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Old 03-03-2018, 04:36 PM   #7
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 2,024

A few thoughts about what I like in a railroad photo and what I strive to achieve....

My goal has always been to process to achieve a scene the way my eyes saw it....which is different from the way my camera saw it. Very specifically, I have never been a fan of very dark images, particularly ones with little or no shadow detail. In most situations, my eyes can see that shadow detail and I want the final image to show it as well. Because of this, I make liberal use of all of the sliders that Lightoom has to offer. I really give the raw images a workout. That said, hopefully, I've mastered the balance of ALL of the controls, so my shots don't look like I just hammered the shadows. I see folks do that all the time and it doesn't look real. My goal is reality. Hopefully, I am at least close.

And a few thoughts about fine art (vs. photography)...

Digital Manipulation:

I'm not a fan of significant manipulation, and certainly not adding things to a scene. I have removed a few things from scenes to clean up an otherwise completely real scene. These include branches at the corners, errant body parts, trash, birds that look like dust specks.....and Pete Lerro's microphone muff. The only serious digital manipulation I've ever done was in this shot:

Image © Kevin Madore
PhotoID: 638718
Photograph © Kevin Madore

In that case, a Strasburg Rail Road sign which could not physically be removed was completely spoiling the scene that we were trying to I adjusted the color of the banner and added the N&W Logo. I made that clear in a note to the screeners and in the caption. That was probably the most technical change I have ever done....and it pales in comparison to what most people COULD do. I don't use PS, and I don't really want the skills to ADD things to scenes, like clouds. My one rainbow shot and perhaps the shot I am most proud of was entirely real:

Image © Kevin Madore
PhotoID: 372810
Photograph © Kevin Madore

It was just dumb luck that I happened to be there. Fortunately, there were a few witnesses. The reason I am proud of it is because the owner of the locomotive, who did not witness the scene, was quite touched by it. It hangs in his residence.

Atmospheric nuclear tests and other fantasy sunrises and sunsets: Not a fan. Mother nature does a great job herself. She doesn't need highlights, saturation and contrast sliders.

Heavy Duty Vignettes: Sorry. If you notice it immediately, it's too much.

With regard to the 4 images that Dennis posted, I like 2 and especially 4. One and 3, not so much. Both 2 and 4 look like the eye might have seen them. Four is not only gorgeous and colorful, but you could study it for a very long time with all of the cool detail it has. In Image 1, I like the high contrast, which works well with the steam engine, but much of the engine is obscured by a wall and the random folks in the scene don't immediately tell me a coherent story. Image 3 has the overly heavy, top-side-only vignette and overall, it just looks really heavily processed.

Edit: Oh, and I really do like Loyd's Vegas shot. Again, it looks real to me.

My RP stuff is here.

Link to my Flickr Albums. Lots of Steam Railroad stuff there from all over the US.

Last edited by KevinM; 03-03-2018 at 04:41 PM.
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