Fun with the S(t)un Gun

A few months ago, a friend of mine gave me a Sylvania Sun Gun Movie light, retrieved from the cleaning out of recently deceased Grandparents home.  Knowing my penchant for photography, the thought was that it could be used for some indoor lighting during my odd hours of photo’s.  Wow….says I…how cool!

It should be noted at this point that the Grandparents were 93 years old, and there is no telling how old Mr. Sun Gun is.  The thing looks almost brand new (see!).


SOOOOOOOOOO…..with my brand-spankin-new backdrop, and a willing DS, we set out last night to try out not only the backdrop (creating some “school photo’s”) but I grabbed the sun gun outta the closet where it had peacefully sat since it was gifted to me.  Hmmmm she says….reading the instructions and advertisement inside…..”makes all your home movies look like they are filmed in daylight”.  Ok…so maybe it would be good as a sidelight, since I would be using a flash (unusual for me, yes) and it would prevent shadows…blah blah.  So, I remember thinking, just before plugging it in, “hmmmm, (i said to myself)…self I said….this thing hasn’t been used in umpteen years…you think it’s safe?  Surrrrre says the stupid STUPID self.  NEVER listen to self.  It’s going to be a debacle…count on it.

Plugged in (and note…it doesn’t even have one of those widey plugs…which cracked me up and made me feel old) positioned and propped on a non-flammable object, I seat DS on the stool in front of the backdrop, get him situated (an event in itself), position camera, adjust focus….dude, I am set. I remember thinking….I wonder if it will be too bright for a backlight….well…we’ll see and adjust as needed…  THEN I turned it on. 

HOLY CRAP BATMAN! ZING…POW…..BAM…. It was like a friggin nuclear blast in the living room.  DS fell off the stool trying to cover his eyes and dive for cover while mom simply hit the floor, both of us shouting augh!  aaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuugggggghhhhhhh turn it off….I’m blind …I’M BLIND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Stumbling across the 2 feet of floor that separated me from the blasting source of evil…shouting “stay back, stay back!…I reach blindly to turn it off…and then I feel the heat!  Forget every theory of global warming you have ever encountered…I am convinced that the Arctic ice cap is melting from all the unsuspecting 60’s and 70’s  rubes who have at some time in the past turned on a Sun Gun!  Holy CRAP again!  I mean this sucker can RADIATE HEAT!!!!!!!  If we could stand the light, we could heat our ENTIRE HOUSE with this damn thing! Thankfully..the heat led me to move my hand way WAY back….groping up the plastic handle, I finally find the switch to turn off the offending organism….and DS and I sit in silence, ears ringing, blinded, panting, as we attempt to recover from being baked alive in our living room.  At least we know why it’s called the sun gun….it’s like BEING ON THE SUN when you are around it!  I am convinced that cities like Philadelphia and Los Angeles could cut WAY back on their electricity by installing one sun gun each 12 blocks to light the city at night.  This thing is BRIGHT!  (are you getting the idea?!?!?!?)

Crawling out from behind the backdrop moaning, DS looks at me and in his 10 year old logic says “mom, what were you thinking?”  “well, I countered…..” “Mom…do NOT turn that on again.  Ever.  I can’t see anything.  Just spots.  You made me see spots mom…mom what is that smell?”  sniff sniff……EEK  says mom…who quickly unplugged mr. stun gun and  removed him to the kitchen sink to cool down while it burnt the years of dust off itself….sniggering no doubt at our stupidity and vulnerability. 

Through some wheedling and begging and pleading…I did manage to drag him back for a few shots about 20 minutes later..JUST with the flash, but his heart wasn’t in it.  Each time I stood up he gave a frightened glance toward the kitchen…as though I had decided that perhaps it wasn’t such a bad experience and maybe we could try again.  Not a chance boy…Mr. Stun gun has been returned to his box, and will go BACK into the closet as a relatively bad, albeit amusing now, memory.  


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9 responses to “Fun with the S(t)un Gun

  1. Pingback: Ghillie Suits » Fun with the S(t)un Gun

  2. Holy crap Batman is right!!! Thank God you guys are okay. As I was reading I was expecting to see some of the pictures you took with the light. I wasn’t expecting to read that you guys almost got nuked. Wow!!!

  3. mumshome

    Oh, dear… Sounds like something I could use in my yard in the winter! For melting snow AND lighting…

  4. Larissa

    Don’t give up on the sun gun….learn to harness its’ power!
    I love mine so much.
    It can make a lot of things possible when you apply your creativity to it….

  5. Larissa

    oh but yeah don’t touch the little metal grate it gets hot.
    however, there should be an arm in the box, that screws on to the bottom of the handle and can be used to attach the sun gun to your camera. or another, stable surface. once it’s in place, turn it on and off by the switch and don’t touch anything else til it cools down.

  6. Kyle

    haha DUDE… My story is almost exactly the same… Bright as a witches brew on a sunday at high noon… whatever that means. But we love to shine it upon the drunkards meandering around behind my apartment, conveniently located on the top floor. We had one kid convinced that he was going to be abducted by an extra-planetary being of sorts. It really compliments the 1962 honeywell pentax camera I acquired in the same basement. I’d estimate the sun gun’s from around the same time… And i have three extra bulbs if you ever need one, I’m pretty certain they don’t make them like that anymore.

  7. bill

    Thats a great story. I have a sun gun II I found in my parents basement so I know exactly what you mean by bright I turned it on faceing away from me just for about 2 seconds and wow I cant wait for my next summer outdoor party I plan on lighting up the whole backyard and the nieghbors yard and his nieghbors yard so-on, he he.

  8. I actually just used my sun gun for an amazingly fun portrait session with my friends. it may be bright but if you a get a shoot through umbrella or some kind of diffusion material it is such beautiful light.

    ill be posting photos in the next couple of days.

    keep checking till you see them.

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