Posts Tagged ‘trains’


February 22, 2016 4 comments


About an hour from where I live is a major freight yard for the Norfolk Southern railroad.

There is usually a lot of activity with various locomotives moving freight cars of all sorts from one track to another and coupling them together in long trains headed for destinations around the country.

Although you can not get up close to the equipment due to security reasons, there are a few places in the parking area that provide good vantage points looking east or west. A zoom or telephoto lens comes in real handy for close ups and for compressing long distance perspectives. It’s a great spot for railfanning.

It was an overcast day when I took this photo and the light was pretty flat. So I decided to use black and white to better capture the mood.


IN THE FIELD: Railroad Museum 2

February 29, 2012 43 comments

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.

IN THE FIELD: Railroad Museum

February 27, 2012 18 comments

Recently I was honored with a private tour of the Railroad Museum Of Pennsylvania, located in the eastern part of the state. The invitation gave me the luxury to photograph the site without the distractions from daily visitors.

And I will say, I am glad my mother taught me good manners, so when I was asked by yet another volunteer if I was “that photographer that came to take pictures”, I was able to graciously nod and reply with a smile, “Yes, it’s me.” Apparently, they are not used to seeing someone walk around their museum with a camera and lens attached to a tripod slung over his shoulder and schlepping a camera backpack.

The museum houses one of the most significant collections of historic railroad artifacts in the world. Inside the museum you will find steam, diesel, and electric powered locomotives, freight, passenger, baggage, mail cars, and cabooses that have, thankfully, been preserved for years to come. There is also a mock train station complete with an operating telegraph office and a few store fronts that would have been found near the railroad station.

Also depicted are dioramas illustrating the daily life of a railroad worker. Memorabilia such as tools, parts of machines, lanterns, benches that would be found at a typical train station, plus other artifacts and artwork were displayed as well. One room called the “Education Room” is provided for children and adults alike, to learn the operations of a railroad. Inside this room are small train layouts of various types and sizes that can be operated at the push of a button.

Lighting conditions for this shoot were, at times, a bit of a challenge. There are skylights through out the building along with overhead lights. With it being a sunny windy day with clouds passing over the skylights, the light was constantly changing. I was switching between flash or no flash, daylight to cloudy to flash white balance settings, along with shutter speeds, that were all over the map.

By now, you have probably figured out I am obsessed with trains and boats. And I promise, I promise, I promise…I won’t write the next 15 posts about trains. Although, when it comes to boats, all bets are off.

IN THE FIELD: Vignette Of A Streetcar

February 20, 2012 22 comments

When I first made the transition from traditional film to digital cameras, I always carried both types of cameras with me. Partly to be sure I would capture what I intended to and partly because I was learning the capabilities of digital photography. As it turns out digital was then, and is now, capable of rendering what I envision. During my film days, I always had to be aware of how many shots I left on a roll of film, and how many rolls I had with me. And I had no way of knowing whether I captured the scene the way I had hoped until the film came back from the lab. The waiting was the hardest part, but when those little yellow boxes of slides showed up, they were filled with two inch square little presents. Some of those presents needed to be returned to the waste basket.

With digital, I have to be aware how many shots are left on a data card. Although, these days most digital cards hold way more photos than a roll of film ever could. And extra data cards take up very little space in a camera bag or pocket. Digital has the advantage of instantaneous review of the photos taken, and the ability to delete unwanted photos in the field.

Back in the days of film, I loved photographing rusty old machinery and that passion carries on with me in the digital age… almost to the point of obsession.

This photo of the front of an old streetcar, or what is sometimes known as a trolley, was taken on a clear day in the back lot of a railroad yard. It was built sometime in the mid 1940’s. Maybe someday the folks from a railroad museum will haul it off to do a complete restoration and bring it back to it’s full glory.