Old 08-11-2014, 04:36 PM   #1
Ron Flanary
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Default Summerail at CUT-2014

I realize not everyone cares about multi-media events like Summerail or Winterail, but since several RP.net regulars were there (and some were presenters), I thought some of you might enjoy this. Please add your own thoughts.

This started with an e-mail from my friend Charlie Buccola to several folks. I responded, and that note is pasted below Charlie's.

Steve Barry (R &R editor) was one of many who proclaimed this year's Summerail the best ever. The shows ranged from very good to outstanding IMHO. There was something for everyone except for the diehard steam fan -- no steam exclusive thought there were a few smoky moments. For the traditionalists, Joe McMillan (60- 80s ATSF Chicago to LA), Mike Schafer (60s -70s Chicagoland and passenger trains everywhere), Mike Raia (father Bill's Soo Line 70 - 80s) and Jeff Mast (NS ex-PRR in Pa in the current era) certainly filled that bill. For those wanting to see railroading in the dusk - dark - dawn times, Chase Gunnoe and Eric Williams had great offerings. A different take came from Bryan Bechtold (cows trackside at Denver stockyards) and Ron Flanary (Souvenirs). Taking rail photography to a new level were Sayre Kos and Bill Beecher (stunning presentations in the current era). These two had many the audience ready to sell their cameras and take up knitting. The absolute killer program in my very strong opinion was Beecher's (a CN, WC and other engineer) who blended video clips in with imaginative still images backed by an audio track that included rail sounds at key points. This program raised the ante by more than a few chips. But my few sentences do not do justice to any of the fine programs. Just wait till next year!

My response:

I've done quite a few multi-media shows over the years (over twenty five years at least), and most of them have been shown at Summerail. I presented shows at EastRail in New Jersey a couple of times, and once at Winterail in Stockton, CA in 1998. There was a time when I honestly thought I was a pretty decent photographer, and could produce an inventive and entertaining show. In fact, when I finished doing my "Souvenirs" show several months ago and sent it to Oroszi (he liked it), I had a good feeling of accomplishment. It wasn't perfect, of course, but at least I was satisfied with it.

However---Charlie's comment that many us us are now ready to sell our cameras and take up knitting is half correct. I'll be doing more writing and maybe some painting rather than knitting, but I have already pulled the batteries out of my Nikon, boxed up my camera gear and stored it in the closet as a first step. But the idea that I'm a pretty good train photographer is out the window after seeing a few of these shows, particularly (for me) the shows by Sayre Kos, Bill Beecher and Eric Williams. Beecher's show was a jaw dropper. It mixed some ultra cool video clips (in the snow at night in many cases) with even more outstanding still images.

For some time now, I've been saying the younger digital-era folks are taking this hobby to a level never known before. The only way a geezer like me can maintain any degree of respectability is to drag out some grainy 50-year old shot of an RS-3, F-unit or Alco cab and ask, ".....hey, sonny....ever see one of these??" During Eric Williams' show, for example, some of the night scenes in the winter were taken in the mountains (most of them on the former Erie main to Port Jervis I think), and Dave leaned over to whisper in my ear. "Hey....you live in the mountains, so why can't you try something like this?" My answer: "It's too cold, it's dark as hell, I'm old and can't get to the places I would like to go, and even if I get there, I don't have the talent or expertise to replicate anything like that."

Seriously-----I'll be starting a new watercolor painting this week. I think it'll be a good one, and I look forward to working on it. I don't think Beecher or Williams can do railroad art on canvas or paper yet----but I'm not sure. But if they do, I'll have to start Chinese paper cutting, cooking, macramé or primitive wood carving.

Oh yes....I cannot WAIT until I see what Dave Oroszi flushes out for shows next year. I'll bring some of my macramé to display between shows.

Ron
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Old 08-11-2014, 05:02 PM   #2
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Good readin', Ron. Hopefully I'll make it to one of these 'Rail events sometime in the near future. I went to Beecherfest last year and had a great time. I'm assuming the Summer and Winterail presentations are similarly entertaining (and much larger).
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Old 08-11-2014, 05:17 PM   #3
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Boy can I relate to Ron's lament. Between youth and the new creative capabilities of digital, the stuff I see today just blows me away. The only good news for me is that with digital it is a whole bunch easier to scan my old stuff and put together a nostalgia/history kind of show.
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Old 08-11-2014, 07:33 PM   #4
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Ron - was any part of the presentation captured on video? Sounds like it was a great show and there were definitely a few presenters whose programs I'd have loved to have seen.

/Mitch
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Old 08-11-2014, 07:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Flanary View Post
However---Charlie's comment that many us us are now ready to sell our cameras and take up knitting is half correct. I'll be doing more writing and maybe some painting rather than knitting, but I have already pulled the batteries out of my Nikon, boxed up my camera gear and stored it in the closet as a first step.
Hope that's not the case...

Quote:
But the idea that I'm a pretty good train photographer is out the window after seeing a few of these shows, particularly (for me) the shows by Sayre Kos, Bill Beecher and Eric Williams. Beecher's show was a jaw dropper. It mixed some ultra cool video clips (in the snow at night in many cases) with even more outstanding still images.
Did not see the presentations, but the idea that you are not a good photog is silly. You been hittin' the sauce lately?

Quote:
For some time now, I've been saying the younger digital-era folks are taking this hobby to a level never known before. The only way a geezer like me can maintain any degree of respectability is to drag out some grainy 50-year old shot of an RS-3, F-unit or Alco cab and ask, ".....hey, sonny....ever see one of these??" During Eric Williams' show, for example, some of the night scenes in the winter were taken in the mountains (most of them on the former Erie main to Port Jervis I think), and Dave leaned over to whisper in my ear. "Hey....you live in the mountains, so why can't you try something like this?" My answer: "It's too cold, it's dark as hell, I'm old and can't get to the places I would like to go, and even if I get there, I don't have the talent or expertise to replicate anything like that."
Again, don't sell yourself short. Your body of work speaks for itself.
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Old 08-12-2014, 12:02 AM   #6
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Troy,
I'm being somewhat factious, because I know I'm a decent photographer, and I'll certainly keep on shooting. But we're in the midst of a major shift in the world of railroad photography, I think.

I think it can be best summed up in this comment I got from Mike Brestel earlier today (Mike runs the sound at Summerail from the booth, so he has one of the best seats in the house):

What struck me is that the guys who grew up with digital instead of Kodachrome II have absolutely no fear—they’ll try anything. When I go out to shoot with my DSLRs, I’m still bounded by what I learned in shooting film for over 40 years.

For example, digital’s lack of reciprocity failure on night shots has opened a whole world of possibilities that were just not there when we were learning what a photographer could and could not get away with. I find myself automatically thinking “That won’t work,” while the young guys are saying “Let’s try this!”


I think that describes me as well. I doubt many younger shooters would even know what "reciprocity failure" is----but it was a major constraint on night photography using color transparency film.

I loudly applaud the work of these younger guys who have grown up on digital, and have never had to struggle with the limitations of older technology. Like Mike, I only wish I had my digital Nikon 50 years ago (in fact, my whole generation would feel that way).
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Old 08-12-2014, 12:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mgoldman View Post
Ron - was any part of the presentation captured on video? Sounds like it was a great show and there were definitely a few presenters whose programs I'd have loved to have seen.

/Mitch
I don't think so, Mitch. In fact, videotaping devices are forbidden. Many of the presenters are very protective of their shows.

I just recalled I had uploaded a draft of my program some seven months ago so a couple of my friends could do a critique. I made a few changes, but this is about 95 percent the same show that was shown in Cincinnati. If you have a Mac, it won't work, but any PC can be used. Just click on the link. You'll be prompted to download a ProShow Presenter software package, but it's no big deal, and it only takes a moment. Then, click on the small icon at the top, and the show should begin. There's a slide with controls on the bottom, and you can right click to find "Full Screen."

This show was a concept I came up with years ago, but never finished. It's not my best work, nor is it my worst. I wish it were possible to share a few of the other shows from this year's program, but I don't have them here, and that wouldn't be my call anyway.

http://www.photodex.com/share/fanny152/p7x9pmg4
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Old 08-12-2014, 04:34 AM   #8
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Enjoyed the show, Ron.
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Old 08-12-2014, 10:15 PM   #9
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Summerail 2014 kicked undeniable ass. Finally met face-to-face with plenty of people I was hoping to see. Hell, Ron even sang a song for a few of us in the master control room!
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