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Frequently Asked Questions
What type of camera equipment are you using?
I currently use a Canon 20D which is a 8.2MP camera. I shoot in RAW format and process with Photoshop for the best results. I use a combination of Sigma lenses and Canon lenses in various focal lengths.
Is it easy to upload and caption the photos?
Yes. Once images are resized and color corrected/sharpened as necessary, its a simple process to upload. I try to size each photo at no more than 200K for those with dial-up. As for captioning, the upload page design built in to the administrative side of this site allows me to enter pertinent data and commentary.
Can I submit photos to the site and what is the limit per photographer?
At the present I am not able to accept photos but thank you.
Nice site Ray. Look forward to seeing more of your stuff here. Tom
Thanks Tom!
can i correct a photo?
please do..just email me and I'll make the changes. thanks.
Hi Ray! Do you have any Sauk Branch photos? Thanks! -Adam
Hi Adam, no, unfortunately I don't. Northwest of Madison, the Milwaukee Road Sauk branch ran from Mazomanie north to the Badger Ordinance plant, crossing the Wisconsin River at Sauk City. The bridge is now partially dismantled, as is the Badger Ordinance Works. I know the CNW 1385 steamer ran over that branch back in the 1980's, but I don't have any photos, unfortunately. I DO have audio of that run, maybe I'll be able to upload that here soon. Stay tuned!
Are you related to Shastarails.com?
Ryan Wilkerson, the owner of Shastarails.com, is the developer and creator of the code that runs this site. I asked him to help me create Heartlandrails.com after our mutual encounter with the 2005 Trains Unlimited charter up the Shasta Route to Portland. He can help you with your own site, contact him at the bottom of this page!
Now that you've made the switch to digital photography from film, what do you like better?
Digital photography has opened new vistas in my hobby of capturing images of the railroad environment, especially with regard to the digital darkroom, i.e. Photoshop. I still love the way properly exposed Kodachrome slides look projected on a screen or in print, but I am afraid film is rapidly becoming strictly an "art" product and will keep getting costlier, while digital photography is getting less expensive and the output is as good as film, maybe better. And, with the internet, why not show your work to a wider audience than the Saturday night slide show in Joe Railfan's basement? That means scanning slides, which is something I won't have to do with any of my work from 2005 present. My advice to someone who doesn't want to make a switch from shooting film to digital is, "No problem!", because I already know how good film looks.
You seem to like taking a lot of 'non-train' shots when you railfan, true?
Remember back in the days when we ALL shot film and because we had to conserve for actual "train-shot" opportunities, we didn't take pictures of other things often--like our railfan buddies, flowers, wildlife, buildings, people, small town nuances, classic cars, etc.? Then, later on over time when you would see a shot of a buddy that you DID take, it would evoke lots of laughs? Am I glad that I got photos of Bald Eagles soaring overhead while I wait for my next AC4400 along the Mississippi? Well, that's a long winded answer but, yes, I do like to capture the other 'moments' and shooting digital means taking lots more pictures of other 'things'.
What is your favorite place to railfan?
I have discovered so many different places its hard to choose just one, but I'd say my favorite is the ex Santa Fe in New Mexico. And there is something special about the sunlight there in September, which is usually the month I have travelled there, that renders incredibly lit photos. It helps that New Mexico is a very mystical place, they don't call it the "Enchanted State" for nothing!
What do you think of websites like railpictures.net? Tony
Hi Tony, I like rp.net a bunch, and I'm honored to have over 300 of my photos accepted there. I know it is a love-hate thing, some have a hard time understanding having shots rejected, some don't like pop up ads. Others, like me, think it is the premier rail photography 'brand' now, including the print media. There are many great railfan photographer names on railpictures.net that have never been seen in print--their work IS getting noticed. I'd suggest doing what I did--build your OWN site. Then you are the screener. That is the great liberating thing about the internet.
Why do you like to take pictures of trains? AJ
Good question AJ! Actually, I've liked watching trains all my life, but I never knew that others did also and that some of them actually TOOK PICTURES! Wow-what a concept! If I had taken photos 'back when' then I would have a visual record of the things that are gone today and only live on in the minds eye. The railroad is a slowly changing environment, it is low tech, but in spite of those things, it is constantly evolving. What is common today will be history tomorrow. Depots, engines & rolling stock, the people, even the railroad itself, is someday destined to revert back to nature. So, take pictures of it today!
What kind of scanner do you use to scan your slides? Don H.
Hi Don, I bought a Nikon Coolscan V, and scan my slides at the highest possible resolution (14 bit color at 4000dpi), as TIFF files, saving them to a backup drive. Then, I convert the pictures for this site to Jpegs, sizing them according to the specs I outlined elsewhere, before uploading. Thanks for asking.
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