Old 06-10-2009, 03:45 PM   #26
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I like to see discussion on particular shots. Why it works, why you may think it doesn't, what could be improved in it etc. I actually wish there was more of it, as I have a few I would like to ask about but not sure how to do it without it sounding like "Hey that shot shouldn't be in" or "How did that get in and mine didn't?" Which I don't want to do. I would however like to understand better why some shots seem to be acceptable with what would appear to be obvious flaws such as too much grain, bad color, poor lighting or PEQ such as a going away shot. I often like these shots or at least the idea of them and just want to understand what makes them work so I can improve myself.

On the other hand, I don't think an obvious cheap shot at someone that has no real bearing on the conversation belongs here.
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Old 06-10-2009, 03:59 PM   #27
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On the other hand, I don't think an obvious cheap shot at someone that has no real bearing on the conversation belongs here.
Well, keep in mind that the cheap shot almost never says anything about the person it's directed to, just the person making said shot.
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Old 06-10-2009, 04:17 PM   #28
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Dude, it gets to the point that everything here winds up under a micro-scope. The shot was judged to be exceptional in the eye of the screener. Why not leave it at that? Calling out a technical flaw or two kinda looks like sour grapes. It's a nice shot, obtained with some difficulty of a subject that cannot be controlled. Why sh*t on it?
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Old 06-10-2009, 04:29 PM   #29
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Call it sour grapes if you want. I don't care. (Other than that implies I really like the shot and am "calling it out" for no reason.) But saying a blurry, out of focus photograph has a "technical flaw" is just wrong. In my book, a technical flaw would be hot pixels or lens flare. This shot is not in focus. It's surprising that so many people are willing to overlook that. But it started with the screeners, then with the folks who put it on the Top Of 24, which is where I saw it, and went on with the folks here. I'm obviously in the minority in my opinion on this shot. That's fine. It hasn't changed my mind about it. Judging from the shots I've seen, everyone of John's other photographs in the database is way better than this one.

By the way, the battery in my car died yesterday. A technical flaw, perhaps?
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Old 06-11-2009, 12:41 AM   #30
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:51 AM   #31
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Shouldn't a Screener's Choice, I don't know, be in focus?

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The front of that engine, if you can get past the blown out, blurry lights, is not sharp to my eyes.
Indeed the shot is a bit soft, but such a shot with a 400mm lens is a compromise in focus, and a decision between the moon more in focus and the lead unit more in focus had to be made. I figured the train would be visible as nothing more than headlights anyway.

HERE is another version with the moon out of focus.

The shot was pre-planned ahead of time, but was really an experiment to see if such a shot was possible (I had not done a twilight moon shot with a long tele and a 60 mph train) and to try something different.

The artifacts in the sky above the left signal is an internal reflection from the strong headlight in this dim scene. I could have removed it, but wanted the photo to be al-natural to avoid the "this is photoshopped" discussion.

Sorry you do not like the photo, but I welcome the critical comments. The shot IS soft. Does it matter? - the different reactions are interesting and informative to the photographer.
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Old 06-11-2009, 03:48 AM   #32
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The fact that a photo like this is being called out because it is soft is just more proof of this site's obsession over technical details. While I certainly agree that the photo suffers from being noticeably soft, it is still a much better photo than most of the other shots on here. The fact is that you cannot get a clear photo of a train moving 50+ MPH after dusk, naturally there will be some blur/softness. If we are going to obsess over how the photo is exposed and focused, then we may as well just trash everything that is not a perfectly in focus wedge shot.

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The artifacts in the sky above the left signal is an internal reflection from the strong headlight in this dim scene. I could have removed it, but wanted the photo to be al-natural to avoid the "this is photoshopped" discussion.
To my knowledge the removal of reflection/glare is acceptable under the RP submission guidelines; I know I've done it on a couple of my photos.

Sorry for the somewhat-rant. End of schoolyear pressure will do that to you...
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:55 AM   #33
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Generalized reply to everyone: Just a joke, calm down....No photographic discussion required here, move along.
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Old 06-11-2009, 08:12 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by qnyla View Post
The artifacts in the sky above the left signal is an internal reflection from the strong headlight in this dim scene. I could have removed it, but wanted the photo to be al-natural to avoid the "this is photoshopped" discussion.

Sorry you do not like the photo.
Hi

I don't dislike the photo, in fact well done for pre planning it and getting an SC. Its the moon that makes the composition.

I don't think anyone would object to the reflection artifacts being cloned out. Against a uniform background it could be done without leaving a mark. I have a slide I took a few years ago I would love to get accepted, but it has a large lens flare mark on it which is not in a position I could easily remove without trace
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:10 AM   #35
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I realized from the outset that the removal of the flare is allowed and is of course easy.

For this image, which is unusual and in the style of photos that are frequently faked (moon added in PS), I wanted to be completely clear that there was no Photoshop involved.
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:01 AM   #36
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Well i like the shot with the sharp train.
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:24 PM   #37
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The fact that a photo like this is being called out because it is soft is just more proof of this site's obsession over technical details. While I certainly agree that the photo suffers from being noticeably soft, it is still a much better photo than most of the other shots on here.
Agreed. The obsession with absolute sharpness here is sometimes laughable. I was reading a bunch of back issues of Trains and other RR mags over the weekend, and most of the photos in there would probably be criticized here as soft. Now, granted, some of them were actually distractingly blurry, even in Trains. But I think the point is that even the biggest magazine doesn't share the new obsession with perfectly sharp numberboards. And when you get away from looking at 1024 pixel images strictly on the monitor, from 18 inches away and start printing things to be viewed in a normal setting, it's just not that big a deal compared to the compositional elements of what makes a strong image.

I personally would like to see a little tighter crop on the right side of the image, but the moon with the exhaust waves in front of it, is a really striking feature in a rather unique and very enjoyable photograph.
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:44 PM   #38
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I think it's a great shot. Just my .02
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:49 PM   #39
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Agreed. The obsession with absolute sharpness here is sometimes laughable. I was reading a bunch of back issues of Trains and other RR mags over the weekend, and most of the photos in there would probably be criticized here as soft. Now, granted, some of them were actually distractingly blurry, even in Trains. But I think the point is that even the biggest magazine doesn't share the new obsession with perfectly sharp numberboards.
I come from the "sharpness is not so important" school, I suspect in part because of years of not having updated the prescriptions in my glasses as often as I should have. I occasionally find shots on RP and elsewhere too sharp or unrealistically sharp, but I attribute that to my vision.

Nonetheless, I find the accepted shot soft and the alternative shown here preferable. It doesn't matter whether the moon is a little soft, but I look at especially the rails in front of the engine with the headlight glint, and the ballast in the foreground, and the alternative shot just comes across as "better" in some subjective way to my preferences. And again I don't lean toward the extremely sharp end of the spectrum, for what that is worth.

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And when you get away from looking at 1024 pixel images strictly on the monitor, from 18 inches away and start printing things to be viewed in a normal setting, it's just not that big a deal compared to the compositional elements of what makes a strong image.
People often invoke the print as being the ideal for "consumption" of images, but in fact in this world I think the monitor is the new de facto standard for image display. I see many more images on screen than in print, and especially many more outstanding ones (in part because the leading magazines aren't as adventurous in their editorial choices as I would like).

BTW, big kudos to John for popping in and participating, it really enhances the discussion.
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:16 PM   #40
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BTW, big kudos to John for popping in and participating, it really enhances the discussion.
I agree. I definitely liked hearing his perspective.

I am still struck at how some folks can overlook the lack of sharpness in this shot, but can't overlook other flaws in other shots. And, no, I don't have any specific examples. That would mean I'd have to go back through forum discussions and look it out.

I bet I've done the same thing though, overlooking some things about some photos, but not able to in this one. In any event, I wouldn't worry too much about me not liking this one shot, John. First, I'm obviously in the minority. Second, I've clicked it it at least three or four different days just to gather my thoughts about it.

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Old 06-11-2009, 03:46 PM   #41
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The obsession with absolute sharpness here is sometimes laughable. I was reading a bunch of back issues of Trains and other RR mags over the weekend, and most of the photos in there would probably be criticized here as soft...But I think the point is that even the biggest magazine doesn't share the new obsession with perfectly sharp numberboards.
Well, the question then comes down to if you can have perfectly sharp numberboards, why not have them? In the digital age and with all the processing programs out there, there's no reason to not have a perfectly sharp image.

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People often invoke the print as being the ideal for "consumption" of images, but in fact in this world I think the monitor is the new de facto standard for image display.
I disagree. There's no comaprison for what I see of my shots in print vs. what I see on any display I've ever looked at them on. The prints win hands down...
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Old 06-11-2009, 04:01 PM   #42
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People often invoke the print as being the ideal for "consumption" of images, but in fact in this world I think the monitor is the new de facto standard for image display.
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I disagree. There's no comaprison for what I see of my shots in print vs. what I see on any display I've ever looked at them on. The prints win hands down...
Your preference for print (and mine, BTW) is irrelevant to my point.

Prints may be the ultimate in display, yes, the "ideal", but they are not the standard (and so I wrote poorly when I used both terms similarly). We do not view many RR photography prints in life, outside our own. We do not study the work of others in print form to a significant extent, yes there are books, but we see more good images electronically than in print form, and the proportion is shifting toward the electronic more and more.

In 2008 I happened to pick up a few books, so temporarily my balance was shifted somewhat towards print, but in 2009 things are for the most part moving back toward electronic.

Expansion: what I mean by all this, I think, is that the basis for our assessment of good and bad has shifted. Some shots look better in print than on screen, and vice versa. To the extent we mostly do the latter it will reflect to some extent in a difference in what we deem great. BTW, this is both due to paper vs. screen and also a matter of size. One generally does not view a 1024x image on screen in anything like a big size, not at an 8"x12" size or bigger. It has a smaller scale. That matters, just as (extreme case) some shots look different as thumbnails than as full size.

I don't have this fully thought out, not even partially thought out, it now is clear , but I will assert again that in some meaningful way, the shift to online "consumption" of images affects our view of photography.
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:08 PM   #43
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Well, the question then comes down to if you can have perfectly sharp numberboards, why not have them? In the digital age and with all the processing programs out there, there's no reason to not have a perfectly sharp image.
I agree to a large extent with this statement, but my problem arises when their seems to be a "Sharpness above all else!" mentality. On a nice sunny day yes your shots SHOULD be pretty sharp just because you practice good technique with the camera and in post. But it's not the be all and end all of a photograph, in my opinion. I look at the photos here to see great photography, and to be inspired for new ways of seeing, and that (to ME) does not hinge on a perfectly sharp photo.

Would the original image in this thread be a 9 instead of a 7 or an 8 if the lead local were razor sharp and there were less noise? I think so. But I still think it's a very compelling image and deserving of recognition. Whether it's more or less deserving than other recent screener's choice images is a discussion I'd like to see.

Since the PotW and SC images are already being recognized and called out by the mods as special, I don't think it's out of bounds to have an honest discussion about their merits and flaws, both technical and aesthetic, I'd like to see more of that, maybe in the future I will try to start some.

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Old 06-12-2009, 07:17 AM   #44
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Sorry you do not like the photo, but I welcome the critical comments. The shot IS soft. Does it matter? - the different reactions are interesting and informative to the photographer.
It's a nice image, and I love the melting moon. However, would you mind leveling the shot and resubmitting? It's leaning quite a bit to the left. That bugs my eyes more than the less-than-sharp train (which I think is completely fine in this setting).
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Old 06-12-2009, 10:38 AM   #45
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I like the image as well, but what kills it for me is the noise in the sky. It is very distracting, especially when viewed on a wide monitor. A good noise reduction program would have done wonders for the image, which should have been rejected IMO due to the noise and unlevel horizon.

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It's a nice image, and I love the melting moon. However, would you mind leveling the shot and resubmitting? It's leaning quite a bit to the left. That bugs my eyes more than the less-than-sharp train (which I think is completely fine in this setting).
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:24 AM   #46
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While were are on the subject of ''Why did this get an SC?''...

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Photograph ©


As for the shot in question, my opinion is pretty much irrelevant because I haven't seen a train in months, and I know for sure that I will never see an SC. But I personally like that the moon is in focus, and the train isn't, it's like in my business where adding a splash of lemon juice adds contrast in flavor. The moon being in focus and the train not being in focus actually adds an interesting contrast to my eyes. Your also reading the words of a guy who doesn't post a photo unless the train is razor sharp.

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Old 06-12-2009, 02:32 PM   #47
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While were are on the subject of ''Why did this get an SC?''...

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Good composition, interesting framing, perfect lighting, and most of the other shots submitted that day made one want to take peoples' cameras away.
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Old 06-12-2009, 02:48 PM   #48
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... and most of the other shots submitted that day made one want to take peoples' cameras away.

LOL!
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:58 PM   #49
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Indeed the shot is a bit soft, but such a shot with a 400mm lens is a compromise in focus, and a decision between the moon more in focus and the lead unit more in focus had to be made. I figured the train would be visible as nothing more than headlights anyway.

The shot was pre-planned ahead of time, but was really an experiment to see if such a shot was possible (I had not done a twilight moon shot with a long tele and a 60 mph train) and to try something different.

The artifacts in the sky above the left signal is an internal reflection from the strong headlight in this dim scene. I could have removed it, but wanted the photo to be al-natural to avoid the "this is photoshopped" discussion.

Sorry you do not like the photo, but I welcome the critical comments. The shot IS soft. Does it matter? - the different reactions are interesting and informative to the photographer.
John,

As someone who has made many attempts to capture moving trains and the moon in the same photo, I applaud your effort and appreciate the precise timing necessary to pull off a shot like this.

My favorite element, as others have said, is the exhaust cutting through the moon. Just a fantastic effect. I understand the trade-offs in focus, and the slight softness of the train doesn't really bother me. I definitely prefer the moon being the sharper element.

Where this shot doesn't completely work for is in everything to the right of the locomotives. To my eye, there's simply nothing very interesting over there. I'd prefer to see this cropped to a very tight vertical, cutting everything to the right of the engines and below the track.

Regardless of that, I'm glad to see the results of this "experiment," and I look forward to what your future attempt will produce.

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Old 06-12-2009, 10:12 PM   #50
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and most of the other shots submitted that day made one want to take peoples' cameras away.
I see...
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