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Old 1st of March 2012 (Thu)   #1
JWright
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Default Shooting on railroad tracks...

I am a "foamer" (slang for a railfan) and a commentary in the April issue of Trains magazine prompted me to make some comments about shooting people on or around railroad tracks.

Union Pacific Railroad (and this applies to other railroads as well) has issued a very firm policy about photography on their right-of-way. It can be found HERE and HERE. Of particular note is the last line in the photo/video policy and I'll come back to that later.

You might think "Well, we can hear the train coming." Guess again... Trains are not as loud as one may think and by the time they get into sight it's going to be too late. Once the engineers sees you on the tracks, he's not going to be able to stop in time...

If you're shooting on the right-of-way there are a number of things that might happen. You might get away with it, you might be told to leave, you might get a citation for trespassing, you might get arrested and all your gear confiscated or, worst case scenario, someone might get hurt or killed.

Sure, there are a lot of inactive rail lines in the country, but do you know if they are truly inactive? And even if they are, they still belong to someone, most likely one of the railroads and you're still trespassing.

And if you do get away with it, take note of that last line of UP's policy I mentioned above: "Union Pacific will seek removal from publication any photograph or video that violates this policy." This is of particular importance for those doing Seniors because I'm sure your Senior and their school would just love to have the railroad go after them to have all the offending shots removed from the entire yearbook run.

If your client absolutely has to have their picture taken on tracks, then seek out a rail museum near you and find out what it would take shoot on their property. I'm sure most museums would be glad to accommodate you in turn for a donation or the payment of a fee.

I work around trains a lot as a volunteer at a railroad museum and the best advice I can give anyone about shooting on the tracks is:

DON'T DO IT!!!
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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #2
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

Surely no photographer anywhere is stupid enough to use "live" rails. Rusted, short sections of track that don't go anywhere must be fairly common in places outside restricted areas.
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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #3
JWright
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by djentley View Post
Surely no photographer anywhere is stupid enough to use "live" rails. Rusted, short sections of track that don't go anywhere must be fairly common in places outside restricted areas.
Apparently Union Pacific seems to think so. After a more detailed reading of the Trains magazine commentary, it's apparent UP thinks photographers that specialize in Senior photography are the ones suggesting pictures be taken on the tracks.
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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #4
Snydremark
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by djentley View Post
Surely no photographer anywhere is stupid enough to use "live" rails. Rusted, short sections of track that don't go anywhere must be fairly common in places outside restricted areas.
You would be terribly, terribly disappointed, unfortunately.
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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #5
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

What is it with you people and "Trespassers?"
Why do so many rail fans rush to demonize anyone who gets within 20 feet of the tracks? Youtube is full of videos of people innocently crossing the tracks, or walking alongside, narrated by a frothing camera man making sanctimonious commentary about how "They'll be sorry!" when the rail cops catch up with them. Watch a few of these and you'll quickly detect a deep seated meanness on the part of the rail fan. Where does this come from? How do you justify it?
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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #6
JWright
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geonerd View Post
What is it with you people and "Trespassers?"
Why do so many rail fans rush to demonize anyone who gets within 20 feet of the tracks? Youtube is full of videos of people innocently crossing the tracks, or walking alongside, narrated by a frothing camera man making sanctimonious commentary about how "They'll be sorry!" when the rail cops catch up with them. Watch a few of these and you'll quickly detect a deep seated meanness on the part of the rail fan. Where does this come from? How do you justify it?
There isn't any meanness intended on the part of railfans. It's a safety issue. It's also possible to find many videos of people doing stupid things around trains...

Most railfans are responsible when it comes to trains, but there are always the idiots. One of the things that spurred Union Pacific's policy is a railfan placing a video camera between the tracks to shoot UP's 844 steam locomotive recently.
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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #7
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geonerd View Post
What is it with you people and "Trespassers?"
Why do so many rail fans rush to demonize anyone who gets within 20 feet of the tracks? Youtube is full of videos of people innocently crossing the tracks, or walking alongside, narrated by a frothing camera man making sanctimonious commentary about how "They'll be sorry!" when the rail cops catch up with them. Watch a few of these and you'll quickly detect a deep seated meanness on the part of the rail fan. Where does this come from? How do you justify it?
I guess for me it was the time that a coal train coasting downgrade caught me by surprise (years ago). Fortunately I was on a road beside the tracks, but when I finally heard the train and turned around, it was very close and moving at a good clip...

Many people are killed or seriously injured every year tresspassing around railroads. Of course, then the railroad get sued by the survivors. You know, Mamma's little biscuit eater couldn't have been a fault, the big bad corporation needs to pay Momma for raising an idiot.

I've seen kids climb between railcars on trains waiting for signals to resume movement (think jerking couplers as the slack is pulled in), idiots drive thru/around flashing gates. Once I even saw a dumb kid stand in front of a locomotive that was sitching a local industry as if to "dare" the engineer to move. Then there was the time a a punk jumped across the tracks as a train approached to impress his friends. He was within feet of being hit by the locomotive.

Many of the images posted on photography forums show people with absolutely no clue how to behave around heavy equipment sitting/standing on active rail lines. If I were a railroad policy maker, the UP policy would seem to be entirely reasonable.

BTW, youtube is also full of footage of people getting hit by trains.
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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #8
JWright
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by District_History_Fan View Post
I guess for me it was the time that a coal train coasting downgrade caught me by surprise (years ago). Fortunately I was on a road beside the tracks, but when I finally heard the train and turned around, it was very close and moving at a good clip...

Many people are killed or seriously injured every year tresspassing around railroads. Of course, then the railroad get sued by the survivors. You know, Mamma's little biscuit eater couldn't have been a fault, the big bad corporation needs to pay Momma for raising an idiot.

I've seen kids climb between railcars on trains waiting for signals to resume movement (think jerking couplers as the slack is pulled in), idiots drive thru/around flashing gates. Once I even saw a dumb kid stand in front of a locomotive that was sitching a local industry as if to "dare" the engineer to move. Then there was the time a a punk jumped across the tracks as a train approached to impress his friends. He was within feet of being hit by the locomotive.

Many of the images posted on photography forums show people with absolutely no clue how to behave around heavy equipment sitting/standing on active rail lines. If I were a railroad policy maker, the UP policy would seem to be entirely reasonable.

BTW, youtube is also full of footage of people getting hit by trains.
Good example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AReEg...eature=related

Watch the second idiot in the white shirt...
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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #9
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JWright View Post
Good example:
Another of Momma's little buscuit eaters in action. Note the speed of the train.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DxcG...eature=related

BTW, around my area, local AMTRAK passenger trains travel at up to 80mph...

Last edited by District_History_Fan : 2nd of March 2012 (Fri) at 12:52.
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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #10
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

Good post.

Gotta admit, I'm guilty of using "live" rails for a very brief photoshoot. It was in an area where the track is straight and flat, and we could see for miles in either direction. A stupid thing to do, but far from the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life.

A train did come by on a nearby rail while we were shooting. We saw it coming from far away, and got off the tracks and back to the car, several minutes in advance.
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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #11
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nathancarter View Post
Good post.

Gotta admit, I'm guilty of using "live" rails for a very brief photoshoot. It was in an area where the track is straight and flat, and we could see for miles in either direction. A stupid thing to do, but far from the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life.

A train did come by on a nearby rail while we were shooting. We saw it coming from far away, and got off the tracks and back to the car, several minutes in advance.
It sounds like you were using a little common sense. Tresspassing policy applies to all nonemployees because of those that don't use sound thinking. The bad apples spoil access for everyone else. I guess that is why most railfans are passionate about this subject.
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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #12
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

Beside the point of this post, but I do not see the fascination so many have with taking pics of people on railroad tracks.
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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #13
Zansho
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

Where I live, there is a rail that is totally dormant, and has NEVER been in use in the last 10 years, since we've had a train derail back then, and one of the bridges in the town is deemed un-safe for use due to structural integrity.

So, I've got a railroad track to use if I ever need one. And I did about 2 months ago, and got this shot:

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Old 2nd of March 2012 (Fri)   #14
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

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Where I live, there is a rail that is totally dormant, and has NEVER been in use in the last 10 years, since we've had a train derail back then, and one of the bridges in the town is deemed un-safe for use due to structural integrity.

So, I've got a railroad track to use if I ever need one. And I did about 2 months ago, and got this shot:

Hummmm, rails look polished from use. Nice shot though.
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Old 3rd of March 2012 (Sat)   #15
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Default Re: Shooting on railroad tracks...

It''s the morning fog on the rails . That's what makes them look so shiny along with the sunrise.
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