With bright glowing orbs and multicoloured waves hovering across the nightscape, this is the Channel Island of Guernsey as you’ve never seen it before.
The Channel Islands are an archipelago of British Crown Dependencies in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey, neither of which is part of the UK; rather they are considered the remnants of the Duchy of Normandy.
These psychedelic ‘light paintings’ look like the sort of trippy visuals that might be experienced by those under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.
However, they are not the result of drugs – or even computer manipulations – but a photographic technique called long exposure and many points of light.
These breathtaking pictures are the creations of David Gilliver, a light painter by night and finance executive by day, who lives in St Peter Port on the island.
“I began to experiment with long exposure photography in the hours around dusk and soon after the sun had set, I quickly realised that by allowing my camera to continue exposing for longer periods of time it produced images and effects that the human eye is incapable of seeing – the penny had dropped,” he said.
“This is how my journey began – I was well and truly hooked,” he added. 31-year-old David has spent £5,000 and devoted 200 nights over 20 months to his hobby as he patrols the Channel Island with his light sabres he uses as brushes and LEDs.
“I will already have an idea in my head about what kind of light painting I want to make at the location,” he says. “So it’s simply a case of selecting the correct tools for making the painting, and then starting the exposure.”
David’s favourite scenes to light paint his swirling waves and mystic looking orbs are the German built bunkers that still dot the island’s coastline since Guernsey was occupied by Nazi forces in World War II.
The expert light painter conjures up his extraordinary light orbs by fixing LED lights onto a man-made contraption that attaches to a drill, which makes them rotate in circles.
Also among the photographer’s kit is a collection of glow sticks, torches with different lenses and a selection of brightly coloured wires.
David is actually present in each image the whole time the photograph is being taken but prefers to remain invisible. He said: “I dress in black or very dark clothing to help minimise the chances of being made visible to the camera during the shoot.”
The long exposure technique used by David involves the photographer using a long-duration shutter speed on the camera. This can range from a few seconds to minutes or longer.
“Once the camera has started taking the shot – which can last up to 30 minutes – I walk into the picture frame and begin adding the light to the photograph,” David explains.
Using this technique the photographer can create an effect of an image where stationary elements are sharp, while moving elements are blurred.
In the case of David’s pictures, the effect is created by the movement of the light orbs, glow sticks or torches across the camera’s field of vision while the shutter is open.
The technique can often also create an effect of a near daytime light even when it is taking place during the hours of dark. This is because the length of time the shutter is open allows more light to be absorbed. [photos via David Gilliver Photography and David Gilliver/Flickr; story via The Telegraph (UK) and Daily Mail (UK)]