Old 03-17-2007, 03:13 PM   #1
Joe the Photog
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Default Burst mode.... or one shot?

Hey, guys;

I was wondering how you guys shoot an oncoming train. I used to shoot in burst mode and for me, that meant I'd have four or five shots of an oncoming train. Almost invariably, at least the first two shots were throw aways. The train was too far down the track. The next two might be fine for cropping, but the composition wasn't great and it usually didn't let me leave it full frame which is what I prefer. The last shot was usually with the train way too close and maybe even cutting off the front a little or at the least having it blurry.

So I trained myself not to use burst mode, but to actually select each shot I chose always keeping in mind the kill shot I had planned. Sometimes this means taking one shot of a train, sometimes two or three if I can. I found that burst mode might be great if I were shooting an event like a fire or a wreck for a newspaper. But for train shots, I needed to make sure I saw what I was shooting each time.

That's why it never impresses me to hear of the latest camera with a super burst mode on it or what have you. Any other thoughts or ways you guys work?


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Old 03-17-2007, 03:28 PM   #2
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In another recent thread, I said I wanted a camera with burst mode because I had a hard time of getting the train in the right place on my wedgies (which is one reason I tend to shoot wedgies with a much tighter angle than most people, it's easier to line the train up, and I think it's a more dramatic angle).

I think burst mode would be a great way to help me learn how to get the train in a position i like on the 3/4 wedgie, but once I figured that out, I would go away from it. Burst mode would just be an educational tool to me to make up for lack of photographer skill, at least until I gain that skill.
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Old 03-17-2007, 03:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe the Photog
Any other thoughts or ways you guys work?


Joe
I shoot about 50/50 in burst mode. My choice on whether or not to use it depends on many things. When I need the train in one particular spot for the photo to come out right I usually shoot one frame and pray I timed it right. Oddly, I use burst mode if I need the train in one particular spot, but it is going slow. I don't know if that makes sense but here are some examples.

In this case I wanted the engine to fit perfectly on the bridge without cutting off the end of it. I used a shutter release and watched the train roll over the bridge with both my eyes focused on the real thing not through the viewfinder.
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 173040
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)


I saw the snall pocket of sun I needed to hit and knew there was a good chance I would miss if if I tried just one shot. Since I was shooting head-on the lag between shots on burst mode would be shorter so I knew at least one of the dozen or so shots would come out.

Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 160478
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)


After looking back through my photos I'd say 70% are shot on burst mode just because I'm not always sure which composition I like better.
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Old 03-17-2007, 05:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe the Photog
So I trained myself not to use burst mode, but to actually select each shot I chose always keeping in mind the kill shot I had planned. Sometimes this means taking one shot of a train, sometimes two or three if I can. I found that burst mode might be great if I were shooting an event like a fire or a wreck for a newspaper. But for train shots, I needed to make sure I saw what I was shooting each time.

That's why it never impresses me to hear of the latest camera with a super burst mode on it or what have you. Any other thoughts or ways you guys work?


Joe
Same here. I take one planned shot. If I screw it up, I screw it up. If I do it right, great. Even in situations like Andrew's example of that small window of opportunity, I give it a go one time. Those usually result in an instant delete because I am 1/4 second off, but that's the way it goes.

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Old 03-17-2007, 05:34 PM   #5
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It's always interesting to hear how other photogs go about getting the shots they get.


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Old 03-17-2007, 06:49 PM   #6
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I use burst mode ~95% of the time. I hate the XT's viewfinder as what I see through there isn't what the image looks like in the end. Sometimes there will be a pole or something on the right side of the frame that I can't see through the viewfinder, but it's there in the final product. I hate playing the game of trying to time it perfectly, but I'll shoot a burst starting with where I would have taken the shot had I been doing just one shot. And you know what? Most of the time that first shot is not as good as the second or third. Maybe that reflects bad on me as a photographer as my timing sucks, but then again, at least I'm using the potential of my equpiment to help me in the areas where I lack.

I also am a "zoom-wider" shooter as well. I like the telephoto, so I'll set up the shot that I want and as the train gets closer, I'll go wider and take some more shots as the train goes by. That way, if the telemash if FUBAR, I have some wider angle options...or a nice close-up of the power:
Image © Chris Paulhamus
PhotoID: 178754
Photograph © Chris Paulhamus






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Old 03-17-2007, 08:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
I also am a "zoom-wider" shooter as well. I like the telephoto, so I'll set up the shot that I want and as the train gets closer, I'll go wider and take some more shots as the train goes by. That way, if the telemash if FUBAR, I have some wider angle options...or a nice close-up of the power:
Image © Chris Paulhamus
PhotoID: 178754
Photograph © Chris Paulhamus
Chris, I do the same thing. Albeit not often enough with the quality of results you show here, very nice shot.
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Old 03-17-2007, 08:41 PM   #8
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Thanks, J. For that sequence, I had the lens on manual after pre-focusing, snapped a series with the telephoto, switched the lens to AF, widened, and snagged the power shot. Quite a bit of activity in those few seconds as the train got closer!
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Old 03-17-2007, 09:51 PM   #9
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Whenever I shoot anything moving....sports, animals, trains, etc., I use burst mode in AI Servo mode.
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Old 03-17-2007, 09:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill
Whenever I shoot anything moving....sports, animals, trains, etc., I use burst mode in AI Servo mode.
I've used AI Servo on airplanes, but I have not had the confidence to try it trackside for fear of blowing a shot. I should go practice along a highway and see how it works out...
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Old 03-17-2007, 10:57 PM   #11
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Chris,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
Thanks, J. For that sequence, I had the lens on manual after pre-focusing, snapped a series with the telephoto, switched the lens to AF, widened, and snagged the power shot. Quite a bit of activity in those few seconds as the train got closer!
I am wondering why you pre-focus and then set the lens to manual while shooting the telephoto shots and then switch to auto on the close ups? Do you find any out of focus shots once the train is in a different spot and not the "pre-focused" on the multiple telephoto shots in manual? Why not just keep it in auto the whole time? Your results are great but just curious as to the two approaches.


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Old 03-18-2007, 01:00 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigiron
Chris,

I am wondering why you pre-focus and then set the lens to manual while shooting the telephoto shots and then switch to auto on the close ups? Do you find any out of focus shots once the train is in a different spot and not the "pre-focused" on the multiple telephoto shots in manual? Why not just keep it in auto the whole time? Your results are great but just curious as to the two approaches.

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Thanks for a reply, Rich
I don't usually find out of focus shots on the telephoto shots as the train moves, but in this instance, I had time to set up before the train got there. I found my focus spot, shot a photo, reviewed and was happy so I put the lens on MF to avoid the chance of the AF focusing on something once the train got close. Think of it as an added layer of safety to make sure I or the camera don't muck something up.

I don't do this for most of my shots, but when I have time (and I think about it), I'll do it...
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Old 03-18-2007, 03:33 AM   #13
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99% burst. There's very few moving trains that I only have one picture of.
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Old 03-18-2007, 05:43 AM   #14
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Default Burst mode

I rarely use burst mode. I generally shoot single frames. Over the years I've known many photogs who think that they'll get all the action if they put their motor drive on 5 fps. It's all in the timing. Even at 5 fps you can miss the perfect image.
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Old 03-18-2007, 10:21 PM   #15
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Now that I think about it the only time I shoot in burst mode (5fps) on my camera is when the sun is low and there is only a small stretch of track that isn't shadowed in. I tried shooting burst mode for awhile but I ended up getting too many photos of the same train, filling up my memory cards too quickly, and using up battery.

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Old 03-18-2007, 10:36 PM   #16
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Very nice shot, Alex, interesting lighting.
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:01 AM   #17
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I've never, ever shot in burst mode. I might take two or three of a train moving slowly, but that's about as close as I come to burst mode. I try to concentrate on getting the train right where I want it. Like Pat said, if I get it, I get it; if I don't, I don't. Plus, after I release the shutter, I like to put the camera down and watch the train go by without the camera in my face!
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Old 03-19-2007, 07:33 AM   #18
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Nice thread Joe,

Let me ask this question to burst users who also shoot raw (forgive me if this has already been covered, but I don't have time to view all replys);

Do you find yourself sometimes missing the perfect shot because you have filled up your buffer?

On my D70s, I can get about 5-6 (depending on the amount of detail in the shot) before the camera locks me out for a second or two. This is one of the few serious flaws I have discovered with digital photography and I have had to ajust my style to correct it.
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Old 03-19-2007, 08:14 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdirelan87
Nice thread Joe,

Let me ask this question to burst users who also shoot raw (forgive me if this has already been covered, but I don't have time to view all replys);

Do you find yourself sometimes missing the perfect shot because you have filled up your buffer?

On my D70s, I can get about 5-6 (depending on the amount of detail in the shot) before the camera locks me out for a second or two. This is one of the few serious flaws I have discovered with digital photography and I have had to ajust my style to correct it.
You should never need more than 5 or 6 shots. There is a very small window where the engine should be and it's not long enough for you to take 5 or 6 shots. If you're finding yourself wanting more then are you probably hitting the shutter button too soon.

I wait until the front of the engine is just before the spot I think I want it and that's when I start shooting in burst. I always try to time it so that I get the exact timing that I want as well as the front of the engine at my point of focus. So I try to get one before the 'perfect spot', one at the spot and then another after. This way I'm covered if what I was was the sweet spot actually wasn't. I almost never get more than 3 shots.
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:54 PM   #20
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I went out and experimented with burst mode yesterday, using a Canon 30D, and was quite impressed with the results. However it is not something that I would use on a regular basis as I would soon run out of memory (shooting RAW files) if away for more than a couple of days.

When taking slides I used a motor drive to get two or three shots so that I always had a "spare" copy, but since going digital I have got used to using "one shot" and trying to get it right first time, I find that it concentrates the mind better as well
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Old 03-19-2007, 08:31 PM   #21
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my d70s is set to 'burst mode' all the time, but i seldom use it that way.

on occasion, i have had the buffer memory temporarily lock up the camera, in the heat of the moment when shooting raw files.

that's the main reason that i have trained myself to work in semi-auto fire instead of full-auto.

the other reason is, i was tired at looking the choppy mini-movies of train photos that i had created. if i had waited a little longer before beginning to shoot, i would not have taken all the needless shots of a train that was too far away. this is typical of my "head-on" photos. i think that if the train is coming toward you "head-on", then burst mode doesn't buy you much.

if the train is crossing your path at ninety degrees, then burst mode may be beneficial, especially if there are obstacles that you are trying to keep out of the photo, or if there is a brief window of light that you are waiting for the train to enter - like the photo above.

to illustrate this point, a train traveling at 30mph is moving at 44 feet per second. so, five or six bursts may get you the one shot that you are hoping for - each burst being about seven or eight feet apart from the previous.
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Old 03-19-2007, 08:34 PM   #22
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If you are handholding, shooting in burst mode can get you some sharpness, as the second and third shots will, often enough, be a bit sharper than the first. I think it is because you are not pressing the shutter again for the second and subsequent shots so there is less camera shake.
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Old 03-23-2007, 02:13 AM   #23
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My [Canon] Powershot A540 doesn't have a "burst mode" option (that I'm aware of, anyway ), but I can say that even if it did, I would not use it. The only time that I take more than 1 shot (mostly wedges) is when a train is moving slow. For track speed photos, I have never gotten what I want when I try to take more than 1 shot. If I blow the shot, I blow the shot.

That's the reason that my dad and I like working together since we both use this strategy. He got this shot ...

Image © Louis Becker
PhotoID: 179696
Photograph © Louis Becker


but I didn't, because the camera focused in on something else. The shot was a blurred mess, but because his camera focused in properly, one shot was able to make it to RP.net. On another train that came through that spot at around the same time, I got this shot ...

Image © Carl Becker
PhotoID: 179788
Photograph © Carl Becker


but he didn't, because the sun was shining directly on his viewfinder and he couldn't see what he was shooting. He ended up with the crossbuck nearly cutting off the train in the shot, but mine made it since I was shooting from a different angle.

Shots like this one below are the only type that I take multiple of, when the trains are going slow ...

Image © Carl Becker
PhotoID: 178807
Photograph © Carl Becker


That train was only going 10 mph. I took around 5 shots, and several were way unlevel, but that one worked.

Any other thoughts on this?
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