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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Originally Posted by Noct Foamer View Post
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, 03:43 AM   #5
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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, 02:48 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by hoydie17 View Post
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   #7
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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, 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
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**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, 10:52 PM   #10
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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, 04:22 PM   #11
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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   #12
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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, 11:14 PM   #13
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Old 02-18-2015, 11:24 PM   #14
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I am not, have not, nor will I ever be a *cringe*.......foamer.



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Old 02-19-2015, 03:19 AM   #15
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Further to Chris' post - when you are in a really bad neighborhood there is something to be said about a safety vest and a hard hat and a scanner (which looks like a walkie to anyone walking by you).

That being said, I've maybe done that two or three times, but I think it can be helpful. The downsides are everything others mentioned and my own personal desire to not interfere with the rails in any way. Wearing a vest can really catch their attention and make them think you are some sort of official watching them.
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Old 02-19-2015, 04:43 AM   #16
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I am willing to concede the "hiding in plain sight" expiation has at least some theoretical merit, but thats were in ends, in theory. If you are wearing railroad safety gear to either throw off authorities and/or potentially unsavory local characters, plain and simple, you are incorrectly utilizing the equipment. Obviously, the reason safety gear is the color it is is to draw attention to a potentially dangerous situation on the railroad. And draw attention is exactly what railfans are doing dressing like this, expect there is no railroad danger, just a hobbyist essentially crying wolf. Like has been said, what you are doing is at best distracting and at worse confusing train crews by dressing up like a railroader.

Yes, getting questioned by the cops is annoying, but if you are in right, you have nothing to fear. As for railfanning in seedy areas, I've done it plenty of times in places like Chicago and LA. Same thing; yes, you might get a rough looking person ask what you are doing, but 99.9% of time that interaction will end after a few awkward exchanges. And not to mention, if your concern is about personal safety in the worst parts of town, railroad employes and equipment get ripped off just as easily as the next person in the really rough neighborhoods, so maybe the best course of action is to just steer clear.

For my parting shot: lets just cut through the rhetoric: I think its safe to assume the real reason railfans are wearing safety gear is not because for its risk mitigation qualities, its because railfans what to show off their railroad swag to other railfans. This is just an offshoot of those guys who wear hats with lots of railroad pins in it; its an expression of ones love for the hobby. Case in point; Kent made a point to share with us he got his official BNSF vest from a trainmaster (sorry to single you out Kent, I really liked your light hearted reply to my boarderline trolling post). In these cases, safety gear is being worn as a fashion statement.

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Old 02-19-2015, 01:44 PM   #17
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1. Like has been said, what you are doing is at best distracting and at worse confusing train crews by dressing up like a railroader.

2. Case in point; Kent made a point to share with us he got his official BNSF vest from a trainmaster (sorry to single you out Kent, I really liked your light hearted reply to my boarderline trolling post). In these cases, safety gear is being worn as a fashion statement.

1. I think you have to keep things in context. You live and mostly railfan in very dense urban areas. I'm almost exclusively in rural areas and small towns. It's a different mindset. Often I am along rural roads, and speeds here are 70 to 80mph. I have a very real concern about getting hit out there in the dark. I know I'm not "distracting" any train crews because I talk to them. Whether I have a vest on or not, they are going to see me. Like they've told me personally, seeing me in some safety gear makes them think I take safety seriously.

I'm assuming where you live, the usual way to railfan is to take shots from bridges, sidewalks, etc. You rarely if ever actually talk to any train crews because they simply aren't available. Where I am, it's grain fields, grain elevators, tiny towns, etc. There are more cows than people. It's all dark territory and I often will go catch a traincrew that's waiting in a siding, or at the dog catch van during crew change. Or, when they stop the train & get off to go buy some food. This is quite normal out here. Many know me by name and instantly recognize, especially at night. I'm the only foamer out there after dark. I am the foamer night shift. Things are a little more laid back and personal here than a major metro.


2. I don't wear the BNSF vest all that often, usually it's a yellow one. I do like wearing it around other foamers, on those rare times there is another one out here. I've been given hats etc. from other train crews, usually a trade for a photo. I love to wear my D&I Railroad hat in the summer--it's my favorite "trophy." Keep in mind I generally only wear a vest at night, and it really is for safety. Sometimes will wear one so I'll blend in better, but that's more unusual. It's very easy for me to get permission in the places around here, and usually don't even bother unless it's a "sensitive" area. Grain elevator general managers usually request I wear a vest and steel toed shoes when taking photos in/on their grain handling fixtures. It's an OSHA requirement and they don't want to get nailed.


"Look, up in the sky! Is that Superman? No wait, it's just a foamer."
https://www.flickr.com/photos/96826069@N00/13729789144/

Seriously though, think through the context of this photo. Train crew approaches a rural hump bridge late at night. In their headlights they see someone standing dead center in the bridge. Is he going to through a big rock at them? Is he suddenly going to jump? I was wearing my yellow vest. They associate people in safety vests as "safe people," not wackos. I'll argue that the vest actually made them more at ease. I mostly was wearing it because I was on a dark road, during a snow storm and didn't want to end up as road kill though. As the train passed, they got on the radio and asked me to email them a copy of the photo.


Kent in SD

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Old 02-19-2015, 05:08 AM   #18
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While I mostly agree with John, I will say my experience has been that the vest and walkie have caused unsavory folk to steer clear of me. Simple fact. Now, then again, I've done it, like I said, maybe three times in forty years, so I'm not exactly making a practice of it - and the last time I used it I was on a road (and frankly had simply not yet taken it off after having had it on for legitimate reasons). Had a drunk (or worse) stare me down and then keep walking.
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Old 02-19-2015, 05:58 AM   #19
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Wanna wear a vest? Become a railroader. That's my plan.
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Old 02-19-2015, 07:53 AM   #20
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A cougar will hop up on that hopper, no problem. You arne't safe up there. They can jump like mad. Don't know if they can climb ladders though.
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Old 02-19-2015, 05:05 PM   #21
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I dress in a suit and tie when I go foaming. Seriously. I have.

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Old 02-19-2015, 05:25 PM   #22
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I dress in a suit and tie when I go foaming. Seriously. I have.

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Look at old photos of excursions in the 1950's and earlier. Everybody did.
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Old 02-19-2015, 05:43 PM   #23
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Look at old photos of excursions in the 1950's and earlier. Everybody did.
I'm bringing retro back.

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Old 02-19-2015, 09:38 PM   #24
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Look at old photos of excursions in the 1950's and earlier. Everybody did.
Even the ones riding along on top of the tender shooting movies!
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Old 02-19-2015, 06:32 PM   #25
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I dress in a suit and tie when I go foaming. Seriously. I have.

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When I am out of town on a business trip that is usually how I am dressed too. I've had RR employees come up and ask me what I am doing when dressed like that quite a few times (so it may be a bigger issue than a safety vest). I had a whole group of them in a golf cart surround me in Spokane once. They thought I was a management spy from Texas. When they found out I was a railfan between my last meeting and the airport they became super friendly.
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