Drawing With Light




Introduction: Drawing With Light

Have you ever wondered how it is possible to create pictures as the one above? Well, in this Instructable you will learn how to.

Drawing with light is a possibility to collect emotions and feelings in only one image. This is only possible in perfect conditions with the accurate materials. One shouldn’t think that it is possible to just start, without any research on this topic, since the knowledge on long time exposure and photography in common is very important to get a high-quality final picture.

Light paintings can be compared to normal paintings. The camera would be the paper, and to extend this metaphor, the pens would be the fountain pen, just extremer since the effect of keeping the pen in one place when using a torch in light drawings would be ten times greater than with a normal fountain pen.

Step 1: Material

A tripod – As mentioned in the first step, it is easy to get the final image blurred because of only slight movements of the camera. Therefor a stabilizer for the camera is necessary, a tripod.

A camera – The camera has to be able to create a long exposure picture. It should have a bigger lens since this is capable of obtaining more light than a smaller lens. The camera should be able to have a cable release attached to it, since the pushing of the start/stopp button of the camera can cause movement which means that the quality of the picture would decrease.

A torch – A bright torch used to create the drawing is needed. It should be possible to switch the torch on and off fast, since the time the torch is on and not needed can cause mistakes in the final picture. A torch able to display different colors is not essentially necessary, but if the final light-drawing should look good, it can be added to the list.

Step 2: Important Tips!

1. Be sure not to shine the torch directly in the camera during the long exposure since that would bleed out in the picture and mess up the final image. When shining directly into the camera, something like the picture above will come out and that is not how it should look like.

2. The location of where the image is taken is very important, since there should be no light source around, and no moving objects, etc. It is better not to do it in the city since this is the place with a lot of light sources and moving objects.

3. What to wear is very important, seriously, since in some pictures one wants to stand out and in others one doesn’t. Therefor the use of black and white t-shirts depending on the scene is important.

Step 3: Set

The set is very important when trying to do things like these. One either has to use a dark room, or wait for it to become night and do the light painting outside, which can look better when you try to use the set in your picture. A big area is necessary since the angle of the camera and the lens is wide.

Using the set in the final picture only functions outside. Not too much of the set should be visible though, since otherwise the contrast between the bright torch and the darkness is destroyed, as one can see in the second image.

Step 4: Camera Adjustments

Place your camera on the tripod or on any stable place, about 3-4 meters away from where you want to stand. (The distance can also be longer, depending on the size of the area).

Make sure to set the camera mode to 'manual' (M), and adjust the camera's shutter speed to 20-30 seconds depending on how much time one needs.

Because of the time one needs to get in place, set a timer or ask another person to press to start.

Make sure to have no other lights unless you want it.

If you did everything correct, your screen should look something like the one in the picture.

Step 5: Try It Yourself (+YouTube)

Try it out yourself now! To get a bit of inspiration, watch this video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aR7MdCD2HQ)

Step 6: Progress

Not everything has to work as planned, especially if it is the first time in trying it out.

Progress, as shown in these 4 images, is very important. Always look at the previous pictures to see what you can improve and which mistakes you did.

Step 7: Done!

After you have the final image you wanted, in a high quality without any improvements to make, then save it and do whatever you want with it. Use it as a poster, as a project or just get it printed.

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    5 Discussions


    5 years ago

    Heyyyy I did that! Nice instructable though! :D

    15, 6:52 AM.jpg15, 6:52 AM.jpg

    5 years ago



    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is awesome! I've made some of these in the past. Great tips!