Light painting is an “in-camera” photographic effect (that is, not composited after-the-fact) using long exposures and moving light sources. The technique dates back over a century, most of that time relying on small flashlights or incandescent bulbs…but once someone had the idea to use a whole row of computer-controlled LEDs, it quickly became one of the go-to maker projects, one we’ve visited many times. Any time a new technology comes along…Arduino, Raspberry Pi, CircuitPython…light painting is a fun and creative way to put that tech through its paces.
The challenge of this project was to see what could be squeezed from the CircuitPython language on a mid-range microcontroller board — Adafruit’s CLUE, which also provides a screen and buttons for a minimal interface.
An earlier project, our DotStar Pi Painter, had the enormous resources of a Raspberry Pi computer at its disposal, and the results were almost too good. Could we get some of those buttery-smooth visuals on a smaller device? A step (or three) up from the “bitmappy” LED graphics we’d previously seen from CircuitPython? Watch us work it!