Composition - C&C Request
Thank you very much for taking the time to offer me feedback. It is interesting that you consider the landscape one to be a stronger composition. I thought the potrait one was stronger because it had more of a text book layout - top third; sky, middle; rail cars and bottom; tracks. I will continue to come back to your comments and feedback as I continue developing "an eye" for the picture.
The reason I said the vertical crop was "close" was because I can see what you're doing with the layers and I like it. It's difficult to explain why the vertical crop doesn't quite work as well for me, but I'll give it a shot.
You can easily divide the image into three layers in terms of context: sky, train/track, and ground. You composed those perfectly into thirds of the frame. However, visually there are more than three layers. The visual layers from the bottom going up (ignoring the smaller divisions) are green grass, dark brown tracks, light brown gravel, black tracks & wheels, orange cars, and blue sky. Looking at it from that perspective, the blue layer is on top and it's the largest layer making it more prominent than the other layers, but it's also arguably the least interesting layer. If there were more of the low clouds filling the bottom half of the sky and going all the way across the frame, the white layer they would create would be a perfect addition. As I'm writing this, I'm thinking maybe that's the reason I used the word "close" even though I wasn't able to put my finger on it until now. That extra cloud layer would balance the layers above the train with the layers below the train. It's a small issue in a photo that's close to being very good, but as I said in my previous post, the small issues stand out in images of this genre.
Another reason I prefer the horizontal crop is because the orange train is a great photographic subject and more of the train is visible in the wider crop which adds to the impact of the shot. The horizontal crop also has more of the repeating vertical lines in the sides of the train cars as well as the track and that adds a nice rhthymic element to the photo. I know you were just asking about composition, but it's difficult to ignore the overall impact when evaluating the photo.