View Full Version : An Unexpectedly Accepted Photo

08-16-2004, 01:25 AM
I never expected this photo to be accepted, but it was. I'm always glad when one of my photos gets accepted. This one's acceptance was odd to me however, since it does not meet at least three of the standard guidelines: It's dark, it's out of focus, and the train is going away.

The photo was taken during a huge thunderstorm. I was fascinated by the enormous amount of water streaming off the train, and also by how dark the sky was, even though it was only three in the afternoon. I think my little camera wasn't up to the task of capturing the true violence of the scene, but I tried and submitted the result anyway. I guess it did an okay job. I actually lightened the photo 100 percent with Photoshop, that's how dark it was. I think the shutter speed was set at like 1/8th of a second, with no tripod.

This was a lethal storm. Two people in nearby Queens were electrocuted after lightning knocked a powerline down into a large puddle where they got out of their car. Lots of trees came down too, and there were plenty of power outages. Metro-North kept forging ahead, though!

Here is the photo:


Dave S.
Mount Vernon, New York

Chris Starnes
08-16-2004, 02:53 PM
I have to ask, if you think its going to be rejected...why upload it? If you do not feel it is one of your better shots there is no reason to upload it.

The pic is fairly grainy/blurry. Had I screened it this post would have never happened :wink:

08-16-2004, 10:34 PM
I submitted the pic... because... I liked it, despite its technical flaws... I thought maybe the blurriness of the rain water shooting off the train gave the subject a sense of motion... and that the image was unusual in that regard... I don't recollect seeing many pics in the archive that portray railroading in heavy weather, not that this one does such a great job of that. Had I not been under the station canopy during the deluge I would have never dared to pull my digital camera out of its case. My owner's manual is pretty explicit on the subject of exposing the camera to water. As it was, with strong winds blowing sheets of rain in my direction, the shot put my camera at risk. Maybe that's why I submitted the photo. It was taken at risk.

I would like to hear from the screener who reviewed it. I hope the pic wasn't accepted by accident! I noticed the day I submitted it there was a large number of photos in the queue. I think this one joined the line at #63.

It was inspiring to think that perhaps technical merits alone aren't the only considerations when screeners judge photos, but part of me wonders if maybe this pic doesn't stand up under scrutiny on any merits. But I try to avoid judging my own work. I wouldn't submit anything if I did.

If the pic was accepted inadvertently, strike it from the archive and I'll give my camera skills another try when next it rains. If it was deemed unique, great! I guess I just wanted to make sure I wasn't deluding myself about the deluge shot, before taking pride in it.


08-24-2004, 03:05 AM
The way I see the image, it has excellent exposure for existing light. It portrays weather that most railroad photographers almost never consider capturing. The only thing that I see as an opportunity for mastering is how you capture the motion of the M-cars. I personally try to avoid the undesireable "motion gap", in that I try to either capture the train at a stand-still, or more likely in your situation, would have extended the exposure about 1/3 to 1/2 second longer to capture more motion. Images that show just the smallest amount of motion seem to be more undesireable to the eye, since it softens the focus but doesn't fully represent a true sense of speed. A tripod would have helped, but seeing that you're on a platform, I think that you've probably made enough friends with the boys in blue!!! :lol:

Its a good shot, nonetheless!

--Mark 8)

08-24-2004, 03:45 AM
Hi Mark!

Thanks for the encouraging remarks and the upbeat tone of your message!

I actually submitted two photos of this scene. The first one was taken while the train was stopped at the portable bridges with its doors open. This image was much clearer than the image that was ultimately accepted. But the clearer image was a mid-train view, meaning the train extended beyond both ends of the image. I don't know remember why the clearer photo was rejected, but despite its crispness it wasn't as interesting. Maybe it was because the the accepted shot showed both the end and side of one of the m.u.'s., giving the composition more structure.

I gotta say, that storm was an event! The sky grew more than unusually dark when it first arrived. So much so, in fact, that the platform lights came on. And I sure did wish I had a tripod, but who knew what the weathe rhad in store! It was sunny and hazy when I had left my apartment a few hours earlier!

In another month or so, it'll be close to dusk at 3:30 p.m. every day. Makes me sad to think about it.

I wonder if there are any photos here which were taken in the 'Land of The Midnight Sun'? Does the Alaska RR enjoy 20 hours of sunlight at certain times during the year, perhaps? That would be something! Broad daylight at four in the morning!

Thanks again for your comments and advice!