Light Painting

Copyright Stuart McAlister. All rights reserved.

Early Days

The birth of 'Light Painting' dates back to 1889 when two Frenchmen (a scientist and an inventor, bien sûr) used it to trace human motion whilst walking.

In layman’s terms, Light Painting is a technique involving a long exposure photograph whilst moving a light source in front of the lens.

A few of the more reputable personalities who toyed with the art include Man Ray, Picasso and Matisse.

Here & Now

So here we are, 129 years after Messieurs Marey and Demeny attached glowing bulbs to the arms and legs of an unnamed assistant and created the first-known light painting photograph: “Pathological Walk From in Front”.

My photographs are not digitally created, nor have they been manipulated or adjusted with editing software. No trick photography ... no cut-and-pasting. Just a single, long-exposure photograph.

There is no 'secret' to creating them - as such - though I like to compare the technique to 'magic'. Therefore, if someone reveals how a particular magic trick was achieved, the art behind the illusion is somewhat of an anti-climax.

But How Did I Get Here?

My early days are somewhat of a blur, but I have been reliably informed that I worked with such luminaries as Monty Python ('The Meaning of Life' 1983), Noel Edmonds ('The Late Late Breakfast Show' 1984-85) and Queen ('Live Magic at Wembley' 1986).

At the end of the 80s I left the bright lights and moved over to Television News and Current Affairs where, as a cameraman, I spent time with Roger Cook ('The Cook Report' 1990-91) and then joined Sky News in 1992 who swiftly packed me off to Bosnia (more than once) and then onwards to South Africa to witness Nelson Mandela taking office in 1994.

The following year I joined the Associated Press who gave me a 'grown-ups' job and insisted that I wore a shirt and tie and act accordingly. After a couple of years, I realised that this didn’t suit me as I wanted to go back out and play with the others. They reluctantly understood my plight and to stop me grizzling, offered me the job as Producer/Cameraman in their Paris office. I covered the death of Lady Diana (1997) and the French winning the football World Cup (1998). Sadly, the agency ran out of money so I left, became a freelancer with CNN and I covered the Kosovan War (1999-2000) and shook hands with Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl and Lech Wałęsa (though not all at the same time, you understand). When CNN ran out of money, I went on spend a few happy freelancing years with the BBC. When the BBC ran out of ...

The rest is all far too long and boring to go into detail now.

Needless to say, after the best part of 19 years, at the end of 2014, I moved back to the UK.​​​