In a few weeks, my Photo Club will be heading out to the DMRRC for a return visit. Personally, I had a lot of fun last year. The DMRRC members who were out that night were just wonderful. Like most places as soon as I left when we were done, I know I left so many shots out there. Fortunately, I get another crack at them.
Last year I worked with focus stacking. While most of my shots lacked train aesthetics, but technically they were good.
I've been asked by the Club to lead a discussion in our next meeting about the photo shoot. Most of our members are outdoor photographers and being inside is a stretch.
From talking with Club members after the 2016 visit, many said they didn't understand why the shots appeared out of focus. That seemed to be the number one challenge.
I've been out to the DMRRC a few times in the last weeks. I was in with the paying public, I didn't have the freedom to do focus stacking in these visits - as well as the trains were now in motion. Well, this stinks.
In my first visit this year, I shot maybe 300 images - and only two came out that were any good. And guess what - they were all fuzzy - like out of focus. And then it hit me what the problem was. Depth of Field. I could usually find some point that was sharp - just not the point I wanted.
Unless this engine is getting ready to hit a fog bank, the focus starts to come in about two to three inches behind the front of the unit. This is a clear miss on my part. I'll bet I hit the front with the focus point and as I moved the camera back to center the subject, I held on the focus and it moved. Rookie mistakes....... Well that mystery solved. But this illustrates how shallow the depth of filed can be.
So.... Speaking of Depth of Field, working inside is a real challenge. The lighting isn't too bad but far from ideal. You are shooting short distances to subject with high lens mm settings. For example, if you shoot f/8 at 30 inches to subject with an 85mm lens - your DOF is essentially one inch. Which coincidentally is just about right on for the image above.
So the first points to the club are this. Be sure of your focus point and have a strategy to deal with Depth of Field.
One of the environmental factors is the subjects will more than likely not be moving. They will be staged as requested. So the speed question is reduced. Even better if you bring a tripod. I used a bean bag on the track last year.
Also, I will be focus stacking again this year. I've gone over this with the Club a few times, hope they stayed awake.
Next up: Increasing ISO if necessary. (And it might be.)