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How to make a Physiogram effect with a Digital Camera

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

Physiogram Trick Photography

Photography Effect

A Physiogram is a  unique pattern or patterns formed by light in motion captured by a single long exposure.

blue double physiogram
An example of a Physiogram captured by mjtmail on Flickr  

In short it allows you to create neon circles which is a cool Photography Effect. To create this you will need:

  1. A flashlight or LED light like a Maglite.
  2. A piece of string or shoelace
  3. A digital camera or DSLR that has a manual focus

Step 1. Tie a loop through the end of your flashlight and attach the end to the ceiling. We will be taking advantage of this dangling effect later.

Step 2. Place your camera on the floor with the lens facing upwards towards the flashlight.

Note: Some photographers like Scott Wittenburg prefer to capture the light effect by a mirror and then capture the image with their Digital Camera or SLR on a tri-pod. Either is fine

Step 3. Turn on your flashlight and get your camera to focus on the light coming from it.

 Step 4. Set the camera to manual focus and turn the room light off. This is to maximise the impact of the light from the flashlight.

 Step 5. Take your long exposure. A long exposure of 30 seconds, the maximum setting allowed on most DSLR Cameras  is normally adequate but you may want to experiment to see what works for you.

Note: You will have to take multiple shots with your camera before you get the desired effect so don't worry if it doesn't work the first time.

If you want to make a slightly different effect, zoom in and out at the light while taking the exposure. For those of you who prefer a more visual explanation here is a how to by Scott Wittenburg.



If you have a wider aperture on your camera, light can seep through and lighten the background. If this happens, you can load your photo into Photoshop and go to Image/Adjustments/Selective Colour. From there you can turn down blacks to darken the background and maximise the lighting impact. Alternatively, if you don’t want to buy or have Photoshop you can do the same thing with the GIMP, a free Open-Source alternative.


If you are feeling creative you could take multiple exposures using different colored lights and blend them together on your PC to create an even more cooler effect. Go on, give it a try!



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