The Sunset Limited – After Sunset
My late afternoon routine of photographing Amtrak #1 as it passes through the Sugar Land area might be on hiatus until next spring. It’s just too dark at 7:30 PM, the train’s approximate time through here.
The last couple of times I got out to do so, 9/22 and 9/26, really pushed my ability to get a decent image.
Here’s #1 passing by the old Imperial Sugar mill on 9/22. It’s about 15 minutes after sunset, but I got a nice ambient light assist from the businesses and traffic along Hwy 90. Note the exhaust belching from lead P42 52. The train had just cleared a slow order and the engineer is notching the throttle out to return to track speed.
The going-away shots are interesting. The sky doesn’t seem that dark, but shooting at 6400 ISO will capture just about any photons that are out there. Note the headlight illuminating the track ahead. The brightness of the marker lights are also a good indication of just how dark it is.
Four days later, I tried my luck again, but with a twist. I wanted to try a location that would be shielded from ambient light. I set up at CP SA 020, behind a concrete wall that the City of Stafford / TXDOT erected to shield the TXI aggregate plant from the delicate eyes of motorists on Hwy 90. Like I said, ISO 6400 really hoovers up whatever light is out there.
The next shot shows a bit of motion blur as the 1/400 second shutter speed just isn’t quick enough to freeze the motion of a passing train at 60 mph.
Illustrating the ambient darkness well, the last shot actually shows the interior lighting from the overhead racks in the last coach. (Click image to enlarge it.)
Shooting season for the westbound Sunset Limited might be over for now, but the light’s pretty sweet for its eastbound counterpart. Stay tuned…