Old 06-24-2007, 12:24 AM   #1
Ryan W
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Default Please Critique my shots

Went out to shoot some photos today. For those of you that dont know me, i am new to railroad photography and wanting to learn so pick away at the photos please!
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Old 06-24-2007, 12:26 AM   #2
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heres a couple more
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Old 06-24-2007, 01:27 AM   #3
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Ryan, the biggest problem you have here, and I'm sure I'm not going to be the only one to tell you, is the lighting. The sky is either too dark, overcast or washed out. There is no quality sunlight on the trains. Unless you've shot something REALLY unique, a cloudy sky is going to be a killer if you want to have your images accepted to the database. Compositionally, these look more like common snapshots. Work on your framing (and/or your cropping) while shooting and try to find some more interesting landscapes or angles to shoot from.

I think most of us started out this way before we "got it" and I'm sure with enough practice and studying of the images on this site, you'll come to an understanding of what makes a "good" (or great) train photo.
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Old 06-24-2007, 01:29 AM   #4
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All of the photos have are cloudy, which would probally get them rejected because they are all pretty common angles. This isn't your fault, but sometimes clouds can help create cool pictures. Also some of them don't have enough nose light. If it was a sunny day I think some may have been accepted.
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Old 06-24-2007, 03:15 AM   #5
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I agree with Jim and Patrick about the lighting, there is not much that you can do about the weather, but don't end up like an old acquaintance of mine who would never go out unless sun was virtually guaranteed. Half the fun of photography is planning a trip, looking for locations and working out how best to take a picture in the conditions at the time.

The location of your photos is rather un-inspiring, anything shot there would have to be spot-on in terms of lighting, angle etc. to stand a chance of getting on RP. Have a look round your local area to see if there are any places where you can get some pleasant scenery or interesting architecture as a backdrop.

One point about the third photo of UP4761, be aware of objects in the background and their position in relation with the subject matter. In this case, the pylon is "growing" straight out of the cab roof, it would have been better to zoom in slightly and shoot the locos before they got in front of the pylon or walked a few feet further forward (if possible) so that the pylon was out of shot.

Above all, keep practising and enjoy yourself. In the last 20+ years I have taken 1,000's of photos - most of which would never get on RP (or even get posted on my own website) - but they bring back loads of great memories.
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Old 06-24-2007, 07:36 AM   #6
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1) Don't try to master cloudy days in the beginning. Cloudy days make the color dull and it's much harder to nail the exposure. It takes some creativity to make a cloudy shot work.
2) Don't shoot in yards. Shotting in and around yards be easy since there is always something moving, but rarely do you find good locations around yards.
3) Zoom in! Most (maybe all) of your shots look to be shot at a pretty wide angle. Personally, I am not a fan on wide angle shots primarily because of the distortion. Zooming in is an easy way to get rid of clutter and dead space.

Good luck.
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Old 06-24-2007, 08:08 AM   #7
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how about this?


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Old 06-24-2007, 08:20 AM   #8
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Intersting, but not enough so to overcome the bad lighting...you can see how the lighting is bad, right?
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Old 06-24-2007, 10:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
2) Don't shoot in yards. Shotting in and around yards be easy since there is always something moving, but rarely do you find good locations around yards.
Agree with all that has been said except for this. I love shooting in yards; wish I had more access to them. A beginner can find yard time valuable because one can think more before shooting and try many variations of the same shot, since so much in a yard is not moving.
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Old 06-24-2007, 03:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
2) Don't shoot in yards. Shotting in and around yards be easy since there is always something moving, but rarely do you find good locations around yards.
Image © John Ireland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
3) Zoom in! Most (maybe all) of your shots look to be shot at a pretty wide angle. Personally, I am not a fan on wide angle shots primarily because of the distortion. Zooming in is an easy way to get rid of clutter and dead space.
Image © John Ireland
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good advice Mike
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Old 06-24-2007, 04:09 PM   #11
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In partial defense of Mike on 3), for the specific location and photos shown by Ryan, more zoom would have been a better choice; there was nothing of interest around the trains.
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Old 06-24-2007, 05:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdirelan87
good advice Mike
Did I say any of my advice was absolute? I didn't say that good shots in yards were impossible and I didn't say to always zoom in, or did I?
My advice was given in regards to his shots and not as strict rules.
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Old 06-24-2007, 06:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
Intersting, but not enough so to overcome the bad lighting...you can see how the lighting is bad, right?

Yes, i can see what your talking about. Everything is kinda dull looking. I had some shots that didnt turn out well at all.


Like this one.

Thats too bad it didnt turn out either, this train had 8 engines on it.
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Old 06-25-2007, 02:28 AM   #14
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Ok when you guys mention a common angle here am i supposed to have more of a head on shot? I wanted to have that but in order to get the job done i would have to start walking across tracks, and i think i would wind up getting run off if i get caught doing something like that.
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Old 06-25-2007, 03:42 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan W
Ok when you guys mention a common angle here am i supposed to have more of a head on shot? I wanted to have that but in order to get the job done i would have to start walking across tracks, and i think i would wind up getting run off if i get caught doing something like that.
Find a different spot to shoot from.
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Old 06-26-2007, 04:56 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan W
Ok when you guys mention a common angle here am i supposed to have more of a head on shot? I wanted to have that but in order to get the job done i would have to start walking across tracks, and i think i would wind up getting run off if i get caught doing something like that.
Do you have a car? Do you have a map? If so, CHASE! Get ahead of the train and find a spot on a good curve where you can get more directly in front of the train for a head on shot. Of course, keep in mind the angle of the sun, too.
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Old 06-26-2007, 05:03 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan W
Ok when you guys mention a common angle here am i supposed to have more of a head on shot?
I don't think people are telling you to avoid common angles. Wedgies, head on, full side shots, all are acceptable.

Creative composition is hard, and if you don't have the technical aspects of the hobby down, the results are poor anyway. Ryan, I think you need to learn to - find better light, make sure when you have good light that your train is well lit, keep basic hiccups out of your shots like towers sticking out of engines, and so forth. And all the other things that need learning although they may not be an issue in these particular shots - keeping things level, keeping shots sharp, and so forth. And then moving a bit beyond, especially controlling depth of field.

There isn't anything wrong or bad in shooting wedgies while learning all of this. Or even after one has learned them!
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Old 06-28-2007, 01:49 AM   #18
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The most important three things about photography are lighting, lighting and lighting.

The first thing I would suggest is that you follow the sun over your shoulder rule. Which means first of all, you need sun. Then take your picture with the sun behind you. Once you get the hang of it, you can be a whole lot more creative. And keep in mind that generally low sun is better than high sun.

Composition is a much more complex subject. But probably a first rule is to beware of things sticking up behind your subject, like telephone poles, lighting poles, or aerials. That can really detract from an otherwise good photo. Beyond that, probably the best way to get some ideas about composition is to look at pix at RP, pick some that you like, and try to duplicate them. Nothing wrong with copying other people, I do it all the time when I see something I like. In looking at your pictures a lot of them have yard tracks in the foreground. Yard tracks can be very interesting, as in some of the examples posted above, but a bunch of mostly parallel tracks usually isn't very interesting.

If you're taking an "equipment" shot, you want whatever the subject is to be large in the photograph. However, wider views are good when there is an interesting "scene", be it a yard, industrial setting, or trees and hills.

Good luck on your shooting.

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Old 06-28-2007, 04:28 AM   #19
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This is basically rehasing what's just been said by everyone else, but, as someone who's just finally starting to get the hang of taking decent pictures, I can offer this...

1 - Make sure the sun is out (unless shooting at night or in interesting weather)
2 - You can always crop in later (I've screwed up way too many shots by being zoomed in a bit too far)
3 - Learn to use your camera (properly adjust your exposure, etc.)
4 - Learn to use your image processing software (unsharp mask, levels, etc.)
5 - Don't get too aggravated when the screeners reject your perfect shot (even if you're completley sure they're wrong)
6 - Move around (try shooting from 6" above the ground, from a bridge, etc.)

And, keep doing what you're already doing. I'm a much better photographer as a result of the encouragement and suggestions from these forum members. Take the constructive criticism, and whatever you do, don't get pissed off at the screeners in a few months because you disagree with one of their rejections... I've run into a couple of railfans who absolutely despise this site because they can't handle constructive criticism or a rejection... it's odd to see grown men acting so childish

And, as an act of shameless self promotion, I present my most recent photo:
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You'll notice that it's from a yard, and has a big ugly power pole sticking straight out of the locomotive. It's very similar to a couple of your shots, but, the sun's in the right place. It makes a *big* difference.
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