Drawing with light: what is freezelight

Freezelight - long exposure photography, the key feature of which is the creation of meaningful images and abstractions using various light sources. An important condition is the lack of computer processing of the image. Such a definition appears on the web. But the term freezelight did not come from abroad at all. It was invented three years ago by the founders of the freezelight.ru project, Artem Dolgopolov and Roman Palchenkov. Initially, this word was not intended as a term: young people just wanted to find a sonorous name for the community of lighting artists in blogs. But since it took off - you won’t catch ...

Association law

In freezelite there are dozens of techniques and directions: light painting, light graffiti, light drowing, etc. Most light artists specialize in one kind. For example, light painting is a technique for lighting objects from various points; with long exposure, intricate combinations of colors and shadows are obtained. Some teams deal only with this kind of - and nothing more. The same picture is observed in the West.

All you need to create freezelighting photographs is a camera, a tripod and light sources (if possible with color filters).

Freezlayters try to sit on all the chairs at once, and they do pretty well. “This is a mixture of painting and photography, ” says Roman Palchenkov. - Art on the border with technology. In painting, there are dozens of directions - impressionism, suprematism, realism, but there is also a unifying name. Also, the word freezelite united dozens of previously disparate techniques. ”

In 2014, a new branch of the State Hermitage Museum, the General Staff Building, will open. Reconstruction there is at the Stakhanov pace. A year ago, inside there were only the collapse of building materials, and today some halls already host exhibitions. The opening exhibition was the exposition of the freezelight.ru project. The Hermitage proposed Dolgopolov and Palchenkov to create a cycle of fifteen light works - copies of paintings by famous artists. Copies were drawn directly during the reconstruction of the General Staff Building. The essence was simple: the museum is still under construction, and the paintings already live there. And the freezlers managed. The copies of the works of Matisse, Gauguin, and Picasso drawn by LEDs are almost as good as the originals in their expressiveness.

A copy of the painting “Dance” by Henri Matisse is one of the most difficult work of the team. The height of the figures is about 4 m, they are “drawn” at an angle to the floor, since the shooting was carried out from the second floor. Exposure time - 510 seconds, three takes.

A bit of technique

Technically, freezelight is not too complicated. Need a camera with the ability to adjust shutter speed, a tripod and light sources. Almost anything is suitable as the latter - even lighters and sparklers. The most common sources are flashlights with color filters and diode wands to produce wide light bands. Some sources have to be made independently or ordered. For example, for one of the works, a flexible LED strip was required, capable of taking various forms - I had to make it. Of course, no company in the world makes special lights for freezelight. But it is quite possible that someday this art will reach such a level of popularity that such firms will arise.

Shooting is nothing other than shutter speed, no other shooting at night - low ISO (100), aperture from 8 to 11. And always - a tripod, otherwise the camera will move relative to the subject, and the photo will be blurry. By the way, working with light, when the camera is moved relative to the source, and not the source relative to the still camera, is called luminography, but this genre only means creating beautiful abstractions.

To obtain wide light loops, so-called LED rods are used - lanterns with a number of diodes. In the case when the finished wands do not meet the requirements of photographers, they independently produce flexible LED strips.

Freezelight.ru constantly gives master classes - at various photo exhibitions, in different cities. Moreover, the workshops are very different - from creating the most complex paintings with the help of expensive equipment to elementary drawings that can be done with a regular soap box that does not know how to adjust shutter speed. Simply, in the latter case, you have to “deceive” the photosensitive sensor by covering the lens with your hand before shooting, and then draw very quickly.

Quite a lot of time takes the calculation of distances. Some of the drawings have to be done with a distortion of perspective, so that they look proportionate in the photograph. However, freezlers do not create large pictures - this makes little sense. In a two-meter figure, the same thing can be expressed as in a four-meter figure, so why complicate the task?

The plane is “decorated” by Roman Palchenkov in 127 seconds from one take. The photo was taken in Krasnodar at a military airfield. Together, one could cope faster, but there is such a thing as an “artist’s hand” ...

Freezlighters do not use multiple exposure and computer processing (not counting color grading). Of course, multiple exposure allows you to make several takes, and then combine them into one. “But it’s more interesting for us to do everything in one go, ” says Roman. - This is the technical and creative challenges. In addition, in graphic editors, many of the things we create are simply physically impossible to repeat. All these glare, reflections, overflows of light. " Often you have to do a lot of takes. For example, they managed to draw a copy of Cezanne's “Smoker” almost from the seventieth double, but the already mentioned “Dance” of Matisse was obtained on the third attempt. For beginners, Roman and Artem are unanimously recommended not to quit without finishing. It did not work with ten takes - it will work with twenty. Only by breaking oneself and completing the work can one succeed.

How it all began

It all started simply. In 2008, Roman saw somewhere similar equipment, and in a rather primitive performance. The guys tried to find freezelight experts and found that there are very few of them, and they can’t do too many, plus they are extremely closed and don’t like to share the secrets of mastery. Everything had to learn on my own. To search for interested people, they created a community in the LiveJournal and started posting photographs. “We thought, ” says Artem, “that there would come people who want to share their art. And there thirsty came to learn! And we, already able to do something, willingly had to become a guru. ”

A copy of "Naked Woman" by Picasso was made years after the creation of the original. By the way, it is the great Spaniard who is considered the founder of the freezelight. At one time he was fond of experimenting with photography and in 1949 he created a series of long exposure photographs for Life magazine. The most famous work is the Centaur. Copies of the paintings of the great painters in the interior of the building under construction became a notable project of the freezelight.ru team. In addition to the artistic one, it also has a philosophical meaning: the museum building is still under construction, and ghostly paintings already live in it ...

Then freezlayters began to conduct public “sorties” for community members. The first came one person, the second - 15, and for the third they had to divide the crowd of students into subgroups. Now Artem and Roman are cautious about such things - a couple of hundred people may come, and this is an unauthorized rally. Over the three years of their work, they held 15 exhibitions - from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad, and also took part in collective exhibitions abroad. At the French ARTAQ festival, the team received the Grand Prix; works exhibited in Paris, Berlin, Lyon, Brussels. At the moment, more than twenty works of the project are owned by Russian art museums. Usually this happens simply: freezlers hold an exhibition that breaks attendance records, and then the museum directorate asks them for work for a permanent exhibition. Although, of course, the permanent exhibition in the Hermitage is a trump card that overshadows the rest of the cards.


Separate and most complex project "freezelight.ru" is animation. Unlike traditional animation, tracing paper cannot be applied to the previous drawing. For the proper level of the image you need to do 12-15 frames per second of the cartoon, and each frame should only slightly differ from the previous one. The only thing that helps to create such clear images is experience. Moreover, the work of creating one cartoon cannot be postponed, especially if the shooting takes place on the street. Every day, weather conditions, stray lighting change - for the integrity of the video, they must remain at the same level. Dolgopolov and Palchenkov - pioneers of freezelite animation. But success is evident: the animated promotional video for the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver was on the short list of the PROMAX BDA 2010 international television award and received the Grand Prix of the XXVIII Milan Sports Film and Television Festival. In the photo: despite the massive appearance, the “hockey player” is growing from an ordinary person. This is natural: drawing large figures is inconvenient and does not make much sense.

Since autumn 2009, the freezelight.ru project has become self-sustaining, and its creators abandoned routine work (previously both worked on television). Moreover, they do not undertake the creation of custom advertising, never draw logos. “The result is a class B movie!” - says Dolgopolov. - Reputation is dearer to us, therefore we only work with projects related to art or located on the border with it. This is quite enough, we do not need custom work for manufacturers of dumplings or mobile phones. We work for ourselves. ”

Freezelight does not set itself the task of creating three-dimensional figures. Rather, it is a visual exam to “fit" 2D objects into 3D space. Theoretically, you can create a three-dimensional steam engine moving on both rails, but the game is not worth the candle. Perhaps in a few years, freezelight will come to three-dimensional drawing, but today it is too difficult.

The term “freezelight” has taken root in the CIS, Poland, and the Czech Republic today. After the ARTAQ festival, the French began to use it to designate the best examples of working with light (“these are still toys, but this is already freezelight”). Many video classes "freezelight.ru" have spread abroad.

When dealing with freezlers, we suddenly realized one thing. Many unusual types of activity came to us from Europe and the USA, being only tracing-paper. But the Russian freeze in the face of Artem and Roman developed without borrowing and today is one of the strongest in the world, if not the most-most. This is a technical game that has gone beyond entertainment and has become an art. It can be said, approved by the Hermitage.

The editors thank the freezelight.ru team for their help in preparing the material

The article “Drawings in the Dark” was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 6, June 2011).


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