Makers Gonna Make

A Fun Weekend Doing Photography

Posted on Jun 16, 2014 in Photography |

San Leandro Historical Railway SocietyBy no means am I a professional photographer!  But I have had a couple of opportunities to pretend I am one.  The first was my sister-in-law’s wedding a few years ago.  My husband’s aunt and I were able to get some very good shots of their wedding that everyone was very happy with.  Usually I only take photographs for me, but this weekend I donated my equipment and services to the San Leandro Historical Railway Society, an organization my husband and I work with.

Periodically throughout the year, the Society holds Open House & Train Shows where they stay open for extended hours all weekend to allow the public to come check out the interior HO scale model railroad, the history museum, and our back yard G & O gauge Garden Railway display.  It’s a chance, not only for the public to come enjoy, but also for the Society, which is a non-profit, to raise funds to pay our bills, maintain the model layouts, and continue to improve them.  In addition, this year we’re also raising funds to repaint the 115-year-old Southern Pacific Depot that we call home.  It has not been painting in a number of years, and the eves have not been painted in decades.  One of the highest expenses is that it’s lead-based paint, so we actually have to hire professionals to come do lead abatement instead of just repainting ourselves.  So, as a new fundraiser this weekend, I set up my laptop, camera, tripod, photo printer, and a big cardboard train for little ones to get their very own Engineer photo for just $5.  We had a ton of fun (well, except for this sunburn I have on my neck and ear) and got some fun shots of some adorable little tykes.  And some adults, for testing purposes (right… testing…)

Rachel Nuckols at the SLHRS Summer 2014 Open House

I got the idea from taking my dog, Winston the Wonder Pug, to get his picture taken with Santa at Petsmart a couple years ago.  For $10, I received an OKAY photo of him with a dude in a lackluster Santa suit in front of a crumpled up cardboard backdrop with Santa’s head cut off because the lady taking the picture was using a point-and-shoot camera without a tripod.  $5 of the fee went to a pet adoption charity and I also received a fairly nice rubberized Christmas light frame for the picture, which I felt was at least worth the other $5, so I couldn’t feel to bad about the price.  But it did get me to thinking about how much better I could do something similarly with my equipment for the Society (or any other cause).

It was an idea bouncing around in my head until this Christmas, when I found this cardboard train for a very reasonable price at Oriental Trading Company while looking at other train items they had for our Winter Open House.  That’s when the gears went into overdrive.  I researched the costs of the photo printer ink, photo paper, and nice photo folders to put the photo into.  I’d been looking for an excuse to get a photo printer anyway, so I was willing to eat the cost on that to own the photo printer and just donate it’s service.  We determined that there was a lot of potential “profit” (donation) to be made on this for not that much of an investment, so the project was approved.

Just within the last week I finally realized I could plug my Nikon D5000 DSLR directly into my laptop via USB (only took 4 years to figure it out) and purchased an inexpensive but invaluable Pixel Wired Remote Shutter Release Control so I could set up the perfect positioning for the tripod and camera and just hit the buttons while looking at the screen.  I’m very adept with creating Actions in Photoshop, so I was able to color correct the images and then use my previously created image and action to add the fun little train and date image to each picture.  Provided there were no technical complications (like the printer turning itself off), it only took about 5 minutes between taking the picture to having a printed photo in a nice folder to hand to the visitor.

Joy Morrill at the SLHRS Summer 2014 Open HouseThe pictures will be visible sometime this week at, but here’s one I can share of my niece Joy, who came down to explore!  We were able to work out the kinks of the placement, the printing, and the general semantics, which means our photo opportunity will go much more smoothly at our next Open House in September.  If you’re local to San Leandro, CA and interested in receiving updates, you can sign up for the San Leandro Historical Railway Society Newsletter.  We’d love to have you come on down to the Depot!


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