(Photos courtesy of Darren Pearson of dariustwin.com © All rights reserved 2011)
By Claudine Zap
By day, Darren Pearson is a graphic designer who creates T-shirts for the company True Religion. By night, the artist can be found on the rooftops of L.A., in Balboa Park in San Diego, or in the forest at Lake Arrowhead, creating images of dinosaurs out of light.
Pearson makes "light art" in the dark, using a digital camera placed on a tripod. Instead of snapping a quick shot, the shutter remains open for 5 to 10 minutes while Pearson points a flashlight beam at the lens and waves the light into a shape. He then checks the display on the back of the camera to see whether what he envisioned came out in the photo.
With four years of experience making such images, Pearson now succeeds in only two or three takes. (If you want to see the man in action, check out the artist's tutorial on YouTube).
After learning about long-exposure photography from a photo in Life magazine of Pablo Picasso sketching a bull from light, Pearson, a digital media and film graduate, made his first attempt: a light-art stick figure. "That changed the game for me," Pearson recalled over the phone from L.A. "It produced a hybrid art form. It combines illustration and photography." Pearson was hooked.
Dinosaurs seemed a natural theme, touching on his childhood obsession with the extinct species. Darren has a system: "I break it down into parts." So a complex skeleton of a dinosaur will be painted skull first, then the spine, then the legs, ribcage and tail. The other part of the process -- choosing a setting for the subject -- is part of the fun. Pearson, who's from San Diego, explained, "The environment brings out something for the images to interact with."
The slideshow of his ghostly fossil images show a Tyrannosaurus rex on Pearson's coffee table. A flying reptile with a wide wingspan glows eerily above a blue-lit night road. An apatosaurus overlooks an L.A. freeway.
Comments on his Flickr set noted the photographer's eye-popping skill. Photographybyaandm wrote, "Amazing work, the mind boggles at the amount of imagination, prep and work that goes into each of these!"
Pearson says he has gradually built up to the "intricate freehand style" he employs, which started, in a sort of evolution in reverse, with the stick man, progressing to a horse skeleton and then a T. rex. Pearson said discovering he could do a dino skeleton was "awesome," adding, "I'm going to continue with these dinosaurs. Now it's like how many dinosaurs, how many different locations."