Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tilting at Windmails (Part 2)

Three years and single day before shooting the photo that is the subject of this post, when I was still fairly new to this railfan photography business, I had an outing that I can remember to this day. A big part of the memory is the frustration I experienced by making some dumb mistakes while trying to capture train images in digital form. On September 30, 2009, I was reminded of these dumb mistakes because I repeated one of them.

The ugly image above is the best I was able to recover from a hopelessly overexposed raw file that was planned, set up, and shot with loving care. Go ahead, click on it, if you dare. Let your mind adjust the exposure. Picture the glorious blue sky, the magnificently lit train, the slowly turning blades of the wind turbines, and the deep red barn. It nearly makes me cry just writing these words.

I don't know that there are enough electrons in the world to explain what I think caused me to do this, but what it boils down to was being in a hurry, getting overexcited, not checking things prior to shooting, and just all-around stupidity.

I had changed batteries in my camera in preparation for this shot, as I thought they had to be getting fairly low and I didn't want to be interrupted by an unresponsive camera. Thinking it might be a good idea to get some video of the train as it passed the slowly turning windmills, I inserted the old batteries into my S2, mounted it on the tripod, and aimed it in the general direction of the track. Little did I know that the general direction meant only the top half of the train would show in the video. This qualifies as a second brain fart in this comedy of errors.

In the process of changing batteries, I must have bumped the selector on the still camera to the "manual" position, from the aperture priority where I normally shoot. I had been trying some blur shots last time I shot on manual and the shutter speed was pretty slow. The results of this wrong headed move are obvious in the above photo.

It's also neat that I failed to even look at the results, heading down the road to shoot this train once more as he crossed a bridge, again horrendously overexposed. Once I discovered the error, I had a long and stern talk with myself, making it clear that whichever part of me was stupid enough to make this mistake was not appreciated by the rest of me.

Oddly enough, I was able to get some very nice photos this same day, which I will share soon. This one, though, deserves to stand on its own, as both a memorial to what might have been and a reminder to always double check your settings. Hopefully I can inspire others to avoid the fate I bestowed on myself. If even one train photo is saved by this post, it will have been worth it.


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