Drew's Fantastic Train Photo Adventure: Practice makes improvement

Posted by D-Halv
on Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Union Pacific’s MSSPR rolls by Habanero’s Mexican KitchenUnion Pacific's MSSPR rolls by Habanero's Mexican Kitchen in Wauwatosa, Wis., on a clear summer night. Canon EOS 30D, 7/11/2011, 0.8 sec, f/11, ISO 250, 18mm. Drew Halverson photo

Here's the first photo of the series I'd like to have back. I contemplated not even using it, but then Trains Senior Graphic Designer Scott Krall reminded me that this is what the month-long adventure is all about: trying new shots, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing. As always, he makes good points.

What I like: 

The establishment pictured offers great Mexican food with outdoor seating and a view of Union Pacific's Milwaukee Sub. As for the photo, I do like the ambiance. I can imagine being there on a warm summer night, enjoying the "grub" and watching trains roll by. 

What I don't like: 

Where to begin? It's a little too dark. I thought it looked good on the 30D's display screen last night, and I did tweak the brightness in Photoshop. However, I should have left the shutter open a bit longer, enabling more light, with slight adjustments to aperture. What I'm really bummed about is the train's presence, or lack thereof. I shot the photo at 0.8 seconds, which was either not long enough or too long of an exposure. I would have preferred to keep it open for 5-6 seconds, first firing the shutter as the gates began to lower. Doing so would have resulted in crossing gate motion and the first few units streaking by in a blur. To accommodate for the longer exposure, I would have bumped up my F-stop to close my aperture a bit more and tweaked the ISO setting, causing less grain. But I digress.

What I learned

Practice makes improvement. I don't have much experience with night photography. So, if you're like me, just get out there and experiment. Eventually the camera settings will become second nature, and you'll know what to look for and how to achieve your desired result. Until then, I'll keep fumbling around in the dark. 


Flickr: "Drew's Fantastic Train Photo Adventure, 2011"
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