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July 24, 2014

How to light paint the town red with your Lumia

City lighting designer Jukka Laine started his Valopaja Light Painting workshops for the disabled in 2008. Now one of his most enthusiastic students, Markus Lohikoski, is making magic with his Lumia 1020.

Markus has been taking photos with Nokia devices for years, but it was thanks to the Lumia 1020 that he discovered his passion for light painting. Totally fascinated by his work, we asked him to showcase his favourite images and tell us how exactly he captures them.

1. You have made some really amazing light paintings with the camera of your Lumia 1020. How and when did you first get into light painting?

I started to light paint in February 2014, after attending lighting designer Jukka Laine’s light workshop at the Ystävätupa (Friends’ hut) café for mentally disabled people. This wasn’t his first workshop there, but the reason I got interested then was because I could use my own Lumia to do it.


2. What kind of equipment and conditions do you need, and what settings do you use for your light paintings?

You can use any light source for light painting. Good options include key ring LED lights, battery-operated Christmas lights, EL wire (glowing wire) and fiber optic lights like a fan or a flower. The conditions must be quite dark…in the autumn it’s easy to light paint outside in the twilight. You can even do it indoors in the summer in Finland, if you darken the room with heavy curtains or tape the windows with black bin liners. You need a four second exposure time on your Lumia, turning off the auto focus and using a timer of 5-10 seconds so you make it into your photo. You should also have a tripod or something else on which to support your Lumia camera.

3. What and in what kind of places do you prefer to light paint?

My favourite location for light painting is the forest, and I always take a portable battery for my Lumia on those trips. It’s also fun to light paint on the streets, taking photos of cityscapes while moving the camera around.

4. You’ve also used stencils and watercolours in your light paintings? How does that work in practice?

In watercolour light painting, you first paint on a white paper. Then you glue your work of art on thick carton and cut off the parts you want to light paint. To see the watercolour, too, remember to use your Lumia’s flash. For light painting with black carton stencils, draw the outline with a white pen and cut out the shape with a sharp knife. Once you’ve attached your stencil (blu-tac works fine) to the edge of a table, you create the light painting from behind it. This works best with fiber optic lights.

5. What are your five favourite light paintings you’ve taken on your Lumia 1020?



This way you can bring to life light sources, which are otherwise always still. First, you shoot the streetscape for two seconds, and then you swing or tilt your Lumia camera for another two. If there are lots of light sources, the image can easily become too messy.



My friends have wheelchairs so I’ve had the chance to make use of them in my light painting. You attach LED lights to the wheels with blu-tac, which creates a tunnel-like shape in your photo. If you bring the wheelchair in from behind a table, for example, you’ll be able to get more depth.



You can make a light dome with a bike wheel with a short axle and some Christmas lights. The end result will look like a combination between a UFO and a light ball rising from the ground. What makes this fascinating is the contrast between the nature and the glowing dome.



With stencil light paintings you can first take your time selecting the location, the subject and the angle. You can consider, for example, having the light within your subject. Or, an entire block of flats could be filled with light.



Portraits are interesting because you can light paint around a human being. The model in this photo is my girlfriend Laura Loimaranta. For portraits, a longer exposure time than four seconds would be ideal… I’m hoping to see over ten seconds in future Lumias!

6. What tip would you give others wanting to try out light painting with their Lumias?

It’s definitely worth trying out light painting with the Lumia 1020 camera. It’s incredibly interesting and you get immediate results, you just look at your phone screen to see your work. The only thing is that you have just four seconds to get it right, so remember there’s no time to waste!


The light painting workshop has obviously paid off for Markus, who is now a member of the Light Painting World Alliance (LPWA). You’ll find plenty more of his beautiful work on his website. The Lumia 1020 is as impressive as ever, too… don’t we just love these pics! Needless to say, we’ve already added some Christmas lights to our Lumia accessory shopping list. But which of Markus’s favourite pics most lights up your life? Have you had any experience of light painting with your Lumia yourself? We hope to see your comments, as well as more Lumia light paintings, in the comments below.