Breathing Shadows

Breathing Shadows is a Photo series inspired by Japanese photographer Tokihiro Satō.

Why: At Dutch Design Week 2015 a photo exhibition by Tokihiro Satō amazed me. He turned slow shutter speed photography from a gimmick into something magical. I wanted to try this for myself and learn more about his process. I did my research, like watching a video of Mr. Satō running around with a mirror in Akihabara, and felt prepared to create my own photos!

About: These photos are created by drawing an image with a flashlight in front of the camera during nighttime. So it’s like painting with light! The movement of the light has a connection with the breath, that is where the name of the series comes from. The art is to paint an image that makes sense in its surroundings, like a network of lights between trees or lights going up and down a set of stairs. This way the viewer won't think about the human that painted the picture but wonder about the scene that is pictured.


A network of light wrapped around the trees. Captured in of february 2017. Exposure time of 8 minutes. © Mike van Putten

A network of light wrapped around the trees. Captured in of february 2017. Exposure time of 8 minutes.

Glowing Tree. Captured in february of 2016. Exposure time of 7 minutes. © Mike van Putten

Glowing Tree. Captured in february of 2016. Exposure time of 7 minutes.

Souls huddled up below a set of trees. Captured in May 2018. Exposure time of 5 minutes. This photo was created with the help of Menno Dekker and Matthijs Dijkman. © Mike van Putten

Souls huddled up below a set of trees. Captured in May 2018. Exposure time of 5 minutes. This photo was created with the help of Menno Dekker and Matthijs Dijkman.

Light flowing down stairs. Captured in february 2016. Exposure time of 8 minutes. © Mike van Putten

Light flowing down stairs. Captured in february 2016. Exposure time of 8 minutes.


  • Skills Photography, Photo Editing, Exploration
  • Tools Canon DSLR, Adobe Photoshop
  • Location Leemkuil forest in Nijmegen and surroundings

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I like capturing important moments and messing with cameras and lenses. But what I love most about photography is making things look nice. Sometimes nicer than in real life! I take pictures of people, food, events, buildings, landscapes, and clouds. I especially like clouds.

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