Light Drawing




Introduction: Light Drawing

Light drawing is basically taking a photo and drawing on top of it. You do this by lengthening the shutter speed. This instructable will teach you how to make a light drawing

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Step 1: Materials Needed

In order to make a light drawing there are a few things that you'll need to be able to do so.

  • A DSLR camera (I used a Nikon D3100)
  • A tripod or flat surface to rest the camera on
  • A light source
  • A dark space/room

Step 2: Setting Up Your Camera

To set up for the photos you should start by properly adjusting your camera settings:

  • First switch the shooting mode to manual (it's symbol on the camera is an M). This will allow you to edit the settings of the camera to properly capture your light drawing.

Step 3: Adjusting Aperture

To adjust the aperture on the camera (it's symbol is an F depicted in the first image) I used first you have to hold down the +/- button (depicted in the second image) and then use the scroll wheel (depicted in the third image) to raise or lower the aperture. Aperture controls how much light comes into the camera. I set it at 10. The lower you set it the dimmer the background will be and the higher you set it the brighter the background will be.

Step 4: Adjusting ISO

The ISO affects how sensitive the camera is to light. To adjust the ISO, press the 'i' button while on the settings screen. Once you press the button the screen will turn grey. From there use the directional buttons to get to the ISO and select it using the 'OK' button. This should be set low at around 100 or 200 so the light won't be too harsh.

Step 5: Adjusting Shutter Speed

Then change your shutter speed (it's represented by a number or fraction). In order to set the shutter speed simply spin the scroll wheel used to adjust the aperture (depicted in the second image). The shutter speed changes how long the camera takes to take a photo. This should be set to at least 15 seconds in order for you to have suitable time to draw what you want. Additionally, if you are doing this on your own you should set a delay timer for you to be able to get in front of your camera. Now you can place your camera on the tripod, turn off the lights and start taking pictures.

Step 6: Examples

These are some of the photos that I took using the settings I described

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5 Discussions


5 years ago

Correct me if I'm wrong...
But, I'm not sure if it's just me getting confused on the aperture step. But an aperture of 10 isn't low. It's about average I'd say. Aperture is how large the sensor opens to let in light when you take the picture. An aperture of 2 opens the sensor a lot, to let in more light. So the result is a brighter picture. 2 would be user in more me light situations. But a high aperture, like 20 would open very small, letting on less light. Allowing for darker pictures.

But super slow shutter speeds is something I've been playing with quite a bit. I'm planning to post something on it soon. It's really fun to play with.


Reply 5 years ago

Suffice to say, I'm no expert on these things. I just had to do this for a media arts course. But I do think that you're right, so thank you for correcting me :)


Reply 5 years ago

Nonetheless, it's so super fun to play around with.


5 years ago on Introduction

These are some great looking light drawings. Thanks for sharing!