Old 11-29-2006, 01:31 AM   #1
socalrailfan
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Question Creativity block

Lately it seems I'm having a hard time being creative in my shots. People gripe about wedgies, but that's what most train shots are. Here's a contact sheet of my best shots from my day along the Needles Sub. A few of the shots have been submitted, but trying to decide if any others are worthy escapes me. Comments welcome, I guess I realize some of the shots are obviously hard to see some of the little details, sorry.
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Old 11-29-2006, 11:15 AM   #2
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you just need a change in venues...

you come to kentucky and photograph the ns and csx all winter, and i'll come out to southern california and photograph the bnsf.
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Old 11-29-2006, 01:27 PM   #3
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Your predicament is mine. Although, my creativity block is burn-out of the metro area; like jfusaro suggested a change in scenery may help. It helps me to blame 50%+ of the year being cloudy. I would be happy to submit any of your photos.
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Old 11-29-2006, 02:24 PM   #4
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A few suggestions:

- change your position - many of these photos look like you are standing trackside - get on your belly! Get on a ladder!

- experiment with shallow depth of field: here's one of mine (not yet submitted, need to get around to that)
http://mysite.verizon.net/imagelib/s...091005q298.jpg

- do more with trackside objects - the pole in 2384 is a start - even some well placed tumbleweed - mileposts, switchstands, etc.

- if you have the $$ for a purchase, try a new focal length - maybe an ultrawide or a long tele
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Old 11-29-2006, 04:06 PM   #5
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Default Creativity

Hi Dave,

Try getting away from the tracks, about 1/2 mile should do, let the scenery do the work for you, we all know what a train looks like close in.

See attached

Or try a bit of blur, a pan shot (see Mitch Goldman), or get in real close, do some details, try some shots of train crew at work etc. etc. etc.

There is definitely more to railways than 3/4wedgies.

For some compositional inspiration check out your local art gallery or photographic club or books by your great USA photographers Ansel Adam, Edward Weston and co

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Old 11-29-2006, 06:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC

- if you have the $$ for a purchase, try a new focal length - maybe an ultrawide or a long tele

like this....
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Old 11-29-2006, 06:18 PM   #7
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Heh heh - nice one Jeffrey!

What was the steam piccie Alan? It looks like it's on the South Coast next to the English Channel?

re your quote
Quote:
or get in real close, do some details, try some shots of train crew
here's one I took today - it wasn't until I got home and had a closer look that I saw the driver of this GNER 125mph HST unit indulging in that very British tradition - tea! Don't know if it's worth trying a submit on the larger image though...

andy b
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Old 11-29-2006, 07:27 PM   #8
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Hey Dave,

I think Alan hit it on the nose.

Your contact sheet of photos (most of it more impressive then 90% of the photos I've taken from the area) seem somewhat generic - though you set your own scale pretty high. I like the close ups and some of the shots with the signal bridges, however.

Here are a few ideas:
1) Get some railroad employees in your photos.
2) Start taking pictures that "happen" to have a train in them, versus train
pictures that "happen" to have scenery in them.
3) Get some railroad structures in your photos.
4) Try some photos with the INTENTION of B&W, versus.. "I wonder what this
might look like in B&W".
5) Move. : )

Personally - I think #2 will keep you busy for months!

/Mitch
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Old 11-29-2006, 08:19 PM   #9
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Whenever I go away on vacation I go over a "checklist" to find the shots I like best. Now my taste in photos isn't the same as everyone else's so some may appeal to you and some may not.

1. A lesson I learned from one of Michael Allen's photos is...turn around! See what is around you and if the tracks are unobscurred as you move backwards.
2. Look for old buildings or structures (railroa drelated or not) to give some idea of location.
3. Look for overlook shots or places that require a telephoto as Alan stated.
4. If there are no overlooks, look for a little bit of elevation (I've used the top of my truck) to give a different spin to a normal shot.
5. If nothing seems to be working follow my motto, "If there's two trees and a train, there's a shot!" Include local plant life to show location as well as climate. Nothing says desert like a cactus or dead plants. LOL
6. Make the train a secondary subject. If you find a cactus, make that the main subject and put the train in the background or even blur the train if its close enough.
7. Continuing #6...play around with shutter speeds. Everyone knows what a train looks like at 1/500th so try using 1/20th or lower.
8. Convince yourself, you're sick of perfectly lit shots. This is a little trick that I've been using lately. Instead of finding spots that will be perfectly lit at a certain time, do the opposite. Make it harder on yourself to get the creative juices flowing.
9. Take note of what the first hour and last hour of sunlight does to the surrounding area. Rather than using the sweetlight in normal angles see what else you can use it for other than glint.
10. Use shadows to your advantage. There was a thread about the "right" and "wrong" side of the tracks and when to stand on the respected side of the train. Instead of finding this thread, see for yourself.
11. Avoid sunny days. ::GASP:: You will keep getting sucked back into taking 3/4 angle photos if you are out in full sunlight cause it seems to "railfan nature". Go out at night or on a cloudy day or even if rain (if you take necessary precautions) and try to make the photo more interesting.
12. I know many people enjoy seeing the entire train but it gets redundant after a while. Try some compositions with just the engines or even just the front loco or just the nose of the loco!
13. Make it fun again! Create goals for yourself, when you find a spot you like don't settle for the first photo you take there. I make a list of spots I want to photograph including what kind of power, time period, and time of day. It may take a week or 5 years to knock off some of these goals but I think its better than going out for a day settling for anything that shows up.

Something I have started doing recently (before chasing the Steamtown trip to the Del. Water Gap) is looking at these websites for "inspiration". These are just the "usuals" I use so please don't get offended if you're not mentioned!

http://lerroproductions.com/railroads.html
http://davidplowden.com/photographs/...lbum=Railroads (special thanks to Mike W. for this one!)
www.bayarearailroading.com (I know it's not working ...I'm hoping it'll be up soon!)
www.thechiefway.com
http://www.artnet.com/Artists/Artist...works_for_sale
http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=6
http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=5
http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=3047
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Last edited by Andrew Blaszczyk (2); 11-30-2006 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 11-29-2006, 10:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
11. Avoid sunny days. ::GASP:: You will keep getting sucked back into taking 3/4 angle photos if you are out in full sunlight cause it seems to "railfan nature". Go out at night or on a cloudy day or even if rain (if you take necessary precautions) and try to make the photo more interesting.
Excellent point. Me personally, I'll only go out on a photo shoot on a sunny day if absolutely necessary...give me some good rainy/cloudy color-saturation anyday.

Good luck,
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Old 11-29-2006, 10:33 PM   #11
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Hi Andy

"What was the steam piccie Alan? It looks like it's on the South Coast next to the English Channel?"


South coast it is!

Thats "Tangmere" on the VSOE in the Warren at Folkestone, it's just come out of Abotts Cliff tunnel, 30mins late or the light would have been better and I would have submitted it to Railpics


Alan
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Old 11-30-2006, 04:16 AM   #12
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OMG, that picture of that photographer is so funny, because it sadly reflects people i know. oooooo boy
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Old 12-01-2006, 11:31 AM   #13
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dave--

just curious...

do you photograph anything other than trains?

you might try a complete change of subject matter for a while to try to get a new perspective (nothing with wheels and/or motors).

try to go somewhere where you won't have any chance of seeing a train and make some images of other subjects.

if you come back with some images that you really like, try to determine what it is about those images that make them stand out.

is it the color? composition? lighting? contrast? soft focus? shallow depth of field? time of day? mood?

i understand your frustration. i have a fovorite location that i like to photograph when i travel to mexico. the architecture and atmosphere in one particular town center is incredible. i have taken hundreds of photos of this place and NONE of them capture what it feels like to be there (isn't that what a photo should do?). i come home with the same photos everytime.

i like your panoramic image. i have tried (unsuccessfully) several times to stich images together and haven't come up with anything that i like yet. i think this is a creative angle and very appropriate for train photography, even if it isn't something that can be posted here.

good luck.
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Old 12-02-2006, 07:19 AM   #14
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Default Photograph other than trains

Yes Dave,

It's good for the soul to photograph other things.

Try some wildlife or scenery. I do.

It just gets you thinking about your photography, then start a few trains again.

Alan
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Old 12-02-2006, 08:54 PM   #15
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What I do, at least for photograph trains, is I go on RP here and look at photos for the place that I am going. I take in details, like: "Where was it taken?" "How is it composed?" and other details. After taking careful note of these details, I make painstaking efforts to avoid them. I like going places I've never been, driving around aimlessly, and walking around, as it generally helps me develop creative ideas. Although, lately, I too have felt pressed creatively, as a lot of the angles I've thought of can't work until the sun moves back north for the summer or for other reasons. At least we got some snow yesterday, and I was able to get some pretty cool(IMHO of course) shots.
Finally, Alan, nice shots! I like nature photography as well, especially wildlife photography. I've got some decent ones in the link in my signature. And, to Andrew, no problem on the link. I'm actually supposed to be imitating his style for AP Photo, and I must say it's pretty enjoyable.
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Old 12-02-2006, 10:37 PM   #16
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Far be it for me to make suggestions on creativity, since I have none. However being a connoisseur of the HOT, lately I have been backing off and trying a different view. By backing off, I mean getting well away from the tracks and gathering more of the "scene".
Some examples:

Image © Brian Wiggins
PhotoID: 166454
Photograph © Brian Wiggins


Image © Brian Wiggins
PhotoID: 164079
Photograph © Brian Wiggins


Image © Brian Wiggins
PhotoID: 162515
Photograph © Brian Wiggins


Of course the corn being gone has helped this a lot. But instead of driving right up to trackside, I find myself looking for a hill, barn, silo or whatever element is possibly available to shoot at/from.
The contact sheet you posted has some great photos, and you have a lot of outstanding shots in the database, so the talent is obviously there! Try something different, and the creative juices will likely start flowing again.
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Old 12-03-2006, 12:54 AM   #17
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Thanks for all the replies guys. Just so you know I've been taking pictures since junior high, had my own darkroom at two points in my life and many other things. I do shoot a lot of outdoor scenery, I especially love getting out in the soring and taking flower shots. I just returned from Santa Barbara this last weekend and got some fabulous sunrise/sunset shots among other, including some trains!

So having not shot in a week I headed to the Cajon Pass today with trying to get different shots, backing up a bit or getting closer at times. Unfortunately with SoCal it just seems there's so much to block your shots if you get too far away from the tracks and most of the time the weather is too hazy or smoggy to back up either, today happened to be one of this sparkling clear days. When I finish going through the photos I'll post another contact sheet. another bonus today was the BNSF Christmas Train making trip from San Bernardino to Cajon Summit and back. I'll be back.
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Old 12-03-2006, 02:01 AM   #18
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OK here's todays results. Sure there's wedgies, can't avoid them if you plan on catching a lot of trains. Once again I realize some are hard to see the finer details of the shots IE: the real distant one, there's three trains in the same shot at one time. I can't figure how to make the images larger on the contact sheet. Enjoy.
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Old 12-03-2006, 09:34 AM   #19
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Hello Dave and hello everyone,

Here is an interesting thread. I will try now to give my point of view about it I got the same feeling than Dave : How to have a new step in railroad photography. Actually it came from the reading of an issue of CTC Board where an author explained that it was good to do "other" pictures (like Jeffrey asked). You can do landscape, portrait ... and read any book related to that.

The other important think is to meet other photographers. I remember an evening in Sweden. We were three railfans at a same place. And it end with three different pictures. Then we talked about why we chose that angle, that dominant subject, etc.

I attach a few of my (north american) last products on the Rockies and along Columbia River. I like to work with blur (it forces the reader to "imagine" or "create" the picture) and speed effect (it gives a feeling of "the train is just a moment that is gone").

Enjoy and good luck,

Renaud
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Old 12-03-2006, 10:31 AM   #20
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Gosh! Renaud - we like very much! Images 1-3 anyway

I'm trying to encourage my 12 year old daughter (Charlotte) to develop her fledgling interest in photography and we both looked at your pictures together. The first image (the plants) got a 'wow!' from me, the second a 'laugh' from Char (actually, that is some serious 'superelevation' on that trackbed!) and the crossing shot drew a 'wow!' from both of us. Not sure about image 4 as it was overtaken by a 'what is that?'...

but thanks for sharing!

andyb
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Old 12-03-2006, 02:20 PM   #21
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Well, people may not like wedgies, or like Alan said, "everyone knows what a train looks like". And thats true. But as much as I think landscape shots are cool, I like being able to look at the train. Thats what this site is for, trains, not mountains. Not taking away from any of the "far away" shots, I myself enjoy them, but I also enjoy looking at the engines.

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Old 12-03-2006, 02:44 PM   #22
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Default What trains look like

Hi Alec,

I really think there is room for all types of photography here at RailPics, creative, closeup and wedgies, we all like to approach our photography in a different way (wouldn't it be boring if we all took exactly the same phots!).

Replies in this thread where in response to Dave's issue of wanting to do something different.

I take all sorts of shots, but prefer scenic ones, however, if I were a modeler I'd love access to 'roster' and detail shots.

So keep the shots coming in, every one will be to someones liking.

Renaud,

I love your shots, especially number 3!

Alan
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Old 12-05-2006, 03:26 AM   #23
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Alan,

Where was that first scenic shot taken? I'm guessing the Lakes District. It looks like a Constable painting! Very nice lighting!

When were you last on a non-steam safari?

Michael Allen
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Old 12-05-2006, 07:22 AM   #24
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Default Landscape

Good Morning Michael,

The landscape is indeed the lake district, Little Langdale to be precise, it was taken during the only 5 mins of sunshine during the whole day!

The Lion was taken near Ndutu in Tanzania in 2005, that was the last time I was on Safari, but I will go again. The light for the Lion was amazing, it had been cloudy, and as often happens at the end of the day the sun dropped into a small clear band of sky. We were the only vehicle on that side of the animal, the folk in the other three Land Rovers were pretty sick about that.

I was fortunate enough to win Photographic Alliance of great Britain Gold Medals with with both of these shots, the Lion in 2005 and the landscape this year.
Where was you Buffalo taken?

I see there's a nice shot of the Malgatten Bridge on the data base today.

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Old 12-05-2006, 07:29 AM   #25
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Hi Dave,

Like your new contacts, especially 2535 & 2558 they really convey the feeling of the Cajon area, even to someone who hasn't been there.


I think that's another consideration when taking some railway shots, ask yourself 'will the viewers of this shot feel they've been there?'

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