Old 02-17-2018, 01:14 PM   #1
Joseph Cermak
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Default Tips for headlight anticipation shots?

Any tips for those style of night photo where you just see the headlight lighting up something in the distance, so called "anticipation" shots. I finally got to try some the other day but got a PAQ, which doesn't offer much input on what to do differently. Thanks.
http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...21&key=8850511

Included is an example of the kind of photo I'm talking about
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Old 02-17-2018, 01:41 PM   #2
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I've did the best with these shots when several criteria below come together for a spot.

No ambient or artificial light to boost the lighting in the scene.
Near a curve, to give the headlight more time to 'brighten' the scene.
Bad weather (fog, snow, etc.) to better develop the glow in the atmosphere.
Railroad related elements that will be silhouetted by the headlight.

In your example you've got an artificially lit location which will 'fight' the locomotive headlight for exposure level in the shot. It also threw the color balance off, giving you a hot white headlight. The bridge is a great idea, but the surrounding location doesn't support this shot well enough.








Loyd L.
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Old 02-17-2018, 03:47 PM   #3
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Nice work Loyd! I've never been able to pull off one of the shots. How far in advance do you fire the the shutter? As soon as you see the glow of the headlight or a little before/after?
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Old 02-17-2018, 05:09 PM   #4
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Yes, Lloyd, classic shots. Thanks.

I have tried a few, rejected.

I have attached a going away version , shot at 1/30th,
When I see the bridge illuminated. Several nights I drove out to Dubuque on the Miss. R. You can sit on the levee and listen as they switch the yard and then work thier way up to the bridge. I would have my Border collie with me and play fetch forever and sometimes talk with kids and their cars hanging out.

Never tried this one as I didn't want to ruin some good memories with a rejection.

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Old 02-17-2018, 07:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbrant View Post
Nice work Loyd! I've never been able to pull off one of the shots. How far in advance do you fire the the shutter? As soon as you see the glow of the headlight or a little before/after?
It varies depending on the scene, conditions, and my desire for the composition. I do try to aim for at least 20 seconds of exposure in most circumstances.

Once you can see the scene begin to illuminate from the headlight, it's time to start (but there's usually no penalty for starting earlier), and I always end the exposure right before the headlight(s) is visible. Knowing how bright the result will be based off the camera settings, the type of headlight(s), and the atmospheric conditions is something that is only possible from a lot of practice. It took me years to get to the point where I know exactly what to do to get a usable result with a very high degree of confidence.

shot 1 was 90 seconds, f5.6, iso 100 in a light fog
shot 2 was 167 seconds, f2.8, iso 100 in a humid but fog-less atmosphere
shot 3 was 90 seconds f8, iso 400 in a heavy rain (mile long straight-away that allowed plenty of time for the headlights to work their magic).
shot 4 was 34 seconds, f6.3 iso 400 in a heavy fog. I could have halved the expsoure time to get the same level from the headlights due to the S curve behind the signal, but I wanted to introduce some red into the fog from the signal.

Loyd L.
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Old 02-17-2018, 08:02 PM   #6
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I feel the OP's shot is really busy. i'm not sure the bridge structure really lends much to the shot, it's also a grade crossing wedgie shot. I would find a better location, ideal location would be one on a curve, or one where you aren't shooting straight into the oncoming train, what you have is a big blob of light

Other things that detract from the scene:
- foreground and bridge structure not lit very well (no detail)
- sodium light in the background and road and power poles detracts from the scene
- the grade crossing apparatus closest to the photographer adds nothing to the shot
- perspective correction needs to be done
- color temperature and/or hue needs adjustment, it has a very yellow hue

I just don't think it's a good location for this type of shot
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Old 02-19-2018, 12:29 AM   #7
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I didn't even notice there were other lights there but I can see now how that effects the color temp, etc. Also thanks for sharing your settings Lloyd, I would not have thought to expose for that long. Guess I'll have to continue practicing. Thanks.
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Old 02-19-2018, 01:17 AM   #8
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I have no tips or suggestions. You just have to do it.

Image © Jim Thias
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Image © Jim Thias
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Old 02-19-2018, 01:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbassloyd View Post
I've did...
I done too.
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Old 02-19-2018, 03:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbassloyd View Post
It varies depending on the scene, conditions, and my desire for the composition. I do try to aim for at least 20 seconds of exposure in most circumstances.

Once you can see the scene begin to illuminate from the headlight, it's time to start (but there's usually no penalty for starting earlier), and I always end the exposure right before the headlight(s) is visible. Knowing how bright the result will be based off the camera settings, the type of headlight(s), and the atmospheric conditions is something that is only possible from a lot of practice. It took me years to get to the point where I know exactly what to do to get a usable result with a very high degree of confidence.

shot 1 was 90 seconds, f5.6, iso 100 in a light fog
shot 2 was 167 seconds, f2.8, iso 100 in a humid but fog-less atmosphere
shot 3 was 90 seconds f8, iso 400 in a heavy rain (mile long straight-away that allowed plenty of time for the headlights to work their magic).
shot 4 was 34 seconds, f6.3 iso 400 in a heavy fog. I could have halved the expsoure time to get the same level from the headlights due to the S curve behind the signal, but I wanted to introduce some red into the fog from the signal.

Loyd L.
Thank you! I appreciate it. Now to get off my arse and get out and give it another whirl. lol

Thanks again!
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Old 02-19-2018, 05:37 AM   #11
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My advice would be to play around with different settings. There's not really a manual on any of this other than lots of practice.

Image © Jon Wright
PhotoID: 636264
Photograph © Jon Wright

ApertureFNumber f/6.3
ExposureTime 14/1
ISOSpeedRating 2000

Image © Jon Wright
PhotoID: 635381
Photograph © Jon Wright

ApertureFNumber f/4.5
ExposureTime 10/1
ISOSpeedRatings 2000

Image © Jon Wright
PhotoID: 604092
Photograph © Jon Wright

ApertureFNumber f/5.6
ExposureTime 10/1
ISOSpeedRatings 800

Image © Jon Wright
PhotoID: 562571
Photograph © Jon Wright

ApertureFNumber f/3.5
ExposureTime 20/1
ISOSpeedRatings 1250

Image © Jon Wright
PhotoID: 545704
Photograph © Jon Wright

ApertureFNumber f/8.0
ExposureTime 8/1
ISOSpeedRatings 400
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Old 02-19-2018, 11:58 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias View Post
I done too.
I do believe simple past tense was correct for my statement sir.

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Old 02-19-2018, 12:46 PM   #13
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Thanks to everyone for sharing tips.

One thing that maybe obvious but not explicitly mentioned.

It is good to find a location that has multiple movements or you can go back to easily. ..

After a lot of experience you might be able to get it right the first time but to start it helps to have redos.

Bob
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Old 02-19-2018, 01:48 PM   #14
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Helpful and educational thread, thanks.
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Old 02-19-2018, 05:16 PM   #15
Joseph Cermak
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Yes very good info. I'll have to try some more shots and see what works and what doesn't. Appreciate the tips so far.
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Old 02-19-2018, 07:20 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobJor View Post
Yes, Lloyd, classic shots. Thanks.

I have tried a few, rejected.

I have attached a going away version , shot at 1/30th,
When I see the bridge illuminated. Several nights I drove out to Dubuque on the Miss. R. You can sit on the levee and listen as they switch the yard and then work thier way up to the bridge. I would have my Border collie with me and play fetch forever and sometimes talk with kids and their cars hanging out.

Never tried this one as I didn't want to ruin some good memories with a rejection.

Bob Jordan
Looks like you took a chance and your good memories were not ruined.
Congrats!
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Old 02-20-2018, 12:24 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loomus78 View Post
My advice would be to play around with different settings. There's not really a manual on any of this other than lots of practice.

Image © Jon Wright
PhotoID: 636264
Photograph © Jon Wright

ApertureFNumber f/6.3
ExposureTime 14/1
ISOSpeedRating 2000

Image © Jon Wright
PhotoID: 635381
Photograph © Jon Wright

ApertureFNumber f/4.5
ExposureTime 10/1
ISOSpeedRatings 2000

Image © Jon Wright
PhotoID: 604092
Photograph © Jon Wright

ApertureFNumber f/5.6
ExposureTime 10/1
ISOSpeedRatings 800

Image © Jon Wright
PhotoID: 562571
Photograph © Jon Wright

ApertureFNumber f/3.5
ExposureTime 20/1
ISOSpeedRatings 1250

Image © Jon Wright
PhotoID: 545704
Photograph © Jon Wright

ApertureFNumber f/8.0
ExposureTime 8/1
ISOSpeedRatings 400
More help and good information! Thanks Jon!!
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Old 02-21-2018, 01:15 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbassloyd View Post
I do believe simple past tense was correct for my statement sir.
Now you're just trolling me.
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Old 02-21-2018, 02:24 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias View Post
Now you're just trolling me.
Me? Never!

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Old 02-26-2018, 02:57 PM   #20
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And sometimes luck is your most important tool. Case in point.. my shot from Friday:
Pull into the spot, wait an hour longer than expected, get rained on, it's getting darker, we hear the train, 20 minutes later we still hear the train, finally it's here, but it's nearly dark. so you go 1/100th, f5.6, iso 10,000 @ 400mm and start clicking.

Image © Loyd Lowry
PhotoID: 649419
Photograph © Loyd Lowry


Luck be a lady that night.

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Old 02-26-2018, 03:10 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbassloyd View Post
And sometimes luck is your most important tool. Case in point.. my shot from Friday:
Pull into the spot, wait an hour longer than expected, get rained on, it's getting darker, we hear the train, 20 minutes later we still hear the train, finally it's here, but it's nearly dark. so you go 1/100th, f5.6, iso 10,000 @ 400mm and start clicking.

Image © Loyd Lowry
PhotoID: 649419
Photograph © Loyd Lowry


Luck be a lady that night.

Loyd L.
Saw that, very well done, thanks for sharing specs, finding the right trade-off.
Tripod I assume or is that a IS.
Bob
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Old 02-26-2018, 03:56 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobJor View Post
Saw that, very well done, thanks for sharing specs, finding the right trade-off.
Tripod I assume or is that a IS.
Bob
The Tamron 150-600 has IS, and I was free handing it while attempting to quell my shivering from the downpour we suffered through lol

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Old 02-26-2018, 11:22 PM   #23
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Ok. So I went out and tried doing headlight anticipation photos over the weekend. All I was able to get was streaks. Where did I go wrong?

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Old 02-27-2018, 01:13 PM   #24
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Looks like a straight stretch, normal weather conditions (no fog, snow, rain, anything that will reflect light), and the train was way too far into the scene for anything other than a streak. You're too close to the track as well. Adjust your angle to keep the train out of the scene so that there's enough time to build the glow. Not a great location to attempt it again though.

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Old 02-27-2018, 11:58 PM   #25
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Loyd -

Thanks for the reply. There is a curve there but I was too far up from where the track straightens out apparently. I hit very heavy fog getting there but was disappointed the valley didn't have any. Even the rain/drizzle stopped by the time I arrived.

So this time was a fail. Oh well, guess that's a good enough reason to go out and give it another shot/spend more time trackside. LOL

Thanks again for the reply.
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