyone can pull off.

The Challenge

Take a dual-exposure photo with a sparkler implying motion.

The Technique


So here's how it works. Long exposures are great for light painting, but they leave your figure all blurry and undefined. Meanwhile, flash photography can isolate a subject in a dark room, but that's kind of ugly on its own.

As explained in the above video, you'll lock your camera on a tripod and take two shots: First, have a subject do something with a sparkler in their hand or attached to an object (safely, of course). It can be mundane, like putting away dishes, or really sporty, like swinging a baseball bat. Take a long (3-ish-second) exposure shot of that.

Then, put the sparkler away. Have your subject do the exact same thing, with your camera in the exact same spot, and take a photo of normal length. If you're in a dark environment, and you may want to be to exacerbate the sparkler effect, you'll probably need to use flash to capture your subject frozen in motion.


After that, combine the two images in post production. You'll probably just want to layer the sparks on top and erase everything else from the image, but I could imagine doing some interesting things with layering if you have the Photoshop talent.

To make the photos pop, keep in mind, the sparkler is almost like a speed line, or a means to trace out the motion or path of the figure. It doesn't need to line up 1:1 to work, but it should be related.


The Example

Our lead shot is from Dave Lehl, who also created the great little tutorial you see here. I can almost guarantee, his friends skateboard better than your friends. So don't let anyone get hurt trying all this X-games crap. Mundane can be cool in its own way. (via petapixel)


The Rules

0. No watermarks. They're so ugly.
1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced.
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a native resolution sized shot in email.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, February 11th at 10AM Eastern to with "Spark" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameSpark.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameSparkWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


Um....I hate to be picky, but the submission date is yesterday. That sort of cuts down the time we have to do this in.