School project. Nighttime shooting tips needed.

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School project. Nighttime shooting tips needed.

Unread postby BamaSubdivision94 » Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:37 pm

For my final project in my Elements of Photo class (basically an Intro to Photography class), I came up with an idea to go around and take pictures of abandoned ROWs in the area. There's a catch however: I want to add a light in the distance to given the illusion of an approaching train.

The plan is to have my mom be the light source, using a headlight or a lantern that we have and stand off in the distance with the light on while I position the camera in the perfect spot to convey the story of the photos. I got some other ideas as well but overall I'm an amateur at photography (just got my first real camera last month) and could use some sage advice from seasoned railroad photographers.

Any tips are appreciated. Thanks!
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Re: School project. Nighttime shooting tips needed.

Unread postby PatAzo » Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:34 pm

Most likely you wouldn’t need to exactly duplicate a locomotive headlight and it may be best not to. The viewers are probably not railroad oriented people. The critique will be on them feeling like there was a train approaching and not on the technical aspect of a head light. A hand held spot light might be enough to be a big bright light to keep your mom hidden and give the illusion a train is approaching. A good photo will have “pause”. As the viewer looks at the photo there will be something that keeps their eye engaged and causes them to pause and keep looking at it. What you light up in the scene is as or more important than the light source itself. Try a big spot light. Take a step ladder or a pole to put the light on it in case mom gets tired of holding it in the air.
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Re: School project. Nighttime shooting tips needed.

Unread postby railohio » Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:59 pm

Use a long exposure with a small aperture and a low ISO on a good tripod.
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Re: School project. Nighttime shooting tips needed.

Unread postby Pixl » Sat Nov 07, 2015 4:23 pm

I would suggest an active line rather than abandoned. One that has shiny rails to give a good reflection from your light source. Of course find a place with public crossings near enough to each other.
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Re: School project. Nighttime shooting tips needed.

Unread postby Ypsi » Sat Nov 07, 2015 4:37 pm

Pixl wrote:I would suggest an active line rather than abandoned. One that has shiny rails to give a good reflection from your light source. Of course find a place with public crossings near enough to each other.

As I understand what your saying as not being necessarily illegal, setting up a tripod in the middle of the gauge at night as well as another light source or something probably is not the way to go. In addition to being dangerous to have equipment set up on an active railroad, you will also likely have a lot more light pollution from cars and steet lights to ruin the effect that may be attempted from the photo shoot (dark and abandoned with a "ghost train" or train in the distance).
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Re: School project. Nighttime shooting tips needed.

Unread postby BamaSubdivision94 » Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:52 am

railohio wrote:Use a long exposure with a small aperture and a low ISO on a good tripod.
Roger that! Thanks.
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Re: School project. Nighttime shooting tips needed.

Unread postby BamaSubdivision94 » Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:02 am

Pixl wrote:I would suggest an active line rather than abandoned. One that has shiny rails to give a good reflection from your light source. Of course find a place with public crossings near enough to each other.
Besides the reasons already stated, doing an active rail line would defeat the theme of the project. I'm going for the unusual here; having the classic shining rails from an oncoming train is nice but cliche in comparison. If I'm to photograph an active line then I may as well wait for an actual train to show up and doing that where I live (where there are more former ROWs than active ones) will take hours.
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