Old 07-27-2011, 01:33 PM   #1
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Default Human Nature: "Unusual" Trumps "Good" Every Time

I'm always mystified as to what appeals to someone who pulls up RP.net and looks at the thumbnails of new shots.....and then clicks on particular ones. The derailments, oddball stuff, and similar subjects always seem to be more popular. To wit: I posted this "throw away" shot of a Southern F-unit running "bob tail" in 1965----and it immediately started to get a lot of hits:



And then....last night I uploaded one of my all-time FAVORITE L&N black and white shots---which I had never submitted to RP.net. It was accepted--but the view count is pretty anemic:



Of course, it doesn't matter one iota to me---but it's an interesting commentary on the subjectivity of railroad photography and human nature.

With almost 25,000 views---this scene is the all-time most popular of my shots. Go figure.....



Unless you include this one----which is very likely one of the most viewed railroad photos (at least on the internet) of all time. I wish I had a penny for every time someone saw it-----

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Old 07-27-2011, 01:45 PM   #2
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C'mon, Ron, you've been around the forums a while, don't make us work so hard ...

Image © Ron Flanary
PhotoID: 369933
Photograph © Ron Flanary

Image © Ron Flanary
PhotoID: 370066
Photograph © Ron Flanary

Image © Ron Flanary
PhotoID: 126614
Photograph © Ron Flanary

Image © Ron Flanary
PhotoID: 683
Photograph © Ron Flanary


Of course, I didn't really need to link to the last one.
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Old 07-27-2011, 01:54 PM   #3
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As you say, human nature. If I could figure it out, I'd be a rich man!
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Old 07-27-2011, 02:00 PM   #4
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Actually....I didn't know how to show the photo id number so it would link back to the shot (how DO you do that?). Computers don't rank high on the list of things I've mastered in my life. I was just cleared a week ago to use a pocket calculator. My next level of achievement will be a cell phone.
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Old 07-27-2011, 02:02 PM   #5
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Actually....I didn't know how to show the photo id number so it would link back to the shot (how DO you do that?). Computers don't rank high on the list of things I've mastered in my life. I was just cleared a week ago to use a pocket calculator. My next level of achievement will be a cell phone.
Type the following {photoid=9999999} but instead of using this bracket on either end {, use this bracket [.
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:18 PM   #6
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I hear you, Mr. Flanary.

Our own feelings about the shots we upload are perhaps the least reliable indicator with regards to the number of hits it's going to get...

I really liked my last accepted shot, and though it would appeal to many people, but I was wrong. It was accepted Sunday night and it isn't up to 150 views yet...
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Old 07-27-2011, 02:01 PM   #7
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Ron - I think the number one reason why a photo gets clicked on is that the thumbnail does not tell enough. The leading B unit is difficult to decipher 100% in the thumbnail, while the L&N F unit in the snow is much easier. I don't believe that aesthetics plays all that much a part of it (especially with today's DSLR and Photoshopped images that can result in some truly eye-popping thumbnails).

The wreck, on the other hand, is always going to attract attention. A wreck that shows locomotives seems to do all the more.

Some other things that just attract hits are trespassers, strings of locomotives (especially on multiple tracks,), and bystanders (especially of the distaff gender).

Of course, once an image starts getting a lot of hits, that in and of itself creates hits. I am guilty myself of looking through the new uploads and clicking on any image that has a lot more hits than those around it, to try and see why.

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Old 07-27-2011, 03:31 PM   #8
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I'm still waiting for a shot of a hot girl looking at a derailment scene (with engines, one steam, one Amtrak Heritage) of a passenger train on fire at night in the snow in a yard beside a station.
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Old 07-28-2011, 11:51 AM   #9
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I'm still waiting for a shot of a hot girl looking at a derailment scene (with engines, one steam, one Amtrak Heritage) of a passenger train on fire at night in the snow in a yard beside a station.
I'm still waiting for a picture of a topless girl in a thong waving as a train passes (of course, we only see her from behind).

I have seen a full sex scene shot with the couple on the ballast as a train passes by a couple tracks over...so what I suggested above would be tame compared to that.
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Old 07-29-2011, 04:43 PM   #10
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I'm still waiting for a picture of a topless girl in a thong waving as a train passes (of course, we only see her from behind).

I have seen a full sex scene shot with the couple on the ballast as a train passes by a couple tracks over...so what I suggested above would be tame compared to that.
I know that's not on RP because the highest viewed shot is not over 25,000,000 views yet.

Jim, you obviously wandered away from the 17% of the internet not devoted to porn
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:41 PM   #11
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don't forget a wild animal riding a canoe.
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:57 PM   #12
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don't forget a wild animal riding a canoe.
A bear crossing the tracks to chase a scantily clad girl in a lightning storm while stepping on poop with a steam engine in the background. While an action figure looks on... oh, and at night
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:02 PM   #13
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A bear crossing the tracks to chase a scantily clad girl in a lightning storm while stepping on poop with a steam engine in the background. While an action figure looks on... oh, and at night
taken from an airplane!
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:45 PM   #14
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View predicting is almost impossible, aside from the big "3"

Derailments
Girls
Larrys Truck and Electric

I'm surprised somebody hasn't posed a girl on the overpass at LTE yet..

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Old 07-27-2011, 04:02 PM   #15
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And to Ron: I enjoy your pictures because I like older pictures which remind me of what once was. Especially in places I have been but never documented "back in the day".

There are 2 local people who post on FLICKR local pictures from my area from the 60's through mid 80's during part of the time I was growing up which I love to go back and look at because it brings back memories. Some of them may not be RP quality, but who cares... I dont know if these guys ever posted on RP or not, but I am sure their pics would be hits.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/palmateer/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/alcomike/
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:07 PM   #16
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I may go for the trifecta: four topless girls rerailing a rusty old SW1500 at Larry's Electric. I might get Chase to help me do it as a night shot. Yea....that one would be the ticket! Even Valentine would like that...
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:13 PM   #17
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I may go for the trifecta: four topless girls rerailing a rusty old SW1500 at Larry's Electric. I might get Chase to help me do it as a night shot. Yea....that one would be the ticket! Even Valentine would like that...
As long as it isn't Chase that goes topless ...

[Oh no! Someone is piling on Chase again! Forum rule violation!!!!! ]
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Old 07-27-2011, 08:41 PM   #18
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I may go for the trifecta: four topless girls rerailing a rusty old SW1500 at Larry's Electric. I might get Chase to help me do it as a night shot. Yea....that one would be the ticket! Even Valentine would like that...
I'll help, Ron! We'll discuss it in Cincinnati in two weeks!

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Old 07-27-2011, 04:21 PM   #19
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OK....here goes (this is a test). If it works....thanks Charles. If not...I'm a clueless idiot (oh wait....I'm that no matter what!):

This is a favorite old shot of mine-----1965 at Appalachia, VA:

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Old 07-27-2011, 04:22 PM   #20
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Well....how 'bout that. I'm a genius after all. Sign me up for Ding Dong School.

Oh wait.....I seriously doubt any of you guys under 60 would remember Miss Francis and Ding Dong School:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je4dZAfcqLg

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Old 07-27-2011, 04:34 PM   #21
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Ron, I know you are a genius in some dimensions but not in others, like post processing. I was wondering about what you and others think about one of my pet peeves, the lack of processing on slide scans. I took your shot and spend maybe 2 minutes on it, I reduced noise in the sky, which was to my eye pretty poor, unnecessarily so, and I worked the exposure and shadows a bit, and then I sharpened. Just a quick job, so by no means the best that could be done, just did the easy stuff. Does this version look "better" in some respect? Preferable? Worth making a fuss about? Should RP be stricter about this? I know, I know, some or many of the people who submit those shots may not have the skill set.

I attach the original, as copied off the RP page, so that people can put them side by side. The "5813b.jpg" is my version.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 5813.1185570000.jpg (243.0 KB, 136 views)
File Type: jpg 5813b.jpg (587.7 KB, 140 views)
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:51 PM   #22
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Sure....it does look a little better.

Correct...post processing is NOT my "thing." Of course the whole digital world is relatively new to me, since I didn't even own a digital camera until 2005. I used Photoshop CS3, and I know enough about it to be dangerous. Every now and then I try something else to see what it'll do.

The "noise" in the sky is grain. The original shot (which I scanned with a Nikon Coolscan V) was taken on Kodacolor NEGATIVE film. At the time, I had no use for slides, since I didn't have a projector. Also, color film was much slower than the then-popular black and white film, and it cost more. On a limited budget for a high school student, naturally I stuck to the lowest cost option.

So---the grain is fairly pronounced here (because of the nature of the film), but with Photoshop you can certainly make improvements. For what it's worth, this shot (my scan) ran as a two-page spread in the March 2010 issue of Railroads Illustrated---and it looked pretty darn good.

For anything I post to RP.net, I spend as much time doing post-processing as the reward warrants. Since the reward is pretty small, I don't spend that much effort on it. If it were something I was uploading to Trains or one of the magazines, however, I would certainly spend a lot of time on the details. They pay money----and RP.net is just something I do for fun. That's a big difference to me----particularly because the 500 or so people who "view" an image on RP.net are small potatoes compared to the nearly 100,000 who might read Trains. Again----that's a big difference in priorities.
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Old 07-27-2011, 06:23 PM   #23
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The "noise" in the sky is grain.
I think that is a distinction without meaning. In my book, digital noise = film grain. The patterns may not be the same, the underlying technologies are different, but the issue is the same. I think that people are more tolerant of film grain than of digital noise simply because they got used to it over the years, in some sense, it is expected to appear, not all the time, but not jarring when it does. Perhaps to some the pattern of digital noise is less pleasing, but I do wonder if that is a matter of underlying quality or simply expectation.

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The original shot (which I scanned with a Nikon Coolscan V) was taken on Kodacolor NEGATIVE film. At the time, I had no use for slides, since I didn't have a projector. Also, color film was much slower than the then-popular black and white film, and it cost more. On a limited budget for a high school student, naturally I stuck to the lowest cost option.
Me too. I have lots of negative film shots, well, not nearly as many as you and many others, not in the same ballpark, but I do have some shots I would like to scan and share. I never have time or inclination to go rent a scanner... The quality of your scan looks pretty nice,the color is nice. Is most of your stuff from negative film? I had assumed slides.

I don't subscribe to RI, have meant to do so at times but never got around to it, but I have no doubt the image looks great. I wonder how much time, if any, the magazine spend applying additional processing to the shot before publishing? What is the practice at the magazine level? Of course, I presume there is a difference between, say, Trains and Railpace.

I am wondering if there is some happy medium where we can induce some people to do just a bit more. Perhaps a PS plug in for one-button treatment. I would love to see all the great old stuff look just a bit better.

So I am not impugning your effort, Ron, or anyone else's. I just wish it were more, selfishly... I encourage everyone doing the older stuff to pick up just a few skills, but I understand that many will not, and that to others the time spent is not worthwhile (but do they realize how quickly one can do a few basics?).
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Old 07-27-2011, 07:29 PM   #24
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Most of my old color slides are slides. In fact, anything in color prior to 2005 is almost certainly a slide. I might have posted a couple dozen color shots from negatives, but that's about it.

"Grain" and "noise" are the same---and they're not the same. The semantics relate to the technology----old vs. new. "Dodge" and "Burn" mean nothing unless you've worked in a darkroom with an enlarger, trying to make prints, yet the terms carried over to Photoshop.

I don't think Trains or the other mags have to do very much with my submitted scans. I do all the necessary level balancing, color balance (if necessary), sharpening, leveling (good Lord....WHEN did a shot .5 degree off level become an issue??), even some lens correction at times. You can go on and on, of course, but at some point, there has to be some basic skill as a photographer when you dial up an f-stop, shutter speed, etc., put the camera to your face, and press the shutter. Photoshop can "fix" many sins----but it won't always get you to Heaven.

RP.net, in my mind, is utter simplicity. You either scan an image, take a digital shot...or whatever....and you upload it. They accept it, or they reject it. Either way, it's not a big deal at all. My acceptance rate (not that I keep track) is probably 90 percent or more. Sometimes I get mildly ticked if they reject a shot---but more often, I just forget it (unless it's something I needed to "fix"---like the dreaded .5 degrees "unlevel"---a sin of great importance these days). If people want to see an image larger, they click on it. If not, they go on to something else. I do the same with everyone else's images. There's no compensation, no glory, no ego gratification, no fame----just an easy way to share ones images with others. RP.net does not pretend to be the "best" railroad photos. They advertise "the BEST railroad photos on the 'net," and I think that's a fair claim----considering the other sites that might be out there. Accepted photos must only meet a base level of adequacy (I won't cover all of them here), so, in theory, even the worst photo in their data base passes that test. Only a few shots are truly outstanding, of course-----and even that is subject to great subjectivity. If you're standing tall on RP.net----look around, because given the overall quality of railroad images on the internet, you're in a room full of pigmies.

I actually saw a YouTube presentation by some poor soul who made a video (with music) of all the shots he had submitted to RP.net-----only to note he had never, ever had a shot selected. About two minutes of watching this, and it was pretty clear why. Some people just can't take train photos----but they don't understand why. It's like being tone deaf in music. If a person couldn't match a single note on a piano, in their head, it would sound just fine. It has to do with how a person's brain is "wired."

Some folks have really made me question why I post anything to RP.net----because they tend to get their panties in a tight wad over some innocuous issue. Why?? For cryin' out loud, folks, it's just a simple, silly internet site where you can post your choo-choo pictures for others to see. If anyone sees it as more than that, I suggest they take a few deep breaths and have a moment of peaceful reflection.

The value of this, if there is any, is that I connect with a lot of folks----retired railroaders, casual enthusiasts, old friends, new friends, etc. I don't take it so seriously that the images have to be "really great." Sometimes I've posted some pretty good shots, even if I do say so myself----but often some very marginal shots, or even outright duds get accepted. Either way, it doesn't matter.

The body of my work that's really important to me is in print media----not on an internet site. That includes books and magazine articles over the years. I know that means I'm truly "old school," but that's just me.
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Old 07-27-2011, 08:18 PM   #25
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The body of my work that's really important to me is in print media----not on an internet site. That includes books and magazine articles over the years. I know that means I'm truly "old school," but that's just me.
We need MORE old school around here IMHO
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