Old 03-01-2006, 03:44 PM   #1
Joe the Photog
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Default OK, let's talk wedgies

There's been a lot of talk lately about 3/4 wedgie shots on this site and I was wondering your take on them. Itry not to always take the standard wedgie shot, but sometimes my only railfanning is just happening to catch a train somewhere at a road crossing and not having the time to wait it out. Also, you shoot what you can get. In the part of the carolinas where I am at, there's not a lot of scenery that folks out west has or even that Wade Massie shoots in the Pittsburg area.

(Not calling anyone out, Wade Massie is one of the photogs on this board that I look for new stuff from.)

There's also been talk that this board prefers the wedgies over the mroe artistic stuff. I find this hard to believe. Look at the screeners picsk, the POTws, the People choice Awards. I just think they get a lot more of the 3/4 stuff than the more artsy stuff. I also think that some shooters think shots should get in simply because they aren't wedgies. I also know I recently submitted five shots of the New Hope & Ivyland 2-8-0 lettered for the Lancaster and Chester and only two of them, both wedgies, got in in spite of repeated attempts. As far as I can tell, those are the only two shots of the #40 in the lettering and, guess what, the wedgie angle does not showcase this much at all.

So how do you guys shoot? Do you consciously try to avoid the wedgie? Or do you prefer the wedgie? I try toavoid shooting at a straight tangent of track. A slight curve that is essentially a wedgie looks better than a train coming straight at you. On the other hand, getting the entire train in frame of a straight on train can be real dramatic too.

I also like side angles which can be a shot saver if the sun is not directly on the front of the nose. Wide angle lens can be cool, except my wide angle lens just went down for the count apparently.

Opinions?


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Old 03-01-2006, 03:59 PM   #2
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I agree with you on just about every account there Joe.

For myself, I like a variety of shots to include wedgies, head-ons, side views, etc. Many times though I don't have the ability to plan out every shot. The train comes and I just need to grab my camera and shoot. I try whenever possible to plan out my shots so as to avoid the wedgie pitfall. I know for myself, I also do enjoy shooting roster shots (for refference) and while I know that RP only wants to have so many roster shots, I like to have them for myself (which is why I photograph trains in the first place, for myself).

In addition, the scenery is definitely not always the best in the Midlands of SC, especially in the winter time when there's not so much greenery. I guess that is where I need to improve then as a photographer. Learning to make the best with what I've got. Or I just need to make some more frequent trips to the NS Blue Ridge and Altavista Districts back home in VA (which those locations seem to have very few pics on this site).

Bottom line for me is, while I have seen many photos rejected that, IMO, were very much RP material, I have also seen people complain about artsy photos being rejected when they were just plain bad. I also know that this site is run by humans, with their own opinions. Everyone has differning opinions. If I feel mine differ that bad, I can always start my own site. The problem is that people feel if they're photos aren't accepted or if their opinion is disagreed with, that somehow their rights have been trampled on. This is a website created by private citizens, therefore the only true rights (in regards to this site) belong to those individuals. Everyone else visiting/posting/submitting is doing so as a privelage, not a right.
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Old 03-01-2006, 04:37 PM   #3
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Unfortunately, the lines in Northern Virginia, like a lot of other places in the east, are lined with trees. Road crossings are often the only place where you can get a shot. Since there are so few places where you can get a really good shot, they tend to be used over and over. Nature of the beast.

Right now is the best time to shoot a lot of places, because once the leaves come, you will never see those curves again.
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Old 03-01-2006, 05:36 PM   #4
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I'd take some artsy shots but there isn't that many places in my area that I could take photos like that. I've tried those few photographing locations and my photos seem to get rejected or I end up having to crop out the best parts just to get it accepted. I personally would prefer artsy shots, but am stuck with the wedge shot so I have no problem with the "wedge".
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Old 03-01-2006, 05:45 PM   #5
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I will shoot whatever looks the best, or fits my taste. If i stand somewhere and look at a shot and think that its is just great than thats how i will take it.

I dont mind the 3/4 wedge if it looks good. Most wedges are done poorly with no attention to the surrounding area. Meaning that the locomotive is crappy, a poorly lit subject, trash in the foreground, or just a bad area.

My tastes are very different in photography than i think most others. I am really into desert landscapes. Judging by the peoples choice and POTW, as well a screeners choice. I just dont see any of that.

Enough about me, but i guess i am a fan but on the same side not really. Some are goodothers are bad.

On the other hand some artistic stuff can get pushed to the limit. Some of that is too artistic. It takes railroad photography to a level that you dont even recognize the railroad in it. I prefer clean, sharp and intense lit subjects. Artistic stuff is what we do in between trains.
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Old 03-01-2006, 06:42 PM   #6
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Unfortunately, when your surroundings include flat, barren landscape with tracks that run straight for miles (sometimes 20 miles at a clip), your choices in how you shoot are limited. Pretty much the variation in most of my shooting is do I kneel, stand, or stand on my back bumper to gain some elevation.

But I don't mind the limitations because I actually prefer long telephoto 3/4 wedgies and head-ons. Even though I live in some of the flattest land on the planet which gives me access to profile shots you can't get in PA or CO or elsewhere, I could care less. I really don't like the side shot.

But that's the fun of this hobby. There really isn't a 'right' way to do it...
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Old 03-01-2006, 06:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
But that's the fun of this hobby. There really isn't a 'right' way to do it...
That's it right there.
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Old 03-01-2006, 06:58 PM   #8
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When I'm out railfanning, lighting is the most important consideration. If I can find where the lighting is optimal for that time of day and direction of the train, I will compose based on the scene. On cloudy days, I look for bridges or other elevation, or places where I can get the least amount of sky as possible in the shot.

Above everyone else, one friend of mine has been my greatest source of enlightenment when it comes to taking train photos. He had one simple rule: get as much of the whole train as possible and include as many railroad-related elements into the scene as you can, when you can. This led us to taking pictures at wide, open places. In emulating his style, this led me to my own philosophy: get wide angles. The train is the main focus of the shot but I never crop it extremely tight. My least favorite shot is the 'tele-mash;' not to say there aren't good shots like this, but I personally don't like taking them. I like getting more of the side of the train. This leads me to shooting 3/4 angles almost exclusively. But I include as much of the train as is possible in the scene or frame it up with appropriate elements such as signals, buildings, trees, etc. I love getting trees or other prominent elements of nature in my shots. Like Joe mentioned, I also prefer standing on the inside of a curve instead of looking down a long straight tangent. I never shoot from the outside of curves unless I have some elevation. Again, I just don't really go for taking these kinds of shots.

I also am a big fan of broadside views, especially on bridges or when there's something interesting in the backround.
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Old 03-01-2006, 07:21 PM   #9
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I shoot what I shoot.

I too, have to put up with tree-lined ROW's, fenced off ROW's, over-head CATENARY (wires), bridges with 10ft barriers on the sides and every dang other thing.

I try to get head ons at curves with a lens, I try to get broadsides, and over-heads if I can.

I find places on the inside and outside of curves and try to get as high or low as I can to get shots.

But shooting a wedgie is UN-AVOIDABLE.

I don't find wedgies boring or mindless or annoying. Wedgies are a part of railroad photography.
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Old 03-01-2006, 07:26 PM   #10
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I dont really care for alot of wedges. I shoot em, but at least the equipment I shoot is different. I prefer broadside shots of steam but wedges of steam can be interesting. If you have seen one wedge of a NS Dash-9, UP Flag, or BNSF Pumpkin, or for that matter ANY widecab, you have seen em ALL.
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Old 03-01-2006, 08:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddavies
Unfortunately, the lines in Northern Virginia, like a lot of other places in the east, are lined with trees. Road crossings are often the only place where you can get a shot. Since there are so few places where you can get a really good shot, they tend to be used over and over. Nature of the beast.
Nature of the beast because most railroad "photographers" are too lazy to work for a shot if it requires walking more than 50 feet from their vehicle. You can always use trees, terrain, and several other factors to your advantage.

It seems to me (and several others) that wedgies offer the least path of resistance. Like electricity and water, most people are prone to take the least path of resistance. Conformist sheep they are! We know that conformist sheep are mindless and can't think for themselves. A wedgie requires absoutely no thought or composition, which renders it a completely mindless shot. As mentioned previously, if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all.

Basically, it all boils down to the fact anyone can shoot a wedgie. However, it takes a photographer to compose the shot and make it memorable long after the photo has been taken. The work of O. Winston Link comes to mind here.
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Old 03-01-2006, 08:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmherndon
Basically, it all boils down to the fact anyone can shoot a wedgie.
I would not go that far. These forums prove that not everyone can shoot a decent picture of anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmherndon
However, it takes a photographer to compose the shot and make it memorable long after the photo has been taken. The work of O. Winston Link comes to mind here.
But not everyone can be Mr. Link and not everyone has the time to put into composing shots of this nature.


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Old 03-01-2006, 08:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmherndon
Conformist sheep they are! We know that conformist sheep are mindless and can't think for themselves. A wedgie requires absoutely no thought or composition, which renders it a completely mindless shot. As mentioned previously, if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all.
Ya know what? That sounds just a wee bit snobbish to me. Just because one might prefer to shoot wedgies does not make them mindless. Remember dude, that this is a HOBBY. Everyone has different levels to which they persue a particular hobby. Just because one does not hold the same standards as you, does not make them mindless.

I take offense to you implying otherwise. Then again this isn't the first time I've seen that "elitist" attitude of yours come out. The thread you posted asking to have your pics removed was another fine example.

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Old 03-01-2006, 08:57 PM   #14
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Default Ah yes, the exploration of the ideal spot!!

I myself try to get a good variety of shots including walking well off the path to search and find those new spots that present ideal shot oppurtunities. Lighting is a big factor but I will take shots even if the nose isn't as bright as I want provided I have good side lighting. One thing I like about my new experience with digital is I'll take more chance shots in the hope they create a unique look without spending tons on film, but the camara put a good dent in my wallet as is.. .

Photographing trains is a mix of many of my passions;photography, the outdoors, wildlife, hiking, and of course the rumble of big iron approaching with it's various makeups. I really like the overhead shots, nice snake shots showing off the train, bridge shots trying to time it right, weather shots (lightning, fog, sunrise/set, snow and so on) as well as multiple trains. I always try to add as much RR interest in the shots without getting too busy and many will not make it here due to the need for major cropping, but will scan some and give it a whirl. I wish some of going away shots would be of interest due to lighting or just a nice angle showing off the power and some "wagons".

There is NO way to avoid the wedgie shot, but it's fun looking for many new angles or special affects to create interesting memorable shots. The unfortunate thing is some spots/neighborhoods are getting a little rough to let us explore certain areas .

The quest for our next memory continues, Rich Clark
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Old 03-01-2006, 09:54 PM   #15
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Exclamation

I agree and disagree with some statements from all of these posts-so I'm not going to pick out any particular one.

My take is this: In a land of endless streams of black dash 9's, I try to avoid wedgies on straight track like the plague. That meant shooting in B&W straight away. But sometimes it's the wedgie or no picture.... (no GE's here!)

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 115925
Photograph © Richard Hart


....Or if the subject matter is interesting:

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 106899
Photograph © Richard Hart


I'll try to include some kind of lineside item:

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 105536
Photograph © Richard Hart


Or a bridge, sunset, silhouette, anything:

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 80786
Photograph © Richard Hart


You get the drift. Every shot is from a basic 3/4 angle anyway if you wanna split hairs but I try to at least get the train on anything other than straight track:

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 130339
Photograph © Richard Hart


Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 125260
Photograph © Richard Hart


One of my favorite compositions is the "publicity shot" such as these:

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 120642
Photograph © Richard Hart


Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 130060
Photograph © Richard Hart


Another favorite is the "in your face":

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 128343
Photograph © Richard Hart


Since I started doing the NS in B&W, I've taken to high contrast backlighting:

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 128344
Photograph © Richard Hart


Hard time getting these in, though.

I've liked doing broadsides from day 1: (here you go, Ween!)

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 106222
Photograph © Richard Hart


Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 110668
Photograph © Richard Hart


This one has the most views... I u/l this one as an afterthought. Go figure...

My #1 rule has always been (now more than ever since widecabs all look alike to me ) is try my damndest to be as creative as possible in the scenario I'm shooting in at the time. So I'll work to avoid (sometimes successfully!) "just another wedgie") None of mine have made people's or screener's choice though... sigh.

Since the Buffalo line is a crap shoot for trains anyway, I got artistic fast. I hate the waiting... thank God for solitaire on my PDA!

Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 135147
Photograph © Richard Hart


Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 129799
Photograph © Richard Hart


Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 128387
Photograph © Richard Hart


Image © Richard Hart
PhotoID: 117730
Photograph © Richard Hart


Still trying to get in a color shot of those wheels... they are the most amazing orange/rust color in the sun. Keep getting bad motive. I had more fun shooting those and doing the post-processing than anything.

Enjoy the photos!

Rich
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Old 03-01-2006, 10:55 PM   #16
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Very interesting thread and thanks to all who've shared their approaches, methods, preferences, etc. I always learn something when reading these forum posts.

I took a review of my accepted shots and must admit, they include quite a few wedgies--tho probably more than among my rejected shots in my personal collection. Most of the major factors affecting my choice of shots have been mentioned by other posters, but I'll quickly review them here....

1. Light. As luck would have it, a great many westbounds in my area run in the morning and an equally large number of eastbounds in the afternoon. So the trains are frequently coming straight out of the sun. Of course, there are exceptions, and freight never runs on time (thank goodness). But it does limit my selection of trains. I'm far more likely to get a well-lit shot of CSX train Q405 (which runs west every afternoon about the same time) than I am of train Q301 which runs west early in the morning most days.

A sunny afternoon Q405 yielded this oddball GEVO...
Image © Charlie O
PhotoID: 124668
Photograph © Charlie O


2. Tree-lined, weed-choked, or trash-strewn ROWs. Got lots of those. So this makes down-on shots more appealing. There are a few locations I frequent that yield a nice down-on view most of the daylit hours. And of my accepted photos, about 12% are down-on shots.

Here's a favorite spot...
Image © Charlie O
PhotoID: 114857
Photograph © Charlie O


3. Scarce panoramas. Just not alot of wide-open spaces in my area, so the choice of trackside perches is limited.

One of the few open views in my area...
Image © Charlie O
PhotoID: 65363
Photograph © Charlie O


4. Photographic equipment. I don't really have a good enough telly to get those compressed head-on shots.

So, yes, I've shot my share of wedgies. And some are downright dull, tho hopefully without deal-breaking flaws.

* * *

As for what I submit here...I've tried just about everything, from the artsy to the mundane. Night shots, long exposures, glint shots, nose shots, down-ons, and "mug shot" profiles. What gets accepted seems to depend more on the subject than on my dubious (but developing) skills. That is, a wedgie that includes a pair of shortline U-boats...
Image © Charlie O
PhotoID: 130880
Photograph © Charlie O


or a vintage Reading GP30 and RDC...
Image © Charlie O
PhotoID: 69289
Photograph © Charlie O


is more likely to get the nod than one of an NS Dash-9 (tho I admit, I've gotten acouple of those accepted).

* * *

But I'm always on the watch for new photo locations, rare equipment, and interesting angles...
Image © Charlie O
PhotoID: 38333
Photograph © Charlie O
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Old 03-01-2006, 11:09 PM   #17
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Conformist sheep they are! We know that conformist sheep are mindless and can't think for themselves.
As Dr. Michael Savage calls people that act this way: sheeple. I thought sheeple's a funny term.

Anyway, march to the beat of your own drummer. Shoot what you like. Nobody can change that...
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Old 03-01-2006, 11:49 PM   #18
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I don't really have anyting new to add, but I'll say I do whatever comes naturally. I shoot what feels right given the landscape and light primarily, but often times I have to work an area extensively before the train comes to get everything I want in the shot to make it interesting. And it doesn't stop there...I'll even change my approach at the last second depending on the lashup or manifest.

I get tired of all of the 3/4 wedge bashing, though lately sheeple (thanks Ween!) are finding disdain in the 3/4 wedge tele-mash shot which is one of my favorites if done well! I personally think the shot gives a nice sense of depth; even more than the wide-angle-10-statute-mile-view-in-which-the train-is-just-as-big-as-a-worm can do. If I wanted to take huge landscape shots, then I would prefer just to leave the train out of it and go pick a different location with an expansive view. In my opinion, THOSE shots, though they have merit, were cliche WAY before the 3/4 telemash ever was. I'm a firm believer in that the train is still the primary subject, and that it should be complimented by its surroundings and not have to compete with it. Every train has character that needs to be showcased, and I feel getting closer to your work accomplishes this.
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Old 03-02-2006, 01:09 AM   #19
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"I'm a firm believer in that the train is still the primary subject, and that it should be complimented by its surroundings and not have to compete with it."

I belive with what your saying is very true, the focus should be one the train and not on a car or boat, with the train as a secondary source.

To me the 3/4 wedge comes down to taste, railroad photography is more about taste then a good or bad shot.

One person may think a shot is bad because they dont like a particular railroad or a particular place, others may ador it.

I think that railroad photography and tastes in photgraphy are all the same thing. They go together like paper and pen. It all depends where you live and what you like. If you live near Tehacipi pass then you for sure are not going to be taking alot of wedges because there are not that many types of locations. If you live where there is flat land, well whats your options.

I think that if you take a wedge shot you are not a good rr photographer nor a bad one. I think if you take a artistic shot you are still not a good photographer nor a bad one. Its just what you decided to do, at the time, to make the best of the shot. It fit what you like, and thats the bottom line.

There is no right or wrong way as far as framing a shot goes. There is no differeance in a wedge shot compared to another angle, because both shots still focus on the train.
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Old 03-02-2006, 03:02 AM   #20
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More to add: Go check this site: http://local.live.com . This is Windows Live Local and it offers satellite viewing down to 250 yds. You could use it to map a line you are going to shoot and find the curves, etc.

Rich
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Old 03-02-2006, 05:34 AM   #21
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Lots of interesting stuff. I personally, have yet to get a 3/4 wedgie in(I somehow managed to mess up my last wedgie attempt ) and I only just recently got my first picture with a locomotive in it.
Image © Mike W.
PhotoID: 134343
Photograph © Mike W.

I personally haven't been photographing trains artistically long enough to have a definite preference, I'm pretty open minded. One thing though, that I really like to do is landscape shots and panorama crops(which obviously can't get in here).
http://slopes09.rrpicturearchives.ne...aspx?id=176371
If anybody has ever seen the work of Art Sinsabaugh(non-rail photographer from Chicago), I try and emulate his style of cropping close when I can. It works especially well with trains, since it emphasizes the longetivity of the train on side-on-shots.
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Old 03-02-2006, 05:51 AM   #22
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Terrain, obstacles, sun angle, and vicinity to the tracks all play a big part in my wedgie shots. Mindless? Not at all. Conformist? Nope. Composition to gain scenery, interesting content, or visual of the train I'm shooting are all steps in setting up a wedgie. Chasing a train for an hour to get a wedgie of it? You bet.

I usually know what types of angles are available in the areas I shoot, so I attempt to set up a shot from several angles. As was mentioned earlier, sometimes we do take "mindless" wedgies when we want to capture a train, unplanned. I have more wedgie shots on my photo roster than any other angle, but never once thought to myself, "gee I have alot of wedge shot's, maybe I should try to get more of other angles." Perhaps I like the way the 3/4 wedge shot looks. So what.

I don't think this should be an issue. It seems some people are more interested in the way the photo was taken, over what's contained in it.
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Old 03-02-2006, 01:26 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddavies
Unfortunately, the lines in Northern Virginia, like a lot of other places in the east, are lined with trees. Road crossings are often the only place where you can get a shot. Since there are so few places where you can get a really good shot, .....
I'll agree to disagree with you DD. I think even in the height of summer when the trees are fully covered in leaves and the tall grass, there are plenty of shots along in this area. I've not had much trouble at all finding interesting angles to shoot, it can be a bit more challenging, but not impossible.

So about the wedgies. . . . .

Nevertheless, the one point that has been passed over so far. Alot of people are mentioning how you can ONLY take wedgies, or sometimes it's the ONLY shot you can get due to lighting or timing. If the train is coming out of the sun, shoot the "going away" shot, just because RP.net doesn't want it, doesn't mean it's not a good photo.

While this might be the only shot readily available to you, it doesn't mean you HAVE TO SUBMIT to RP.net. Discretion is a very important trait to have, if it's the first time you've shot a wedgie of particular locomotive, or something fine. But to submit 150 photos of a BNSF or NS DASH 9 as viewed from 90 degree angle is a little overkill from one photographer.

One of the points made in the "Photo Submission Guidelines" try to only submit that which shows your skills as a photographer. If you want to be known as the guy that shoots mostly wedgies, more power to you. You should treat RP.net like your personal "portfolio", put only your SOME of your best work here, not ALL of it.

Alot of reference is made in these forums to the ever popular, Personal Collection. A personal collection, is not just a spot for you to keep your photos that RP.net rejected, if it is, then you are making a huge mistake with YOUR work.

Just something to consider,

Sean
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Old 03-02-2006, 05:05 PM   #24
busyEMT
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Ok, so it isn't just myself that finds it difficult to find great shots in the the low-lying light of winter. In this northern region, coupled with the urban setting, there are limits to a variety of shots. Besides private property along the right-of-way, the direction of the tracks tend to be east-west.

Wedgies are the bulk of my photography; but, aren't head-on banked curve shots a staple of the Cajon region? Or looking down on two NS catfish in the Rathole (actually, that may be the only possible shot at this locale)? Not that there is anything wrong with that - it is just a fact.

I am sure if this was SteamLocomotives.com, and most photos were B&W, a lack of color photos would be the complaint.

I also think the subject matter lends to the "usual" angle. I rarely go to JetPhotos, but I recall most pics are of planes landing or taking off [and those taxiing]. Unless you are in another plane, the angle or composition will be similar. With trains, the geometry and uniformity of them influence a 3/4 shot. You can't stand directly infront of a moving train and most folks don't have the real estate to stand several hundred yards away to get a landscape shot. Then again, if those flooded RP.net, we would read of people complaining that the trains are so small, the shot is boring, etc.

As others have conveyed, I too, will shot where I can. This being dependent on the light and obstructing clutter. I shoot to my heart's content and if 90% of the day's shots are wedgies, sobeit. But with that, I do shoot with the forethought of "what would be acceptable on RP.net." Now before you click on the quote button and harp on me for being a tool of the site, I did not write that I "only shoot to please RP.net."

My photos here are my best work. These shots didn't just happen. I have used my knowledge gained from rejections and personal observations at RP.net to hone my skills. I am hundreds of photos past the mindset of "every photo has to make it in." But I am pleased and proud of the photos in my portfolio. And yes, many of my personal favorites are wedgies.

P.S.: We don't see the rejected shots. I am sure as people photograph more, the "mature" and attempt more artistically composed shots. But as with any learning curve, I would assume the majority of these photos are rejected. Wedgies are more accessible and easiest to shoot. But stocking this site with them only makes the artistic/historic/staged/and nighttime photos more enjoyable.
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Last edited by busyEMT; 03-02-2006 at 09:37 PM. Reason: grammatical error
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Old 03-02-2006, 07:21 PM   #25
VirginiaSouthern
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Well put Aaron!
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