Two Signal Photos

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Two Signal Photos
Posted by CopCarSS on Wednesday, October 04, 2017 5:55 PM

Hello All,

Sorry it's been so long since I've been in here. Life has been hectic as always. While I've been photographically active of late, I haven't had as much time for trackside photography, alas. However, after reading a pair of articles at The Trackside Photographer by Cade Smith (see here and here), I decided to spend some time focusing on (pardon the pun) some trackside infrastructure that I've been lackadaisacal about. 

The first shot is the result of an excursion out east. My fiance and I had some art to pick up in La Junta. After the reception, we wandered east to Lamar where I found a nice Searchlight signal that begged to be photographed while I was there:

 Searchlight Signal - Lamar, CO by Chris May, on Flickr

The second shot was taken last night when I wandered out to Delhi, CO to photograph the Wig Wag out there. This is the last Wig Wag in Colorado and the last Wig Wag on a Class 1 railroad. Amtrak was running a little late, so I decided to get a little creative with my strobes for the shot. Full disclosure: I did have to cheat on this one to light up the signal. If you're interested, there's a full rundown on the lighting on the Flickr page if you follow the link.

 Wig Wag - Delhi, CO by Chris May, on Flickr

I hope this post finds all of you well. As always, comments, questions or critiques are more than welcome!

Chris

"A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed." ~Ansel Adams

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Posted by diningcar on Wednesday, October 04, 2017 6:46 PM

Chris, I must comment since I have been to both Lamar and Delhi so many-many times on a motor car (speeder to todays fans) in the days when Santa Fe's very fast passsenger trains were there. Almost hit by Santa Fe's # 21, the El Capitan, at Delhi. Thats another story a few still remember.

 

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Posted by Semper Vaporo on Wednesday, October 04, 2017 7:04 PM

Love the lighting trick.  It is fun to do night photography because of the neat tricks you can pull.

Semper Vaporo

Pkgs.

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, October 05, 2017 8:51 AM

The wig-wag at Delhi is on borrowed time. Last one in CO. Quite a story on how it got there in the first place. DC and I both did business with the General Store there when it was still open. Incredibly few people live out there any more.

(Ought to find its way to a museum. If not Golden, either Trinidad or La Junta -depending on what county it's in. IIRC its just into Las Animas County (Trinidad).)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by diningcar on Thursday, October 05, 2017 9:09 AM

The wig-wag at Delhi is on borrowed time. Last one in CO. Quite a story on how it got there in the first place. DC and I both did business with the General Store there when it was still open. Incredibly few people live there any more.

Yes MC, it gets lonely out there on a motor car and to eat you also stopped at Thatcher or Model; then on further into NM you had Wagonmound, Ribera, Sands and last at Domingo where the Santo Domingo Indians operated the store which dictated that your 'menu' would be different. 

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Posted by Norm48327 on Thursday, October 05, 2017 10:02 AM

MC,

I  am surprised that any wig-wags are still in service. The last one I recall in Michigan was a few miles NW of Durand. Decommisioned some time ago and currently resides near a GTW locomotive in a Durand city park.

Norm


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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, October 05, 2017 12:14 PM

“Almost hit by 21” is a story I really want to hear.  In fact, with accompanying photographs or illustrations it will make a compelling Classic Trains story (and probably a good sidebar to a Trains story on practical civil enforcement with and without PTC!)...

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Posted by diningcar on Thursday, October 05, 2017 12:22 PM

Almost hit by 21” is a story I really want to hear. In fact, with accompanying photographs or illustrations it will make a compelling Classic Trains story (and probably a good sidebar to a Trains story on practical civil enforcement with and without PTC!

email @:  jwk1932@att.net

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, October 05, 2017 4:00 PM

Norm48327
I  am surprised that any wig-wags are still in service.

Certainly not in mainline service, but there's one operating by the main gate at Greenfield Village.  Of course, they have signals all around their loop of track which represent a veritable museum.  

LarryWhistling
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Posted by Norm48327 on Thursday, October 05, 2017 5:21 PM

Larry,

I have not been to Greenfield or the Henry Ford in ages. Perhaps I should make a trip there to see what's new.

Norm


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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, October 07, 2017 11:46 AM

A colleague here in the office took one look at this thread’s photos, read the captioning, and said “Now I know why TRAINS insists so much on RAW photos directly from the camera for photo contributions.”  He thanks you, CopCarSS, for giving him an education about the wickedness of cameramen these days that Kalmback now has to be on guard against.

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Posted by Semper Vaporo on Saturday, October 07, 2017 12:16 PM

I do believe that TRAINS would not accept a lot of O. Winston Link's photos.  He was masterful, not only in the lighting when taking the photo, but also at "composing" the final print in the darkroom!

Semper Vaporo

Pkgs.

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Posted by CopCarSS on Saturday, October 07, 2017 12:58 PM

K. P. Harrier

He thanks you, CopCarSS, for giving him an education about the wickedness of cameramen these days that Kalmback now has to be on guard against.

 

 

My fiancé used to live in Boston where "wicked" has a colloquially positive spin, so I'll take it as a compliment for him to reference me or my photography as "wicked." However, I'll state three thoughts on the matter:

  1. The only compositing that was done for the shot was to light up the red lens of the signal. I could have bypassed this step by gaff taping my speedlight to the wig-wag. However, even though that would be a completely harmless and reversible process, I didn't want to touch the railroad's property. My solution was to take a second shot where I handheld the speedlight behind the lens of the wig-wag and then composited the two images in Photoshop. Had I followed the gaff tape route, your co-worker could have had his single image RAW file and would have never known otherwise.
  2. I have fully disclosed everything that occurred in the making of this photo. There was no attempt to deceive. It's all there plain as day.
  3. I present my images not as editorial content but rather as fine art imagery. As such, I feel free of the constraints that editorial content demands.

Just my take on the matter. You're free to let your co-worker know my responses and I encourage him to come here and discuss this if he feels fit. Likewise, if he'd rather keep it private, you are free to give out my e-mail contact information (CopCarSS at yahoo dot com) to him as well.

Many thanks to the rest of you for your thoughts, especially DC and MC. DC, I'll echo the sentiment that I'd love to hear the story about #21!

"A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed." ~Ansel Adams

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, October 07, 2017 1:13 PM

Perhaps someone can tell me why a Chris May image of a wig-wag is supposed to be “better” presented as a Railroad News Photos ‘railfan catch of the month’ photo?

Personally I find the tonal range of that picture clearly evocative of Ansel Adams, the red in the lens to be an arresting part of the image, and the clear description of the technical means to achieve that effect a fair warning to the literal-minded that the image is not intended to be clinically ‘accurate’ for rivet-counting or modeling purposes.

I for one would be pleased to have that particular picture on my wall, and I might add it is one of my favorites from his very impressive group of works he has shared with us in or through this forum.

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Posted by rdamon on Saturday, October 07, 2017 2:02 PM

Thanks for sharing ...  I have added the wig-wag to my desktop background rotation!

Great job!!

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Posted by Norm48327 on Saturday, October 07, 2017 3:23 PM

Chris has a great eye for photo composition. I showed one of his works to another professional photographer/artist with camera in hand who also lives in 'Fourteener Country' and he thought it was near perfection.

Norm


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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, October 07, 2017 4:16 PM

CopCarSS (10-7):

Your two dark photos with alterations to enhance them with red lights are completely appropriate in this context.  And, they are most arresting, too!  But, the reference to wicked was in a bad way, that there are those (i.e., others) that try to trick editors with false photos, and unfortunately TRAINS Magazine is susceptible to that fraud.  And, I believe camera makers have used RAW to thwart those that have less than desirable morals and love to trick their fellowman.  My colleague, because of your posting, has come to appreciate why TRAINS has taken the stand that it has, and his efforts is now towards making unchangeable photographs better, if that makes sense …

Have fun with your camera,

K.P.

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Posted by mudchicken on Saturday, October 07, 2017 9:09 PM

Where Copcar was in Lamar, even on a clear day, you aren't gonna see a fourteener from there. (Delhi is a lot closer to the front range)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, October 07, 2017 10:02 PM

My understanding of the reason TRAINS wanted the RAW files was that it had very little to do with conscious image manipulation and much more to do with compression artifacts and the like introduced by lossy “processing” in the camera to save storage space, allow quicker saves, etc. at the cost of visible image degradation when ‘blown up’ or separated for printing in the magazine.  A similar dodge in current crApple phones that use HDR programming is to save the ‘basic’ photo along with the essentially-Frankenstein-monster stitched-together artifact of the HDR algorithm... the point for Trains being that their photo staff is well able to use Photoshop or whatever to manipulate an image but ‘it’s hard to put back what has been lost in previous processing’.

I applaud efforts to compose and take pictures in the camera, and that goes double for those who can capture good tonal range directly in the image rather than use some digital equivalent of the zone system (which I think HDR when properly practiced tries to be) to keep all the information possible in the ‘negative’ equivalent but then have to use dodging, burn etc. to get the effect out in the finished image.  On the other hand, compare the original contact print for Adams’ ‘Half Dome’ with the often-reproduced final version, and I think the ‘honest photograph’ critic may shut up.

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Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Sunday, October 08, 2017 12:27 AM

Overmod
On the other hand, compare the original contact print for Adams’ ‘Half Dome’ with the often-reproduced final version, and I think the ‘honest photograph’ critic may shut up.

Had the opportunity to hear Ansel Adams give a talk about 40 or so years ago at a local college.  One point he stressed was that the negative was the starting point but the print with proper manipulation was the end product.  He averred that some prints took days and many repeats to arrive at the final accepted result.

BTW, he was an artist who was definitely not full of himself, as the Q&A period was a wonderful conversation for all in attendance.

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Posted by zardoz on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 3:06 PM
Chris, if you're going to enter either of those images in this week's Trackside Photo Contest, I'll just save myself some disappointment and not even bother to enter. Your images are wonderful!!

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