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Amazing photos of light painting with the Pixelstick in Brooklyn for the Tribute In Light September 11th memorial. And creating photo art with the Pixelstick!

tb light painting pixelstick brooklyn new york september 11

Sometimes as a photographer we need a “reason to get out”. On September 11th 2019 my goal was to capture photos of the Tribute In Light.

This is the 15th year of the lights and according to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum blog:

“The beams reach four miles into the sky and at 7,000 watts, are the most powerful shafts of light ever projected from Earth.”


My plan was to head to Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park to get a different vantage point. Technically the best spot would be Pebble Beach or Empire Fulton Ferry Park.

But I knew it’d be super packed as I made the effort for the 10 year anniversary in 2010 and it was crowded with photographers.

septemer 11, 2010

It was an overcast night so my buddy Eddie and I went to the city to get a closeup shot of the lights.

septemer 11, 2010 10 year anniversary

As you can see, during the 10 year anniversary 1 WTC was still being constructed..

1 wtc being built

So for this year I figured I’d mix things up and head to Pier 5. I also knew it’d be a popular spot and I was not surprised to see so many people there!

Click on the video below to check out my walkthrough…


They key with any popular spot is to get there early. But I wasn’t so concerned about getting the perfect spot as I had a different goal in mind as I wanted to do some light-painting with the Pixelstick (more on this later).

As for the sunset it wasn’t spectacular. But I was able to capture this shot of the Slip 5 Battery Maritime Building with the sun setting behind it.

Slip 5 Battery Maritime Building with the sun setting behind it

Once it was blue hour, it was the time to start taking photos of the city.

blue hour downtown manhattan long exposure

As it started to get darker, the lights came on…

September 11 tribute in light blue hour amazing wall art photo

One thing that really helped my photo pop was the splash of beige color of the sung going down in the background.

Stunning September 11 tribute in light wall decor art photo

Once I was happy and felt I “got the shot” it was time to start….


justin light painting brooklyn pixelstick

So you may be wondering “what the heck is a Pixelstick”? It’s kind of hard to describe if you don’t know a thing or two about long exposure photography so check out this video for that “ah ha” moment…


The idea I had was to load the Pixelstick with 911 graffiti murals I’ve taken throughout the years as it’d be fitting. Check out the original photo along with the light-painted version.

This one didn’t come out too good as it’s too bright…

911 graffiti mural

But this one is my favorite!

I didn’t mention this earlier but it was unseasonably hot! It was 90+ degrees and the heat was sucking the life force out of me and my nephew.

We would have gone on longer but we were exhausted!

Ideally it would have been better to head to Brooklyn at 1am in the morning as we would’ve had free rein of all the popular spots. But my nephew had work the next day so we called it a night.

Well at least he did…


I considered heading to Jersey City to capture more photos. But it’s a huge pain in the ass to get to (in terms of me getting home quickly).

So I decided to head to the 911 memorial over at the Eagle Rock Reservation. If you’d like to see some epic sunrise photos check out this behind the scenes video…


It was overcast and to the naked eye you can barely see the lights. But I was able to capture 1 halfway decent photo…


Well every New Yorker has their 911 story and if you’d like to read mine, you can click on the image below:

Af for my mom she posted this on Facebook:

For the past 17 years I have been going to see the lights, to honor and remember the horrible day of 9/11/2001. And in a very selfish way, to be thankful that although I was in the area, nothing horrible happened to me.


What impressed me the most was seeing people jumping out the windows and wonder if had been inside the towers, would I had jumped or would I have chosen to be burned. Definitely jump.


This year I decided not to go. I had enough. Things haven’t changed much. United we stood. Not anymore. I miss the days after 9/12/2001 when people were kind to each other.


To my surprise, my son Michael Brian (Mikey Colón) went to see the lights and took some pictures – our Colon tradition continues.


Life goes on.


Be well, be safe, be kind.

I had a few somber conversations with people at the Eagle Rock memorial, but it’s a bit too sad to share right now. So I’ll end my story here.




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