Do you have a train-obsessed toddler like me? Or are you looking for a fun day trip around Charlotte? The Lynx Blue Line train is a perfect place to begin your adventure. Just make sure to bring your camera so you can capture all the fun! I will include photography tips and camera settings as well as suggestions for your journey here.
I strapped my Nikon D5500 around my neck and headed to Imaginon and 7th Street Market with my little family. I hooked on the 18-55mm kit lens because I knew we were going to a museum where I would need to zoom at times. I love my 35mm prime lens, but it's a little limiting in adventurous situations. I have posted the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed for some images throughout this blog. I hope it helps you to learn the settings and gives you more freedom to get out there and use your own camera on manual.
ISO 100, f/7.3, 1/500 sec
There are kiosks where you can pay for your ticket before you get on the Lynx Blue Rail. There are random checks done for tickets, so you may or may not be asked to show it. Children 5 and under are free! Click here for more information about fares and schedules for the train ride.
Photography Tip: Keep your ISO low (100-200) in outdoor pictures when it is very sunny. This will lead to less grain.
ISO 800, f/3.8, 1/200 sec
My little curious ones were so impressed we were on an actual moving train....not just one at a museum. They made themselves comfortable pretty quickly. It was probably a strange feeling though to not be strapped down in a carseat while moving this fast. FREEDOM!
Photography Tip: Raise the ISO and/or decrease your aperture in a location with less light so you can keep your shutter speed high enough to keep images sharp.
The Blue Line map, in case you wanted to see it! We drove from Rock Hill, SC to the Scaleybark station to get on because we did not want to make 14 stops starting at I-485/South Blvd. My babies and I tend to be prone to motion sickness (it sucks), so more stops could have meant more opportunity to see breakfast again. No thank you! Taking just 8 stops was more than enough time for the "newness" of a train ride to wear off anyways. They're at an age with short attention spans!
ISO 800, f/3.5, 1/250 sec
As you're taking pictures, think about composition and different angles. L's face in the reflection of the window is what I focused on in the picture above. It just so happened that I took about 5 pictures like this as we were traveling and this one was my top choice. Why? I liked the V shape that the angles in this image make. Certainly the trolley tracks and sides of the building pull your eyes to one side, then the blue chairs and train windows pull to the opposite side where you spot L and her reflection. This is one of my more favorite pictures. It certainly wouldn't make the cover of National Geographic, but I am in love with it!
Photography Tip: Take multiple pictures of the same image, but not too many. You will waste a lot of time going through all of them!
ISO 400, f/4.0, 1/2000 sec
Once we embarked on the last stop (7th Street) we sauntered out of the train and headed to Imaginon, which is right on the other side of the tracks. It was hot out, so we did not spend much time outdoors, but there were some cool structures.
ISO 800, f/3.5, 1/4000 sec
One of my son's cute quirks is that he likes to pull on other people's earlobes. Usually just family members and friends, so thankfully not strangers. It's kind of random, but endearing in a way. So when he saw this HUGE ear I knew exactly what would be happening. L had to get in on the joke too!
Photography tip: It's okay if you forget to bring your ISO back down to 200 once you are outside in the sun again. You can compensate for this by raising your shutter speed to something like 1/4000! I had to get this photo quickly so I just went with the ISO being at 800.
ISO 400, f/4.0, 1/1000 sec
This picture above was taken in front of Imaginon as well as the 7th street train station, just to give you an idea of how close they are to each other. You just need to hop, skip, and jump over the tracks!
Photography Tip: When capturing motion, like L jumping, make sure the shutter speed is high. I had it at 1/1000 sec to prevent motion blur.
L and T fell in love with Imaginon! Right now there is a Tinker Toy exhibit where the kids can engineer something creative. It's hard to really describe Imaginon. It's like a museum, play area, and library all melted into one big fun adventure land. The best part...it's FREE and air conditioned!!!! We haven't been outside a whole lot because 100 degrees just doesn't agree with me. Letting the kids play in this nice air conditioned fun space was exactly what they needed to get all that access energy out.
Photography tip: All images above taken at Imaginon had an ISO of 2000 so that I could raise the shutter speed to no less than 1/125 sec. I kept the aperture mainly on f/3.5, which is wide open for the lens I was using. This also allowed for me to keep my shutter speed higher so that I would capture motion of the kiddos.
Our Charlotte adventure did not end here though. After Imaginon we went across the train tracks again to 7th street market for lunch. More about the food and train ride back in my next post.....
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Larisa is a natural light photographer and teacher in the Rock Hill, SC and Charlotte, NC area.