Old 11-10-2008, 06:20 PM   #1
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Default What has helped your photography?

I am talking about the less common things like practice or that new lens. I upgraded from a Grand Prix to a Trailblazer. Boy does 4wd and higher ground clearance stretch my legs. Many places out west would have been out of reach otherwise. Also, I have had my share of ,almost stuck in the snow, days around Wisconsin while chasing trains. Yours?
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:18 PM   #2
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Other than the "common things" I'd have to say many, many, many hours studying maps and aerial images of particular locations and lines as well studying and learning sun angle (where does it rise/set EXACTLY) and where it will be at a certain time.

I do give credit to my Blazer for getting me to spots than some cars just won't or CAN'T go unless you are extremely brave or nuts. Its an advantage being able to do 35mph instead of 5mph on gravel when chasing.
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:39 PM   #3
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[quote= Its an advantage being able to do 35mph instead of 5mph on gravel when chasing. [/QUOTE]

That says it all for the state of Wyoming! If you have ever been around Sherman Hill or the side roads of the Powder River Basin you know what I mean.
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:39 PM   #4
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Is starting to shoot RAW edgy enough?
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:48 PM   #5
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- digital/repetition/trying lots of things
- reading landscape photography books
- seriously examining my own shots
- subsequently returning to the same spots
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travsirocz
That says it all for the state of Wyoming! If you have ever been around Sherman Hill or the side roads of the Powder River Basin you know what I mean.
You shoulda seen what we did to this rental honda!

But seriously, whats helped me a lot of knowing my territory and getting inspired and motivated by other peoples stuff.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:11 PM   #7
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Looking at my images and realizing what I missed (Man, if I'd just pointed the camera slightly more this way, or zoomed in, or zoomed out, or shot one second later, etc.)
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:36 PM   #8
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I would also count this site as a big influence on my photography. By being screened, commented on, the forums, and others work.
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Old 11-10-2008, 09:07 PM   #9
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In no order

-- reading a few books, including one by John Freeman
-- changing to slides from print
-- viewing my work through a more critical eye
-- comparing my work to that in books, magazines and this here site
-- going digital
-- the ever going battle against shooting only wedgies in a wedgie world called Carolina
-- those bridges in Cayce Riverwalk!!!

OK, that actually was in order.


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Old 11-10-2008, 09:36 PM   #10
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A scanner, an understanding wife, and a little boy that loves the choo-choos as much as his dad.

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Old 11-10-2008, 09:48 PM   #11
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This site helped a lot from where I was when I first started posting to now is a noticeable improvement just from seeing what other people do and trying to draw inspiration from it.

I'll add my bad luck of having my last car get wrecked two years ago which through the insurance check bought my current camera and my beat up 94 Subura Impreza. The car get's me anywhere I need to go, mud, gravel, dirt, grass, snow without hesitation, I've used it a few times to plow through some bumper deep snow covered roads. AWD also provide's some fun during the winter while I'm waiting for stuff to move, though not having anti lock brakes can be a bit treacherous.
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Old 11-10-2008, 10:25 PM   #12
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Finally getting my drivers license and insurance, it think if i had my own car that would help too.
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:29 PM   #13
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The first thing that comes to mind... going digital. The ability to test the exposure, look at the composition, try different lenses, different angles and seeing the result before the train arrives (and without waiting two weeks for the shots to return in the mail) helps alot. Ability to instantly export to the computer without the slow and costly middle step of a slide scanner is also a plus. I could never go back to slide film, even though I did love the results.

Probably other things to consider, but this is the first thing I can think of.
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Old 11-11-2008, 12:27 AM   #14
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First I'd say Canon "L" series lenses. The overall image quality difference between my L lenses and older non L's is like the difference between daylight and dark. Sadly I've got a lot of cool subjects on film (and digital) shot during my early days of shooting and the images are soft. The worst were taken with a Sigma 28-200 during 2002-2003. Didn't realize how bad it was until I picked up a high quality Minolta film/slide scanner to scan the slides and a Canon EOS D30 digital body. The lens was about as good as a Coke bottle no matter what focal length or aperture you shot at. While I did not use this lens a lot at the time (thankfully) it did see service on some very unique chases, including the Royal Canadian Pacific business train with A-B-A F units which ran over the CSX Hoosier Sub to the Kentucky Derby and very rare CP SD90MAC-H leading a CP train over the same line and most shots of these moves taken with this lens are unusable, they are just too soft. Those A-B-A F units are now retired as are the 4 CP SD90MAC-H's and CP nolonger operates over the Hoosier Sub. I've spent a hell of a lot of money on my Canon L series lenses and can testify that there hasn't been a single soft shot with them.
Gotta say that a 4x4 helps as well, on my third Ford Explorer in 9 years and they have all gotten me through rough terrain with ease.
Another and possibly most important element outside of good camera equipment is good railroad sources that have been able to provide a "headsup" on certain moves or heavy traffic days on certain lines. This has often allowed me to spend the maximum amount of time on a certain line and have a lot of activity to choose from and work with. This was especially benefical during the high gas prices of $4+ which we experienced through the summer and spending $60-70 per day for a tank of gas when chasing. These sources, who will remain nameless to protect their identity, were key in scoring a number of cool and/or unusual movements and a lot of thanks goes out to them. Now I just need to get these shots processed for web use.

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Old 11-11-2008, 05:28 AM   #15
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-DSLR
-Night Job
-Scanner
-Laptop for ATCS Monitor and processing in field
-My Railfan Bible (Binder full of timetables, spreadsheets of loco #'s and classes for diffrerent railroads, misc. notes, blank pieces of paper for notes)
-New Car that is very gas friendly (35-38 mpg)
-A fiance who goes railfanning with me and is also a contributor here
-The GPS the fiance bought me for my birthday



and most importantly
-Living next to NS's Mon Line, and Pittsburgh Line
-Living next to CSX's Mon Line, Pittsburgh Line, and Keystone Sub

Need I say more?

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Old 11-11-2008, 10:12 AM   #16
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I am in a rut or so it seems, I like what i am shooting and getting. Need to get out of state, Maybe Colorado this winter. Unlike some i have a lot by me ICE CN UP BNSF INAR "Iowa Northern " all with in a 100 Miles or less. But get that same old spots feeling as i shot most of them for 30 years.

You see Iowa has a lot of trashy trees and bushes that clog the ROW and limit shots. Having a new Camera 50D will help as it has live view and now maybe i can get some shots over the fences on the bridges.

I had good luck with snow plows last winter but that is a crap shot as the wind and snow have blow in from right way and sun helps to at the right time. A good plow Chase is to live for if you can stay out of the drifts and don't get to dumb. This shot i almost didn't get back out of as the just plowed road thru a drift that was 4 feet deep and blew back in the 15 or so minutes i was shooting the train. Aim hit it at speed 35 maybe and hope you don't get turnd side ways. I made it OH the JEEP helped here to
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Old 11-11-2008, 01:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milwman
You see Iowa has a lot of trashy trees and bushes that clog the ROW and limit shots.
I hear ya on this one. Ditto in Ontario... botanists dream, railfans nightmare.
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Old 11-11-2008, 02:01 PM   #18
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Quote:
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I hear ya on this one. Ditto in Ontario... botanists dream, railfans nightmare.
I think a lot of us suffer from track brush plague.
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Old 11-11-2008, 02:05 PM   #19
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Quote:
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You see Iowa has a lot of trashy trees and bushes that clog the ROW and limit shots.
Welcome to Michigan.
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Old 11-11-2008, 02:12 PM   #20
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This reminds me of another thing that has helped my photography... carrying an axe and pruning shears in the trunk. One example of a shot that benefitted from some pruning.

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While for this one, the equipment was left at home so I had to prune by hand. Learned that there is such a thing as Poison Sumac that day. Shears would have saved me some greif! Stuff does not leave the trunk anymore

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Some day, there will be a chainsaw in the kit, too.

Another great help is carrying a ladder in the trunk. I've got a little puddle jumper Mazda right now, so I can only carry a three step, but often that little extra elevation goes a long way.
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Old 11-12-2008, 02:07 AM   #21
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... Practice.
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Old 11-12-2008, 05:43 AM   #22
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I think the thing that's helped me has been a steady diet of knowlegde in post-processing. Sounds dumb, but capturing the image is only half the battle, IMO. Check out this example with a photo taken a year ago August (see the full-size image to get the full effect):

Original Processing Job, Aug 07:

Using techniques since then, Processed Nov 08:
Image © Chris Paulhamus
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Old 11-12-2008, 05:48 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
I think the thing that's helped me has been a steady diet of knowlegde in post-processing. Sounds dumb, but capturing the image is only half the battle, IMO. Check out this example with a photo taken a year ago August (see the full-size image to get the full effect):

Original Processing Job, Aug 07:

Using techniques since then, Processed Nov 08:
Image © Chris Paulhamus
PhotoID: 198493
Photograph © Chris Paulhamus
First question... originally shot in RAW or JPEG?
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Old 11-12-2008, 06:10 AM   #24
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RAW.

And to answer the second question...no, I was not drugged and forced at gunpoint to shoot steam. It was voluntary.
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Old 11-12-2008, 07:30 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ryan
... Practice.
and an unbiased eye. Without either you won't accomplish anything.
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