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HomeCraftsCameraDP Stephen Hussar Documents Locomotive Restoration with Zylight

DP Stephen Hussar Documents Locomotive Restoration with Zylight

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LR-506811436209834096Director of photography Stephen Hussar has spent years documenting the progress of the restoration efforts on an 1891 steam locomotive housed at the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington (WW&F) Railway Museum in Alna, Maine.

In the mid-2000s, Hussar produced Restoration Stories, an hour-long documentary that aired on PBS. He considered it as a sort of pilot for a series he wanted to develop, but never found the time to complete another episode between his still photography business, freelance gigs for PBS and other clients and ongoing series work.

One of the features in the hour-long program focused on the railway museum, which was making plans to restore the 1891 locomotive during the time of the shoot. The restoration actually began a few years later, and the museum expects the engine to be operational by the end of 2015. Hussar has been collecting footage of the restoration process and plans to produce a one-hour Restoration Stories follow-up for PBS.

When he is not at the museum, Hussar stays busy with his day job, shooting food “beauty shots” and handling master dolly shots for several PBS cooking series. He began shooting cooking shows with Julia Child. Since then, he has worked on 16 seasons of America’s Test Kitchen, 12 seasons of Simply Ming, and eight seasons of Cook’s Country.

LR-506811436209852618For his cooking shows, Hussar usually shoots with a Sony F55 and is very particular with his lighting, although setups tend to be quick so the food can look its best. “There isn’t one thing, it’s a combination of things,” he explained. “The food and the plate have to look nice. I also don’t use a front light. I like to light from the side to give everything dimension.”

Over the course of more than a dozen freelance shoots for a variety of clients, the Zylight F8-100 LED Fresnel has become Hussar’s “favorite lighting instrument of all time.” He plans to use the F8-100 on his various cooking shows when shooting resumes later this year. “I always ask for it because it’s so versatile and it’s so good,” he said.

During recent shoots in the museum’s machine shop, a daylight balanced F8-100 has become Hussar’s main light as well. The facility has warm 150-watt incandescent lighting throughout, along with windows that add sunlight, so Hussar uses the F8-100 to make it appear like the key light is coming from the windows. Previously, he used an F8-100 to create a similar beam of “sunlight” on a library wall filled with law books for a freelance shoot in an old Boston courthouse.

The F8-100 delivers close to the light output of a traditional 1000-watt Fresnel, but only draws 90 watts and can be powered by a standard 14.4V camera battery or AC adapter. While Hussar has used HMIs for years, he appreciates that the F8-100 stays cool – and does not have to warm up to provide the right color temperature. “The light coming out of it is even, controllable, and it’s the right color temperature,” he said. “It’s really well made. It’s a great Fresnel and it happens to be an LED.”

Hussar said using battery power instead of a power cord has been a helpful feature in the museum. “It’s a very visually interesting location with all of the shop machinery being historic and authentic,” he explained. “It’s not like I’m working in a hurry, but it simplifies things. The fewer wires running around heavy machinery the better.”

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