Old 01-01-2021, 04:38 PM   #1
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Default Rule of thirds

Hello all,

to repeat myself from the previous thread, by way of introductions, I am a very longtime railpictures.net member but I was in infrequent lurker for a decade, and only started submitting photos a few days ago. This question concerns this image, which was rejected for awkward positioning in the frame, because it apparently fails the Rule of Thirds.

So the question is, how would you apply the Rule of Thirds on a picture dominated by parallel wavy lines like this? I positioned the front of the train near the one-third from the left, but I felt also positioning it near the one-third from the top (or worse, from bottom) would take off too much of the top of the image (see reduced size version below). Or do you think the one below looks fine? Or am I way off in interpreting the Rule of Thirds? (Or am I way off asking such questions?)

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Old 01-01-2021, 10:00 PM   #2
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There will almost always be a rejection when the train is dead center in the photo. I know it can be frustrating when you feel you are shooting a whole scene, but the train is the focal point here. You could try cropping it on the left and the top, but then you may lose the scene. Someone else may come along and have a better suggestion.
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Old 01-01-2021, 11:43 PM   #3
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I would crop a little off the bottom, top, and left. Something like this:
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Old 01-02-2021, 08:31 AM   #4
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Thanks from the replies! What I take from this is that the most important is to crop more on the left, not the top; and also crop at the bottom. I'll try again on this basis.
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Old 01-03-2021, 12:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Milepost 58 View Post
There will almost always be a rejection when the train is dead center in the photo. I know it can be frustrating when you feel you are shooting a whole scene, but the train is the focal point here. You could try cropping it on the left and the top, but then you may lose the scene. Someone else may come along and have a better suggestion.
I have no problem with that, I accept that I have to conform to the tastes of the site with my uploads. But now that I realise that the rejection comments are automated, I'm now frustrated that I don't know the exact reason for rejection. For, I uploaded a cropped version which was rejected with the same message, and I don't know if the reviewers see a composition problem that can be solved or one that cannot.

I wonder if there is a North American vs. European matter of taste here. In my mind, a rail photo is not just about the train, but also the railway (the tracks, the infrastructure), how it fits into the landscape. In the US or Canada, you don't have to make that distinction, because a long freight train would stretch along the entire track on an across-the-valley shot like this one, but a European train, especially if it's a local passenger train, will often just occupy a short section of the track visible. (If this is the issue, I'll accept it and will to stop trying to upload such shots.)

Or maybe that's not the issue, but the reviewer doesn't like how the road cuts the image in half (in which case just this photo cannot be rescued). Or maybe there is still a better way to crop this image. Problem is, I don't know.
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Old 01-03-2021, 02:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 18 316 View Post
I have no problem with that, I accept that I have to conform to the tastes of the site with my uploads. But now that I realise that the rejection comments are automated, I'm now frustrated that I don't know the exact reason for rejection. For, I uploaded a cropped version which was rejected with the same message, and I don't know if the reviewers see a composition problem that can be solved or one that cannot.

I wonder if there is a North American vs. European matter of taste here. In my mind, a rail photo is not just about the train, but also the railway (the tracks, the infrastructure), how it fits into the landscape. In the US or Canada, you don't have to make that distinction, because a long freight train would stretch along the entire track on an across-the-valley shot like this one, but a European train, especially if it's a local passenger train, will often just occupy a short section of the track visible. (If this is the issue, I'll accept it and will to stop trying to upload such shots.)

Or maybe that's not the issue, but the reviewer doesn't like how the road cuts the image in half (in which case just this photo cannot be rescued). Or maybe there is still a better way to crop this image. Problem is, I don't know.
Many contributors here seem to pigeonhole the rule of thirds as the sole reason for the rejection. The ROT is a suggested way to create a successful composition, but my experience is that the rejection is more about balance. Objectively looking at your photo, the highway and the river are quite sterile, and hold no interest. There is way too much of both, and the right side of your crop has no "weight" to balance the train. Here my take on it, which does not strictly adhere to the ROT. There are no guarantees that it will be accepted, but it comes a lot closer to what I would consider to be an acceptable composition.

Click image for larger version

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Old 01-04-2021, 09:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Decapod401 View Post
Many contributors here seem to pigeonhole the rule of thirds as the sole reason for the rejection. The ROT is a suggested way to create a successful composition, but my experience is that the rejection is more about balance. Objectively looking at your photo, the highway and the river are quite sterile, and hold no interest. There is way too much of both, and the right side of your crop has no "weight" to balance the train. Here my take on it, which does not strictly adhere to the ROT. There are no guarantees that it will be accepted, but it comes a lot closer to what I would consider to be an acceptable composition.

Attachment 9854
Well, I "pigeonholed" the Rule of Thirds because that's the only thing the (now I know automated) rejection message specifies: "The subject is awkwardly positioned in the frame. RailPictures.Net prefers that images are composed in keeping with the 'Rule of Thirds' meaning that, in most circumstances, the focal point of the image should not be directly in the center of the frame, or too close to any of the edges."

Your reply was instructive, however, thanks for it. Can I also ask your opinion on two other of my photos which were rejected with the same message? This one and this one. On the second, I may have figured out a possible problem: the white box next to the leading loco, which I find too prominent if I clip the other small building with the open door on the right edge, and maybe it's already too prominent in the original. Or do you see something else?
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Old 01-04-2021, 02:52 PM   #8
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A key distinction to note is that the rejections are not "automated" in that they are not selected by some sort of computer software or artificial intelligence.....but they are "canned", meaning that a human being selects them from a fixed list. So yes, when there is some sort of issue related to cropping or composition, you'll get the canned message that you see, but someone did look at the image and evaluate it before selecting the message.

With regard to the last two images you referenced, both could generally use some trimming. In the case of the first one, I would crop the left side just outside the pole. I would then take some off both the top and bottom, as they add nothing to the level of interest. In the case of the second one, I would crop on the right to get rid of that piece of a building. It adds nothing to the image. I would also take a little off the bottom.

I totally understand the desire to go a little wide. I'm not a fan of "train-in-your-face" pictures in most cases. I do like to include some environs wherever possible. But it's important to consider what environs add value/interest/beauty to the image, and what environs simply add space, distancing the viewer from the subject. Generally speaking, pavement, featureless sky, ballast, grass, etc. should only be included as necessary to achieve the "balance" that Doug spoke of in his reply.

All of these look like decent photos. The learning curve you are experiencing is something we all went through when we started here. Like anything, composition requires an "eye" and some experience, but you will come to understand that it often makes the difference between snapshots and great shots.
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Old 01-04-2021, 03:23 PM   #9
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The last two images you referenced were 16:9 and even more panoramic than 16:9. 16:9 is about the limit for aspect ratio for RP, and I would need a good reason me to use other than a 2:3 or 4:5 aspect ratio. I like the image of the freight train. As Kevin said, I would crop out the shelter to the right. Then I would add some more of the dark mountain to the top until your ratio is 2:3, and you will certainly have a winner.

I also thought about your original image. If the subject was a longer train, and I don't know if any run on this line, something like your composition would work much better. Short self-propelled trains create a challenge to work into a broad scenic view.
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Old 01-09-2021, 06:36 PM   #10
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KevinM, Decapod401, a belated thank you for your advice!

I wrote "automated rejection message" because the word "canned" didn't occur to me; I know the screeners are human. Learning to make better photos is one reason I started to submit my own photos, so I had no problem with having to go through a learning curve, I just needed the lessons spelled out...

For the record, this is what I ended up doing:

Regarding the multiple unit shot across the river, I feel the original photo is not detailed enough for the tight cropping suggested by Decapod401 to truly work, so I abandoned it for now. Instead, I had a second go at another image shot at the same place, which was rejected earlier for the nose of the lead unit being too dark. With nose brightened & a tighter cropping, it passed screening.

Regarding the small multiple unit at the village station in Slovakia, I really liked having that old woman on the platform in the picture, but combining both of your advice about cropping the top/bottom and not going beyond a 16:9 aspect ratio, with a heavy heart, I cropped her out, and this version passed screening, too.

Regarding the freight train on the Semmering line in Austria, unfortunately, there was no more dark mountain to include (well there was some, but I shot this picture in haste and the original image was a bit tilted) so I only cropped at the bottom and both sides. My big beef was that this way, the almost white box to the right is too distracting. So I darkened it, and confessed to this "doctoring" in the comment to screeners, but the screener apparently found this acceptable.
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