Old 11-14-2006, 08:02 AM   #1
Christopher Muller
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I got the following comment on one of my photos over the weekend, "Nice photo, sure, but what a gutsy-artsy way to crop! Congrats." The photo it was left on was this one...
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The reason I brought this up under the photography forum instead of a trip report is I wanted a few opinions on the shots I took on Veterans Day. Forums member and RP.net contributor John Fladung and I set out on a very cold morning before sunrise, we wanted to get as much action in the day as we could. Looking through some of the photos I've had printed on 8x10's, I noticed a very common theme... wedgies. While I shoot for fun, I do upload what I like to RP.net, some the screeners like, some they don't. I don't shoot exclusively for RP.net's style (sorry guys).

On the way to our railfan destination of the western Lakes Sub in Western Minnesota, I kept thinking to myself, "self, try something different today, rather than wedgies." I'm not knocking on wedgies at all, as I appreciate wedgies for their value and enjoy them. (get your mind out of the gutter here, I'm talking about photos not the underwear stretching in bad ways) In a lot of places and cases, shooting wedgies is pretty much the only thing you can shoot. For instance, across much of northern and northwestern Minnesota, the land is very flat, some areas with dense trees others with fields. Many areas, nice curves with any elevation are hard to find, (Yes Ween, Grand Forks is a perfect example of this with I29 being the only elevation around) so photo ops are pretty limited, and wedgies normally end up being the shot of choice.

In the photo I shared above, the comment got me thinking about the "gutsy-artsy" part of it. Yes, it is not a standard wedgie, and even more than that, its a going away shot . When I took the shot, I wasn't thinking about RP.net. I didn't really think about it too much until I started working with the photo, and went for the 3x4 crop, I tried it vertical and saw the results. It cut off a lot of dead areas on both sides of the power and still left part of the remaining train in the photo. The result was pleasing to my eye, and obviously to a screener, and it was accepted. The contrast of the shadowed CP cars in the foreground at the bottom of the picture, and the bright orange off the engines along with the dead look the area has, the vertical crop, in my eyes, made the image pleasing. So, my first of many questions are, what's so gusty about this crop, the chance it may be rejected for bad cropping? A risk I was willing and glad I took.

Another picture from the same day was this one...
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I got another comment on this photo that I read and appreciated. Forum member and RP.net contributor Andrew B (2), "The background and lighting makes this photo! Awesome shot, Christopher. More people should take note of this style, excellent use of light! " There is not doubt that this photo is back lit, but in such a sweet good way. I agree with Andrew that the background and lighting make this photo. The amazing contrast between the dark and the bright makes this back lit photo jump out. Again, the reason I uploaded this photo, I cropped it, converted to black and white, sharpend slightly, stepped back and observed. The photo again was pleasing to my eye. I used the backlit as a postive aspect to the photo. The bare tree on the left, along with the smaller ones to the right add some emotion to the photo, IMO. I'm glad the screener agreed.

The next two photos were also "out of the box" shots that were accepted.
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The first photo is one of my favorites from the day, it almost tells a story, or an emotion if you will. The empty coal cars heading through an empty field, surround by a few bare and empty trees, with an empty sky make a common theme... emptiness. Maybe considered a "sad photo", but a photo with emotion. Always a plus in my book.

The second shot, also up there of the favorites of the day, is a going away shot also. A sea of containers weave back and forth in the foreground with the engines easing down the grade into the Red River Valley. With head end shots or power shots, the engines have to be the main part of the photo, what about the rest of the train? I don't think a wide photo and still keeping the weave of the train in the background would be possible with a power shot.

The next two shots are more typical of RP.net, but wanted to share because there are a few technical things I like in the photos...
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The first photo is cool because you can see the end of the train in the background before it ducks behind the hill the power and the front of the train are just coming out of. The only place in Minnesota that I know of that this can be done with long full length trains. While it would be nice to be able to see the entire train (the part that hides behind the hill), this angle will have to work, and I think it does.

The second photo features a very classy looking EMD Warbonnet. I hope I don't get too many Santa Fe fans worked up on this one, but I am not a big fan of these units. They first appeared on my home rails of the Burlington Northern on coal drags. I didn't want to see the BN green go away, and these were the first ones to come in. Just the way this shot turned out, crisp and with good color it made it appealing to me.

If ya'll are still with me here after this long post, just would like a little input on these "out of the box" photos I had this weekend. I think for a back lit, or artistic/out of the box shot to be accepted, there are several aspects of the photo and criteria that need to be met, more so than a common angle shot that is well lit. I believe these photos did that, and I am glad to see that RP.net was open to accepting them, and hope in the future they will continue to accept photos like this. While I'm still going to shoot lots of wedgies, I am going to continue to pursue these other shots, even if they are for my personal collection. I'm willing to be "gutsy-artsy" and hope others are also!
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Old 11-14-2006, 11:45 AM   #2
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Hi Chris,

The gutsy crop photo caught my eye when I first saw it. It's very different from the usual submissions and that's why it stands out. The eye is drawn in from the bottom of the photo and then thrown out a little further up the right hand side of the page only to be drawn back into the photo to the orange locomotives. It's the sort of photo an editor would look for to grace the cover of a magazine (See Attached example) Other things going in it's favour are good light and colour, it's sharp, uncluttered and it's interesting to look at.

Your B&W photo is very much the same with the high contrast train standing out against the background makes this photo work really well.

I like the telly mash sea of containers I'm a sucker for this type of shot.

It's the colour in the red war bonnet photo that makes this shot the pin sharp locomotive's and consist set against a brown sea of grass makes for a stand out photo.

Christine.
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Old 11-14-2006, 05:27 PM   #3
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I like the shots you guys took from this weekend. Even though I can't see the full-size shots, from the thumbnails/postcards I liked the composition and execution. Lake Park, and Hawley as well, are the best gems in the area for photography, IMO. The elevation and the curves provide alot more options when it comes to composition. Glad you were able to exploit them!

I also liked the B&W backlit shot. I like seeing those type of shots. One of my personal favorite shots is an elevated backlit B&W shot I took in Hawley this spring. Unfortunately it wasn't accepted here, but perhaps these type of shots are being given a different look than they were back in spring.

Speaking of B&W backlit shots, from where you were standing when you took the GP60M and then the Warbonnet shot, if you turn around to face east toward the actual town, you should be able to get a nice backlit shot in the morning of a westbound coming under the bridge in town, framed nicely by some of the trees on the hill. I wanted to try that shot last time I was in Lake Park, but there were no AM westbounds due to a late-running Empire Builder

Out-of-the-box shots to me are always fun. Maybe it's because my mind's eye compostion and reality don't necessarily team up, but I usually have to wait until I get home and download the images onto the computer to see what I actually got!

Nice job with the shots!
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Old 11-14-2006, 06:09 PM   #4
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Chris, youre thinking way too far outside the box!

Nice shots, they caught my attention as well during my daily read-through of all the new pics. I keep getting new ideas every time I read this section of the forum. T-minus 7 days until I go up to Stevens Pass once again!
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Old 11-14-2006, 06:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SD70MACMAN
Chris, youre thinking way too far outside the box!

But in a good way, right?

Lucky you, getting to head up to Stevens Pass... I hope you get some good weather.
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Old 11-15-2006, 12:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Muller
The second photo features a very classy looking EMD Warbonnet. I hope I don't get too many Santa Fe fans worked up on this one, but I am not a big fan of these units. They first appeared on my home rails of the Burlington Northern on coal drags. I didn't want to see the BN green go away, and these were the first ones to come in. Just the way this shot turned out, crisp and with good color it made it appealing to me.
You can keep your green units, now GIVE US OUR WARBONNETS BACK!

J/k

On a more serious note, the two that caught my eye while looking through photos were the B&W one and the one with the coal drag. As is stated in my sig, I like B&W to begin with, and IMHO, if you can pull off the back lit B&W shot, its worth taking a look at....and giving it a PCA vote.

On the second one, actually the bold text first made it jump out at me, then after reading about the themed photo, I decided to give it a closer look. After closer examining the photo, it definately grew on me. I especially like the theme.

Nice shots overall!
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Old 11-15-2006, 12:53 AM   #7
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Hey Christine, that is a great design on the cover. No surprise you would come up with something like that you have a great artistic talent.

Jim.
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Old 11-15-2006, 01:01 AM   #8
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Thanks for resharing Christopher.

Some how, despite a ridiculous amount of visits I make to RP, a few of those shots escaped me. Very nicely done.

Not to put anyone on the spot here, but - heck, if you liked the shot, if it caught your eye, why not leave a comment. Chances are if there was a magazine that had no subscribers, you wouldn't bother sending in material. It's nice to "be seen" and get feedback. With out such, RP can seem like a black hole.

Once the day is over, the photo gets buried. Several of these photos would qualify in a "Lost /Hidden Gem" field I am still advocating. Looks like bad timing, it would be nice to know these photos could get another audience. Still time for a PC, though!

/Mitch
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Old 11-15-2006, 08:39 AM   #9
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Outside of the mountains, I believe there is no better photographic location then an "S" curve where you can get elevation. There are so many interesting angles and things going on in these shots, that I found they take a long time to view because you're almost afraid you might miss something. I think the coal shot is excellent and "stole" the vertical crop idea for a "go awayer" of my own.
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=165226
I consider these to be more front lit shots of trains going away rather then back lit, but the curver allows both lit and shadowed sides to be shown making the images so my more eye catching, appealing and unique.
Cheers

P.S. Christine, your editorial imagination is outstanding.
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Old 11-15-2006, 07:23 PM   #10
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Christine, I always love looking at youre creative edits as well! I think you might get yourself hte job of cover editor if it ever takes off.

There are some really good shots deep in RP.net if you look. They give me so many ideas for this week. Thanks for wising me good weather at Stevens Pass, Chris. Theres snow at 2000', Ill be coming back with snow shots if hte weather holds up!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slopes09
You can keep your green units, now GIVE US OUR WARBONNETS BACK!
You can keep your damn Warbonnets! Give me my green units back!
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UP's new slogan for Amtrak:
"We'll help you spread you wings and fly right into a siding!"

TRAINS TRAINS TRAINS!!! May the fun never end!
I'm a traitor! Im on JP.net! But all my plane shots involve trains!

BN FOREVER!

Last edited by SD70MACMAN; 11-15-2006 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 11-17-2006, 04:31 PM   #11
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Chris, I really like the container shot. For some silly reason that I can't define, many of my favorite photos (my own and others) include farm silos in the picture. It's not like I am a silo phoamer but there is just something about those shots that draws my eye. Thanks for sharing your photos and your thoughts.

Jim
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