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Old 11-10-2009, 07:56 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by railfanzone View Post
Very nice work, Chase! You pretty much covered the subject. I just put on a talk/how-to about night flash photography for my camera club, and I think you covered it very well.

One hint that jumps out that you didn't touch on - ditch any UV/protection filter you may have on the front of your lens. It's just another surface for light to bounce off of and cause ghosted point sources of light (street lights, headlights, etc.). I don't want to start a debate, but I never use 'em - more trouble than they're worth, IMHO, and at night that uselessness factor, to me, just quadruples.

Also, you really don't need many flashes to do night action photography. Yes, Gary Knapp's work is nothing short of beautiful, but I'm lazy, so less is more when I'm running around in the dark. I just uploaded this one I did with a single 400 watt/second Lumedyne, where the head was about 10' in the air, and about 20' behind me and to the left. (as in out of the frame). I also left the EXIF in tact if you're curious (if you're lazy - ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/160s Canon 50D with a Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC)

Image © Thomas J. Nanos -
PhotoID: 303595
Photograph © Thomas J. Nanos -

I'm still tweaking my "minimalist" method, and may add one or two more lights at some point, but I like the KISS principle - Keep It Simple Stupid.


Thanks for bringing up the UV filter! While I've learned that UV filters effect a night image in a negative way, I failed to inform that in my post.

I also appreciate the additional insight on the flash bulbs, studio lighting, etc. Whenever I'm eventually done purchasing lenses and pick up a new body at some point, I'd like to invest in some small, and somewhat inexpensive AB's, bulbs, or some other sort of studio lighting.

Originally Posted by Slopes09 View Post
One thing to add to spotlighting: if the train is crewed but stopped, you should probably ask the crew's permission before spotlighting their train. This is more of a basic courtesy, as I know that I wouldn't want a bright light suddenly flashed in my eyes.
Good point! I generally do not bring out the spotlight if the crew is present.

Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
That UV protection filter suggestion is very important to know, thanks for bringing it up Tom.

I personally think Lumedyne or the use of Alien Bees studio flash units are probably the best way to light a moving train. The use of many less powerful and expensive flashes like Gary uses just seems like it would take more time and money to get the same result.
I've looked into the AB's. They seem to be provide the most light, but they do require their own power supplies, which if you purchase one off of their website, could cost you an additional $300.

Once I am able to afford a set of AB's, or some flash units, I'll look into various reflectors, lights, etc. etc. and try to get the pros and cons of each one, but for now, I'm focusing on L glass.

Chase Gunnoe
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