Creativity Challenge #11 - Curves

Curved lines are useful compositional elements. They can be used to lead the eyes into a scene or direct the eye towards the centre of interest but are also interesting in their own right. As I was travelling through the Dandenong Ranges today, I took the opportunity of shooting one of Melbourne's tourist icons:

The Puffing Billy Railway Trestle Bridge

Puffing Billy is a restored, narrow-gauge, steam-train line running from Belgrave in Melbourne's far eastern suburbs, through the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges to Emerald and Gembrook. The train crosses a curved, wooden trestle bridge over Monbulk Creek and Belgrave-Gembrook Road. The bridge was built from local Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) in 1899 and remains a focal point for local and tourist photographers today. There are two viewpoints—one from the car park at the side of the road below the bridge, the second from the gravel track at bridge level. Fortunately, there are two trains that depart Belgrave in the morning, 40 minutes apart, giving me the chance to photograph both viewpoints.

These shots require a delicate balancing act of ISO, aperture and shutter speed. I needed a shutter speed of at least 1/60 second to 'freeze' the train as it travelled towards me across the bridge. I also needed an aperture narrow enough to give me a depth of field that would give me the foreground trestle and the background trees in focus, which meant I could pre-focus the lens manually and not have to worry about focussing on the moving train as I took several shots while it crossed the bridge. I took several test shots while setting up and an ISO of 1600 gave me a shutter speed of 1/60 second at f/8. I eventually pushed the ISO up to 2500—the extra 2/3 stop giving me a little insurance against the changing light but still providing images with little noise that could be easily managed in post-processing.

 Puffing Billy on trestle bridge, Belgrave, Victoria 27mm, ISO 2500, 1/80 second @ f/8, Circular Polarising Filter

Puffing Billy on trestle bridge, Belgrave, Victoria
27mm, ISO 2500, 1/80 second @ f/8, Circular Polarising Filter

I moved to the second view point for the second train of the morning. The higher viewpoint close to the tracks emphasises the curve of the bridge.

 Puffing Billy on trestle bridge, Belgrave, Victoria 65mm, ISO 1000, 1/60 second @ f/8, Circular Polarising Filter

Puffing Billy on trestle bridge, Belgrave, Victoria
65mm, ISO 1000, 1/60 second @ f/8, Circular Polarising Filter

Check out the YouTube video of this shoot:

Please feel free to comment below. Constructive criticism and informed discussion are always welcome.

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