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Always Look Both Ways

May 9, 2013

Yesterday, May 8, 2013, I was able to catch two trains on my way home from an afternoon video job in downtown Houston. It was 7 PM already and the light wasn’t particularly good. But it was good enough for me to try my luck. Little did I know that when I was done, I would be reminded of the wisdom of our parents’ instruction to us before crossing the street: always look both ways.

First up was a westbound BNSF manifest led by C44-9W 4178 which I shot at CP SA020 in Stafford. The “pointy” structure visible 8-10 cars back is a monument at the entrance to Stafford along Hwy 90.

Manifest freight train BNSF 4178 at Stafford TX

I had to work to hold the camera steady for my second shot of this train. When I saw the engineer greeting me through the viewfinder, I couldn’t help but laugh. He was waving his hands wildly from side to side. Click the below image for a better view of his greeting.

Manifest freight BNSF 4178 at Stafford TX

As the head end got by me, I had no intention of trying a going-away shot. So-so light, a ho-hum consist, why bother, right? I turned to my right just to watch the power  recede when I noticed the interesting interplay of light between the tank cars, so I quickly raised the camera for a couple of going-away views. This is the one I liked best:

BNSF freight train at sunset, Stafford TX

Assuming an on-time departure from the Houston depot, Amtrak #1 will pass through Stafford about 7:25 PM. Julie advised that #1 did in fact depart on time at 6:55 PM. Nevertheless, 7:25 PM came and went, with no sign of the Sunset Limited.

It wasn’t until 7:55 PM that AMTK 88 got to me at MP 21, moments before sunset. There wasn’t much light, but you don’t need much at ISO 2500.

Amtrak Sunset Limited in Stafford TX

Amtrak Sunset Limited in Stafford TX

Amtrak Sunset Limited in Stafford TX

 My going-away shot experience with the previous train had me ready. As soon as the power passed me, I was ready for the going away shot, or so I thought. As soon as I saw the strong glint light, I wanted to panic. My camera setting were all wrong for the bright reflected sunlight. All I could do is blindly compensate as I was tripping the camera shutter.

Once the train passed by, I wasn’t too anxious to see my results. I really expected the going-away shots to be a disaster because I wasn’t expecting the strong glint and blind camera settings adjustments rarely end well.

Once I mustered the courage to look at the shots on the camera LCD, I was amazed. Amazed at how nice the shots were, but even more amazed that I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to capture the dramatic sunset glint light bouncing off of the train.

Amtrak Sunset Limited at sunset in Stafford TX

Amtrak Sunset Limited at sunset in Stafford TX

The photographic purist in me wasn’t happy with the power lines in the background, but the rest of me was quite happy with the results. And quite glad that I remembered to look both ways.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 11, 2013 3:12 pm

    AGAIN ” GREAT-SHOOT’N “, sunset sure ‘gitsum-rusty’ ! ! ! ! ! ! !

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