Burnin' down the house

On Sunday I blew off a photo shoot I was supposed to conduct at Burlington County Footlighters. Totally forgot about it. After many an apology, I showed up tonight to finally get it done. What did I do to make up for screwing up two days earlier? I damn near burned the place down.

Allow me to explain.

There’s an area set up in one of the rooms of the theater that has a plain background, two ordinary work lights and two light stands. It’s commonly used for taking headshots, so that’s where I set myself up. I put the tripod together, got the camera set, then set about plugging in the lights. I had gotten a couple of extension cords from a supply closet, so I unfurled the first and plugged it in. After that I got the second cord, unfurled it and plugged it in.

When that was done I noticed a funky smell in the room. I looked up. Gray-black smoke was billowing from the first lamp. Then it hit me. Y’know those cardboard sleeves that light bulbs are packed inside? Well, each of these 100 watt bulbs still had those on them, and when I plugged them in, they turned on right away. I was joyfully unaware of either of these things. Except, of course, when I saw/smelled what I had done.

Immediately I sprang into action. I screamed hysterically quickly grabbed the smoldering sleeve off of the first bulb, then while trying to decide what to do with it, I pulled the sleeve off of the second bulb. Pretty smart, I thought. At the same time, I thought how much that moment resembled the shot in Airplane!when Ted Striker is handed his airline ticket for the smoking section. Fortunately I knew the building well enough to be able to walk down the steps, turn left into the men’s room and run that sleeve under some water.

With that out of the way, I got the headshots done lickety split and got my pyromaniacal ass out of there before I could do any more damage. Before I left, however, I left the two sleeves next to each other backstage along with a note pointing to them as “before” and “after”. Here’s your moment of irony: that’s the one thing I did not photograph.