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Beyond the Rutland


Rails


PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS AND TECHNIQUES BY GREG MONROE Railfan vs. Railfan


Now operated under the Vermont Rail System banner, you’ll see the early operations of the Vermont Railway, Clarendon & Pittford, and the Green Mountain Railroad! From the marble quarry pits to piggyback trailers, from steam excursions to heavy freight!


This photo goes against what many would consider to be a “correct” railfan photo (the train is backlit and small), as well as having questionable composition (the subject placed in the middle of the photo). Rather, these “creative” elements effectively place UP’s early morning freight in context with its surroundings (running west out of Denver , seen in the far background) and let the foreground rails dominate to add a dramatic look. PHOTOGRAPHY BY GREG MONROE


From the Rutland’s last gasp to the Vermont Railway’s modest start, you’ll enjoy great black and white photography documenting this picturesque New England shortline from end to end. A detailed locomotive roster and diverse equipment photos round out this look back at Vermont Railway’s early years. LIMITED SUPPLY, order your copy today!


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Plus shipping &?handling Order Item #RBTR?CRS


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WHITERIVERPRODUCTIONS.COM P.O. BOX 48, BUCKLIN, MO 64631


54 JULY 2015 • RAILFAN.COM


WHICH TYPE OF RAILFAN PHOTOGRAPHER are you? Which trackside photography practices do you think are “best” for capturing good railfan photos? I thought a discussion of dif- ferent railfanning opinions might be of inter- est this month after a railfan friend told me how he and the owners of his favorite camera store recently “shot the bull about the good ol’ days, when we just had to choose a film and a camera, and not a dozen other variables of photographing and post-processing and such.” Now that he “has everything . . . in var- ious forms of film and digital, and computers and other tech stuff . . . ” he has realized he is not content with nor enjoys photography like he did back then, and feels he “made better photographs back then as well!” This reminded me of similar complaints I


have heard from photographers, and how for over the 30 years I have been a railfan pho- tographer, these and other viewpoints on how to practice railfan photography have often sparked strong differences of opinions amongst us railfans. And how, in most cases, neither viewpoint is necessarily right or wrong.


Film vs. Digital


While I agreed with these and other concerns of my friend about digital photography, I pointed out there are also a lot of negatives with film (no pun intended). Yes, digital im- ages can corrupt or be lost when hard drives fail, but Ektachrome and Anscochrome slide films turned a sickly pinkish color with age, and even “fade proof” Kodachrome would fade when exposed to slide projector light. Unde- veloped black & white film will “fog” and lose proper contrast if it gets too warm for too long of a time. Lower quality digital images can have a radius problem (a white or off-color area boarding all hard edges); dust particles on film will leave white spots in prints. Dig- ital scans may have lines across the image


from a dirty or faulty scanner sensor; chemi- cal streaks from processing can be left on film, and film can be scratched (I have even had Kodachromes come back with severe scratch- es). You have to trust that your film camera’s meter is accurate since you will not see poor exposure problems until maybe a week later. With digital you can pre-check your exposure on the camera’s screen and avoid coming home with ruined photos. In the early days of digital where four megapixels was top of the line, “digital qual- ity will never match film quality” was a com- monly held position, and yes, 35mm film had a definite edge in quality. But today, for prob- ably all railfan use (image shows, publication, web site or blog, or prints up to about 16"×20" inches), you will not see a difference in quality in images from 35mm film vs. 6 MP or greater digital cameras.


Darkroom vs. Photoshop


While using a wet chemical darkroom to make prints can be a time-consuming and laborious process, processing and printing digital cam- era images or digital film scans is much more efficient in a computer. Yet Photoshop opens a whole new set of railfan vs. railfan views about the possible manipulation of a photo to create a scene that never happened, where-as a slide is original and cannot be faked.


Traditional vs. Creative


One of the main subjects that at times pits railfan vs. railfan is “traditional” vs. “cre- ative” approaches to photographing trains. I have delved more into this subject in past columns, so suffice to say that there are two often very strong schools of thought on this subject. Some railfans will photograph only with a broadside or 3


/4 wedge full frontal sun


composition with a normal lens. The oppos- ing camp actively looks for the opposite con-


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