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It is no secret Walt Disney had a love affair with trains, which is why there are four, meticulously restored, antique steam-powered trains encircling the Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World. Well, actually, only two trains are typically on the track at one time, but there are four trains total: #1 – Walter E. Disney; #2 – Lilly Belle; #3 – Roger E. Broggie; #4 – Roy O. Disney.

“Full Steam Ahead!” (The ‘Walter E. Disney’ Steam-Powered Engine, Disney’s Magic Kingdom) Nikon D300, 38mm, F/29, 1/6s, +0.3EV, ISO 100

We went to the Magic Kingdom this day specifically to photograph the trains. Of course, we first had to take a ride to get into the spirit of things! 🙂  

Although there are three stops on the circuit (Main Street, U.S.A., Frontierland and Mickey’s Toontown Fair), Toontown is the only stop where you can easily get to a site in front of the train when it is at the station (the pathway between Toontown and Tomorrowland is an excellent shooting spot and is usually void of crowds!) Another plus? If necessary, the ‘tender’ is topped off with water at the Toontown station which makes for maximum steam production upon leaving. (Note: Some conductors are more accommodating than others with the amount of steam produced when they see photogs out on the route).  

A train arrives at the station approximately every 5-8 minutes and we spent about an hour trying out different shooting angles, compositions and techniques. 

I was so hoping to get a decent panning shot and, phew, I did! 🙂

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10 Comments

  1. Great shot ! the motion is brilliantly captured and there’s still enough sharpness and colour to make it look good. (that’s often lost when there is a lot of motion) Good to pass on the information how/where etc on taking the photo for other photographers too. Well done you!

    • Thank you! Yes, it is difficult and believe me, most attempts didn’t turn out so well for all the reasons you stated. Only takes one, right? 🙂

  2. THAT is one COOL picture!!

  3. I love trains, I really do. They’re a favorite. Was it speeding? Loved it. 🙂

    • Thanks, Bambooska! It wasn’t going as fast as the image suggests, but it was indeed “picking up steam” – LOL! 🙂

  4. Chugga chugga choo-choo! LOL!!

  5. How slow a shutter speed were you using? I held a panning meet at the same location but used the Tomorrowland Speedway cars for the people to practice on as they are a bit faster than the trains. Did get some of the train but not as neat as yours.

    • Hi Scott – For this shot, the shutter speed was 1/6s (all data is listed under the photo) at F/29. Lens was my 18-200mm VR and camera was on a tripod set with a loose side-to-side motion. I focussed on the front of the train (the ‘1’) and panned with it. If I had panned at exactly the same speed as the train, I wouldn’t have had those lovely blur lines on the train itself. Sometimes things just work out! From your image, it looks like you were on the path a little more towards Tomorrowland. I got lots of shots just like that but really liked the motion in this particular image. You know me….always looking for that something that’s just a little bit different! 🙂 We thought about panning with the Speedway cars but I always feel funny photographing people I don’t know! Also, for some reason, the speedway cars weren’t travelling very fast that day. Thanks! 🙂


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