Discussion in 'Photography' started by Bifur01, Dec 8, 2012.
Just out of interest Neil, have you attended any charters?
Yes just echoing those comments. Charters are a great way to enjoy a days' photting with other guys along with some terrific banter at times, although when we're all huddled together on the line side and someone decides to silently break wind adding an "eggy" aroma effect it does make you want to run a mile!:evil
But joking aside charters bring in much needed revenue for a railway along with publicity in the media. Also in some cases visiting locos are only brought in on the proviso charter/s can be arranged to help pay for the transportation costs e.g. first visit of 41312 to the Bluebell & more recently the 4F at the Spa Valley. My Dad and I did think back in the later 1990's that charters were only for the elite photters and were a bit of a closed shop, it wasn't until Ian advertised on the Bluebell e-mail group a freight charter with 33001 in 2000 that we managed to attend these and we haven't looked back since Thanks to the likes of Ian, Martin, Jon Bowers, Matt Allen and other organisers, charters are now much more opened up to everyone who wants to go on them and are very enjoyable even when the weather doesn't play ball. We've been on some brilliant charters in the last 13 or so years we've been attending thanks to the above mentioned names and hope they keep organising them. Below are links to some galleries from these events.
I must say that, like David, I was always under the impression that charters were for the 'elite' photographers/videographers. The night photo shoot at the Mid Hants Autumn Gala was, for me anyway, a nice way to enter the world of photo shoots/charters. Everyone was very laid back and I really did enjoy the atmosphere in Ropley yard that evening. I was expecting it to be a very uncomfortable experience, but no. Even though I had my video camera with me, I was almost surprised at how accommodating some of these people were.
If ok with Ian and Martin, I would quite like to make contact about these photographic charters. It is something I have never experienced before properly, but would be eager to try it out.
By the way, the two shots of 4464 on the teaks were superb, Martin. You really were lucky with the weather that weekend, especially when you think back to how awful this last summer has been weatherwise!
James at SVN
Drop us a pm with your e-mail address and I'll add you to my invite list.
In fairness you also forgot another 2 reasons - equally valid - why charters are good value for money :
(1) it gives photographers the chance to use a variety of lenses / zoom ranges when more than one runpast is made at a location
(2) the running of more than one runpast at a location gives the photographer taking both still and video images a chance to concentrate on one rather than risk taking lower quality images by trying to operate 2 cameras at once.
As a regular supporter of charters I also agree that much of the pleasure comes from sharing experiences - and comparing both kit and techniques can be as much part of the learning curve as reading books.
Run pasts are an integral part of charters, apart from the reasons above, which re very valid, I'd add
(3) Ability to run at times not otherwise available - e.g dawn, late evening etc
(4) Control over working of locomotive - I've down a number on the Mid Hants for instance when the loco has been worked DOWNHILL - not something that is common on normal services
I think charters do "what it says on the tin" If you go to (for instance) the SVR then you are going to get GWR infrastructure and some riverside shots, no-one in their right mind is going to expect a re-creation of the ECML c 1936 - doesn't mean you can't get some nice shots or indeed just enjoy watching and listening to some pleasant loco/stock combinations.
And I'll add my vote to the fun side of things, chance to meet and chat to a bunch of other photties.
Drop me a PM as well
I'm sure Ian will agree but Charters are not for "elite" cameramen and women . They are open to all as long as you are happy to pay and book in advance . When I started going on them I learn't a massive amount about locations , composition , techniques , how to use lenses
Agreed. Had five BBLS supporters book the 4464 charter. Their main business is the overhaul and operation of vintage aircraft and there wasn't a serious photter amongst them. Their enjoyment came from getting up close and personal with some heavy engineering, the like of which you don't find in a fabric covered bi-plane.
I personally have mixed feelings about charters.
On the one hand, they provide a way for photographers to contribute towards preserved lines while at the same time doing what they enjoy. A win-win. The opportunity to socialise, learn, and experiment is a big part of it and there's a very good chance of coming back with as good a set of photographs as you'd ever be able to get on the day.
The big downside for me is 'the experience'. For me, much of the pleasure of railway photography comes from the planning, anticipation, and perversely the many failures, as these make the shots that are successful all the more meaningful. So much of that is lost in the photocharter experience. The planning is generally done by the charter organiser(s), much of the anticipation is lost as the loco sits there waiting for the blue hole in the cloudy sky to arrive, and the odds of success are so much higher that the captured image just doesn't invoke the same memories as the rare mainline shot where everything came good. The typical charter run past also tends to fail experience-wise as it simply can't invoke the same feelings you get hearing a loco working hard for several miles, the anticipation as to whether its arrival will coincide with a gap in the clouds, and then listening to it fade away into the distance with the shot (usually not) in the bag. For me, I'd rather spend the time travelling to photograph mainline steam, as the resulting photographs mean that much more to me than a charter image that's been captured by 30 others all standing within a few feet of one another. It does likely mean that it'll take me a lifetime to capture enough images to fill a blurb book, and they likely won't have perfect stock and locos every time, but it's mostly about the experience for me, and browsing the images serves to bring back the memories of those moments that were particularly special.
Of course, that's just my personal view, but I'd suggest that those thinking of attending charters ask themselves what they enjoy about railway photography; is it just about the images captured, or what went into capturing them?
It is of course possible to enjoy both the charter experience and the experience of "normal" steam. I've yet to meet a photographer who only does his photography on charters. It is also possible to plan your own shots during a charter. One example was during on one the Bluebell. The organiser had set up run pasts near Three Arch Bridge and that's where the gallery gathered. A very small group of us decided to venture far from the madding crowd to a vantage spot well away from and above the line. I know of others who do this and whilst they may not get as many shots as the gallery, the compensation is having a few shots a bit different to the rest.
That's true, but many of us have a limited amount of time and financial resource we can dedicate to the hobby, so it is about where best for an individual to put their time and money. For me, I realised that it isn't the photo charter experience I really get the enjoyment from, even though I usually come away with the "best" photos (and plenty of them), so it became clear to me where I should direct my efforts. While it is possible to get away from the crowd at charters, it isn't so much about that, it is more about being able to plan your own day and enjoy the experience. I don't doubt that there are many people for which the photo charter experience is superb, I'm just putting an alternative view, and I do know I'm not the only one.
I'd love to do more mainline photography, but diesel is expensive and time sometimes in short supply, I simply haven't got the free time or money to zoom around the country chasing mainline steam, or indeed to travel behind it these days ( I have in the past, and also worked as a volunteer on a number of mainline runs from the Mid Hants) However, I did go and watch Tornado yesterday as it was within a few miles of my house. I took some photos, but the main pleasure was standing in the sun watching a variety of trains go by with Voyagers, Desiros, Class 66 and 70's passing in quick succession, topped off with Tornado drifting past in Blue livery! I also lineside at the Mid Hants, so all the fun of planning, checking the weather, waiting for the train to pass, hoping the sun/moon/cloud falls right etc apply there. However with a charter, I know I can get a few hours or whole day for a reasonable cost, if I stay within 100 miles or so I can control the travel costs (definitely no overnights!)In fact the Mid Hants is within walking distance of my house, so if I charter there it can be a really cheap day. At some charters I have been content to stay with the crowd, on others I have gone for a different vantage point. Even with 30 or 40 photograpers in a small area, it is suprising how different the pictures can be, with regard to lens choice, exposure choice, post-processing etc. Some will produce a classic 3/4 shot in sun with rods down and exhaust clear of the train, others may go for a silhouette, a wider angle or closer crop etc. I know when I went on my first charter it ended up being pretty much as I anticipated except that some people had truly enourmous step-ladders with them! Camerarange from high-end compacts through a range of DSLRs from 4/3 through APS-C and APS-H to Full-frame, a smattering of 35mm fim, some MF film and of course a range of dedicated video cameras. Olympus, Canon, Pentax Nikon, Leica, Mamiya, Sony it's all there! Certainly never felt it was an elite club, just a bunch of blokes with cameras and step ladders and a dirt great steamy thing running forwards and backwards.
So as you say it is an experience some will enjoy, others may not
I think you have not met a click (clique?) of photographers in a gallery as you will find 30 in a group will produce 30 different images once you take format (i.e portrait or landscape), zoom lenses (i.e. zoom range) and whether black and white or colour into account. The final image really is down to the photographers' sense of composition and imagination and I could name Rick Eborall as one charter photographer whose work from charters really is a one-off.
There is another factor hinted at by Hampshire Unit and that is age - some of us are both quite elderly and restricted in movement (e.g. I find difficulty climbing over fences / gates and must stick to the trackside) and the charter organisation allows me the time I need to select positions and take sufficient images to enjoy the day.
I don't disagree with the Laird's preference for going to the lineside but he has to acknowledge that some people have neither the transport, physical ability or time to do the same and the charter choices allow them to retain their interest and photography expertise. It's horses for courses and if some like Martin Ian and Russ are happy to continue organising then I, like many others, am happy to continue supporting them.
As I said Fred, I'm merely expressing my personal opinion based on my experiences. I have no gripe against those who do enjoy charters and there are many positive reasons for participating.
The point about keeping your interest and expertise is a good one and these days I try to experiment and maintain my 'expertise' by photographing the local modern railway scene. Doing so costs next to nothing, as much of the travel I do is on foot or by bicycle. I do think this is important, as if you only photograph mainline steam a few times a year, you want to make sure you get it right when the right conditions prevail and I certainly feel I get a bit rusty if I've not been out with the camera for a while!
I wonder if I might ask if those who have pmd photocharter details earlier in the thread could also pm them to me, I am on a couple of mailing lists for charters (mainly SVR located) but would like to expand my horozons. Thanks in advance if you are able to help me.
Martin Creese has helped set up a list of charters on Yahoo Groups at http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/30742Charters/; I suggest you contact this for further details of charter programmes
PM sent and awaiting your reply.
An interesting comment to make but the fact of the matter, it was not true and that I do know. As I recall, anyone who ask to join the mailing list of any particular organiser during that period, that all they had to do was to provide a SAE to receive an invite and then when they receive an invite, return with yes or no and send another SAE. You must remember communication via the Internet and especially e/mail was not the same as it is today so in consequence, so it was a little harder to get in touch with the relevant organisers. It was never a closed shop that was for certain. HTH.
One of the reasons I started doing charters for 34081 was because I couldn't get on an invite list. On one occasion I was working on the tender of 34081 and a well known organiser was in the shed preparing an i/d change for a visiting loco. I asked if I could book on what was obviously going to be a photo charter and was fobbed off with a lame excuse that dates were yet to be arranged. A simple check with the loco roster told me what I wanted to know and could easily have gate crashed if I had wanted to. There was also the ridiculous situation where mates attended photo charters but wouldn't pass on detail for fear of being struck off the list. Didn't know all the organisers back then though so others may have been more accommodating.
There's still one organiser who takes you off his mailing list if you don't book on a certain number of trips. Luckily very few of his charters appeal to me.
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