IN THE FIELD: Railroad Museum 2

In my previous post, I mentioned the challenging lighting conditions inside the railroad museum I recently toured. I use the word challenging, not because the conditions were difficult, but because the lighting was constantly changing.

The combination of the skylights overhead providing one light source on a blustery winter’s day alternating between sunshine and cloud cover, along with the high intensity interior building lights, set the stage for the challenge of this shoot. After composing the shot and adjusting the shutter speed and aperture for the exposure I wanted, within seconds the light would change.

Time to change methods. I realized in order to have a fighting chance of getting the proper exposure, I needed to switch to aperture priority. Aperture and shutter priority are two settings I seldom use for outdoor applications, but in this case I found aperture priority especially handy. I was able to compose the shot, choose the aperture so I could control the depth of field, and let the camera decide on the appropriate shutter speed as the intensity of light continued to change. In most cases, it worked pretty well.

Although the museum was well lit with artificial light in combination with the ever-changing natural light, I did use a flash for small close-up shots. Even then, I played around with different aperture, shutter and flash settings to alter the effect of the flash and the amount of light I added to the scene.

For these compositions, I wanted the blacks to remain black, still have some detail in the shadows, and keep the lighter areas from becoming over-exposed. I experimented with different shutter and aperture settings so I could achieve the image I was after. I wanted to capture the final image in-camera, and not have to take multiple images and combine them in the computer with post-processing. Overall, I am pleased with the results.

  1. February 29, 2012 at 10:00 am

    They are so beautiful trains… Especially the last one is my favurite, I dream to travel with this one 🙂 Thank you so much dear David, this is great post, with my love, nia

    • March 1, 2012 at 9:44 am

      Thanks Nia, I would love to travel with any of them!!!!

  2. February 29, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Great photos never the less. The reflections are tough to deal with. Have you ever considered a step ladder? I used one once to get a little higher vantage. thanks for the post.

    • March 1, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Thanks Gerry, ya know a step ladder would have been great. The perspective would have been totally different. Not sure how I would have used the tripod, but I would have figured it out. I’ll be there again in a few weeks and ask for one to use!

  3. Nandini
    February 29, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Great information, David. I really liked watching these old fashioned engines. Great things!

    • March 1, 2012 at 9:47 am

      Glad you have enjoyed this Nandini, I had a lot of fun there!!!

  4. February 29, 2012 at 11:48 am

    They are beautiful engines. They look so sleek and characterful.

    • March 1, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Oh my gosh they sure are and the restorations have been perfect!!!

  5. tedgriffith
    February 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Beautiful shots, David. You captured them well, despite the difficulties.

    • March 1, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Thanks Ted, it was a bit challenging but I was determined to make it work!!!

  6. February 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    You captured some great photos! Thanks for the photography and lighting tips!

    • March 1, 2012 at 9:50 am

      Thanks Fergie, just trying to help out my fellow photographers/artists any way I can!

  7. Jo Woolf
    February 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Lovely images, especially the reflections on the paintwork. I don’t know the first thing about steam engines but there’s something so romantic about them!

    • March 1, 2012 at 9:52 am

      Thanks Jo, In some instances (close-ups) it was hard not to be in the reflection! My favorites are the steam locomotives also!

  8. February 29, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    All three are nice but the third is my favourite.

  9. February 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I really really like the last choo-choo! You did a great job there.

    • March 1, 2012 at 9:54 am

      That seems to be the trend so far. It’s my favorite as well and there are more coming…in a few days…I don’t want to overdo things….

  10. February 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I don´t use Aperture Priority, not because i have something against it-i just don´t know when to use it- i went full on learning Manual and never got ´round to experimenting with this mode. Thanks to your post, i am a little more the wiser! I love these big transcontinental trains that you have in the U.S, they make their European cousins look puny. Beautifully captured David!

    • March 1, 2012 at 9:57 am

      Thanks Adrian, I rarely use aperture or shutter priority either since most objects I photograph are stationary and it isn’t needed…unless clouds are passing overhead and the meter is bouncing all over the place, then I will switch over.

  11. February 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I like that you share your techniques. I can always use tips. Great photos.

    • March 1, 2012 at 10:00 am

      Thanks Jennifer, I don’t think it’s right to withhold information from anyone…what good does it do…although I know some photographers that think differently. Any way I can help is what I say!

  12. SaptarshiC
    March 1, 2012 at 1:06 am

    The last one is nice. I always tend to like lights coming from the back for some reason.

    • March 1, 2012 at 10:01 am

      Thanks SaptarshiC, it’s my favorite one also !!!

  13. March 1, 2012 at 1:46 am

    the lighting and exposure looks spot-on on my screen so your process to reach to this exposure works pretty well here David !

    • March 1, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Thanks Abu, It took some experimenting to get it the way I wanted…delete delete delete keeper delete. It was tough with the meter jumping all over the place!

  14. March 1, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Great photos still! and I’ll get in line with the rest and root for the last of the trains!

    • March 1, 2012 at 10:04 am

      Thanks Anne, I will be joining you in line with the others. I have some shots taken outside in the yard of some really big steam engines to be posted later!

  15. March 1, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Welcome to the world of interior photography. 🙂 Not easy. I like these shots, and congrats of working with your camera to get them! 🙂

    • March 1, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Thanks Katie, I really like the challenge of interior photography and what can be done with light. It’s certainly not easy by any means!!! I was determined to make it work and I will be heading back there in a few days/weeks to re-do some shots and to get some others!

  16. March 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Great shots, David! I love how you were able to make the red pop and the blacks stand out on these photos. I would not have known that you’ve had some challenges with the interior lighting, as these were very well done.

    • March 2, 2012 at 8:51 am

      Thanks Gracie, it was a challenge with the sunlight coming beaming through the skylights and the clouds passing over head. It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if the wind wasn’t
      blowing 40 mph!!! The intensity of the sunlight was changing every few seconds!!!

  17. March 2, 2012 at 4:34 am

    Nice photos 🙂 When I visited York, we went into the train museum and it had so many amazing trains, and it was really challenging to take a picture of them. My photos are nowhere near as good as yours, I really struggled 😀 I should post a few for your professional judgement 😀

    • March 2, 2012 at 8:55 am

      Thanks Kristina, train museums are just so cool…I wish someone would put more of those old locomotives back in service! One of the hardest things for me was where and what to photograph next!I think you should post some pics or send them to me via email. I would love to see them. Plus to see locomotives/trains from other parts of the world is really interesting.

  18. March 2, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Really interesting installment, David. I normally think of indoor shooting as a rare opportunity NOT to have to worry about the light changing.

    • March 2, 2012 at 11:13 am

      Thanks Kerry, That’s what I thought/think also. But not this time. The clouds were moving across the sky so quickly that my light meter was going crazy…at least when I was in the skylight area and when I was outside in the yard with the unrestored locos. I always shoot in manual mode and never use the “auto modes” but this time I couldn’t keep up so I went to aperture priority. It felt odd for me to let the camera make the decisions.

  19. March 2, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    You did an excellent job despite those difficult lighting conditions, David. The photos are great. Those old engines are gorgeous, aren’t they?!

  20. March 4, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Thank you Lee, I just love the old engines and passenger cars…they had “style”

  21. March 8, 2012 at 10:06 am

    You met the challenge of the lighting. Great pics!

    • March 17, 2012 at 11:47 am

      Sorry for the late response John, Boy the lighting was tricky that day…super windy conditions and the sky was full of puffy clouds streaking across the sky. I can’t wait to go back there and re-do a few and get some shots I missed outside.

  22. March 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Great shots, and nice to learn some technical information about how you approach subjects like these.

    • March 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

      Thanks Ehpem, I try to help any way I can! I like that everyone in this blogger world shares tidbits of info. We’re all in this together!

      • March 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm

        It is one of the nice things about blogging. And, really when it comes down to it there are not any secrets if someone wants to find out how to do something they can.
        It’s the eye they press up against the view finder, or control the post-processing with that matters anyway. I am not sure a great eye can be learned (and certainly not quickly from a few hints on a blog or in a how-to book), though any eye can be improved and fine tuned which is what I am trying to do.

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