Old 04-16-2007, 08:52 AM   #1
jaanfo
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ok, I've posted a number of times on this forum asking how to improve upon certain shots, or certain ideas of shots... some of you may remember my last thread, in which I asked about putting together a backlit sunset shot. It took a little while for all the elements to come together, we've had some bad weather and clouds the past few weeks, but the other night the weather was perfect, I wasn't working, and I was able to get up to where I wanted to shoot the photo (and the train was on time!). I was absolutely thrilled with the shot, uploaded it, and it was greeted with a rather lukewarm response (Talking about number of views, comments are all positive though, thanks guys!).

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PhotoID: 183701
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I found that rather strange considering a shot I thought was sort of iffy was uploaded at the same time and got a much warmer response...

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PhotoID: 183699
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And the Mystery deepened even more when a similar shot taken two days sooner was given both a Screener's choice and generated a LOT of responses and a decent view count...

Image © KBoes
PhotoID: 183835
Photograph © KBoes


So I was wondering what my sunset shot seems to lack, why nobody seems interested in what, for me, was probably was among the more technically difficult shots I've successfully taken and had uploaded into the database.

To a degree I have to be honest that I'm jealous I didn't get a Screener's choice. For the most part I've been happy when a photo breaks 500 views in the first week... I know people are enjoying my photos and that's why I like to contribute... but overall my view counts for recent photos has dropped. Upon noticing that I looked at my photos and realized they were all looking the same, so I settled in a bit more, learned my new camera and improved the photo quality of recent shots. My last three shots were a bit more choreographed, I practiced each shot and manually adjusted it so it didn't get the bluish tinge my first photos that came from my D40 had, and I am looking to take a few more shots with this quality (One I'm aiming for will take pure luck too). It wasn't that *I* didn't get a Screener's choice, or sixteen comments and 400+ views; I was thrilled to have it on the site... I'm just confused as to how a similar (yet different) shot can generate so much more interest.

Truth be told reason I'm analyzing myelf is I'm well into my last month in San Diego... I'll be heading back East for a few months before settling back in around the Los Angeles in a new job. Before I head off I'm trying to document a few places along the SD sub that I have yet to get onto here and I'm really hoping to have at least one truly memorable shot of the railroad action here, both for me and for the members of this site and others I participate in. I thought I'd begun to understand what people here were interested in but, as you can tell above, I still have some work. Does anybody have any advice for what I'm missing? (both in the shots people like and those people don't notice).

In the meantime, I'm studying the people's choice and Screener's choice photos

My Shots: http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=7493

Thanks!

Last edited by jaanfo; 04-16-2007 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 04-16-2007, 11:28 AM   #2
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Your sunset shot's profile is blended in with the rest of the dark elements of the picture. On the shot below, there is no down as to what the silhouette is, because that is the only dark element in the picture. When looking at your thumbnail, and even the picture itself, it's hard to tell without studying the picture if you are looking at a train or a distant hillside. The rule I like to follow is just that.... when doing a silhouette, try to make the subject of your silhouette the only dark element surrounded by the background light, aside from any relevant ground or other structures. If darker elements blend in with your silhouette, it does not jump out at you as well.

Comparing the middle shot to your silhouette, I would say the palm trees are much catchier. You are drawn to want to click on it from the thumbnail, whereas the silhouette shot looks at first like some sky, a pond, and something hard to define in the middle.
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Old 04-16-2007, 02:22 PM   #3
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^^^What he said. There's nothing in the thumbnail that screams "look at me!" to my eyes. The subject is blended in with the bridge/dark and looks like just another sunset shot. Not saying it's bad, it just doesn't have that extra "oomph" for me...
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Old 04-16-2007, 02:58 PM   #4
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Image © Jaanfo
PhotoID: 183701
Photograph © Jaanfo
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
...There's nothing in the thumbnail that screams "look at me!" to my eyes...doesn't have that extra "oomph" for me...
It did the exact opposite for me, and was my favorite over all the others listed above. Maybe I just like dramatic contrasts. It's definitely my favorite over the other two photos. Nice work!
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Old 04-16-2007, 04:03 PM   #5
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^^^ What they (4kv, ween) said.

The thumbnail doesn't say "train" to me.
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Old 04-16-2007, 04:50 PM   #6
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Although the first shot has nice coloration, it has a boring composition. Just as you don't want to center your image in every shot, you also don't want to split the frame with your horizon.
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Old 04-16-2007, 06:15 PM   #7
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John West has said a few times that sunset shots are becoming cliche. This disconcerted me a little, because I love sunset shots and am starting to take them more. But recently I've begun to see what he means. While they don't turn up as much as the well lit wedgie, and take slightly more effort (and luck) to take, they are becoming more and more common. As a result, these shots fall victim to the been there, seen that syndrome, which means the shot won't get views, unless it far outdoes the hundreds of others. In general, I myself have been suffering very low view counts lately, although truthfully, I have spent very few hours trackside this year (a whopping 7 hours), so I haven't had too many submissions.

I guess as far as comparing your shot with the Screeners Choice and almost certain PCA lock, I could just re-echo what the others have said. I took one look at that shot and my jaw smacked the keyboard. Without a doubt one of the 100 best train pictures I've ever seen. Very skillfully executed, planned, and with a little luck, an amazing shot. Yours is...well, cliche. I've only taken a couple sunset shots. My most recent one barely made a ripple, but one I took last December got decent response. However, it's also a bit different than most of the sunset shots on here.

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Old 04-16-2007, 07:16 PM   #8
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Nothing wrong with a cliche so long as it is done well. Most of us have our personal cliches. For me it's the small train big scenery cliche. Mitch has his pan cliche. Michael and Alan have their glint on huge plume of clagg cliche (that I am desperately trying to copy). The good thing about a cliche is it means you have gotten the hang of it, and can start fine tuning the technique for the trully exceptional shot. In this case it looks as if you have gotten the hang of sunset silouette exposure. The next step is to look for opportunities that offer more interesting compositions. The bridge shot is exceptional in my mind because of the relection of the sun off the waves, and the fact that the sillouette of the train is a big part of the picture, just jumps out at you, and is sharp as a tack.

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Old 04-17-2007, 02:55 AM   #9
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Jared,

What are you looking for in your photos, comments or views numbers? View numbers are great, but once a photo gets any type of award it's really irrelevant because they always skyrocket after that. Certain other photos always get high numbers IE: yard shots, derailments and bizarre lighting.

But as one of our glorious leaders here once told me, basically forget the view count and look who's comments on your photos. Personally I like a balance. I've noticed the longer I've been here and the more I'm known my view count average per photo has gone up quite a bit, but I still enjoy comments.

My problem, if it is one, I was told I take some of the best standard train shots the site gets, but non-standard/outside the box photos I rarely take. I think part of that is due to the area I'm in, the trains become the focus here over the scenery or extras in the photos.

Your photos have always been good and I'm seeing some variation lately. So I've always been a fan even if I don't comment as much as I should. Keep your chin up!

One last thing I should say, is why one shot get more views than another? Can you get enough from a thumbnail or do you need a larger image to see what's happening? That's a big part of view count.
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Old 04-17-2007, 01:03 PM   #10
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Jaanfo,

The sun set shot could do with a bit of a tweak in the colour of the sky, it just looks a little muddy to me. Other then that I can't see to much that needs attention. Did you consider a tighter crop of the loco and the signal?

One aspect that does not get recorded with view counts and comments is the length of the view. How long did the viewer stop and take in the image. With you palm tree station shot when I first saw it I stopped and had a good long look at it. Lots of detail, good colour and a good Information in the remarks section helped keep me looking longer then I would normally.

Christine.
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Old 04-17-2007, 04:04 PM   #11
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Your sunset shot is really quite nice, but this past week there have been two sunset shots sitting as #2 & #3 PCA's on the home page. As has been pointed out, sunset shots have become a bit of a cliche. When a batch of really good ones appeared a few months back, everyone said WOW and ran out to try their own.

To get a screener's choice from a sunset shot now requires that it be simply stunning. The Honda Canyon shot has the train clearly silhouetted on the bridge, reflections off the surf, a high bridge, and it's brighter, with the sun directly behind the coaches. It cleared what is now a much higher bar.

Your second shot really grabs your attention. It's well composed and the palm trees and the snappy lighting all make it a shot you want to open. I like it and it's not just another cookie cutter shot.

As Dave said, comments are more important that hit counts. One of my favorite shots, which has gotten a number of positive comments from names that that I respect, has done very little in hit counts. Once a shot gets on the home page, either as a PCA or Screener's Choice, the hit count skyrockets.

Which of these is the better shot? I can't really say, but the second shot was a Screener's Choice and has 8 times as many hits, but 1/3 fewer comments!

Image © Michael F. Allen
PhotoID: 180751
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Image © Michael F. Allen
PhotoID: 178423
Photograph © Michael F. Allen


Back to your shot, I liked the mood of the full scenic that you posted, but if you were fishing for a Screener's Choice, you probably would have done better with a tighter, more dramatic crop. John West can tell you about how scenics tend to fare, vs. tighter crops!

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Old 04-17-2007, 11:02 PM   #12
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Michael's tighter crop got me thinking.....which is always dangerous. How about this. To get the image quality you would have needed a longer lens, and/or moved a bit closer to the water to get more of a relection. But some pretty interesting possibilities if that is a place that can be returned to and if the sun and train cooperate again in their timing.
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Old 04-18-2007, 05:22 PM   #13
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Something to keep in mind, especially with scenics, is how big will the image be displayed? If it is being viewed on a 15" computer monitor, scenic shots loose much of their appeal, whereas tighter crops look more impressive. When viewed on a 23" monitor, scenics do much better. John West tends to print out his favorite shots as 16 X 20 and hang them on the wall, so his small train, big scenery shots have real impact. I suspect that if all he could print were 8 X 10's, he'd hang fewer scenic shots and more close up shots.

John's crop of your sunset shot works well on the small screen, your original works well on the big screen. So, how big are the monitors that the screeners use?

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