Check out this very cool railroading picture shot last month near Ogden, Utah.
That is the ultramodern “FrontRunner” commuter train crossing a trestle while a historic 67-year-old Union Pacific steam engine — on a tour around the region — passes beneath.
A beautiful shot. So beautiful that theÂ 62,603-circulation Standard-Examiner of Ogden used it on page one on Sunday, Nov. 27. (Unfortunately, I don’t have the entire page to show you. Just the picture.) So beautiful that the photographer — local “train aficionado” James Parks — kept getting praise for the shot.
Executive editor Andy Howell writes how Parks got that incredibly lucky shot:
James saw an opportunity to capture the two trains crossing at once. He noticed the published schedules indicated they would be arriving in Ogden around the same time. He scouted out a location, finding just the right spot where the FrontRunner tracks went over the UP tracks.
Then he waited.
The trains passed his vantage point 10 minutes apart.
For Parks, though, that was a distinction without a difference.
He shot separate photos of both trains and didn’t think twice about overlaying the photos to create the composite image.
He said he had read a column of mine where I explained that photojournalists try to tell a story with their images. To him, combining the photos was just a way of telling the story.
Howell goes on to describe how Parks came clean after the fact.
“I see now, after reading a bit about who you are, and some conversation with you, that if I was truly absent pride or guile, that I would have added that detail to the submission,” he said.
“In fact, I continued the smoke screen with friends who commented on the nice photo, the good fortune of the opportunity and the story it told … but who never dared ask the big question regarding post-processing techniques.”
So when he received a congratulatory email from the Standard-Examiner‘s visuals editor, Robert Johnson, last week, James decided to call and set the record straight.
Howell goes on to share his big take-away from this episode:
We’ve been conditioned to believe that deception is intentional, spurred by selfish motives. However, this case shows that we need do a better job of educating the public as to the role and ethics of journalism if we want them to be regular contributors.
Interestingly, Howell’s readers were much less understanding than he was in the comments of his column.
Find a detailed write up here by Sydney Smith of iMediaEthics. Thanks to Sydney for the tip.