Among the mix of photos and video I exposed on Saturday June 29, 2019, was this Lumix LX7 view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s steam locomotive 7470 leading the Trains Planes and Automobiles rare mileage excursion west of Crawford Notch near Fabyans, New Hampshire.
To preserve the sense of motion, I manually selected a small aperture and slow ISO (80) to allow for a comparatively slow shutter speed, while making a slow full body sweep keeping parallel with the forward motion of the locomotive.
I continued this technique for some of the passing cars as well.
I’ve often found that the panning technique can be an effective way to compensate for an overcast situation.
In the mid-1930s, Milwaukee Road introduced its high-speed streamlined Hiawatha on its Chicago-Milwaukee-Twin Cities route where elegant purpose-built shrouded 4-4-2 and 4-6-4 Alco steam locomotives whisked trains along in excess of 110mph.
Today, Amtrak’s Hiawathas have Siemens Chargers on the Milwaukee end, and former F40PH Control-Cab/baggage cars, known as ‘Cabbages’ on the Chicago-end.
While Amtrak provides an excellent corridor service, today top speed is just 79mph.
I can’t help but think that as a nation we’ve lost the plot on this one.
We went from elegant, fast steam streamliners to this?
As the light fades, conventional daylight photographic techniques begin to fail to yield satisfactory results.
In other words, you’ll end up with dark and/or blurry photos using standard settings.
One solution is the pan photo. I’ve described this previously, but I’ll reiterate because I’m often asked how this is accomplished.
Manually select a comparatively slow shutter speed. For novice pan photographers, I’d suggest working at between 1/30th and 1/60th of a second. This is what I’ll call a ‘short pan’. A long pan is more difficult to execute and can be accomplished with speeds up to about 1 second.
One of the most effective types of pan is where the front of the subject is sharp, but the rest of the scene is offset by a sea of blur.
Pick a point in your frame where you’ll place the front of the subject and as the subject passes keep it at that point, all the while moving your camera with the subject. Release the shutter while the camera is moving.
A common problem occurs when the photographer stops moving as the shutter is released, which tends to result in a messy unsophisticated blur. Keep panning even after you release the shutter.
Remember to pan with your whole body in a uniform smooth motion.
Don’t hit the shutter button aggressively as that will result in an up-down blur that diminishes the overall effect.