Old 01-30-2017, 05:56 PM   #1
abr
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Default Cloudy Day

I wanted to get some more insight regarding cloudy day shots and rejections.

Here, is a recent rejection of mine: http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...05&key=2089462

I had hoped that by framing it in this matter, the presence of the track workers and maintenance of way equipment would add enough visual appeal to stand a chance at acceptance, despite the cloudy conditions. Obviously, the screeners disagreed. Would an image like this (highlighting workers, as well as equipment) have had a noticeably better chance at acceptance, if executed slightly differently (e.g. different cropping to feature less of the cloudy sky and/or tighter composition)?

I have a number of other images from this shoot, in various lighting conditions and different locations at this station. I'm asking this question with selecting other images in mind more than necessarily resubmitting this image.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-30-2017, 07:56 PM   #2
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Having cloudy stuff on is honestly a huge shot in the dark. Since it's the acela, they probably just consider it "common power" and disregard it.

From my experience, I can't get a cloudy shot on of rare movements through Rochester, such as ex Santa Fe GPs or the last runs of C40-8s before CSX retired them, yet every shot I submit of Illinois Central SD70s on the Bessemer (where they are the daily common power) are accepted. Really comes down to screener bias I think.
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Old 01-30-2017, 08:39 PM   #3
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I have no particular comment regarding whether the content should result in acceptance despite the poor light. I will say that much of the image isn't sharp and if an image is noticeably off in one technical dimension that the screener tilts toward rejection, consciously or unconsciously, and that may not be reflected in the final (single) rejection reason given.

You may have given the screener too many reasons to say no.
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Old 01-30-2017, 10:33 PM   #4
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Its a busy scene no doubt but there's nothing really that jumps out at me personally. The screener might have felt the same. Additionally, the photo seems undersharpened.

However...

The guy with the whistle sign is intriguing. Do you have a shot of him in focus with the acela blurred in the background?
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Old 01-31-2017, 01:34 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by JRMDC View Post
I have no particular comment regarding whether the content should result in acceptance despite the poor light. I will say that much of the image isn't sharp and if an image is noticeably off in one technical dimension that the screener tilts toward rejection, consciously or unconsciously, and that may not be reflected in the final (single) rejection reason given.

You may have given the screener too many reasons to say no.
I think this is a pretty good summary of the situation. Sometimes, others see softness that I don't see. Not this time. This pic is definitely soft. Combine that with cloudy/common and it makes the decision easier for the screener. Cloudy shots get in all the time here. It's just that to give yourself a fighting chance, you need to be shooting something unusual, or if it is common power, it needs to be something more than just a regular wedge. Good scenery really makes a difference.
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Old 01-31-2017, 11:37 AM   #6
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Thanks for all of your insights. This will definitely help me as I select images from Sunday at Princeton Junction. Fortunately, the conditions were clearer than this when I took a number of other photos. The softness may be a depth of field issue with this particular shot. Although, admittedly, I've only recently begun to use Lightroom, so it may be a question of getting used to the sharpening and noise reduction settings. With that being said, it also looks like I may be able to correct for a cloudy/washed out sky with some adjustments to the lighting/shadows/white balance in other images as well.
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Old 01-31-2017, 01:43 PM   #7
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The softness may be a depth of field issue with this particular shot. Although, admittedly, I've only recently begun to use Lightroom, so it may be a question of getting used to the sharpening and noise reduction settings. With that being said, it also looks like I may be able to correct for a cloudy/washed out sky with some adjustments to the lighting/shadows/white balance in other images as well.
Hi Adam,

FWIW, my experience is that even without sharpening, the shot should look relatively sharp when you first open it and go to 100% in Lightroom. If it's not, the issue is probably not a lack of sharpening. It is more likely an AF issue or a photographer technique issue. I have personally seen both. I don't know how fast that Acela was going, but if they were running at high speed and you were not using continuous AF, or a strong enough shutter speed, or the camera/lens combo didn't have really snappy focus, that could be the issue. In my case, it would probably be unsteady hands. In all seriousness, there are indeed cameras and lenses that just don't handle stuff comin' at ya really fast. My Nikon 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR is an OK lens....but its AF does not handle airplanes or fast trains very well at all. Put the 70-200 f/2.8 VRII on the same body and there's no problem. Of course, the latter lens is about 4x the price of the former. Sometimes, gear can be limiting.

Anyway, in general, if the shot looks soft when you first open it at 100% in Lightroom, it is probably a bust. You might be able to get it looking OK for the web (been there, done that), but it will probably never be good enough for an application requiring higher resolution.
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Old 01-31-2017, 03:12 PM   #8
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I am going to be a contrarian here. Usually wrong but....

Shutter speed is 1/1000, with track workers standing calmly on adjacent track, not sure what track speed could be?
Focus - I can clearly make out the minute marks on the clock and the workers to the right seem sharp. In the center looks clearly(smile) to be dust from the track machine. DOF drops off with 200mm and 4.5, seems could have been shot closer with wider angle to increase the DOF and drop the shutter speed.

The full scene carries if for me with the track workers, machinery. Maybe 'punched up" a little would help?

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Old 01-31-2017, 11:05 PM   #9
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Another good thing to keep in mind that I don't think anyone has mentioned yet, detail in a cloudy sky = has a chance. Milky white blob of sky = really tough to get on.

I like the shot, but I wonder if this would have been better if you were on the westbound platform. On a winter afternoon, you are shooting directly toward where the sun would be from this angle. Shooting from the opposite side would have put the workers in the foreground, and placed the sun (or where the sun should be) at more of an angle to the train.
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Old 02-01-2017, 03:19 AM   #10
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Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. As I said, I have shots from both platforms at different times and from different angles. A few do feature better lighting and should stand a better chance at acceptance.

With that Acela shot, the lighting had just changed and I think I was a little late to react, hence the low depth of field. I have other shots with crews and passing trains, including some with a clearer focus on the workers holding whistle signs at either end of the platform, so I may try editing and submitting one of the other "cloudy" shots that are composed a little differently, provided there aren't other glaring technical issues.

Would using a graduated filter in Lightroom work, or is it tricky to do without giving the appearance of the image being too heavily edited. For example, with this "cloudy day" shot from that day I was on the same platform, but facing away from the sun: http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...26&key=6906157

Could the uploaded edit using a graduated filter work? Are there any other issues to be concerned about?
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Old 02-01-2017, 03:37 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by abr View Post
Would using a graduated filter in Lightroom work, or is it tricky to do without giving the appearance of the image being too heavily edited. For example, with this "cloudy day" shot from that day I was on the same platform, but facing away from the sun: http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...26&key=6906157

Could the uploaded edit using a graduated filter work? Are there any other issues to be concerned about?
Hi Adam,

The graduated filter works great in Lightroom. It works so well that I hardly every carry the $100 B&W 2-stop grad ND that used to live in my bag. The Lightroom feature is so much more flexible than a fixed grad ND. I use the feature a lot, especially on shots taken in challenging conditions where the sky is bright but the light on the subject isn't great. It works great. Just be careful how much exposure you dial into it.
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Old 02-01-2017, 05:02 AM   #12
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ABR, Kevin knows his stuff. I want to add a different view. Don't be so focused on getting all your shots onto RP. RP just isn't much into wedgies owhere significant parts of the train are backlit. Yes, you can "rescue" some shots with editing, making them RP-acceptable. But is that a good use of your time and abilities?

Some shots just aren't worth the effort to get on to RP.
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Old 02-05-2017, 08:27 PM   #13
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Thanks for your thoughts. I think that is an excellent point on editing for RP not always being worth the time and effort. Sometimes it's better to just appreciate being able to capture a scene that makes for a nice addition to my personal collection without going through the time and energy required to edit it for RP suitability.

At the same time, it's good to know that if there is an image I really do like and want to take a stab at submitting it, that I do have some tools in my arsenal that could aid me in those efforts. With that in mind, I wanted to run another image by everybody and see what your thoughts are.

With the attached file, the scene suffers from the same cloudy conditions. However, the worker holding the whistle sign is appreciably clearer than in the Acela shot and the image has a better depth of field. I've played around with it a little in Lightroom. Would this shot stand a chance at acceptance with some additional adjustments or is this a case where it's closer but still no cigar re: technical issues? Constructive criticisms on either front would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-06-2017, 12:49 AM   #14
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Thanks for your thoughts. I think that is an excellent point on editing for RP not always being worth the time and effort. Sometimes it's better to just appreciate being able to capture a scene that makes for a nice addition to my personal collection without going through the time and energy required to edit it for RP suitability.

At the same time, it's good to know that if there is an image I really do like and want to take a stab at submitting it, that I do have some tools in my arsenal that could aid me in those efforts. With that in mind, I wanted to run another image by everybody and see what your thoughts are.

With the attached file, the scene suffers from the same cloudy conditions. However, the worker holding the whistle sign is appreciably clearer than in the Acela shot and the image has a better depth of field. I've played around with it a little in Lightroom. Would this shot stand a chance at acceptance with some additional adjustments or is this a case where it's closer but still no cigar re: technical issues? Constructive criticisms on either front would be greatly appreciated.
I like it and think it could potentially get on rp. I'd definitely crop some off the bottom.
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Old 02-07-2017, 01:51 AM   #15
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I like it and think it could potentially get on rp. I'd definitely crop some off the bottom.
Thanks for the suggestion. I did the crop, but guess it may not be enough for RP: http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...73&key=7830357

Are there specific technical flaws you guys think are playing into this rejection or is it primarily that it's just still too standard of a scene/angle?
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Old 02-07-2017, 02:58 AM   #16
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Thanks for the suggestion. I did the crop, but guess it may not be enough for RP: http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...73&key=7830357

Are there specific technical flaws you guys think are playing into this rejection or is it primarily that it's just still too standard of a scene/angle?
You have it wrong. It isn't a standard scene angle, it has poor light. Sometimes, just sometimes, the rejection means what it says! Flat light. For this particular screener at this particular time, the flat light problem is not overcome by the interesting scene.
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Old 02-07-2017, 05:30 AM   #17
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One of the problems is your highlights are too bright. Something like this might help.
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Old 02-07-2017, 09:24 PM   #18
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Thanks for the feedback. I'll adjust the highlights and hope that and maybe a little luck with the screeners will do the trick. If there are any other issues anybody spots in the meantime, I'll be glad to take them into account as well.
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Old 02-08-2017, 01:39 PM   #19
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Got it in with those final changes, thanks everyone!

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Old 02-09-2017, 06:39 AM   #20
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And right now features as top shot in views last 24 hours. You can probably guess what I will say next... With a lot of shots, who cares if it's cloudy?
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Old 02-09-2017, 02:04 PM   #21
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Definitely not the first time I've seen an initial rejection make it to the top. Persistence does pay off from time to time, and it also shows the utility of this forum for photo help.
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Old 02-09-2017, 02:36 PM   #22
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Definitely not the first time I've seen an initial rejection make it to the top. Persistence does pay off from time to time, and it also shows the utility of this forum for photo help.
A good asset to RP and a great classroom for those willing and wanting to learn to perfect their craft.
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Old 02-09-2017, 05:09 PM   #23
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A good asset to RP and a great classroom for those willing and wanting to learn to perfect their craft.
That is the kind of attitude you need to have to make this place work for you. Human nature is such that it is too easy to simply blame the screener for being unfair or worse when an image gets rejected. I certainly was that way in the beginning. But once you mellow a bit and realize the screener does not hate you and use this place to ask some questions, you can learn a lot. It is unfortunate the screeners don't have the time or inclination to be more thoughtful. But that is where this place takes over and you have multiple critics which is what you really need, since the esthetic judgements can be subtle and complex, the give and take is good. Over the years I have learned a lot from the folks here.
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Old 02-10-2017, 12:04 AM   #24
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Definitely not the first time I've seen an initial rejection make it to the top. Persistence does pay off from time to time, and it also shows the utility of this forum for photo help.
Well said. I often consult this forum because I recognize there's something to learn from each rejection. My early experiences with RP were frustrating because after I registered, it took over a month, with multiple emails, to actually get the approval to post on this forum. When I had several early rejections and nobody to consult, it definitely lead me to question my skills and my potential when it came to making it on RP. Having this forum has made appreciate RP so much more since those challenging early days.

Some of my favorite photos (including a few of my most-viewed shots) were ones that were initially rejected, where persistence and adjustments based upon the feedback from other members paid off. As annoying as rejections can be at times, I've seen an improvement in the overall quality of my photographs because I'm mindful of those considerations when I'm out shooting.

It was thrilling to check in and see that image getting more and more views, before eventually rising to the top shots list and benefiting from the extra exposure as the top photo within the last 24 hours for a time. I say this not only because it gave that image exponentially more views, but because it definitely led new people to explore my collection of shots on this site. There were a few older images I had that were newly favorited as a result of that prominence.

Without the encouragement and feedback from those who posted in this thread, it's possible I may not have bothered with that shot, or might have given up after the initial cloudy day rejection. Now, I not only have a great image on this site, but also a better sense of new ways to approach shots when I go out, whether or not its a cloudy day.

Thanks again to everybody who has assisted me along the way. I hope this is the first of many similar successes and that I get to return the favor for others I go on.
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