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Fun Photography - Light Drawing

Light Drawing Example

© Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.
Light drawing is a method that allows you to draw images with light onto your photograph. These light drawings can be as simple as a series of squiggles or as complex as a flight of fairies in your local park. Light drawing works by using a slow shutter speed so that you have time to literally draw in the air. The drawing skills are up to you but I can show you how to easily record light drawings with your camera.
    Items Needed
  • Camera Capable of Long Shutter Speeds (10seconds to a few minutes)
  • Tripod
  • Light Source (laser pointer, flashlight, sparklers, etc)
  • Tripod
  • Dark Location (blank wall, backyard at night, etc)
  • Helpers (depending on your drawing)
Step one
Decide on what you want to draw.

Step two
Pick your location and light source. If you just want to draw a smiley face then a blank wall and a laser pointer are fine. If you want to draw an angel hovering over a guy sleeping on a park bench you'll need a park, some helpers, and a bright flashlight.

Step three
Set up your camera on the tripod and check ambient light readings. Its ok if ambient light is a bit brighter than a "normal" exposure in these images but you don't want it to overwhelm the drawing. Set your shutter speed for the time you need to make your drawing and check the light situation again. You'll need to change your ISO and aperture to get a reasonable exposure.

Step four
Test run. Get everyone in place and do a test run. If you need more time, change your shutter speed. You may also need to adjust your other settings to get the exposure you want or even change light sources for more or less light.

Step five
Capture the image. You're ready to create your own light drawing!

    Hints
  • Wear dark clothing so you will have less chance of showing up in the image.

  • If your light drawing is simple you just draw on a blank dark surface with your light source from a distance. If your light drawing is in an open place you'll be pointing the light source in the general direction of the camera while you are drawing.

  • Don't point your light source directly into the camera lens in order to avoid flare.

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