In February, 2017 a team of videographers and I traveled to southern Utah to film some of the most iconic and beautiful scenery the world has to offer. Before our trip I went over to Kogalla and found out that the first RA production units had arrived. I knew we had to have them on this trip.
Daylight hours in the middle of winter are limited to about 10 hours. We wanted to get the most out of our week long trip we wanted to be filming all 10 of those hours which meant we’d be filming sunrises and sunsets every chance we got. On our first sunset of the trip we began our journey about two hours before sunset and headed up the 1500’ vertical cliff that is Angels landing.
About an hour in to the hike we saw the first signs of trouble, thousands of footsteps melting snow on the trail during the day had turned most of the switchbacks in to ice this slowed the progress of the group dramatically. After the switchbacks there is a nice clearing for filming and this is where 4 of our crew members decided it was too treacherous to go any further and would film from that location. Finding a crew of better prepared hikers on the mountain I was able to buy some metal crampons for me and another producer to continue our ascent to the top of Angels landing where we could film our sunset. We arrived at the peak just in time to film the spectacular view and the suns colors fading away. This is where Ra comes in. In setting up the story I wanted to paint a clear picture that this hike isn’t for the faint of heart in the best of conditions let alone covered in ice and snow. We strapped Ra to our backpacks/hydration packs and began our decent.
Being able to see all around us could have quite literally saved our lives. At certain sections of the hike you are grabbing chains that have been drilled in to the walls of the cliff to avoid a perilous descent. We were able to climb hands free, holding on to the chains and use our heads for pivoting and looking around without loosing light all around us. As we came down the steepest portion of the hike, touching the mountain with four points of contact we came to a clearing. As we continued down the trail the Ra’s lit up a family of deer about 20’ off the side of the trail.
The deer saw us coming, we paused, they slowly crossed the trail in front of us and move on their way. The light wasn’t scary or obtrusive to them and they allowed us to be within touching distance. Had we not been able to see all around us we like would have walked right past them and not been able to take part in that great experience. The rest of the descent was still icy but our crampons gave us traction and Ra lit up the way. Cell phone service is unavailable in this canyon so we had no way of telling the rest of our crew that we were safe and on our way but they were able to see us from miles away and knew we were safe because we were wearing Ra. If I said that Ra saved our lives that day I don’t think it would be too far of an exaggeration.
The next morning we filmed Bryce Canyon
Bryce is one of the most picturesque and pristine viewing areas I have ever been. The sunrise was simply amazing. Trails were significantly better than Angels landing, we used Ra to navigate and find suitable locations in the dark prior to sunrise. Having the spread of light all around us enabled us to locate stable locations to set up the tripod with ease.
That evening we were in Goblin Valley,
Goblin Valley is an area with a lot of rock formations known as Hoodoos. Hoodoos look somewhat like a mushroom and others look like goblins, hence the name Goblin Valley. One team set up in Goblin Valley to catch the sunset while the other went to 5 mile canyon to film some really deep and narrow canyons cut into the rock.
Both teams used Ra but for different reasons. Over at Goblin Valley they used it to key light a large Goblin during a time-lapse and in the Canyon it was used for navigation and lighting shots. Since Ra has a very natural color rendering it makes film and pictures look as they would in natural daylight, the 5 different LED’s make the light softer so you don’t have haps shadows. The team was very glad we brought these lights. On our exit the sun had a gain gone down, jumping over rocks, climbing under trees and navigating unstable river rocks were as easy as they were coming in because each one of us were wearing Ra and that made the whole area bright and easy to navigate.
On the last day of our trip we woke up around 4am so we could hike to delicate arch and set up the equipment in time for the sun to rise. Climbing the trail with Ra from a lighting standpoint was easy as could be. Since the trial is largely on a rock face about a football field wide there are parts where it become unclear which you are supposed to be heading. Finding distant trail markers in a wide open area was the only area we found Ra could be assisted by a headlamp or flashlight.
The colleague from Africa I was training on filming at the top of Angels Landing was so enthused about them he inquired how to purchase them and even wanted to become a distributor in Africa.
The rest of the team loved Ra’s color rendering, adjustable brightness, soft even fill and portableness so much that we keep one in our camera kit and have since used it during an interview at a red carpet event relating to the Oscars.
Overall I am very excited about Ra, we loved it, people ask about them when they are seen on a trail and it always makes me happy to know I took a small part in making this incredible little light come to life.
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