Old 01-26-2007, 02:02 AM   #1
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Default Graffiti Shots/Creativity/ RR photography - was "I'm confused, nothing new there"

Since my original thread was taken out of context I started this one to clarify some things. First off I don't have any problems with RR graffiti/railcar art, BUT, is it true railroad photography, promoting something positive about railroading, or just showing the destruction of the beauty of railroad equipment? So we have graffiti issues, creativity vs. true RR photography vs. just good photography not really showing railroading.Keep it pleasant please. This goes back to my original thread. How can one photo get in showing a illegal/damage to RR equipment and another not get in for bad motive because it too artsy, real, yet legal?

No wars, no flames, only FRIENDLY discussion PLEASE!
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Old 01-26-2007, 02:18 AM   #2
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You are really comparing apples to xylophones here. So let me try to generalize a bit.

One issue is whether all forms of what I will call representational images should be accepted. One category is graffiti (I say NO!!!), another category could be called historical graffiti (hobo art), another might be close-ups of locks or ties or stacks of wheelsets or what have you. Such shots may follow basic guidelines for good composition but do not have much of a creative/artistic component. Hence, I call them representational.

Your image is in a different cateogry. I call it creative/artistic. Of course, any non-manipulated image by construction must be a representation. However, selection of subject matter, image characteristics such as depth of field, lighting color/intensity, mood, etc are done to emphasize the creative over the representation. I put your shot in this category.

So I think your comparison is ill-chosen. It doesn't enlighten.

BTW, I would have quickly accepted your image, as the creative content (even if discovered in subsequent perusal rather than intentionally created at time of image capture) is both intriguing (as the blur is generated through an unusual yet natural, non-photographer controlled process) and makes for a great composition and mood/feel.
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Old 01-26-2007, 02:46 AM   #3
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I find it interesting that just because itís not a standard wedgie you find it to not be 'railroad photography'. Is this the point you are trying to make? Sorry if this is not the point you are trying to make. If the subject is railroad related does it not automatically fall under 'railroad photography'? I find the shot mentioned to be much more interesting than many of the photos that are uploaded to this site.
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Old 01-26-2007, 02:53 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by socalrailfan
BUT, is it true railroad photography, promoting something positive about railroading, or just showing the destruction of the beauty of railroad equipment?
I don't think it has to "promote something positive" to be rairoad photography, so I reject your definition. And certainly we see plenty of old wrecks here and they can be interesting shots, even if they illustrate decay and thus the destruction of beauty.

However, I presonally draw the line at what I will call urban graffiti (to distinguish from what one can call historical graffiti, including not only hobo stuff but things like "wash me" or miscellaneous markings that equipment gets during decades of use). But I can't give a coherent reason why.
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Old 01-26-2007, 03:02 AM   #5
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Thanks I think, but this is not about my image. It's about bad motives and what does one consider railroad photography, or just good photography that really isn't about trains as a whole?

I was thinking the other day of a screeners choice I saw, great photo BTW, but it was of a gauge in a steam locomotive cab. Does it really tell me anything about railroading, to me no, it's about the railroad not a gauge.

Be it apples and oranges it's a viable question. And to even go a bit deeper! The more I try and get creative the more I realize that's not what RR photography is to me. Someone told me to look at the screeners choices for good creative shots. I look and they may be great photos, but a lot of them to me are not good RR photos, showing the railroad in operation, "railroading". Many go against every guideline rp.net preaches.

Here's one that I'll get blasted for, but first let me say I like the picture a lot, but is it a great photo? No. That's the recent SC photo by Mitch Goldman, now Mitch knows I love him and he gives me kudos all the time and we respect each other. But honestly to me the image is really grainy, crooked, noisy and lacks sharpness. Now with that said, do I like the photo, YES! But to me it's one of those shots that normally gets rejected with the words "Great idea and perspective, but work on quality and try redoing it". Creative criticism.

So a lot of this is a twisted web I know, but I guess that's the part of learning and being somewhat open minded and hopefully being able to discuss things rationally. Obviously photography is very complex and a lot of it is personal opinions, but some of it may be contradictions and unequality of the standards that makes it confusing.

As someone told me "you sound frustrated", not frustrated just wanting to understand more and more. I'm a sponge right now!!!
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Old 01-26-2007, 03:25 AM   #6
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Well, as to bad motives, there are so many dimensions that it wasn't helpful to draw the comparison you made. Although the topic is a good one!

I read your words and think that you simply prefer to be in representational space. Nothing wrong with that! And you do it well. But there is plenty of room here for diversity.

As for Mitch's image, tastes differ. But it is a matter of tastes! For example, you say it is crooked. I think you also said my CPL signal shot was crooked, as in not vertical. Maybe you prefer choices that are more purely represetational. I feel the angle of Mitch's shot helps enliven it. Notice, BTW, that there is a strong element of the sign, the bottom of the TRACKS bar, that is horizontal. So it ties in to the frame, but with an element other than the post. Someone once suggested looking for such ties, and it works well here for me. I see the grain (you mean the color noise in the lower middle?) but not the lack of sharpness - the wood grain of the post looks pretty good.

But ultimately I think you simply have, not to insult you, but you have narrower tastes than some, less inclusive. Nothing wrong with that! I recall reading about 12-bar blues that the regimented structure of the music forced extra creativity in other dimensions, and so did not restrict creativity, merely channeled it. But it seems to you that it is all about the trains and not as much either narrower (pieces of the trains, like a gauge) or the world with a bit of train in it (where operations are minimized). To me it's just different strokes, different folks.
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Old 01-26-2007, 03:36 AM   #7
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Maybe I should have named this "What is RR photography" or "What is RR photography at rp.net"? I don't think I have narrowed tastes because I can appreciate everything, believe me. I've been into photography since I was 10 y/o, but when I think RR photography as a whole it's about the RR, yeah maybe I like seeing train shots more that some detail shots, or I'd rather have a kick-ass wedgie instead of some backlit shot I can't really tell what it is, but to me it's about the trains.

I mean c'mon, you can look at ten killer backlit shots for example, but you see one shots of a awesome consist with a spectacular background and that'll get your heart pumping everytime wishing you were there.

I'm not trying to make this a right or wrong thread. Just getting thoughts, impressions, it's all about learning and that goes for everyone since no one is right and no one is perfect.
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Old 01-26-2007, 03:45 AM   #8
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I was just thinking, maybe I'm looking for rhyme and reason where there is no reason. I wish I could say I was drinking while writing all of this, but I think my brain is just in overdrive tonight.
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Old 01-26-2007, 04:05 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by socalrailfan
I was thinking the other day of a screeners choice I saw, great photo BTW, but it was of a gauge in a steam locomotive cab. Does it really tell me anything about railroading, to me no, it's about the railroad not a gauge.
First of all, thanks for saying a great photo. I understand that you see it as a great photo technically just not to the "guidelines" of RP if I am reading into this correctly. In a way you are right and wrong at the same time. Now I know you just said in the post above that this isn't a right or wrong thread but let me explain what I mean. There are tens of thousands of visitors to RP each day therefore there are tens of thousands of different tastes. While one person may like telemashes another may like mountain backgrouns another may like grade crossings. The point I'm trying to make is that because it doesn't show railroading to you, to someone who is more involved with steam locomotives or around them more often they understand and feel what the shot is saying. Simply put, it may not be your cup of tea but it is someone else's.

As far as your question regarding "Bad Motive" rejections, I have found there are usually three situations in which one will receive this. 1.) It contains something that the screener doesn't want to be seen on the site. An example of this would be a shot I saw on the queue the other day of a close-up of a bird that had been hit by a train. It's just not tasteful, does it show railroading, yes, animals get hit by trains don't they? 2.) The screener sees what you are trying to accomplish, but it isn't clear cut or it was done incorrectly to their liking. Remember there are still HUMAN screeners which do this service for us for free. Most of the time they keep an open mind, but there are times when they feel it or not. 3.) The shot sucks, plain and simple and doesn't show railroading at all. Let's use a photo of a truck on the highway with a BNSF trailer. Who cares?!

I personally like taking a creative route in my photography because I see a lot of people capturing the train as it passes and disappears again. I wanna show the inner workings of the engine, cars, people, etc. I prefer that I do this in unique lighting or some special way to make in more interesting from the "art" perspective.

What is RR photography:
A wedgieand/or telemash showing the train passing:
Image © Dave Toussaint
PhotoID: 171121
Photograph © Dave Toussaint

YES! Why? It clearly shows a train.

A shot of a leaf squashed by a train:
Image © Rich Clark
PhotoID: 172600
Photograph © Rich Clark

YES! Because it shows the power and yet gracefulness of these massive machines. Plus what are the odds?! LOL

A shot of a gauge of a working steam locomotive building up presure for the next run-by:
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 169163
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)

YES! If you look at the photo through the eyes of a fireman you can put yourself right there in the cab. Feel the heat?

All of these are examples of effective RR photography, maybe not to every person who views it, but it is to some.

As someone once said railroad photogrpahy is "more than just the train". Words I live by when trackside!
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Old 01-26-2007, 04:18 AM   #10
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See, to me, it doesn't have to be about 'trains as a whole.' I like to be different, I like deep-shadowed detail shots and more artistic shots-the interest only came when I started doing B&W. For those that didn't see the other discussion, here's the shot on question:

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 172748
Photograph © Richard Hart


I knew these were some kind of moniker and not just graffiti. I don't have any intention of shooting freight cars, etc. with any gang graffiti, yadayada ad nauseum. From the comments I got on the photo I learned about employee monikers-never knew they existed and I've been a railfan since 1969.

Another case in point:

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 166591
Photograph © Richard Hart


I couldn't care less what power set was on the train-I went for the intense light vs. shadows.

Same here:

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 143322
Photograph © Richard Hart


I caught the sun just at the right angle to highlight the bearing-couldn't resist! It's not that I went for a photo of a bearing-but for how it was lit. It could have been any subject and I would have shot it.

Another: (not mine)

Image © Zach Marlow KD8CJM
PhotoID: 171357
Photograph © Zach Marlow KD8CJM


The detail and shadows are great IMO.

Very cool:

Image © David Tuttle
PhotoID: 171296
Photograph © David Tuttle


And this:

Image © Craig Williams
PhotoID: 169020
Photograph © Craig Williams


is one of my favorite shots. My wife is an artist and she would tell you that the juxtaposition of curves and angles is a treat. She said, "Now that's a nice photo!" It jumped out at me pretty good, too!

I could go on and on, but I hope I made a point. Kudos to the photographers and screeners who are flexible enough to think outside the box!

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Old 01-26-2007, 06:29 AM   #11
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While we are on the subject of what is railroad photography and what is not, I was looking through some pictures and found this:

Image © Nick McLean
PhotoID: 171977
Photograph © Nick McLean


Now if I didn't read the remarks the photographer left, I would have never known it was some sort of terminal. The reason I bring this up is because I don't see anything railroad related in this picture. I don't see any locomotives, any railcars, I don't see any company signs, or any rails at all. So someone please explain how this is railroad related when I'm not sure what I'm looking at.
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Old 01-26-2007, 01:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by socalrailfan
BUT, is it true railroad photography, promoting something positive about railroading, or just showing the destruction of the beauty of railroad equipment?
Using that logic, then derailment photos certainly do not belong on RP......

Image © Dave Toussaint
PhotoID: 140112
Photograph © Dave Toussaint


Image © Dave Toussaint
PhotoID: 167473
Photograph © Dave Toussaint


Image © Dave Toussaint
PhotoID: 156975
Photograph © Dave Toussaint


Image © Dave Toussaint
PhotoID: 158771
Photograph © Dave Toussaint


Image © Dave Toussaint
PhotoID: 167475
Photograph © Dave Toussaint
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Old 01-26-2007, 02:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Studogg120
While we are on the subject of what is railroad photography and what is not, I was looking through some pictures and found this:

Image © Nick McLean
PhotoID: 171977
Photograph © Nick McLean


Now if I didn't read the remarks the photographer left, I would have never known it was some sort of terminal. The reason I bring this up is because I don't see anything railroad related in this picture. I don't see any locomotives, any railcars, I don't see any company signs, or any rails at all. So someone please explain how this is railroad related when I'm not sure what I'm looking at.
Yes you do, you see a station.

If you look closely the words "Western Maryland Railway" are on the front of the station.

I'd rather look at Nick's station shot, which has inspired me to start going out and photographing the ones close to me, than the majority of "standard" shots uploaded each day.

Again, this goes back to what I said in my previous post which seems to have been skipped over. Just because you don't know what you are looking at doesn't mean everyone else sees it the same way. Being someone who has been to the WMSR a few times in the past I know this is the station and know exactly what I'm looking at. Someone may enjoy it while others might not; if everyone's tastes were the same this site and hobby for that matter would become extremely dull.
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Old 01-26-2007, 03:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
Being someone who has been to the WMSR a few times in the past I know this is the station and know exactly what I'm looking at. Someone may enjoy it while others might not; if everyone's tastes were the same this site and hobby for that matter would become extremely dull.
As someone who lives a couple blocks from this station & has several hundred photos of it, I still never get sick of seeing other people's photos of it. I find station shots very appealing...it's exciting to see people stretch the limits of what gets accepted here.
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Old 01-26-2007, 06:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe the Photog
Using that logic, then derailment photos certainly do not belong on RP......
True to a point, but a derailment may be destruction of equipment, but unlike graffiti is wasn't done illegally. But I do get your point.

Andrew and others, good comments and discussions.
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Old 01-26-2007, 07:16 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Studogg120

Now if I didn't read the remarks the photographer left, I would have never known it was some sort of terminal. The reason I bring this up is because I don't see anything railroad related in this picture. I don't see any locomotives, any railcars, I don't see any company signs, or any rails at all. So someone please explain how this is railroad related when I'm not sure what I'm looking at.
Well apparently you learned something new then. I can't imagine a single person knowing everything there is to know about railroading, or knowing every single railroad landmark that has ever been constructed.
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Old 01-26-2007, 07:28 PM   #17
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But this raises the interesting issue of what RP should accept or what RP should be about or is about. Should the RP database be built up, for example, to include a front shot, devoid of trains and tracks, of every station building in the world? Does it become an architectural database in addition to an infrastructure technology database? How about photos of RR headquarters buildings, which generally are not adjacent to trackside? (I think it is the old Southern headquarters in DC that is now occupied by a law firm. Nowhere near the tracks. Pretty building, inside too.) How about the CSX dispatching center in suburban Jacksonville, nowhere near the tracks (I am thinking of the building that faces I-95, well south of downtown)?
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Old 01-26-2007, 07:54 PM   #18
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I think a point that most people (I'm not saying you Janusz) don't understand is the fact that a photo should convey some emotion or feeling. There are those shots that will never get bad motive, the ones which show the train performing its normal everyday activities in perfect sunlight. Then there are the ones that have a chance of being axed for bad motive, the creative shots that are meant to be viewed, critiqued and explored deeper. Photography translates as "painting with light". Say you get a group of people gathered around a painting, everyone will have something different to say about it and everyone gets a different STORY or MESSAGE out of it. Some people will look at Nick's station shot and see a station, but if you spend a little more time and try to put yourself IN the photo you can feel what a passenger feels when walking up to this magnificent building.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
But this raises the interesting issue of what RP should accept or what RP should be about or is about. Should the RP database be built up, for example, to include a front shot, devoid of trains and tracks, of every station building in the world?
There are two ways to take a photo of a station: the first being a snoozer sunlit wedgie of it or the second being of some unique lighting whether its at night, storm light, Christmas lights, etc. something to make it MORE than just a station shot.

Quote:
Does it become an architectural database in addition to an infrastructure technology database?
Not completely, an acceptance depends on how the photo is composed and executed not simply subject matter.

Quote:
How about photos of RR headquarters buildings, which generally are not adjacent to trackside? (I think it is the old Southern headquarters in DC that is now occupied by a law firm. Nowhere near the tracks. Pretty building, inside too.)
If there are no markings or words on the building then no it won't be accepted because the feeling you get from it is of a law firm. Now if you should find the word "Southern Railway" and get some backlighting on it and be creative about it, it may stand a chance. It's not guaranteed of course.

Quote:
How about the CSX dispatching center in suburban Jacksonville, nowhere near the tracks (I am thinking of the building that faces I-95, well south of downtown)?
Inside, yes. Outside, no. It's just a building. Skyscrapers and stations tend to look a lot different. There is also the historical significance as well. Give the dispatching center 100 years of existance then it can be brought into this argument.
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Old 01-26-2007, 10:59 PM   #19
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Andrew, I think you misinterpret what I was trying to say. I wasn't asking about what RP is likely to accept now. That is what it is, and I think I have a decent idea of what it is and where the limits are stretching or moving or at least pliable. I am asking what we think an ideal railroad photography image storehouse should hold. Please reread in that context.

Dave would say "if there is no on-rail equipment prominent or at least noticeable, it doesn't belong". At least that is how I could characterize or simplify what he has said, and of course he isn't that narrow - his bark is worse than his bite! Others would disagree; I do.

But it is interesting to discuss what defines a railroad photo. I would say suburban office building, no. But why not? (And, were I admitted to the office of a major RR CEO in a suburban corporate building, I bet I could shoot a nice pic with significant RR content that would be accepted here. Just like the view inside a cab, no?)

And part of RP is documentation - such as a shot of an old rail where the date is visible. What is the limit, if there is a connection to trains? I personally would say that when I come to RP, I want some connection to the track, visible or obviously or implicitly (as in the guage shot) present nearby. Don't need a train. So I'm not a big fan of the building shot personally, for RP, although I might like it as a general photograph.
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Old 01-26-2007, 11:57 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
Andrew, I think you misinterpret what I was trying to say. I wasn't asking about what RP is likely to accept now. That is what it is, and I think I have a decent idea of what it is and where the limits are stretching or moving or at least pliable. I am asking what we think an ideal railroad photography image storehouse should hold. Please reread in that context.
AHA! I got it now! Sorry about the misinterpretation, its my day off so my brain is shut down for the day. LOL
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Old 01-27-2007, 04:42 AM   #21
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I was just thinking, maybe I'm looking for rhyme and reason where there is no reason.
Bingo. Photography is subjective. Art is subjective. Screening is subjective. Why try to quantify the unquantifiable?

So, instead of spinning wheels pondering the great mystery of creativity and the judgement of such, let's just get out trackside and take some damn pictures already, huh?
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Old 01-27-2007, 08:04 AM   #22
Mgoldman
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I'd would say in the shortest amount of words - it's all good.

There are many aspecs of railroading to be captured, whether it be artistic, journalistic or simply representative. I can always appreciate a technically perfect photograph. The quality of a photograph is something I put a high value to, though at times there is a need to weigh in other values represented. I enjoy beautifully lit landscape photos, simple roster shots and even journalistic photographs of newsworthy items. With-in this realm exist all types of photos as they relate to railroading, in one sense or another. Personally, I've come to really appreciate the artistic side of railroad photography. With the advent of digital cameras and high number of active photographers, an image that stands out from the pack grabs my attention. If a photo evokes a mood or tells a story with a railroad connection, it works for me regardless of the subject.

What is nice about RP, especially over the last few months is the diversity of accepted images - you choose which you like and endorse the photo with either a view or a much appreciated comment. The diversity tends to expand your horizon and trickle down complimenting and broadening your own personal style.

Regarding my photo on RP, I was out to capture an emotion. Being from the Northeast, in the "big city", I do not often get a chance to see railroad settings in such secluded locations, not to mention the density of stars that I witnessed. I think my photograph captured the awe I felt that night.

I appreciate the heads up via E-mail regarding your forum comment, Dave, though I'm a bit confused as to when your topic veered from artistic acceptance towards technical. I strive for perfection in execution of an image and stand by my photograph and appreciate Janusz observations, though I will acknowledge your statement regarding the noise (grain). The photo is tact sharp, the only blur being the star trails which was a side effect of having the lens open long to capture the quantity of stars in the sky. The post was purposely at an angle to enhance the feel of the photo and the lower part of the sign was in fact leveled to tie it all in. Regarding the noise (grain) in the image - well, that was a judgement call. If you have a dark monitor, it looks great. If you are looking on a bright monitor, the noise becomes apparent. Basically more stars and a better defined horizon meant more noise while less noise resulted in fewer though much better defined stars. I've darkened the photo ever so slightly however, by digitally employing a trusted darkroom technique called burning to reduce the grain in the lower center. Live and learn, always try to grow and improve, after all, that is why the forums exist and the benefit of sharing ideas through such mediums.

/Mitch

Last edited by Mgoldman; 01-27-2007 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 01-29-2007, 03:52 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Mgoldman
Live and learn, always try to grow and improve, after all, that is why the forums exist and the benefit of sharing ideas through such mediums. /Mitch
Exactly, thanks Mitch!
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Old 02-01-2007, 10:17 AM   #24
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Personally, I don't think the station photo belongs on rp.net but the photo itself is quite good. I think every photo on rp.net should either show a train or depict railroad operations. A station is apart of a railroad, but after all, it is just a building. Station photos in my opinion should be in a book or at other websites where they can be used for research. A photo with the station AND the train is great because it shows how it relates to operations. When the photo is just a profile shot of the station, it doesn't really offer much. I could really don't care how a station looks.
The photo of the bearing is an excellent photo with great light and good composition. The problem is that it isn't really telling me anything. It's just letting me know how cool a bearing can look with good light.
I think the problem starts when the focus shifts from the trains to other things that may be near the trains. Once the focus is no longer on the train, the photo becomes more about the photo itself rather than the train. The point of this website is to show railroad photos, not simply good photos.
I know a lot of you will think that I'm narrow minded but I do enjoy seeing photos like the bearing photo. I just think that kind of thing doesn't belong here.
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Old 02-05-2007, 06:31 AM   #25
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Mike, everybody has a different opinion, so here's mine...

The website is "RAILpictures" not "TRAINpictures"

I interperate that to mean ANYTHING related to railroading, whether it be Maintainance of Way, power wedgies, artsy shots of wheel bearings, RR employees in some classic pose (or non-classic) as long as it has a good case for being Railroad-related. I'm a classic "train-photographer", I don't have much of anything artsy, but I'm certainly trying more with my pictures then just photoging a random train... new angles, new lighting, scenery, a gaggle of RRers chatting with two trains waiting behind them... but I enjoy those pictures showing MOW workers fusing a broken rail, the picture of a broken sander that appeared some time back adds an interesting aspect of Railroading...

Image © Joe LeMay
PhotoID: 119383
Photograph © Joe LeMay


Not even the best detail shot I've ever seen, but I think it shows something interesting and different about the railroading industry you wouldn't normally have shot..

My thought is that as long as it has some sort of relevance to the railroading way of life, railroading career, and railfanning, it has a place on a website about railroad photography.

As to Dave's photo, and the photo in question... I failed to see Dave's photo before it was deleted, but the one that made it in is directly linked into the railroading hobby as it harkens back to the heyday when railroading was "all that" vs a photo that, while interesting, appears to have been just a modern display of vandalism having no real "Value" to the Railroad industry. To boot it was not within the technical requirements of the website. That was my opinion on it.
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