How to Take Better Train Travel Photos

For an Internet Rail Travelogue, and for Personal Use.

By Carl Morrison at - -

(The photo examples are best viewed while online, since some references are to photos on other web pages of mine.)

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20.  Interior Shots of Your Train

Since many of those who see your rail photos may not ever have been on the same train, take interior shots so they will know what to expect when your story excites them enough to take the same trip.

If you shoot only out the window, how will those who view your photos know you were on a train and not a bus or car?  You can frame your shots, especially out the back of the train, by including a little bit of the door around the window.  Because of the shape of the window in the door, it is best to do a vertical shot.  Remember to force your flash off so your camera properly exposes the outside scene allowing the door frame to go black for a nice border on your picture.

Take your camera to the diner, for flash pictures of your table mates (with their permission) and shots outside from your dining table with part of the table in the frame, and even take a flash picture of your table setting, your waiter and your meal.   Take your camera to the sightseeing lounge car for an overall shot of people enjoying the view, and to show the viewer what a lounge car looks like inside.   If you are in coach, take a shot down the aisle, a picture of your friends in adjoining seats, a picture of the car attendant as they stand outside the car at stretch stops.  If you are in a sleeper, take a picture of your accommodations when it is made up for day use, and again when it is made up for sleeping.

At the stretch stops, always get off and take a picture of the station with it's sign.  Many times there are rail car and engine displays at the depot.  Peek in side the station to the agent's window, they're all different.  Even the vehicle that takes the baggage out to the baggage car would be an interesting picture.

This might be a time when you can get a picture of a signal tower with it's red, yellow, or green lights, or other RR signs around the station.  If you see your reflection in a window, take it!  Pictures of folks greeting passengers or saying goodbye always are good to show emotions.  This is a time to use your telephoto lens so as not to disturb anyone. 

If there is a change of crew, get a picture of the engineers climbing up or down from the high cab in the engine.  Viewers might be surprised to see a lady engineer starting or leaving her shift.  When taking employee pictures, ask and post their names with their pictures in your story.

There is enough light in the Named Train's Sightseeing/Lounge cars for photographs without flash.  My aim here was to show the remodeled car which has more seating because it is half booths now.  Also, the light window frames and blue seats are a newer, brighter color.  Cafe is downstairs as always.
The old, brown, motif.  Note the increased seating in the new model to the left.  This photo also taken without flash, but camera was held against a door frame.

Take two or three shots to show the whole car if it has distinct parts.

Pacific Parlour Car, swivel lounge chair end of the car.
Walk half way through the car and take another picture to show the coctail table seating in the center and the booths at the far end with the bar.

If you find yourself on a newly remodeled car, take a picture to show the unique parts of the remodeling.  If people in the picture are not recognizable, you need not get a model release.  In this case it was Chris G.
Neither picture, above and right, was made with a flash.
If you use your traveling companion as your model on the train, you do not have to get a model release, and their spouse knows they were doing what they were supposed to be doing!

Your readers may not travel out of the US, so foreign train pictures are always interesting, as is this Private Mexican train's dining room:


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Twenty Tips for Better Train Photos with Many examples from around the United States and Mexico.

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