Old 10-31-2008, 05:53 AM   #1
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Default Photographer, Fan, or Both?

After reading a few comments in some of the other threads, I was a bit surprised to see that some of you aren't quite as geeky as I had thought. How many folks here can correctly identify the builder or model of a locomotive when they see it roll by? Any rolling stock nerds? Could you identify the previous owner or two of the lines you see on a regular basis? There's nothing wrong with being more casual in your approach, but I find so many aspects of railroading fascinating that I can't quite relate to the other photographers who don't know an EMD from a GE. Explain yourselves!
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Old 10-31-2008, 06:28 AM   #2
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There was a time when I was running a locomotive leasing business that I could identify about everything, based on trucks, louvers, radiators, and so on. But now that I am retired all that is much less important. To me a good picture has little to do with the technical details, and everything to do with the esthetics....colors, lighting, scenery, all that good stuff. One of the interesting differences between the readers here is those who are into the technical details and those who are just looking for a nice railroad image. No right or wrong, but it is an interesting difference that results in very different responses to different pictures.
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Old 10-31-2008, 07:05 AM   #3
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I choose option three; perfectionist.
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Old 10-31-2008, 11:53 AM   #4
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Me personally (well is there any other way than personally, doh!),

I can roll with the best when it comes to point one and three, but I have just the basics on number 2 [rolling stock]. Back when it seemed like it mattered, when I was single and seemingly not a care in the world, man I kept up with everything, down to the louvers and springs and engine access doors, etc., etc. Documented everything when I first started shooting slides back in '80 [prints from '73 'till then; oh the memories], went everywhere, saw everything on any day off, weekend off, vacation. Advanced early to broadside light, then 3/4 sun, etc. and all the doors closed. Have always been a fan of GEs ever since I heard my dad [rest in peace] describe how "some engines whistle and some chug" (his words).

But along came more maturity and purpose in (my) life, and I realized that I was missing out on other things, so, well, now it's almost 20 years later and I find myself learning some things all over again, like what the heck is a GP38-3, doing a doubletake when I listen to those UP 800 series SD? deturboed -2s on the Englewood hump, or just looking in amazement at the vast expanse of brown grass that used to be THE gathering spot back in the 70s in Houston, the Hardy Street shops. Boy how a lot of things have changed; I have had to re-learn some things about photography after I bit the bullet and got a DSLR and started shooting everything again (with the boss's permission, of course!), but you know, I still look over my shoulder on clear days for that one little #### of a cloud that comes out of nowhere and nails you, I still throw my hands up when they get in the cab and leave the door open, and I still enjoy that "'claTCH" sound when, er, the open door is, um, closed by something pushed against it. I do have to step back, though, and reminisce when I savor that shot of unpatched BN SD40-2s; back in the day I wouldn't be caught dead shooting that "crap". Now, I (cringe) relish it.

So I still can ID the lines, and can still roll with the best of you when it comes to locomotives, but when I come across someone, either in person or on this forum or elsewhere, that seemingly doesn't know ex MoP from Katy to UP, or EMD to GE, or etc., etc., I have to step back in time in my mind to how I got here, and I can smile and move on.
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Old 10-31-2008, 12:13 PM   #5
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I find it easy to differentiate between a Clyde/GM (EMD) or GE Diesel-Electric Locomotive in Queensland. The older Clyde/GM Locomotives have this very distinctive sound. I'm not sure how you would describe it; maybe a chug or a clap. The newer Clyde/GM (EMD) Locomotives also have a very distinctive sound, especially in dynamic brake, that sounds like a traction blower. It is quite difficult to describe. The GE Locomotives are easy - they rumble along.

As for Electric Locomotives, whether that be ASEA, Commonwealth Engineering, Hitachi or Siemens, it is not as easy to tell the difference.

In response to the thread title, I would say that I'm a rail enthusiast who enjoys taking photos much more than riding trains. I write articles for (Australian) Railway Digest, and thus I am often forced to go for a ride. That way, I can provide a well-rounded view of the Locomotive including an onboard view.

Having travelled onboard many trains, I would have to say that my experience in a 3700 Class Locomotive on a loaded (1920 metre long) Coal Train was by far the best. You could feel the power in those Locomotives and appreciate that it takes a long time to bring one to a halt!

I have travelled onboard ...
- Electric Multiple Unit (ASEA/ABB);
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- Electric Tilt Train (Hitachi);
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- 100/120/160 Series Interurban Multiple Unit (AdTranz/Bombardier);
- 2800 Class Diesel-Electric Locomotive (GE);
- 3700 Class Electric Locomotive (Siemens);
- 3900 Class Electric Locomotive (ASEA);
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Old 10-31-2008, 01:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ottergoose
How many folks here can correctly identify the builder or model of a locomotive when they see it roll by? Any rolling stock nerds? Could you identify the previous owner or two of the lines you see on a regular basis?
Not me. Nope. Nada.

Up until just a few short years ago, I was a closet railfan. To this day I'm still embarrassed to tell my friends and people that I meet about my "hobby." Yeah, I like trains, and I love photography. The two go hand in hand very well. If I had never picked up a camera, I'd probably be doing what I was doing 10 years ago...and that was randomly sitting by the tracks watching trains rolling by, only to experience the sheer power and force that they emit. That's why I love standing so close to them. There's nothing like standing 5-10 feet away from an freight train flying by at 50 mph. Definitely a big time rush for me.

The technical details don't really interest me. I can't explain why they don't, but they just don't. They just don't "stick." I can hear about a particular engine a million times, but most of the time I don't retain that information. Besides, that's what the experts are for.

The technical side of railroading as a hobby is GREAT for those "Rain Men" out there. I'm just not one of them.

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Old 10-31-2008, 01:55 PM   #7
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Photography is always first, to me. What I don't know, some locomotive models without looking them up. Like is that a GP38 or GP38-2, or is that an ES44ac or ES44dc, or even sw1000 or sw1200. My other very weak point is knowing the operation schedule and train id. What is rolling stock? Is that the stuff after the picture was taken?
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Old 10-31-2008, 01:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ottergoose
After reading a few comments in some of the other threads, I was a bit surprised to see that some of you aren't quite as geeky as I had thought. How many folks here can correctly identify the builder or model of a locomotive when they see it roll by? Any rolling stock nerds? Could you identify the previous owner or two of the lines you see on a regular basis? There's nothing wrong with being more casual in your approach, but I find so many aspects of railroading fascinating that I can't quite relate to the other photographers who don't know an EMD from a GE. Explain yourselves!
I am a geek and then again I am not. There are a lot of variables that go into play, but I will start with the questions and add on from there.
Quote:
How many folks here can correctly identify the builder or model of a locomotive when they see it roll by?
Guilty and in fact thats the deciding factor on the level of geekiness portrayed. I will get into that later...
Quote:
Any rolling stock nerds?
A WHAT KIND OF CAR!?! I can in fact say I am not very good when it comes to rolling stock other than the obivous. Boxcar...gon...well cr...start throwing numbers at me at why a certain type of boxcar is rare and I will stare blankly back at you. I am however very vigilant for fallen flag cars as I am big...VERY BIG...on railroad history.
Quote:
Could you identify the previous owner or two of the lines you see on a regular basis?
I can give you the whole friggin' story about the local lines around central NJ as well as anything around the Flemington area.

I consider myself to be a railroad photographer moreso than an actual railfan but comparing myself to some good friends who could careless about an NS SD45-2 still running in 2008, I've found that isn't the case. A good example of the geek inside taking over would be scarfing down breakfast at the Station Inn and throwing my stuff in the car to chase a blue SD80MAC east which turned out to be its last revenue run in blue. I can then argue that being a photographer I wanted to document the trip in case the worst case scenario was true (which it was!).

Then again I do roll down the window or leave my car half over the double yellow at a crossing no matter how far back I am.
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Old 10-31-2008, 02:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
Not me. Nope. Nada.

Up until just a few short years ago, I was a closet railfan. To this day I'm still embarrassed to tell my friends and people that I meet about my "hobby." Yeah, I like trains, and I love photography. The two go hand in hand very well. If I had never picked up a camera, I'd probably be doing what I was doing 10 years ago...and that was randomly sitting by the tracks watching trains rolling by, only to experience the sheer power and force that they emit. That's why I love standing so close to them. There's nothing like standing 5-10 feet away from an freight train flying by at 50 mph. Definitely a big time rush for me.

The technical details don't really interest me. I can't explain why they don't, but they just don't. They just don't "stick." I can hear about a particular engine a million times, but most of the time I don't retain that information. Besides, that's what the experts are for.

The technical side of railroading as a hobby is GREAT for those "Rain Men" out there. I'm just not one of them.
Are you really standing five feet away from a train doing 50mph past you?
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Old 10-31-2008, 02:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freericks
Are you really standing five feet away from a train doing 50mph past you?
Standing even closer to the 614 doing close to 90 was the biggest rush I've ever had. 5 feet is actually pretty far if you really measure it out from the very far edge of the train.
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Old 10-31-2008, 03:10 PM   #11
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I know guys that can rattle off train horn types by listening to them. I can't name the type but I can tell you if it is different then the one before.
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Old 10-31-2008, 03:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
Standing even closer to the 614 doing close to 90 was the biggest rush I've ever had. 5 feet is actually pretty far if you really measure it out from the very far edge of the train.
You guys enjoy that... I'll be standing off to the side.
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Old 10-31-2008, 03:23 PM   #13
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Im a total train nerd, i can identify pretty much almost any engine i see these days (getting easier with everything becoming a GEVO )
I can usually tell the type of horn by the sound or atleast if its Leslie or Nathan.
However i totally agree with what Jim and AB said, theres nothing like standing 5 feet from the tracks with a fast moving train approaching, one of the best days of railfanning ive had was two years ago, railfanning with a friend just shooting handheld video 5 feet from the track. Sometime's i think we get to caught up in the technicality and photography and forget why we really like trains.
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Old 10-31-2008, 03:41 PM   #14
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I like trains. Photograpthy came from that. If I didn't like trains, it's likely I wouldn't have ever picked up a camera. I know my locomotives, when it comes to CN and CP I'm one of those geeks that when given a number, I'll tell you what the model is (and sometimes how many they had). This of course is limited to locomotives that were running since I've been fanning, my skill with the long retired stuff is weak at times. I'm not a phase addict, but in general, I can tell what I'm looking at in terms of model.

At 11 years I was invited up into the cab of CP 4244 (a C424). The crew appologized that they had such a filthy, old loco that day, and not one of the newer GM's. I said I would much rather be up in a C424 than an SD40-2, I love the MLW's (they didn't, but then again they worked on them, I didn't). They kinda looked at me, paused and said "You know more about the engine than we do!", at that age, I was thrilled by the compliment.

But hey, there's noting geeky about trains. They're big, loud, and powerful... what could be manlier? Collecting stamps is geeky, entomology is geeky, Star Wars is geeky.
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Old 10-31-2008, 03:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lock4244
But hey, there's noting geeky about trains. They're big, loud, and powerful... what could be more manlier? Collecting stamps is geeky, entomology is geeky, Star Wars is geeky.
That'd be a tough argument to make if you were at the last train show I attended

I won't stand 5 feet away from a train doing track speed, but I have stood with my back on the wall of this depot:
Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©


With brick walls and a platform, the acoustics you get from a few GE's running by with a stack train in tow is pretty amazing.

Photography is playing a bigger role in my enjoyment of the hobby now... a train is way, way more interesting and enjoyable to see if it's in good light and I'm in the right spot.
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Old 10-31-2008, 04:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
Standing even closer to the 614 doing close to 90 was the biggest rush I've ever had. 5 feet is actually pretty far if you really measure it out from the very far edge of the train.
I understand what you guys are talking about , but for your own sake, just make sure you're looking at what's coming at you. Especially with mixed freights where I've seen loose metal banding bouncing off the ballast reaching 5 to 10 feet out from the side, chains, shifted loads, debris fly off, etc. - that's just the common stuff, not even counting more unlikely scenarios.

Last year in Western Ohio CSX had a messy derailment on the Chicago main when a loose tie-down chain snagged a switch lever throwing the turnout and sending the middle of the train into a siding at track speed. Squished a few cars at a grade crossing and made a big mess.

Any more, I generally try to stay well back from the action. I don't want my young son to not know his father growing up because I got killed by a loose tie down chain that hit me at 50 mph... (or less dramaticaly put, I've become more cautious with the responsibilities of parenthood)

More to the point of the thread - I fall in the broad "train enthusiast" category of Model Railroader/Railfan/Photographer/RR History/etc... Over the years my interest has shifted around from area to area but trains have almost always been an interest in some way.

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Old 10-31-2008, 04:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freericks
You guys enjoy that... I'll be standing off to the side.
I'll be standing with you in the photo line!

I'm a race fan as well as a railfan. On many occasions, I've seen stuff come off race cars....sometimes going over 300 mph at the time....and I've also seen steamer crews open blow-down valves while at track speed. While I really enjoy watching the action, I'd rather not be part of it. I also don't like spooking the crews, who clearly get concerned when fans get too close to the tracks.

While I have shot close to the tracks, I have probably given up several neat photo ops because I elected to pull back with plenty of time before the train actually passed me. (Oh, and while at the racetrack, I always sit in nosebleed country. Not only is the race easier to watch, I don't come home with rubber bits all over me! )

Some people say we get braver with experience. I find that as I get older, I get more conservative.
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Old 10-31-2008, 04:08 PM   #18
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I am on the geeky side of railfaning. My interest in photography came out of my interest in trains. The main reason I bought my D80 was so that I would have a camera that would take a picture of a train when I wanted it to. I can identify a GE or EMD by looking at it, and sometimes be able to tell what model it is. For me its all about the locomotive, and unless its a passenger train, I don't really care what the cars are. I do however know a lot about the history of the lines I watch and my favorite railroads (New York Central and Conrail).
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Old 10-31-2008, 04:17 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ottergoose
That'd be a tough argument to make if you were at the last train show I attended
Touche.

My GF and I spent a night at a hotel that hosts conventions, receptions, etc. one year. We just happened to be there during a fantasy RPG convention. Whoa. They were dressed up. They had plastic swords. One was a mouse. 500-to-1 guy to girl ratio. Total Jimmy Dean party. Weak.
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Old 10-31-2008, 04:44 PM   #20
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Well, I am likely an anomaly here.

I enjoy trains. Watching, feeling the thunderous shaking as a mainline runner rumbles past, mere inches away, the anticipation of the air blast in your face. That, my friends, is what I want to capture in my photos. I don’t care what train that is nor the sub. Location, direction, up from down all becomes irrelevant at that point. What really matters to any of us at that precise moment in time?

It is a passion! And one that is expressed in so many ways within the body of this hobby. Some by the meticulous details. Others by their creative nature of the capture. But a passion…… and it’s this passion that binds and defines us.

So, am I a train watcher with a passion for photography or a photographer with a passion for trains? Only time will tell.
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Old 10-31-2008, 05:10 PM   #21
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For me, it started as a passion for spotting locomotives (specifically, seeing real versions of what was in Walther's catalog). I had well thumbworn copies of the 1970 and 1971 editions (wonder if I still have them somewhere), and when I saw a real version of one of those engines, I thought it was very cool.

The sea of GEVOs, ACes, Dash 9s and SD70Ms that I see today have actually taken away from that passion, of course, but have given me time to develop my photography skills more and to try and take images of trains I never would have considered thirty years ago, when I had to make sure I saw every unit in the consist in my lens.

I am not nearly the spotter I once was. I will now come home and look through my photos and be surprised... Holy Moly, there was an SD90MAC on that consist... or there was a Dash 8-41CW... didn't even notice. When I was a kid I could tell a U28C from a U30C on the fly (damn the phases, I knew the roster numbers) and would shoot the crap out of the U28C while letting the U30C go.
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Old 10-31-2008, 05:34 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freericks
Are you really standing five feet away from a train doing 50mph past you?
Yes, I have a few times. And of course, I always keep my eyes out for anything hanging off the train.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J Douglas Moore
Well, I am likely an anomaly here.

I enjoy trains. Watching, feeling the thunderous shaking as a mainline runner rumbles past, mere inches away, the anticipation of the air blast in your face. That, my friends, is what I want to capture in my photos. I don’t care what train that is nor the sub. Location, direction, up from down all becomes irrelevant at that point. What really matters to any of us at that precise moment in time?

It is a passion! And one that is expressed in so many ways within the body of this hobby. Some by the meticulous details. Others by their creative nature of the capture. But a passion…… and it’s this passion that binds and defines us.

So, am I a train watcher with a passion for photography or a photographer with a passion for trains? Only time will tell.
You know EXACTLY what I'm talking about then.
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Old 10-31-2008, 06:17 PM   #23
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I dont know much of anything about diesels. I just like taking pictures of steam locomotives. They are always fun to photograph and you can always get something different. Sports photography is another thing I love to do.
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Old 10-31-2008, 06:52 PM   #24
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Memorization doesn't hold much enjoyment for me, and I do train photography as a hobby (OK, moderate obsession). It can be stressful sometimes, missing a shot, cloud interference, a close chase... but that's what makes it fun, an escape from "real" problems. It it was easy, it would be boring. I like the fact that this hobby takes me new places, taught me to appreciate scenery and light wherever I am, etc. Maybe someday I'll have the desire to learn the difference between the diesel types, or maybe I'll just get it with experience, but right now it's not something I care about.

All this does not change the fact, however, that I am a huge geek when it comes to trains. I do enjoy learning RR history, tracing abandoned lines on google maps, listening to the scanner at home, and doing lots of advance planning for trips.
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Old 10-31-2008, 08:32 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ottergoose
There's nothing wrong with being more casual in your approach, but I find so many aspects of railroading fascinating that I can't quite relate to the other photographers who don't know an EMD from a GE. Explain yourselves!

I've always liked trains since I was old enough to know what they are, but this damn RP.net made it a hobby for me. My wife would like to say a few words to the Chris' Pre-RPN, B&O/CSX/NS/OCTL...cool, the alphabet. Post RPN...you know what I'm getting at. Pre RPN, a train drilling the yard...cool, a train. Post RPN, stop and shoot a pic (whether it turns out RPesque is a different story.)

Pre RPN-EMD, GE, MLW-huh? Post RPN-I know what they are and stand for, but I still can't tell the difference just by looking at them unless I catch it on the cab or know it from memory as stated from a different thread. My dad can tell a classic car by its tail lights, etc. For me, it's an old car...cool, built like a tank. Do I appriciate it more than a current rice burner...hell yea.

As stated above, I've always liked trains. Appriciated them...probably not as much as I should have. In 2005 I started a new job with a different EMS service. In early 2006 my home station ended up being in Marienville, PA. With a lot of time on my hands in God's Country in between calls, I started researching the Knox and Kane since I passed the unmoved rolling stock on the way to/from work every day. I gained interest in learning the history of this RR/line, and in doing so, learned that this is the same line that once passed my current home as a B&O line until 1982 when the Knox and Kane took over until 2000 (active service approx 1986). See above about the alphabet. One day I Googled Knox and Kane Railroad, and RPN is one of the first sites that came up. Wow! Nice photo of a GP9 in Kane, PA by Robert Shook (I had a 5th grade teacher by that name, so that sparked my interest even more, because I remember my teacher being a photog. Same guy??? No. What else is on this site? Holy crap!!! At that time about 150,000 photos in the DB. For a while I used RPN as a research tool only for not only the KKRR, but other RRs local to my location. Never heard of that other rrpicture site. Then I 'joined' RPN, jeesh!!! 100-150 new photos every day (and awesome photos at that.) So I join RPN so I don't miss any new photos and log in daily to see them. Then I give the screeners the headache of me thinking I can contribute to the cause after I visit Horseshoe Curve/Gallitzin and the East Broad Top for the first time. Sorry screeners!!! In the last 2 1/2 years or so, I think I have learned A LOT from RPN's screeners and the forums here about photography, especially from a select few off list. RPN is the reason that I have made researching my local RRs and fallen flags the hobby that I enjoy because of the vintage photogs like Donald Haskel, Ron Flanary, John West, Sid Vaught, and company. Where are those RRs now? Do I still care whether it is a GE or EMD...No. It is still a train going by. I can research what CSXT 5248 is later.

There will be a quiz tomorrow, so read this book thoroughly
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