Allen's Blog

Posts tagged ‘forensics’:

Lordy… What a Light!

Thanks to James Comey for legitimizing my use of ‘Lordy,’ but a product I’ve been using recently has been just astonishing in what it can do in a package so small it belongs in every shooter’s gear bag.

Aladdin Eye-Light BiIt’s called the Aladdin Eye-Lite Bi. Distributed in the U.S. by Zylight, it’s a bicolor LED light that fits in your hand and is rated to run continuously for two hours (or far longer, if you don’t mind plugging in via micro USB). Color temperature is adjustable from 2900–6400K; a second dial controls dimming from 5–100%. Unlike many of the cheap “me too” LEDs we’ve complained about over the years, the Eye-Lite Bi’s color rendering is excellent – 95 CRI/TLCI.

Its 3.5” x 1.5”aluminum housing is sturdy and weighs a mere 2 ounces. The micro USB port is along the top side, and the ¼-20 tripod thread along the bottom can certainly come in handy when shoe-mounting to your camera or a mini tripod. There’s even a small loop built into one corner, about zip-tie size, if that’s how you like to keep things organized. It’s not cheap—it’ll run you about $160 at your local camera store—but it is worth it! (If you can get by on a non-bicolor version, you may still be able to find Aladdin’s previous models for a few bucks less; I first saw them at NAB a few years ago, and was impressed, but I feel that the bicolor version is a truly outstanding product.)

Aladdin Eye-Lite used as fill light

For its size, it puts out a lot of light, and you can easily tape any diffusion or color gels over the LED array. It is a terrific tool for close-up work, and I can see wide use in forensics. Anyone shooting with a macro lens, whether nature close-ups, food, jewelry, or scientific imaging, will see its usefulness. When you have a light source this small (and therefore this maneuverable), adjustments are incredibly easy.

I used it recently while photographing a necklace made by Martha’s Vineyard artist Kate Taylor. The materials are wampum, sea glass, and gold beads. While the image with no supplemental lighting is fine (if a bit flat), adding the Eye-Lite made a real difference in depth and dimensionality.

Product shot - before and after

As many of you know, I’m always looking for new products that extend our creativity, and this is one of several that I’ll be writing about in the next few weeks.

C.S.I. (The Real Deal) at IAI Providence 2013

Just back from Providence, RI, and the annual conference of the IAI (International Association for Identification). We were there in partnership with the Forensic Division of our friends at Adorama Camera (who knew they had a forensic department?), and it was a very interesting couple of days…

Wheel of Death!

Hundreds of detectives, crime scene analysts, lab specialists… all advancing their skills in classes and seminars and getting to look at and play with the full range of tools dedicated to “whodunit?”. Adorama’s Caroleann Fusco has been working with every aspect of the forensic community for a very long time and it seems like she is on a first-name basis with every investigator there (probably ensuring a lifetime of absolute immunity from any charge short of homicide).

Bullet hole examination kit

I’ve always felt that our products have a wide range of applications beyond the usual range of photographic assignments, and forensics is a prime example. The Rosco LitePad and LitePad Loop, Dedolight, even our Flexfill reflectors, Dewitt’s Brush, and Steadybag are some of the Visual Departures tools that we want to see in the hands of investigators. And with Caroleann’s introductions, it was easy to do.

LitePad fingerprint detection setup at IAI 2013

LitePad, with its diffuse LED lighting, absence of heat, range of sizes, and the capability of being powered by battery (as well as plugging into the wall) drew the most notice. It’s always interesting (and satisfying) to see a group of professionals, long used to doing something one way, find a whole new (and better) way to advance their craft.

After all, at what other convention are you going to spin the Wheel of Death to win a prize? Or add titles such as Principles of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis or Death Scene Investigation to the stack of light reading on your bedside table? Even got to bring home a bit of swag for the grandkids… who wouldn’t want to go to school with lunch in an Evidence Bag (covered with blood spatter) or a bright yellow neck lanyard boldly marked, CRIME SCENE – DO NOT CROSS?

Forensics books of every description