How to Light Paint a Skeleton into your Long Exposure

Light painting is a fun way to draw the eye to a particular object in a photo by illuminating it—or you can use it to draw in items into a photo by pointing a light directly at the camera. Most people start out by drawing hearts or stars into long exposure shots, but photographer Darren Pearson, also known as Darius Twin, started drawing elaborate objects like skeletons into his photos using LED lights. In this video, he gives some great tips for drawing a light skeleton:

Use Bulb Mode

Start by putting your camera into bulb mode. This allows you to control when the shutter closes so you don’t have a time limit and can focus on your light painting. Because you’re doing a long exposure shot, you also need to take the ambient light into consideration. If the moon is full and bright, your image may be too bright after a long exposure. A dark night is best if you plan to keep your shutter open for an extended time.

bulb mode long exposure

Wear Dark Clothing

You want your painting to be the focus of the shot, but if there are glimpses of a photographer in a white shirt and khakis here and there in your final image it can be distracting. The darker your clothing, the less chance you’ll show up in the image.

Use Your Body as a Reference

It can be difficult to remember where you drew an eye or an arm since we can’t see the light trails like the camera can. Hold still and place yourself behind the light source. You can draw where your own arm or leg would be to help you connect the lines and make a cohesive skeleton.

bones light painting

Plan Your Drawing

Start from the top and make your way down. In the video, Pearson starts with the eyes and head and moves down to the neck, then the collarbones and ribs, etc. until he finishes with each foot. Going into the drawing, he knew he would make five small circles for teeth and two bones in each forearm. This planning meant he could just draw without stopping to remember how he drew the other half.

light painted skeleton

Practice makes perfect! Give this a try and show us your results.

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