Old 04-08-2011, 12:57 AM   #1
jlg759
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Default Headlights on Loco's Fix ?

I have a question to see if anybody has tried this with success. If you are shooting a locomotive head on with the lights and ditch lights on. With a digital camera set to shutter priority if you add in some (+ or -) compensation will the camera make the photo come out as it should without getting too dark?

I mostly shoot manual but was wondering if anyone else has tried this I am trying to ween my buddy who keeps getting dark shots off program mode and thought this might be a good first step. I just thought of it and will try next time out but why recreate the wheel if someone on the group has done this with success.


Thanks

Joe
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Old 04-08-2011, 01:04 AM   #2
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Best way to ween someone off Auto is glue the dial to M.

Just tell your friend to go to M, select a speed necessary to stop the train in action and then simply dial in the aperture according to the meter. Try a few test shots (the advantage of digital) and adjust accordingly. Soon, it'll come naturally.

/Mitch
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Old 04-08-2011, 02:17 AM   #3
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Mitch is right. The key is to meter the scene before the train arrives (though this can be difficult to accomplish in rapidly-changing light conditions).
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Old 04-08-2011, 05:44 AM   #4
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mitch and Dave are both right. But if your friend is still uncertain, tell him to do a test shot on Shutter Priority before the train arrives, then change the camera to M to the settings it was on on Shutter Priority. The bad thing about this? The camera doesn't know when it's setting it's settings if you're shooting a 45 mile per hour freight or a fast going passenger train. Best bet? Learn M. Let the mistakes be yours because you'll eventually learn Manual while the camera keeps selecting random settings.
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Old 04-08-2011, 01:36 PM   #5
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I've never done it, but it seems like bracketing the exposure would help, if the camera has that option.
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Old 04-08-2011, 05:15 PM   #6
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Bracketing can help but as with any other system you need to practise to know how much compensation to dial in. Telephoto lenses will need more than wide-angles which give the metering system more scene and less headlight (proportionally speaking) to "read". As stated, if you have time try to meter the scene before the train arrives and shoot in manual mode. If the light changes rapidly you can always switch over to program mode and cross your fingers.
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Old 04-09-2011, 06:31 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWHonan View Post
Mitch is right. The key is to meter the scene before the train arrives (though this can be difficult to accomplish in rapidly-changing light conditions).
This is what I've always done, sometimes I end up overexposed because of changing light. But since I shoot in RAW its much easier to correct, than say if I underexposed the shot by pointing the lens at the locomotives headlights on Auto or P mode.
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Old 04-09-2011, 11:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWHonan View Post
Mitch is right. The key is to meter the scene before the train arrives (though this can be difficult to accomplish in rapidly-changing light conditions).
Ballast makes for a good gray card on a cloudy day. If it's sunny, I tend to meter off the blue sky.
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Old 04-09-2011, 05:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias View Post
Ballast makes for a good gray card on a cloudy day. If it's sunny, I tend to meter off the blue sky.
Learning so many things from the forum. Even before this , I had my doubt about what the metering is.
My understanding about metering while test shot is
1)To point the camera to ballast or sky depending upon the light condition, lock the focus and shoot in auto mode.
2)Note the shutter speed & aperture value for reference.
3) Go to Manual mode & change the values along with ISO to get correct exposure on vertical scale .
Please let me know if I am correct or metering is something different.
Thanks in advance.

Last edited by lalam; 04-09-2011 at 05:33 PM.
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Old 04-09-2011, 05:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lalam View Post
My understanding about metering while test shot is
1)To point the camera to ballast or sky depending upon the light condition, lock the focus and shoot in auto mode.
True metering would not include cheating in auto mode. I make the suggestion that people do this when they're just getting started in M mode. Some of us almost never, ever shoot in Full Auto.

As I said in a post above, the camera in your hand does not know if you're metering for a slow moving freight on a branch line or a fast ass Amtrak somewhere. You should know that and set your camera accordingly.
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Old 04-09-2011, 06:17 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Joe the Photog View Post
the camera in your hand does not know if you're metering for a slow moving freight on a branch line or a fast ass Amtrak somewhere. You should know that and set your camera accordingly.
I understand that for a moderately to fast moving train we need about1/500 for sharpness ,5.6 to 8 , ISO:80-200. But then why the metering is required? Is it require for colour balance?
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Old 04-09-2011, 10:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lalam View Post
Learning so many things from the forum. Even before this , I had my doubt about what the metering is.
My understanding about metering while test shot is
1)To point the camera to ballast or sky depending upon the light condition, lock the focus and shoot in auto mode.
2)Note the shutter speed & aperture value for reference.
3) Go to Manual mode & change the values along with ISO to get correct exposure on vertical scale .
Please let me know if I am correct or metering is something different.
Thanks in advance.
You're over-thinking it. I'm not even sure I follow what you just explained.

In simplest terms...

-Pick an aperture
-Pick an ISO
-Point the camera at the blue sky and adjust the shutter speed until meter is at zero.
-Take a picture
-Have a beer

If the shutter speed isn't fast enough to freeze the train, then increase the size of the aperture or use a higher ISO.
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:39 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias View Post
You're over-thinking it. I'm not even sure I follow what you just explained.

In simplest terms...

-Pick an aperture
-Pick an ISO
-Point the camera at the blue sky and adjust the shutter speed until meter is at zero.
-Take a picture
-Have a beer

If the shutter speed isn't fast enough to freeze the train, then increase the size of the aperture or use a higher ISO.
Thanks. That clarifies the doubt about metering. Another problem I faced is when I point my camera to sky and try to focus by pressing the shutter half way, it does not focus properly. I get yellow AF frame instead of green conveying focusing difficulties. It might be related to my SX10's specifications but in such case what is the alternative?

And having a beer while on field is out of question for us to avoid unwanted attention. Instead it can be thought of after a good rail fanning session
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:52 AM   #14
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I set it in Av mode if it's moving and let the camera figure it out, or if it's not moving, manual mode. Track speeds are high here so if you're in manual mode you gotta know your gear and be quick with the dials.

pro tip, don't use polarizers or filters of any kind on anything less than 15 degrees head on from the train, you'll get reflections of the headlights on your image. even my 1,000-dollar L lenses do it. if you're trackside and shooting it head on coming at you do it filterless, otherwise use the filters as necessary.
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Last edited by 35mmguy; 04-10-2011 at 03:57 AM.
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Old 04-10-2011, 12:19 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lalam View Post
Thanks. That clarifies the doubt about metering. Another problem I faced is when I point my camera to sky and try to focus by pressing the shutter half way, it does not focus properly. I get yellow AF frame instead of green conveying focusing difficulties. It might be related to my SX10's specifications but in such case what is the alternative?
You don't want to focus on the sky...just meter off the sky. If you're shooting in manual, just use the sky (or ballast as mentioned earlier) to set up the metering for the shot. No focusing needs to be done at that point because you're most likely going to be focusing elsewhere when the train comes.

Quote:
And having a beer while on field is out of question for us to avoid unwanted attention. Instead it can be thought of after a good rail fanning session
Yes indeed!
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