Railfanning at Night

Virginian Railway Sep 12, 2012

  1. Virginian Railway

    Virginian Railway TrainBoard Member

    780
    38
    17
    I just got back from across the street after catch NS 1033 lead a Southbound coal train and after looking at my pics there all grainy and nasty especially my video I took with my camera as my video camera's battery is dead so what are some ideas for me to try next time I catch a train at nigh? By the way trains at night sure are better than daytime trains!
     
  2. CNW 1518

    CNW 1518 TrainBoard Member

    774
    1
    14
    What type of camera equipment do you use?

    Do you use a tripod?

    Any alternative lighting?
     
  3. Virginian Railway

    Virginian Railway TrainBoard Member

    780
    38
    17
    Point and Shoot, pretty good tripod, and what lighting I have.
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    63,062
    9,519
    652
    I've never had any luck with after dark views. So it might be interesting to know if someone has a few simple suggestions.
     
  5. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    19,862
    14,153
    243
    Tripods are not always necessary. A solid place to place the camera, the self-timer to fire the shutter after a predetermined amount of time (eliminates camera shake whent he shutter button is pressed), and a starry night scene program (or equivalent).
    I can take time exposures up to 1 minute long this way. I do have a tripod, but I don't carry it everywhere. It's how I did this shot--but I did use a tripod for it.

    [​IMG]
     
    gjslsffan and Kurt Moose like this.
  6. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

    9,499
    1,792
    130
    I haven't figured out how to do it right with the Digital yet. I had just figured it out with the old 35mm SLR, using B (bulb) setting, a cable release, tripod and someone shooting flashbulbs to illuminate the subject. Last time I tried it with the digital, the remote didn't work right (or maybe it was the remote OPERATOR) and I failed miserably.
    :sad:
     
    RailMix likes this.
  7. CNW 1518

    CNW 1518 TrainBoard Member

    774
    1
    14
    Ahh okay.

    For the most part its just reducing moving you camera for night shooting. As long as you can do that.. Your results should be good.
     
  8. Jolly

    Jolly TrainBoard Member

    411
    121
    11
    Ok do some night photos, but mostly on the night of the full moon and the 2 days on eiother side of that. you need to keep the camera still, tripod woulds good, also as already pointed out, use the timer. I also have a infered remote to fire my camera at night. I have done a railroad related photo or two, lets see if I can find one:

    NightRails-001.jpg

    This is taken on the road crossing near my home, saftey first, make sure you can see both ways clearly, to be sure no trains are coming, use timer and stand back while photo os taken. also I listen to a scaner so I know if there is a train close by.
     
    Kurt Moose likes this.
  9. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

    13,088
    3,845
    183
    Another option is to use an electrical or cable release with the camera mounted on a tripod. This avoids camera movement when the shutter is tripped, even with the timer option. I had a problem a while back when I had actuated the timer release with my finger, but the camera was moving slightly when the shutter snapped because it was on a cheap (rickety) tripod that was still rocking.
     
  10. RRfan

    RRfan TrainBoard Member

    955
    1
    17
    Hey HemiAdda2d, What kind of camera is that?
     
  11. NYNE

    NYNE TrainBoard Member

    13
    2
    10
    I am a relatively new poster here, so hello everyone.
    I shoot a lot at night and I usually use a tripod and cable release when possible. This means shooting stationary objects unless you are going for a more artistic shot. However, there are times when the mood strikes and you just want to shoot, so in those cases boost the ISO up as high as it will go -- my Canon 5D Mark II goes up to 6000. The downside of pushing the ISO high, for some people, is that you get a grainier shot. This doesn't bother me. But I understand some folks don't like it. Obviously, your camera's abilities may limit what you can do but even in the age of film I was shooting a lot at night. I found that you can improvise a tripod with your camera bag; a wallet under the lens and a flat surface; tying the neck strap off to something; or pushing the camera hard against a solid object, taking a deep breath and then shooting. Also, take advantage of the light that is available.

    [​IMG]
    I took this at midnight in Zurich. It is a hand-held shot with the ISO pushed up and the aperture wide open.

    [​IMG]
    I took this out of a hotel window. Again hand held and this time pushing the camera against the window to steady it.

    [​IMG]
    This one is a non-railroad photo, but it shows what you can do with ambient light from a rather congested area. I took this in the cemetery in Norwood, Massachusetts on a tripod with a cable release. It was ISO 640, a 2.5 minute exposure at f/10. I took several shots usually on the bulb setting and just counting in my head.

    The biggest challenge I find when shooting at night is getting things in focus at a distance. I carry a couple of flashlights with me and when possible I will set the flashlight on the object I want to shoot with the beam pointing back at me. It helps bring the image into focus.

    [​IMG]
    I took this one with ISO 100, f/29 at 16 seconds with a Canon 20D. It is from the sidewalk by the MBTA layover yard in Needham Heights, Massachusetts. It is a copy of a shot I took a decade earlier with film. The nice thing about digital -- aside from being able to switch the ISO from 100 to 6000 with the turn of a knob -- is that you get to see what you took. Taking night shots was always harder in the film era.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 31, 2012
    Kurt Moose and r_i_straw like this.
  12. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    19,862
    14,153
    243
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 from 2008. Nothing fancy. The equiv 28-500mm zoom is the main selling point of the camera for me.

    Handheld in Reno:

    [​IMG]

    Handheld at Wenatchee:

    [​IMG]
     
    Kurt Moose and r_i_straw like this.
  13. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    19,862
    14,153
    243
    One of my fav night shots. I recall it was close to zero out with a brisk wind, and my fingers nearly got frostbite. But i got the shot anyways!
    BNSF Christmas train crosses the Missouri River at Great Falls, MT, as the GN and MILW depot steeples look on, on 10 Dec 08 at 8:45 PM.
    60-sec time exposure--the windows on all the stainless steel passenger cars were decked out with lights, making a spectacular smear job for the camera!

    [​IMG]
     
  14. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

    19,559
    25,070
    243
    These were all taken without a tripod. Some of them really show it too.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  15. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

    9,499
    1,792
    130
    NYNE, some very nice stuff there. I, too, improvise "tripod" similar to your methods. Nice night work, everyone.
    :happy:
     
  16. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    2,355
    254
    39
    Do you have an Amtrak station around there? One of the most popular regular railfanning spots here in Southern California is the Fullerton Amtrak/Metrolink station, which gets a lot of passenger train and BNSF action, and is a popular Friday night hangout for the local foamers. The place is also very well-lit, so photography/video doesn't turn out so bad.
     
  17. NYNE

    NYNE TrainBoard Member

    13
    2
    10
    Thanks Fitz.
     
  18. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    63,062
    9,519
    652
    I've never been able to capture anything at night. I'm probably doing everything in the book, wrong, which could be imagined. Even though have tried to do it right. Have missed a few good subjects that way. :(
     
  19. RDG 7600

    RDG 7600 TrainBoard Member

    26
    6
    12
    Night 'buffin, eh?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  20. NYNE

    NYNE TrainBoard Member

    13
    2
    10
    Cody: real nice stuff. That's just some nice work.
     

Share This Page