Anybody taking pictures of signals

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Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby pica » Fri Jun 14, 2013 4:23 pm

I bought a book on Railroad Signals a while back and it has some really cool pictures of signals, signal towers, cantilevers, etc. So I though I would try my hand at taking pictures of signals and all my pictures look like crap. Can anyone give me some advice. I use a Nikon D 40. Most of the time I just shoot on full automatic.
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby GP30M4216 » Fri Jun 14, 2013 11:08 pm

What exactly are you trying to capture, pica? The way the light shines out of the lenses? The shape or silhouette of the signal? Framing, proportion, perspective? The signal heads themselves, or the entire signal structure? There's plenty of choices!

I regularly use signals as a "prop" in my railroad photos. In the age where code line, high mount switch stands and cool lineside items like old signal boxes or whistle posts are slowing fading away, I use signals as another railroad element in many of my favorite shots.

Here are some examples, maybe they'll give you some ideas...

Image

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Image

Image
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby Norm » Sat Jun 15, 2013 6:53 am

pica wrote:I bought a book on Railroad Signals a while back and it has some really cool pictures of signals, signal towers, cantilevers, etc. So I though I would try my hand at taking pictures of signals and all my pictures look like crap. Can anyone give me some advice. I use a Nikon D 40. Most of the time I just shoot on full automatic.


Set it in the aperture mode then select f-stop to f-8. The camera picks the shutter speed. Works for me.
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby LSRC » Sat Jun 15, 2013 10:06 am

...are you shooting in the day or night? Can you provide examples so we can help?
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby pica » Sat Jun 15, 2013 1:42 pm

LSRC wrote:...are you shooting in the day or night? Can you provide examples so we can help?



I try shooting between dusk and dark so the signal lights really stand out. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures to post. I deleted them from my camera. Also I find it hard to get good pictures without trespassing on railroad property, which is something I try to avoid doing.
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby mike nowakowski » Sat Jun 15, 2013 8:11 pm

If you want to shoot signals in low light, a tripod is necessary for good results. I shoot in manual and what tends to work for me is ISO of 200 F8 and a shutter speed as long as necessary for a well exposed shot. These settings can be adjusted on the need of the shot, i usually just adjust my ISO. However adjusting your aperture can be required. Also a shutter release is necessary in most cases to avoid camera shake. Here are some signals I have shot at night, http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikenowakowski/
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby ~Z~ » Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:29 pm

Question Mike: why not leave the ISO as low as it'll go on your 5D instead of upping it and keeping the aperture at F8? I'd suggest keeping ISO at 100 or lower if you can, then adjust the shutter speed and aperture as needed. I'd think cranking up the ISO as I saw in some of you photos to ISO 3200 just creates too much noise and grain, like so: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikenowakowski/8619903659/
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby pica » Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:50 pm

Mike, the picture on your avatar is exactly like the pictures I want to take.
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby mike nowakowski » Sat Jun 15, 2013 10:08 pm

The main reason I increase the ISO is to capture the light that would not show up in my exposure if I had it set lower.
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby bdconrail29 » Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:54 am

mike nowakowski wrote:The main reason I increase the ISO is to capture the light that would not show up in my exposure if I had it set lower.


I'm sorry, I don't understand how ISO can "capture" more light than a wider aperture or slower shutter speed? ISO is nothing more than in-sensor amplificiation of the signal, and is generally "cleaner" than post-processing or RAW amplification. It's not a light-capturing element, however. It's amplification. Setting your camera to 1/4s, ISO 200, f/8, will not capture more light than 1/4s, ISO 100, f/5.6. It captures the same amount of light, even in the highlights and shadows. Do you need that much DOF?

BTW Zack, if you are shooting RAW, there is no difference between ISO 50 and 100 (going lower than 100). It takes the exposure as if you are at ISO 100, then dampens it a stop. No benefit gain in noise; it's the same amount. Only helps for JPEG with correct exposure, which maybe he is shooting, I don't know, but not from a noise standpoint.
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby Norm » Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:23 am

~Z~ wrote:Question Mike: why not leave the ISO as low as it'll go on your 5D instead of upping it and keeping the aperture at F8? I'd suggest keeping ISO at 100 or lower if you can, then adjust the shutter speed and aperture as needed. I'd think cranking up the ISO as I saw in some of you photos to ISO 3200 just creates too much noise and grain, like so: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikenowakowski/8619903659/


Ah, the difference between Canon and Nikon. I shoot ISO 400 all the time in aperture mode and let the camera pick the speed. Noise is negligible.
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby bdconrail29 » Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:28 am

Norm wrote:
~Z~ wrote:Question Mike: why not leave the ISO as low as it'll go on your 5D instead of upping it and keeping the aperture at F8? I'd suggest keeping ISO at 100 or lower if you can, then adjust the shutter speed and aperture as needed. I'd think cranking up the ISO as I saw in some of you photos to ISO 3200 just creates too much noise and grain, like so: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikenowakowski/8619903659/


Ah, the difference between Canon and Nikon. I shoot ISO 400 all the time in aperture mode and let the camera pick the speed. Noise is negligible.


You can't do that with Canon?
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby bdconrail29 » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:42 am

~Z~ wrote:I'd think cranking up the ISO as I saw in some of you photos to ISO 3200 just creates too much noise and grain, like so: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikenowakowski/8619903659/


Mike is a contact of mine on flickr (love his photography). I checked out this shot and I see what Zack means. Mike, can you try a similar photo at 38s, f/4, ISO 800 instead? Since you have a 5D Mark III, the noise at 800 should be absolutely no problem.

And, we're not talking about ISO 400 and noise, we're talking about ISO 3200 and noise. No camera to my knowledge has significant noise at ISO 400. At ISO 3200, his 5D Mark III shouldn't be a problem either, shooting in RAW and applying about 40 NR in post in LR. In fact, there are only two current cameras better at high ISO performance than his 5D Mark III, and those are the Nikon D4, and the Canon 1Dx. All other cameras at ISO 3200 the 5D Mark III would slap the crap out of like you'd want to do to a spoiled red-headed step child.
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby conrailmike » Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:31 pm

pica wrote:... the picture on your avatar is exactly like the pictures I want to take.



First of all, you need to stop shooting on full auto and learn what every mode of your camera does. Learn how to shoot in manual and what it can do for your photos.
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby Norm » Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:45 pm

conrailmike wrote:
pica wrote:... the picture on your avatar is exactly like the pictures I want to take.



First of all, you need to stop shooting on full auto and learn what every mode of your camera does. Learn how to shoot in manual and what it can do for your photos.


I agree. The first photos I took in the automatic mode with my D-50 were lousy. Then I began experimenting and found a mode that works fir me.
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby mike nowakowski » Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:55 pm

I understand that keeping the ISO at a lower level will yeald better noise reduction. The only real reason I increase my ISO is to capture more light quicker then if I had a longer shutter speed. For example that tree shot we have been talking about would have not been possible at a lower ISO, the stars would have been streaked if I kept my ISO at 200 and shot a longer exposure. But I try to keep ISO at the lowest and some cases adjust by apature.
Love all class 1 railroads in USA and Canada, and short lines in michigan

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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby bdconrail29 » Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:09 pm

mike nowakowski wrote:I understand that keeping the ISO at a lower level will yeald better noise reduction. The only real reason I increase my ISO is to capture more light quicker then if I had a longer shutter speed. For example that tree shot we have been talking about would have not been possible at a lower ISO, the stars would have been streaked if I kept my ISO at 200 and shot a longer exposure. But I try to keep ISO at the lowest and some cases adjust by apature.


I didn't mean to use a longer shutter time, I was saying widen to f/4, and shoot the same time at 38s, and ISO 800 instead of 3200.

Anyways, sorry Mike, we'll stop using your photo as example as the idea has been presented enough.
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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby mike nowakowski » Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:24 pm

I tend to keep a apature of 8 but yes I see what you mean by going lower
Love all class 1 railroads in USA and Canada, and short lines in michigan

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Re: Anybody taking pictures of signals

Unread postby CG Tower » Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:34 pm

I try to include photos in almost all of my rail shots...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cgtower/

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