The quest to create the most light painted orbs in a single exposure all started with Andrew Wells and his Century of Light Orbs Project, in which Andrew single handedly created 100 light painted orbs in a single exposure!
Then the East Coast Light Painters, (myself included) broke Andrew’s record and got the first “Official” light painting world record by creating 200 orbs in a single exposure.
Then a team from India took a completely different approach to creating the orbs and blew the record away by creating 900 mini light painted orbs in a single exposure.
Now that record has officially been broken with 1000 Light Painted Orbs is a Single Exposure! What is even more wild is that they were all created by hand! 20 participants under the direction of Wolfgang Laich and Michael Walch have created ONE THOUSAND handcrafted light painted orbs in a single exposure! Check out the full interview with Wolfgang below for all the info on how they created this record setting image!
Hi Wolfgang congratulations on breaking the Guinness World Record for the most Light Painted Orb in a single image, 1000 Orbs is a one hell of a lot of Orbs! Can you tell me who was involved in setting this new Guinness World Record!
Well it was my friend Michael Walch and me (Wolfgang Laich) as the photographers. We, along with 18 friends and 3 independent referees took part in the attempt. A total of 20 people worked to build the light orbs in the final picture.
You had mentioned that you have not been light painting that long, how did you start light painting and how long have you been creating your images?
We started light painting about 2 years ago in the winter time. It gets dark early here (Kempten/Allgäu Germany) so we use the time for taking pictures. Mainly we try to tell a story with our pictures! First we made pictures with burglers in the dark night, movements and shadow, Fire balls…. then coloured shiny dead persons… we used more and more self made tools and also Light Painting Brushes.
We are two “Hobby” photographers with lot of energy for always trying new things. We meet one evening each week and try new things. Not all of our work is light painting, we are no specialists! (maybe we become…) We never could and want compare with professionals! We know this, we admire your work (also the other really good Light Art Professionals like JanLeonardo Wöllert…) For us what is most important is having fun and distraction from daily work time 😉
What inspired you to set out to break the record?
We found some pictures on the Guinness website from the former Record holders. The first record the Orbs were all made with a lot of handcrafted tools. Then the last record from the Indian team the orbs were made by little electric “game balls”. We wanted beat them with good old handcrafted orbs 😉 !
Can you tell me a little about the process, what was involved in the planning of the record attempt. How long did all the preparations take?
Normally in winter times after work it gets dark very early and there are no cows and fences in the fields 🙂 The farmers keep them away because of the snow. It is cold outside but that is the time when we have enough space, no people and time for some attempts. We worked for about two months (we built all the tools ourselves) with preparing, improving, testing and keeping the costs low, we needed for 2 months for all the preparations.
How did you create the orbs, did you make them by spinning them by hand or did you have a special tool?
We moved them by hand but in special way. We tried a lot of different possibilities, we made pictures and analysed the results afterwards. At the end after a lot of tries we decided that the best solution was to create the orbs using a tools with lights on both sides so a full orb would be created in a half rotation.
We had everything marked out with rows. We fixed three lines on the ground, one line in the middle of the field, one line marked the far right side and one line marked the far left side of the frame. On every string we fixed a little piece of wood every two meters on the rope. Three people were able to move back on the lying rope to the next little part of wood that marked the next location.
I took my place in the middle row on the line to give the instructions with my own voice. Every movement was coreographed, even how we created each individual orb in the row was by directions. Each of the 20 participants took their place in the row and then I gave the directions. To create each orb I gave the instructions “Lights on, half rotation, stop. Move to two o’clock, half rotation, stop. Move to three o’clock, half rotation, stop. Move to 5 o’clock…….. Think of it like standing on a watch face this was the easiest way to communicate where to turn the lights on and off for participants that had not done this before.
To create each orb we had 8 half movements. Then turn lights out!! Once we had a full row of orbs created the group moved one point back on the line. Then lights on and we repeated the same process with instructions all over again.
How big are each of the orbs?
Each of the orbs was approxamately 1.5 meters.
Why did you decide to create the orbs using this technique?
We chose this technique because it was the easiest for our friends to learn quickly. We wanted to create the image with a group. We only showed the participants how to create the orbs one time and only minutes before we set the new world record!
Did you achieve the image on your first exposure or did you have several attempts?
It was the first and only attempt we had. The weather was very cold and some participant weren’t be able to do it a second time. With really cold fingers it was even difficult to use the on/off button..
How long is the exposure for the winning image?
It was a 3149 second exposure.
What was the most difficult part of creating 1000 orbs in a single exposure?
Maintaining the proper distance between all the participants was the most difficult part. The problem was because of the optic lens with an 18mm lens. In front line you had ~40m and after 110 meter you need at least 55 meter. When our friend goes back to the next point after the “turn off” the light command the distance between the participants had to became little more….. And we didn’t use more lines… Michael always checked that the participants had the right distance to their neighbor before the lights were turned back on. That sometimes was not easy, but we all had a lot of fun with it!!!
Then second problem was making all the orbs countable!! We needed long ladder (5 Meter) to get an angle high enough for taking the picture. And last…. also because of the lens. We started with 12 people for 5 rows so that we didn’t lose too much of the best countable space in front of the camera.
Do you have plans to set any more light painting world records?
Good question, we normally never do the same thing two times. We will be happy to congratulate the next winners that will beat us! Different challenge maybe, we will do more light painting for sure!! After we got that nice response from you and JanLeonardo yes we try more and hope to improve but never want to copy!
Thank you very much for taking the time to share some great info on how you accomplished this excellent record, 1000 orbs by hand is just amazing! Great work and thanks again!
Thank you very much Jason and we are really proud that you found and show your interest!!!
Happy Regards and always a full “battery” 🙂
Wolfgang and Michael from Kempten/Allgäu Germany
To check out more work from Wolfgang and Michael you can check out Wolfgang’s Flickr page HERE.