A Guide To Capturing Mesmerizing Light Trails With Glow Stick Photography

Photography is a versatile art form that allows us to capture moments, memories, and scenes in a unique and creative way. One fascinating aspect of photography is the ability to experiment with various light sources to create stunning images. In this article, we’ll explore the captivating world of glow stick photography and provide you with valuable tips to help you capture mesmerizing light trails. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced photographer, you’ll find inspiration and guidance to create beautiful and unique photographs using glow sticks.

The Magic of Glow Stick Photography

Glow stick photography involves using glow sticks as a source of light to paint vibrant streaks and trails in your images. These colorful streaks can add a sense of magic and wonder to your photographs, turning an ordinary scene into something extraordinary. The long exposure technique is commonly employed in glow stick photography to capture the graceful movement of light trails against a dark background.

Gear and Equipment

Camera: Any camera with manual settings, including DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, or even some advanced compact cameras, will work well.

Tripod: A sturdy tripod is essential to keep your camera stable during long exposures.

Remote Shutter Release: Using a remote shutter release or your camera’s built-in timer will prevent any camera shake during the exposure.

Glow Sticks: Of course, you’ll need an assortment of glow sticks in various colors.

Dark Location: Find a dark or low-light environment, such as a park at night, an empty street, or an open field, to enhance the contrast of the light trails against the background.

Setting up for Glow Stick Photography

Choose the Right Location: As mentioned earlier, a dark or low-light location is ideal for glow stick photography. Ensure you have enough space to move around and experiment with different compositions.

Set Your Camera to Manual Mode: For full creative control, switch your camera to manual mode. You’ll be adjusting settings like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO manually.

Use a Low ISO: Start with a low ISO setting (e.g., ISO 100) to minimize noise in your photos.

Select a Small Aperture: Choose a small aperture (e.g., f/11 or higher) to achieve a deep depth of field and keep your entire scene in focus.

Long Exposure: Set your camera to a long exposure, typically between 10 to 30 seconds, depending on the desired effect. This extended exposure time allows you to capture the entire journey of the glow stick’s light trail.

Focus Manually: In low light conditions, it can be challenging for your camera’s autofocus to lock onto a subject. To avoid focus issues, switch to manual focus and use live view to zoom in and adjust focus accurately.

Creating Mesmerizing Light Trails

Now that you’re all set up, let’s dive into some tips and techniques for capturing mesmerizing light trails with glow stick photography:

Plan Your Shot: Visualize the composition you want before you start. Think about where you want to place the glow sticks and how you want the light trails to flow through the frame.

Experiment with Colors: Glow sticks come in a variety of colors. Try different combinations and experiment with colorful compositions to create striking and vibrant images.

Motion and Movement: The key to captivating light trails is movement. You can achieve this by moving the glow stick, swirling it around, or even spinning it. Make sure the motion is smooth and controlled for the best results.

Multiple Exposures: For an interesting effect, try capturing multiple exposures in a single frame. Simply fire the shutter, move the glow stick to a new position, and continue the exposure. This can create intricate and mesmerizing patterns.

Layering: To add depth to your images, consider layering different light trails in a single frame. For example, you can create a central light trail with additional streaks of light around it.

Try Out Different Angles: Don’t just use one angle. Shoot from various perspectives, including low angles and high angles, to discover different ways to incorporate the light trails into your compositions.

Combine with Other Elements: Integrate glow stick trails with other elements, such as silhouettes of people, trees, or buildings. This can add context and narrative to your photographs.

Glow Stick Costume Photography

While this article primarily focuses on capturing mesmerizing light trails, it’s worth mentioning that glow sticks can also be incorporated into glow stick costume photography. Glow stick costumes involve using glow sticks to create wearable, luminous outfits. These costumes can be especially eye-catching in dark environments and add a unique touch to your photoshoots. To achieve the best results with glow stick costumes, ensure that the lighting is balanced and that the costume complements the overall theme of your shoot.

Post-Processing and Editing

Once you’ve captured your glow stick photographs, the creative process doesn’t end. Post-processing can enhance the visual impact of your images. Here are some editing tips:

  • Adjust Exposure: Fine-tune the exposure to achieve the desired brightness and contrast.
  • Color Enhancement: Enhance the vibrancy and saturation of the glow stick colors to make them pop.
  • Crop and Composition: Crop and adjust the composition if needed to improve the overall balance of the image.
  • Noise Reduction: Apply noise reduction techniques to minimize any noise introduced during long exposures.
  • Sharpening: Apply sharpening to make the light trails appear crisper.


Glow stick photography offers a creative and mesmerizing way to capture light trails in your photographs. With the right equipment, settings, and techniques, you can create stunning and unique images that showcase the beauty of light in motion. Whether you’re a photography enthusiast looking to experiment or a professional photographer seeking to add a new dimension to your portfolio, glow stick photography is a captivating avenue to explore. So, gather your gear, head to a dark location, and let your creativity flow as you capture the enchanting world of glow stick light trails through your lens.