There are, actually, quite a lot of people like myself who enjoy photographing trains. There aren’t as many, however, who know what they’re doing. Then, there’s a rather exclusive group of people who use strobes to light trains at night. Popularized by a man by the name of O. Winston Link, using flash to light a moving train can be an interesting challenge. With a static subject, you can get a pretty good idea at what your lights are doing. In this case, however, you have to sort of guess and hope for the best. I won’t even go into the difficulty of framing a subject that isn’t there yet! I failed to be successful with seven trains between two nights, but just before 11 pm on last Sunday night, train P84 rolled through and I nailed it!
A recent assignment was to look through techniques found on a couple of specific websites and attempt to recreate one of them. We were told that the one we chose had to incorporate the use of off-camera flash. I chose a shooting style called “Flash and Blur,” found at this website. The technique involves having the subject lit only by a strobe, and the background lit only by ambient light. Using a slow shutter speed, the background can be motion blurred. The subject, however, stays sharp due to the quick pop of the flash.