New Comm Forum – Panel With ARC’s Wendy Harman & Emerson’s Jim Cahill
Measuring Influence or Sentiment: Which is the more important?

Approaching Cluetrain Shot At New Comm Forum

In preparation for this morning’s keynote with Richard Binhammer from Dell Richard and I talked about the idea of having two pictures of trains, one approaching, and the other disappearing, to tie into the idea of the cluetrain manifesto. I found the approaching train picture on Flickr.

Terry McCormick was the photographer for the shot, he is Zormsk on Flickr, and he agreed to let me use his train picture. I thought the photograph was very compelling, and asked Terry to describe how he came to take the picture.


To start with, I've been dabbling in photography for over 30 years. I've paid my dues: weddings, senior portraits, news photojournalism, darkroom work, etc.

When I retired from teaching and moved from Pa to Arkansas, photography and fishing became my main avocations.

I sold all my film camera gear and purchased a Canon Rebel XT DSLR with a 17mm - 85mm Canon zoom lens.

Later I added a Canon 70mm - 300mm zoom.

That's my basic package nowadays and I try to have it with me (in the trusty old Jeep) every time I am out and about.

Most of my images are unplanned; I just come across something I think is unusual or photogenic, and grab the camera.

Fortunately, my extensive photo background means I can typically make a decent capture without a lot of preplanning.

In this case, the image was captured at the last crossing before trains leave the city limits heading west. I was driving in downtown Russellville Arkansas when I heard the train's whistle in the distance.
There are many RR crossings in the town and I figured I'd get ahead of it at a more or less scenic one and grab a couple of shots as it approached. I liked how the rail curved at this crossing and how trees and shrubs shielded the scene from surrounding buildings etc.

I parked and set up my tripod with the camera mounted and pre-aimed and focused the 300mm zoom.
I placed a plastic shopping bag (Walmart?) over the gear to protect it from the drizzle and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I kept hearing the whistle getting louder and louder, but the train must have slowed considerably in town because it took at least ten minutes to show up at my crossing.

I got soaked but the camera stayed dry and was ready.

I managed to fire off 2 or 3 shots before it passed through the zone of sharpest focus.

This was my favorite.

So, what's so neat about an everyday freight train? Not much, it was more the combination of a rainy day, greenery, the curve of the track and thinking how the train's lights would shine down those wet rails that inspired me to go to the trouble of shooting it. I think in this case the totality of the composition makes the image, not the subject per se.

As I sit in front of my computer typing this, I can see it is raining outside. Maybe I should get out there...