I could give you a rundown of the route but I’ve already done that in other posts. So I’ll just share some nuances from this trip, and of course, the photos. That’s why you’re here, right?
I had a serious case of FOMO on the last trip. FOMO is Fear Of Missing Out for you old-school types. And if you’re really old school, old school means you’re not hip. I kid, I kid.
Anyways, on the last trip, I’d sit in my seat, either in the lounge or coach, with a death grip on that camera, anticipating shots out both sides of the train. From sunrise to sunset. For three days. It was exhausting.
Not on this trip! I relaxed. I learned how to say, “I don’t give a fuck,” a mindset I’ve been pursuing for years. If I missed a shot, oh well. There’s always a better one around the proverbial or literal corner.
And you know what? I was relaxed and, in my opinion, got better shots than the last time I was FOMO’d out. It was quite enjoyable.
The conductors have been great. They all have their own little antecdotes about the route, useless trivia that’s right up my alley. I feel like I’m collecting all of them. They’ll sit in the lounge car and tell everyone which movies were filmed at the ghost town you’re passing, where the bald eagle nests are, and so on.
Taking photos out of a moving train will always be a challenge, one that I will never perfect because that’s impossible.
The windows are dirty and there’s glare from inside and out (especially when the sun is on that side!).
You also want crisp, sharp images, but balancing that exposure triangle can be a bitch when the light is low and you’re moving 60mph. Despite having taken thousands of photos so far, the perfect balance of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO still eludes me, thanks to the ever-changing situation. I’ve been using 1/1000 second more to keep my foreground sharper, and accepting f/2.8 more at wide focal lengths where I’ll still have depth of field, to keep ISO down (like below 4000 with three zeros).
I did buy a rubber lens hood from Amazon before this trip. It screws on to the front filter thread of your lens (pro-tip: size up to your largest lens and use step-up rings for smaller lenses!). It expands to three lengths, the longest one only working at focal lengths greater than 55mm to avoid vignetting. The nice thing about it is that the hood is flexible. You can press it right up against the window to keep the interior glare out and then slightly point your camera around so you don’t have to shoot perpendicular to the window all the time. The metal threading ring has a tendency to unseat from the rubber when I expand it, but it cost seven bucks, so no expectations.
Enough of that, here’s the photos.
I thought I’d do something new with the photos – a letterbox crop for most photos, which is really only cropping out empty sky and blurred foreground, leaving just the panorama I want you to see. I’d love your feedback on this format versus normal 2×3 format for all the photos. I’m thinking this would present better if, say, a book came out of this project at the end of the year.
Im stealing the letterbox idea too.
I have ridden most of the long distance routes w thousands of photos myself and was trying to find a way to show them more dramatically. the letterbox is perfect.
Saturday 9th of January 2021
Thanks! Yeah it's difficult to get out of that "original crop" mentality but why not chop off the top and bottom?