Tina Rewkowski + The Story Behind

When Tina Rewlowksi was presented with an opportunity to take a home-schooled field trip to a train yard, there’s no doubt about it, her camera was coming with her. The creativity of her image she shares with us today draws you in by all the leading lines and the small color palette surrounded by a sea of red. Coupled with her incredible depth of field and acute sense of rule of thirds, we had to feature her image in our series, The Story Behind.

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Where was this photo taken?
This image was taken at the Strasburg Railroad in Ronks, PA.

How did the location add or hinder to your image?
The great thing about trains and railroads is there are leading lines everywhere! From inside the train, on the platform, outside beside the tracks, everywhere you look you have the bold colors of the trains and those glorious leading lines to guide your eyes.

DSLR, iphone, instant or film?
Nikon D610 shot with a Sigma 24mm Art lens.

What were your camera settings for this image?
ISO 320, f2.0, SS 1/3200.

Can you tell us “The Story Behind” this shot?
We homeschool our boys, which gives an amazing opportunity to go on countless educational field trips throughout the week. On this day my husband happened to have off from work, so we borrowed tickets from our library to the local Railroad Museum across the street from the Strasburg Railroad. Prior to heading over to the museum to see over 100,000 square feet of trains, we took the boys on their very first train ride through the Amish countryside. The steam engine train at the Strasburg Railroad was on it’s last run of the day, and because it was a misty Monday afternoon, there were very few people riding that day. This allowed me to feel more comfortable shooting and moving around from seat to seat without the worry of tons of people getting in the way. The boys loved sticking their heads out of the windows to see, before we even started moving! I’m not sure what my youngest son was looking at here, but I love the curious questioning look he has on his face. I can almost see the wheels turning in his head, “what is THAT?”

What speaks to you about this image? What specifically made you press the shutter?
The sweet childlike wonder and innocence at experiencing this train ride, the anticipation of it getting ready to move, wondering about all the things around him. And…honestly… I don’t think I stopped pressing the shutter from the moment we got there, until the moment we left!

What was your composition technique with this shot?
I would say this is the closest to Rule of Thirds, mostly because that’s what I’m most familiar with and all the other composition techniques are not as well known to me!! I knew I wanted to compose the image showing as much of the lines from the train next to us, the tracks, and still be able to have a good focus on his face.

Did you have any lighting challenges/How did you light the image?
It was overall pretty misty and overcast so the light was a bit tricky. For one, the sky ends up looking bleak and dreary with the lack of blue skies, clouds, or depth. And second, because my son’s skin is so fair, overcast days can leave hotspots or blown out areas on his skin – particularly the forehead and cheeks. I’m a chronic underexposer for that reason! I have to underexpose my images with my children 1-2 stops, but also because I really love dramatic light anyway, so it works out! This day was no different, and a bit of underexposing avoided the hot spots and still allowed some good shadows.

Did you use any special techniques – freelensing, prism, etc?
Is hanging my own head out of a window to get the shot a technique? If so, then yes!! LOL

Was this photo happenstance or did you visualize it prior? If so, how did you envision the image and set up for it?
The moment I visualized it, was the moment I saw their heads hanging out of the window and I decided to do the same! When I’m documenting our days, there isn’t a ton of forethought, it’s just a lot of moving around my subjects at every angle and seeing what works and what doesn’t, and adjusting, adjusting, adjusting.

Did you use a preset to edit this image, your own selective edits or a combination of both?
Both!! For this image I used SMAL01 with tweaks, and then pulled it into PS and used a few actions from Greater than Gatsby (Innocence collection), along with a ton of my own edits. I don’t typically use GTG when editing unless I really want to spend time on an image, but when I saw all the rich reds from the trains, I knew I wanted to play around a bit with the different editing options.

Do you have any addition information you would like to share with our readers?
When I document my kiddos, the best advice I could give is to get up and move around your subjects. Get every angle, looking down, looking up, side views, behind, in front of. Get far away, move closer, closer, closer, get that detail shot. One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started shooting was when I would find a good spot or angle I liked, and then I would camp out there. I would take a ton of shots from that one spot, because it was just soooo good, and then I was done with that scene. Keep moving! Get all the angles, get all the shots, and you’d be surprised that sometimes the ones you think won’t be any good, may end up being your favorites. When my sons were sticking their heads out of the windows, if I hadn’t of gotten up and moved around them from every angle, I never would of grabbed this shot, one of my favorites from that day, that only could of been captured by sticking my own head out of the window with them!