Photographer's LED Light Stick Version 2

 Light Painted Flag (20 seconds)

Changing Colors Pattern (20 seconds)

Light Painted Mask (20 seconds)

Recently I finished building my second version of a photographer's LED light stick shown below. A couple years ago I built my first LED light stick to experiment with light painting photographic art. See what I did then at:
Now I wanted a better tool.

The second version is longer than the first stick at 64 inches vs. 48 inches, and has more LEDs: 230 vs. 64. Unlike the first version, it uses a 1 MByte SPI Flash memory chip to store images instead of a Flash memory card. The computer board, an Adafruit Flora (Arduino based), sends image data to Adafruit Neopixel Digital RGB LED strips (144 LEDs per meter). The Flora SPI bus reads images from an external Flash memory chip that was previously programmed over Flora's USB port from a PC.

The LED strip is mounted in a 3/4 inch aluminum channel. A diffusion sheet covers the strip.

The handle is a re-purposed car wash sponge holder. The USB cable is not connected for normal use.

I used Java like Processing language and library code to process for gamma correction/orientation and download images to the Flora for storage or display. Five images fit in the 1 MB Flash memory. One future project is to use an Android phone or tablet to paint images real-time over the USB port. The Flora code can display an image directly from the USB port instead of Flash memory.

This is top view of the control box with power switch, center knob switch for selecting images or patterns to display, and start/stop switch. Power to the LEDs come out the sides of the box and the top plug is the control line to the Neopixel strip.

At the top a Cactus V5 wireless transceiver trigger starts the LED image paint from Flora and closes the shutter on my tripod mounted camera, before I begin to move the stick for painting. 

Internal view of  case with Flora in center and batteries left and right.

Work in progress Flash memory board soldered to Flora 

The 1 MByte Flash Memory chip board

I found the Neopixel LEDs to be very bright. In the future I'll use a 3 stop neutral density filter on my camera lens to cut down on the light. This will allow me to go from an overexposed F22 to F11. I like the filter approach because then I don't have to reduce the number of image colors to lower the brightness and can use a image as edited in Photoshop without changing image brightness just for use in the light stick.

Android and Processing - 3D Photo Display

I'm learning to write Android apps using both Eclipse and Android Studio. As a fan of the Processing language and platform, I recently found out I can generate an Android app written in Processing too. Processing is a programming environment based on Java for artists and designers. The Processing IDE (Integrated Development Environment) has an alternate output mode for generating Android apps in addition to generating Java applets and applications. There are a number of Android limitations when using Processing, but I think it is pretty cool to be able to write a program in Processing and run it on my Android phone and tablets.

More about installing Processing and writing code for Android can be found at

I wrote a simple test program in Processing to display a photo on my Android phones and tablets.

Simple photo display test for Android device
Written by Andy Modla
String filename;
PImage photo;
void setup() {
    // DO NOT call size() for Android devices!!
    //filename= "walksequence_1920x1080.jpg";
    filename ="hwS14037C.JPG";
    println("displayWidth="+displayWidth + " displayHeight="+displayHeight);
void getImage() {
    photo = loadImage(filename);
    if (photo.width > photo.height)
    image(photo, 0, 0, displayWidth, displayHeight);
    println( "Image width="+photo.width + " height="+photo.height);
void draw() {
To install this app on my Android devices, I  first had to reconfigure the tablet or phone in developer mode. This was done by pressing the Settings->About Tablet->Android version label 7 times to see the Settings->Developer Options screen. Then I set USB debugging mode. See for details.

Prior to installing an app from my Windows 7 PC I also had to have USB device drivers installed. By installing PDANet for Android software, hard to find drivers were installed for all my Android tablet devices. For Sony, I used the Sony phone support site USB driver.

Processing makes it very easy to compile, install, and run a Processing sketch as an Android app on the device. Just press "Run on Device" with the tablet connected to the computer via USB cable.

With the above test program running on my Inferno 3D tablet, could I display a 3D photo too?

Since I do not yet know what code to use to set 3D display mode on the tablet using Processing or Java, I did it in a round about way. My solution was to first install the Gadmei 3D Activator app to allow me to toggle/change hardware mode in the tablet to 3D mode. Next the 3D photo used in the test was reworked in Stereo Photo Maker to

1) Resize to 1280x752  with Keep aspect ratio with border option set. The display size is actually 1280x800, but the system menu stays on the screen, so the photo size was adjusted instead of removing the system menu.

2) change it to "Column Interlaced". This is done by the SPM (Stereo Photo Maker) menu Stereo->Interlaced->Column Interlaced and then save as JPG stereo image. When the above app-sketch runs, it displays the photo in 3D after toggling 3D mode on.

The Processing sketch above could be enhanced to resize and interlace the photo before displaying it, but that is for another time. In mean time I'll just use 3DSteroid app.

Glasses Free 3D Tablet

It's not easy to show people my 3D photos with my 21 inch 3D monitor. I have to carry the monitor and computer to an event and setup everything and then provide glasses. To make it simpler, I recently bought a glasses-free Inferno 3D tablet (model 2890). This Android 4.1 tablet has an 8 inch diagonal display (1280x800 pixels) and is similar to Gadmei E8-3D tablets.

Overall I'm pleased with the tablet displaying 3D, it is bright and does a decent job. However looking at the display ghosting will appear in 3D images unless the tablet is held just right, at the sweet spot for viewing. This hand held adjustment is very small and prevents others from viewing 3D photos at the same time -its a one person at a time experience. That is the main drawback to this tablet for 3D viewing. I have similar issues with my large 3D monitor, but the viewing angle is much less critical and the large screen makes up for having to use glasses.

To improve the sharpness and quality of displayed 3D images I had to change the default settings in the tablet. I got a sharper image from the display by turning off Settings->Display->Dynamic Backlight. I also set the brightness slider in Settings->Display->Brightness to about two thirds max.

Amazon reviewers described a better experience with 3D photos after installing the 3DSteroid Android app. The author, Masuji SUTO (Muttyan), also wrote the Stereo Photo Maker for Windows which I use to post-process my photos into 3D images. Many thanks to Masuji SUTO for his excellent and generous work to the stereoscopic community.

I bought the 3DSteroid pro version and found it worked very well with different 3D formats, such as MPO and side_by_side JPG 3D photo files. Plus the pro edition lets you create and adjust 3D photos. Some documentation is at

I also installed the Stereoscope app by to more easily set up and use slide shows. I recommend this app too.

The Intersection of Dance and Technology: Miral Kotb

In the "Made With Code" Youtube channel, I was impressed by Miral Kotb's motivating story in the above video about working at the intersections of her passions: dance and technology (computer code). Since this blog is dedicated to the intersection of photography, the Arts, and technology, it struck a chord. We can see what happens mixing dance with LED lighting, electronic technology, and code.

Now I want to see in person, performances by Kotb's Iluminate dance company in New York.

Update: I did travel to New York several months later to see an Iluminate show. It was awesome and I enjoyed the performance.

Made With Code: Limor Fried

While viewing the Youtube video channel last week, "Ask an Engineer", I became aware of the "Made With Code" Youtube channel to help inspire girls and young women to use software and technology to pursue their dreams. The above video featured Limor Fried, founder of Adafruit Industries and I thought, as a maker myself, it was very inspirational for all makers, not only women.

It's Electric

It was a pleasure working with a new model, Erica, during a photo shoot at the Fortress of the Arts, Philadelphia, on Sunday June 29. Together we collaborated on this electrifying image. Shot in the industrial area of the Fortress, fortunately there was no real power available to capture this shocking event.

Photo Montage

Had fun photo shoot collaborating with model Heather Capuano on Sunday June 29 at the Fortress of the Arts, Philadelphia. We used the old industrial area of the building. I made photo montage images with Lightroom-Photoshop CC and this slideshow video using Proshow Producer.

The Holmes Brothers at The Ardmore Music Hall

Last night we enjoyed The Holmes Brothers band performance at the Ardmore Music Hall, Ardmore, PA. They played a mixture of gospel, blues, RnB, rock, and country music for their CD release event.

Wearable Art Technology

Here is an idea for wearable art technology. With help from Photoshop I made this LED fire necktie concept photo.  The actual LED display animates a simulated fire and is 3 inches square matching the width of the necktie.  ( 8x8 LED RGB display). I lengthened the display area to extend 9 inches in the photo, so it could be made with 3 displays.  Model: Kate, at Katseye Studio - Fortress of the Arts, Philadelphia.


3D Photo From a Mirror Image

The above photo is my first experiment with creating a 3D photo using a single mirror. I was disappointed with the result. The right side is the mirrored image. The problems could be that my mirror quality was not good enough,  my setup was not quite right or the images need more editing, probably all three. It is more work in post processing than using twin cameras. I used Stereo Photo Maker.

See the excellent description on the technique at:

3D Printed Relief Photo

I took a stereo photo of our cat kissing our dog and made a 3D printed relief photo from the left and right images. 3D printed the stereo photo model in color sandstone. See

The 3D relief photo measures 3.5 x 2 inches and .5 inch thick at the highest point on the right side (photo above).

To construct the 3D print model I used PhotoSculpt Textures 2 software. Check out

Andy Modla

The Scream Two

The Scream Two

Updated photo from past light painting shoot with model Molly. Background light from painting by Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893.

LED Animated Fire Necktie Photos

Yesterday Kate modeled my LED animated fire necktie at a Fortress of the Arts meetup photo shoot for models and photographers in Philadelphia.

See for a description of the LED display.

Animated LED Fire Necktie

Updated 2014/3/22

The Hunger Games costumes are catching fire, so how about an animated LED fire simulation necktie. With this electronic wearable you can be virtually warm in winter.

I  built the display using an 8x8 color LED matrix from and an Arduino Pro Mini 5V/16MHz  controller from 

Gilad Dayagi (giladaya) wrote the original software and described his animation work and algorithm in the Arduino forum: 

I modified his code to use the Adafruit NeoPixel  8x8 display and placed the updated code in at:

The Adafruit LED matrix display, Arduino controller, and battery holder fit nicely in a 3 inch wide necktie. The parts do not add much weight to the tie when using coin cell batteries. Placing the LED matrix behind the lining in the tie helped to diffuse its light.

Parts List:

(1) Adafruit NeoPixel NeoMatrix 8x8 64 RGB LED Pixel Matrix (
(1) Arduino Pro Mini 328 - 5V/16MHz controller  (
(1) 2 x 2032 Coin Cell Battery Holder 6v output with on/off switch and connector JST (
(2) CR2032 Lithium Coin Cell Battery
Velcro Strips
Stranded wire ( I cut up a network CAT5 flexible cable and used the internal wires )

An alternate power source that lasts much longer is a 3 x AAA battery Holder with on/off switch and 2-pin JST. This power source weighs down the tie noticeably and is more bulky.

I soldered all the wire connections. The circuit is very simple. Here is a diagram of my layout and circuit:

Note that header pins were soldered on the Arduino controller to program it.

If you don't want to use headers you can use the sparkfun pro micro and program with a USB connection. I used the Arduino 1.0.5 SDK and installed the Neopixel library from
Adafruit has very nice tutorials about Neopixel programming. Highly recommended reading for this project if you want to build one yourself.

I have an Adafruit Flora that I could have used as a controller, but I wanted a smaller board to be able to fit everything behind the 8x8 display board. If you are new to Arduino projects, I recommend the Flora.

Reworked Photos Using Lightroom 5.3

I reworked these old photos today from raw photo files using Lightroom 5.3. I got much better results with Lightroom than when I edited the original JPG files years ago.
Model: Z at the Fortress of the Arts in Philadelphia

More Light Painted Background Photos

Virtual Spray Painter

Model: Molly