A trick of the light

Christopher Renfro has been painting with light for the last three years.

“When I first found light painting in 2009 it just completely blew my mind,” he tells The Weekly Flickr. “I have spent my entire life really not knowing who I am, what I am supposed to do, or why I am here and when I found light art photography I knew instantly who I was.”

As Christopher describes, “light art photography is the methodical movement of a light source in front of a camera set to a long exposure.”

He does the majority of his work at night in natural environments.  “I am particularly fond of the twilight before it gets fully dark, where I can exploit the natural light before it completely leaves,” he says.

What is amazing about his photos is that all of his work is done totally in-camera. “I don’t even know how to really use Photoshop,” Christopher says.

The Orbs Of Larch Mountain

“I make the orbs by having a wire with a light on one and a switch on the other, with a wire in between,” he explains. “You swing this vertically while pivoting around a center point and it creates a perfect sphere if you do it right.”

It usually takes him between six or eight tries before he gets one image he is happy with.


“The light sparks are actually steel wool. I secure it to a string, light it with a 9-volt battery or a lighter, and just start swinging away and sparks just go flying everywhere,” he says. “When you’re working with steel wool, it’s very important that you’re aware of your surroundings and possible things that could catch on fire. It is a little bit hard for it to cause a fire, but it’s certainly possible.”

He has taken thousands of exposures since taking his first image and each is just as exciting to see as the first.


But light art photography has become much more than just an enjoyable passion for Christoper. It is his savior.

“I have a mental illness called borderline personality disorder, and it has created a lot of challenges in my life,” he explains. “When I’m having a rough day I can just go off and create art. And just the act of creating something is very therapeutic to me.”

Flickr played a very important part in helping him find himself back in 2009.

“I posted my first pictures to Flickr and almost immediately someone from the Light Junkies group invited me to the group, and I discovered this amazing community of fellow light geeks,” he says. “I wouldn’t be here and have gotten this far with them and their support.”

His advice to those with his illness is to never give up. “You don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring,” he says.

View Christopher Renfro’s photostream.

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