I spent most of my summer finishing up some
Army training, so I didnít have a chance to take any pictures for a couple
months. Now that Iím back, I continue working on taking better and better
Before this summer, my style of railfanning was to pick a section of track that was paralleled by a highway and cruise back and forth until I found a train. Iíd get ahead of the train where ever I could, and shoot a picture. But I was never satisfied with the quality of my shots. I judge my own work by whether or not I could see it in a magazine, and with few exceptions I never could.
Iím not sure what made me realize what I was doing wrong, but I finally figured out that to get good shots, I had to pick my spot before the train got there. I also looked at some of my better (lucky) shots and analyzed what made them good. I realized that the train needs to stand out as the subject, and the background must be subdued. I used to try and cram too much into one shot, and I ended up with a picture that failed to draw the viewerís eye to the main subject. Now I cruise up and down the tracks until I find a place that will make at good shot, keeping in mind the background and lighting. Once I find a place that will look good with a train there, I wait. It takes a lot of patience, but I have noticed a BIG improvement in my work since doing this.
Now I donít claim to be a good photographer, but I am finally starting to get some good shots. Iíve also gotten encouragement from people that have seen my work on the internet, and that helps a lot. I created this website to share my better shots with the world.
Iíve decided to make it a point to go on one major railfanning outing a month, so it seems like a good idea to write down a narrative of each trip. My first trip since getting back was up Oregon Highway 58, to railfan UPís Cascade Line (formerly SP). Iím making that my August trip, and the narrative for that can be found here. My September trip was along BNSFís former Spokane, Portland & Seattle main line along the north bank of the Columbia River, in Skamania and Klickitat Counties. The narrative for that trip will be posted early in October.
There are many places in the Great Northwest that I can go to railfan, but I am restricted by time and money (gas, film, developing). In the coming months, Iíll probably revisit places Iíve already been. Luckily, different weather conditions and different trains should make each trip interesting. I hope you enjoy my stories as well as my pictures. Please take the time to email any comments you have on my site.