Lights! Camera! Action! Mostly Lights, Though

We had a film crew from the History Channel at the Observatory a few days ago, filming a segment for an upcoming special on inventions that changed the world. One of these is the clock, so naturally they wanted to speak to some people who could tell them about clocks. I showed them around the lab and they liked the setting a lot more than any of our operational clocks; they’re all nicely packaged up and quite boring. (One type — the hydrogen maser — is literally a black box, and the fountain physics package looks like a water heater.)

So they filmed a segment in our lab, and since I was there making sure they didn’t touch anything they shouldn’t be touching (they didn’t — they were quite well-behaved), they had me and one of my lab-mates stand in the background, pretending to work at one of the optical tables. We might end up on screen for ten seconds or so in the final cut.

Being geeks meant that we drooled a bit over the equipment that they brought. This is part of their lighting system, a bank of LEDs, which has the advantage over traditional equipment that it draws much less power since LEDs are much more efficient. This means they can run it off of a battery and not have to worry about whether there is an outlet nearby, and it also doesn’t heat up very much.


With the lights at full power it saturates the camera.


Turned down a bit you can see the LEDs a little more clearly.

3 thoughts on “Lights! Camera! Action! Mostly Lights, Though

  1. Good technology only supplies what you need. That is when we learn if the former “inert” byproducts are indeed inert.

    How may grams of exotic heavy element intermetallics withUNKOWN HAZARDS are in the array? This demands legislation by people too stupid to zip up their own pants (and too powerful to suffer the indignity of doing it themselves).

  2. This may have been designed by a friend of mine who works at FloLight:

    He’s worked on the algorithms that sample and match the color temperature of the environment while maximizing the color rendering index with a 4 color LED array, to most closely approximate an incandescent light source. These lights are often used to fill in shadows in a scene that is primarily illuminated with larger incandescent lights.

  3. I just bought a bank of LEDs much like that for my newborn “home portrait studio.” It draws 50 W to provide roughly the same illumination as a 500 W tungsten-halogen, which is quite bright. The light from it is also a bit harsher than I would like, so I’ll probably have to figure out a way to put a diffuser in front of it.

    LED banks like this are looking like the wave of the future for still photographers as well as videographers:

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