Amtrack Pacific Surfliner

Chris Dodkin

West Coast Correspondent
Inspired by some of the train photography on the forum - I set out after work today to capture the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner. :cool:

This train runs down the Pacific coast, from San Luis Obispo to San Diego.

Scouted my shooting location using Google maps and LightTrac, and consulted the Amtrak timetable to find a train near to sunset.

The track runs right down the beach as it passes near to the famous Torrey Pines golf course, and the high bluff above the track provided a perfect shooting location.


Of course the trains were running late - but it materialized just before my parking ran out!

ISO 800 - Canon 28-70 f2.8L lens - Canon 5D MKII

Last edited:
B&W shot - Blue filter

For me it has to be the colour version, the crop really suits the image and the placing of the cab just at a point where theres a gap in the rocks. I'm also impressed by the fact that you went through so much trouble to get the shot and it has clearly paid off, would it be possible to submit this to a stock agency?
Funny you should mention stock work Vic - I posted the image to my FaceBook page - and a relative who works in tourism, and knows folks over at Amtrak, has offered to send them a copy to see if they like it... You never know!

Would probably have to re-shoot it as there is a slight speed blur on the moving train which is annoying the hell out of me!

I tried to set a high enough shutter speed to freeze it, but looks like 1/320 sec wasn't quite fast enough :(

It's a compromise - low light, need for DOF, and trying to freeze the action....
I did notice the softness around the cab area, but given the conditions I thought you did rather well. Would it be possible to get onto the beach where the dunes are? it looks like the conditions would be better suited. Maybe just catch it as it rounds the bend.

I've looked into stock photography man are they fussy!
Vic - was actually considering shooting from the location near the white cross, bottom left - with the bluff in the background


Might loose the ocean though - unless I went super wide...
going wide might be good, you would have the train real close then that would maybe add some great drama. Maybe if you looked for a spot where it had a sweeping curve in land that might make it easier to get the ocean in.