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Thread: Typical Winter day in the Gorge

  1. #1

    Default Typical Winter day in the Gorge

    I finally have been able to get away for a day of shooting. I have been busier than usual with OT at work and College. Seeing a forecast for a sunny day and high 50s in the Columbia River Gorge I decided to go for it Friday.

    Getting a late start due to night class the previous night and the need to stop for gas, food and java before fighting my way across Portland metro in late rush hour traffic. Getting to the Troutdale it was quite a change in the weather with a lot of overcast and freezing fog with an East wind. Figured it would get better.... Hey that siding and mainline the UP has from the Sandy river along I84 looks really nice, looks like the elves have been busy. Well shortly thereafter I found the elves, their toys more of which than I had ever seen in one spot on the UP. So many there were white UP buses hauling them around. I would surmise they were up to a blitz in the Gorge and the UP would be closed for business. Looks like a BNSF kind of day and the Hill lines were ready to deliver. An eastbound vehicle train was speeding its way on the other side of the river. I hit the Bridge of the Gods to cross the river at Cascade Locks and begin pursuit. Observing state and local speed restrictions I caught up with the swift car hauler I was able to engage the high ISO cloud countering functionality of my dated but trusty D70. To capture this shot of him getting ready to cross under Highway 14 west of Bingen.

    Eavesdropping on the electronic audio communications with the dispatcher telling the vehicle train he would be staying in Bingen for 3 west bounds now departing Avery. Sweet, time to set up for some shots. First westbound was a coal train with a SD70ACe on the point that confused me in the distance sounding like a SD40-2 but looking very GEVO in the distance. Here is a sequence of the train on the curving fill that creates Rowland Lake afterbay east of Bingen. Noted going away shot of the soon to be repainted IMHO 14 year old SD70M on the trailing DPU position.

    Deciding to jump east a shooting location or two I caught the next train in the westbound parade coming across the fill Lyle to the tunnels under the rest area under the Camberlain Lake rest area. Believe this train to be the PASVAW in is sequence.

    Running down the hill to catch the next train on the bridge over the mouth of the Klickitat river. Seeing the level in the river was exceptionally low I ventured out onto the sand bar for a nice reverse angle shot. Unfortunately the well powered loaded grain train was swifter than I at getting into position so I had to settle for this over the shoulder of him on the fill through the reeds.

    Not wanting to waste the hike down on the bar, that was very dry meaning the level of the water had been low for quite some time I set up for the resumption of the eastbound vehicle train's trip.

    The next train I caught up with was a EVEBAR is suspect waiting for the bridge to the OT to come down. The dispatcher was giving him authority to the siding at Lockit, being too far away above Wishram to catch him at Moody I decided to give the Deschutes Canyon a shot. I proceeded across the rive on Highway 97 south to Grass Valley where you can access the canyon at Sherars. I was able to snag the slow moving train at three spots.

    Wave good bye to the DPU's Kiddies.

    Finding my way back to the Gorge and heading towards home the weather man totally missed it, and the sun shone all day on PDX but not on Paul's Gorge expedition. Last train of the the day is of the local scampering back east to Wishram at the reverse angle for the old publicity shot curve.

    Final analysis of the day was I got skunked by the weather but came back with a series of shots that depict a more typical winter day in on the Columbia and Deschutes.
    Last edited by Bob; 02-24-2009 at 12:57 AM. Reason: Cleaned up formatting - no content changes

  2. Default

    I want to respond and thank Paul for posting. With "Vis" going to print and a big time deadline staring at me...I hope three others will have time to give you proper feedback. At a qucik glance, some nice shots, but not fair to say yes or no.

    Back to work....

    Martin Burwash

  3. #3


    Thanks Martin, I want to do my part to keep the lights on here.

  4. #4


    Excellent photos and well done narration. Sure, it's a grey cloudy day, but so what? You can't always railfan on sunny days, especially in the Pacific NorthWET. So I'm going to base my review and comments on the quality of the photos not whether or not I wish it had been a sunny day...

    I like what you did with the conditions you had to work with. The concrete arch bridge is a nice shot, though I do wish I could see a bit more of the reflection. Still, it's a good shot. The ones in the canyon are a neat view as well, and a bit different angle. Those are probably my favorite shots in this series.

    All in all, nicely done, and I vote for approval.
    Bob Harbison
    RailroadPhotoEssays host

  5. Default

    Very nice trip report / essay. Photos certainly do convey the PNW winter 'look'. Some nice catches and the pace of the piece keeps me going to the next shot. I vote to post.
    Get Out There and Shoot!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    close to Lake Ontario in Burlington, ON Canada


    And I vote for approval with a caveat.
    The very first photo just looks far too busy,
    what with the communication pole and the
    vertical colour light signal.
    And in the second photo, what is the purpose of
    the wood tower
    with the numeral 47? Flood stage markings?
    The BNSF orange scheme really brightens
    an otherwise dull day.

    Bryce Lee

  7. #7


    Approved and moved...

    Duplicate shot for use in photo essay index:
    Bob Harbison
    RailroadPhotoEssays host

  8. #8


    Thanks, Bob
    Bryce that tower in the water in the the 2nd shot is Navigational aid for marine traffic so that they can stay in the channel of the river. Its kind of surreal how the BNSF orange glows in the overcast light when you correct the color balance to take a way the bluishness of the skies.

  9. Default

    Nice job with the northside (shadow side) of the PASVAW near the rest area. Good call on chasing the EVEBAR down the Trunk aways. The looking down shots at the Twin Bridges work very well.

    Since we are where we, are I am going to throw a few darts too. As Bryce noted, the first shot you got tangled up with too much stuff - I'd round file that one for here. The last shot on the fill you got a bit tangled up with that darn pole above the engine. For some strange reason that problem goes away when I shoot that one . Finally, the Lyle bridge shot needed to be just a bit wider to keep from cutting off the power and as Bob noted, getting a little more of that nice smooth water.

    Sorry to hear the Sigma Freud is giving you problems.
    Dan Schwanz
    POSTCARDS FROM THE GORGE Website update 12.26.09

  10. #10


    Great analysis Dan, I agree the first shot was busy I was trying to tell the tale for the story. It was the best location I could think of prior to Bingen with the short lead I had on the train.
    I wanted to shoot the Lyle bridge wider but there was so much garbage on the beach down there I didn't want in the picture. I as considering getting out the 70-300 and telemash it from farther out on the bar but didn't want to risk getting burned again walking back to the car.
    Hitting the Descutes was a great call, I had never tried doing that before and it worked this time. That is the first time I have got to shoot the twin bridges. I'm looking forward to exploiting that location again. Lots of angles to shoot it from.
    Good news! Dr Sigma Freud sent me an email this morning letting me know the SD14 has been released from the sanitarium and is on its way home. Will have to give it a good shakedown when it gets back.

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