The Midlands of Ireland and Some Tips for Shooting From the Window of a Train
I got some really nice shots earlier today that I am quite happy with and I wanted to share them with you, as well as a few quick tips. I was on my way back from Galway in the west of Ireland to Dublin on the train, and there's some wonderful scenery in the midlands of the country. Shooting from the train sounds easy but it can actually be quite tricky. The first thing you want to do is to get everything frozen in time. The last thing you want in nice scenic shots is blurry hedgerows and fields. So the trick is to use a high ISO and a really high shutter speed. I usually shoot at ISO 1600 and try and keep my shutter speed at above 1/1000 (at a minimum) of a second although you might even need higher depending on the speed of the train.
Somewhere between Galway and Athlone, Sony Nex 7, ISO 1600, Shutter Speed 1/3200 sec. (Click on Image to view larger)
You might be worried about noise, but if you have a relatively modern camera it's not going to be too bad at 1600, and you can always reduce the noise in post. There is a little noise in these when viuewed at 100% but it almost looks like a grain, so if anything it adds texture.
The second thing you want to do is try and keep reflections from the train's windows to a minimum. There's a couple of tricks you can do to help with this. The obvious thing is use a polariser, but that can reduce the amount of light getting through and doesn't always work. Plus, you might not have one with you. The simplest way is to keep your lens as close to the glass of the window as possible. It also helps if you are shooting perpendicular to the window, so in other words your lens barrel is at 90 degrees to the glass. The other thing you can do is if you notice reflections try and shield your view with your body. This can really be an issue if it's dark outside and the lights are on with the train.
A hedgerow and Sheep, Irish Midlands - Sony NEx 7 ISO 1600, 1/2500 sec (Click Image to view larger)
The last trick is to shoot up high. If your camera has an adjustable screen point it down and hold the camera up. The more elevated field of view, even though it might not seem like much can make a big difference.
Another thing is consider using manual focus and pre-focus on the distance or on the mid ground and stop your aperture down a bit. Cameras can have difficulty focussing when the landscape is flying by, especially if you're using a compact or a mirrorless camera. You just have to be patient and persistent too. You'll miss a lot of shot but you can get some great ones too, because trains often go through the more remote and scenic areas than roads do.
A lane way in a field of Grass - Sony Nex 7, ISO 1600, 1/2500 sec. (Click to view larger)
The final piece of advice is a simple one. Don't be an ass. If the train is busy and there are other passengers in the same section with you don't annoy them or get in their space. People like to relax on a train and the last thing they need is some obsessive photographer getting up and down and fidgeting just to get the right shot. So, get a seat on your own and remember to be sociable to the other passengers.
Golden Fields - Sony Nex 7, ISO 1600, 1/4000 sec