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Railfan and the digital camera. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Railfan and the digital camera. The easy way to take good railway pictures. . Enjoy !. Railfanning and the associated photography is meant to be fun. Taking pictures is one of the most potent forms of expression that the railfans have.

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Railfan and the digital camera l.jpg

Railfan and the digital camera.

The easy way to take good railway pictures.

Enjoy l.jpg
Enjoy !

  • Railfanning and the associated photography is meant to be fun.

  • Taking pictures is one of the most potent forms of expression that the railfans have.

  • We capture a slice of time – an event that may never occur again.

  • Instead of enjoying the process, are we getting caught up with the Aperture, F stops, ASA setting, Focus and other technical bits ?

Do you aim and shoot l.jpg
Do you Aim and Shoot ?

  • While all the terms mentioned before are important, but do you have to know all before taking a single good picture ?

  • You may have a simple aim and shoot camera – so can you take good pictures ?

  • Having a good camera is only a part of the story !

The bad news first l.jpg
The bad news first,

As a railfan photographer you have very few controls on your subject.

  • Light may be wrong,

  • Time may be wrong,

  • The trains that take you to and back to that special place may be at the wrong time,

  • Vantage point may not be available,

  • RPF and other unsympathetic people may be around you.

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More bad news….

  • Your camera may be slow.

    • Slow from off to on,

    • Slow from wide to telephoto and vice-versa.

    • Slow from shot to shot,

    • Slow for the flash to charge,

  • In any case, flash cannot always be used as it may attract the attention.

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Taking good pictures -

  • As our parents wanted us to – STUDY !

  • It is all about good composition.

  • It is about relationship of shapes, lines, colours and shades.

  • Study the composition with a “lazy eye”.

  • Let this lazy eye snap the objects that you want to show and not the unwanted bits.

  • Be aware of what you like about a picture.

  • Be aware of what you want to see in a picture.

Study l.jpg
Study !

  • Look at as many pictures as possible.

  • Look at trains pics an say sites such as www.railpictures.net etc.

  • All the pictures on these sites have been filtered by a strict process, so they meet a technical standard.

  • Again – analyze what you like about a certain picture.

  • I like Shanky’s pic of the WDG 3A at Hitec City >

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Be prepared - Equipment

  • Know your camera, the controls and the response time.

  • Be prepared – adequate batteries, spare batteries.

  • Large memory card – the largest you can afford. Make sure that the card is empty before you come for a railfanning session.

  • A good camera bag – that allows you to flick the camera out from storage without fumbling.

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Be prepared – Yourself

  • Adequate rest. One tends to lose enthusiasm when tired.

  • Good shoes, clothes, sun protection.

  • Food and water.

  • A knowledge of the area – you may have to ask around – as Ashish says – He who has a mouth would find Rome !

  • A knowledge of the timetables.

  • Be prepared to take the EFFORTS more than the RISKS.

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Be prepared – in your mind

  • Continuously visualize the scene against the changing background.

  • Even if you are not with a camera, keep an open eye (and mind) about interesting locations to shoot railways against – train your mind to be framing images all the time.

  • Be aware of the background in a picture – it may be good or it may be bad !

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Be prepared – Camera tips

  • Know your camera’s response against the train’s speed – anticipate how many pictures would be possible before the train leaves the frame.

  • Choose an interesting place off the track – be ready for that special angle when the train goes past – there would be just one of these opportunities!

  • Ensure that the date stamp in the camera is OFF.

  • Take as many pictures as possible and shoot continuously!

  • Shoot in the maximum possible size. This is very important.

  • Do not shoot in the B&W or Sepia mode – those effects can be added later. You may need the colour image.

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Be prepared – Camera Tips

  • The best pictures of trains are from the ground – not door or window shots. Be prepared to go out there !

  • Try to capture the train against an interesting background – a wall, flowers, trees, cutting, mountain, water.

  • Do not shoot only the zoom, use wide also. Keep in mind the time taken for a camera to shift from zoom to wide.

  • Pay attention to the catenary and signal posts !

  • Avoid shooting one’s own shadow.

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Treating the camera

  • Keep the camera steady while clicking.

  • Keep the camera steady till the shutter has re-closed.

  • Use the flash if required to get rid of shadows in the picture – this may be needed in the bright sun also.

  • Practice taking night shots without flash by keeping the camera on a surface.

  • Use a small timer to fire the shutter in the night shots. This timer (~2 seconds) overcomes the shake caused by the operation of the shutter button.

  • You may not be able to use the flash for the macro shots – the excess light would washout finer details.

Anticipate participate l.jpg

  • Anticipate the events - at what point will the driver notch up, or switch on the headlamp or when will the four flags, Crew, Under guard, Guard and SM, show ?

  • Build a series of pictures – write a story linking these pictures in your mind.

  • You could take notes using the camera.

  • Participate in the passage of the train – wave at the crew to thank them for that special pose. Wave at the children in the train too !

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Light source

  • Early morning and late evening light is the best for shooting pictures.

  • Be aware of where the light is coming from – maybe take advantage of the light and shadow by shooting the train as it comes into light.

  • Example of an against sun, morning shot, with train coming into a light patch. ->

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  • As mentioned before – shoot as many images as possible in the largest size.

  • The large image then can be “cropped” to make more sense of the composition.

  • The large image size would allow deletion of the irrelevant bits in the picture, thus improving the focus on the primary objects.

  • Cropping would also improve the composition of the picture – the next image is the uncropped version of a picture followed by the cropped version.

Resample l.jpg

  • After Cropping – “Resample” the image to a smaller size – keeping the Horizontal dimension to 1024 pixels or the Vertical dimension to 768 pixels.

  • This would reduce the size of the file.



Unsharpen l.jpg

  • This technique is used to actually sharpen the picture.

  • The JPG image tends to blur after every manipulation – “unsharpening” brings out the edges, giving that special finish to the picture.

  • The next picture is the original image followed by the “unsharpened” image; notice the increase in detail in the second pic.

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Another example of Cropping

  • The next picture is the uncropped image opened in Paint Shop Pro.

  • Next is a screenshot showing the process of cropping.

  • Next is the cropped image itself.

  • Last is the cropped + unsharpened image.

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Post shooting

  • See all the pictures in a slide show on a large monitor.

  • Expect only 10 % or your pictures to be good.

  • Identify the pictures that should be displayed – Every good picture does not have to be uploaded.

  • Be very disciplined in the amount of pictures to be uploaded.

  • Process the pictures – crop, resample, unsharpen.

  • Write the description with the fullest details.

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Software to be used

  • With a digital camera, knowledge of image editing software is mandatory.

  • Learn Photoshop. If that is not possible use a lighter freeware like PaintShop Pro 4 or Ifran View etc.

  • Aim to learn advanced techniques for removal of unwanted objects and for correcting the levels.

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Removal of unwanted objects

  • The following two images are examples of an unwanted objects.

  • The second image is kindly provided by Prakash Tendulkar.

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Correcting levels

  • The following two images are examples of improving an image that is too light.

  • The second image has been tweaked in Photoshop to give some level of balance.