My first experiments with an DSLR

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BR 110


Hello, here one of my great shots from 2010. My first year with an DSLR. A class 628 with an local train from Goslar to Braunschweig near Oker. In the background you see the "Rammelsberg" an mountain from the Harz.


Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Here is something I recently posted on the Pacific Northwest Photography Forum. It is oriented to photographing birds, but many of the principles remain the same with trains.

When shooting birds with my Canon 5D Mk III, most of the time I use M (manual) mode, L (landscape) picture style with "default" settings of 1/1000, f/8.0, auto ISO, AWB (automatic white balance), and evaluative metering. I then make adjustments on the fly depending on the light, etc.

For example, I have tried spot metering when confronted with the harsh, low winter sunlight reflecting directly off the white feathers of birds such as grebes and eagles. I'll focus on those bright, white feathers and fire away. In the case of poor light and/or back lighting, which happens quite often up here in the PNW, I will switch to Tv mode and experiment with different levels of exposure compensation.

The beauty of digital cameras is that you get instant feedback through the viewing screen and can experiment with different settings at no additional co$t$ for film and developing. In my other hobby of motorcycle riding, we say there is no substitute for "seat time" on the road to becoming a better rider. I could say there is no substitute for "shutter time" on the road to becoming a better photographer.


commercial photographer
All that I would add is to avoid auto ISO because you usually want to use the lowest ISO you can for a scene to get the best quality.
Avoid auto white balance unless you shoot RAW files. The white balance can be tweaked much better on a raw file then a Jpeg or Tiff.
Shoot Raw for the best quality.
Pre-expose an image before the train gets there, and check your histogram. Shooting towards the right but not overexposing your highlights will end up giving you cleaner shadows.
As others have said, shoot in manual when you can. The headlights of an engine won't mess with your meter like it would in shutter or aperture priority.
Don't stop down past f11 if you can help it............most lenses lose quality after this. Usually the smallest aperture is awful quality. If you test your lenses you'll find this to be true.

Shoot lots. You're no longer wasting film like the old days. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.