Happy New Year and a Good Start in 2016!

It’s been my pleasure to have you as a reader last year! Thank you for following me, staying connected and the valuable feedback shared!

In 2016, I will continue to provide you with the latest newsworthy updates around 3D printing, optics and lighting via this personal ”off-topic’ channel and via my other blogs 3DPrinting.Lighting and Inspiration.Lighting.

I wish you lots of inspiration and creativity for the New Year and look forward to continue our conversations in the time to come!

Have a wonderful break and a Prosperous 2016!

Best regards,

Marco de Visser


Lighting Up the Night – Fireflies Blazing Beautiful Patterns in the Dark

Remember watching fireflies light up your back yard on hot summer nights? Fireflies are beautiful, mysterious, and magical. Firefly populations are dwindling all over the world. Here’s a small post on these magical creatures – the most efficient lights in the world!

Fireflies Talk: the Language of Light

Fireflies emit light mostly to attract mates, although they also communicate for other reasons as well, such as to defend territory and warn predators away. In some firefly species, only one sex lights up. Howeer, in most situations the both sexes glow. Very often the male will fly, while females will wait in trees and grasses to spot an attractive male. If she finds one, she’ll signal it with a flash of her own.

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Scientists believe they may flash to drive away predators, claim territory, and communicate with others of their species as well—although the finer points of their language have never been studied extensively. One thing’s for sure, though: without those flashing lights, there could be no fireflies.

Fireflies produce “cold light”

Firefly lights are the most efficient lights in the world—100% of the energy is emitted as light. Compare that to an incandescent bulb, which emits 10% of its energy as light and the rest as heat, or a fluorescent bulb, which emits 90% of its energy as light. Because it produces no heat, scientists refer to firefly lights as “cold lights.”

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Fireflies – How does it Work?

In a firefly’s tail, you’ll find two chemicals: luciferase and luciferin. Luciferin is heat resistant, and it glows under the right conditions. Luciferase is an enzyme that triggers light emission. ATP, a chemical within the firefly’s body, converts to energy and initiates the glow. All living things, not just fireflies, contain ATP.

Fireflies have a short ‘Lifespan’

To stay a bit in ‘the language of light’: the lifespan of fireflies isn’t that long as you may expect. Although being very low consumers of energy with a high eficacy, an adult firefly lives only long enough to mate and lay eggs—so they may not need to eat during their adult life stage. The larvae usually live for approximately one year, from mating season to mating season, before becoming adults and giving birth to the next generation.

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Fireflies – what’s more?

There’s certainly many more to say about these intriguing creatures, but let’s finish with a great movie with night and day timelapses and some references. Enjoy!

If you’re interested in the phenomenon of ‘bioluminescence’, I can recommend you reading one of my other posts ‘Bioluminescent Plankton Create Magical Blue Imagery at Night‘.

The stunning time-lapse images in this article were created by photographer and Artist Tsuneaki Hiramatsu for the Daily Mail.

Optogenetics: Controlling the Brain with Light

This short blogpost illustrates optogenetics — a radical new technology for controlling brain activity with light that I recently rediscovered. Optogenetics is an emerging field of research that is combing ‘optics‘ with ‘genetics’ to modify the activities of brains.

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Researchers genetically modify certain neurons to activate when they receive pulses of light. This is part of the medical field that is studying how to stimulate specific areas of the brain to relieve a host of chronic neurological aliments ranging from depression to Parkinson’s disease.

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This post might be a bit ‘out-of-the-box’, and too research minded. But it think this interesting topic is worth mentioning. Impressive to see what the power of optics and light can do, especially related to the human body and brains. Finally, here’s a movie from MITTechTV explaining this new phenomenon in research:

[Pictures and animations in this post are courtesy of Sputnik Animation, Ed Boyden, and McGovern Institute for Brain Research.]

Bubble Lighting: Liquids and Air Bubbles Create Sublime Ambiance


‘KIHOU’ is a quite extraordinary, impressive indirect lighting product using two kinds of liquid and air bubbles. A ceramic bowl is filled with sticky liquid and a thin layer of black silicone oil floats on top. A small pump and LEDs are embedded in the bottom of the bowl, making luminous bubbles rise to the surface from the black liquid.

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Mysterious Light

The indirect lighting product uses two kinds of liquid and air bubbles to realize an effervescent effect of pulsating golden bulbs. The rhythm of bubbles, the unexpected noise, stickiness of the liquid and lightness of the oil, and the mysterious contrast between the golden light and black surface all breathe life into this small cube, sublimating it into a product that people can feel an affinity with.

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Tangent Design Studio

Tangent Design is known for developing unconventional illumination systems, creating ambient environments that result in sublime experiences as evidenced in this recent work ‘Kihou’.

Video and pictures are courtesy of tangent design.

Lighting the Backyard: Let there be Night!


Usually, it’s hard for me to find some time to just ‘play around with light’. Rarely, it happens to me, like a Saturday night back in July. While sitting in the backyard and brainstorming about a new design for the garden, I started to sketch a simplistic light scheme and brought it into practice right away. Just because it’s fun. If you want to enjoy your garden after dark, proper garden lighting is essential. After considering the ‘do’s and don’ts’, I finally decided to draft this blogpost to capture all the thoughts I made. Others might find this kind of ‘hobby work’ as interesting as I do, or simply struggle with selecting proper lighting for their garden. No matter what, some Lighting Inspiration is always welcome to anyone!

The result is a basic but (hopefully) helpful guide to support you getting your best light scheme in place. I tried to make it all as practical as possible, incorporating some technology research as well. Think of light source selection, CCT definition, choosing the right illumination optics, selecting new ways of fabrication, etcetera. I’ve finally been making some custom solutions myself using inventive 3D printing technologies, certainly another interesting perspective to discover.

Marcodevisser.com_Lighting the Backyard_Ground-Level-Lighting_2Garden Lighting – Purely Functional or Subtle and Stylish?

Garden lighting schemes are highly variable: they can meet the basics of ‘enabling you to see in the dark’, or they can play an integral role to the overall design of the garden. To achieve the latter, the best approach is to consider lighting at the same time as you design the garden itself. That way, the garden design and lighting scheme should work in the right harmony together. However, if you are thinking about lighting after your garden is already established, the number one rule is to resist the urge to floodlight your garden. Instead, use lighting strategically and pick out specific objects like plants and trees to illuminate. They will help you find your way around when its dark, to create the right mood and to differentiate different garden zones.

Marcodevisser.com_Lighting the Backyard_Ground-Level-LightingSelecting the Right Lighting Type

There are a great variety of lighting types you could consider to bring out the features of your garden lighting design and to tailor your lighting for certain spaces:

  • Spot- / Accent Lighting: Recessed spot lights can be either mounted up- or downwards (or have a combination of both) to accentuate or illuminate certain objects, or just be used for general lighting purposes. They are great for providing illumination for walls and to be used at the base of trees;
  • Linear Lighting: ideal for recessed, surface and suspended lighting, delivering a high-quality, diffuse light with little glare;
  • Flood Lighting: pole and surface mount up-lights are ideal for illuminating garden walls, trees and other garden design features that merit attention;
  • String / Strip Lighting: soft and friendly light that comes mostly in flexible chains or strips, perfect to light the outdoor dining area, pergolas, or trees in a decorative or even romantic way;
  • Post Lighting: orientation lighting; perfect for improving navigation and safety around the pathways of your garden at night time;
  • Ground Level Lighting: integrated in decking, pavements and stairs, this can look highly sophisticated and design full.
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Post-Top-Lights: perfect for illumination a pavement or walk way.

Garden Lighting Considerations

There are a lot of topics to consider before doing the outdoor light installation. First, it’s important to thoroughly research the technology available, estimate the implications of electricity cost, the fixtures required and the lifespan of specific light sources. Most lights are available in low-voltage options which are safer and easier to install. Some lights require an electric power source and wiring. Then there is lifespan to bear in mind — certain materials will survive better than others when subjected to rain and wind. Lights with durable stainless steel or brass housings are recommended for a durable withstanding of the outdoor elements.

Uplights mounted at the base of trees results in great light play.

Uplights mounted at the base of trees results in great light play.

Colerrated Color Temperature (CCT): warm, cool, neutral or RGB?

Choosing the “colour of light” emitted by a light source was not a choice that was generally made before. With some LED products, there is a choice of colours, choosing a colour will set the mood of your space. Correlated Colour temperature (CCT) in lighting describes how the colour of the light appears from a lamp. It is measured in kelvins (K).  Imagine a scale from 1,000K (reddish) to 10,000K (blueish).  The higher up the scale you go, the closer the light resembles blue daylight, the higher the colour temperature the “cooler” a lamp will look.

Marcodevisser.com_Lighting the Backyard_warm-cool light explainedSelecting either a ‘warm’ light source or a ‘cool’ light source significantly impacts the total ambient temperature. Generally spoken, warm white light calls-up warmer color tints from certain objects, such as wood, sand stone, among others, and gives the warmer ‘candle-light’ feeling. Cool white light sources, on the contrary, better combine with stone, granite, concrete, etcetera. If you’re hesitating, applying neutral white light might be an option, it flattens out the contrasts a bit. There are simply no rules – the choice is about personal preference and use. If you like the traditional yellowish colour of a conventional lamp then warm white around (2,700 – 3,000K) would be the ideal choice. If you want a modern, clean look, you may prefer the brighter feel of a cool white lamp (4,000 – 5,000K).

Also, a mixture of various CCT’s might result in wonderful solutions. There is no reason why you could not have a mixture in the same setting. For example, warm white for the main area’s and cool white for accentuated areas. Application of colored RGB light is another consideration you could make, but likely limited in residential lighting applications since its more decorational and artistic than functional light.

When illuminating pure white objects or walls, the impact of differences in color temperature will be most visible. In that case, only limited light is absorbed by the illuminated texture itself and the reflective values are high, which will also impact the overal ambient temperature. Moreover, it positively impacts the energy efficiency since there’s simply less light (power!) needed for the illumination thanks to the light ‘transmitted’ bu the reflective surfaces.

Up & Down Spotlighting - all sketches are prepared in a warm and cool white version.

Up & Down Spotlighting – all sketches are prepared in a warm and cool white version. See what different color temperatures can do!

Why Great Garden Lighting Matters

If you’ve put a lot of effort into making your house and garden look just right, then it would be a shame to let the appearance suffer after nightfall. Poor lighting can be a weak link in your garden design. Well-thought lighting makes the best of your home and garden’s architectural features, plants and trees. There are endless moods you can achieve, but lighting is above all a work of personalized artistry!

There’s more to follow, stay tuned!

I’ll feature in the time to come some more blog posts on selecting and applying the different lighting types as listed above. I’ve tried to rework any of them in my actual garden light scheme .

Thanks anyway for reading this contribution, I hope this theme has caught your interest. Looking forward to welcome you back again!

Amsterdam is Flooding

Virtual Flood by Studio Roosegaarde at Museumplein Amsterdam Raises Water Awareness

Experience the Vulnerability of Water
Following the Artist Daan Roosegaarde latest installation “Waterlight” in Westervoort back in February, Studio Roosegaarde lets the visitor experience the almost forgotten power and vulnerability of water again. This time, the Museumplein in Amsterdam is hosting a 3-day public light art event to raise water awareness end emphasise the beauty and power of light.
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As a virtual flood, Waterlight shows how high the water could reach without human intervention.

8 Acres of Inner Amsterdam Flooded
Located in the inner city of Amsterdam, Museumplein is an 8 acre square located in the inner city of Amsterdam that has been virtually placed underwater through the use wavy lines of light. Like the ‘Rainbow Station‘ project at Amsterdam Central Station by the end of 2014, ‘Waterlight’ is realized by implementing the latest LED technology, enabling software and lighting optics.
Marcodevisser.com_Waterlicht by Roosegaarde_Musuemplein_A'dam (1)Public Access and Openings
Waterlight by Roosegaarde” is open to the public and can be experienced from May 11 – 13th between 22:00 and 00:00 at the Museumplein in Amsterdam.

Waterlicht Project

WATERLICHT is the dream landscape about the power and poetry of water. As a virtual flood, it shows how high the water could reach without human intervention. Innovation is within the DNA of the Dutch landscape via its waterworks and creative thinking, yet we’ve almost seem to forgotten this. WATERLICHT is a powerful and poetic experience to remember.

WATERLICHT consists of wavy lines of light made with the latest LED technology, software and optics. First created for the Dutch Waterboard Rijn & IJssel in Westervoort, the artwork has now travelled to Museumplein Amsterdam.

Related post(s): ‘Waterlight’ by Studio Roosegaarde Creates Dutch Water Awareness

Photos in this post are courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde/Pim Hendriksen.

Bioluminescent Plankton at Night Create Magical Blue Imagery

Light by Living Organism. It may seem magical, and it is!

A mystical sight – but what you see is true: a long stretch of a beach covered by billions of luminous blue dots. The seemingly magical imagery is actually anything but it is caused by bioluminescent phytoplankton.

Glowing like Fireflies

The tiny Plankton organisms glow like fireflies whenever they are stressed or otherwise agitated by surface tension and acidity. usually, bioluminescence is only produced in warm coastal waters. This happens commonly in some of the beaches in the Maldives and San Diego, where most the pictures and movie shots in this post are taken.

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Emitting Light when Stressed

The surreal appearance of the beach is actually down to a massive tide of bioluminescent phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum. The tiny organisms emit light when stressed, be it by the lapping of waves, the carving action of a surf board or other, creating what looks like a network of stars.

Bioluminescence – The Phenomenon

Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. Bioluminescence is a form of luminescence, or “cold light” emission by living organisms. A similar luciferase is used in other bioluminescence species such as fireflies, a few beetles, some bacteria, as well as other dinoflagellates. Less than 20% of the light generates thermal radiation.

Bioluminescence – The Function

The function of bioluminescence in has been hypothesized to be a form of communication between each of the organisms. Early work suggested it might serve as a warning system of sheer forces of near by preditors, more recent work suggests it might play a role in maintaining and synchronizing circadian rhythm (internal cell clock, for keeping track of cell cycle).

Hope you got as impressed as I am. Once, I hope to see this intriguing phenomenon live on stage!

‘Waterlight’ by Studio Roosegaarde Creates Dutch Water Awareness

Roosegaarde presents another great work of art in “the Northern Light of the Netherlands”

By the end of February, 2015 Westervoort hosted the world premiere of ‘Waterlight‘. The latest artwork by Daan Roosegaarde is described by first visitors as the “the Northern Light of the Netherlands”.

From February 26 to March 1st, visitors could experience Waterlight in the flood channel of the river IJssel near Westervoort. Waterlight reveals the invisible artworks of the Netherlands, and will appear throughout the Netherlands in the coming years.

'Waterlight' by Studio Roosegaarde - Open field experience under night sky.

‘Waterlight’ by Studio Roosegaarde – Open field experience under night sky.

Waterlight is the result of a collaboration between Studio Roosegaarde and the Dutch water board Rhine and IJssel. “A combination of awareness and a dreamscape. By adding – aside from the latest LED-technology – experience and perception, we create a virtual flood.” says Daan Roosegaarde.

“Not our dykes, but our water consciousness is the weak spot in our flood protection”

The artwork Waterlight consists of wavy lines of light across an area of over 4 acres. Walking on the dike the light lines are perceived as high water, once in the flood channel you find yourself in an underwater world. The water boards are pleased with Waterlight.

Waterlicht by Studio Roosegaarde - Fictive Flood level hitting the Dikes.

‘Waterlight’ by Studio Roosegaarde – Fictive flood level hitting the Rhine and IJssel dikes.

“In Waterlight people experience what the Netherlands would look like without their dykes” says Hein Pieper, chairman of water board Rhine and IJssel. “Awareness is crucial, because the Dutch (water)artworks need every day maintenance and our national water awareness is the foundation of that maintenance.”

Dutch water works are unparalleled by any other country, but the water awareness leaves a great deal to be desired!


Afterglow: the most cinematically profound ski movie ever made

From the depth of the creative visuals to the groundbreaking, never-been-done-before scale of the shoot, Afterglow is being hailed as one of the most cinematically profound ski movies ever made. Deep pillows and Alaskan spines, all filmed at night, with massive lights, custom made LED suits, and a national governments worth of logistics, planning, and civil engineering.

AFTERGLOW – Lightsuit Segment from Sweetgrass Productions on Vimeo.

Filmed as a partnership between Sweetgrass Productions, Philips TV, and the Swedish Agency Ahlstrand & Wållgren, it’s two parts creativity, one part branded content, and a pinch of masochism for good measure. Overall, it’s an incredibly unique partnership between our vision of skiing and the color and light technology behind the Philips Ambilight TV.

The movie was shot at Golden Alpine Holidays Sentry Lodge, Alyeska Resort, and the Alaskan Wilderness.

By the way, this movie reminded me of another post early 2012 about a “Night-time-led-snowboarder“. Enjoy!


Light as both Particle and Wave: the first Photograph ever!

Light behaves both as a particle and as a wave. Since the days of Einstein, scientists have been trying to directly observe both of these aspects of light at the same time. Now, scientists at EPFL have succeeded in capturing the first-ever snapshot of this dual behavior.

Quantum mechanics tells us that light can behave simultaneously as a particle or a wave. However, there has never been an experiment able to capture both natures of light at the same time; the closest we have come is seeing either wave or particle, but always at different times. Taking a radically different experimental approach, EPFL scientists have now been able to take the first ever snapshot of light behaving both as a wave and as a particle. The breakthrough work is published in Nature Communications.

Credit: Fabrizio Carbone/EPFL

Credit: Fabrizio Carbone/EPFL

The first-ever snapshot of dual light behavior: Light behaving both as a particle and as a wave.

The first-ever snapshot of dual light behavior: Light behaving both as a particle and as a wave.


When UV light hits a metal surface, it causes an emission of electrons. Albert Einstein explained this “photoelectric” effect by proposing that light – thought to only be a wave – is also a stream of particles. Even though a variety of experiments have successfully observed both the particle- and wave-like behaviors of light, they have never been able to observe both at the same time.

A new Approach on a Classic Effect

A research team led by Fabrizio Carbone at EPFL has now carried out an experiment with a clever twist: using electrons to image light. The researchers have captured, for the first time ever, a single snapshot of light behaving simultaneously as both a wave and a stream of particles particle.

The experiment is set up like this: A pulse of laser light is fired at a tiny metallic nanowire. The laser adds energy to the charged particles in the nanowire, causing them to vibrate. Light travels along this tiny wire in two possible directions, like cars on a highway. When waves traveling in opposite directions meet each other they form a new wave that looks like it is standing in place. Here, this standing wave becomes the source of light for the experiment, radiating around the nanowire.

Shooting Electrons Stream on Nanowire

This is where the experiment’s trick comes in: The scientists shot a stream of electrons close to the nanowire, using them to image the standing wave of light. As the electrons interacted with the confined light on the nanowire, they either sped up or slowed down. Using the ultrafast microscope to image the position where this change in speed occurred, Carbone’s team could now visualize the standing wave, which acts as a fingerprint of the wave-nature of light.

a stream of electrons close to the nanowire, using them to image the standing wave of light.

A stream of electrons close to the nanowire, using them to image the standing wave of light.

The Wave-like Nature of Light

While this phenomenon shows the wave-like nature of light, it simultaneously demonstrates its particle aspect as well. As the electrons pass close to the standing wave of light, they “hit” the light’s particles, the photons. As mentioned above, this affects their speed, making them move faster or slower. This change in speed appears as an exchange of energy “packets” (quanta) between electrons and photons. The very occurrence of these energy packets shows that the light on the nanowire behaves as a particle.

A new Route towards Quantum Computing

“This experiment demonstrates that, for the first time ever, we can film quantum mechanics – and its paradoxical nature – directly,” says Fabrizio Carbone. In addition, the importance of this pioneering work can extend beyond fundamental science and to future technologies. As Carbone explains: “Being able to image and control quantum phenomena at the nanometer scale like this opens up a new route towards quantum computing.”

This work represents a collaboration between the Laboratory for Ultrafast Microscopy and Electron Scattering of EPFL, the Department of Physics of Trinity College (US) and the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The imaging was carried out EPFL’s ultrafast energy-filtered transmission electron microscope – one of the two in the world.

Piazza L, Lummen TTA, Quiñonez E, Murooka Y, Reed BW, Barwick B, Carbone F. Simultaneous observation of the quantization and the interference pattern of a plasmonic near-field. Nature Communications 02 March 2015. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7407