Old 09-30-2006, 03:03 AM   #1
a231pacific
Senior Member
 
a231pacific's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 822
Default Broadening RP's Horizons

A couple of recent reject threads got me thinking. Dave Toussaint (socalrailfan) and John Ryan both had interesting shots rejected. Dave’s for “Back Light” and one of John’s for “Bad Motive.” Both were later accepted on appeal.
Image © Dave Toussaint
PhotoID: 160231
Photograph © Dave Toussaint

Image © John Ryan
PhotoID: 159672
Photograph © John Ryan

In my opinion, and in the opinion of some others whose judgment I respect (M.J. Scanlon, John West, Christine, etc.) the shots were very good, yet did not get past the checklist nature of the screening process for getting into the RP data base. John took umbrage at his rejection, stating “I'll stop myself with the reminder that different is bad, uniformity is good, and wedge pictures will prevail.”

I don’t think this is a correct assessment, but it is an opinion that is widely shared. RP is not an invitation only or juried site, where only the best is accepted. It’s a popular site, where standards exist to keep out the less than good shots. Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to screw up a Wedgie, so by meeting all the technical requirements (exposure, focus, framing), they get in by the score. Unfortunately, shots that are truly good but violate one of the “rules” established to keep out the chaff often end up being rejected. Is there any way around this, other than through the appeal process?

Do the screeners have a common viewpoint as to what constitutes a good railroad photo? Do they have a diversity of personal preferences and are these encouraged in the screening process, or is it done “by the numbers?” Is a diesel shot, with the front of the unit in shadow, but with headlights and perhaps ditch lights contrasting with the shadow, and with foreground and background scenery made more dramatic and three dimensional due to shadows, a good shot or not?

Image © John West
PhotoID: 156467
Photograph © John West

I think yes, but most American railfans have been conditioned to say no. If more of these sorts of shots were accepted, would it help expand people’s thinking? I’m not suggesting that high sun shots be accepted, as they are usually the opposite of back lit in terms of the scenery and shadows.

I ask, because as an American railfan, I never really understood back lighting until I took a trip to South Africa with a group of British photographers. I was initially puzzled to note that schedules were set up so that the trains were almost always coming out of the sun! As I learned what they were up to, I came to realize that early and late in the day, back light and extreme side light produce the sort of shadows that make the scenery come alive. Of course, it also makes for great steam shots with stunningly back lit steam, but I realize that most RP contributors are shooting diesels, so don’t want to over emphasize that point.

Image © Michael F. Allen
PhotoID: 160041
Photograph © Michael F. Allen


Finally, as an answer to folks like John, just what is the percentage of accepted vs. rejected shots on RP? I’ve been amazed sometimes at how few of the shots in the queue actually seem to show up when I click the Newest Additions link. Then again, there are days like yesterday when three Screeners Choices shots were selected in a matter of minutes.

Michael Allen

Last edited by a231pacific; 10-02-2006 at 06:46 PM.
a231pacific is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-30-2006, 04:07 PM   #2
Crusader
Senior Member
 
Crusader's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Philly
Posts: 242
Default

I've seen quite a few good side-lit shots get the axe as "back lit" over the years. If I had to pick a rule I'd like to see relaxed, that'd be it.

Of course, I 'm always welcome to start my own site "SideLitTrains.com" or to pick up my marbles and go home. So far, I've done neither, and generally enjoy the photos I see here.

FYI, my personal ratio of acceptances to rejections is probably around 1/10.
__________________
View my photos on RP.net
Crusader is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-30-2006, 04:33 PM   #3
John West
Senior Curmudgeon
 
John West's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mill Valley, CA
Posts: 1,081
Cool

Some quick thoughts designed to reduce a long winded two page response to half a page:

The”rules” are probably helpful for the beginning photogs who need some basic guidance on how to get their first wedgie posted. And we all started out taking wedgies. Fortunately those rules often seem to be honored in the breach by the screeners since some of the more creative pix do occasionally/often get in.

I don’t sense a check list so much as a desire to try to be able to justify screener choices on some objective basis, compounded by the need to work fast and push standard buttons. Which often produces nonsense results because once you get beyond the basics the whole process becomes inherently judgmental. Perhaps screeners should be enabled to call a spade a spade with a button for “I just don’t like this picture”.

If anything I'd like to see more wedgies rejected. Not because they aren't technically good photographs, but simply on the basis of repetition. Maybe there should be a button for "technically perfect common power wedgie in uninteresting scenery".

The appeal process gets at least one additional screener involved, which is good. Perhaps the screening process should have a third step allowing viewers some kind of input…..which is what is already happening informally in this forum.

While some of my favorite pix have been rejected (including the one on the left that I’m using as an avatar in protest), net net my gut feel is that the screeners are doing a pretty good job of responding to the diverse constituency that pays the bills (look where the hits are!).

But hopefully discussions like Michael’s description of his experience in South Africa will help open the eyes of screeners and viewers alike to some of the more creative aspects of rail photography. Perhaps even John Ryan’s snide remarks help in their own way.

John West

Last edited by John West; 09-30-2006 at 04:37 PM.
John West is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-30-2006, 11:56 PM   #4
Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
Senior Member
 
Andrew Blaszczyk (2)'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Marlboro, NJ
Posts: 1,956
Send a message via AIM to Andrew Blaszczyk (2) Send a message via Yahoo to Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crusader
I've seen quite a few good side-lit shots get the axe as "back lit" over the years. If I had to pick a rule I'd like to see relaxed, that'd be it.
I'll have to agree there. Sometimes the time of day or situation calls for it when something "normal" or creative isn't the best option.
__________________
-Andrew Blaszczyk a.k.a. AB(2)
Proud fan of the Sabres, Islanders, Rockies, and Lions.

"My camera is an artistic medium, not a tool of terrorism."

www.ab2photography.com Coming soon!
My photos on RailPictures:
http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=960
Andrew Blaszczyk (2) is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2006, 12:48 AM   #5
TonytheTiger
Ex. Railroad Employee
 
TonytheTiger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Harrisburg, PA
Posts: 136
Default

Quote:
I've seen quite a few good side-lit shots get the axe as "back lit" over the years. If I had to pick a rule I'd like to see relaxed, that'd be it.
Quote:
Is a diesel shot, with the front of the unit in shadow, but with headlights and perhaps ditch lights contrasting with the shadow, and with foreground and background scenery made more dramatic and three dimensional due to shadows, a good shot or not?
Ditto -

I too like photos with contrast and different angles - something other than the blue sky sun over the shoulder wedge shot. These are some of my favortie shots that were rejected here. They're still good to me, and I'm not complaining about the screening process, but I would like some feedback as to whether they are the "best of the best" or just very good (even in only my eyes).

Tank train at Newport
CP Cannon
Cove at Twilight
Doublestacks at Cove
Marysville in the morning
Transfer at CP Ruth
__________________
Rob Kitchen
Harrisburg, PA

You know you are old when the first car you owned is now considered a "Classic".
TonytheTiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2006, 02:14 AM   #6
LAHDPOP
Senior Member
 
LAHDPOP's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Indiana
Posts: 299
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonytheTiger
...but I would like some feedback as to whether they are the "best of the best" or just very good (even in only my eyes).
Sorry, but none of those shots really stand out to me, and suggest they have qualities that override their original rejection. The one that I think would be closest is Doublestacks at Cove. Had the containers been sunlit, I would really like that shot, even with no light on the nose. I like the one at CP Ruth, too, but IMO the light is too diffused to make it a dramatic enough backlight shot.

Then again, if I knew what the hell I was doing with a camera, I'd have a lot more shots on rp.net.
__________________
Bret Stringer

I didn't say it was your fault.... I said I was going to blame you.

Click Here to see my rp.net photos.

Click Here to see my "personal collection"
LAHDPOP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2006, 02:23 AM   #7
Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
Senior Member
 
Andrew Blaszczyk (2)'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Marlboro, NJ
Posts: 1,956
Send a message via AIM to Andrew Blaszczyk (2) Send a message via Yahoo to Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonytheTiger
Ditto -

I too like photos with contrast and different angles - something other than the blue sky sun over the shoulder wedge shot. These are some of my favortie shots that were rejected here. They're still good to me, and I'm not complaining about the screening process, but I would like some feedback as to whether they are the "best of the best" or just very good (even in only my eyes).

Tank train at Newport
CP Cannon
Cove at Twilight
Doublestacks at Cove
Marysville in the morning
Transfer at CP Ruth
The only two that I think could be worth while spending more time on are the first and the last. I like the color contrasts between the Autumn orange and NS black. I think if you played around with the stauration and the contrast a little bit you may make it appealing to the screeners. As for the last one, I'm a sucker for GP60's and glint shots, put them together you got as winner. Not sure as why it got canned here but I think a little post-processing can get it on. The other ones just seem like they can be shot in better conditions.
__________________
-Andrew Blaszczyk a.k.a. AB(2)
Proud fan of the Sabres, Islanders, Rockies, and Lions.

"My camera is an artistic medium, not a tool of terrorism."

www.ab2photography.com Coming soon!
My photos on RailPictures:
http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=960
Andrew Blaszczyk (2) is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2006, 02:26 AM   #8
socalrailfan
Master Railfan
 
socalrailfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Riverside, CA
Posts: 714
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by LAHDPOP
Sorry, but none of those shots really stand out to me, and suggest they have qualities that override their original rejection.
Thanks Michael and Andrew. Even thinking outside of being one of the photographers, they are both really good shots. Mine will be resubmitted in the next 12 hours or so. Believe me RP.net approves many of the "outside of the box" photos. I know for a fact sometimes they reject one of mine just to get me to think a bit more about it, but I've had plenty of backlit and obscure photos approved here and I'm sure I'll have many more approved in the future.

To me it's a matter of getting along with the staff, not being an ass and working with them!
__________________
Thanks,
Dave
www.SoCalRailFan.com
See more of my train photos at:
http://community.webshots.com/user/firehouse16
See my train videos at:
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=SoCalRailFan
socalrailfan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2006, 02:28 AM   #9
a231pacific
Senior Member
 
a231pacific's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 822
Default

Rob,

You posted your CP Ruth shot back when it was first rejected and I thought it was good then and still do. I think a number of pretty good back lit shots are getting rejected here because the conventional railfan wisdom is back light is bad, but I'd like to change that thinking. Your CP Ruth shot is a heck of lot more interesting than 1/2 the sun lit wedgies that sail through the screening process.

Michael Allen
a231pacific is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2006, 02:32 AM   #10
a231pacific
Senior Member
 
a231pacific's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 822
Default

Socalrailfan said:
Quote:
To me it's a matter of getting along with the staff, not being an ass and working with them!
A lesson that some others could benefit from! I'm glad you are going to give your shot another try. Go with the second version!

I agree, out of the box shots that are rejected are sometimes accepted on appeal, but I'd like to see more of them get in the first time. It might keep a few more people from getting their noses out of joint.

Michael Allen
a231pacific is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2006, 11:03 PM   #11
Drewster
Senior Member
 
Drewster's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 147
Default

they have leaning more toward scenery and the environment around it, it seems to me lately

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=159387

the engine nose isnt that well lit, but the environment is nice

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=151639

the nose isnt lit what so ever, but the farm scenery makes and side lighting makes the photo
Drewster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2006, 04:05 PM   #12
Pat Lorenz
Senior Member
 
Pat Lorenz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 326
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by socalrailfan
I know for a fact sometimes they reject one of mine just to get me to think a bit more about it
Same here, usually i am pretty good about making sure i got everything from a shot before i do anything with it, but both the chris's on this site have been pretty helpful in making sure they keep my 'lesser' shots out. I am happy with there screening.

But honestly i would like to see some more out of the box pictures, but railpictures knows when to accept good ones and bad ones, usually the ones they do accept ae very good.

I agree with a231pacific, the desert does come alive with the right shadows, but sometimes the 'artisticness' of a photo can get out of hand.

I can tell you how many times i have seen junk and stupid odjects to frame up a shot in, which totally ruins the photo. I really hate seeing a bunch of junk in the foreground, railroad equipment included. To me a shot should be clean and crisp, with mabey a accent object or something.
Pat Lorenz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2006, 05:36 PM   #13
John West
Senior Curmudgeon
 
John West's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mill Valley, CA
Posts: 1,081
Cool Progress?

I was browsing through some random RP pix yesterday and saw a lot of backlit and side lit pictures that had been accepted presumably with no struggle. I think the Drewster is right, that back and side lighting is more acceptable to the screeners when the shot includes more of the environment around the train.

I'm particularly puzzled by the initial rejection of Dave Toussaint's picture. IMHO it is a very pleasant scene by almost any standard. Rejecting it for being backlit can't be the real reason. Perhaps the screener meant to push the unsharp button. I’m glad to see the new improved version got in.

Some of Rob Kitchen's photos also raise questions. I particularly like the "Transfer at CP Ruth" image because of the nice lighting and interestingly proportioned consist. I see absolutely no reason for it to have been rejected. It is a good example of a close-up wedgie that works because it has interesting graphics and the back lighting really adds to the image. But perhaps it was judged by the screener more as a basic wedgie, which it really isn't.

At the same time it is worth mentioning that some pix have made it in that I really don’t find very interesting. Outside the box is not always good. Heck, inside the box is not always good.

Net net, we seem to be back to Michael’s original question, “What constitutes a good photograph”.

We’ll probably never answer that question, but the nice thing about RP is the opportunity to debate it. Hopefully the screeners enjoy this debate as much as we do. After all, as noted above it is important that we get along with the screeners.

I don’t know whether it is progress or not, but I do sense a more diverse selection of images than when I first came here four months ago.

John West

Last edited by John West; 10-02-2006 at 05:39 PM.
John West is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2006, 05:57 PM   #14
Chris Starnes
Administrator
 
Chris Starnes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Virginia, USA
Posts: 927
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by John West
We’ll probably never answer that question, but the nice thing about RP is the opportunity to debate it. Hopefully the screeners enjoy this debate as much as we do. After all, as noted above it is important that we get along with the screeners.
Feedback (good and bad) is always welcome, it is very important to our growth. One thing I along with the rest of the crew have come to learn is that we are never going to make everyone happy - it impossible. I could accept what I personally thought what was the best railroad photo ever taken, but undoubtedly someone would be upset.

It is important to remember that there are two sides to every coin. At the end of the day, the best we can do is provide a useful site that the majority seems to enjoy. Judging by the stats that we see, we must be hitting at least a few of the right cylinders.

Thanks for the input folks!
__________________
Chris Starnes
Co-Editor, RailPictures.net
Chris Starnes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2006, 02:07 PM   #15
TonytheTiger
Ex. Railroad Employee
 
TonytheTiger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Harrisburg, PA
Posts: 136
Default

I tried for "out of the box" again this morning as I was going to work. I knew that any westbound would be backlit, so I looked for a location were I thought being backlit would enhance the photo. This was rejectd for distracting shadows. I accept the judgement of the screeners and am not going to appeal, but please comment on this photo:

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreject.php?id=294637
__________________
Rob Kitchen
Harrisburg, PA

You know you are old when the first car you owned is now considered a "Classic".
TonytheTiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2006, 02:30 PM   #16
a231pacific
Senior Member
 
a231pacific's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 822
Default

Rob,

Is there any way to back up a bit to take the shot? The engines were just about to enter a patch of sun, so you would have had sun on the sides had you been able to shoot about 1 or 2 engine lengths further along.

Where back lighting works is when the side of the train is dramatically lit and the nose is dark but the scenery behind is lit. Think contrast when you shoot back light. In your shot, the containers are lit, but the principal subject is dark on both the nose and sides.

The location looks like it has potential. S curves are usually great places to take interesting photos. I'd try it again.

Michael Allen
a231pacific is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2006, 03:12 PM   #17
TonytheTiger
Ex. Railroad Employee
 
TonytheTiger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Harrisburg, PA
Posts: 136
Default

Michael -

There are trees all along here so, at this time of day, there are splotchy shadows all along the track. In about an hour the sun will fill this location and you will have about another hour until it is too high. Unfortunatly, during that time period I am in my office paying my mortgage.

The effect I was shooting for is sorta like a night shot in they daytime. The contrast of the bright headlights with the dark nose and the muted light in the background. I like this type of shot when the nose is dark, the headlights are very bright, you can still clearly read everything on the locomotive, and the background is muted. Someday, when I am as famous as O. Winston Link, this will be my signature shot . . . .

Dream On . . . .
__________________
Rob Kitchen
Harrisburg, PA

You know you are old when the first car you owned is now considered a "Classic".
TonytheTiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 06:58 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.