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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.

Photo by 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.

Photo by susielomovitz

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

Photo by 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 and translated by susielomovitz


  1. djramsay


    well done

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  2. saidseni


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

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  3. saidseni


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

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  4. sixsixty


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

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  5. wrenneevans


    this is great! definitely going to use this.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  6. jezzyjung


    Thanks for this amazing tipster!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  7. stouf


    Brilliant : )

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  8. deckard578


    awesome drawings! thank you!
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  9. lostlittlekid


    This is so cool! Thanks for sharing!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  10. lokified


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

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  11. le_ors


    Genial tipster, @susielomovitz!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  12. 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. :))
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  13. charwang


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

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  14. susielomovitz


    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  15. susielomovitz


    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  16. hervinsyah


    Truely Lightpainting Guru

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  17. susielomovitz


    @hervinsyah: hehe! Thanks!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  18. julia-b


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

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  19. trincheiras


    this is soooo cool :)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  20. andrus_n


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

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  21. 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.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  22. saidseni


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

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  23. elvis


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

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  24. robotto_dawad


    nice idea! will try it :)

    about 1 year ago · report as spam
  25. susielomovitz


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

    about 1 month ago · report as spam
  26. mafiosa


    Excellent tipster. Amazing results <3

    about 1 month ago · report as spam

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The original version of this article is written in: Spanish. It is also available in: Français, Nederlands, Deutsch & 日本語.