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exploding light bulb

Kimberly Beshears , Nov 11, 2008; 07:47 a.m.

During a photo shoot yesterday, one of the lights bulbs in one of our continuous lighting units exploded causing the baby we were shooting to be burned and cut on his little leg. Beings that the baby is our grandchild, we won't have to worry about being sued of course, but none the less granchild or not, this was very serious to us and we have no idea Why this happened and how to prevent it from happening again. If anyone else has experienced something like this happening and know why, please let us know so we can keep this from ever happening again.


Kimberly and Michael

MK Creative Visions Photography


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Garry Edwards , Nov 11, 2008; 08:15 a.m.

I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

Exploding light bulbs are fairly uncommon but I've heard of it happening many times and short of using a seel mesh guard over the bulbs I don't know of any effective preventative measures.

This danger is just one of the many reasons why flash is better

Nathan Stiles , Nov 11, 2008; 10:34 a.m.

There's safty glass covers, but I'm unsure of the prices. The movie industry uses these to protect the talent in the rare event a HMI blows. The bulb may have been bad, and not right for that voltage. I'm told that if this is the case that they may burn at an off-color. *shrug*

I don't use HMI's, but that's my hear-say.

Bob Sunley , Nov 11, 2008; 11:09 a.m.

Photofloods or HMI bulbs usually explode when something burns onto the surface of the bulb, creating a hot spot. Photofloods are subject to being scratched during handling, and that will weaken the bulb as well.

Sorry to hear what happened.

Joseph Harris , Nov 11, 2008; 11:23 a.m.

HOT hot lights (like, lights other than florescent) can shatter for a number of reasons. Probably something got on the bulb that caused a spot to be cooler than the rest, and making it unstable.

Stick with strobes (which are safe for babies, no matter what you may have heard) of if you must use continuous lighting, try Compact Florescent bulbs.

Charles Webster , Nov 11, 2008; 01:17 p.m.

Never, ever, touch the surface of a quartz-iodine bulb with your bare hand. The oil left will etch the envelope at high temperature leading to failure. Always leave the paper cover in place until the bulb is in the socket.


Kelly Flanigan , Nov 11, 2008; 03:14 p.m.

About any bulb can break.

Its happened with bare Xenon strobe bulbs, tungsten bulbs; halogen bulbs; flash bulbs; etc

A 1950's outfit that shot babies had a shield for studio strobes and also for flashbulbs; and thats well before folks sued each other over nil things.

Most of the time a bulb breaks is because it gets hit with liquid; or it has a weaker hot spot due to somebody handled it with bare dirty/grease hands.

Here I have seen a couple of strobe tube explode and would not want the liabilty of a lawsuit if one exploded; its a well documented thing; and lawyer would have a field day quoting professional references that are old as dirt. Its well documented for eons and thus you would loose your case; since scads of warnings have been around forever. Figure what a young couples kids eyes are worth versus your house or entire net worth in life.:)

Norman Valentine , Nov 11, 2008; 03:38 p.m.

I once had the flash tube in a Metz unit explode as I took a shot. Fortunately it had a cover and no glass was thrown about. (but it did frighten the life out of me!) With that in mind I recently made an acrylic cover for a fluorescent bulb that is in a light for a lathe in my school workshop. Unfortunately that does not solve the problem with incandescent bulbs, but they do need some sort of cover.

Joseph Wisniewski , Nov 11, 2008; 08:08 p.m.

Kelly is correct, virtually anything can explode. Our HMIs get big vented Pyrex domes (Elinchrom) or steel screens (Lowel). I like something between a strobe and a human: a good soft box has two diffusers (inner and outer) between the light and the subject. For hair lights, a grid has a lot more projectile stopping power than a snoot. Simple reflectors typically are only for pointing away from subjects, either at umbrellas, or at a backdrop.

Fluorescent lights aren't likely to explode (but they probably can), but they're subject to breakage from shocks such as someone bumping into the stand, they also get mesh.

Probably the only lights that can't explode are large banks of LEDs or EL panels. (these rarities are why I said "virtually anything can explode")

Now, I'm trying to picture what sort of lighting setup aimed a bare HMI at a baby...

Bob Sunley , Nov 11, 2008; 11:38 p.m.

Maybe none, the original post only said a bulb exploded, no mention if the safety glass was there or not. It's very possible that was shattered by the bulb as well.

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