Once in a year opportunity : ) .... messed up. : (

Started Dec 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
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GeorgianBay1939 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,044
Once in a year opportunity : ) .... messed up. : (

A couple of nights ago I got a call from a neighbour who said, "The Christmas Train is on the Bridge and will be at your place in a few minutes. Grab your camera. Bye."

So I got my camera from its normal place in the truck and ran through the snow to the back portion of my yard where I had taken pix of trains a year ago. (Like this one appearing out of the fog:)

Train going through my back yard in the fog


As I heard the train traversing a close-by bridge I turned the camera on, left it in RAW, cranked ISO up to 800, put my little led flashlight in my teeth to change the Drive Mode button to (medium) burst.


Drive mode button is bottom cursor.


The train arrived around the corner, going like Hades, so I used EVF to crank off a few shots, remembering not to load the buffer prematurely.

This is the best of the lot!

Amateurish photo of CPR Christmas Train speeding through my farm, near the back of the house...

When I got back to the warmth of the house I loaded the computer, saw the mess of motion (mainly hand-holding) blur, clipping, etc, and finally decided to check my camera settings.

Relevant Exif:

Exposure Mode: Auto exposure
Exposure Program: Aperture priority
Exposure Time: 1 / 6
FNumber: 5.3
Focal Length: 65
Focal Length In 35mm Film: 130
ISO Speed Ratings: 800
Metering Mode: Pattern
Saturation: Normal
Sharpness: Normal
White Balance: Auto white balanceLens Model: LUMIX G VARIO 14-140/F3.5-5.6


Here is a test for you:

List the mistakes made above!




My answers: MISTAKES

  1. Used my 14-140 (wide open at f/5.3) while my brighter 30-100 f2/8 lens sat in the truck.
  2. Wasted time going to ISO800.
  3. Wasted time going to burst mode.
  4. Used the EVF to frame the scene.
  5. Used Auto exposure to expose the scene.

1. You didn't know that I had the brighter lens so you won't be penalized for not getting this one.

But you should be penalized for not getting the following errors:

2. Should've left ISO at base 200. That would've given me max DR, minimized headlight clipping, but left room to bring up the snow in post processing. I am capturing LIGHT (always) NOT OBJECTS.

3. I had plenty of time, to make the first shot, chimp it, and reshoot at least 3 more before the train passed. Better to get ONE GOOD SHOT rather than a load of crap.

4. Well ingrained habits die hard. It would've been much easier to track that train in the dark using TWO eyes.

5. Worst mistake of all. Especially since I have been working hard to use M(anual) Mode to shoot high contrast images in low light lately. ( I usually leave this GX7 in A(perture) Mode, and the GH2, with the 100-300 mm in S(hutter) Mode to capture fleeting wildlife) This is no place for using in-camera metering (of any sort) to find an EV! I should know better and deserve a kick someplace.

So what am I gonna do next year this time?

A. Better prep. Know when the train is scheduled to come by. (Maybe even set up a mono- or tripod, but I don't think that I'll need it, actually. See later stuff.)

B. Use the brighter lens (30-100 f/2.8), wide open. See later stuff.

C. Use Base ISO, 200 since DR is what counts ... between the snow in the headlights and the specular lighting of the train. The headlights will be oversaturated/clipped by both exposure and by gain in any event. See later stuff.

D. Single shot, with controlled review, which is my normal setting.

E. Practice using the LCD in the dark.

F. Use M(anual) Mode by using my head and the following ...

Later Stuff:

Above pic: EV (f/5.3, 1/6 second) was around 7.5EV*

But I had lots of LIGHT (all those light bulbs), and could've shot at EV 11 ... which, with f/2.8, gets a 1/250 second shutter interval. (no need for a tripod when shooting FL 130mm (eq FOV) at that speed). I might drop that down a stop to 1/125s as a bit of train motion blur wouldn't be bad.

There is some clipping on the festival lights in addition to the loco headlights. Shooting at ISO 200 will stop that clipping (leaving the headlights blown/clipped), while giving me maximum DR, allowing me to pull that snow in the headlights as much as necessary in Lightroom.

*For those who are interested in this stuff (EV = log (N^2)/t = log (28.09 x 6) = log 168.54 = 7.4 (log = log to base 2)

Ok, folks, have at this!


Afterthought: Maybe the smartest thing to do is to shoot iA, then click the red button to get a nice video to send to the grandkidlets saying that Santa is using a train to deliver gifts this year. Too easy?

Another afterthought. It might be fun to try this several ways ... to use a tripod to get a LOT of motion blur. Also to try some panning. Maybe I'll have to follow (race?) the train from Parry Sound to Sudbury next year, intercepting it at convenient crossings for some pix!)



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