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Light Painting using an Electric Unicycle and Tron Costume

This article is about light painting using an electroluminescent (glowing) costume and an electric unicycle. This is something that I have been experimenting with some evenings after work along London’s Southbank and people seem to love it.

Jonathan Tolhurst Ninebot One Tron Light Painting

Light Painting with my Ninebot One Electric Unicycle

As a child, I was fascinated with the 1980s film “Tron”. When I became hooked on electric uni-cycling I just knew
I had to have a go at combining it with some kind of Tron costume, but I would need an excuse to go out riding looking like I’d just escaped from the Grid.

Light painting is a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source while taking a long exposure photograph. The use of an electroluminescent costume means that you become part of the image and the electric unicycle allows you to deliver the light source across the frame in an incredibly smooth and beautiful way.

Light painting Tron Costume

The following parts for the light painting costume can all be easily sourced from online retailers.

  • Black Tracksuit
  • Assortment of El Panels in Aqua (Tron) colour
  • Hook and Loop (Velcro) strips to attach the panels to the costume
  •  El-driver (this must be suitable for the amount of El-panel or El-wire in the costume
  • Battery pack for El-driver
  • Electric Styles LED Shoes
  • LED Gloves
  •  Head torch (useful for setting up and adjusting the photographic equipment and also for the general effect)
  • I ride a Ninebot One (with white shells), but any electric unicycle would do

Care must be taken when designing and making the costume to ensure that wires are tucked away and not put under any stresses, especially if you are planning on doing tricks. It’s okay if the costume doesn’t look amazing in the daylight. The costume should not be considered waterproof.

General considerations

For Photography:

  • I use a Digital SLR with a sturdy tripod, although this can be a pain to carry around, especially if you are going for a ride. You can probably achieve similar effects with a GoPro (or similar)
  • There are loads of excellent light painting tutorials on the web – my advice would be to have a look at a few to understand the basics and then start experimenting.
  • Set the ISO to either 100 or 200.
  • Set the aperture between F/8 – F/32.
  •  Experiment with different shutter speeds from 6 to 30 seconds.
  • Experiment with the speed and way in which you ride the electric unicycle.
  • Consider any light sources in the background.
Light Painting with my Ninebot One Electric Unicycle and Tron Costume

Light Painting with my Ninebot One Electric Unicycle and Tron Costume

For video

  • I use a GoPro camera with a small Joby tripod.
  • Experiment with different settings

Light painting with an electric unicycle and electro-luminescent costume is great fun and it’s easy to achieve some awesome results. It also has the effect to make people smile – people really love the combination of the costume and the electric unicycle. It would be amazing to organise a large group ride sometime.

Examples

Photography:

Video:

Jonathan Tolhurst

About Jonathan Tolhurst

Based in London, my interests include photography, kayaking, paddle boarding, electric unicycling, teepees, robotics, programming, databases, informatics and pharmacy.

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Jonathan Tolhurst