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Old 12-30-2009, 01:23 AM   #12
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Here is the full text of the PUNT post (putting it here because I am about to make reference to it in another thread):

Ok, here we go. I will write something generic in the first pass. Also for anyone else who is trying to figure RP out.

The goal: get one (1) shot accepted on RP.
The technique: get the simplest possible shot, and have it look decent.
The theme: don't do too much, but do the basics right.

[There is an important aspect of photography here, especially for beginners, that I will call PUNT. Basically, if conditions are not such that you can get a basic, sunny day, wedgie/roster shot, go do something else to have fun! Don't take a shot that will frustrate you in the end! You can a) take a shot for your personal collection with no expectation that RP will accept, b) mess around with "creative" shots, wierd crops, angles, whatever, c) go somewhere and take a hike/walk, d) eat a sandwich, e) go home and watch TV. ]


version a) an unmoving subject - follow this guideline if you know of or run across a train or an engine parked somewhere

1) find your subject
2) go to a spot from which you can see that the sun is shining on both the nose and the side of the lead engine. Choose a spot where you can see a good bit of both, not mostly nose, not mostly side. If there is no such spot, PUNT! This means if there is no sun, PUNT. If you can't cross the tracks and you need to, PUNT. Etc.
3) set the camera to auto. [comment to the peanut gallery - this is a first shot, and the train is not moving. Auto is fine.]

[I am tempted to make the comment that, if there is no camera in your hands, PUNT. But that would be gratuitous... ]

4) Use some combination of your legs and the zoom on the camera to frame the subject. Leave a modest amount of room on all sides of the subject. If the subject is a full train, make sure the entire visible part of the train is in the frame. DON'T PUT THE NOSE OF THE TRAIN IN THE CENTER!!!!! [Note that I do not say PUNT. You can always frame up a basic wedgie. Sure, there are advanced things to work on, such as making sure a tree is not "growing" out the top of the engine, but let's leave that for another day.]

5) take the shot.

Version b) a moving subject

1) find where your subject will be when it comes by.
2) go to a spot where the sun is coming over your shoulder as you are facing the tracks in the direction the train is coming from. If you cannot find such a spot, PUNT.
3) figure out where the train will be when it gets there, and figure out what parts of the scene have to be within the frame for the entire train to fit. Get ready (choose the right zoom, say) to take that picture.
4) get the camera set with a fast shutter speed. Choose other settings appropriately. Get the camera ready to focus. In many cases the autofocus is fine. If there are problems with the autofocus or you have had bad experiences with it, set manual focus for the spot where you expect the nose of the train to be. DO NOT PUT THE NOSE OF THE TRAIN IN THE CENTER!!!

5) when the train arrives, take the picture.


Download the shot to your computer. Take the following steps: level (rotate) as needed, fix exposure (I suggest the automatic version for now), resize, sharpen. Which settings? Depends on your software. Save under a new file name as a jpg.

Upload to RP.

Don't get furstrated at the rejection this time, post to the forum. And then PUNT for a bit.

Resubmit, bask in glory.


- try all this other stuff you have heard about. Get rejected, often. Get frustrated. Post to the forum. When totally frustrated, follow the sequence above and at least get another shot accepted. Eventually, you will figure it all out.
My RP pix are here.
My Flickr pix are here.

My commentaries on rail pictures are in my blog.

RP Photo Albums:
Engine Details
Farm and Train
Railroad Details
Signal Details
Switchstand Shots
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