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Differing perspectives... The Railfan Experience

Differing perspectives
(Click photos to see a larger image)

On April 29, 2007, my six-year-old son Matthew joined me for a day trip to Black Bear, Oklahoma -- the crossing of BNSF's Red Rock and Avard Subdivisions north of Oklahoma City. One of the first trains we saw that morning was the eastbound H BARTUL (Barstow, CA to Tulsa) on the Avard Sub.

With my Canon 20-D attached to a long lens balanced atop my tripod, I set up for a shot of the train crossing the diamond at the interlocking. I never considered shooting it in any other composition except a traditional "wedgie". Thinking that Matthew might want to do the same, I handed him my Fuji Finepix "point & shoot" camera as the train approached. Afterwards, when I looked through his photos, the results were quite different from what I expected. Instead of duplicating my composition, he zoomed in close on specific parts of the train (wheels, stenciling, letters and numbers) that caught his eye as the train rolled past. Interestingly, they were the same things that often caught my eye at a similar age, and still do -- although I seldom photograph them.

  H BARTUL at Black Bear, Oklahoma
Eastbound H BARTUL at Black Bear, Oklahoma -- April 29, 2007
  Matthew's perspective 
of the H BARTUL
Matthew's perspective of the H BARTUL

I wasn't disappointed with my own shot of the train, but Matthew's photos certainly opened my eyes. Leave it to a six-year-old to help me realize that it wouldn't hurt to consider looking at -- and photographing -- trains from a slightly different perspective once in a while.

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