Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Voice Activated Light Stand

EJL2008 V.A.L.S.

Home from San Jose, that means we are finished with the construction shots of highways and byways.
This last part of the job was a project at the San Jose airport. We spent most of our time there watching the "pile driver" pound concrete supports 50 feet into the ground... man it is super loud. The sun was hiding behind overcast so we used flash (Nikon SB800's) and high-speed sync to get some different looking pictures of the guys working the driver and the pylons.
When we are in an environment like this our philosophy is "lightweight and mobile". On this project we opted for one of the oldest tools in the bag-o-tricks, the voice activated light stand or V.A.L.S. . That means me with a flash in hand, moving with the workers as David shoots away. The flash in this case was fired using the Nikon command unit that is perched in the hot shoe of the D300. This was our best option for such a loud environment as it gave David the ability to control flash settings without having to call out to me, it also means he can use the camera's TTL function. The down side is that I have to be sure the infra red eye is facing the camera and not being blocked by my hand or a finger, and the effective working range is only about 60 feet.

The EJL2008 light stand at work

Nice light on a gray day

These concrete supports are pounded into the ground without a pilot hole, just like hitting a nail with a hammer. It is awesomely loud and it shakes the ground with every hit. Because we are wearing earplugs, the voice activation function of the EJL2008 was temporarily disabled. Luckily it is equipped with, among many fine features, a hand gesture back-up communication system that has come in handy many a time.

David signaled that he wanted the light lower.

The rusult

Thats me on the right side of the frame....
....and here it is.
Any photographer with self-respect should carry a multi-function V.A.L.S. wherever possible. Beside being a great place to clamp a light it will also watch your back and carry your bags.

We have some underground coal mine work in Illinois coming up in March, a setting we have worked in before several times and one that is perhaps the most challenging in heavy industry shooting. We have been talking about how we are going to approach shooting several ad-type shots featuring helmet mounted headlamps and we are going to have just a couple of hours underground to pull it off. It should be fun.

1 comment:

David Tejada said...

Man that was great, I'd like two of those V.A.L.S's. Looking forward to more posts.

I placed a link to your blog on mine. DT