Old 03-02-2010, 08:49 PM   #1
hioo1
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Question Using flash with opposing sun

Hey guys, I had a thought the other day (I know, its a miracle). I was waiting to see the Circus train, but I knew since it was heading north that I would never be able to get a shot of it head on, then I thought about trying with a flash. I don't actually own an external flash unit yet but I am hoping to get one soon, but my question is would that have any effect at all on the nose of a train that is back lit with the sun. I have a feeling I know the answer (I would need a HUGE flash) but has anyone tried anything like this?
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Old 03-02-2010, 08:53 PM   #2
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I don't think flash would really do any good, but that's just my opinion. I would imagine you'd easily overexpose the scene, and I don't see a flash overpowering the sun.

What you need is the Shadows/Highlights tool and the "Dodge" tool in order to repair a backlit nose. These two features are available in Photoshop.

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Old 03-02-2010, 09:13 PM   #3
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I am with Chase, it just wont work for such a large subject. Now for portraits of people, thats a different story.
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Old 03-02-2010, 09:17 PM   #4
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Yeah I was kinda figuring, but the curiosity got to me
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Old 03-02-2010, 09:26 PM   #5
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Old 03-02-2010, 09:32 PM   #6
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I think a giant mirror would work better, ive noticed a interesting effect with the tall glass skyscrapers in Atlanta in which the windows reflect the sunlight onto the normally backlit buildings opposite. Of course you would need a very large mirror to acomplish this so probably a bit out of range for most railfans....
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Old 03-02-2010, 09:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nikos1 View Post
I think a giant mirror would work better, ive noticed a interesting effect with the tall glass skyscrapers in Atlanta in which the windows reflect the sunlight onto the normally backlit buildings opposite. Of course you would need a very large mirror to acomplish this so probably a bit out of range for most railfans....
I've seen snow shots that has such an effect, the shadow side of the train has some interesting glow. I can't think of an RP example, though.
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Old 03-03-2010, 12:11 AM   #8
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There's no reason in theory why it wouldn't work, you would just need a very large and powerful light source. As Nikos said, a reflector (think giant white poster board or foam board) might be a slightly more realistic and cheaper option for filling in harsh shadows. Of course, if you think railfans attract unwanted attention as it is, I'd like to see what happens when you start holding up white billboards trackside.

As Janusz said, here the snow provided great fill:

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Old 03-03-2010, 04:01 AM   #9
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Reflectors are indeed awesome. I mean, for this shot I had to set a 430 EX II at full power with a 24" umbrella to get a good shadow shooting into the sun. My girlfriend is a LOT smaller than a train, and it's hard to get something that close without it being in the shot!
http://photos-h.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos..._3996358_n.jpg
So yes, try a big white sheet of paper if you feel it's a shot you need to get and can't get noselight (or snowlight) on.
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Old 03-03-2010, 04:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
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My girlfriend is a LOT smaller than a train
every girl's favorite compliment!
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Old 03-04-2010, 04:07 AM   #11
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The train in this photo:

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphot...266148&nseq=20

was headed about 4 degrees west of North and would have otherwise had poor nose light were it not for the snow reflections. On the day and at the time it was taken, the Sun was about 160 degrees west of North at an elevation of about 25 degrees. Admittedly, it was an overcast day but the snow provided great light on the nose and trucks of the engine.
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Old 03-04-2010, 04:34 AM   #12
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Not even close to being my best shot, but obviously using a flash to over power the sun.



When doing portraits on sunny days (I truly pray for cloudy weather when doing portraits or outdoor weddings) I usually put the subjects back to the sun so that they are not squinting with their eyes, and the sun adds a nice hair light which I was used to using in the studio when I had access to a studio. A flash is usually required to get any decent light on the subject with out blowing out the background.

The sun is not on the subjects backs in this, but still the same idea, with out the flash the subject would not have been as nicely lit and the background would not be the same.



(Still working on improving my use of an off camera flash during portrait sessions.)

It COULD work on a train, but your biggest worry would be reflective surfaces, especially when it comes to the orange safety tape and such that trains use. I would be willing to bet that in most situations one 580EX would be enough if you are solely wanting nose light.
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Old 03-04-2010, 03:55 PM   #13
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Because of this thread, I submitted this now rejected shot.



I started a thread about it here:

http://forums.railpictures.net/showthread.php?t=11818

I came away with several ideas for the reshoot. But I might even resubmit it.

Daytime lighting is next on my list to play with.
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Old 03-04-2010, 03:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey Bowman View Post
(Still working on improving my use of an off camera flash during portrait sessions.)
I'd say you are doing just fine!

Having done many a wedding myself, I know it is very challenging. You made the ladies look terrific. Good job!
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:55 AM   #15
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Thanks, I really appreciate the kind words.
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Old 03-08-2010, 03:02 AM   #16
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Shooting large objects such as trains that are back-lite is very possible. You just need alot of throw-power with whatever lighting system you are using. With today's digital cameras it's easier than ever with the available ISO settings. A moving train, at speed does complicate the effort a bit if you actually intend to freeze it, but otherwise, big objects are not as tricky as you might think once you've tried it a time or two.

Just remember, you'll need a lot of throw-power for moving trains and you'll want to keep the exposure at 1/250th or 1/500th to freeze the action. Fluorescent bulbs or halogen's may be the new wave for static subjects, but you can leave them at home for trains moving at any kind of speed.

By way of example, here are a couple lighthouse photos I took back in the late '90s. A first-light or last-light sun will pop the background with lighthouses.

In this case, I used three 2400ws Lumedyne units triggered via radio slaves. You only need one
radio slave to do this. Additional units can be triggered via optical slaves unless they are
spaced far apart such as the second image taken at Grand Haven, MI where the two pier-lights
were more than 600 feet apart. Film for both was Velvia 50, shot at 1/250th.

In neither case was I concerned about freezing the movement of a train, but with the Sturgeon Point shot I did have to concern myself with the moving clouds & the rising sun which is why I wanted to maintain a relatively fast shutter speed.




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Old 03-08-2010, 04:40 AM   #17
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Incredible photos with lighthouses in them Bob!
You are actually making me want to shoot them.
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Old 03-08-2010, 01:46 PM   #18
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I have to agree with Dennis... those Michigan lighthouse shots are terrific. Really well done.
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Old 03-09-2010, 05:14 AM   #19
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Nice work!!!
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Old 03-09-2010, 09:10 AM   #20
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Thanks guys for the compliments on the lighthouse images. As long as we're on the subject of night and/or back-lighting, a couple more examples for your appetites:

First, one of my favorites from early days of experimentation, the Port Sanilac, MI Lighthouse. This one's gone through a bit of PhotoShop to get to this point, and no, the moon was not really in the shot to begin with. Otherwise, it was a pretty straight forward example of painting with flash. Three pops from a 1200ws Lumedyne unit as I walked around the tower while my assistant, the lighthouse tenant, covered the lens between flashes.

You may recall Gary Knapp's story last year about the local fire department being called out after one of his night photo shoots, well, this was mine and out they did come after the siren above the local
volunteer fire house wailed for what seemed like an eternity. Apparently one or more local residents called about exploding lights down by the lighthouse & marina area. The heavy overcast sky that evening bounced the flashes all over town.



Next up, an actual railroading night photo using a Comet PMT-1200 Portable Flash. Shown is Tri-Rail
#809 making a northbound push-run as it came to a halt at the Ft. Lauderdale Cypress Creek Tri-Rail Station adjacent to the former Broward Trade Center.

Effectively, this was a "revenue-freight" movement for me as I had been hired by Tri-Rail to do a series
of new images for their marketing department back in 1994. This was a case of literally walking into their offices with a handful of shots taken for my personal enjoyment and showing them to their graphics department. The gal picked up the phone, called the marketing director and the next thing I know I'm hired me for a two-week, all expenses paid photo assignment.

One of the best Florida vacations I've ever taken and I got to keep & use the images for my own use as well. This image, btw, was taken using a metered time exposure based on the existing light as read by the camera. I simply tripped the shutter as the train approached the station, knocked out two or three burst with the Comet PMT-1200 portable flash and closed the shutter.

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Old 03-09-2010, 09:56 AM   #21
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For those of you who are fellow lighthouse enthusiasts, you may want to view my LIGHTHOUSE SLIDE SHOW.

This show runs approximately 4 minutes & contains approximately 64 slides, with sound. A DSL or faster connection, cable or fiber optic preferred, is necessary to view this show.

Locations include a good assortment of Michigan Lighthouses, plus Montauk Point on Long Island, Boston Harbor Light, Cape Neddick & Portland Head in Maine. With more than 120, Michigan had the distinction of having more operational lighthouses than any other state. I got to most of those which remain, though only a fraction of those are shown in the slide show.

These images were photographed between 1997 & 2003 using a Canon EOS 1N primarily with Velvia slide film. My primary lens for these shots included the EF 24mm Tilt-Shift lens, the EF 28-70 2.8L, the EF 70-200 2.8L and the EF 400 2.8L used with both the 1.4X & 2X extenders. Several, for which I used the wireless radio slaves to trigger the lights, were shot from a mile or more in distance. With the shots of "Big Red" at Holland Harbor, MI it was actually easier to have a boat drop me off beside the lighthouse than haul my gear in over the sand dune, a three-quarter mile hike.

For those of you who have thought about doing lighthouses, especially with night lighting equipment at sunrise or sunset, there are some definite lessons to learn. First, don't expect to get nail your shot the first time out. Some of mine required up to four trips before the elements came together. Primarily, you are working against the sky. With on-shore & off-shore breezes you never know what the atmosphere is going to bring until you're actually there.

Although you can't really plan for the exact sky you'll end up with, you can plan ahead and part of that means getting on-site at least an hour ahead of time. Setting up cameras & tripods, lighting units & radio slaves takes time. If your not ready, you'll miss the "Golden Hour" of shooting which comes in two phases. First phase being the five minute window before sunset or after sunrise. The second phase being about 25 minutes before sunrise or after sunset.

Should you try it, good luck. It's a lot of time, but a lot of fun & very rewarding when you nail them.

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Old 03-09-2010, 12:30 PM   #22
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[QUOTE
Should you try it, good luck. It's a lot of time, but a lot of fun & very rewarding when you nail them.

Bob Lyndall[/quote]

You may want to tell them how much is will cost for your set up, Flashes and and how you power them.
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Old 03-09-2010, 12:37 PM   #23
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Quote:
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For those of you who are fellow lighthouse enthusiasts, you may want to view my LIGHTHOUSE SLIDE SHOW.
No South Haven pier shots?
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Old 03-09-2010, 03:45 PM   #24
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You may want to tell them how much it will cost for your set up, Flashes and and how you power them.
LOL, no I don't want to ruin an otherwise good read. Let's just say that adding the lighting elements to the equation, just like buying a DSLR system, does not come cheap.

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No South Haven pier shots?
Jim, there are 5 South Haven images, near the slide shows end. If you missed them the first time, refresh your browser. You can't miss them.
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