Old 02-27-2005, 11:36 PM   #1
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Default Advice On Taking Pictures

I am new to the photographing trains (and photography in general), and I was wondering if anyone who reads the forums could give me some pointers on how to improve my skills. In particular, I was wondering if I could receive some feedback on some rejected photos so I will know what I can do better the next time an opportunity and a sunny day coincide.

The following were rejected because they were backlit. Does that mean if I had shown up earlier when the sun was further to the east that the pictures would have had a better chance of being accepted? I was facing south when I shot the first two, west when I shot the second two.


Another picture that was rejected came with the following comment:

Poor cropping - Most often this means that the composition of the photo is poor as it relates the cropping of the image.

The link to it is below, but being new to photography the comment doesn’t have any meaning to me. I hope that someone can clarify this statement for me.


The following were rejected because the angle was bad. What would have been the best angle to take these shots from? One obstruction I have to deal with at this location is a chain link fence that separates the parking lot I was in and the tracks. I was able to fit the lens of my camera in between the links in the fence to get the following two shots, but what should I do next time to get better results?


Thanks in advance for any feedback I may get. Anything that will help me improve not only my railroad photography “skills”, but help me become a better photographer in general would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-27-2005, 11:49 PM   #2
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Welcome to the hobby and welcome to RP.net. You are doing exactly what you should be doing: asking for advice to make yourself better. Don't let rejections here get you down, and keep doing what you're doing: learning from your mistakes.

First off, the best way to learn what the screening team is looking for to be accepted into the database is to take some time and view photos that have been accepted in the past.

For the fisrt coupe of shots, you have part of the engines cut off the front of the frame. You will never get a shot with part of the engine cut off the frame accepted here. It looks like those trains were moving; you may just have to get used to the shutter speed of your camera and get a better feel for when to squeeze the trigger, so to speak.

When you hear 'backlit,' it means you are in the wrong location in relation to the sun (i.e. the train is between you and the sun; you're shooting into the sun). The most ideal situation is to have the sun at your back with the nose of the train in the light. Once you start thinking in terms of "Where's the sun?" you'll see your photo skills and resulting photos improve.

The other shot has some foreground clutter (i.e. there's something in between you and the train that's obscuring the view of the train). Try and stand where you have an unobstructed view of what you're trying to shoot.

That's the big and small of it. I'm sure others will chime in who have more experience than me. Like I said, don't get discouraged; it seems simple enough but it does take practice. Look through the database and see what kinds of shots are accepted, and then you'll have an idea of how you should be shooting next time you're trackside!
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Old 02-28-2005, 12:07 AM   #3
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Well, I already like your attitude about wanting to improve your skills. You'll get a lot more respect like that.

If you had shot those a little earlier in the day when the lighting was better, the chances of acceptance (after fixing a few cropping and level issues) would be better. A good trick to use is to look at your shadows to determine which side of the tracks to be on to shoot.

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreject.php?id=97991 Poor cropping - Most often this means that the composition of the photo is poor as it relates the cropping of the image.
Excellent composition with the L&N milepost. A little earlier on the shutter release, along with a level in photoshop would improve it. You should try this angle again when you get the chance.

A chainlink fence is a photographer's worst enemy. The first one looks a little too tight of a crop on the switcher on the right. Also, dark nose shots in general aren't accepted. The second is a going away shot which also generally aren't accepted, unless the area is just overly scenic. Another thing that you'll need to watch out for is the edge from the scan (or photoshop work if you have to level the photo). That can be fixed with a just a simple crop.

The final thing to remember is that there is a lot of trial and error in photography. A lot of things work and a lot of things don't. Keep the good attitude, and your skills will improve immensely
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