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Old 09-06-2019, 08:21 PM   #6
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 41

Originally Posted by need2foam View Post
This is a stunning shot. Just when I think I've learned something about photography, I see something like this and realize that I've understood nothing.

For some reason, I was under the impression that you need to stop down to f/8 or less for the "star" effect but this one was made at f/6.3. He isn't pointing the barrel of the lens into the full wrath of the headlights like I was, either.

I would have been a lot better off with a shorter focal length - this train had a fantastic consist - this old CORP motor, plus one of the former UTAH MK 50-3's, plus a couple of motors in old BN paint, plus one of the SP tunnel motors - none of which you can see with the telephoto perspective.
Keep in mind that John is using an APS-C camera, so if the information you read (regarding what "stop" range was best for getting "starburst" effects from point light sources) was written with 35mm in mind, the equivalent aperture for John's shot would be about f/10. Smaller apertures do assist in creating the "starburst" effect on point light sources like headlights.

Another important factor is the aperture blades in your lenses. Newer lenses with rounded aperture blades intended to improve the appearance of out-of-focus areas (so-called "bokeh") will not usually give you "starburst" effects like older lenses which have "straight" aperture blades, the minute "corners" of the closed down aperture blades being what makes the light appear as "starbursts."

You can also work on those "blobs" in post processing. I don't know what you use for processing your photos, but most image processing software has what they call a "haze" filter and a "structure" filter, and dragging the "haze" tool into the "negative" zone, in combination with dragging the "structure" tool the opposite way, might help to tame those headlight "blobs." somewhat. If you get carried away with it, you might get some other effects you don't like and have to take other "measures" - as always, there's going to be some trial and error involved. As always, you'll want to shoot in RAW to have the most post processing flexibility.

At the end of the day, in the example you provided you did really pick a shooting angle that was straight "down the pipe," and moving inside the curve (outside looking too overgrown for a shot from that side) might have enabled you to spare your eyes and your camera sensor from looking straight into those blaring lights. In dim light and particularly when backlit like that, there's little hope to escape the result you got with those headlights being THE dominant light "source" in the image.
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