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-   -   Do railroad employees think we are wackos? (http://www.railpictures.net/forums/showthread.php?t=6299)

travsirocz 12-12-2007 05:43 PM

Do railroad employees think we are wackos?
 
I know that many rr employees respect and understand our passion for rr photography and many actually are photograpers themselves. What do the rest of the employees think when they see us with our cameras. I was once at a grade crossing where the engineer was taking a photo of me on his cell phone like I was trespassing or something. I know when a train is stopped I feel awkward standing outside of the engine snapping some pics while they sit and watch me, sometimes they even move out of view. Or when the same engineer sees me 10 times as I chase the same train. For the employees out there, what do you see and hear from the others you work with? Just curious. Thanks

Joe the Photog 12-12-2007 05:53 PM

No doubt some do think we are odd. Many are aggravated by us, I would reckon, but most just throw up a hand and go on their way. I've met many railroaders who like the fact that people take an interest in what they do. I'm sure if they're switching at a crossing, they would rather have a photographer interested in what they're doing than someone blowing the horn at them and getting mad.

I've had many railroaders come up to me and just shoot the breeze for a few minutes. One guy on a hot day in 1999 invited me up into the cab of an unpatched Cotton Belt GP40 as he waited for a train. The conductor gave me some water and the egineer started asking about railfans he knew is surronding areas. The guys on the shortlines are usually very friendly, too.

There's just been a few exceptions to this when I've been out, but it usually isn't often one is downright mean to me. One eginner for a shortline was yelling at me, but I couldn't hear what he was saying as he was blowing the whistle through a crossing.

I used to feel downright awkward shooting trains, but this had more to do with me than anything else. After shooting for TV news now, I don
't feel awkward in any situation. (Just afraid for my life here and there, but not related to trains.)


Joe

Freericks 12-12-2007 05:57 PM

Like any question regarding a large group of people, it all depends. Everyone is different.

Some think we are odd.

Some think we are pains in the butt.

Some couldn't care less.

Some enjoy talking to us.

Some really have fun with us and like to have us around.

Some are closet fans.

Some are huge fans.

I even know of one guy who is a huge railfan, posting his pictures all over the place, and absolutely hates other railfans... says the nastiest things about them and will purposely open doors, or make obscene gestures to ruin other railfans' shots when he can.

What are you going to do?

Generally, if you give people respect, they will give you respect. I just try to give people respect.

ken45 12-12-2007 06:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by travsirocz
I know when a train is stopped I feel awkward standing outside of the engine snapping some pics while they sit and watch me, sometimes they even move out of view. Or when the same engineer sees me 10 times as I chase the same train. For the employees out there, what do you see and hear from the others you work with? Just curious. Thanks

Haha, I'm right with you there. I do a lot more chasing now than I used to do, and the question often enters my mind "Do I wave at them 10 times, or just once?"

The senior engineers in my office think railfans are wierdos. More than once I've heard my boss suggest a design change so that "the yard doesn't get swarmed by train wierdos taking pictures." He knows I'm a railfan, he just doesn't understand why it's so interesting since he's a lifelong railroader.

hoydie17 12-12-2007 07:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joe the Photog
(Just afraid for my life here and there, but not related to trains.)

Joe

Don't 'fan CSX very often eh?

Ween 12-12-2007 07:05 PM

Quote:

What do the rest of the employees think when they see us with our cameras.
To be quite honest...who cares what people think? Their thoughts about me in no way affect my enjoyment of the hobby or how I pursue it. If they're happy, great...if they're annoyed, great...it doesn't matter.

Andrew Blaszczyk (2) 12-12-2007 07:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ken45
Haha, I'm right with you there. I do a lot more chasing now than I used to do, and the question often enters my mind "Do I wave at them 10 times, or just once?"

Hahahaha, I have the same thoughts man.

It's already been said everyone is different but I have found that you show them you know how to be safe around the railroad then they will respect you. I lost count of how many times I've flagged crossing (without gates) for a crew to show that I am on there side and want them to feel safe having me there plus if its cold, windy and snowing/raining and they don't have to, they REALLY appreciate it.

I used to feel weird snapping pictures around stopped trains, but I've learned how to judge whether its cool or not by facial expressions. If I see they are reading their "rulebook" ;-) look out the window and look down again, I know I'm alright (just don't go within 35 feet from the center of the gauge). If I see they take interest in what I'm doing, I wave, no wave back indicates get the heck away. Even though I'm not doing anything wrong, I would love to get the respect here that photogs like Ween have in ND.

I've had guys come off the engine to shoot the breeze, yell to me where they are stopping at, and glare.

My favorite are the ones who want the photos once I get back home! :)

Quote:

(Just afraid for my life here and there, but not related to trains.)
You and me both, buddy! Yikes.

lock4244 12-12-2007 07:08 PM

Unless they're also a railfan, I think it's likely the majority of railroaders see railfans as a little odd at best, and as wack-o's at worst. However, some might also ponder the fact that many people spend their free time. We could be doing odder things, I suppose. My GF and I once stayed at a Hotel that was hosting an fantasy and role-playing-game convention. People dressed as their favorite character sitting the the restaurant, Klingons having computer related convesations with wizards, etc... this seemed odd to me.

I've had one bad incident with a crew member (rude), but generally they are decent. I had a nice convesation with a conductor while he was waiting to a knuckle to be dropped off by the road power to repair a break-in-two. He came over to me (I was at a grade crossing) and started chatting, which I thought was pretty nice. I offered to drive him to the tail of the train (second of two breaks) to save him the walk, but he said a following train was going to do that repair. He thanked me, though.

I had one incident was with a train in a siding for a meet that I can't place as nice or not. The headlights were off, and every time I raised the camera to shoot, on came the headlights. When I lowered the camera, they turned off again. On, off, on, off. I don't know if they were trying to be helpful or a hindrance, but I thought it was a nice gesture.

I generally keep away from railroaders out of respect. I'm pretty sure I'd hate people taking pictures of me at work day in, day out.

Andrew Blaszczyk (2) 12-12-2007 07:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lock4244
I'm pretty sure I'd hate people taking pictures of me at work day in, day out.

Those would be some boring pictures if they were of me...zZzZzZzZ...LOL!

Slopes09 12-12-2007 07:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lock4244
I had one incident was with a train in a siding for a meet that I can't place as nice or not. The headlights were off, and every time I raised the camera to shoot, on came the headlights. When I lowered the camera, they turned off again. On, off, on, off. I don't know if they were trying to be helpful or a hindrance, but I thought it was a nice gesture.

I've had this one too. My theory is that they're trying to mess with our heads. I suppose it's either that or sit around doing nothing. :lol:

Honestly, if I were an engineer, I don't know if I'd be able to resist the temptation to, but that's probably because I like to mess with people's heads. :lol:

Freericks 12-12-2007 07:26 PM

I've heard the complaint before that rails don't like to be photoraphed by strangers... but I swear, I usually don't notice them and they almost never appear in my pictures. (Sorry, guys.)

Still, on my list of slides to edit and post here is one I scanned recently of a yard driller in Kearny, NJ. I have zero memory of noticing the crew... none at all. I took this picture 28 years ago.

The slide turned out to be crystal clear and it shows one guy is riding the stairs, waving at me like a lunatic while the engineer is shooting a picture of me with a nice SLR. Unless I'm giong senile, I never even noticed either of them.

gbrozny 12-12-2007 07:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Slopes09
I've had this one too. My theory is that they're trying to mess with our heads. I suppose it's either that or sit around doing nothing. :lol:

Honestly, if I were an engineer, I don't know if I'd be able to resist the temptation to, but that's probably because I like to mess with people's heads. :lol:

I had one do this to me when they stopped by a grade crossing, I took my normal 5k pictures at all sorts of different angles, I decided to take some low ones from on the track in the grade crossing, the lights went on and I hopped out of the way quick thinking they were going to start moving, then the engineer hopped out and said he just wanted to see what my reaction was, and it was the correct one. He then gave me his email address and told me to email him the best couple pictures.

EMTRailfan 12-12-2007 07:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ken45
Haha, I'm right with you there. I do a lot more chasing now than I used to do, and the question often enters my mind "Do I wave at them 10 times, or just once?"

If I'm chasing a short line/regional, I usally give them a wave the first time I catch them. Then at the last spot when I cut off, I will do something like a quick salute or something to say thanks for putting up with me for the day. If I'm sitting trackside of a Class 1, I try to give each train a quick wave if I can.

I've never had any negative experiences from railroaders, just passers by. Those instances weren't anything major either.

I coorespond with a few career guys that are fans, and they have been pretty helpful with chases. One even gave me play by play of the next stops, etc. over the road channel, albeit he was the only train on the line so he wasn't interferring with anyone else.

I was railfanning NS at Conway here in PA once, and actually had our fire police captain go by and blow the horn in a light power move. I saw him later, and he told me that he couldn't get the window open quick enough once he realized who was sitting trackside. 3 members of my FD are conductors with NS.

I never approach the crews. I let them come to me if the want to chat. Not that I'm trying to avoid them. Just that they are working and I am playing on my days off.

If we railfan responsably, most crews don't care. If I scope a spot out that I want to shoot from on private land, I get permission from the land owner whether it is posted or not for next time unless time permits for the day of the chase. Never been denied or asked to leave.

jdirelan87 12-12-2007 08:22 PM

A story this thread brings to mind:

A couple months ago I was shooting downtown at the Amtrak station, which historically has been a grey area about trespassing. Anyway, a couple trains went by and I ended up moving about a half mile down the track for the next one.

Another train passes, the conductor and myself make eye contact and exchange waves. As the tail end of the train passed me I heard a NS police officer call that very train asking if they have seen anyone matching my (very obvious) description. I was pleasantly surprised when the conductor radioed back he hadn't see anybody.

I never really knew what to gather from that, maybe that the crew saw I was just taking some harmless photos? Don't know, but it was nice.

travsirocz 12-12-2007 08:26 PM

My girlfriend and I were pacing a train at 60mph when one of the guys was literally hanging out the window giving the universal flash your tits sign. We both thought it was funny. I almost always get a wave but here and there you get an awkward moment.

JimThias 12-12-2007 10:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by travsirocz
My girlfriend and I were pacing a train at 60mph when one of the guys was literally hanging out the window giving the universal flash your tits sign. We both thought it was funny.

Soooooo......did she? :lol:

WKUrailfan 12-13-2007 02:18 AM

Its fun to get crazy responses from the crews, some make pretty good stories. My favorite was a night it had snowed and i was out in the country wearing my old-timey fedora and trench coat and shooting with my Polaroid 250 land camera. One train rounded the curve and as its headlights illuminated me on a small hill overlooking the tracks on my scanner i heard the crew asking eachother "what the hell was that?" Good times.

EMTRailfan 12-13-2007 02:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WKUrailfan
Its fun to get crazy responses from the crews, some make pretty good stories. My favorite was a night it had snowed and i was out in the country wearing my old-timey fedora and trench coat and shooting with my Polaroid 250 land camera. One train rounded the curve and as its headlights illuminated me on a small hill overlooking the tracks on my scanner i heard the crew asking eachother "what the hell was that?" Good times.

:lol: Your story reminds of another story that I read in another forum. A fellow B&P fan was fanning the P&W Sub near Bakerstown when he heard on his scanner something along the line of <i>Woogity, boogity, the Boogie Man is going to get us.</i> Apparently this fan started laughing at what he heard, and then he heard this: <i> Oh, the Boogie Man has ears. Sorry.</i> I've never met this guy that I know of, but he described himself in the post as about 250#, 6 FT+, with full curly hair, and he said that he had a full beard at the time.

BTW Travis, I'm curious too??? :twisted:

Freericks 12-13-2007 02:48 AM

I've been asked for copies of pictures I took over the scanner. Just after I took the shot I heard, "Hey, I want an 8x10 of that."

JimThias 12-13-2007 02:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Freericks
I've been asked for copies of pictures I took over the scanner. Just after I took the shot I heard, "Hey, I want an 8x10 of that."

"Sorry, my camera only shoots in 4:6 ratio." haha

WKUrailfan 12-13-2007 03:23 AM

The regular crew of a local that runs at midnight to downtown in Lynchburg likes to mess around with me. I've heard stuff like "he's baaaack!" and "man this guy needs to get a girl friend!"

NSFan14 12-13-2007 03:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WKUrailfan
The regular crew of a local that runs at midnight to downtown in Lynchburg likes to mess around with me. I've heard stuff like "he's baaaack!" and "man this guy needs to get a girl friend!"

That still wouldnt help me :grin:

Joey Bowman 12-13-2007 04:07 AM

I only skimmed this thread but I found myself wondering, am I the only one that has actually given prints to "railroaders"? I chase the local railroad as often as I can and from time to time give the Engineer and Brakeman prints of the train or of the brakeman doing his job, they seem to appreciate it a lot. Though they also both seem to be railfans themselves as well, well at least the engineer is.

Freericks 12-13-2007 04:09 AM

I have given prints and e-mailed JPeGs.

TAMR159 12-13-2007 04:21 AM

I'll say this much, there really isn't a single crew member out there who doesn't know who we are or why we're there. They may question the motive (and MANY wonder why we're not out chasing women instead :twisted:), but they all know why we're there anyhow. Their reactions, however, can vary...some are railfans themselves and will gladly chat with you, invite you up into the cab, etc. Others hate railfans and call in every single one they see (and no, this isn't an exaguration - one of my friends was with an engineer who called in a father and his toddler son who were railfanning from a public parking lot!).

In regards to giving photos to crew members and such, I've found myself doing it all the time lately (heck, I'm mailing a Christmas card with a shot of a train over a waterfall to the engineer running it as we speak). It is a nice gesture, and even for the non-railfan crew members, they do appreciate it and enjoy it, especially if they're good quality photographs (something many of us here are perfectly capable of, noting the site we're posting on). This combined with coffee runs and respecting the people & property are a sure fire way to befriend a lot of employees, if that's your goal...


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