Peep and click photography tips

Planning a fall foliage train ride? Don’t forget your camera

Aboard the Amtrak Adirondack between Westport and Port Henry, New York.
Aboard the Amtrak Adirondack between Westport and Port Henry, New York. © The West End | Flickr

Fall foliage trains offer natural photo ops. Whether taken by a cell phone camera pressed up against a train coach window… or a train spotter’s trackside tripod-mounted DSLR, autumn colors and vintage train sets are a picture perfect pair. And, whether you’re an amateur shutter bug or a seasoned photog, a few simple guidelines are sure to keep you on track.

For starters, leaf peeper etiquette is essential and good manners count. View-hogging and vantage-grabbing are fall foliage faux paux you’ll want to avoid. Pick a non-obtrusive view point whenever possible. To capture must-click panoramas, wait your turn and don’t linger longer than necessary. For off-train picture-taking remember railroad tracks are dangerous places that require constant vigilance. They’re also private property and your presence may draw the ire of local law enforcement. Advance planning is advised.

Learn the basics. Whether you’re shooting onboard or trackside, you’ll get crisper pictures when you shoot fast. Set your camera to take multiple shots and keep shutter speeds high (1/2000 or action mode). Remember, weather is also a factor. If possible overcast and rainy days offer better results than sunny day shadows and reflections.

Onboard, it’s easier to take great photos without the glare of reflecting windows. Outdoor platforms and open air gondola cars are best. If you must snap the shutter through a window, position your camera lens as close to the window as possible. Finally, ditch the flash. It has no effect on anything more than a few feet away… and it will ruin photos taken through windows.

Ready to start snapping? Framing a great picture is as easy as dividing your frame into a 3×3 tic-tac-toe field — and aligning your point of interest with two intersecting lines. Try to incorporate focal points like waterfalls, wildlife, pumpkin patches; architectural interest like red barns, country churches, and vintage train stations.

Take aim and click. A tripod isn’t essential but is always beneficial. Just make sure your camera’s battery is charged, its memory card is fresh, and the lens cap off. Good peeping!

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