Year Two (04) – Pixel Stick, Light Stick and City Streets

Have you see the videos online demonstrating a pixel stick… do you know what one is? It is a light stick designed for light painting which can be used to project images infront of the camera which are not visible to the naked eye. They are really expensive… but when the opportunity arose to see one in action and to take some photos I had to pop along to find out more….

Pixel Sticks

A sample picture demonstration.

A sample picture demonstration.

To the right is a picture projected on a wall under the bridge – the person is real on the left. You can see a slight wave in the momement of the pixel stick and you have to make sure you walk at a consistent speed. The owner of the stick was experimenting with star trek style images, which really weren’t me – but you could program it to create any image.

Fire!

Fire!

We were able to use it to generate fire. My first thought was that it looked amazing… but the stick is made up of 200 LED pixels that flash with colour, in my preview window it looked great – but on screen it is really pixelated which means it would be even more so in print. Not really a look I am going for.

Pixel Stick and fire on the car park roof

Pixel Stick and fire on the car park roof

A different location … an interesting building in the background, myself standing pretending to run, but staying still and a pixel stick wall of fire. I can see it could be effective in some locations … but already I think it is limited – you need someone to hold it and move it around, someone else to take the photo – maybe for creative images … but eventually I think they would all look the same.

The Guildhall on fire with the Pixel Stick

The Guildhall on fire with the Pixel Stick

A different location… it was my idea to take the fire up the steps, pause and then down the other side. This is all done in a long exposure with someone moving the pixel stick … an interesting effect but it is just does not look real enough to me … I really enjoyed being able to experience using it first hand, but I really dont think it is something that would benefit my photography.

Light Stick

We also had the opportunity to experiment with a homemade light strip, it was around £20 to make, significantly cheaper than the pixel stick and I think created just as interesting results, although the light produced was much brighter.

Playing with Light Sticks and Pixel Sticks in Southampton

Playing with Light Sticks and Pixel Sticks in Southampton

Above is a wavy pattern created with the light stick under a bridge in Southamton, you can see the city lights coming into the picture on the left.

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Light stick on the roof top. I love the colours and the random patterns it creates.

Back up on the roof top and by moving closer and further away from the camera lens you can create all sorts of patterns, although it is difficult to judge exactly where the light will fall. The colours are really vibrant and you can have great fun with this with a group of young people playing around. It add’s a real party feel, without the building – it would be great to make a whole selection of random textures too.

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Out at the Guildsquare it makes an effective ribbon when you weave in and out of the pillars, but it lacks purpose and a story. Below we combined it with the pixel stick – you can see one is much brighter than the other … but pure luck both people with lights met in the middle with resulted in a silhouette in the centre – it could be fun to create a whole range of silhouette figures and shapes.

Making patterns with the light stick

Making patterns with the light stick

This is a totally different pattern with the light stick, it was just spun round in circles and reminds me very much of a Spirograph.

Spinning Light stick

Spinning Light stick

Just the Night time…

One of my favorites shot from the night time shoot though was Southampton Square in the dark – it had been raining heavily all day and to see the rain and the lights reflecting each other on the pavement was really colourful.

City Building reflected on a wet pavement

City Building reflected on a wet pavement

My conclusions … a pixel stick is a lot of money – you have to be a creative thinker to get the most out of it and an avenue to use the image … it is not for me – an LED light stick, a lot cheaper, fun – maybe I should try and make my own… wet evenings and photography – a great combination and one to revisit!

3 replies
  1. Suzanne Kempe
    Suzanne Kempe says:

    Such a helpful explanation. I like the bright vibrant colours from the homemade pixel stick best but the images from the other one are really clever too Thank you for explaining the difference. Your shot of a wet Guidhall Square is wonderful.

  2. Tim Swaysland
    Tim Swaysland says:

    Hi Helen, I much preferred the light stick images. They look more natural, if that’s possible. I looked up the pixel stick but the price is out of most peoples budgets (mine included, I rather buy a something more useful)!

    How easy is it to make the light stick by the way?
    Tim

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