Saturday, April 14, 2007

Photography and the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay

The sole surviving locomotive from the Diamond and Caldor Railway's 49-year existence is under restoration. The No. 4 Shay geared locomotive is located at the El Dorado County Historical Museum in Placerville, California. Bill Rodgers (in cab), Sam Thompson (on ladder) and Keith Berry discuss repairs to the number two cylinder.

I entered a new dimension of photography when I purchased a Canon Digital Rebel XT single lens reflex camera in 2006. I've used the past year to study its features and to elevate the camera beyond the realm of an $800 point-and-shoot camera.

Two lessons helped me compose today's photograph at the El Dorado Western Railway engine house. First, I used a tripod to steady the camera so I could shoot in the low-light inside the building. I knew the in-camera flash could never reach beyond the smokestack.

Sam made the point that you pay greater attention to composition when you use a tripod. He's right. Because the tripod often requires the use of a remote, I find you take greater care while setting up the shot. I find that want a perfectly composed picture as I remove my eye from the view finder.

The second lesson has greater value to me as the photographer for the railroad. You have to get dirty (while protecting the camera!). I climbed on top of the security cage and snapped the picture at eye level. Good photographs require the photographer to travel off the beaten track. You have to go to the picture. The best ones require effort.

This lesson became clear when the Mountain Democrat printed a feature story on the locomotive's 100th birthday. Photographer and writer Dan Burkhart stopped by the engine house three weeks ago to research the story.

Even though I missed his visit, Keith described Burkhart's climb to the top of the cage. After studying his feature picture in the paper, I knew I had to duplicate it.

No comments:

Post a Comment