Old 04-05-2016, 03:31 AM   #1
Will Jordan
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Default Mundane...

I'm still very new to the hobby and to photography... I'm 14 and have a lot to learn. But I notice two classes of people on RP. You have your "photographers" and you have your "railfans". The photographers naturally being more creative, doing stuff with long exposures that are out of the norm and your railfans; who typically shoot more wedges and rosters and tend to have a fairly consistent flow of mundaness. In my case, I would love to begin making the shift from railfan to photographer, and eliminate mundane photos from my future uploads. My account is full of wedges and rosters... I'd love to hear some tips, tricks, stories, or whatever you have to share to help me become more creative and well rounded with rail photography.

Here's the link to my account: http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=69347

Thanks for any help you can give me!

Last edited by Will Jordan; 04-05-2016 at 04:47 AM. Reason: Link doesn't show. I'm very new..sorry. Please help if possible.
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Old 04-05-2016, 03:56 AM   #2
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Can't see the link, but I am extremely impressed by your aspiration at your age. I am honestly much more of a railfan than photographer, but I too aspire. That being said, I would really suggest that you start by copying those images that really stir you. If there is blue hour, tiny train in scenery, or other "arsty" images you like - study them and see if you can duplicate them (in your party of the country).

All the greats learn by starting off imitating those that they think are great.
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Old 04-05-2016, 03:59 AM   #3
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Thanks! I'm trying to figure out the issue with the link.
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Old 04-05-2016, 04:01 AM   #4
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(1) But I notice two classes of people on RP. You have your "photographers" and you have your "railfans".

(2)I'd love to hear some tips, tricks, stories, or whatever you have to share to help me become more creative and well rounded with rail photography.

1. Yes, there tends to be two poles of interest. One is a photographer who likes trains, the other is a railfan with a camera. Neither is really better than the other--it's all about what makes YOU happy.

2. Try three things. First, always start with Light. Learn how to recognize it's direction, quality (harsh/soft,) color, and so on. Start "seeing" light. Then, learn how to use the light you are given. What kind of shots work best on sunny days? On cloudy days? At night? Mid day? Astronomical twilight? Then, look at photos from others that really inspire you. How did they use the Light? Learn how to analyze photos and backwards engineer where the Light was coming from and how it was used. Always start with Light. Can you find a photo you really really like where the Use of Light was not good? (No.)

Next learn how to place your subject in the frame.

Finally, slow down and consider how a location/moment makes you feel. Is it very cold? How can you compose the photo so the viewer feels the cold? Is this a lonely, desolate place? Crowded subway platform? How can you create a photo to transmit a feeling or emotion? Or, tell a little story? Most all of this kind of photography (google "pictorialist") relies on these concepts.


---> Instead of summing up photographers as "railfans" or "photographers," you could look at it as those who like to document what they saw, and those who document what they felt. Think about that last sentence for a few days.


Here's a shot I took the other day. I broke all the "foamer" rules. Where was the light coming from? How do you think you would have felt if you were there? What do you think it was I was after with this shot? Was I trying to document something, or trying to express a feeling?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/968260...posted-public/


Kent in SD
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Old 04-05-2016, 04:14 AM   #5
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Thanks! This is one of mine that captures more of a feeling. http://www.railpictures.net/viewphot...559527&nseq=15

Last edited by Will Jordan; 04-05-2016 at 04:47 AM.
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:07 AM   #6
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Just for future reference, instead of copying and pasting the entire link you can just post it as [photoid=xxxxx] (with x representing your specific photo ID number).

It'll save you a bit of time theoretically and also let you post the thumbnail.

Image © Will Jordan
PhotoID: 559527
Photograph © Will Jordan


Nice shot too.

Last edited by 3375; 04-05-2016 at 05:11 AM.
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:13 AM   #7
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Thanks for the tip!! I'm still very new to the forums.
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:26 PM   #8
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Good for you to already challenge yourself to do more, Will. I wish I had taken such a step when I was your age. Here are a few things that helped me transition to expanding my photography beyond just looking for a nicely-lit wedge (and there is nothing wrong with those).

1. Vow to do something different every time you go out. I adopted this rule after a friend remarked "I just can't sit at the same place all day like you do." WTH?!? was my first thought. I didn't say it, but I was offended. My shots were perfectly lit because I knew the exact hours of perfect light at a handful of locations around Atlanta. Then I realized he was exactly right-- same spot, different train, over and over again. Mix it up.

2. Wedge shooters (like me) make the train the subject. Force yourself to find a subject in your chosen scene that is NOT the train, and build your composure around it. This could be an interesting building, sign, wildflowers, or any other of many ideas.

3. Break the "rules." Now I'm not saying that while you're lined up for the absolute best shot of a chase that you decide to do something wildly different, but let's say you are waiting for an eastbound in nice morning light and a westbound shows up, avoid the urge to just say "You can't do anything with a morning westbound." Try to make something out of it. You may wind up with a dramatic photograph. Or you may just delete something off of your card. What was the loss there? Nothing. Challenge yourself to make something happen out of something that "shouldn't."

4. Go for quality over quantity. Good photos take good planning. If you're diving out of the car and dropping the shutter with seconds to spare at every shot, you are likely not executing shots as well as you could with just even a few minutes to think about what you're about to do. Think like you're shooting a camera that does not have any sort of automatic features and you have only one shot at a scene (not the ability to shoot 10 frames and "pick the best"). Don't make Photoshop a verb. Too many photographers in the digital age just have the attitude of "Ahh, I'll just Photoshop that out" with something they could easily avoid with some good shot planning.


I'm sure there are plenty more, but these are the key points that helped me transition from shooting nothing but 3/4 rosters to 3/4 wedge train shots to 3/4 wedge train shots with the occasional interesting photograph in the mix.
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Will Jordan View Post
Thanks for the tip!! I'm still very new to the forums.
But as of this moment you have twice the number of posts as 3375! I bet 3375 has lurked for a bit.

Anyway, good luck with the pursuit. It may last your entire lifetime!
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Old 04-05-2016, 02:11 PM   #10
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1. Vow to do something different every time you go out.

2. Force yourself to find a subject in your chosen scene that is NOT the train, and build your composure around it.

3. Break the "rules." ... Challenge yourself to make something happen out of something that "shouldn't."

4. Good photos take good planning.
Adding on to this, one suggestion that works and is also good for someone who, at your age, presumably has some trouble getting around to spots. Figure out things to do at your spot. Make a visit, get some shots, and really look at them at home. Ask yourself what you could have done different. Make mental notes or write down ideas on shots you could take next time. Maybe this is only true of me, but I find that I have to visit a spot numerous times to "get the shot" as I struggle to see things the first or second times.

And that process will get you going in thinking through a shot in detail, and then that ups the rate of "keepers" you get in any situation.
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Old 04-05-2016, 07:45 PM   #11
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Will,

Looking at some of your work, you already have a nice portfolio, and you're doing a lot of the right things, including placing contextual items like whistle posts, signals, or buildings in the shot to differentiate the location from so many unidentifiable wedgie locations. I also agree that it's great that you want to do more.

While I categorize most of my work as "railfan", and not "photographer", I have always strived to get something different than most of my peers - not "mundane". Others have provided great tips to help you and I agree with all of them. Definitely mix it up, and plan for quality, and respect the light.

One additional thing that I have learned when visiting a new location is to get out of the car, and avoid the temptation to walk toward the tracks. Look behind you, and see if there's a spot where you can capture a bigger scene where the train is obvious, but not dominant. This will differentiate your perspective from the majority of railfans who would shoot the same subject.

There are quite a few RP contributors who fall into the photographer category, including some on this thread. There's nothing wrong with emulating them as you expand your horizons. Two particular photographer whose work has inspired me to try to get to a different level are Chase Gunnoe and David Honan. There are many more, but their photography opened my eyes to new possibilities.

Doug Lilly

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Old 04-05-2016, 08:06 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the tips! It is all greatly appreciated and is a huge help!
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:20 PM   #13
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I have noticed your Blue Ridge Southern and enjoyed that as I was only by for a couple days and on a Fall trip with my wife. Got some night photos that sure will not make it here. Really neat operation.

Anyway, not photo taking advice, you don't need mine! but some general thoughts you may already realize but...
1) mundane today, gone tomorrow(and time value of photos)
2) any hobby or even pursuit rarely goes in a straight line so good to reach some level of interest diversity so photography and trains is sustainable(don't lose interest or burn out) I am avid tennis layer but don't know how many junior players finished college and didn't pick up racket again for years if ever.
3) I think in the hobby we need a new "hook" to keep the interest up but maybe want to be careful to get fixated on one theme and then 5 years later say "Why do I have 9999 photos of X.

And lastly how change comes, Years ago, I would give my Last name and people would say "Oh, like the River?" Then they would say "Are you Michael's cousin?"" Now they ask. "What is your Last name?"

Bob Jordan (Like the River)
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:23 PM   #14
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-Set long-term goals.
-During every visit, make mental notes for the next visit.
-Don't confine yourself to railroad photography. It's a wide world (think Flickr).
-Be critical of any photograph. What's wrong? What's right? (My "what's wrong" list is much longer than Chris K's ).
-Look at as many photos as you can, and not just here. Find the best photographers (and follow, fave and comment).
-Bad weather can be your friend. Just don't get caught in a blizzard, or on the wrong side of a flood. (Been there, done that .)
-Avoid clichés like the plague!
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:43 PM   #15
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I too, noticed the Blue Ridge Southern photos, including some from this Saturday. By coincidence, I convinced my wife to take an overnight trip to Asheville this weekend so I could scout locations for the 611 trip this Sunday. On Sunday morning, I shot the BRS return trip from Asheville to Canton. After exploring the line, I am convinced that I could shoot this turn every day for a week and not exhaust the possibilities.

Will, this brings up the point of mixing it up. At some point, someone may notice your photography, and ask you to do a half-hour presentation on the Blue Ridge Southern. If you have 100 images at eight locations along the line, it will be a pretty uninteresting show. If you vary locations, perspectives, seasons, and weather conditions, you will have a captive audience.
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Old 04-06-2016, 02:35 AM   #16
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Just do what I do, i.e. rip off the Danneman brothers.
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:42 AM   #17
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Just do what I do, i.e. rip off the Danneman brothers.
A good plan! All that's needed is a great eye for composition, flawless processing, and a magical ability to have trains show up when the light is perfect. Mike did say he has rejects- I'd love to see those!
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:47 AM   #18
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Wow. I wish I could say I was that mature at 14. Unfortunately I can't. I've only just begun to "branch out". Just having that mentality is going to get you far in your photography.

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Just do what I do, i.e. rip off the Danneman brothers.
Rip off them, Ron Flanary, Mitch Goldman, and James Belmont. Then you'll be the best there ever was.
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:08 PM   #19
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..... a magical ability to have trains show up when the light is perfect.

Rather than waiting until the light is perfect for the shot you have in mind, my startegy is to compose a shot that makes perfect use of the light I have. It is cold and raining today in Chicago. It is dark and gray down in the canyons. I'm carrying a Nikon F3T loaded with Ilford HP5 and a trio of fast lenses.


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Old 04-06-2016, 07:17 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I'm still very new to the hobby and to photography... I'm 14 and have a lot to learn.

Here's the link to my account: http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=69347
I was 14 over 35 years ago. If only I'd had such a command of railroad photography at that age...
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Old 04-06-2016, 07:20 PM   #21
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I was 14 over 35 years ago. If only I'd had such a command of railroad photography at that age...
Wait... what? You're old like me?
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Old 04-07-2016, 01:34 AM   #22
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Some great feedback on here. On the subject about photos that tell a story, some of the contributors on here I highly recommend you check out: Dennis Livesey, Mitch Goldman, Bruce Budris, Nick DAmato, Ilya Semyonoff, John Crisanti, Mike Sullivan and Mike Danneman to name a few. Eye catching photos with a great story to go along with it.
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Old 04-07-2016, 03:44 AM   #23
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Again, thanks for all the tips and advice! It is greatly appreciated!
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Old 04-08-2016, 02:13 AM   #24
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Thought of this thread for several reasons when I saw this photo. Think sometimes it just out there, but we have have to find it for ourselves???
A million SOO photos but.....

Image © Tom Farence
PhotoID: 572306
Photograph © Tom Farence


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Old 04-08-2016, 04:49 AM   #25
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I thought of that word, "mundane", today while at the Chicago Art Museum. They have a big exhibit called, "Van Gogh's Bedroom. It's just three paintings of the same thing--the guy's small bedroom in 1899. It's not a fancy painting, trust me, but Van Gogh claims it was his favorite. There were several thousand people that showed up just today to see it, despite the rain & snow. My take away was that there is something to be said for "mundane," if it is exceptionally well done. Another Van Gogh painting of just a yellow chair also was drawing a big crowd............


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