Old 05-06-2008, 03:28 PM   #1
ottergoose
American Gunzel
 
ottergoose's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Eagan, MN
Posts: 1,626
Send a message via AIM to ottergoose Send a message via Yahoo to ottergoose
Default Avoiding Heat Distortion

I spent the afternoon at a nice scenic spot over the weekend on the BNSF transcon, where I shot quite a few trains. Upon getting home and reviewing the pictures, I discovered, for the first time, what heat distortion can do to a shot. The track looked like spaghetti, and the number boards were borderline psychedelic.

So, for those of you who get nice shots at Cajon and other places where I assume it's hot, are there any tricks to avoiding heat distortion? Are there any conditions that counteract heat distortion? Does the wind help? Are there angles that reduce the impact?

Obviously cool weather and shorter distances help... but what do you do when you've got your telephoto lens and it's hot out (and you've just driven 200 miles to shoot an unfamiliar location)?
__________________
Nick Benson | Pictures | Website | Flickr | Profile | JetPhotos | Twitter
ottergoose is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2008, 03:37 PM   #2
Ween
Senior Member
 
Ween's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 4,861
Default

Quote:
Obviously cool weather and shorter distances help... but what do you do when you've got your telephoto lens and it's hot out (and you've just driven 200 miles to shoot an unfamiliar location)?
North Dakota's hardly "hot," but I think you're on the right track: wait 'til it's cooler or shorten the distance of the shot. With shorter distances, that might mean going wide...put that 17-70 to use!
__________________
Ween is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2008, 03:51 PM   #3
JRMDC
Senior Member
 
JRMDC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 11,202
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ottergoose
but what do you do when you've got your telephoto lens and it's hot out
Doesn't one just put an ice pack on top of the lens?
__________________
My RP pix are here.
My Flickr pix are here.

My commentaries on rail pictures are in my blog.

RP Photo Albums:
Cabooses
Engine Details
Farm and Train
Plumes!
Railroad Details
Signal Details
Switchstand Shots
JRMDC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2008, 04:13 PM   #4
ottergoose
American Gunzel
 
ottergoose's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Eagan, MN
Posts: 1,626
Send a message via AIM to ottergoose Send a message via Yahoo to ottergoose
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
Doesn't one just put an ice pack on top of the lens?
Oh yes, that's a fine idea...
__________________
Nick Benson | Pictures | Website | Flickr | Profile | JetPhotos | Twitter
ottergoose is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2008, 05:26 PM   #5
ken45
LA&SL Fanatic
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 700
Default

Shoot when there are lower sun angles. During my shooting last summer in Las Vegas, I never had a problem at all with heat waves, mostly because I never would railfan during the middle of the day, from 930am to 4pm. Last Friday I spent a day on the Gila Sub in Arizona and I really noticed the heat waves...however I stopped shooting my tele at about 8am. But they were definitely on my mind during an absurdly long period of High Sun from 10am to 4pm. One thing you could do is take advantage of it. I found it very interesting how trains would materialize from the heat waves, but I never found a good opportunity to work it into a shot.
__________________
My Railpictures Shots http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=2561
ken45 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2008, 07:18 PM   #6
lock4244
Senior Member
 
lock4244's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: The City Below Vaughan
Posts: 1,048
Default

Shoot in the winter.
__________________
Mike Lockwood

Insert witty comment here

Hot girl on girl action here!

More Pics Here
lock4244 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2008, 11:09 PM   #7
Khalua10
Member
 
Khalua10's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 34
Default

Don't shoot straight down the RR tracks. Seems like heat waves radiate alot up from the ballast, even when it's not blistering hot. Find a place where theres a curve and you're not shooting over top of a couple hundred feet of ballast and rail.
Khalua10 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2008, 11:31 PM   #8
lock4244
Senior Member
 
lock4244's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: The City Below Vaughan
Posts: 1,048
Default

Or shoot in the winter... don't try this in the summer!

It's been said already, put down the telephoto and forget about the long range shot. You can't control the heatwaves, so you must work around them. Shoot across water or a lush field if you can.
__________________
Mike Lockwood

Insert witty comment here

Hot girl on girl action here!

More Pics Here
lock4244 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2008, 11:40 PM   #9
Carl Becker
Senior Member
 
Carl Becker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,218
Default

Here in ND, I prefer to do telemashes with my SX100, and occasionally do run into problems with heat distortion (especially during warmer months of the year, obviously)...

Take this shot for example:

Image © Carl Becker
PhotoID: 234416
Photograph © Carl Becker


At RP size, the image quality is fine, but take a look at the full size attachment. The heat distortion is quite high. I've had some others worse than that where the shot actually gets spoiled by the distortion. It's a good reason why I really try to take one shot telemashed and one wide-angle (or whatever you call 36 mm)...
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	heat distort.JPG
Views:	137
Size:	460.9 KB
ID:	2815  
Carl Becker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2008, 12:22 AM   #10
jdirelan87
Senior Member
 
jdirelan87's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Metro DC
Posts: 725
Default

Carl,

That doesn't look like heat distortion, just the quality of the picture at full size. Beside, looks like the high in that neck of woods when that shot was taken was in the low 60s - hardly hot enough for serious, if any, heat distortion.
jdirelan87 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2008, 12:49 AM   #11
Ween
Senior Member
 
Ween's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 4,861
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdirelan87
Carl,

That doesn't look like heat distortion, just the quality of the picture at full size. Beside, looks like the high in that neck of woods when that shot was taken was in the low 60s - hardly hot enough for serious, if any, heat distortion.
According to the EXIF data, the shot was taken at 0922L. The temp was somewhere between 39F (@ 0853L) and 43F (@ 0953L). Keep in mind, this is North Dakota and anything above 32F is considered 'heat' up here!
__________________
Ween is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2008, 01:01 AM   #12
Slopes09
Senior Member
 
Slopes09's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Here.
Posts: 837
Send a message via AIM to Slopes09
Default

Ambient temperature has nothing to do with heat distortion. Well, more so, I mean to say the you can even get heat distortion during the winter. Rails absorb enough heat from the sun that they can produce heat waves even during the coldest temperature. I'll reference my oldest shot:
Image © Mike W.
PhotoID: 127353
Photograph © Mike W.

You'll notice the background has quite a bit of heat distortion. All my pictures of from this angle with an engine were rejected for heat distortion that day, despite the fact that the temperature was hovering somewhere in the single digits with an even worse windchill.
__________________
-Mike W.
Railroad Civil Engineer

Pretty much the only Pentax Shooter.

Click Here to view my photos at RailPictures.Net!
Slopes09 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2008, 01:03 AM   #13
Carl Becker
Senior Member
 
Carl Becker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,218
Default

John,

If that was the image quality for the photo, then there is something really wrong with my camera! Give a non-DSLR some credit! j/k

In all seriousness, though, look at the crop of this other image at 100%. This image was taken seconds after the image that is in the database, and was shot at my camera's widest angle. The distortion of the locomotive is a lot less. This is the perfect example of what I previously stated about shooting at least two images - one full telephoto and one at the widest angle possible.

~Carl Becker
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	south_local2.JPG
Views:	126
Size:	424.1 KB
ID:	2818  
Carl Becker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2008, 01:49 AM   #14
Christopher Muller
Senior Member
 
Christopher Muller's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 787
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Becker
John,

If that was the image quality for the photo, then there is something really wrong with my camera! Give a non-DSLR some credit! j/k

In all seriousness, though, look at the crop of this other image at 100%. This image was taken seconds after the image that is in the database, and was shot at my camera's widest angle. The distortion of the locomotive is a lot less. This is the perfect example of what I previously stated about shooting at least two images - one full telephoto and one at the widest angle possible.

~Carl Becker

Its not heat distortion but rather the effects of zoom. Unless you have some very high end glass, the more zoom you use this will be the case. The same goes for my rebel XT. I've noticed quality deterioration when shooting at 300mm vs 30mm.

Also, in your second example of the photo, I'm assuming the train is much closer than the first one. Therefore the subject has a larger % of the photo and has more pixels and will be more clear than the further one with less pixels. For that reason this example holds little weight.

Last edited by Christopher Muller; 05-07-2008 at 01:51 AM.
Christopher Muller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2008, 04:06 AM   #15
jdirelan87
Senior Member
 
jdirelan87's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Metro DC
Posts: 725
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Muller
Its not heat distortion but rather the effects of zoom. Unless you have some very high end glass, the more zoom you use this will be the case. The same goes for my rebel XT. I've noticed quality deterioration when shooting at 300mm vs 30mm.

Also, in your second example of the photo, I'm assuming the train is much closer than the first one. Therefore the subject has a larger % of the photo and has more pixels and will be more clear than the further one with less pixels. For that reason this example holds little weight.
Thanks for saving me a long reply!
jdirelan87 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2008, 06:26 AM   #16
Christopher Muller
Senior Member
 
Christopher Muller's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 787
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdirelan87
Thanks for saving me a long reply!
You are welcome.
Christopher Muller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2008, 01:20 PM   #17
lock4244
Senior Member
 
lock4244's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: The City Below Vaughan
Posts: 1,048
Default

The colder the day, the less heat distortion. I don't think anyone can argure that. Looking at the example I posted several posts up (post eight), that same shot would look quite different had it been taken in July rather than March. There may be some heat distortion in the winter, even on bone chillingly cold days, but nothing like a summer day.

I'm in no way an expert, barely a novice, but the zoom arguement is interesting. Probably why I avoid them for serious photography. I have but one zoom that has virtually never seen a train. The shot in my earlier example was taken with a Nikon D200 using a Nikkor/Nikon 180mm lens with ED glass, handheld (no pod), it'd be the digital equal to a 270mm, IIRC. I can't really see any heat distortion that isn't exhaust. Again, wouldn't look that way in July.

Shoot in the winter
__________________
Mike Lockwood

Insert witty comment here

Hot girl on girl action here!

More Pics Here

Last edited by lock4244; 05-07-2008 at 01:23 PM.
lock4244 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 01:02 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.