View Full Version : Electricity in the woods


CrazyFrazee
04-07-2008, 07:36 PM
Hey, quick question regarding night shooting. I'm without magic wall electricity. I do have a car, and a converter for the cig outlet.
What are my options here? How long till I knock out my car battery doing headlights, a 150watt on the cig, or both? I can't keep the engine running.
How do you guys handle this?
Thanks.

WideShot
04-07-2008, 08:03 PM
Generators are cheap or you may be able to borrow one. If you can stash it away from the action and block the sound you can have as much power as you need as long as you have gas for it.

directorik
04-08-2008, 01:51 AM
How long till I knock out my car battery doing headlights, a 150watt on the cig, or both? I can't keep the engine running.
The answer to that would be very interesting and quite helpful.

You should plug in a light and leave the headlighs on and set a timer.
Then you will know exactly how long the battery will last. If you do
this at home, you can then just jump start the battery and come
away with a usable number.

When I shoot at night where the is no power, I rent a genny.

Beeblebrox
04-08-2008, 03:04 AM
Rent a generator. Or use headlights and keep the night short so you don't kill your battery. Or shoot day-for-night, which is probably what I'd do if I couldn't afford a generator.

CrazyFrazee
04-08-2008, 12:30 PM
Generator is no go- the project isn't big enough to warrant that effort.
My location isn't ACTUALLY in the woods, it's in a parking lot, but same problem. The one advantage is that, last night, I found a location with some very minor overhead lighting. I used my car's lowbeams to get some pics (sorry bout the blurriness):
http://www.moreartlessindie.com/temp/loc1.jpg
Just need a little more fill on the face.
http://www.moreartlessindie.com/temp/loc2.jpg
About ideal.
http://www.moreartlessindie.com/temp/loc3.jpg
As you can see, I've got a light blue cast from the roof, and the car to provide a key or backlight. I figure I can bounce one more light off the wall to get my third (using the cig outlet), or maybe I'll move the car closer and turn on highbeams for the same effect. That should do the trick, right?
I'll keep another car with cables nearby, and let you know how my battery holds. (This may be within a week, or a month, I don't know how fast this will go.)
Thanks.
PS- the car is supposed to be in the scene.

knightly
04-08-2008, 01:59 PM
sun gun (2 million candlewatt flashlight gun from target or somewhere like that). ~ $30 and will light up your scene for 5 minutes at a time from battery or as long as you have gas in the car...they come with lighter adapters for charging them. They will light the set brighter than day from 100 paces ;) Shoot it from above (perhaps the car roof) and gel it blue, it's halogen, so it's hot, but it'll give you a good look if used carefully.

knightly
04-08-2008, 01:59 PM
or use a bounce card/reflector with the car head lights.

clive
04-08-2008, 03:58 PM
Sorry to state the obvious... but doesn't it make more sense to find a better lit location? A couple of hours driving round your area one night will probably solve all your problems.

CrazyFrazee
04-08-2008, 04:11 PM
I spent four hours finding that one. I live in Hartford, so you have the poor and dangerous, or the rich and clean. My find is quiet, remote, safe, and has the right aesthetic. I feel like I'll spend less effort lighting this one than trying to find another.
I'll go do lighting tests tonight with my reflectors and video camera.

directorik
04-08-2008, 05:35 PM
You gonna do that test to find out how long till you knock out your
car battery doing headlights, a 150watt on the cig, or both?

oakstreetphotovideo
04-08-2008, 08:47 PM
Most inverters will shut off before they drop the battery voltage below a certain, generally safe, threshold. A 150W light pulls about 15Amps at 12 volts assuming 80% efficiency in conversion to 110VAC. You car battery probably has about 60 Amp Hours of power, of which you will only want to draw out about 50%, giving you about 2 hours before you go critical with a single 150W light.

A car battery is designed to put out 500-750 Amps for a short duration to start your car and let the alternator pick it up from there. You won't be doing your battery any favors by deep cycling it. Find someone with a golf cart and use their batteries. That should give you all the power you need for an evening of shooting with a few hundred watts of light.

CrazyFrazee
04-08-2008, 10:27 PM
I just went out and did some level tests with my video camera, and, interestingly enough, got some kind of warning beep from my inverter within two minutes. That was with brights on and the cig output. I decided to turn my car on at that point.
I figure, I'll keep another car with jumpers there, and shoot silent on shots that need the extra lighting. No problem - only 1 line in 12 shots ;)
I'll post stills in a bit.

CrazyFrazee
04-08-2008, 11:08 PM
Just for fun, here's some stills of this.
Okay, two tests for my opening shot, 1 testing the dead man, 1 testing the bg subject.
The bg subject:
http://www.moreartlessindie.com/temp/hat1.jpg
Just the headlight bounce. Just too dark and dull, but close.
http://www.moreartlessindie.com/temp/hat2.jpg
Filled. Better range, less dramatic. Fiddle with some colors in post...
http://www.moreartlessindie.com/temp/hat3.jpg
That's what I want.
Continued in next post...

CrazyFrazee
04-08-2008, 11:09 PM
The body:
http://www.moreartlessindie.com/temp/body1.jpg
Again, way too dark.
http://www.moreartlessindie.com/temp/body2.jpg
Here, I was too bright. Good problem.
http://www.moreartlessindie.com/temp/body3.jpg
Now we're getting closer. Post?
http://www.moreartlessindie.com/temp/body4.jpg
Tada!
When I actually shoot, I'll get more backlight rim on my subject. But I think this CAN be done!

barnaclelapse
04-08-2008, 11:14 PM
Well, I'll definitely agree a generator sounds like the way to go.

oakstreetphotovideo
04-09-2008, 03:03 PM
I just went out and did some level tests with my video camera, and, interestingly enough, got some kind of warning beep from my inverter within two minutes. That was with brights on and the cig output. I decided to turn my car on at that point.
I figure, I'll keep another car with jumpers there, and shoot silent on shots that need the extra lighting. No problem - only 1 line in 12 shots ;)
I'll post stills in a bit.
It is likely that the wires feeding your cigarette lighter, combined with the shoddy connection you get from the cigarette plug are inserting enough resistance that the voltage from your battery is being attenuated so the inverter thinks your battery is low. If you can clamp your inverter feed wires directly to the battery, you'll get a longer run.
Unless, the warning beep you got was from the load on the inverter. In that case, the inverter was warning you that the initial load was in excess of what the inverter could provide. Keep in mind, that there is a surge load when an incandescent bulb is first turned on. As the filament heats up, the resistance increases and so the current draw drops to around the bulb's rating. Obviously, fluorescent bulbs have a startup surge also, but you'll get a lot more light from the same power drain over the long haul. You could replace your 150W tungsten with 2 28W fluorescents and get about the same light.

Doug

clive
04-09-2008, 03:46 PM
So what you actually need is a low power/ high lumen light source that you can run for hours off a battery... but that gives a predictable amount of light.

There's only one piece of kit that meets all those requirements and that's LED light sources (http://www.theledlight.com/landscape.html).

I've never used any of the products in the link... but I have looked at buying sheets of LED to build into the equivalent of LED kinoflos...

oakstreetphotovideo
04-09-2008, 10:46 PM
really white LEDs are still quite expensive, but if you can color balance for the bluish white ones, they're a lot cheaper. You can also run the LEDs directly from the battery, without an inverter, which makes them highly desirable in situations like this. LEDs are also dimmable.

Great idea, but you can buy a generator or a bank of batteries for about the same price! ;)

directorik
04-10-2008, 11:58 AM
Those stills look really good. You're right aboiut the background.
Maybe another car filling in that void.

CrazyFrazee
04-10-2008, 06:22 PM
Thanks. These have been some great ideas.
If I do have trouble getting the backlight rim, I'll try the second car. I should have three on set, so that should be no trouble.
I'll be sure to post the results of this short when it's done. Makeup tests were supposed to be today, but got pushed back to the weekend, so probably next weekend will be completion. You can see progress here (http://www.moreartlessindie.com/flashfiction.html).

knightly
04-10-2008, 09:34 PM
for the rim lighting, perhaps a reflector catching the headlights just off camera left behind and above the body to catch the shoulders with light.

AlexLaplante
04-27-2008, 01:28 PM
I needed a forest to shoot also: what I did was I found a forested area with houses near it and I'm borrowing their outdoor plugs to feed the lights using really long extension cords.