Old 10-03-2016, 02:51 AM   #1
Joseph Cermak
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Hi all,
You probably don't know it, but I have been following these forums for the past 2 months while I waited for my account to be activated. Since it was taking so long, I decided to start reading old forums while I waited and read every thread up to page 26 in the archieve so far....In any case, I'm relatively new to the hobby and especailly to RP. I started last december when I got a DSLR (Nikon D3300 with 18-105 lens) and just started submitting to RP about 2 months ago, with about a 10% acceptance rating. I'm looking for help in improving my photography both from a general sense and in order to have better luck having shots accepted to the database. I currently have 10 photos accepted (one of which is top of the week, though I know it's not because it's an especially great photo \_(ツ)_/ ). My question is what is the best way to get criticism/advise from the forum members, as I have seen lots of helpfulness in the past. Is it best to share some of my work before I submit it as I learn my way around a photo editor? Or are rejection links from first submissions better? In any case, I will link my most recent rejections for your comments and hopefully some help/direction as to how I can improve. Thank you!

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...48&key=5630999

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...45&key=2591318

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...64&key=6624265

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...55&key=6626753

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...06&key=3672105

My flickr link is in my signature if anyone wants to view more of my photography there.
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Old 10-03-2016, 03:24 AM   #2
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Those all look like valid rejections...

Those 2 arch bridge shots probably should have gotten "foreground obstruction" rejections too.

The thing that sticks out at me is the lighting is pretty poor in just about every shot. So a suggestion would be, go back when light works in your favor, not against you.

And those arch bridge shots, go up there and clear out that foliage
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Old 10-03-2016, 08:16 AM   #3
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Hi Joseph. I too have a join date of Aug 2016 so I'm glad somebody finally opened the gate into the forum for us. Welcome. You are doing the right thing seeking advice here. Looking at your Flickr.com photos I can see some shots taken at a far too slow shutter speed. Your photo 586641 CSX at Erie (taken 1/1000 according to Flickr) is nice and sharp and a stand out. So my first advice is to get that shutter speed up to at least 1/400 for any train moving faster than you can run, ideally 1/640 or faster for a train at track speed. And I agree with the first post in reply about lighting. With right light that shutter speed is usually no problem. So I say keep at it and don't get discouraged!

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Old 10-03-2016, 12:12 PM   #4
Joseph Cermak
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Thanks, I have noticed that a lot of my shutter speeds were ending up being too low so within the past two weeks I have switched to trying to keep everything above at least 1/500.
As for the rejections posted above, I'm not disagreeing with any of them as valid, just looking for advice on them (except the poor image quality as I don't see any problems with it). One thing I am struggling with is undersharpened rejections. It seems I get hit with that on every submission despite sharpening some in lightroom. I can't seem to tell what the difference is between where an image is or isn't sharp
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Old 10-03-2016, 06:51 PM   #5
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It looks like a lot of your images were taken in the summer, during the day.

During the summer, you have to deal with something known as high sun. Basically, the sun gets high up in the sky, and casts a harsh blue light on everything. During the summer, you typically can only photograph from sunrise to about 9:30am, and from around 4:30pm to sunset. During the time period around the summer solstice, the windows may be even shorter. On the flip side, you can get some amazing light during the evening and morning. A quick rule of thumb I was told is if your shadow is shorter than you are, it's high sun.

Now that winter is coming, you can pretty much shoot most of the day.

A second issue I see with some of your photos is dark side of the train showing. RP generally doesn't like it when the side of the train facing you isn't illuminated. A great beginning rule is to have your shadow pointing at what you want to take a photo of. Using a tool like www.suncalc.net will help you scout locations for the best sun angles.

Also, I noticed the trains on the bridge have some cloudiness. RP often doesn't accept cloudy day photos of common power. There are exceptions, but generally as a rule, the photo needs something special to overcome a cloudy day.

The only thing I can think of for the image quality, are you exporting your images at the highest settings from lightroom?

I usually do an auto-sharpen before I submit an image.
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Old 10-03-2016, 06:52 PM   #6
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In terms of the forum, remember rejections are only good for 7 days normally.
I see one already expired and also not everyone comes to the forum every day so not sure how long the other ones will last.

The first one might not make it anyway because of shadows on the viewing side, forget what they call it, not something I agree with but was surprise when I got one.

Too bad about the bridge. Under right conditions could make something without a train. Maybe in winter, leaves off the brush, some ice etc.

I think overall you need better locations based on the rejections you have.. So drive around noting which might be better in morning, afternoon. Think about where sun is different times of the year. At the High Falls, you don't have to note that is already overshot but realizing that you want to get it with some nice light.

Look this one, something I could have shot many times, I think have several but never thought of posting, so look for ideas, like a tree growing out of ballast.

http://www.railpictures.net/photo/591238

Bob
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Old 10-03-2016, 07:22 PM   #7
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The only thing I can think of for the image quality, are you exporting your images at the highest settings from lightroom?

I usually do an auto-sharpen before I submit an image.
I believe I am exporting at the highest settings in lightroom. The original is 6000x4000 so I have to shrink to the 1200 limit for RP. I am doing so at 100% quality for JPEG and I think around 250 pixels per inch. I guess my question is where the poor image quality is in the shot rejected for it, as I don't see it...maybe that is just me.
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Old 10-03-2016, 07:26 PM   #8
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Thanks for the feedback so far. In regards to the comments about backlit and/or finding other locations, these shots are from back in July and I have improved in both the aspects since then. Since this was my first time being able to post in the forums, I just used my most recent rejections. I believe I have many better shots, but the 2 per day upload is rather limiting in the amount of times I resubmit for sharpening rejections. I just wanted to try out a forum thread with these but will continue to ask for criticism/advice with more photos going froward.
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Old 10-03-2016, 09:16 PM   #9
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On the bridges shot, not sure you could get rid of foreground clutter rejection but it would have been nice if you had more river(not sure of original) and less of the hazy sky and the unsupported wires so the train is in the upper third and river is the lower third with the sides cropped a little tighter.
The family looking up is a nice touch but almost out of frame, in your photo the wires look ragged. I cropped it tighter and dealt with the wires, just quickly, not perfectly. Not sure how LR works but I leave my image open in PS until it is accepted or I give up.
Bob
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Old 10-03-2016, 09:24 PM   #10
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On the bridges shot, not sure you could get rid of foreground clutter rejection but it would have been nice if you had more river(not sure of original) and less of the hazy sky and the unsupported wires so the train is in the upper third and river is the lower third with the sides cropped a little tighter.
The family looking up is a nice touch but almost out of frame, in your photo the wires look ragged. I cropped it tighter and dealt with the wires, just quickly, not perfectly.
Bob
Yeah Not sure I can do anything about foreground bushes. i don't think I have much more to work with on the lower bit of the frame and don't know how I could remove the wires, as much as I would like to. I will have to try and shoot again sometime as I doubt I can get past the lighting and poor image quality (not sure where that came from) but I doubt I will ever get a meet like that again though.
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Old 10-03-2016, 09:30 PM   #11
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The first one, the undersharpened one, did you try to simply sharpen it more, then resubmit? RP often does not go for dark side shots but sometimes it does and worth a try, I think. The nose of the leader is well lit.

Hint: anytime one resubmits, one should always tell the screener what one has changed.
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Old 10-03-2016, 09:31 PM   #12
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Ok, poor image quality can means ???? on RP's. But remember if you are saving a jpg and then re-editing and then saving each iteration degrades the quality due to the compression formulation. several ways to get around that, leaving the original open or saving as a full size TIFF and then resizing to 1200 each time you submit.

Bob
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Old 10-03-2016, 09:33 PM   #13
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The first one, the undersharpened one, did you try to simply sharpen it more, then resubmit? RP often does not go for dark side shots but sometimes it does and worth a try, I think. The nose of the leader is well lit.

Hint: anytime one resubmits, one should always tell the screener what one has changed.
I will be resubmitting tonight and will be sure to add those comments. Just ahdn't gotten a chance to resubmit with only 2 slots per day
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Old 10-03-2016, 09:35 PM   #14
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Ok, poor image quality can means ???? on RP's. But remember if you are saving a jpg and then re-editing and then saving each iteration degrades the quality due to the compression formulation. several ways to get around that, leaving the original open or saving as a full size TIFF and then resizing to 1200 each time you submit.

Bob
I have been doing all my edits to a RAW file in lightroom so I have not been editing a new JPEG each time. That's why I'm not sure where it's coming from or how I can tell.
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Old 10-04-2016, 12:35 AM   #15
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Resubmitted after sharpening to maximum value in lightroom....any suggestions?
http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...37&key=6844599
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Old 10-04-2016, 01:25 AM   #16
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Resubmitted after sharpening to maximum value in lightroom....any suggestions?
http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...37&key=6844599
Try a different editor, perhaps? Irfanview sharpened this significantly with one click.
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Old 10-04-2016, 02:19 AM   #17
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Resubmitted after sharpening to maximum value in lightroom....any suggestions?
http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...37&key=6844599
Everything that I submit is from scanned slides. I find that Lightroom does not have enough latitude in its sliders to fully sharpen my images. I set my sharpening and radius to 100%, and sharpness unmask to about 70%. Then I export the image as a TIFF, reimport, and sharpen the new image.

Doug Lilly
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Old 10-04-2016, 05:24 AM   #18
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Resubmitted after sharpening to maximum value in lightroom....any suggestions?
http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...37&key=6844599
Hi Joseph,

I am using NeatImage to remove noise and to sharpen my photos. It is a free software and it works pretty well. Download the Demo version.
https://ni.neatvideo.com/

Daniel
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Old 10-04-2016, 09:36 PM   #19
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I use Lightroom for every image I submit to RP, but I have to sharpen them more than I do when I post them to Flickr or elsewhere, for whatever reason. From the raw file I will use the Lightroom sharpening defaults, increasing the 25 to a 60, then when I export I will click the box in the export panel to "sharpen for screen" and select "standard," or on rare occasions, "high." They have always been sharp enough for RP that way. ( but would be too sharp for Flickr or other use.)
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Old 10-04-2016, 11:19 PM   #20
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1. Thanks, I have noticed that a lot of my shutter speeds were ending up being too low so within the past two weeks I have switched to trying to keep everything above at least 1/500.


2. It seems I get hit with that on every submission despite sharpening some in lightroom. I can't seem to tell what the difference is between where an image is or isn't sharp

1. Still too slow. I aim for 1/1000s as a minimum, 1/2000s is normal. If train is moving faster than 50 mph I'll go up to 1/8000s.

2. View image at 100%. Look at what should be sharp lines, such s the number boards or the painted numbers below the cab windows. Finally, I use a tripod for about 90% of all my shots. Nothing improve sharpness like using a tripod.

3. Another thought, since you are learning. A lot of unsharpness is caused by too little DoF. I suggest shooting at f5.6 at a minimum, f8 if you can keep your shutter speed over 1/1000s. Also, watch where your focus point is. I use single focus point and generally focus on the track and then hit the button when the cab window goes over that spot.

This is all basic stuff, but you have to start somewhere.


Kent in SD
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Old 10-05-2016, 12:31 AM   #21
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1. Still too slow. I aim for 1/1000s as a minimum, 1/2000s is normal. If train is moving faster than 50 mph I'll go up to 1/8000s.

2. View image at 100%. Look at what should be sharp lines, such s the number boards or the painted numbers below the cab windows. Finally, I use a tripod for about 90% of all my shots. Nothing improve sharpness like using a tripod.

3. Another thought, since you are learning. A lot of unsharpness is caused by too little DoF. I suggest shooting at f5.6 at a minimum, f8 if you can keep your shutter speed over 1/1000s. Also, watch where your focus point is. I use single focus point and generally focus on the track and then hit the button when the cab window goes over that spot.

This is all basic stuff, but you have to start somewhere.
Practice differs. Especially for RP-sized images, 1/1000 is fine for just about any non-NEC 100 mph situation. I've never had a problem with 1/500.

Also, I think you meant "f8 if you CANT keep your shutter speed over 1/1000s"
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Old 10-05-2016, 02:41 AM   #22
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Also, I think you meant "f8 if you CANT keep your shutter speed over 1/1000s"


No, I actually meant to say f8 if you CAN keep shutter speed over 1/1000s. I.E., 1/1000s is as slow as I'll go on a moving train.

I'll go into where the 1/500s came from. Back in the Golden Age of Foamer Fotography, the 1960s, the fastest film that was any good was ISO 100. Using Sunny 16 we have f16 @ 1/100. Drop down one EV gives you 1/200s & f11. Still too slow. Drop down one more EV and you have ~1/500s & f8. Most non-pro (that is, affordable) lenses of that era were something like max aperture f5.6, and were best at f8. So that was the golden exposure in the Golden Age: ISO 100, f8, 1/500s. Sunny day, of course. These habits seem to have persisted for the past 50 years, even though we can now easily shoot at least ISO 2000 with little consequence.


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Old 10-05-2016, 02:39 PM   #23
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Rejected for too loose. I have already tightened the crop once....any suggestions are appreciated.

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...30&key=8330080
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Old 10-05-2016, 02:47 PM   #24
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No, I actually meant to say f8 if you CAN keep shutter speed over 1/1000s. I.E., 1/1000s is as slow as I'll go on a moving train.
Ah, your "over" means a slower shutter, AKA 1/500. More DoF means a bit more leeway in the shutter speed. Thinking about it more, not sure I agree, but in general I support more DoF, especially when casually shooting.

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I'll go into where the 1/500s came from. Back in the Golden Age of Foamer Fotography, the 1960s, the fastest film that was any good was ISO 100. Using Sunny 16 we have f16 @ 1/100. Drop down one EV gives you 1/200s & f11. Still too slow. Drop down one more EV and you have ~1/500s & f8. Most non-pro (that is, affordable) lenses of that era were something like max aperture f5.6, and were best at f8. So that was the golden exposure in the Golden Age: ISO 100, f8, 1/500s. Sunny day, of course. These habits seem to have persisted for the past 50 years, even though we can now easily shoot at least ISO 2000 with little consequence.
Well, I invoked 1/500 not because any of this history, but simply because over the years I have grown accustomed to using it as a minimum and being happy with the results. Call it an independent finding of the same habit.

I almost never shoot at ISO 100; ISO 200 gets me an extra stop of shutter speed with no penalty. I frequently shoot at ISO 400 if the light is even a tad iffy, and hit ISO 800 many times. For my 70D I see some "consequence" beyond that and never use ISO 1600 unless the camera says "you must do this" and then I expect IQ issues, but I don't really care at that point, just getting the shot is what matters.
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Old 10-05-2016, 07:21 PM   #25
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Rejected for too loose. I have already tightened the crop once....any suggestions are appreciated.

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...30&key=8330080
I would go to a 16x9 crop, taking some off the bottom but more off the top.
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