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Thread: Beyond Locomotives

  1. #1
    greenthumb Guest

    Default Beyond Locomotives

    Beyond Locomotives

    For some the adventure of a trackside visit revolves around the next train, the next locomotive, the next awesome consist. For others, their interest lies with the next scheduled passenger train pausing at their station. Don’t get me wrong, the anticipation of an oncoming train races my pulse just like the next rail photographer. These attractions are real and are part of my trackside wanderings. However, there is an exciting and photo worthy presence beyond the thundering locomotives.

    My intent is to share some of these moments that have been captured before the locomotive arrives, as it passes and after it is long gone. Those moments of that sweet silence; that stillness that lingers after a thundering train has passed. The endless minutes of waiting for the next train are filled with my photography, looking for new possibilities or improving on previous photographic experiments. Moments that will define a visit to that regular location, or trigger the memories of a day long adventure in a territory far from the comfort of your home. Images that can capture the essence of a trackside adventure in your mind and in your soul lie beyond the lead locomotive…


    This is the anticipation phase, the build-up prior to the crescendo. The adrenaline is poised to energize the photographer; the planning, looking for the right angle, the right lens, testing the light, and even re-thinking the selected camera position. Which, by the way, is usually a big mistake for me. Better yet, the advice of “Check it once and leave it alone…” should be followed by this rail photographer.

    Regardless, the time waiting for a train to pass can be used to find a different perspective or a previously unseen object at a familiar location. Using this time to expand my field of view when trackside has opened my railroad photographic possibilities beyond locomotives.

    ~ ~ ~

    Attachment 53
    On the Needles Sub at MP 667, between Amboy and Bagdad, this image captures the vast barren expanse of the Mojave Desert as I look west.

    Attachment 54
    The west end of Fullerton Junction from the pedestrian bridge at Fullerton’s Amtrak station.

    Attachment 55
    The moment of anticipation is defined as a “Baby Bullet” readies to emerge from the tunnel on its approach to the Bayshore station in San Francisco, California.

    Attachment 56
    During a rare snow storm on Cajon Pass in November 2004, this stack train pulls up the grade near Pine Lodge.
    Last edited by Bob; 08-30-2006 at 02:02 AM.

  2. #2
    greenthumb Guest

    Default Before, part two.

    BEFORE, part two.

    The signal aspects are high green, train horns can be heard the distance. Even though the awaited train is near, there is still time to experiment. Still time to put on the creative artist’s hat and find a composition that could stand on its own without a locomotive filling the frame. Searching for an image that could convey a mood or a feeling, maybe solitude or ??

    From my perspective, taking the opportunity to fill the frame with something other than a lead locomotive can give an image a sense of location, or document an event. Helping to tell a story, or the story, whatever it may be. By including people in the image, there is the hope that viewer will be pulled into the scene and into the image, becoming a part of the imagery.

    ~ ~ ~

    Attachment 57
    A wind-sand storm invaded the Frost area (Victorville, California) during a weekend railfan event in October 2004.

    Attachment 58
    The colors of a Basta sunset were enhanced with a red filter. The location is Basta on the San Bernardino Sub, in Fullerton, California.

    Attachment 60
    Early morning railfanning in November 2003 at Devore, California.

    Attachment 61
    To late night railfanning, this signal bridge was the sentry at UP’s 9th Street Junction, downtown Los Angeles, California.
    Last edited by Bob; 08-30-2006 at 02:02 AM.

  3. #3
    greenthumb Guest

    Default During, part one.


    Once the locomotives have passed, the rhythmatic sounds of wheels on the rail take over. The wheel flanges squeal and couplers jostle as the train lumbers on, but the opportunities for capturing railroading imagery hasn’t passed yet. I enjoy turning my camera towards the symmetry and motion of the passing rail cars. The rolling stock can provide a variety of avenues for photographic exploration.

    ~ ~ ~

    Attachment 62
    An eastbound UP stack pauses at a red signal at Frost on BNSF’s Cajon Subdivision.

    Attachment 63
    From the Garden Spot (Hill 582) on the north track at Cajon Pass.

    Attachment 65
    The symmetry of the ethanol train rolling thru Fullerton Junction.

    Attachment 66
    A yard job spends time moving these hoppers back and forth under the Pepper Avenue overpass in West Colton, California.
    Last edited by Bob; 08-30-2006 at 02:04 AM.

  4. #4
    greenthumb Guest

    Default During, part two.

    DURING, part two.

    As a person that is affected by motion in the simplest way, I am very susceptible to motion sickness. Oddly enough, I enjoy finding ways to capture that dizzy feeling on film. Motion can be difficult to capture, but with experimentation, satisfactory images can be captured. Preserving that movement on a still image is both challenging and rewarding. In my attempt to record motion on film, I try to keep the surrounding environment motionless as the trains thunders past. Hopefully, capturing that moment in time when a train goes by…

    ~ ~ ~

    Attachment 67
    The Fullerton pedestrian foot bridge frames a typical scene at the Amtrak station as a stack train rolls by at track speed, (1/15th of a second at f/18, ISO 100).

    Attachment 68
    Also from the Fullerton platform, this time, a westbound stack train passes my camera at track speed.

    Attachment 69
    The signal bridge at Basta, location of the former UP crossing, frames a passing intermodal train, (1/3rd of a second at f/22, ISO 100).

    Attachment 70
    These new CRLE boxcars caught my eye as they contrasted the cobalt blue sky, the odd angle promotes a dizzy feel in Helendale, California on the Cajon Sub.
    Last edited by Bob; 08-30-2006 at 02:05 AM.

  5. #5
    greenthumb Guest

    Default During, part three.

    DURING, part three.

    Generally, wedgies seem to be the order of business for passing railcars, but looking for alternative views can produce more than a satisfactory image that emphasizes colors, shapes and repeating patterns. With a mindset to take full advantage of unusual light or a rare movement, looking beyond the locomotive can result in images that document an atypical trackside event.

    ~ ~ ~

    Attachment 71
    From the west end of the Fullerton passenger platform, westbound containers reflect the setting sun’s brilliance.

    Attachment 72
    The colorful containers are used here to contrast against the recently fallen snow at Summit on Cajon Pass.

    Attachment 73
    Metrolink commuter cars fill the foreground of an unusual cloud formation at sunset, Fullerton, California.

    Attachment 74
    The Harbor train (M-WATBAR) crests the climb up the Santa Ana Canyon on a dreary fall afternoon at CP Prado, in Corona, California.
    Last edited by Bob; 08-30-2006 at 02:06 AM.

  6. #6
    greenthumb Guest

    Default During, part four.

    DURING, part four.

    The local jobs in and around the Anaheim area have provided me with countless opportunities to photograph unusual loads, odd switching movements and the crews are much more visible than main line operations. Even though the excitement of a high horsepower main line train is miles away from these yard goats, these locals exude personality through the aged equipment and experienced crews. I find that the local jobs have a photogenic quality that can only be found away from the high iron.

    ~ ~ ~

    Attachment 75
    My train of choice, the Marlboro Job (LOA31) at the storage tracks in South Anaheim, California.

    Attachment 76
    A crew member on the 1st La Miranda jobs waits for permission to shove back onto the main at the Irvine Industrial Complex in Tustin, California.

    Attachment 77
    Union Pacific’s LOA25, the Costa Mesa Job, does a double runaround before shoving cars into the LA Times plant in Costa Mesa, California.

    Attachment 78
    During the rail upgrade project of 2003 in Orange County, California, the ribbon rail train spent the night on the storage tracks at South Anaheim.
    Last edited by Bob; 08-30-2006 at 02:07 AM.

  7. #7
    greenthumb Guest

    Default After, part one.

    AFTER, part one.

    Even after that freight train has passed, opportunities still abound for quality imagery. The going away shot can be, and should be, in this photographer’s opinion, a part of the entire view of railroading. Not an after thought, but a planned part of railroad photography. Finding the right light and right circumstance can produce an image that speaks…

    ~ ~ ~

    Attachment 82
    While eating lunch at Juanita’s Taco Shop in Encinitas, California, a northbound Surfliner accelerates to track speed.

    Attachment 83
    Two GE locomotives effectively drag behind a manifest bound for the West Colton yard, while a trailer train climbs the pass on BNSF’s north track.

    Attachment 84
    Single level Maersk containers roll by the Mormon Rocks on their climb up Cajon Pass.

    Attachment 85
    From the pedestrian foot bridge in Fullerton, a westbound stack train quietly rolls towards the LA Harbor.
    Last edited by Bob; 08-30-2006 at 02:08 AM.

  8. #8
    greenthumb Guest

    Default After, part two.

    AFTER, part two.

    I have no idea why rails are the frequent subject matter of my photography. Somehow, the curves and the lines of the railhead are a pleasing sight for these eyes. I just can’t seem to stop photographing the rails and the patterns that they form. Part of my daily routine to get to my pick-up point for our car pool takes me trackside. As I walk, the rails talk to me, calling out to be photographed, so I oblige without reluctance nor hesitancy.

    ~ ~ ~

    Attachment 86
    This is one of my favorite spots along the tracks in South Anaheim. The line to the right is now called, “The Old Main Siding”.

    Attachment 87
    The three main lines on the San Bernardino Sub at CP Prado in Corona, Californina.

    Attachment 88
    Another of my popular haunts, the storage tracks at the Kimberly Trans-loading yard served by BNSF’s 3rd La Mirada job in Anaheim, California.

    Attachment 89
    This dates back to the first weeks of my railroad photography, captured on TRI-X film with a medium format TLR camera, it holds a dear spot in my portfolio.
    Last edited by Bob; 08-30-2006 at 02:09 AM.

  9. #9
    greenthumb Guest

    Default After, part three

    AFTER, part three.

    While waiting between trains, I enjoy wandering about the nearby environments of the rail industries. The fit and finish (or lack there of) in an industrial community continues to be a source of enjoyable photographic wanderings. The textures and tones of aged structures grab my attention. When rails are present, they add a line of continuity to the image, that is all the better, bringing a theme to these commercial images. The structures that I find near the rails really get my creative juices flowing…

    ~ ~ ~

    Attachment 90
    The lines of the corrugated tin, the roof line and the rails jumped out as a grayscale image from the Malabar area on the Harbor Sub in Vernon, California, just south of downtown LA.

    Attachment 91
    While in Ohio in June of 2004, I walked the tracks in the town of Nelsonville, Ohio along the Hocking Valley tourist line, finding this coaling tower worthy of several photographs.

    Attachment 92
    Looking up the ladder at the water tower at Cadiz on the Needles Sub in the midst of the Mojave Desert.

    Attachment 93
    Another tin building at Malabar. This industry has reeds growing between the rails of its abandoned spur track.
    Last edited by Bob; 08-30-2006 at 02:10 AM.

  10. #10
    greenthumb Guest

    Default Summary


    I hope that you enjoyed this photographic exploration that took you beyond the lead locomotives. Looking for a different perspective or a way to minimize the importance of the locomotive as the subject matter has brought about new avenues to see and view railroading for this trackside photographer. Seeing beyond the locomotive has opened my abilities to capture a variety of imagery, railroad and otherwise. This vision and the resulting photography could be the development of my particular style of railroad photography, beyond locomotives...

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