With light painting photos, you’ll often see spirals, hearts, angel wings, halos, rainbows, letters or random squiggles. Skeletons? Not so much. For one, it’s infinitely more difficult to draw a skeleton because of all the detail involved. Can’t have those ribs out of place, otherwise it’s not going to look realistic. Another challenge with light painting is that you cannot really see what you’re doing until it appears on your camera’s viewfinder. There’s not much room for error, and there’s definitely no undo button.
“Every movement is tracked precisely, and getting any recognizeable form is difficult. At the end of a blindly illustrated 5 – 7 minute exposure, you either have an image that works, or a luminous tangle with the disjointed parts of what you’ve intended,” he writes on his website.
Photographer Darren Pearson puts a spin on your typical light painting photos with his skeletons and dinosaurs. He makes use of the background to give the photo more character. A dinosaur against a plain black background is cool, but drawing it against a mountain gives it a sense of scale. Same thing with a skeleton; one photo is fine, but in this case, a GIF is way cooler.
I, for one, am impressed with his work because I can’t draw to save my life!
Spot Check depicts a skeleton skateboarding down a handrail. Just by observing this GIF, you can tell it took several frames (not even counting the failed ones) to create a smooth sequence. I think photographing one frame successfully with the light painting in focus and the rest of the photo properly exposed is already an accomplishment in itself, so seeing all these stills put together is absolutely brilliant.
If you think that’s cool, you might like his older project called Breaking Bones, which was filmed on Venice Beach, California. Same skeleton, new location.
Light painting can be such a fun activity. If you’re like me and can’t draw, you can always enlist the help of an artist and collaborate with him. Incorporate live venues to make your photo more interesting.
The best part about this photography technique is that pretty much anyone can do it. You don’t need fancy lighting equipment or super expensive lenses. Just a remote (or cable release), a tripod, a flashlight (or any small light source) and any camera capable of long exposures will do!
You can purchase some of Darren’s prints on his Etsy.
I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.