Floating Light Bulb

by | Oct 20, 2023 | Light & Shadow, Special Effects | 3 comments

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - October 20, 2008

On October 22nd, Thomas Edison successfully tested the first light bulb. It contained a carbon filament and burned for 40 hours.

Is the lightbulb actually floating? In the movie industry this is called a “practical” effect. It is done physically without computers in post-production (post). I had thought about this shot for years, and then finally executed it in 2008.

The trick involves two effects, floating the bulb and lighting the bulb. I accomplished it by the use of stiff copper wire and a dimmer. The wire was soldered to the rear and bottom of the bulb’s base, out of view of the camera. The dimmer was used to glow the bulb the proper amount for the photograph. I did use a flash to balance the lighting on the subject.

Shot with my trusty Nikon D300.

Comments or questions?

Years later I got this idea, and executed it.

Read about it here.

Flying Light

San Diego, California - January 28, 2018


  1. Paul J. Chapman

    Hey David,
    Worked with you and David Leopold last Friday; photographing the Hirschfeld “Jazz” show.
    Hope all turned out well with the shoot.
    Your lightbulb photo is really cool.
    Be well.

  2. Father Dan, at St. Rita's


    The “edison bulb” is a fine example of your creativity. Father Dan

  3. Brian J. Foley

    Very cool!


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