IR modded cameras and night vision goggles work much better with light. They see in infrared, but if there is not light at all, then all you see are warm bodies. When we midnight mush, we don’t want to disturb the tranquility of the night by running with white lights illuminating the trail. So, we use LED IR emitting lights. IR is invisible to the human eye. Without goggles or cams, it appears that we are in the pitch black. But to night vision, it looks like we have huge headlights lighting the way. I am often surprised when I take off my goggles and find myself in total darkness. To human observers, as we pass by in the dark, we are nothing but sounds in the dark. We often wonder what night seeing critters think, they can see us from a mile away!
We knew that we would be on the trail for several hours each night, so the main light had to last at least 5 hours. We decided on an outdoor rated security camera flood light that normally used a AC to 12v power supply. This enabled us to use a standard 12v AGM 10ah battery to power it, keeping parts cost down and making it easily replaceable. We just cut the plug off the power supply and rewired it to spade connectors that hook to the battery. The mounting bracket of the light had a hole that is the same size as a camera mount. We purchased a nut that was the same size as the screw hole on the bottom of the camera. We then repurposed our Manfretto monopod mount that we use to mount cameras. The mount is just behind the cart drivers shoulder. This places the light at a perfect position to light up the trail and not be in the way.
The above system works great for driving and for camera shots where the light is focused. The light is mounted on the chase cart, with the WooFDriver on another cart. This lights up the trail for driving and lights up the WooFdriver for video and still shots. But occasionally we want to take video or pictures without having to move the main light. For this we purchased a half-dozen camera mounted IR emitters. Polaroid makes the best one. The lithium battery does not last long and is not field replaceable, so we had to just buy multiple units to last the night. The small size means you can keep a couple in your pocket at a time.
The down side of using IR emitters is that they can wash out the night vision goggles if you look directly into light. So we must be careful of where the lights are directed. Especially while driving. It is difficult to get front shots of a driver because the IR emitter would need to shine at him while he is driving. So occasionally, for these shots, we have the driver taker off the goggles and turn on a small white light to see while driving. We can then flood him with IR, the camera is happy and the driver does not see a thing.
With technology advances I have upgraded all of my IR Lights to a new system called Ghost Lights which are the latest lights used by some of the “famous” Ghost Hunters. These latest LED IR’s consume less energy, provide a brighter more even light, and are lighter in weight. These benefits of these IR’s in fact allow myself. and my pit crew members to wear them, enabling more POV filming techniques to provide for true candid like reality views of what we do during the dark hours on the trail. In addition these IR’s allow mounting to our camera spinners providing unprecedented views of the action going on all through these nighttime runs. Please click this link to go to the WooFDriver forum to ask any questions you may have about these new IR technologies.