Sunday, January 29, 2012

You aren't ALL Brian Monaghan !

Looming camera(Note to younger readers, Brian Monaghan was the Railway Modeller's official photographer back in the 70's and 80's. A bit like Chris Nevard, but with film. He once appeared in the mag wearing a bowler hat and surrounded by ladies, Charlies Angels style. Mr Nev doesn't get anything quite so glamorous.)

Last weekend I'm sure I notice more cameras floating around than normal at a model railway exhibition. They came in all shapes and sizes from mobile photos to decent high-end DSLR's. It was a real shutterfest. Many hundred of pictures must have been taken of our layout alone.

What the heck does everyone do with them ?

I mean, it's not like you can't find pictures on tinterweb or even in magazines. Are they all carefully filed away for future reference and dug out to aid modelling ? I don't think so. In fact I suspect that any interest passes about a millisecond after the button is pressed. It's the fun of framing the shot, capturing the moment that the photographer is interested in. Like big game hunters, once the trophy is bagged, it's on to the next kill. Sure, friends might be shown the results stuffed and mounted, although probably on the back of the camera rather than framed on paper, but it's a collecting thing.

And what a lot of big cameras. I'd hate to explain that a lot of pro's favour something smaller such as the Cannon G9 rather than lug anything as chunky around a show. A decent compact will give results perfectly adequate for most of this stuff anyway - if you are shooting for print then this isn't done while jostling with the great unwashed over a barrier. One might suspect that they are big boys toys...

The one benefit of all digital as far as those of us inside the barrier are concerned is that you can switch the flash off. This is a simple enough trick that no one with a film camera ever seemed to manage. For years the unwary operator could expect to look up several times a day to BAM, another flashgun and some dazzle in the eyes for the next five minutes. All that for a badly focused shot of a toy train.

It's not like I want people not to take pics. It's flattering and if you ask we're even happy to pose locos for you (Note: This is a limited offer that covers only the loco in use unless the show is very quiet. We do not intend to bring out a series of trains in the middle of a busy session just so you can play at being Tony Wright. And yes that does happen.) so you don't have to click while it's moving. I take photos myself and stuff some on Flickr as well as using them for detail and inspiration. But I never try and record an entire show via the medium of a camera. I like to look at stuff that isn't on a 3 inch screen.

As for video cameras - well they have been mostly displaced by DSLR's but not entirely. And who watches that stuff again ?


neil whitehead said...

I'm glad that all you exhibitors and attendees take lots of photos of the shows as, being resident outside the UK it is the only way to 'attend'. Trouble is, unlike yourself and Mr. Nevard, a lot of the shots are yellow, badly framed and taken mainly from overhead and a scale 3 miles away. The same with the videos on YouTube. Still, it's better than nothing! Thanks to everyone for their time and effort.

Paul said...

"As for video cameras - well they have been mostly displaced by DSLR's but not entirely. And who watches that stuff again ?"

Well, currently about 500 people per day for the stuff I've put on Youtube.

But seriously, I enjoy taking photos and video at exhibitions because I find it forces me to look at the models much more closely. Finding good viewpoints and waiting for interesting trains to pass helps me appreciate a layout much more than just glancing at it for a few minutes then moving on.

James Finister said...

Interesting. Like Neil I certainly search out albums and youtube of key shows I've not been able to attend. The photos I take at shows are mostly for my own modeling reference - OK, call it plagiarism if you must, but I try and put my photos of the 16mm AGM and the Midlands Large Scale show up on Picasso as soon as I get back, because there is always great interest from those who haven't made it on the day. What I don't tend to do is put them on my Flickr account, because they rarely pass my internal quality test or have intrinsic value after the day has passed. I agree about the suitability of high end compacts (I often use a Panasonic LX3) but owning one of those as well as a DSLR is a bit of a luxury.

Konstantin said...

I do like taking pictures during shows. But then again I am a hobby photographer anyway. I regularly browse through picture albums and occasionally find myself stopping a certain shots that I have neglected before. I picture captures a very special moment and is always worth keeping. It's that simple. And every now and then I'll post some of these moments on the web and I know that people enjoy looking at it. You can't argue with that, can you?

neil whitehead said...

Well Phil can afford two cameras, what with being a well known author, making all this model railway and boat stuff and all the articles for the top magazines, plus the vast numbers of cakes he purchases, well loaded him.

Phil Parker said...

Some good points here. I'm almost tempted to admit that I might be slightly mistaken. But then it's my blog so I can always be right here.

The point about "Finding good viewpoints" is one I hadn't thought of. I'm always trying to persuade people that they should look hard at the detail and now moan when that's what they try to do !

As for people living outside the country - that's your own fault :-P

Compacts don't need to be high end for theis stuff. Most of my Flickr shots were done on a well sub-£100 Fuji I bought years ago. What I was trying to say was that you don't NEED the mega camera to take a good shot, it's more important to frame it properly and avoid the overhead, 3 miles away picture. No amount of money spent in the camera shop is going to save you from that if it's what you want to take.

Maybe though, I should have just written, "God save us from unedited photo albums and video tapes" for they are the real horrors lurking. People who don't cut out the rubbish from either !

Zabdiel said...

I have to admit to having put some fairly bad photos on Flickr - I meant to delete the bad ones off but never got round to it. I've found a surprising number of exhibition layouts that have only a couple of photos on line, or no on line presence at all. I agree with Paul about finding good viewpoints (though that normally leads me to take less photos as I realise I'm not that good at it).

There are some layouts I'd never photograph at an exhibition, or at least only photograph if I wanted to practice my technique, because I'm never going to improve on the photos on the owners websites e.g. County Gate and any of Chris Nevard's layouts.

Iain Robinson said...

Ha ha! I remember that "John Steed" shot of Brian Monaghan...back in a '67 RM possibly? He was quite a photographer. I wonder what he would have accomplished with today's digital wonders. It's also amazing what you can accomplish with a cheap compact and a sheet of white paper for "fill in"!

neil whitehead said...

As my old photography lecturer said many years ago, "it's the person behind the camera and not the camera, sonny!"

Iain Robinson said...

Neil, I was going to say that too!