If you register, you can do a lot more. And become an active part of our growing community. You'll have access to hidden forums, and enjoy the ability of replying and starting conversations.

Focusing advice for Santa Light trains

Discussion in 'Photographic Guides' started by Stuart Chapman, Dec 13, 2021.

  1. Stuart Chapman

    Stuart Chapman New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2015
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    14
    Gender:
    Male
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I've been out a couple of times recently to photograph moving santa lights trains. I have tried manual focus and auto focus but have yet to capture a crisp image.

    So I am interested in what others have tried. In the pitch black before the train, there is no way of getting or seeing a focal point. I have also tried auto focus with a large number of focal points, but you cant do this until the train is in shot, but have yet to perfect this.

    Would be interested in what others have done to get a crisp image?

    (Also do I need a high ISO)

    Any help appreciated

    Stuart
     
  2. jsm8b

    jsm8b Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    2,364
    Likes Received:
    4,198
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Escapee from the corporate bear-pit
    Location:
    Shropshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    You say 'in pitch black', are you looking at a station location or somewhere without any lighting at all

    For night shots I tend to avoid the latter as there is little reflected light for your sensor (film if you're really brave) to pick up.
    As general advice ( and I claim no definitive expertise in the dark arts ) :-

    - Pre focus on the place you want to take the shot ( you could focus at infinity but the wider your aperture the further away from you the closest point of focus will be)
    - found this depth of field calculator https://www.photopills.com/calculators/dof
    - If you can, use a lit object at the approximate distance to pre-focus
    - Turn auto-focus off (to avoid the focus hunting)
    - Use Manual exposure - for ISO use as high a value as will avoid unacceptable 'noise' - have the lens wide open as stopping movement needs a higher shutter speed
    my usual exposure in stations will be between 1/250 and 1/400 at f1.8 with ISO set at 6400 ( Nikon D800 with a 50mm f1.8 lens). I suspect something similar may work for a train of lights though it isn't really my thing.

    Then (seriously) - practice or experiment -- one of the great advantages of digital photography is that shooting images costs nothing except the time / effort involved.

    Remember high ISO will always result in noise - mine are processed to remove noise using Topaz deNoise AI (all processing apps will manage noise in some way)

    I also found this which may help https://digital-photography-school.com/in-the-dark-10-tips-for-street-night-photography/

    Good luck :Snaphappy::)

    Finally (and really important) ---- Remember to reset the camera to your usual daytime settings when you're done !

    I'll be interested to see what other people do, and I'm sure video has different considerations.

    Scott
     
  3. Stuart Chapman

    Stuart Chapman New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2015
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    14
    Gender:
    Male
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Thanks Scott. I found the autofocus worked better than the manual but still not sharp. (and yes it's pitch black). Also video on the iphone worked fine other than a little flare
     
  4. Paul42

    Paul42 Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2006
    Messages:
    5,208
    Likes Received:
    2,110
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    East Grinstead
    jsm8b likes this.

Share This Page