There’s a whole side of sports we can’t see with our eyes alone, and in recent years, thanks to new tools, we’ve just started to glimpse it. Billy Beane’s advanced statistics changed how we evaluate baseball players. Aerial cameras are giving us new ways to understand the NBA. Canadian photographer Stephen Orlando has a far simpler approach: He visualizes the action using a strip of LED lights.
Orlando’s long exposure photographs reveal the invisible patterns in activities like kayaking and canoeing. They won’t upend our understanding of these activities, but they certainly invite us to look at them in new ways.
Orlando hails from Waterloo, Canada’s largest tech hub. His background is in engineering and aerodynamics. “I have spent several years analyzing and measuring fluid flow using various techniques,” he says. “I’m also an avid outdoor enthusiast with a passion for photography.” These photographs are where those two interests intersect.
Both involve telling stories about how things move through space. “Similar to streamlines of fluid flow, these images show pathlines of objects. In a single image, the viewer is able to compare different points in space and time,” he says. Anyone who’s been in a kayak before has felt the rhythms inherent in paddling. Here that rhythm is visualized as a delicate ribbon of light.
Each sport requires Orlando to fine-tune his technique. He uses a custom Arduino-based rig that lets him program the color and pattern of the LEDs, and he aims to find patterns that accentuate the motion of whatever activity he happens to be shooting. But the normal photographic concerns are crucial, too, he says. Background, framing, and composition are just as important to the results as the light trails themselves. “Without them, they would simply be lines without any context,” he explains.
Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.