Old 02-10-2009, 05:04 AM   #1
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Default Can't seem to get it

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...d=642828&key=0

I'm trying to get some really nice stuff. Trying to get away from the telemash, wedgie type stuff. But it ain't working. Any tips? Not with just this photo, but any other photo opportunity. It's becoming hopeless FAST!

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Old 02-10-2009, 05:09 AM   #2
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I think the moodiness is terrific. I'm not 100% clear what advice to give (and after tonight am wondering if I know what I'm talking about anyway), but I think a shot like this needs something behind the train that overpowers the train (be it the sun, the moon, a huge neon light... something dramatic). The reason for that, to my eye, is that it gives a reason for letting the train be lost in the mire... and does so with a statement.
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Old 02-10-2009, 05:41 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asis80
It's becoming hopeless FAST!
Ben,

I'll preface this by admitting that while I know nothing about you nor how long you've been shooting, I offer this advice from one photographer to another to offer suggestions on how to improve your work.

I suggest that the expectation of instant gratification is a misconception that you need to overcome. Contrary to what Canon and Nikon TV commercials might suggest, becoming a good photographer does not happen overnight. It takes years of practice of shooting, studying results, trial and error, comparing one's own work to others' work and finding ways to improve one's techniques to progress down the path of becoming a better photographer.

Keep plugging away and don't give up. Accept the constructive criticism and advice you get here to improve your work. If you have the opportunity, travel and try shooting someplace new -- working in the same location time after time can get you stuck in a rut, while a new area can generate inspiration.

It's important to shoot for yourself. The rejected shot you linked to has a great concept; with experience will come the ability to execute that concept successfully. (As an example, it took me a lot of frustrated shooting of sunsets before I finally figured out that the key is to expose for the colors in the sky, not foreground subject matter.)

Also, take a little time with captions. The one in that linked shot, frankly, makes no sense at all. Don't be in a rush to submit the shot as soon as you've processed it: Email somebody you trust for both feedback on the image and to proofread your text.

Above all, don't give up! Photography, like any hobby, is supposed to be pleasant pastime to provide relief from the rigors of day-to-day life. Relax, enjoy the shooting, and work to improve your skills over time.
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Old 02-10-2009, 10:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freericks
I think the moodiness is terrific. I'm not 100% clear what advice to give (and after tonight am wondering if I know what I'm talking about anyway), but I think a shot like this needs something behind the train that overpowers the train (be it the sun, the moon, a huge neon light... something dramatic). The reason for that, to my eye, is that it gives a reason for letting the train be lost in the mire... and does so with a statement.
Something like that. Also, you also have a lot of distraction - a really ugly foreground, muddled and out of focus, the right side bushes and light poles are doing you no favors and the signal comes out poorly, the left side is not helpful either. The more nose-on a wide shot it, the more work the surroundings have to do, and they are not up to it. I think that the intent was good but the location is just not suitable.
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Old 02-10-2009, 12:06 PM   #5
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What's not right with it? It's muddy looking, Mostly from missing the Exposure I think? Non standard sunny shots are the hardest. I don't think you can save the shot as its to far underexposed. What went wrong you ask, the camera sees all light at 18% gray and that works well on a sunny day but not fog or snow as thats white so the camera underexposed your photo by 2 stops.

What to do, take a test shot and look at the right side of the historygram and you will see some bars, 5 of them, they are F stops. The shot you had most likely is 2 stops under and will show how far you need to open it up, or move it to the right. You may know that but some don't.
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Old 02-10-2009, 02:06 PM   #6
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I like the shot. I would crop of the nothingness on the right side. Also, bring the exposure up a bit and a bit more in the sky to get the mud look out. I like the path your taking. Shots like this are hard to pull off without some snow because dead looking trees and plants don't photograph well. Just remember it's all about post processing for shots taken in poor or unique light and weather conditions.
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Old 02-10-2009, 04:08 PM   #7
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Thanks guys! I don't plan to "give up" so to say, I just want to get rid of my wedgie style that I can't get away from. It's like, I'm not letting myself try to get the scene, I just zoom all the way in, fill the frame with the train and snap. And do it again, and again, and again, and again. It's boring! When people come here asking for help, I give them sound advice. "Show us what so-and-so location looks like" or "don't focus in on the negative parts of the shot such as backlighting, softness". Yet, I can't take my own advice for some reason. It's a RUT.


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Old 02-10-2009, 04:33 PM   #8
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Ben, the easiest thing you can do to get out of the wedgie rut is get the hell out of Homestead! You're lucky enough to be in Pittsburgh, one of the best train watching locations in the country - not just because of the volume, but because of the variety of angles - but every weekend you set up camp in the blandest location in the county!

A buddy and I where out shooting a few miles west of Homestead this Sunday when we saw a CSX train come trucking though. Both of us made the joke about seeing another Ben Sutton wedgie coming Monday. We were wrong, it came Tuesday.
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Old 02-10-2009, 04:41 PM   #9
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That was great John. I guess the 20+ shots from homestead is enough . I think that is the MAIN problem, the same location. Over.....and over.....and over. I'll see what I can come up with.

Hahaha............


Ben



.........ben sutton wedgie. lol
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Old 02-10-2009, 05:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
I just want to get rid of my wedgie style that I can't get away from.
As a wedge-style fan, take what I say with a grain of salt...if you don't want to shoot wedgies, don't stand next to the tracks and shoot down them. Problem solved. It's hard to do anything but shoot wedges when you're right next to the tracks, unless you have something else to include in the shot (which, by the nature of where you're standing, isn't usually an option).

Here's a great example of a wedge with something:
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
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Old 02-10-2009, 05:48 PM   #11
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If you want to get away from wedgies, move out west! You have so much opportunity to shoot non-wedies out there it's unbelievable to an easterner. All that clutter and crap growing along the tracks is lessened if not eliminated. I'm going back west this year on vacation, and I can't wait to see the wide open spaces again... though I'll still take some wedgies out of habit like I did last year

Getting away from your usual stomping grounds is great advice. I'm pretty much burned out shooting my usual haunts and find it difficult to head out that much lately (melted snow also doesn't help either, winter is wrong without a mantle of snow everywhere). Though I'd love to do even a little travelling, I'm trapped by responsibilities like work. Where you live, a trip to shoot Sand Patch, the West Slope, the MGA, B&LE or the B&P would be pretty painless and yeild some nice results. Some local options may not be like shooting fish in a barrel, but that gets stale after a while. If I lived in P-burg, you can bet my portfolio would be full of B&LE and B&P stuff.

You could shoot more wedgies, but of something other than NS and that other RR.
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Old 02-10-2009, 06:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lock4244
If you want to get away from wedgies, move out west! You have so much opportunity to shoot non-wedies out there it's unbelievable to an easterner. All that clutter and crap growing along the tracks is lessened if not eliminated. I'm going back west this year on vacation, and I can't wait to see the wide open spaces again... though I'll still take some wedgies out of habit like I did last year

Getting away from your usual stomping grounds is great advice. I'm pretty much burned out shooting my usual haunts and find it difficult to head out that much lately (melted snow also doesn't help either, winter is wrong without a mantle of snow everywhere). Though I'd love to do even a little travelling, I'm trapped by responsibilities like work. Where you live, a trip to shoot Sand Patch, the West Slope, the MGA, B&LE or the B&P would be pretty painless and yeild some nice results. Some local options may not be like shooting fish in a barrel, but that gets stale after a while. If I lived in P-burg, you can bet my portfolio would be full of B&LE and B&P stuff.

You could shoot more wedgies, but of something other than NS and that other RR.
I agree 110%. Can't find the motovation to shoot much at home. Out West is heaven and I am still processing photos. Wedgies are hard not to shoot in Wisconsin.
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Old 02-10-2009, 06:11 PM   #13
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No one is mentioning, that I see anyway, that the train is purely centered in tis shot. As I like to say, it's smack dabin the middle. Even if you were to get past th noise and the poor lighting, then you'd have bad cropping. This actually looks like a telemash to me, somethingyou said you were trying to avoid. You also said you were trying to avoid wedgies, yet you're standing right beside the railroad tracks.

My best advice to anyone wanting to shoot better photographs is always pretty simple: shoot more. Practice different things. Understand that at first you may not get good results. So if you see a lash up or a lghting circumstance that you won't be able to get again, go ahead and shoot the standard shot. But if you can chase a train or see something with typical power, then start thinking about what else you can do.

Of course, one might want to consider getting the basics -- in this case, basic angles -- down before trying to get too far outside the box.

How far are you from Pittsburgh? If I were anywhere near driving distance to there, you would not be able to keep me away based on shots I've seen from there by Wade Massie, and a couple of Johns.


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Old 02-10-2009, 06:12 PM   #14
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Sound advice fellas, keep em coming. It feels awkward to be on the other side of the help feed, im usually GIVING help rater than getting it. And it sure is helping out a lot. Well, at least in my mind, we'll see what I can produce when I get out in the field.


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Old 02-10-2009, 06:17 PM   #15
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Joe, not too far. 20 or 30 minutes, depending on traffic and where in Pittsburgh. It's quite a large community. I live close to the Keystone mains, but very low shoulders and blandness make it hard to shoot, at least where we live. A trip to Sand Patch or something east of us (Geographically south) can prove something useful.

And yes Joe I did say I want to get away from my normal "tries" at shooting, but I can't seem to force myself to get away from the style for some reason. Habit maybe?

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Old 02-10-2009, 06:34 PM   #16
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Dude, my advice is this:
Go look at some pictures. Ask yourself why you like them. Analyze them a little bit. One great way to do this is to go buy some photo books - Steinheimer, O Winston Link, Plowden, Shaughnessy, etc. Sure, the trains in those books aren't running any more but the same types of compositions are still possible.

Figure out what elements you need to make some good photos. Something has to be interesting, and it isn't always the train that needs to be interesting.

Next: Don't be in a hurry. When you are trackside, stop and look around. Smell the smells, see the place. What's the light like? What is interesting about this? What might other people not notice about this location? Why is any of that interesting? How might I show that interestingness to the viewers?

In short: What story are you trying to tell? If there isn't one, it may be a good time to savor the moment and keep the camera on the passenger seat.

Go find interesting places that don't have so many trains. Then figure out when the trains run and go shoot them. The other guys on here mentioned the B&P and the B&LE. There is so much great stuff around Pittsburgh, and Homestead isn't it unless you want a place to sit and eat a burger while watching a train pass.

Best of luck to you, and keep us posted on your progress

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Old 02-10-2009, 06:45 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jalang
and Homestead isn't it unless you want a place to sit and eat a burger while watching a train pass.



-Alex

..........or eat Chik-fil-a

But in all seriousness, thanks alex. I do look at a lot of shots from the area, and I want to not "steal" them, but imitate the style and make it one of my own also, but I'm afraid of uploading and getting bashed by the greats in the area for taking the same exact shot.

Ben
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Old 02-10-2009, 07:56 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lock4244
I'm pretty much burned out shooting my usual haunts and find it difficult to head out that much lately (melted snow also doesn't help either, winter is wrong without a mantle of snow everywhere).
Quote:
Originally Posted by travsirocz
I agree 110%. Can't find the motovation to shoot much at home. Out West is heaven and I am still processing photos. Wedgies are hard not to shoot in Wisconsin.
See, now I'm just the opposite. For the past few years, AB2 and I have been traveling all across the country, shooting as much steam as we could, to make up for missing out on the 90s, with the NS steam program and such.

All that time spent traveling means I ignored the stuff in my backyard. Sure, I shot the NEC during my four years at college and I've spent numerous Saturday mornings on NS's Lehigh Line and the shared NS/CSX main to Oak Island.

However, save for the yearly Santa Train outings, I ignored the local freights out of the small yard 10 minutes from my house. Despite, a couple of ventures into southern Jersey, it's still an untapped resource for me.

At the same time, with more new diesels coming online, NJT is replacing EMDs that have been running for 40 years, some that started out with the CNJ. Sure, I've shot a few wedgies of them now and again, but I never focused on them.

I love traveling halfway across the country to shoot (and will still do it a few times this year), but I've come to realize that the triple track acoss Nebraska and the Powder River (or the NS/CSX in Homestead) aren't going anywhere, while diesels that I've passed every day on my way to work are disappearing daily.

Take the advice of Joe and Alex to heart. Get out there and add B&LE and B&P shots to your collection, even if they are wedgies. Do research on the Wheeling or the Ohio Central-owned branches on the southest side of town. Down the road, they will be more prized than any NS wedgie from Homestead.

If you need a mainline fix, check out the NS main west of Altoona. The Pennsy-style signals are getting harder and harder to find each day. Plus helpers give you a chance to shoot the train going and coming. Best of all, with only two crossings on the line from Altoona to Johnstown, it'll force you to look for creative angles without sitting in the car all day.

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Old 02-10-2009, 08:56 PM   #19
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Railfanning trips are the most fun way to expand your horizons. I've done very, very few in my life... need to get out there and start doing more.
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Old 02-10-2009, 10:14 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
As a wedge-style fan, take what I say with a grain of salt...if you don't want to shoot wedgies, don't stand next to the tracks and shoot down them. Problem solved. It's hard to do anything but shoot wedges when you're right next to the tracks, unless you have something else to include in the shot (which, by the nature of where you're standing, isn't usually an option).

Here's a great example of a wedge with something:
Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 271053
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
If you are not "comfortable" getting away from the wedge, because you don't have the creative eye for it, try something like Ween's AB2 example and combine the 2 and shoot a wedge including something else. Wedges vs. creative is a matter of preference, one's not better than the other. Not that I have a creative eye, but if I have to settle to shoot a wedge, I always try to include something at least as simple as a cross buck or switch stand if possible. Most of my "creative" shots were accidents that turned out a helluva lot better than I was expecting. Including siple items first will strengthen your creative eye for the bigger things.

BTW, I envy your Overlook shot. Move back and look at the bigger picture more too.
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Old 02-10-2009, 10:30 PM   #21
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Like I said earlier about the B&P...

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Old 02-10-2009, 11:22 PM   #22
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Now before the GAS go's back up for summer, See, shoot, travel and have fun.
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Old 02-10-2009, 11:51 PM   #23
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Like others have mentioned, dont always go for the volume, go for the uniqueness. Now, you wont be able to go and always shoot the nice orange SD45's of the B&P, so you'll still be where you took that last shot a time or two. Thats NOT a bad thing, here in the Twin Cities I pretty much have been everywhere in the Northern part of Minneapolis, but you can find different things to do with a shot easier than you may think. The best lens to develop "the eye" is a wide angle, and Im sure others will agree. When you have a wide angle lens on, it forces you not to shoot the same style, because it normally doesnt come out looking all that great. But, putting that aside, the easiest way to incorporate a bit more flavor (nothing dramatic, but taking an extra step to make it a bit more complete) is to use something that we all have, the rails. These two shots of mine incorporate the "leading the eye" trick to capture more of a feel. Switchstands are also a great way to do this.

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Like I said, its nothing to cheer about, but it makes it much more appealing. It makes it a much more polished shot instead of just standing there firing away.

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Old 02-11-2009, 02:50 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asis80
But in all seriousness, thanks alex. I do look at a lot of shots from the area, and I want to not "steal" them, but imitate the style and make it one of my own also, but I'm afraid of uploading and getting bashed by the greats in the area for taking the same exact shot.
Ben, here is another one, taken not very far away from the location you have been focused on. Just goes to show that there are still a lot of opportunities out there!

Image © John Ryan
PhotoID: 271354
Photograph © John Ryan


Don't get intimidated by how excellent it is. Try something similar, maybe a daytime vertical.

And I don't think that John Ireland, shot below, is miffed because someone else took a similar shot from the same location.
Image © John Ireland
PhotoID: 209863
Photograph © John Ireland


Also, have you tried a wider angle shot at the homestead station that is from the side and shows train and station? It seems to me that where there is a structure, there is a shot, and while I have seen overview shots of station and trains, I haven't seen one at ground level.

Anyway, some shot possibilities to ponder right in your core shooting area.
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Old 02-11-2009, 03:16 PM   #25
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Quote:
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and I want to not "steal" them, but imitate the style and make it one of my own also, but I'm afraid of uploading and getting bashed by the greats in the area for taking the same exact shot.

Ben
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