March 28, 2008 | Comments Off

I just started attending train shows since i started this blog. After every show, i always missed or forgot something. So i decided to list my tips here, for attending train shows.

Timing:
Usually they have the shows over the weekend. Try to get there early on the first day to beat the crowds. Or if it is just the pictures of layouts you are after, getting there 2 or 3 hours before close on the last day will also help in avoiding the crowds.

Comfort:
Carry a backpack to store all the flyers, items you might buy there and your camera/camcorder. Do wear comfy shoes. The Amherst show held this year was spread out over 3 buildings and my feet hurt by the end of it. Carry some snacks and water. A true rail fan cannot waste time on food ;-)

Taking Pictures:

  • To get good pictures, a nice camera with zoom and image stabilization would be great. Ideally, a tripod will be nice but with the crowds mingling about, it will be a pain to setup and use.
  • When the doors open, visit all the layouts quickly and see which you like. Then come back to your favorites ones and click away. Also, i have noticed that in the first few hours, the operators seem to be relaxed and free to talk with you.
  • Take pics of the club layout names as it will be easy to remember whose layout it is, if you want to write about it later.
  • Just before leaving, review your pictures and see if some of them need to be retaken.

Picture Tips:

  • Most generic model train show pictures are top down. Break the mold. Try going for eye-level shots if the layouts have not put a plexiglass on the sides. Real life rules for picture-taking also apply here.
  • If you can get close to the models, switch your camera to the Macro mode.
  • Set your camera to Automatic White Balance.
  • Please do not use flash. Most pictures get washed out.
  • If your camera has a timer, use it. Since you will not be using flash, the picture will be prone to camera shake. Even clicking the shutter might shake the camera. Use the timer, and hold steady. Since a tripod is cumbersome at a train show, maybe you can try the $1 tripod.

Taking Movie Clips:
Some cameras can take decent movie clips. If yours doesn’t and you don’t have or don’t want to bring your camcorder, you could go for a Flip Camcorder. I have been thinking about it but waiting for a sale. Movie clips would be hard without a tripod but try taking steady clips every 10-15 seconds. You can edit and stitch them later using Movie maker or any other software.

Shopping:
Some merchants don’t take Credit/Debit cards. Carry some cash. Also its very easy to get carried away and wanting to buy a lot of stuff. Having cash stops you from over spending.

Have a generic list of what you might buy. It will keep you in focus. If you see some new product but want to research it a bit, take a picture of the dealers name. I used to write their names or take their business card but often i lost them.

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