How to Create Cool LED Backgrounds for Your Photos

On this Adorma video photographer Gavin Hoey is joined by fellow photographer Mark Wallace and together they create a simple yet cool looking background effect using a DIY LED light stick.

The following project is both simple and yet extremely cool at the same time. The concept is simple – use a long exposure to shoot a portrait and using a long strip of LEDs go behind your subject and move the colored light while at the same time lighting you model from the from with a flash/strobe to freeze him/her.

You can get a multi colored USB LED strip for about $10 (it’s 23 inches or around 60 cm so you will need at least 2 and possibly 4 depending on how long and wide you want your strip to be). You will also need either an external battery with enough USB connectors (we use the Anker Astro E5 16000mAh which has 2 and works great) or a sort of USB hub connected to a computer/AC with a long USB extension cable so you can work with the LEDs. Finally you will need something to put the LEDs on – a broomstick, painters pole or even just a simple long wood piece should do the rick – just make sure to connect the LEDs to the stick so they won’t move.

Some of you might remember the pixelstick project which got more than $600,000 on Kickstarter a while back and was a (much) more advanced version of this primitive LED apparatus that Hoey uses in this video (although it does cost much more at almost $350).

You can check out many more helpful photography tips on our photography tips section and check out some of Gavin Hoey’s other videos here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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