example to replicate

I know about light-painting. But, when I try portraits with light painting, I get a transparent image of that person in the portrait.

My steps are:

  1. Set my DSLR in Manual Mode.
  2. Change the Shutter speed to 30″ and balance the exposure.
  3. Shoot with FLASH ON (as the flash goes the person stays still for a second and then does the light painting)
  4. The final output will be a transparent image of that person with light painting.

How to achieve a perfect portrait with light painting?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean with "transparent image of that person"? \$\endgroup\$
    – eogavy
    Dec 1, 2015 at 6:11

2 Answers 2


If you want the light painting to appear behind subjects without them being transparent, the subject has to stay in place for the whole exposure. So, obviously, somebody else has to do the painting part.

You can actually see a "ghost" of the helper in the sample image behind the woman's back. For better disguise, the helper should be dressed in black clothing.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This. The sparkler used for the light painting is so bright that it's going to show through the people, if they're not in front of it for the whole shot. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 1, 2015 at 9:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, in the setup of the example picture, I suspect it rather takes some care to make the extra person fully transparent, i.e., move around enough instead of standing still and only moving the arms. I suspect the helper made the right half standing a bit to the left and vice versa, which allows smooth "motion control" while still being hardly lit (Some of his shadow seems to be visible on the ground on the left) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 1, 2015 at 21:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I guess this should work. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2015 at 15:33

I have done this. Note that the person who actually drew the the light man is my self. As well as I am in the picture too.

The trick is once the flash fired there should not be much light hitting the sensor where the person is standing.

One thing you can do is choose a darker background for the spot where the person is standing.

The other thing you can try is use a strong flash and don let you subject move even after the flash is fired. The person two does the lightwork needs to move fast in this case.(Even if you subject cant stand still (like a statue) at least their face should not move). Since the flash freezes every thing the little movements of subject will not be clearly visible (Use of wide angle is recommended ).

The other trick is take two pictures and blend those in photoshop.

PS: I dont remember if I used photoshop in the picture or not. Even if I used it is only for color correction. No blending is used at all. I remember using some Instagram filters though.

enter image description here

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the fun and well taken photo. (Well, and the good advice, too.) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 1, 2015 at 9:20

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