As you know I had been a group admin on many railfan groups here on dA. I left all my positions recently due to a host of things that I wrote about in my last TRFN blog. But I want to talk about a huge stigma effecting not only dA railfans, but railfans everywhere.
It's this thought that any amount of criticism, or any photography standards makes you railpictures 2.0. Yes, if I even bring this up on most railfan groups about stepping up photography standards to any level, when the change wouldn't even be radical, this is the label I would get.
Yes, I do post on railpictures on occasions, and yes I have won a People's Choice Award on that site, but it's a sad state of affairs in this community when we can't distinguish the difference between quality photography and the radical standards RP has. First of all Railpictures does have many valid rejection points, and looking at a lot of rejected photos, you do tend to see what the screener sees more than half the time. However, most groups here on dA never reject people for things like high sun, back-lit, or cloudy day. I would have never proposed doing so. Railpictures looks more for perfection, so unless you're on a group that does not look for perfection, you really can't honestly compare it to railpictures.
What I had often seen was people submitting stuff like this.
I don't know about you, I was 16 when I took this shot and when I saw the quality of it then I was upset. I had learned the hard way that my HP43X was only equipped with digi-zoom, thus rendering any zoom capabilities useless. However people now days often seem to believe something like this is high quality. I think if we are accepting something like this as high quality we really need to check ourselves. We can't be blaming railpictures when somebody criticizes the quality. I wasn't too good myself back in that day but I learned how to work with what I had, and learned to try and work around it's limits. I knew even at a young age that if I tried to present a low quality image like this one in my overall portfolio, that people would cringe. I kept this shot all these years for this purpose.
I once tried to introduce a decline system, that would be more clear for admins and members alike, thus to avoid us being like umpires with different strike zones I got labeled railpictures 2.0. Despite the fact, that the system would not have been near as strict as RP, and maybe everybody would have a better idea of what we accept and what we don't. But we have fallen into this slippery-slope mentality that any standards automatically makes you railpictures.net, and it's a poison that is nullifying the growth of young railfan photographers.
Now I will say this to, railpictures.net is not the place to start out. Yes, there are some elitist on that site and double standards that make no sense to people who have been around. So, if you present an image like the above one to RP rejection groups on Facebook, you will likely be laughed at. Unlike the response here on deviantART years ago where we figured out why it happened. The people who do the critiquing sometimes are hypocrites to. For example I've seen some images on Rejected Railpictures Facebook, where people submit stuff that is obviously low-quality and they get pissed because they got rejected and post rants. I've even participated in a few comment threads where I had to cut some egos down to size. However, I've seen many questionable images get on to, and one of them being a recent up grade photo where you can only see part of the cab of a CSX AC4400CW. When somebody criticized the same people come on there in the images defense, however I doubt the same people would be defending the same image had somebody came forward with a rejection rant about that image had it been rejected. So, there is a lot of ass-kissing to when an image is accepted probably because they don't want to draw the ire of the admins. I'll say if I was still admin of TRFN and I got the particular image I described I probably would have declined it.
Railpictures has it's own perks and drawbacks but we should not blame or use it as a label every single time! Too many people get offended over something they really should not. Time to grow a spine, and prepare to hear some things you don't want to hear sometimes.