Photographer of Night, Light & Steel Wheels

Posts tagged “csx

CAROTHERS

It’s the Fall of 2010 and I had just picked up photography after shooting videos for a couple of years. Word had come that CSX was going to replace the old Baltimore and Ohio Color Position Light signals along the famed Magnolia Cutoff east of Cumberland, MD. I spent the majority of my weekends during the Summer videoing that stretch of line. As the daylight faded during those trips I was intrigued by the night along the rails.
 
Fast forward to the Fall of that year and I had begun hanging out with Sean Hoyden of Night Stalker Photo Works. We ventured out along the Cutoff using his flashes and I began experimenting with my wife’s 3 megapixel point and shoot camera. The camera however had a manual control and could take long exposures up to 15 seconds, something most cameras of that style could not do.
It was from this after sharing a few of the photos that I was contacted by a railfan publication that thought it would be cool to have a little feature. I agreed and ventured out again during late November and found myself at Carothers just east of Paw Paw, WV at the east portal of the tunnel by the same name around 3am. If you look on today’s CSX Cumberland Sub timetable you’ll note that there is no signal by that name. During the signal replacement in the late Spring of 2011 Carothers which was a west bound only intermediate signal was removed permanently.
 
Up until this night I had always the “streak and change” shots where you set up and film the train and its lights streak by creating a “warp” effect and then the signal switching colors as the train passed. I wanted to do something different this time so I sat and waited after a bit, hearing an eastbound approach a few miles away. As it called the signal on the other side of the tunnel I readied the camera which sat on a cheap plastic tripod and clicked the shutter as I heard the low “hmm” as it entered the tunnel. Not much I could do afterwards, I thought 16 seconds would time it about right for the shot I had in mind. The headlights are about to round the curve when finally the camera is done and the train whooshes past.
 
I say to myself, “Did I get it?”
 
I wait…
 
The problem with the camera was it could take the exposures BUT then you had to wait for it to process it.
 
Finally the screen lights up and to my amazement, what you see is what I saw. Today, even looking back I am amazed by what I could capture without the use of a dslr or even a high end point and shoot camera. The signal and it’s sisters along the Cutoff may be gone, but today I can look back into the past and revel.
20101121-101_7019.jpg
Advertisements

DUSK AT HOBBS

Every once in a while  an image is produced when right after you took it you say to yourself… “well, that was a nice effort but I guess I’ll try it again” as you look  at the cameras LCD display in disgust… Well maybe in not so many words. That was exactly what I thought when I took this image back in late March of 2012.
Handling a DSLR camera was at the time new to me. Prior use of a DSLR included  my mother’s Canon T2i a couple times and a Pentex K30 from a friend which I had nicknamed the “Stormtrooper” for its white and black appearance. Most of my previous night, low light photos had been done using a point and shoot camera. Mostly a 12.1 MP Panasonic Lumix DMC -ZS7.  I had only picked up my Canon T3i earlier in the month.

Anyways, I had been out shooting on this evening after work along the Cumberland Sub near the house. The Sun hung low in the early Spring sky. An eastbound autorack train was going thru Martinsburg with an SD50-2 leader and I thought, that would be cool to catch at the summit of the grade between there and Harper’s Ferry. I got in the car and raced it the roughly 7 railroad miles to a overhead bridge that was built when the new WV Route 9 highway was built. It presently only leads to an orchard on the north side but its intentions was to serve as an access for a planned community which has yet to come to fruition. (no pun intended)

The location on the railroad is known as “Hobbs.” As stated previously, it is the top of a grade where up until the early 2000’s required helpers on heavy loads. This was the western terminus of  stretch of three track mainline and also had an interlocking tower designated “RN.” Today, it’s just another spot on the railroad, like most other former locales like Engles Switch, Hansrote, Magnolia and Sir John’s Run. Locations that once were pivotal to the operation of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the lines builder and original operator.

I parked the car and beat the train easily as it called out the Kearneysville signal some 3 1/2 miles away. Standing on the shoulder of the bridge looking around I looked for the right composition and began playing with the settings. It had been kind of a blah day weather wise as it had rained during the day and it had just began to clear up before the evening. The Sun began to set and after a minute illuminated the cloud banks in the sky as it did. “there goes my light.” I muttered with the train approaching the next signal away from me.

Now it came to crunch time as I began playing with different settings on the camera. I had not yet installed Magic Lantern on the device as I do now which gives me a little more flexibility with settings not normally available in manual on the T3i.  Q216 rounded the curve about quarter mile ahead of me and the headlights illuminated the tracks. As it grew closer I kept taking tests shots. Not being satisfied, settings were changed. Finally, in the fading light, CSX engine 8575 drew near, a small toot of the horn as the crew acknowledged my presence and I fired away as the train crested the hill and rolled beneath the bridge splitting the signals.

Getting home, in disgust I loaded the photo on the desktop and began processing. Adobe Lightroom is the software I use to process and edit my photos. At the time I had only had the program for a month so my understanding of it as a tool was limited at best.As I worked with the photo though it began to come to life.  Instead of disgust, the feeling of accomplishment overcame me. To this day, it is one of my favorites. It has again been re-processed using Lightroom 5 for upload to my site and this blog.

Exposure: 1/200 sec, ISO: 800, Aperture: f4.0, Focal Length: 18mm

DUSK AT HOBBS: CSX Q216 reaches the summit of the upper Shenandoah Valley at Hobbs on the Cumberland Sub near Bardane, WV on March 28, 2012. Rain clouds loom in the distance as the sun had set over the horizon about ten minutes prior to the trains arrival. The train with CSX SD50 8575 leading runs alongside the West Virginia Route 9 Freeway for a few miles between Kearneysville and Shenandoah Junction. The bridge where this was taken is popular among local railfans as it currently only leads to an orchard the the highway separated when it was built and sees very little use.

DUSK AT HOBBS: CSX Q216 reaches the summit of the upper Shenandoah Valley at Hobbs on the Cumberland Sub near Bardane, WV on March 28, 2012. Rain clouds loom in the distance as the sun had set over the horizon about ten minutes prior to the trains arrival. The train with CSX SD50 8575 leading runs alongside the West Virginia Route 9 Freeway for a few miles between Kearneysville and Shenandoah Junction. The bridge where this was taken is popular among local railfans as it currently only leads to an orchard the the highway separated when it was built and sees very little use.