Night Train at Walt Disney World

Winter visits to Walt Disney World, such as our December 2016 trip, always include many more dark hours than our typical summer visits, thanks to the earth tilting away from the sun. Because of that, I always end up with more night photos.

During our visit, we took a nighttime ride on the Walt Disney World Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, riding behind Engine No. 3 Roger E. Broggie. When we exited the train at Main Street Station, we walked down the accessible ramp to get a closer look at the engine. Although it was pretty dark, I still couldn’t resist taking a couple of photos as we passed by.

Walt Disney World Railroad Engine No 3 Roger E. Broggie at night

I suppose it has to do with the fact that it is already dark, but nighttime photos often seem to look even better in black and white, so that is what I went with here. I particularly like the smoke streaming from the whistle above the engine’s cab here, while the engineers chat as they wait for the signal to step back up to the throttle and get underway again. The only downside to the black and white photo here is that you cannot see both of the red and green lights on the signal to the right of the engine, meaning that the train cannot proceed down the track yet.

Walt Disney World Railroad Engine No 3 Roger E. Broggie at Night

I moved on down the walkway to get this next photo. Thanks to the fisheye lens, even though I was right next to the engine, I was still able to get all of it in the photo, as well as the tender and the first train car back behind that. Of course, the fisheye lens does give things a slightly strange bend to them, but I think it still works well here. Also, more steam from the whistle, too, as it was illuminated by some of the lights in the area. In case you are wondering, the general light in the sky comes from the lights of the area reflecting off of the thick clouds that were covering the sky that night.

I am sure that some may prefer to ride the Walt Disney World Railroad during the day, because much more of the scenery surrounding the train tracks is visible during the daylight hours. However, riding at night has its own special feel to it, letting you focus more on the sounds of the train as it rolls along through the night, the wheels clacking at each joint in the tracks, the whistle blowing to warn those who might be up ahead. And I suppose that after a long day at the Magic Kingdom, the gentle rocking of the passenger car could rock you to sleep, if you would actually want to sleep on the train. Perhaps some of the young ones can’t even help falling asleep as they are rocked along in the darkness.

And while many may prefer that daytime ride, many would probably also prefer a daytime photo of the engines, with their gleaming red and green paint schemes reflecting the bright Florida sun. But sometimes it is good to get a different view of things, such as a nighttime view of the engines, with the light reflecting not off of the paint but rather off all of the brass trim, and the marker lights at the front of the engine glowing in the darkness. So even though you may not be able to see as much at night, you can definitely see things differently. And that isn’t always a bad thing.

I will praise the Lord who counsels me— even at night my conscience instructs me. - Psalm 16:7

About the Photos

As was mentioned above, each of these photos was taken at night, obviously, and with a fisheye lens. No tripod was used in these photos, although that perhaps would have been more ideal. But the train wouldn’t have been staying around long enough for me to set up a tripod, if I had even brought one with me, which I had not.

Instead of a tripod, then, I turned up the ISO, opened the aperture as much as I could, and held my breath for a steady hand. The higher ISO did give the side effect of more noise in the photos, but I think that does not detract any from a black and white photo, and in fact the extra noise helps to add more texture to the final photo. That is especially apparent in the second photo here.

I did attempt to process the first photo in color, but not for long, because I was not happy with the results. But a quick change to black and white made the photo immediately better, so I continued on in that direction instead. As I mentioned above, you do lose something from not having the colors there, but I think black and white works well in the long run.

Here is a before-and-after version of the first photo, so that you can see how the original color photo looked before the black and white conversion:

Walt Disney World Railroad Engine No 3 Roger E. Broggie before-and-after

Photo: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in Photoshop. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10
Lens: Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye Lens
Date: December 21, 2016
Location: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.