Since his childhood, long exposure light painting images have been a constant obsession of artist Will Ferguson .
Fergusons began exploring the technique with photos of cars on motorways. But, he soon moved to drone footage that eventually lead to his creative vision of using drones and LED lights for night photography.
“I […] have a passion for flying drones and I shoot a lot of commercial drone operations for clients. A kit that attaches small, bright LED lights to my drone was created by an LED lighting company. I was immediately sold. Combining these two passions energized my imagination,” Ferguson says, speaking with PetaPixel.
Ferguson, who is also a filmmaker, recently took his Sony Alpha 7R III, DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, and creative vision to Broadway Tower in the Cotswold region of southwest England.
Creating a kind of celestial halo and light spiral using the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, Ferguson shot images and filmed a striking behind-the-scenes TikTok that has now amassed over 300,000 views.
@iwillfoto Summer Spirals #learnontiktok #photomagic #photography #drone #lightpainting #photographytips original sound – iwillfoto
What is particularly striking about Ferguson’s night photography is the electric vibe that seemingly pulsates from his images. Ferguson captures other elements of night photography in his images by using the neon blue LED to brighten the tower’s texture.
“I love how night photography uses the solitude and drama of the darkness to create images which are amplified through long exposure,” Ferguson tells PetaPixel.
Despite Ferguson’s stunning final product, it was not without its difficulties.
“The most difficult factor of taking this photo was it was quite a gusty night. I went to this location to create a drone halo but realized quickly that getting the perfect circle in these conditions was going to be extremely tricky and not give me the result I was looking for,” Ferguson says.
The wind didn’t blow strong enough for the flight to be grounded, but it was enough that my drone halos looked like they had been drinking !”
Furguson managed to hide the flaws caused by wind by flying his drone around the tower in a circular pattern.
“To the human eye, it was harder to see any little wobbles the drone had from the wind…” Ferguson adds. “I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for image processing. For this particular image, however, Lightroom was used to change the colors, make Broadway Tower and the drone pop Ferguson also likes preparation. He performs daily preflight checks in order to be prepared for potential obstructions, such as tree branches or electrical wires, which could disrupt his shoots. When he works at night, he says that it is important to be cautious.
Safety is the most important thing when taking nighttime photos. Drones get bad press because of some reckless people who fly them. I hope that this image encourages other drone pilots to take to the skies. You should use common sense, be safe and comply with the laws in your country .”
Ferguson was lucky to have uninterrupted access to the area because other drones and observers had left the scene around sunset.
The results have been a hit on TikTok and have sent numerous positive responses and feedback Ferguson’s way.
The response to my image was overwhelming […] I’m absolutely buzzing about it! […] One of the best feelings is having a community of people following my social pages because they love my work and are inspired to go out and take their own images.”
Several brands have reached out to Ferguson in hopes to collaborate on future projects, as well as other artists inquiring about general techniques in drone usage and photography.
“I also get hundreds of messages a day from people asking photography and drone-related questions. It is really rewarding to be able to help other photographers improve their images. My answer is always the same. Shoot passion projects. He suggests that you shoot as many content as possible and take images you love.
“I’ve gone out and taken a photo of something just because I love to do it. Put that image out there for the world to see and it just so happens that hundreds of thousands of people around the world also love it and now I have brands knocking at my door wanting to work with me on paid projects. You create your own luck.”
For more from Ferguson, make sure to follow him on Instagram.
Image credits: Will Ferguson