What type of equipment does one need for taking shots at night, of moving targets? Not specific lenses or anything, but what attributes would such a lens need to have?

O. Winston Link has some great night photos of trains at night, and there is no blur, can anyone comment on the type of equipment used for photos like this? (on a higher resolution print you can clearly see that all of the lines are very crisp.)

O. Winston Link Night Shot

  • \$\begingroup\$ Get 50mm f/1.0 (if you can find one) and you'll be able to shoot this without flash, you'll need to use at-least 1600-3200 ISO though =) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 28, 2011 at 3:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Serious? Or Joking? And can a good one be had for less than 10k? \$\endgroup\$
    – Nate
    Apr 28, 2011 at 17:07

3 Answers 3


According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_Link) he used a total of 43 flashbulbs (wired to trigger simultaneously) for the shot you have as an example. Certainly the shot looks lit by flash. Looking at a higher resolution copy, I think at least one of the flashbulb heads near the tracks are visible in the shot.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the flash bulbs used are many times more powerful than electronic flash. There was an interesting lighting sidebar in the National Geographic photos of Lechuguilla, where they used flashbulbs to light up an immense space brightly enough to shoot Kodachrome -- I can find the photos online, but not the technical info, but if you can find the issue in a library (or in somebody's collection), it's an interesting read. Oh, and you'd need a camera that does M-sync (X-sync opens the shutter before the bulbs are anywhere near full strength). \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Apr 27, 2011 at 21:51

The blur is caused by motion during exposure. There are two ways to get around this:

  • Fast shutter-speed: To get a proper exposure at night with a fast shutter-speed you need to increase the ISO sensitivity and open the aperture. Keep in mind that opening the aperture reduces your depth-of-field, so you may not want to shoot at F/1.4 even if your lens can do it. Modern full-frame DSLRs are fantastic in the regards, the Nikon D3S is considered best-in-class due to its relatively low 12 megapixels resolution and sensitivity up to ISO 102400. Yes, it gets noisy there but it lets you obtain nearly impossible shots.

  • Flash: This lets you take an exposure where the subject is illuminated for a short duration. It takes a lot of flash power (multiple flashes) to light up a train and you have to get your lights close enough to be effective and have enough lights to light up the whole thing. Not an easy or cheap task but I know people from National Geographic who made such shots with a team of people working together.


You need a DSLR Camera with a high range value of ISO, or a good illumination, not there special lenses, only you need setting good illumination.


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