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View Full Version : My experiences with RP.NET, the good and not so good


randy moore
09-16-2004, 05:30 AM
I certainly do not want to start a bunch of trash talking or get conflict going again (there has been enough of that in the Yahoo groups) about the screeners and RAILPICTURES in general. I just want to give my view on a few things and then move on. Sorry but I tend to ramble around a bit. The last few paragraphs are the most important, haha.

Back when I joined RP.NET there were only a few hundred contributors and seems like only a few hundred new accepted photos a week. With the site fairly new and not too many contributors or pictures, it seemed the standards might not have been quiet as high as now, but I can't say that for sure (actually I could). I started railfanning again back in March 2003, I think, using a rather old Pentax K1000 completely manual camera. I even bought a telephoto lens for that camera. I just could not get the quality I was looking for from that camera, so I bought a new camera. Trying to be budget minded (cheap), and to reuse my investment in the telephoto lens, I bought another Pentax, this time with auto almost everything, but still a budget minded camera. I was able to do better with some lens, but not that new long lens, so I bought a different long lens.

I met up with Emmett Bell sometime in August 2003, and he helped me get setup on RP.NET and scanned and worked up my first few pictures to get me started. It amazed me how much better a picture looks after a little photoshop time (no content manipulation, just levels and cropping). I bought a scanner and tried a few pictures myself, but without photoshop, which was a BIG mistake (Microsoft Photo Editor - enough said). I debate myself whether to ask for those four or five pictures to be removed from RP.NET, they are pretty nasty, but they are an historical part of my past on RP.NET, good, bad or indifferent. I then acquired photoshop and started learning how to use the software and it made a huge change in my pictures, yet I still was not satisfied. I would look at pictures from others that were on RP.NET and I didn't think mine were good enough to be there, but I continued and tried to get my pictures better. During those first few months, I had ups and I had big downs. I got rejects for everything it seemed, most of which I deserved, so I tried harder. I probably only created 20-30 new curse words directed at the screeners during that time, when in fact it wasn't really all there fault, I should have been trying harder.

In November 2003, while on vacation (vacation purchases are "free" money, right?) I either got very smart or very dumb, either way I got very broke. I bought a Canon Digital Rebel with a Tokina 28-300MM lens with (2) 512MB chips, battery grip and extra battery. Like I said, I got broke first full day of the cruise. At least I had a heck of a camera for the rest of the cruise. :)

That camera put me on a different playing field with railfanning pictures, and I think the screeners raised the bar on my pictures (or my paranoid self thought so). I didn't feel I could get hardly anything accepted there for awhile. Post ten pictures and two get accepted, that became typical. Once again I cursed the screeners and flew more than a few birds around the house aimed at them. Once again, I probably should have been looking at myself, more than them, and trying to improve. Almost two months to the day after I bought that camera, I fell out of the back of my truck, ON the camera, ON a ballast pile beside the tracks. Almost knocked myself out cold, hurt my wrist, broke the lens off the camera and damaged the camera frame (yes the Digital Rebel, crying is allowed here). The frame went back to Canon and I got lucky, it came back less than two months later fixed (for more than a nominal fee). I stepped up again for new lenses and got even more broke, a Sigma 24-135MM and a Canon 75-300MM Image Stablilizer long lens. What a difference a quality lens makes. Once again over the next few months, my paranoid self thought the screeners raised the bar yet again on just me, and the fusing and cursing and the birds flew through again, even to the point of almost leaving RP.NET completely. Then I figured out part of it was a new computer and problems with the setup of photoshop, the video card, and monitor. I did lots of adjusting and color printing and got things pretty close for now.

I have said all that to setup this:
There has been a lot of bashing of the screeners (I have done more than my share in private, I am sorry to say) some of which they probably deserve, but then again everyone needs to remember a few things. I do believe this is a volunteer thing those guys do and they run this site as a hobby and a passion, not a full-time paid job. This site has probably grown beyond their wildest expectations when it was first opened. When it was only a few hundred people and a few hunderd pics a week, it probably wasn't too bad to administer. Now with 1,500+ contributors and over 67,000 accepted photos online, its huge. Typically it seems about 1,000+ new pics are accepted each week. My guess is they have to screen 2,000-2,200 pics a week (wild guess). Divide that down by days and screeners, its a lot any way you slice it. They put a lot of time into this for FREE so the contributors can have a FREE site to post their train pictures.

I am not putting the screeners up on a pedistals like gods. I feel they could be more consistent between screeners on what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. But there in fact lays the human element. Photography is an art form, which means it is a very subjective thing. I love long telephoto highly compressed pictures, some people don't (not sure if any screener do - haha). I think 3/4 wedgies point blank with nothing but one engine is boring (even though I do shoot them on occasion). As long as humans are involved, there will always be differences of opinions and conflict. How we handle and deal with the conflict is what really matters. I personally am trying hard to improve myself through railfanning photography, believe it or not, and not just the pictures.

FINAL notes and most important part:
When I started this trek just over a year ago, I was a photo hack for sure. My pictures weren't really that good but I didn't know any better. I shot into the sun all the time, if that was the only way to get a picture. Thanks to RP.NET, several people I have met along the way, and believe it or not thanks to TONS OF REJECTIONS, my photography is getting better (I believe). I am getting so much more picky about even shooting the shot all the way through selecting pics to post. It has been a rather volitale ride at times, but it has been well worth the ride, and here is why.

Back in late March I was standing on the overpass at Parker's Lake waiting on a southbound SD70M whiteface horsehead with paint so fresh you could smell it, when I got severely cloud pucked. I came close to not even taking the picture, just wave to the crew, but I took it anyway. When I started working up the pictures from the weekend, I bypassed that picture twice, but it haunted me, so I worked it up anyway. It was posted and accepted, and I almost regreted posting it, it looked so bland to me. Two days later KATO contacted me wanting to use that picture for advertising when they start to produce EMD SD70M DC models. They will use that road number for one of the NS models (N scale first, maybe HO later). I could not talk about it for months, but it is on their website, so they kind of announced it so I guess I can talk about it. They liked the picture because it was "not sunny and shadowy", more like the look of a model railroad. Also the EMD/GE lashup shows that in the real world you do not have to have all the same manufacturers engines together. They thought the overall picture looks like it could be a model layout.

If you would like to see the original or KATO pictures, goto:
Original RP.NET picture:
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=56566
www.katousa.com then N Models at the top, then SD70M down the left side

I guess I am now a published rail photographer. A year ago, I would never guessed in my life that would ever be true of me. That happened in large part because of RP.NET, I have no doubt. There are many people in advertising etc trolling this site, you never know when you might get a contact and request to use a picture, so keep shooting, posting and improving.

Thank you for your time. I told you I ramble around alot.
Randy Moore
Lawrenceburg, KY
NS Central Div, Louisville Dis, MP 330.5
http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=1229

E.M. Bell
09-16-2004, 04:50 PM
Congrats on having your pic used Randy...glad to see Kato finally put out a good looking engine in good looking paint! As you said, oneof the nice things about RP is that you never know who will see your pics, several folks, including myself, have had pictures purchased, stuff that wuld have not been seen if not for being on here...

dsktc
09-17-2004, 02:37 AM
Randy, the screeners, who have a thankless job, have made
many of us better photographers. And so have our peers,
many of whom submit photos that are consistently first rate.

I always enjoy your photos and think it's great that one
of them was selected by Kato.

Dave

csxdave
09-18-2004, 04:06 AM
Neat story about how you have honed your photography skills and ended up being one of the lucky ones to have someone use your pictures. Thanks for sharing and congratulations....

David....from the hurricane capital of the U.S.
Bonnie..Charley..Francis..Ivan..Jeanne??

Ween
09-18-2004, 05:50 AM
Jeanne?

Doubtful. Same with Karl. [/B.S. in meteorology]

Ween
09-26-2004, 07:14 AM
Jeanne?

Doubtful. Same with Karl. [/B.S. in meteorology]

Uh heh heh. I guess the B.S. doesn't stand for Bachelor of Science, but the other meaning when smeone says, "BS." Oh well!!

csxdave
09-26-2004, 08:59 PM
Oh well, I guess Jeanne had to regroup to hit Florida again; not your typical thing.

We left Saturday morning, but not to evacuate, but rather because I have company business in Martin, Bowling Green, and Huntington this week. Reports from Jacksonville say its rain and a bit of wind this time.

Ken Carr
09-26-2004, 09:41 PM
I have had a string of rejections lately but thanks to RP I'm known world wide, I receive e-mails and questions concerning Vegas from all over. I've had photos now in magizines and in professional pubications and even have had some professional job opportunities open up for me all from having my photos posted here at RP.... THANKS RP...pretty good for a colorblind photographer.....

dsktc
09-27-2004, 03:21 AM
Ken, that is well earned recognition - even if you are
colorblind. :)

"I have had a string of rejections lately but thanks to RP I'm known world wide, I receive e-mails and questions concerning Vegas from all over. I've had photos now in magizines and in professional pubications and even have had some professional job opportunities open up for me all from having my photos posted here at RP.... THANKS RP...pretty good for a colorblind photographer....."

Dave

BWC_Spotter
09-29-2004, 04:33 PM
you guys might be having a dandy time with rp.net... but that screener... Chris Starnes.. he always gives me a hard time with my pictures..

:cry:

-Adam

Chris Starnes
09-29-2004, 04:51 PM
Thanks for the encouragement :lol:

Assuming you ever make another train photo, I'll be sure to give you special screening :twisted:

Joe
09-30-2004, 01:31 AM
Well, when I started posting photos about a year ago, I had almost no photography experience; just find what I'm shooting a take a picture...It took me many tries to get my first picture accepted, and that's when I learned the most. I got a variety of rejections so I knew what the screeners weren't looking for. I fixed that problem and now I make sure the sun is at my back and the camera is level, etc. I'm still not the best photographer out there but I have definitely improved. I now have over 120 photos in the database (none of which have been used in any sort of magazine/advertising). Those screeners, who I once thought were devils, have helped me come a long way in a year :) .
(Oh, and thanks to all the other people who posted photos before me so I could learn all the locomotive models :lol: )

Lord Vader
09-30-2004, 02:57 AM
It shows Joe because I accept a lot of your photos these days!

Ween
10-02-2004, 07:40 AM
I was kind of in the same boat as Joe; I had no experience in photography and little knowledge of trains. I got lucky though as my first shot got accepted here. But looking back on it and some of my earlier ones and comparing them with some more recent ones, the difference is night and day. Most all of the credit in the improvement belongs to this site and the screeners. There are so many great photographers here who have inspired me with their work and set the bar high for us newbies to aspire to. The screening process, while brutaly honest and sometimes controversial, forces you to improve your work like it or not.

I haven't had any of my stuff published (not counting resetting all the computer desktop backgrounds to pictures of my shots around the office!), but I've been asked if one of my NS shots could be used as a model for a railroad simulator. But more importantly, getting the occasional e-mail saying that one of my shots means something to somebody is pretty dang cool.

Unfortunately, I'm about to move away from all the Metro East action, but I'll see if I can document the happenings around Altus, OK and Grand Forks/Fargo, ND a little later. I just hope the screeners have some sympathy for those North Dakota shots when it's -35F without the wind chill outside!

StL-rail
10-07-2004, 04:31 AM
Awww, thats too bad to hear that you'll be moving away from the 3rd largest RR capitol in North America. :twisted: Hope its not for too long, but anyway, good luck in your new location.

Ween
10-08-2004, 07:46 AM
Awww, thats too bad to hear that you'll be moving away from the 3rd largest RR capitol in North America. :twisted: Hope its not for too long, but anyway, good luck in your new location.

Yeah, too bad. Unfortunately, I won't be back within at least the next 3-4 years as Uncle Sam needs me elsewhere!

Even though the places I'm going don't have the action of the St. Louis Metro East, they do have their treasures (one being that there is no E. St. Louis :lol: ).

Altus, OK has 3 shortline railroads that service it (Hollis & Eastern, Wichita, Tillman, & Jackson, and Farmrail) that aren't well-documented on RP (no 'Common Power' shot rejections while I'm in OK, baby!). In addition, the BNSF Chickasha Sub passes through, so I'll get some Class 1 action.

Grand Forks, ND has a BNSF yard right in the middle of town, right next to the main drag. They park their yard Geeps right at an intersection! It also has Amtrak service (believe it or not!). Plus, Fargo's 1 hour south and they have some heavy-duty BNSF traffic pass through.

So, yes, no more NS, CSX, UP (bleah!), TRRA, or ex-CR paint jobs in my future, but at least I'll get to document two areas that haven't seen alot of exposure on RP!

trainmonster
10-14-2004, 05:46 AM
Well... FWIW, I am scanning and posting my slides from the 80's. I'd like to think I'm good and honestly want to put my stuff out there for others in the community to enjoy.

Case in point here: http://railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=77091 . I submitted this one 4 times until it was accepted. Just kept tweaking with Photoshop, cropping etc.

Most of my rejects are "too dark, poor lighting." Since I lived in NJ where the weather sucks 90% of the time, much of my stuff is cloudy wx shots. The possibility of a sunny day on a non-work day was... oh.... 1%. Not kidding!

So I'm not *really* complaining but I'd like to see more cloudy shots accepted which, except for lack of sun, are perfectly good photos, especially if the subject matter is good.

However, RP has taught me to see my mistakes and bad habits which I didn't know I had, and an overwhelming majority of my shots have been accepted, and that's a good feeling! Haven't lucked out on a publisher contact yet, though...

I shot everything with a Canon F-1, K-64, scanner is an Epson Perfection 1650. I tweak and crop with both Photoshop and Neat Image.

Rich