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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Des Plaines, IL

    Lightbulb Shooting for results...

    Quote Originally Posted by DWessel View Post
    Now that's effort Don! But, with such a reflective surface, I'm surprised you chose to aim your lights at what appears to be close to a 90 degree angle. My thinking is that your lights at a shallow angle (i.e. nearly parallel with the train) would have given more effective and even lighting along the length of the train and eliminate areas of flash hot spots.
    Darin, with the limited number and the range of the lights... I felt what I needed were huge diffusion screens, soft boxes, or bounce card (big white drape) some one-hundred-plus feet long and hanging over the train on the third set of tracks (red arrows, on the right). Moving the engines on Track 3 could be a rather large request, requiring the use of another "yard" engine to move these assorted trains. They also had a look of some permanency, as much as they look "unmoved." I suspect it would probably would be easier to yank the entire "Zepher" out of the barn, into the daylight. (BTW: There are four sets of tracks in each of these train barns)

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    Some quick calculation for this bounce-card solution is 107" wide and 36' long Arctic White Seamless paper on rolls. I would have to recalculate the true length, but let's say, arguably, 200', provided that enough of the Zepher is exposed. That would be: 6 rolls of this stuff, at $48 a roll, or about $300 to cover the other train. Cha-ching! Now, bear in mind that the reflectivity (mirror-nature) of the Zepher, in the current photo, reveals these darker trains across from it. Once I make these opposing trains white with light, I suspect the Zepher's contrast will flatten out significantly... leaving it rather lacking any real detail.

    Another idea was to use more direct lights, run in a series, to provide a uniform line of illumination. Perhaps a series of 48" fluorescent bulbs, to provide uniform distribution of light, the entire length. The barn is not entirely a closed roof, but has a series of skylights along it, to provide illumination when the electric overhead lights are shut off, during the day. That introduces blue light, when mixed with fluorescent, or green looking light, when white-balanced for the daylight or flash.

    Again, this entire shoot was kind of a pleasant surprise when I got there. I fully expected the Zepher to be crowded out by the other engine and anticipated a different lighting combination, in the close quarters. I did not plan on having to use more strobe lights. Again, I could go back on Saturday and, once again, be facing an entirely different layout. I may be able to get a third and fourth set of Bowens strobes to do it, again, with my additional lighting stands. The problem is the enormous distribution of electrical power needed to get everything to operate. I have six 100' foot extensions, that should be enough. The six or eight Bowens strobes are fully adjustable, where the tinier Morris SLAVE strobes are not.

    The real pain (and I mean that in a physical toll - changing power settings and positioning of the lights is rather exhausting) is having to run back and forth, hundreds of feet away, setting up the reflective angles. I did not use 90-degree angles, but more of an away from the camera tilt (> 90-degrees), using the actual reflector bowl on the strobe to kind of block the direct lamp. I have limited light shaping, at this point, and if anything, this has been a terrific learning experience (cripes, I do have a few of those, don't I?).

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    Lighting it makes for some unique challenges, as all sort of hot spots show up, depending on the camera's position relative to the subject and the lighting. Just look at the door frame on the engine. It's on fire! With a subject this reflective, once the lighting is set, you are relatively "trapped" or "stuck" with the camera's position, unless you run back and readjust all the lights to correct for its change of position. Point being, minor corrections result in tremendous changes, here and there.

    As a solo photographer, I must say that at this point, I could truly appreciate the electronic Cyber Commander ratio controller working in concert with the Paul C. Buff E-640 "Einstein" flash heads. Admittedly, that's a pricey improvement to raw lighting control, but it could save some serious time with making those annoying power adjustments over the distances involved. Yes, yes... a light meter offers some idea of control, but you still have to make the adjustments... involving the lowering and raising of the strobe head to get to the power settings, also.

    Another approach, that I did not consider, was using the "ambient lighting" of the barn to expose the train, with a long shutter release (1-2-5-10-15-20-30 seconds). I have three 1000W "hot lights", but in retrospect, that just does not seem to be enough "uumph" to light the length of this thing. Again, we're into Tungsten light and white balance, making the sunlight in the overhead even more apparent. It seems more like a match in a coal mine, if you ask me.

    Then again, being even more "creative," doing a light paint effort of the machine, using a directed beam of light of some kind. I have a portable LED-sourced spot lamp. The big problem with those, of course, is repeatability. You tend to not get the same image twice. Then again, if you were to HDR merge the collection of resulting images (provided that you did not move the camera during their taking), you could wind up with some rather interesting results.

    As an added note: With the Museum closing down for the season, after this weekend, I suspect the trains might be re-packed in their respective barns, when I get there, on this coming Saturday. Again, that would only provide the original scenario I first shot two weeks ago. I mean, some days are just tougher than others. A more coordinated approach would be nice, but you would not believe the shoe-string budget they have this place running on. There is no way the $9.00 admission could support such a thing. Even if they had a hundred people each day... which I do not believe they do, that can't be making much of a dent.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 10-28-2011 at 06:02 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

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