NOTE Cross posted at Photofocus.com
Copyright Scott Bourne 2012 All Rights Reserved!
(Imagine Jeremy Clarkson’s voice reading these first few paragraphs.) It’s not from Chimera, Alien Bees or Broncolor. It doesn’t come with any soft boxes or stands. In fact, it’s not sold in any camera store – not even at B&H or Adorama. That’s because…
It’s a truck.
To be more precise, it’s a 2012 Ford F-150 FX4 pick-up truck which now sports a 50″ SR-Series Hybrid LED Light Bar W/Custom Mounts. The brackets were custom designed and Line-X was applied. The entire bar is permanently mounted to the truck and provides a mostly daylight balanced LED flood light controlled from a custom switch mounted in the truck cab.
(Okay imagine it’s me now – The Stig.)
I’ve wanted to do this for a long time but the design has always been a challenge. I wanted a nice, broad, relatively diffuse light, with daylight balance that would be high enough that it would be able to project with being blocked by any part of the truck. It took me two years to find this particular product and with the help of Four-The-Truck, my customizer, I found a way to mount the bar that was legal, functional and didn’t induce too much additional wind noise in the cab at speed. (Light bars tend to whistle on the highway. My customizer solved this by using an adhesive at three points on the bar covered by a valance.)
Copyright Tom Shue – All Rights Reserved!
I should probably back up and say – those who know me or have followed me for a long time here know I always have what I jokingly refer to as a “work truck.” Translated, I spend WAAAAY too much money customizing a new truck for fun and then use it in my job and end up being able to justify it for work and writing it off as a legitimate expense. Despite my love for exotic and fast cars, I almost always have at least one truck in my stable.
This particular truck is my latest project and has had tens of thousands of dollars worth of upgrades from the suspension to the motor, wheels, nerf bars, military grade security system, tool box, extended flares, tires, compressor, train horns, sound system, etc. But the most exciting mod (photographically speaking) was the light bar.
I’ve been working on customizing this truck for four months now and the final stage was the addition of the SR-Series Hybrid LED Light Bar.
Copyright Tom Shue – All Rights Reserved!
Unfortunately, this model doesn’t come with a dimmer switch, but the manufacturer is working on a backwards compatible dimmer that will eventually work with this light. For now, you control intensity and fall off by properly positioning the truck. Since it’s a constant light source it’s easy to see where the light falls on the subject and it’s perfect for taking on location to provide a big light for almost any job. In this case, big enough to light a car.
The system runs on a combination of specialty batteries. I replaced the standard Motorcraft truck battery under the hood with an Odyssesy battery. I installed a second Odyssey battery in the tool box. This second battery is powerful enough to run the light bar for an hour. After that, the regular truck battery kicks in and is good for another hour – both without turning on the truck’s engine. Both batteries are charged when the truck is running so as long as you have gasoline in the truck the light will run beyond the time offered by the two batteries. So in short, you could use this light overnight and all day in extreme conditions if needed.
Photo Copyright Rich Harrington
The color and quality of light are infallible and the wide beam covers a very large area. In this case, I waited until sunset and used the light as a front main which allowed me to retain the ambient light behind the car from the sunset.
As backup, I had color-matched HID headlights installed that I could use in extreme cases to fill in the light provided by the LED bar. The combination of both can light up about a third of a football field.
I admit this is a bit overkill, but it is one of those fun things I get to do once in a while that I wanted to share. The total price to buy the lights, batteries, create the custom mounts with labor came to $4300. The truck itself? More than $100k. I know – too much. But what can I say other than you can’t take it with you!
Copyright Scott Bourne – All Rights Reserved
Many of you may have access to off-road vehicles with special lighting. If so, think of these vehicles as specialty lighting and go experiment. You may just be surprised at the results.
NOTE: Lately the images I have been posting are Creative Commons. The images above are under license and therefore not available under Creative Commons – All Copyrights as indicated in the photo caption. Thanks to my hard-working and talented assistant Tom Shue who came to this shoot even though he was injured. Thanks also to my teaching partner Rich Harrington and our production coordinator Pam Berry. Thanks also to our brave, talented and lovely model Nancy.