Last year I was lucky enough to live in a diverse, artistic, and eclectic hub within SE Asia. I’m of course talking about Georgetown, a place where I met many great people. Towards the end of my stay there I became more and more active with light painting, something I intend to explore more in the future as well.

Adding to the scene with a pixelstick.

There is no doubt that the pixelstick is a very creative tool. It’s not just that you can paint light, you can paint very specific light trails with it such as flags or logos. In the case of Georgetown I’ve experimented with some of the preset ribbons that come with the stick, and then latterly making my own images such as the flag of Malaysia. If you’re interested below are a few tips when using the pixelstick.

  • The aim is to contextualize and compliment the scene you want to photograph, without making it too busy.
  • The light pattern can be used to draw the eye to the focal point of your image.
  • In portrait photos the focus should be the person, so be careful not to light paint over them too much.
  • Don’t overcook the light painting, sometime a small area of light painting works better.
The arched roofs in Georgetown make a great subject for light painting.
The arched roofs in Georgetown make a great subject for light painting.

Creating the images for the pixelstick.

I love painting with ribbons when using the pixelstick. Even more powerful is the ability to make your own images for the stick, this bespoke light painting is where things get really interesting. The method for making these files couldn’t be easier as well

  1. Upload your image to an editing software such as photoshop.
  2. Now resize the image to 200 pixels along it’s width.
  3. If the image is horizontal you should now rotate it counter clockwise.
  4. The image now needs to be saved as a BMP file.
  5. Transfer the BMP file to the SD card that you’ll be into the pixelstick card reader.

Now of course as well as photos you can design your own shapes, lines and patterns in photoshop as well. If you’re using other peoples image files from the internet be sure that you’re not infringing on their copyright, to avoid this try using creative commons.

The light painting in this photo further reinforces that this street art is in Malaysia.
The light painting in this photo further reinforces that this street art is in Malaysia.

Tourist promotion, and a personal project.

The ability to program in bespoke imagery to the pixelstick is a powerful advertising tool for anyone wishing to promote their company, country or product. This product is capable of making still images, but it can also make short GIF clips or movie files where the light is painted throughout the scene. In the last week in Penang when i should have been packing me and my friend made a stop motion video, showcasing the town of Georgetown. We set out to feature the main points of interest throughout the town. My friend Pete DeMarco worked with me on this project, so while Pete recorded I light painted. You can see the results of our work here.

Working as a team enhances creativity.

Working with other photographers is a great way to bounce ideas off each other, as I talked about in my previous blog. In that case we all brought our own gear along, and it contributed to the images that were created. Working on the above video is one of those occasions when having other people with you to help really enhances the work, and for the most part it was me and Pete DeMarco. I’d also like to mention how helpful it was to have Pete’s girlfriend Nayoung there for some of the shoots, and VJ also worked with us as well. Nayoung and VJ both appear in the video, you can see them walking along, and this is a lot more difficult than you might think in a long exposure stop motion video! At various points throughout the production of the video either me or Pete would have good ideas that would help enhance the video, those were these.

  • Discussing the different locations that the video showed.
  • Using a flag to start the video, and give it some movement by repeating a scene several times.
  • Using Penang’s catchphrase at the end of the video sequence.
  • Using the tunnel archways as a way of transitioning between one scene and the next.
  • The types of patterns and lines created using the pixelstick.
  • Editing all of this together into one cohesive video.
  • Co-coordinating movement between when the shutter was open, and when it was closed.
The Malaysian flag was programed into the pixelstick using a BMP file.
The Malaysian flag was programed into the pixelstick using a BMP file.

As you can see working together on this really helped make this project work, or maybe we just wanted an excuse to hangout! If you have any comments to share about this video, or the images I created please share them in the comments section!

Simon Bond
Simon Bond

Simon Bond is a professional photographer from the UK, his work has featured on the front page of National Geographic Traveler and numerous other magazines. He is most well known for his work with the lensball, for which he has featured in national newspapers in the UK. You can find out more about lensball photography by downloading his free e-book! Simon has also produced a video course on lensball photography called Globalise, which you can buy here!