Old 02-17-2015, 11:56 PM   #1
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So, with all due respects to both Darryl and Mitch, trespassing simply doesn't get more blatant than this.

Last Summer there was a huge spat about folks having their photos rejected when it was "obvious" that they were trespassing on railroad property.

So, explain this one?

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To be clear, my point of view on this is that it is NOT RP.net's responsibility to determine who is or isn't trespassing. However, when I expressed that point last year on a couple other threads, I was quickly berated and informed that RP SHOULD be policing photos for such egregious behavior.

According to the EXIF, the shot was taken at 24mm, so this isn't a case of a tele-mash making it look closer than it actually is.
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Old 02-18-2015, 12:10 AM   #2
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Good grief. Where I live, this just isn't a big deal unless you're on a "sensitive" property such as at an ethanol plant, quarry operation, or major rail yard. About the only time I've heard a railroad get upset out here was when a kid was out deer hunting along the tracks and shot a forky that was spooked by the train. Crew didn't like having an -06 touched off in their direction so they stopped the train, got out, and cut him a new one. On many of my flash shots I'm crossing tracks to get to the other side, but I use common sense about it. I've created ZERO problems and have had no complaints.

I'll add that I never take shots much closer than 30 ft. from the rail. Those shots just don't look that great to me. If I do take a close shot, my camera is on a tripod and fired by a CyberSync.


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Old 02-18-2015, 12:29 AM   #3
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Good grief. Where I live, this just isn't a big deal unless you're on a "sensitive" property such as at an ethanol plant, quarry operation, or major rail yard. About the only time I've heard a railroad get upset out here was when a kid was out deer hunting along the tracks and shot a forky that was spooked by the train. Crew didn't like having an -06 touched off in their direction so they stopped the train, got out, and cut him a new one. On many of my flash shots I'm crossing tracks to get to the other side, but I use common sense about it. I've created ZERO problems and have had no complaints.

I'll add that I never take shots much closer than 30 ft. from the rail. Those shots just don't look that great to me. If I do take a close shot, my camera is on a tripod and fired by a CyberSync.


Kent in SD
The key point in your comment is "where you live". Here, AMTRAK is very protective of their own property, especially the NorthEast Corridor (NEC). AMTRAK Police are well known to be heavy handed as well.

I question two things about this picture; a) the judgement that posting this image so soon after capture was a good idea and b) RP.net giving it the thumbs up when clearly the photographers are both trespassing.

Again, I respect both Darryl and Mitch's contributions to the hobby, I'm not on a vendetta. But this plays back to the inconsistently enforced "standards" for this site as well. Especially when this was a hot topic not even a year ago when other folks were posting photos where they were perceived to be trespassing and being rejected for that very reason.
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Old 02-18-2015, 01:24 AM   #4
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This would have been a good poll topic. ( OK / Not OK )
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Old 02-18-2015, 02:48 AM   #5
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Again, I respect both Darryl and Mitch's contributions to the hobby, I'm not on a vendetta. But this plays back to the inconsistently enforced "standards" for this site as well.
Sean - I don't believe for a minute that you have a vendetta against either myself nor Darryl, nor any other railfans, yet I do question why you simply didn't simply direct your curiosity in a more respectful manner; namely a PM to either myself, Darryl, or perhaps Chris.

I'm not a fan of the shot in the same manner as you would likely not be a fan of a shot featuring an engineer rubbing his eyes after a night flash session. It's a fine line we all walk as we progress and attempt to push some boundaries and catch scenes less often captured. The Corridor, btw, is especially difficult to shoot if you hope to work around or through the catenary infrastructure.

Publishing /posting images such as ours may well lead others to follow without the precautions of an experienced photographer (AND railfan) such as you or I, Daryl or Kent. "Nothing more blatant" - I would hardly say. I constantly capture people crossing the tracks there, walking the right of way and even posing for pics on the ROW. Leaning over the ballast would hardly quality as "doesn't get more blatant then this". And such a measure is a rarity. Darryl and I have shot that location (within minutes of each others residence) in just about every way imaginable. We're regulars there. Though extremely rare, we are aware trains go both directions on the westbound track. Like you, we "notify" so as to not stress the engineer. We waved in advance, held our cameras high and leaned over the ballast - in this particular incident, not much longer then the shutter speed required to capture the scene.

In my own personal opinion, it's much less dangerous or aggravating then having multiple flashes (or even a single flash) fire off in the dark of night. I have several speed lights and a Lumindyne but after speaking with many steam tourist train operators, I'm quite hesitant to use them - much more so then leaning over the ballast a couple times per year a few feet from the station platform.

As for RP - you are well aware there are inconsistencies in the screening process - not only from time to time, but screener to screener. I assume that may be one of the issues effecting the number of images you share here.

No disrespect, Sean - your work is spectacular and commentary often right on the mark and well thought out - most often, that is.

Here's a shot from a Milwaukee Road chase in Chicago, many Moons ago that I would call "blatant"! Beyond blatant. I chased them off the tracks both physically and verbally.



/Mitch
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Old 02-18-2015, 03:27 AM   #6
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Photo in question had been removed. It will stay in my personal collection. However, just for the record, I was down near the weeds lining the ditch there, well behind where the yellow line Would be on the station platform. Sorry for posting the photo and hope I caught it in time before a huge thread war starts. Have a good night everyone.
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Old 02-18-2015, 03:43 AM   #7
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This would have been a good poll topic. ( OK / Not OK )
Not two options--three: (1) OK (2) Not OK (3) Yawn.



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Old 02-18-2015, 04:15 AM   #8
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In my own personal opinion, it's much less dangerous or aggravating then having multiple flashes (or even a single flash) fire off in the dark of night. I have several speed lights and a Lumindyne but after speaking with many steam tourist train operators, I'm quite hesitant to use them

First, some information. I've been intensively doing night/flash shots for going on ten years now (just completed season #9.) I personally know many crewmen on the trains--they have my cell phone number, I have theirs. I've flashed over 300 trains by now on at least six different railroads, in states (and a province) all over the Northern Plains. I've sat in the cabs of locos (parked) and deliberately fired x2 White Lightning X3200 monolights (~2700ws of power--a LOT!) placed about 50 ft. off the rail. It wasn't a big deal. I've talked to dozens of train crews and all have said even the big monolights do not bother them. They tell me it's not even nearly as bad as coming to a grade where a semi has their brights on. They don't even see the little Nikon SB flash go off. I've talked to BNSF trainmasters, CP trainmasters, UP trainmasters, CN trainmaster (1), and the general managers/owners of at least five shortlines. All say the same thing--they've heard no complaints, and have actually encouraged me to keep getting shots for them. After over nine years, my only conclusion is that train crews really don't have a problem at all with flash. Here's a shot I did recently where I popped x2 WL X3200 monolights (biggest monolights made?) at full power directly at the train, with snow covered ground. This was enough power to generate an exposure of f11 @ ISO 800. This was a LOT of light! It's approaching daytime brightness, even. The next day I had lunch with the conductor, and he told me even that much flash* was no problem at all.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/96826069@N00/16496757856/


My conclusion is this. Flash from big monolights, doesn't bother train crews when done properly. Flash from the little 4AA type strobes doesn't bother them at all. Keep in mind that when I'm doing it, there is only ONE pop. I have a degree in medical science, and I think what's going on is that from one pop some distance away, it happens so fast (1/1000s) the pupils in the eyes don't really have time to react. Second, train crews are usually staring straight ahead and I can't think of ever having flash right next to the tracks--it's always at some angle. Third, the crews are watching the bright lit area in front of them, not staring into darkness The result is their pupils are already "stopped down" for the light. I suspect there is little difference in the brightness of their headlights and that of the little 4AA flash like Sean uses anyway.

So why do some of your tourist line guys complain? My guess is that these are mostly stationary shots and you are doing multiple pops. That would get annoying, and is why I decided against buying the Paul Buff Einstein monolights that would allow me to make three or four quick flash shots, POP-POP-POP! Again, I've done hundreds and hundreds of trains for nearly a decade; not a single complaint. I do hear complaints from train crews about foamers being too close to the tracks. The reason is they don't know if its a foamer or a suicidal wacko about to jump in front of them.

I'm not picking on you, but it's a common misconception that flash shots are somehow "bad". I counter that with actual real life experience whenever it comes up. I have ~10,000ws of flash power** and have not hesitated to use it when that much is needed.

An addendum, for historical perspective:
Most of the time I shoot f5.6 @ ISO 800. With 4x5, I shoot f8 @ ISO 800. My maximum is f11 @ ISO 800. Consider this: The Master, O.W.Link, was shooting f11 or f16 @ ISO 100! That is six stops MORE light than what I typically use, i.e. 64 times more light (if I did the math right). When Link stopped down to f16 with his ISO 100 film, he was actually shooting at full daytime light levels! Were there any complaints? None known.


Kent in SD

*One X3200 is roughly
equal to x16-20 Nikon
SB flash

**Roughly equal to
x125 Nikon SB flash
SB flash.

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Old 02-18-2015, 05:05 AM   #9
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I do hear complaints from train crews about foamers being too close to the tracks. The reason is they don't know if its a foamer or a suicidal wacko about to jump in front of them.
I am well aware of that specific fact and I try to educate others. It's not what you do, but what it could look like you are about to do in the eyes of another. That's why I always wave (one hand, not two, lol), and hold my camera up to see often with the strip dangling.

As for flash photography at night - when popping off multiple flashes (you get lazy and only bring one light), that is not often a problem as the crew is either not in the cab or they are engaged in something inside the cab, if even just a conversation.

I jumped in the band wagon - got some stuff on E-bay followed by a few speedlights but after speaking with the engineers at Strasburg, W&W and New Hope, I can say it was somewhat unanimous - "I hate those damn flashes!". They are pretty cool about it in general, after all, they cater to tourist (even the non-paying ones) and with a heads up, will often work the engine for you. But I've heard the opposite occur when no notice is given.

The nice thing about a tourist excursion line is you can actually walk up and say hello. Give them a heads up. Get permission. How do you do that with the Norfolk Southern Corporation?? Why would they even consider allowing any risk? This ain't 5 guys, or even 20, now we're talking a corporation with lawyers and shareholders.

And then, let's say you find a way. How do you find a way while you are vacationing in a new territory? How do you get access to even ask, let alone get permission to flash an engineer of a freight train?

I'm not trying to aggressively retort your statements, Kent - I'm genuinely curious. There was a quite a lively debate some time back on the site Trainorders.com. There were certainly more who seemed annoyed then favorable. Warning flash? - The thought was, "what's going on up there? What was that flash? Is there a problem". Flash light or flash light with an orange glow? A safety vest - again - they said, "What is going on up ahead? Do I need to be concerned? Should I slow down, or stop?"

I hope you are right! And I'm sure you, Gary, and Sean have made good friends and excellent contacts in your localities though such examples seem the exception in a world where just about anyone can afford a beginners set up.

Then, for me, add the dense population of the Northeast. I've heard too many stories of the police arriving to investigate mysterious flashes. "What are you doing?" See this big flash bulb? I'm gonna flash it right at the engineer of the train when he goes by! OK? Lol - maybe things are different in the prairies of SD and the mountains of WV and PA!

/Mitch
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Old 02-18-2015, 05:48 AM   #10
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And then, let's say you find a way. How do you find a way while you are vacationing in a new territory? How do you get access to even ask, let alone get permission to flash an engineer of a freight train?

I'm not trying to aggressively retort your statements, Kent - I'm genuinely curious.

The thing I love most about forums are the discussions. I learn a lot about the world as well as photography. (Actual discussions, not flame wars.) Anyway, over the years most train crews in my area already know me. The ones on the BNSF call me the "Flash Foamer" for crying out loud. A few months ago I started taking shots of the RCPE out in the western half of South Dakota for the first time. I have a radio and know where trains are waiting, and simply drive there, get out, and talk to them. This is entirely "within bounds" here. I chat and let them know what's coming up. They usually give me their emails so I can send copies (and I can later get future train line ups too. ) I also had the crews I do know further east pass the word along in advance.

It's not always possible for me to catch crews, of course. MOST of the time what I do is stand in a spot where I can be clearly seen, and wear a BNSF safety vest. (Traded to a trainmaster for a framed photo.) I have my camera on a tripod. I'm almost always at least 30 ft. if not 50 ft. off the rail. Trains clearly see me in their headlights, and by the time I pop the flash they have it figured out. (Foamer!) I really have no hesitation going anywhere in the Midwest and getting some shots. I have run into a few small town cops and local deputies, but they are simply curious. One in Minnesota didn't care about the flash, but was getting "excited" by the automatic rifle on my backseat. I put it back into a case to make him happy. The funniest incident was when one deputy spotted one of my flash up in the air, winking its little LED lights on the back. I was sitting out in the snow about 200 ft. away. He got out of his car and walked up to the flash. When he reached for it, I popped the trigger! The guy jumped back. I shined my flashlight to show him where I was, and I filled him in when he came over. Turned out he was a fellow foamer!

I have never photo'd trains east of Chicago/St. Louis, and in fact rarely go East at all. Mostly we go west, north or international for our vacations. I do get the feeling that "back East" is much more crowded, with people aggressively defending their turf. Don't really have that here, and Gary Knapp doesn't seem to either. I rarely ask permission to be somewhere to photo trains, unless it's a "sensitive" spot such as ethanol refinery, large grain complex, etc. I've never been turned down. My state only has about 800,000 people and it's all small towns with two small cities. It's been easy for me to get to know the owners of railroads, trainmasters, general managers, road masters, etc. I simply go to their offices and chat. The fact I know so many of their peers makes it much easier. In small towns, the usual way people get to know each other is to say something like, "Howdy, I'm Lars Olafson from Watertown SD." The usual response will be something like, "Oh, Watertown eh? Do you know Ole Siguerson? He's my wife's cousin." And so on. Almost always you'll come up with someone you mutually know, and once that's done you've just become a "local." Not sure if things are so much different Northern Plains vs. Back East, might be more of a rural vs. urban deal. You might be amazed at the places I've been given permission to photo from, just by asking in the right way.


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Old 02-18-2015, 06:05 AM   #11
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The folks in the cab don't always think "foamer" when they see folks feet from the track...
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_12970005
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Old 02-18-2015, 10:28 AM   #12
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As a train driver I have experienced a fatal suicide and an accidental vehicle collision, the suicide will always remain in my mind and directly made me more aware of people near the tracks, causing me added stress, I used to run from the country to the city on both quick passenger and slow freight, the suburbs and city areas are the worst, seems people just love to hang out under bridges, near tunnels etc day or night and you just never knew when someone was going to jump.
For me near the tracks wins the loser race every time.
Sorry guys nothing personal intended.
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Old 02-18-2015, 03:37 PM   #13
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maybe things are different in the prairies of SD and the mountains of WV and PA!

/Mitch
There's no other way to say it then meanly, based on my travels through every state minus the Islands, and Alaska. There's a steep reduction in assholes, and common-senseless idiots in the rural areas.

Mass hysteria and idiocy rules the higher population areas. I awaken every morning thankful that I do not have to deal with it in daily life.


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Old 02-18-2015, 04:22 PM   #14
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When I was 13 or so I would ride my bike to the golf course to caddy, the last mile was a narrow road. Cars would make a big sweep to keep away from me. I wondered what is the big deal, there is plenty of room? When I started driving and went down that same road, yikes, is that kid going to swerve in front of me, fall off, hit the shoulder.

I often think of the train crews like that, esp the fast trains. They have all this stuff to look out for and then there is a guy with a camera. I can't see that photo anymore so
not making any judgement but the faster the trains, the closer to the tracks, the less the margin of error.

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Old 02-18-2015, 05:55 PM   #15
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Beside the crew apprehension issue, it's just not a good idea to be anywhere close to a moving train. Many years ago, a friend of mine photographed a long mainline freight at a remote, walk-in location. After the locos passed, he worked his way down to the tracks to walk alongside the train back to his car. A metal band securing a load on a flat car had broken, and was bouncing along next to the car. It caught my friend on the back and knocked him on his face. Fortunately, he only had some scrapes and bruises, but it could have been a lot worse.

Ever since hearing that story, I avoid being near the tracks when a train is passing. It's low probability, but the remote chance of a derailment, a broken strapping band, a shifted load, or errant brake rigging is enough to make me respect that a picture is not worth that high a price.
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Old 02-18-2015, 10:03 PM   #16
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The thing I love most about forums are the discussions. I learn a lot about the world as well as photography. (Actual discussions, not flame wars.) Anyway, over the years most train crews in my area already know me. The ones on the BNSF call me the "Flash Foamer" for crying out loud. A few months ago I started taking shots of the RCPE out in the western half of South Dakota for the first time. I have a radio and know where trains are waiting, and simply drive there, get out, and talk to them. This is entirely "within bounds" here. I chat and let them know what's coming up. They usually give me their emails so I can send copies (and I can later get future train line ups too. ) I also had the crews I do know further east pass the word along in advance.

It's not always possible for me to catch crews, of course. MOST of the time what I do is stand in a spot where I can be clearly seen, and wear a BNSF safety vest. (Traded to a trainmaster for a framed photo.) I have my camera on a tripod. I'm almost always at least 30 ft. if not 50 ft. off the rail. Trains clearly see me in their headlights, and by the time I pop the flash they have it figured out. (Foamer!) I really have no hesitation going anywhere in the Midwest and getting some shots. I have run into a few small town cops and local deputies, but they are simply curious. One in Minnesota didn't care about the flash, but was getting "excited" by the automatic rifle on my backseat. I put it back into a case to make him happy. The funniest incident was when one deputy spotted one of my flash up in the air, winking its little LED lights on the back. I was sitting out in the snow about 200 ft. away. He got out of his car and walked up to the flash. When he reached for it, I popped the trigger! The guy jumped back. I shined my flashlight to show him where I was, and I filled him in when he came over. Turned out he was a fellow foamer!

I have never photo'd trains east of Chicago/St. Louis, and in fact rarely go East at all. Mostly we go west, north or international for our vacations. I do get the feeling that "back East" is much more crowded, with people aggressively defending their turf. Don't really have that here, and Gary Knapp doesn't seem to either. I rarely ask permission to be somewhere to photo trains, unless it's a "sensitive" spot such as ethanol refinery, large grain complex, etc. I've never been turned down. My state only has about 800,000 people and it's all small towns with two small cities. It's been easy for me to get to know the owners of railroads, trainmasters, general managers, road masters, etc. I simply go to their offices and chat. The fact I know so many of their peers makes it much easier. In small towns, the usual way people get to know each other is to say something like, "Howdy, I'm Lars Olafson from Watertown SD." The usual response will be something like, "Oh, Watertown eh? Do you know Ole Siguerson? He's my wife's cousin." And so on. Almost always you'll come up with someone you mutually know, and once that's done you've just become a "local." Not sure if things are so much different Northern Plains vs. Back East, might be more of a rural vs. urban deal. You might be amazed at the places I've been given permission to photo from, just by asking in the right way.


Kent in SD
Me: Quickly skims this extremely TL;DR post, sees the keywords "BNSF safety vest" and "assault rifle." Sighs, then opens up desk draw, pulls out shot glass and bottle.
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Old 02-18-2015, 10:46 PM   #17
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Me: Quickly skims this extremely TL;DR post, sees the keywords "BNSF safety vest" and "assault rifle." Sighs, then opens up desk draw, pulls out shot glass and bottle.
John - you skimmed too fast.

The BNSF safety vest was given to Kent by a BNSF employee. I've often thought that wearing a vest "might" be a good idea, the assumption being that you would be more visible and appear more professional (who wears a safety vest before a suicide or during an act of vandalism?). On the other hand, as I mentioned above, you may actually appear more distracting to the crew pondering who you are and what's going on up ahead.

As for the rifle, Kent stated it was an "automatic", not an "assault" rifle. I'm not a hunter, but I suspect there are quite a few in SD.

I've met Kent and a bunch of us (including Samuel Phillips and Travis Dewitz) spent a night photographing the elevated line in and around Chicago - a nicer and more sane gentleman, you'd be hard pressed to find!

/Mitch
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Old 02-18-2015, 10:52 PM   #18
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I do hear complaints from train crews about foamers being too close to the tracks. The reason is they don't know if its a foamer or a suicidal wacko about to jump in front of them.
That's why foamers need to wear safety vests!!

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Old 02-18-2015, 10:58 PM   #19
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I've met Kent and a bunch of us (including Samuel Phillips and Travis Dewitz) spent a night photographing the elevated line in and around Chicago - a nicer and more sane gentleman, you'd be hard pressed to find!

/Mitch
I've chatted with Kent several times as well. Who are you fooling, he's CRAZY!

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Old 02-18-2015, 11:00 PM   #20
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That's why foamers need to wear safety vests!!

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Old 02-18-2015, 11:05 PM   #21
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Admit it, you're a member of this facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1428393120728620/

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Rhymes with slice, rice and mice, and probably should be spelled like "Tice."

This pretty much sums it up: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Thias
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Old 02-18-2015, 11:13 PM   #22
CSX1702
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Originally Posted by JimThias View Post
Admit it, you're a member of this facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1428393120728620/

How insulting, Jim.
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Old 02-18-2015, 11:14 PM   #23
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Rhymes with slice, rice and mice, and probably should be spelled like "Tice."

This pretty much sums it up: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Thias
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Old 02-18-2015, 11:14 PM   #24
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Admit it, you're a member of this facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1428393120728620/


What is the joke or issue or controversy? Why does that FB page even exist? What am I missing?
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Old 02-18-2015, 11:16 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by JimThias View Post
That's why foamers need to wear safety vests!!

Goes against my long-time strategy for shooting photos: Be inconspicuous.

Especially if I was someplace without specific permission.
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