Essential picture elements & perspectives


Taking the right picture is more important than taking lots of pictures. 

 Wow, this is a PERFECT picture! Close enough to identify certain elements, like the side sill and deck condition, but far enough away to see the entire railcar.

Wow, this is a PERFECT picture! Close enough to identify certain elements, like the side sill and deck condition, but far enough away to see the entire railcar.

 While this picture is of good quality and has good lighting it is so close up that, for most people, it loses any meaning.

While this picture is of good quality and has good lighting it is so close up that, for most people, it loses any meaning.

In my occupation I am often asked to give my expert onion on the condition or suitability of certain railroad flat cars for a bridge application. Or, I am working with a new dismantling facility that needs to show me how the railcar looks before & after it has been dismantled. No matter the reason why railcar pictures are needed, the techniques that need to be employed remain the same.

This can be tough as the person taking the pictures usually has no idea what is important to me so they usually try to compensate by taking a ton of pictures of everything...except for the things I need to see. 

A good photo session should less than 5 minutes per railcar...and should only require about 11 pictures. It should be quick, easy, but most of all...systematic. The same sequence over and over again. 

Sometimes, due to poor access, it may be impossible to get the perfect picture. In those cases, take as close to a perfect picture as possible. In this example, it would have been ideal to include the longitudinal crossmembers. In this scenario, a close up of the longitudinal crossmembers were taken immediately after this picture.

The goal of a good picture is to communicate two basic concepts:

  1. The condition of the railcar.
  2. The style of railcar (also known as car classification). 

In the video below, I explain how to take perfect pictures. Please try to get as close to a "perfect" picture as possible but I do understand that sometimes getting the camera into position is impossible. A video makes a great alternative to pictures...so long as the video quality allows me to zoom in to inspect certain elements of the railcar. 

After watching the video, photographers may want to download/print the PDF below that further reminds the photographer the various pictures needed. The 11 pictures outlined in the attached PDF as the minimum and more pictures are always welcomed...especially if there are anomalies, imperfections, or defects. 

WATCH THE VIDEO

PRINT THE PDF

TAKE PERFECT PICTURES

This video will help you take the absolute best railcar pictures that will enable viewers to really see the important elements of a railcar.

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