This is the most amazing light painting we've ever seen!

Light painting
(Image credit: Hannu Huhtamo Photography)

A Finnish photographer has created one of the most incredible light painting photographs we've ever seen, depicting a pair of swans facing each other at dusk. 

Painting with light is one of the most creative – and potentially most convoluted – techniques in photography. Making an image as intricate as this could require hours upon hours of trial and error. However, this photographer has a secret weapon up his sleeve: the Live Composite feature found exclusively on Olympus cameras.

• Read more: Best Olympus cameras

Traditional light painting relies on you painting blind, as you're essentially shooting a long exposure photograph and waving a light around hoping that the end result will look something like you intended – but you have no idea what it will look like until the exposure is finished. 

With an Olympus camera, though (and it looks like Huhtamo is using the flagship Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III), the Live Composite function gives you a real-time view of what you're painting, as you're painting it. You can see the feature in action in the clip below: 

It's a clever it of computational photography that only adds brighter areas of light to the exposure – so instead of the entire image getting brighter (as it would with a usual long exposure), only the light-painted parts of the scene gets brighter. 

"Olympus cameras have a unique feature called Live Composite mode that allows you to set the base exposure time and then the camera stacks several frames (exposures) into a one image in real time," explains Huhtamo

"I wear black clothes and I'm constantly moving during the exposure. With Live Composite you can also avoid over exposed images. Camera will pick up changes in a light only if the next frame has brighter parts than the previous frame had. No Photoshop or any other post processing, straight out of the camera."

This stunning shot, titled Serenity, was captured at Lake Saimaa in southeastern Finland. "Last night I just had to do some light drawing in front of this amazing scene. Mosquitos all over me and small baby perches were nibbling my toes as I stood in water with bare feet. Thanks to my wife Sanna for the behind the scenes video clip!"

Live Composite isn't just limited to the flagship camera – it's available on everything from the workhorse Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III to the new entry level Olympus PEN E-P7

Read more: 

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III review
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III review
Olympus PEN E-P7 review
Best Olympus lenses

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.