Indoor Photography Idea – Model Trains

Maybe you’d like to capture the spirit of the holiday, or maybe you just enjoy the tiny world that comes to life with model trains.  Or perhaps it’s cold outside and you have nothing else to photograph for the time being.  Either way, we’ve got you covered…  Let’s make some cool photographs of model trains to plaster all over Facebook.


First thing first, get off your feet.  Most of the interesting model train photography happens from your knees or laying on your belly.  Try to imagine you’re a tiny plastic person, much a part of the tight knit model train community, and you’re taking a photograph from your even tinier plastic camera (watch out for cats!).


Bokeh Is Key

When you photograph model trains the key is to isolate the train or village from your Gigantor living room.  You’ll need to open your aperture so you can render the background a nice creamy bokeh.  Doing this will make viewers feel as though they are a part of the tiny little world you’re photographing.

Bokeh is the out of focus area behind or in front of your focal point, typically wider apertures cause more bokeh and narrower apertures render more of your image in focus.

Try This

Now let’s get really creative, we’ll blow the socks off your 7 friends on Facebook with this one.  Place a little figurine right next to the tracks, not too close or you’ll derail the train and possibly kill an entire village of unsuspecting plastic people who just wanted to celebrate Christmas in their little village under your tree as opposed to trapped in your mouse poop laden basement or attic.

Now place your camera on the floor or a tripod, someplace your shaky little hands won’t blur the exposure, and slow your shutter-speed down to about 1/20 (or slower depending on the speed of your train).  Make sure your ISO is at its lowest setting so you can adequately slow your shutter speed (you may need to turn the lights off in the room).  If you are unable to get the shutter speed to around 1/20 then try closing your aperture to somewhere around f/16…  If that still doesn’t work you may need to employ a neutral density filter.

Now focus on the plastic figurine you placed next to the tracks, wait for the train to come by, then snap your shot.  The result should look pretty neat, a sharp image of the plastic person (named Pete for this example) and the blur of the model train zipping by.

Well, what are you waiting for?  Kick your kids out from under your tree and snap to it (pun intended).  Feel free to share your awesome photographs with us on our Facebook page.  Good luck!

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