Light in Motion


Long Exposure Digital Photography

Lesson Summary

After viewing images of artwork created using long exposure digital photography and a discussion about the process that captured the blurring of light amidst stationary objects, students utilized a school-provided iPad to create their own long-exposure images. The room was darkened and two backgrounds were provided to students, one using warm and the other cool colors. Students were shown how to use a variety of light objects (laser pointer, flashlights of various sizes etc.) to "draw" on the background of their choosing. Given the availability of only one iPad for the class, the lesson became a group experience as students watched their classmates create images while they waited for a turn. Students used curved and straight lines, on-off patterns, and symbols (letters, shapes etc.) to create their images. Observing students also offered mark-making suggestions as they went along. These images were printed and mounted for the students to take home as an artifact of their experience.

Grade Level

Art Standards

Interdisciplinary Standards




To connect large gesture movements to the creation of marks on a virtual canvas through use of long-exposure photography.


Physicality of Light

To demonstrate an understanding of the physicality of light through discussion of professional artworks created using long-exposure photography and subsequent creation of personal light drawings.



To successfully use an iPad with a long-exposure photography app to capture images of student light drawings.

Big Ideas

Passage of Time

Even something as small as a ray of light exists in time and can be documented.

The Intangible

Sometimes occurrences which seem to exist only for an instant, that are intangible without an obvious physical marker, actually have a lasting impact.


New technology allows us to understand phenomena that in the past were unknown or misunderstood.

Learning Standards

New York State Visual Art and Other Standards Met in this Lesson

Visual Art Standards Met in this Lesson

Standard 1(a)

Students will develop their own ideas and images through the exploration and creation of art works based on themes, symbols, and events.

Standard 1(b)

Students will develop their own ideas and images through the exploration and creation of art works based on themes, symbols, and events.

Standard 1(c)

Students will understand and use the elements and principles of art (line, color, texture, shape) in order to communicate their ideas.

Standard 3(a)

Students will explain their reflections about the meanings, purposes, and sources of works of art; describe their responses to the works and the reasons for those responses.

Standard 3(b)

Students will explain the visual and other sensory qualities (surfaces, colors, textures, shape, sizes, volumes) found in a wide variety of art works.

Standard 3(d)

Students will explain how ideas, themes, or concepts in the visual arts are expressed in other disciplines (e.g., mathematics, science, literature, social studies, etc.).

Standard 4(a)

Students will look at and discuss a variety of art works and artifacts from world cultures to discover some important ideas, issues, and events of those cultures

Standard 4(c)

Students will create art works that show the influence of a particular culture.