Old 09-24-2011, 04:51 AM   #1
Dennis A. Livesey
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Default Photographer Tenacity

I was going through the Fall 1995 issue of Vintage Rails and I came upon this quote by rail photographer James P. Gallagher.

"Rail photography is like fishing, After you have a good fishing spot, you have to find the right day to catch the fish. The same is true for photography-you have to find the right day. I looked not for how many places I could visit, but how few and how well I could do them. (Bold and italics mine DAL) That meant Thomas Viaduct, Harpers Ferry, Relay, Riverside Yard, roundhouses, and so forth, I would find places and would hit them hard, until I was ready to find another place."

James P Ghallenger Obit

Trackside Maryland
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Old 09-24-2011, 04:55 AM   #2
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Great advice -- I hope I take it.
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Old 09-24-2011, 12:33 PM   #3
Dennis A. Livesey
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About a year ago, my good buddy suggested a spot, we checked it out and indeed, great potential.

However, it is a walk in, and destroys being able to chase which meant a long drive and you get one shot only for a whole day of railfanning. A sobering point.

We decided though, one great shot was worth 10 so-so, I-already-have-what-everybody-has-shots.

What happened more or less was this.

We hiked in, set up, waited and then shot.

First time, a tree was in the way. Went home, came back couple weeks later for the next run.

Second time, tree removed by chain saw but shutter speed set wrong. Went home, came back couple weeks later for the next run.

Third time light was bad. Went home, came back couple weeks later for the next run.

Fourth time success!
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"Dennis is such a God, he could do that with a camera obscura and some homemade acetate." Holloran Grade

"To me it looks drawn in in Paintshop. It looks like a puddle of orange on the sky." SFO777
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Old 09-24-2011, 02:43 PM   #4
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By family circumstance (I take the kid or kids for a while) I was forced for a number of years to spend much of my trackside time at Gaithersburg MD. This time coincided with the beginning of my efforts to go beyond the wedgie. There are a lot of shots that can be done there in a 100 yard long space. My kids are older so I don't go there much anymore, but I can go there now and shoot a number of shots I have not yet tried.

I went from this:
Image © Janusz Mrozek
PhotoID: 181462
Photograph © Janusz Mrozek

Image © Janusz Mrozek
PhotoID: 181452
Photograph © Janusz Mrozek


To, eventually, this:
Image © Janusz Mrozek
PhotoID: 325512
Photograph © Janusz Mrozek

Image © Janusz Mrozek
PhotoID: 288970
Photograph © Janusz Mrozek


I'm not claiming these shots are wonderful, just that I can continue to go there and try things. I am a ways from milking the location dry.

PS: Trackside Maryland is a nice book; I was fortunate to find it in a remainder bin for $10.
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Old 09-24-2011, 04:04 PM   #5
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Thank you proving my point J; very nice shots!

I guess if anyone wanders over to my stuff here at RP,

http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=2073

they will see that Steamtown is my muse.

After seeing James P. Gallagher's work for years, I was thrilled to see his work collected and got my first edition ASAP. I am glad to see another edition is out further insuring Jim of the recognition he deserves.
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"To me it looks drawn in in Paintshop. It looks like a puddle of orange on the sky." SFO777
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Old 09-25-2011, 05:24 AM   #6
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That's a pretty interesting point, especially since I used to visit only a few locations (but not by choice). When I first started rail photography I was too young to drive and was therefore limited to a handful of locations nearby. However, as soon as I got my driver's license I tried covering as much ground as possible. Although it's definitely great to get new locations under your belt, I feel like I have not nearly covered most of them to their potential. Now that I'm a college student without a car, we'll see if I revert back to the "few locations but covered well" mindset.
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Old 09-25-2011, 06:13 AM   #7
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I used to look at great photographs taken by the same person and think, "Wow! Not only are they really talented, they also have incredible luck!" Anyone who has attempted to take more than one great photograph in their lifetime can tell you this isn't true. Sure, we all have luck on our side every once in a while. You can just literally stumble onto a fantastic looking scene, take the shot, and walk away. That may get you a handful of great pictures. However, for the truly great photographers that consistently produce stunning images and a lot of them, luck has almost nothing to do with it. They're not luckier than the rest of us, they are what your thread title implies: tenacious. You never know when it will be "the right day" when everything comes together. If you want to be there to capture that magical moment, you can hope that you're lucky, or you try to remove as much luck from the equation by showing up again and again. This is true of most photographers, but I think especially so of railroad photographers where you're dealing with a moving subject in a dynamic environment. That's why I think this "not how many...but how few and how well" approach is great advice, not just for finding all the angles at a particular location, but because if you want to take a lot of great pictures, you can't be lucky, you have to be tenacious.
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Old 09-25-2011, 07:30 AM   #8
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St. Denis was the place I really began to learn and hone the skills needed to produce even a good weggie. Understanding things like lighting, composition, learning to use my camera I learned here. I agree with what he says, I did not feel like I had really mastered the basics until I was able get all of the shots I wanted onto RP from there. Still I wonder what I'm missing.

Image © Greg Primrose
PhotoID: 330633
Photograph © Greg Primrose


Then take that skill and apply it to a bigger scene.

Image © Greg Primrose
PhotoID: 353030
Photograph © Greg Primrose


But I would argue you can never completely remove the element of luck. I've been to Aberdeen probably 10-20 times and the NEC runs through there 7 days a week, but one day I was there and luck gave me an unusual NEC movement.

Image © Greg Primrose
PhotoID: 347832
Photograph © Greg Primrose


I especially enjoy seeing other photographers images of Baltimore and Maryland, since it's where I've spent 95% of my life, to see their views on things I might not even see can often be a good muse. We are the city that gave birth to trains.

The other thing I find interesting is how two views from the same location can produce radically different results

Image © Greg Primrose
PhotoID: 341110
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My 7th Best Picture

Image © Greg Primrose
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I stepped across the road, and it is in one of the 7 worst performing pictures.
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Old 09-25-2011, 02:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis A. Livesey View Post
I was going through the Fall 1995 issue of Vintage Rails and I came upon this quote by rail photographer James P. Gallagher.

"Rail photography is like fishing, After you have a good fishing spot, you have to find the right day to catch the fish. The same is true for photography-you have to find the right day. I looked not for how many places I could visit, but how few and how well I could do them. (Bold and italics mine DAL) That meant Thomas Viaduct, Harpers Ferry, Relay, Riverside Yard, roundhouses, and so forth, I would find places and would hit them hard, until I was ready to find another place."
In other words, he used to really whore a spot out until he didn't think there were any other possible angles to shoot. I know that oh too well...just do a search for my name and "New Richmond."
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Old 09-25-2011, 05:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
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In other words, he used to really whore a spot out until he didn't think there were any other possible angles to shoot. I know that oh too well...just do a search for my name and "New Richmond."
What is your night rate these days?
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"Dennis is such a God, he could do that with a camera obscura and some homemade acetate." Holloran Grade

"To me it looks drawn in in Paintshop. It looks like a puddle of orange on the sky." SFO777
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Old 09-25-2011, 05:54 PM   #11
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What is your night rate these days?
There's a discount now that he lost Sheen and Spitzer as regulars.
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Old 09-25-2011, 11:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
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What is your night rate these days?
Quote:
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There's a discount now that he lost Sheen and Spitzer as regulars.
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Old 09-26-2011, 12:04 AM   #13
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There's a discount now that he lost Sheen and Spitzer as regulars.
LoL!!!
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Old 09-26-2011, 12:15 AM   #14
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tenacity is good, but there are some photo savants that would go to the same spot I've been to 100 times and find a great shot immediately.
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Old 09-26-2011, 12:21 AM   #15
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I shook Spitzer's hand once before he was governor...I feel so dirty...I know how Jim feels...
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"Dennis is such a God, he could do that with a camera obscura and some homemade acetate." Holloran Grade

"To me it looks drawn in in Paintshop. It looks like a puddle of orange on the sky." SFO777
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Old 09-26-2011, 12:54 AM   #16
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I'm lost...no idea what you're talking about (if in fact you meant me when you said "Jim.")
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Old 09-26-2011, 01:14 AM   #17
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Charles can explain, I can't!
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"Dennis is such a God, he could do that with a camera obscura and some homemade acetate." Holloran Grade

"To me it looks drawn in in Paintshop. It looks like a puddle of orange on the sky." SFO777
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Old 09-26-2011, 01:18 AM   #18
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Charlie Sheen? Elliot Spitzer? I'm lost.

What was your "night rate" comment referring to?
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Old 09-26-2011, 01:20 AM   #19
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Whoring + Night Rate = commodity that may have lost value now that Charlie and Elliot are no longer participating.
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Old 09-26-2011, 12:28 PM   #20
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Quote:
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In other words, he used to really whore a spot out until he didn't think there were any other possible angles to shoot. I know that oh too well...just do a search for my name and "New Richmond."
In the UK, the section of line near Crofton is such a spot, but since within 2 miles the line turns through nearly 270 degrees you can get the light where ever you want throughout the day, and a canal runs alongside giving good access. I've been shooting that stretch for nearly 30 years and I still keep finding inspiration.
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Old 09-26-2011, 01:05 PM   #21
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Charlie Sheen? Elliot Spitzer? I'm lost.

What was your "night rate" comment referring to?
Come on JT! You gotta get that one.
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:03 PM   #22
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I'm shooting CP Havelock Sub (Kawartha Lakes Rwy internal shortline) as much as I can and in every possible location and angle as best I can. A tall order when they only run weekdays (now anyways) and you can't take every day off work you'd like. Some say overdone, but if you're going to cover a subject for posterity before it's gone (or radically changed as the proposed rebuild for GO Transit commuter trains would do), no point in doing it half-assed.
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Old 09-27-2011, 12:29 AM   #23
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Come on JT! You gotta get that one.
Yeah, that one went right over my head. I guess I haven't had my mind in the gutter as much lately.
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Old 09-27-2011, 04:53 PM   #24
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About a year ago, my good buddy suggested a spot, we checked it out and indeed, great potential.

However, it is a walk in, and destroys being able to chase which meant a long drive and you get one shot only for a whole day of railfanning. A sobering point.

We decided though, one great shot was worth 10 so-so, I-already-have-what-everybody-has-shots.

What happened more or less was this.

We hiked in, set up, waited and then shot.

First time, a tree was in the way. Went home, came back couple weeks later for the next run.

Second time, tree removed by chain saw but shutter speed set wrong. Went home, came back couple weeks later for the next run.

Third time light was bad. Went home, came back couple weeks later for the next run.

Fourth time success!
You still need a plume and I still need Fall colors - tenacity!

/Mitch
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Old 09-27-2011, 05:22 PM   #25
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You still need a plume and I still need Fall colors - tenacity!

/Mitch
Are we speaking railfan photos or wardrobe?
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