At Least I Got The Moon

After my success with the sunset meet I wrote about recently, I wanted to go out at last light again and photograph more trains. I puttered around the house until it was close to sunset, then hit the road east toward the CN Sprague and CN Redditt subdivisions.

There was nothing happening on the Sprague sub when I got there, so I drove up Deacon Road over the GWWD to the Redditt subdivision. By this time the sun was below the horizon, but there were no trains in sight nor any signals indicating that a train was imminent.

I drove up to the CP Keewatin subdivision – same result – then came back to the Redditt. On my way south toward the CN main line, I paused by the side of the road to photograph the full moon near the horizon. I used the “redneck tripod” aka the edge of my car window to steady my lens.

Moon + clouds
Moon + clouds

I decided to at least drive east past Dugald (and its grain elevator) and then come back. I had a hard deadline of 10 PM to pick up my wife from work. She would not be impressed if I was late because of trains!

I passed through Dugald and continued east. My thought was to at least look east up the arrow-straight track to see if any signals were lit. I got to a spot just east of the new Parrish & Heimbecker grain elevator (still under construction) and parked. There was a signal there that I thought would look good as a silhouette.

Shoot The Moon

It turned out that I couldn’t quite get it lined up with the moon without tromping through a field in the dark. I wouldn’t walk through someone’s field in daylight and I definitely wasn’t doing it in the dark.

I did get this photo of the moon that I am pleased with. For this one I put my camera on the tripod and used a 2 second delay to ensure my pushing the shutter button didn’t introduce any vibration.

Da moon
Da moon

My camera settings were: shutter speed 1/250s, aperture f/4.0, ISO 100, 200mm focal length.

While I was doing this, I heard a vehicle driving toward me from behind. I thought nothing of it until it pulled alongside me. It turned out to be an RCMP SUV. The officer noted the tripod and camera and said, “you out taking pictures, are ya?” I agreed. He said he saw my car parked on the side road and thought he should investigate. Once he saw my tripod and camera, pointed away from the house, he was OK with it and drove off. He seemed nice.

Race and the Police

It made me think about race and relations with the police. As a white guy, I don’t fear interaction with police. I generally assume it will turn out OK and at worst I will get a speeding ticket or whatever. It never crosses my mind that I could be killed by the police. This is one aspect of white privilege.

I shared this on my Facebook page and a few friends shared their own experiences, having police called on them because they were hanging around railway tracks. The vast majority of my friends are white males and we get the benefit of the doubt.

I thought back to the alleged “al-Qaeda supported” plot against a VIA Rail train in early 2013. Two people were arrested, tried and convicted of intent to commit terrorism, and sentenced to life in prison. Wikipedia says a new trial was ordered late last year.

As railfans, we hang around railway tracks all the time, monitoring train movements and communicating about them privately and in online forums. At a casual glance, this looks pretty much like what those two were doing in late 2012 and early 2013 until they were arrested.

I have to wonder if the RCMP would have approached me differently if my skin wasn’t white. I’d like to think they are professionals and treat everyone the same regardless of race, but you know, there’s a lot of evidence to the contrary.

Food for thought.

Finally, a Train

Green Over Red - CLEAR
Green Over Red – CLEAR

I returned to Dugald and saw that the west-facing signal at the east end of Dugald siding was green. Train coming! Looking down the track, I saw headlights in the distance, so I set up to take a somewhat long exposure photo.

I have to say that I am not pleased with the results. I still had my “long” 70-200mm lens on the camera, and I had it zoomed out to 200mm to try to capture the scene below. I think the combination of the long zoom and the vibration of the train passing introduced too much shake to the camera and I never got a clear, sharp shot. The photo below was the best of the series and it’s not great, in my opinion.

Not sharp
Not sharp

I’m going to call that a “learning experience”.

Once the head end passed, I turned the camera and photographed facing west. I liked getting the silhouette of the Dugald grain elevator in the shot and I think this turned out better. It’s not technically sharp but I am happier with this photo.

Dugald grain elevator and a train at night
Dugald grain elevator and a train at night

The train was a long grain train – all new CN grain hoppers, I think – with a locomotive at each end. I have no idea what locomotives they were as it was too dark to get any numbers.

Once the train passed, I packed everything up and headed into the city to pick my wife up. I made it with 15 minutes to spare!

Just One More Thing

I am considering printing some 2021 calendars. I am surveying people to see if there is any interest in either a train calendar or a grain elevator calendar.

I sent out a survey request to my mailing list, and put it on my Facebook page. If you haven’t filled out the survey, could you please take the survey? It only takes a minute or two.

So far the responses have been interesting. I will share the results next week.

6 thoughts on “At Least I Got The Moon”

  1. I must admit I am not fussy about train pictures at night but a lot of railfans do them so that is just my taste; your moon pictures were both great just too bad no trains showed up, that might have been a sweet shot. Train calendar with grain elevators in the shot, maybe ?? Sign me up !
    The supposed al-Queda terrorists that I read stories about from several sources seem to be right where they should be at the moment. As a frequent VIA user I feel safer. Yesterday from Ottawa to Montreal my GPS had us at 153 kph. ; need to stay on the tracks at that speed !!

    • I look at train photos at night where the train is lit up with multiple flashes and I wonder what the crew thinks of that!
      Thanks for the comment on the moon photos. I am partial to trains and grain elevators together, if you haven’t noticed!
      It was good that those two were caught before they actually did anything nefarious.

  2. Nice moon shot.

    I’ve had normally good interactions with police when railfanning. The only time it seemed edgy was post 9/11/01. Many places I was used to going without harassment suddenly became no photography areas due to “Homeland Security”.

    Here in town, I’ve become a “known person” I guess as the police don’t even stop by if I’m parked near the tracks. In ATL, I’m used to having a cruiser pass by if I sit in one spot too long. At my favorite railfanning spot in Folkston, the police are very Pro-Railfan and help keep an eye on the platform and depot. That’s a nice change.

    • I’m not sure if I get recognized by the police here but Winnipeg police have never bothered me. Crossing fingers.
      I’d love to visit Folkston sometime.

  3. So you feel the photos are not that great, I respectfully disagree because they capture the experience; yet more than the photos is the narrative an honest thoughtful expression of lives lived.


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