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False Alarm

December 12, 2010

I’ve posted a time or two about the re-development of the historic Imperial Sugar mill property here in Sugar Land. The next step in this project was the demolition of two buildings via implosion, which was scheduled for today, Dec 13, 2010, at 7:00 A.M.  Fortunately, the red brick building at right will be preserved with the interior being converted to loft-style apartments.

We headed out early this morning to witness this event only to arrive at the location to find signs advising that the demolition was re-scheduled for next Saturday, Dec. 19.

As I was turning the car around to head back home, I noticed the CTC signal at the east end of Sugar Land light up with an approach indication for a westbound.

I had no intention of taking a picture of this train because it was still fairly dark. It was 6:40 A.M. and sunrise wasn’t until 7:09 A.M. Then again, with digital, it costs nothing to try.

By the time I got parked by the signal cabin at CP SA025, a headlight was visible announcing the arrival of the train. I  set the camera to ISO 5600, fired a quick test shot, before deciding to go with 1/160 at f2.8.

Union Pacific freight train at Sugar Land, Texas

Thirty minutes before sunrise, UP SD70M's 4627 and 4626 lead an empty auto rack train by the Imperial Sugar Mill in Sugar Land,TX on Dec. 13, 2010

A quick pivot and provided this under-exposed going-away shot:

UP SD70 SD70M's 4627 and 4626

I realized that the shot was underexposed because I was no longer shooting toward the light. Another  camera adjustment was needed, so I dropped the shutter speed to 1/85 second for one more going away view:

Union Pacific auto rack train at sugar Land, Texas on dec. 13, 2010

Each shot has an element that illustrates just how dark it actually was. (Click any image to see more detail)

  • Shot 1:  Note the neon lights on top of the main building.
  • Shot 2:  Note the interior lighting in the cab of the trailing unit.
  • Shot 3:  Note how the headlight is illuminating the right-of-way.

After detouring to buy some doughnuts for breakfast, we unexpectedly encountered an eastbound KCS manifest on the way home. By this time, it was 7:12 A.M., a whole 3 minutes after official sunrise. I was able to dial down the ISO to 1250, with a shutter speed of 1/200 at f5.0.

KCS manifest train eastbound at Sugar Land Texas on Dec. 13, 2010

An empty KCS corn syrup train is eastbound at Sugar Land, TX at sunrise on Dec. 13, 2010.

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