Abstract Photos Of London’s Christmas Lights

Like many, Quintin Lake was entranced by London’s Christmas decorations. Rather than taking sharp images of the illuminated baubles and neon borders, he decided on a more abstract approach. Below, he explains the technique.

These photos are an attempt to make a set of images with a Christmas theme that don’t contain traditional Christmas imagery. They depict the Christmas lights of iconic shopping areas of London photographed while moving the camera, so the points of lights appear as lines.

The rather silly technique of moving the camera while making an exposure has a very serious sounding name: ICM or Intentional Camera Movement. To make bright points of light into a clear line you’ll need to set your camera to manual, shutter speed to something like 1/8 second and aperture small enough to render all the lights in your shot in focus (start with f8). If you use a smartphone/iphone you can use a camera app that allows manual settings. The fun part is jerking the camera as you depress the shutter release, and you’ll have to play around with speed and direction to see the effect you like. You’re sure to get some pretty funny looks on the street!

Quintin Lake in an architect turned award-winning architectural and fine art photographer with a particular interest in London. He is author of Drawing Parallels: Architecture Observed published by Papadakis. Check out his blog to see his latest work and more examples of these Christmas light photos.

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