DP Stephen Hussar Documents Locomotive Restoration with Zylight

LOS ANGELESDirector of photography Stephen Hussar is fascinated by restoration projects, both the processes themselves and the motivations of the people who dedicate themselves to reconditioning pieces of the past. It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that he has spent years documenting the progress of the restoration efforts on an 1891 Stephen Hussarsteam locomotive housed at the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington (WW&F) Railway Museum in Alna, Maine.

In the mid-2000s, Hussar produced Restoration Stories, a hour-long documentary that has aired more than 700 times by PBS member Stephen Hussar stations across the country since 2006. 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.

For 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.”

Available in daylight (5600K) or tungsten (3200K) versions, the F8-100 collapses to less than four inches thick for easy transport. Its patented focusing system allows spot and flood operations, while its eight-inch SCHOTT glass lens maintains single shadow traditional Fresnel beam shaping. Its quantum dot technology provides a more refined and balanced natural light output, delivering a high CRI (Color Rendering Index) and a high TLCI (Television Lighting Consistency Index). Recently, Zylight introduced the F8-200, which has many of the same features of the F8-100 but delivers the brightness of a 2,000-watt tungsten or 400-watt HMI.

Founded in 2003, Zylight LLC is the leading manufacturer of intelligent LED lighting instruments for the film and video production industry. Every model in its easy-to-use lighting system produces fully calibrated bright white light, while some also provide a spectrum of adjustable colors without gels. Full wireless control and DMX integration are included, and AC or DC power options are available. The Zylight state-of-the-art LED system is truly the most unique and flexible lighting system on the market today. With more than 50 dealers worldwide, Zylight continues to develop innovative LED lighting solutions to help make your job easier. More Than Bright–Zylight. Find out more at

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