Light Painting: Dancing in the Dark


Want to improve your light painting? Do you dream of defined glowing figures in your photos? Follow these steps and you can create bright Lomographs.

You’ll need:

  • Black cardboard
  • Tape
  • Chalk
  • Camera with Bulb mode. I used the Lubitel 166+
  • Tripod
  • Slow film, low ISO. I used Fuji Superia 100
  • Cable release or some mechanism that allows you to leave the shutter open for a while
  • Torch. I recommend one that has a button that allows you to turn on and off easily
  • Silk paper or cellophane as filters in the torch if you want to add color your drawings
  • Black clothes, and if you can, improvise a ninja mask
  • You must take the photos in a place that is almost completely dark

Let’s go!

1. Place black cardboards on a wall.

2. Place your camera loaded with a roll of low ISO on the tripod in front of the cards. Check the Bulb Mode. I used f. 16. Put the cable release on the camera. Ensure that in the frame you only see the black cardboard and no wall at all. Focus.

3. Look through the viewfinder and somehow mark the space that your camera captures. I made a tiny and very subtle chalk marks on the black cardboard.

4. Draw a chalk figure guide.

5. Dress in black. No joke! I even covered my head like a ninja, to avoid the light from the torch reflecting on my face, that way there wasn’t any possibility that the film captured me.

6. Practice how to hold your torch so that the light is pointing toward the camera when you are in a comfortable position to draw. I imagined that my torch was a big pencil and the tip was in the back, I forgot about the light and I was almost showing my back to the camera while drawing. Make sure you have access to on-off button so you can have separeted lines in your figure.

7. Turn off the light, leaving the room almost completly dark. It is important to leave a little light so you can see your picture guide, the minimum necessary. At first you will see nothing, but wait a few seconds, your eyes adjust to the darkness and begin to differentiate. It is only important that you recognize two things: the camera shutter and the chalk draw on the cardboard.

8. Shoot. Your camera is open, ready to capture the movements of light: start drawing! Turn on the torch, make a stroke, off. On, another stroke, off. And so… to do the drawing.

9. Concentrate yourself. You must remember what parts of the drawing you passed with the light and what parts you didn’t. You shouldn’t repeat strokes you don’t want to repeat or forget important details, like the ballerina shoes.

Credits: susielomovitz

10. If you want color in your drawings, use silk paper or cellophane as filters in your torch. Hold the pieces on your hand so you can change colors while drawing.

Credits: susielomovitz

11. Dance in the dark! Let yourself go! Remeber that the chalk drawing is only a guide, play with the light!

Credits: susielomovitz

12. When you have finished the drawing, remember going to the camera first, finish the shot and then turn the lights on. It is very important! You could lose all the work done.

To write this tipster I took photos during the process with my phone, but it’s broken and I lost the images. At the end I like the ‘cartoons’, so “everything happens for a reason.” Also believed to have keeped the chalk drawing guide (it’s wrong for me to say, but it was very nice) but now I can’t find it.

I hope this tipster to inspire you. I’m already thinking about how to go one step further.

written by susielomovitz on 2012-10-16 in #gear #tipster #susielomovitz #truco #larga-exposicion #light-painting #dibujando-con-luz #bailarinas
translated by susielomovitz


  1. djramsay
    djramsay ·

    well done

  2. saidseni
    saidseni ·

    Thank you so much for sharing the technique behind these amazing pictures! :)

  3. saidseni
    saidseni ·

    …and in such a cool way! The cartoons are so cute! :)

  4. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    I'm calling it, Tipster of the Week!!!

  5. wrenneevans
    wrenneevans ·

    this is great! definitely going to use this.

  6. jezzyjung
    jezzyjung ·

    Thanks for this amazing tipster!

  7. stouf
    stouf ·

    Brilliant : )

  8. deckard578
    deckard578 ·

    awesome drawings! thank you!

  9. lostlittlekid
    lostlittlekid ·

    This is so cool! Thanks for sharing!

  10. lokified
    lokified ·

    What @sixsixty said. Tipster of the Week! Do it!

  11. le_ors
    le_ors ·

    Genial tipster, @susielomovitz!

  12. superpistachio
    superpistachio ·

    could it be even easier with a laser light torch? then you could be even more precise and effective, painting while looking through the camera. :))

  13. charwang
    charwang ·

    this is awesome!! always wondered how to do this!

  14. susielomovitz
  15. susielomovitz
  16. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    Truely Lightpainting Guru

  17. susielomovitz
    susielomovitz ·

    @hervinsyah: hehe! Thanks!

  18. julia-b
    julia-b ·

    The cardboard guide was a great idea. Thank you for sharing this, they look amazing!

  19. trincheiras
    trincheiras ·

    this is soooo cool :)

  20. andrus_n
    andrus_n ·

    Cardboard drawings and lightpaintings - genius - great tipster also. Basic and very clear ! Congrats and always wanted to try it out myself :)

  21. susielomovitz
    susielomovitz ·

    @julia-b, @trincheiras, @andrus_n, @simonh82, @ck_berlin, @stephoebe and @all: thanks for all the love in this tipster. I really appreciate it <3.

  22. saidseni
    saidseni ·

    @susielomovitz: I love light painting. You know why I don't do it more often? 'Cause I really can't paint/draw! :/

  23. elvis
    elvis ·

    Now i will really try it out for shure !! Thanks :-)

  24. robotto_dawad
    robotto_dawad ·

    nice idea! will try it :)

  25. susielomovitz
    susielomovitz ·

    Wow! 92 likes... <3 <3 <3 BIG LOVE! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!

  26. mafiosa
    mafiosa ·

    Excellent tipster. Amazing results <3

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