Old 08-09-2009, 10:45 PM   #1
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Default I was soooo close....

Allow me to vent. I was so close to getting a pace shot today. I was sitting at a light listening to the Braves beat the Dodgers again -- game is ongoing, hope they hold on -- when the no left turn light came on. I'm right beside the CSX tracks so I look ahead of me to see if it's coming toward me, which would be perfect light. Nope. No train. Check my rear view mirror and here it comes.

Backlit. No problem. It's just another CSX coal train, one of what seems like 20 that comes through Columbia every day. Then it dawns on me that the train will have a DPU at the end. I quickly run through nearby photo spots and the only ones that come to mind are wher I'd have to park, cross four lanes of traffic, quickly, and set up.

Then somehing else dawns on me. Pacing shot. By now I have the flashing yellow lights and as I;m driving, get out my camera, change lens and set up for a pacing shot. I practice on coal cars and am lucky in that there's no traffic really behind me -- yet -- and I'm timing the cars in oncoming traffic pretty well. Besides, a well placed car could add to the shot in my mind.

The train is moving pretty fast, but there's a problem. I'm beating the DPU to the end of the area where the track is unobstructed from the road. I have to pull into a median for a moment. But now there's a lot of cars behind the two cars that just passed. I have to pull out now or the train will pass. I can do so safely and if I'm too slow for them, there is another lane for them.

But I'm still beating the end of the train. so I have no choice but to pull back over into the media and change gears from pacing shot to pan shot. I think this might work out better. I can rest my left elbow on the side of the car, but I've been in the pacing frame of mind. It looks like I mucked up the pan by panning at the same moment I pressed the shutter when I should have done the opposite. The composition lacks too.

One of the shots when I was pacing the coal cars seems to have turned out well with the exception of there being some sensor dust in the shot. But I'm still zero for life on getting a good pacer/pan of railroad power.

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Old 08-09-2009, 11:03 PM   #2
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/joethephotog/3804963517/

Aside from the dust spots, you guys got any advice for me next time? (Also aside rfom timing the train better.)
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Old 08-10-2009, 12:35 AM   #3
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It looks like I mucked up the pan by panning at the same moment I pressed the shutter when I should have done the opposite. The composition lacks too.
How many frames did you shoot? Composition for a pan/pace isn't fancy. It helps to have background (houses, trees...although nothing can work to your advantage too) and foreground. In this case you have the road and possibly cars when you pan so that will add to the composition.
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:11 AM   #4
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Aside from the dust spots, you guys got any advice for me next time?
Just one suggestion, Joe. You might want to get someone else to drive the car when you're doing this. Seriously....we'd rather not read about ya in the papers.
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:25 AM   #5
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Just one suggestion, Joe. You might want to get someone else to drive the car when you're doing this. Seriously....we'd rather not read about ya in the papers.
My guess is the the camera is sitting on the sill with the right hand holding it and and shutter button. While keeping eyes on the road and even with the train a series of shots is taken. The pan is while stopped obviously. It doesn't need to be dangerous if you know what you are doing and don't go "all out" (both hands on camera looking through viewfinder) and may or may not get the shot.
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:46 AM   #6
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Some folks might be perfectly capable of executing a pace while they're driving, but I know I'm not one of them. I have a hard enough time operating a camera when I'm not driving
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:49 AM   #7
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Some folks might be perfectly capable of executing a pace while they're driving, but I know I'm not one of them. I have a hard enough time operating a camera when I'm not driving
Like Joe said, he was able to use the median to his advantage and probably got the settings, focus and focal length set. When he was up to speed, he could take the test shots. At a light or another stop in the median check the angle. Repeat for engines.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:03 AM   #8
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I'm not saying I haven't been dangerous before while shooting. (Heck, I used to shoot with my TV news camera while driving every now and then.) But there wasn't a lot of traffic immediately around me at this point and I was able to pull into the median twice. I also was able to get my camera and fix the settings to the general area I needed it at the light.

The pan shot of the engines don't need to see the light of day. They're close to being in focus, which translated means they're out of focus. I'll eventually get a pace shot, but I'm not so sure about a pan shot.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:47 AM   #9
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Guys, try pacing a train solo in Jack London Square... Get to avoid cars, pedestrians... Oh, and the TRAIN!!!
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:51 AM   #10
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Guys, try pacing a train solo in Jack London Square... Get to avoid cars, pedestrians... Oh, and the TRAIN!!!
Thats trespassing, Steven.

Joe, how many shots did you fire off while panning?
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Old 08-10-2009, 05:17 AM   #11
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I was solo in all of these but two. The two I'm not solo in I at least had help steering. It just takes practice.

Image © Travis Dewitz
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Image © Travis Dewitz
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Image © Travis Dewitz
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Image © Travis Dewitz
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Image © Travis Dewitz
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Can you tell I like pacing?

Tips-
Take many shots as many will get blurred by bumps, shakes, signs, cars, etc.

Try to shoot somewhere with some close background objects you foreground objects that can really convey the motion you are trying to capture.

I like to crop in close on my pace shots unless you have a good angle or nice background to do a mulitiple locomotive pace.

Some stellar pace shots.
Image © Jim Thias
PhotoID: 291384
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Image © HTTR
PhotoID: 199921
Photograph © HTTR


Image © Nate Beal
PhotoID: 183185
Photograph © Nate Beal


Image © Ron Flanary
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Photograph © Ron Flanary


Image © Ryan M. Martin
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Old 08-10-2009, 06:52 AM   #12
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Andrew, I think I got six or seven pacing shots. The ones where I point the camera more to the side/front turned out better than ones where I was focusing solely on the train. My hunch is that I was able to hold the camera better when I wasn't turned as much.

That Dustin Grizzle shot has always been one of my favorites.
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Old 08-10-2009, 03:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
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It doesn't need to be dangerous if you know what you are doing and don't go "all out" (both hands on camera looking through viewfinder) and may or may not get the shot.
Well, I went "all out" on mine. I had my buddy take the wheel from the passenger seat while I set the car on cruise to match the train's speed. The country road wasn't very busy, so I wasn't too concerned about his steering ability. I probably fired off 10-15 shots before I got one I liked.
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Old 08-10-2009, 03:11 PM   #14
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Well, I guess I may not be the safest but I have always stayed in my lane. I steer with the my knees and use both hands on the camera to keep it steady, and use the viewfinder 50% of the time. It is really nice to have a passenger steer and update me on traffic so I can really compose the shot and keep a steady hand without looking back at the road every 2 seconds.
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Old 08-10-2009, 04:12 PM   #15
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Travis,

You forgot a few good ones.

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Boy, whoever the driver is for those shots does a really good job.

- Chris
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Old 08-10-2009, 04:23 PM   #16
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Boy, whoever the driver is for those shots does a really good job.

- Chris


We should do a new topic -- "Gallery: Good Drivers"!!!
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Old 08-10-2009, 04:43 PM   #17
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Well, I guess I may not be the safest but I have always stayed in my lane. I steer with the my knees and use both hands on the camera to keep it steady, and use the viewfinder 50% of the time. It is really nice to have a passenger steer and update me on traffic so I can really compose the shot and keep a steady hand without looking back at the road every 2 seconds.
Yikes! And some folks get all hot and bothered about trespassing.......

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Boy, whoever the driver is for those shots does a really good job.
And he should get beaucoup credit for the job he does keeping his buddies and the other motorists safe!
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Old 08-10-2009, 05:26 PM   #18
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My wife drives with her knees all the time. Says it's the only way she can put on her make-up.

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Old 08-10-2009, 10:09 PM   #19
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20 CSX trains through Columbia every day? Maybe in 1955 (if you add SAL and SOU together). Maybe even in 1966, not in 2009.

My comment on the photo: big foreground clutter (the mirror)
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:39 AM   #20
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20 CSX trains through Columbia every day? Maybe in 1955 (if you add SAL and SOU together). Maybe even in 1966, not in 2009.
If you read it again, you might note I wrote "what seems like 20 coal trains a day." Lots of coal, not much of anything. That was my point.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:47 AM   #21
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My wife sucks at being the pacing driver! Hence, no pace shots from me yet.



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Old 08-11-2009, 05:08 AM   #22
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My wife drives with her knees all the time.

You don't?

I've driven all the way from Grand Rapids to Lansing (approx 60 miles) with never touching the steering wheel. I love driving by people with my left arm on the window sill and my right arm over the top of the passenger seat.
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Old 08-11-2009, 05:22 AM   #23
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I'm a railfan. Of course I drive with my knees! On trips, I need one hand to find a good radio station, another to call my wife and let her know that it may be an all day thing afterall, another to hold my Monster Thickburger from Hardees.... one to give the finger to the car that finally got out of my way when trying to get back to a photo spot....
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Old 08-11-2009, 05:23 AM   #24
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Ok, you had me worried there for a moment.
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Old 08-12-2009, 05:37 AM   #25
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There was this pan shot while I was waiting for a light rail train --

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joethephotog/3794502824/
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