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By Devin Coldewey

What's that wheeling around in the sky on this crisp December night? Could it be Santa Claus? Nope — just a drone, programmed to draw holiday "light paintings" in the air.

Light painting is done by setting a camera to leave its shutter open for a long exposure, during which bright lights can be moved across its field of view, leaving glowing trails. The technique is often used on the ground, but Ascending Technologies claims these are the first drone-based light paintings of any real quality.

"A high-tech drone mounted with a LED was controlled by the flight planning software AscTec Navigator," read the press release accompanying the images. "After some testing all the light painting flights could be performed quite quickly and fully automated."

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Each image captures a single flight by one or two of the company's Falcon 8 craft, though some use multiple passes and different-colored LEDs. Despite the natural wobbles a drone experiences while flying in windy conditions, the resulting pictures look pretty good. There are more available to browse at the Ascending Technologies website.