General location: Australia, South-East Queensland
The Setup:Every fourth Sunday there are markets at Bundamba, and every second Sunday the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway runs steam trains along this track for the general public. This has been on my list of things to shoot since the start of the year, but each Sunday I've opted to sleep in and/or do other stuff.
For the shot itself, I stood next to the tracks until the train set off, and took a lot of practice shots. I used a polariser to darken the sky and make sure the smoke and steam was set off against the clouds.
The camera & lens:Camera: Canon EOS 400D DIGITAL
Lens: Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM @ 210mm
Exposure: 1/500" @ f/7.1, ISO 400
Lightroom - There was a bit to do with this photo to separate the smoke from the sky. I used a strong curves adjustment (lights +30, darks -30, shadows -20), and upped clarity (+100). I messed around with the colour mix in order to darken the blue bits of the sky (blue -100, aqua -10, orange +60, yellow +90). I did that using the little drag thingy in Lightroom, where you point it at a colour and drag up or down to increase or decrease the amount of that colour in the picture. All of those adjustments served to make the front of the engine almost black, so I added an adjustment layer to brighten that. I had to make sure I kept the edges clean, to avoid giving the engine a halo.
The wash-up:This is the shot I wanted - though the train was facing a different direction than I was expecting! If I had taken it as I originally imagined, it would have been pulling in and there would have been no smoke.
In the processing, I think the result looks a bit unnatural but I couldn't think about how to make it look natural and have the dynamic range that it does. Open to suggestions!