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03-22-2014, 12:04 AM   #1
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I can't photograph the d*@mn train

Third try today, about 5 PM, to photograph an Amtrak Surfliner passing in front of Swamis in Encinitas, California. The Self-Realization Fellowship, sorry about that. Train coming by at about 40 MPH; me with a K-5 IIs and an f/2.8 200mm lens -- on TAv, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 250 -- about 100' away from the tracks.

Temple framed in the viewfinder -- pre-focused on the tracks -- here it comes, click! And I missed it, again. Didn't get the temple in the background.

Solution? Took a second picture of just the temple, from the same location, same lighting. First set of pictures below -- the temple picture and the train engine picture. Then, a quick composite using inexpensive Xara Photo & Graphic Designer... and a bit of very mild HDR in Oloneo. Cut out the engine, pasted it onto the temple photo, ended up with the result at bottom below... after fixing up the engine's burned-out headlight.

Wish I was good enough to get the same result in just one shot... but I can't. Amateur hour!

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Last edited by jon404; 03-22-2014 at 12:11 AM.
03-22-2014, 12:16 AM   #2
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maybe shoot from a different angle or from farther away since its a tele lens?
03-22-2014, 12:27 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jon404 Quote
Third try today, about 5 PM, to photograph an Amtrak Surfliner passing in front of Swamis in Encinitas, California. The Self-Realization Fellowship, sorry about that. Train coming by at about 40 MPH; me with a K-5 IIs and an f/2.8 200mm lens -- on TAv, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 250 -- about 100' away from the tracks.

Temple framed in the viewfinder -- pre-focused on the tracks -- here it comes, click! And I missed it, again. Didn't get the temple in the background.

Solution? Took a second picture of just the temple, from the same location, same lighting. First set of pictures below -- the temple picture and the train engine picture. Then, a quick composite using inexpensive Xara Photo & Graphic Designer... and a bit of very mild HDR in Oloneo. Cut out the engine, pasted it onto the temple photo, ended up with the result at bottom below... after fixing up the engine's burned-out headlight.

Wish I was good enough to get the same result in just one shot... but I can't. Amateur hour!
Sorry to burst your bubble but that 3rd one is just great.
03-22-2014, 12:29 AM   #4
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@hmirchev -- yes -- I'd already backed up as far as I could go in the parking area near the tracks... should have used a different lens, right? Glad I'm retired, and don't do photography for a living!

@Frank -- thanks -- I like it enough not to go back again for another futile try at lining up the train with the background. Wish I could stick a sound file right into the JPG so you could hear that engine going by. Up close, they are very big, very powerful, and very, very loud!

03-22-2014, 12:34 AM   #5
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Here are a couple of ideas. I would go to something wider - or zoom back, to perhaps somewhere like 150mm to 100mm first in order to frame the train a bit better. I use to live in the area 30+ years ago, and I really don't know what is around there now. I don't know what your trying to get or exclude from the frame. The other thing I would do would be to put the camera in multiple frame mode. Go to the up arrow, and I think its the second selection from the left. I would start shooting a bit early (just keep pressing down on the shutter button, while it is taking frames) and then continue through (after the first 10 to 15 frames it will slow down a bit while saving to the SD card) - past the point of the train that I was interested in. You might burn through 200+ frames. Then in post processing, you can choose the shot that you want. Somewhat backwards, but I have used this approach before.


Last edited by interested_observer; 03-22-2014 at 12:40 AM.
03-22-2014, 01:27 AM   #6
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I do not accept the epithet "amateur hour" applies to your work. I admire your endeavour an I hope you will achieve your goal but I have a sneaking suspicion that quite a lot of so called professional photographs are are result of composite images.
03-22-2014, 01:51 AM   #7
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@Bruce -- thanks! The practical side of me enjoys compositing -- solves so many problems so fast. But the purist side of me says 'No, Jon, you're cheating... just do what Interested_Observer says in his post above, even if you have to wade through hundreds of frames to find one that you like."
But then, my practical side comes back with "Why bother? Just composite those two images... and save all that post-processing time so you can be out there taking more pictures." Somehow, i think this debate goes back to the start of photography... nothing new under the sun, unless I can get the Swamis folks to lay a giant Ommmm on that train and park it just in the right place for a few minutes. This being Southern California, why not?
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