How to take pics of lights that help your model layout really sparkle

by Michael Groves

Daylight pictures are relatively easy to take, but I have often found that taking evening pictures of layouts with lamps lit is much more difficult.

I grabbed an older Cannon 6D reflex lens camera fitted with an EF lens and asked a friend to show me how best to get some sparkly into the light.  At first I wanted to use a low aperture F stop (i.e. a lens opened wide) to accept as much light as possible.  However, this created a problem in that only a certain area was in focus.  This was great for focusing on a particular object such as a lamp, but everything else nearer and further away was out of focus.  So my friend told me to close down the aperture by going up to an F of 22.  That allows through very little light but everything is in focus.   To compensate for the lack of light we could have increased the ISO number of the system, but this yields a grainy image, so we kept that relatively low, below 400.  Instead we mounted the camera on a tripod and changed the time to 10sec.  This compensated well for the high F stop setting.  Now we had one more issue to deal with, namely, the vibration that occurred when pressing the button to open the shutter.   So we set a 2 second delay on the shutter. 

Here are a few images we took with the above settings.  The first is taken with a higher ambient lighting.

Or how about these taken the other direction along the water front:

Sparkling Gooseneck, Globe and car headlights along my model train layout's river front

Yet another helps you see the the sparkle even more!!

Car headlights even sparkle using fiber optics

By now you know that I have a love from some of the old English things.  The next 2 pictures will give you an idea of how to show off your E-Type Jag:

Sparkle of the directional lighting of Gooseneck lamp onto an E-Type Jaguar

And after all that, it is time to relax at the Wet Whistle Pub - one I dreamt up in one of my more creative moods.

Using fiber optics to light trees, tables, and building - my HO Scale English pub on my model railroad.

Well that's it for the moment - I hope you really enjoy photographing your lighting.

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