Old 03-02-2007, 03:54 AM   #1
John West
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Unhappy Reject.....here we go again

This photo

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreject.php?id=343922

got rejected, including an appeal. Okay, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the screeners run this place, and all that. But maybe we the great unwashed have some influence over their thinking. So the purpose of the post is to provide the screeners with some feed back.....did they do good, or did they reject a good picture. Obviously I like this picture or I would not have submitted it, so I am hardly an objective observer. But their description of the sky and foreground as "dead space" seems rather inappropriate to me. I think it is a glorious picture of a train in the wide open spaces that characterize the American West. But then maybe I am out of step with the audience here. Feed back pro or con please.

John

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Old 03-02-2007, 04:14 AM   #2
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Hi John -
One single opinion (mine) is not that there is too much sky, but rather too much foreground. You could recrop and keep much of what makes the photo so glorious, particularily the sky. You'd still have a good amount of foreground and openess in the photo. One slight distraction for me is the smoke blowing the wrong way - gives it a "charterteristic" staging feel.

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Old 03-02-2007, 04:52 AM   #3
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If this were mine... I'd crop it like this. Still a good impression of what you wish to convey, gets rid of too much dead space, and is still not loco-centric.

Nice!

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Old 03-02-2007, 04:59 AM   #4
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Wow, I just cropped it exactly like you did Rich.
The main thing that bothered me was the steam on the left side of the picture. It wasn't connected to the steam coming from the engine so it's just kinda there by itself.
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Old 03-02-2007, 05:34 AM   #5
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First of all, I'll say that I see what you were trying to accomplish and I think it's a good shot. However, I think the bad cropping lies in the fact that the train is so far back and occupies so little of the picture. If I were to take this picture, I would not have moved the camera or recomposed the scene at all, as I think the grass and sage in the foreground (and the footprints in the snow - people or other creature?) add texture and depth to the scene. However, I would have waited for the locomotive to get closer to the left edge of the frame. This might have resulted in the cutting off of the smoke plume, but that's acceptable to me, as I always concern myself with the position of the train in the frame before I worry about things like smoke plumes and rods down.
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Old 03-02-2007, 06:12 AM   #6
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I love the wide angle. I like the big bush in the lower right hand corner. But I'm not so sure the train is placed right in the frame. Is this the only exposure you took? If the rtain was over just to the left of the frame, it would be an awesome photo, certain PCA from many and may even a screeners choice.

(Well, my opinion, obviously.)


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Old 03-02-2007, 11:20 AM   #7
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the ONLY thing i can find the least bit of fault with is the puff of steam in the upper left corner.

but, it does not bother me enough to think that i would reject the photo, based on that alone. my mind can justify why it is there. staged, or unstaged photo.

i tried to crop the image several different ways (even panoramic format), and nothing gave the same sense of WOW that i got when i opened the original image. every crop was a disappointment.

maybe a crop would have successful, had i not seen the original vista.

the expansive vista is awesome! again - WOW!

if all i could see of "railroad photography" in this image was a set of lonely, empty tracks the image would still work for me. the steam unit is icing on the cake.

the foreground is an integral part of the image. the snow/brush patterns are naturally arranged in a way that draws your eye into the photo and leads you right to the train. so much better than huge empty patches of ballast or pavement that regularly make their way into the database.

cropping out the large shrub in front right corner detracted from the image. it needs to be there - espcially since i know it's there from the original image.

if it were my photo, i'd leave it alone.

this rejection is the database's loss, IMHO.

great photo! it's a treasure!
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Old 03-02-2007, 12:42 PM   #8
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Trainmosters crop I think is just a little to tight on the bottom and right side I would keep most of the large bush in the lower right corner in the photo. For the left side just crop the puff of smoke out.

I really like some of the wide angle stuff that has been showing up in the database lately particularly from our comrades from the UK, they seem to be the masters of wide at the moment.

Christine.
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Old 03-02-2007, 12:58 PM   #9
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Here's my take. First of all, it's a great photo and could be accepted at RP as is. no problem. There are a gazillion that should be rejected before this one.

But some suggestions, mixed in terms or RP or in general. First, the smoke is really odd at first glance, and I would make reference to it in the caption, especially in place of what you wrote.

Second, the foreground is too weak. Yes, you have some brush on the right, but it's color is too dull and it is too blended in to what is behind it to be an element of the photo, instead it is just texture. To my tastes, wide angle work like this needs a stronger foreground to balance out the middle and back, not just emply soil but some sort of object or color or something. I don't see that here.

So to me it becomes dead space, and dead space does not make for the best picture. Even if it is representative of the open west. But that is a standard of great picture and not a standard of RP picture, which to me can be more purely representative. Especially given all the wedgies, and all the undifferentiated cornfields or similar in some foregrounds.

In part I think the picture suffers because obviously it aims much, much higher than standard RP fare. Seems somewhat unfair to penalize it for being a bit short of the ambition, perhaps.

As for the train, I would want it farther along. For compositional purposes, you have some brush right foreground. But the eye is naturally drawn to the bold red of the boxcars, and they are on the right side of the image. What's on the left? Not much, and really nothing but for the plume. This to me is the main weakness of the image, for RP and general purposes, the lack of balance left to right, moreso than the foreground.

For RP purposes I would crop it into roughly a 4:3 ratio, keep the 684 vertical and cut the horizontal to 910 or so, taking out as much of the left side as you can stand before encroaching on the plume.

Overall, I am torn as to whether it should be accepted as it. It does so many things well, yet it doesn't have good balance of compositional elements and placing.

I enjoyed looking at the image and thinking about it, immensely. Thanks for offering it up for review.

J
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Old 03-02-2007, 03:49 PM   #10
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First, thanks to the folks who commented.

Part of my problem is one of my photographic cliches is "small train big scenery" kind of pictures. I like them especially when the lighting is interesting.

RP's screeners (and bless them, because they're the ones that make this place worth posting at) seem to have a bias against the small train idea. For example, my avatar over at the left is one of my rejects, even though it is one of my all time favorites (that particular version got some help from Christine in a similar discussion here). And this one was initially rejected:
Image © John West
PhotoID: 172893
Photograph © John West
Not that they don't occasionally get accepted, but they do seem to be held to a higher standard.

There are some legitimate "issues" with the submitted version of the picture, which are mentioned above. And obviously there is plenty of room for honest difference of opinion here. One man's gorgeous foreground is anothers dead space. It was a "grab shot" of a backup move (that strange steam to the left) because I was all set up with my usual 80-200 lens for a conventional shot that used the telephoto effect to bring in the mountains in the backbround. Then all of a sudden (I'm slow on the uptake sometimes) I realized how glorious the whole panorama was in front of me, switched lens, and got what I could get. Is it a perfect picture, no. Was it good enough to be accepted.....I obviously thought so.

The strength of this place is the discipline that the screeners impose. I'm simply lobbying for all the dead space to be considered beautiful scenery more often.

John

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Old 03-02-2007, 04:12 PM   #11
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When I first saw John's shot, my reaction was Wow, that's the way it looks out in the high desert of Nevada. It captures the feeling of the wide open spaces. That smoke blowing the wrong way isn't the result of a staged runby, it's the prevailing wind blowing up the Steptoe Valley.

I don't like the little detached bit of black smoke on the left, but knowing the screeners rejected the shot, I tried the same conventional crop that Trainmonster did. It makes it into a nice photo, one that surely would be accepted on RP, but it doesn't have the same feeling of SPACE that John was trying to achieve. John's point is, why can't we have photos that are really scenes with trains in them accepted on RP, as opposed to photos of trains that have scenery in the background, which do get accepted.

I thought John's Coxo Crossing shot was truly amazing when I first saw it. I don't think his NN shot is quite as good, but the limitations of the RP crop format may be a factor. I think a nearly square crop might take care of the lost smoke on the left, while still keeping the sense of SPACE, but it won't fit RP's shape requirements. Another one for the wall, John!

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Old 03-02-2007, 04:50 PM   #12
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I would welcome a resubmission of a similiar crop to either of the ones that have been posted here. I love the idea and concept, but the original crop/composition just does not work well in my opinion.
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Old 03-02-2007, 04:58 PM   #13
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John, I must say that you are one of my favorite railway photographers. In the few instaces I am able to go out, I often look for shooting situations which would be remniscent of some of my favorite shots you've taken.

One thing I've found with this site is that you shouldn't do anything halfway. If you take a shot, it generally needs to be either fully front lit, or completely backlit, and other things in that vein.

With the big scenery, small train concept, the scenery truly needs to be huge (in your shot, it definitely is) and the train needs to be tiny. I'd say in your shot it's more of a medium train, which isn't really too bad, but not as appealing as either a tiny train or huge train. I'd crop it down a little, especially in the foreground as has been mentioned. Possibly on the sides as well. Since all the background is spectacular, as opposed to a small portion, you could crop the sides with no aesthetic loss.

All in all, another great shot of the Nevada Northern from Mr. West! I may need to go there some time, and if I move to Nevada, that will be very possible.
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Old 03-02-2007, 05:31 PM   #14
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The color is magnificent. I would kill to be able to take a grab shot like that.


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Old 03-02-2007, 05:36 PM   #15
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Joe,

John's shots are hardly "grab shots" but the secret to colors like that is "altitude!" The thinner air at higher elevations results in a clear, strong light that really brings out the colors. You don't need a polarizing filter to get blue sky like that when you are in the mountains. Too bad we easterners can only get shots like this on long trips!

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Old 03-02-2007, 06:49 PM   #16
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Cool

Actually I was the one who used the term "grab shot" for that particular picture, because I had to change lenses quickly. Most folks don't realize that Ely is over 6500 feet in altitude, more a mountain than a desert town. Folks from Las Vegas go to Ely to cool off during the summer. The NN was fortunate to have Joel Jensen as a volunteer, because as a photographer he was the one who recognized how wonderful the winter lighting is and started the winter photo shoots. Prior to Joel's influence, most charters were run in October (which is also nice, but not as nice as January).

Again, thanks for all the comments. I'll be on the road for awhile, but when I get home I'll play with the cropping and see what works.

John

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Old 03-02-2007, 08:07 PM   #17
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I love this shot and the idea of small train big scenery. However, the shot looks slightly unbalanced to me and possibly needs to have the camera tilted up slightly to get more sky and put the bush on the right hand side just inside the frame of the photo. Then I would have let the train run on a bit so that the plume was just in the frame to the left (that is assuming that the plume roughly maintained it's shape and form as the train progressed). That said, I still think that the screeners were being harsh in rejecting this photo as you submitted it as it is just an all round nice photo, and I have seen much much worse accepted (many of which are mine ).
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Old 03-02-2007, 08:52 PM   #18
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And yet another crop, putting a little more emphasis on the subject and the interesting movement of the smoke, and less on the foreground. I felt the placement of the tracks/train in the original was too centered, so a crop with less foreground gives it more of a 1/3 - 2/3 feeling.

Being a landscape photographer at heart, I really love the beauty of this setting and would be happy to get a picture like this. However, for the focus to be a little more on the train than the overwhelming landscape, a crop like this may be a little more appropriate. It may not be possible with your original file size, though.

Oh well...just a thought.
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Old 03-02-2007, 08:55 PM   #19
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It'd sure make a purdy panoramic.....

/Mitch
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Old 03-23-2007, 06:00 AM   #20
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Smile Sucess Story

The image not only made it but was a Screeners Choice. Many thanks for the suggestions and comments made here. As much as I liked the original, the second submission which was recropped based on some advice here was an definite improvement. Even us old dogs can learn new tricks.
Again thanks to everyone who helped.

Image © John West
PhotoID: 180621
Photograph © John West


John

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Old 03-23-2007, 04:57 PM   #21
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Congratulations John,

I was really pleased to see this one pop up as the screeners choice when I took a break at work and opened up RP.

In just three years, the NN crew have made a lot of progress. Compare the boxcars in 2004 with how they look in the various 2007 shots on RP. Your hard work on them is much appreciated.

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