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2015 KCS Holiday Express

December 9, 2015

So, where were we?  Oh, I remember. We journeyed back to the 1960’s to check out the KCS Southern Belle passenger train as a prelude to viewing it in its current iteration.

I made the 30 minute drive to Wharton last Thursday evening, Dec.3, 2015, to see what evening photographic opportunities I could avail myself of. Even though it had been a beautiful day, I didn’t consider any daytime shots because the north-facing train would be severely back-lighted all day.

I arrived about 5:30 PM, shortly after the sun had set. I found the head-end in a decent enough spot just south of FM 102. Luckily, it was about 75 feet beyond some fairly heavy brush that would have put a quick end to my photographic plans.

I did some existing light shots to pass the time until it got dark enough to use my LED video light. Even though the sun has set, you can see just how back-lighted the train was.

KCS 1 F9A Southern Belle Wharton TX 2015 Holiday express

I occupied myself with various set-up tasks over the next 25 minutes. I started shooting just after 6:00 PM. Reviewing the camera LCD, I was pleasantly surprised with just how nicely this scene was photographing.

KCS 1 F9A Southern Belle Wharton TX 2015 Holiday express

Over the next 45 minutes, I captured several hundred images of this beautiful train, albeit mostly from the front because of the heavy brush and limitations of the LED light. The trickiest part was setting up the light without blowing out the scotchlite striping and lettering. Holding the camera steady was also a challenge because I didn’t take a jacket to ward of the 47 degree temperature. Here’s a few of my faves:

KCS 1 F9A Southern Belle Wharton TX 2015 Holiday express

The rear of the train is being illuminated by some portable light towers set up by the KCS to light up the general area of the Christmas train set.

KCS 1 F9A Southern Belle Wharton TX 2015 Holiday express

It would have been nice to have a more powerful light, but what can you really do? An almost proper roster view of KCS 1:

KCS 1 F9A Southern Belle Wharton TX 2015 Holiday express

A slightly different perspective of the lead unit:

KCS 1 F9A Southern Belle Wharton TX 2015 Holiday express

There was a bit of dust in the air from a rice dryer that was across the street from the train, just enough to create a nice effect from the headlights. I also like the soft light on the right-of-way. Easily, my favorite shot of the evening:

KCS 1 F9A Southern Belle Wharton TX 2015 Holiday express

Nearly an hour after beginning, I was content with the head-end capture. I wanted to check out the Holiday Express. I started driving south and realized that most of Wharton County had the same plan because cars were parked all over the place and I was still 4-5 blocks away from the festivities.

I finally found a spot and made my way toward the crowds. Details and images in my next post, hopefully tomorrow.

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