A harmonograph is a Spirograph for long exposure photography
I’m sure I’m not the only one who spent countless hours playing around with Spirographs as a kid. Right? You know, those strange gear-like devices that were used in conjunction with a drawing utensil of some sort to create a strangely organized geometric shape from what should’ve been a bunch of scribbles.
Now, imagine if someone were to replicate that, but in the form of a long-exposure light painting photo. Because that’s exactly what YouTuber Wayne Schmidt did with a device he calls a Harmonograph.
Originally designed as a drawing mechanism, much like Spirograph way back when, Schmidt modified the device using a simple LED attached to the arm where the drawing utensil is located.
As the video below shows, Schmidt aligns his camera above the Harmonograph and shoots directly down on top of it from a foot or two using a long exposure. The results are as you might imagine–a light painting version of the drawings Spirographs once left on paper.
It’s a mesmerizing concept and a contraption that can certainly be built if you have the patience and know-how to do so.
Schmidt has a similar light painting device called the Pendulight, which is essentially the Harmonograph flipped upside down.
Image credits: Spirograph by Multicherry used under CC BY-SA 3.0