Recently I was contacted by a friend from Instagram, Maryna. She suggested that maybe she and her partner Tyler could meet up with me for a railfan outing. We talked for a bit and decided to meet at CN’s Diamond just west of Winnipeg. It’s easy to get to and there are a lot of trains.
We agreed to meet at 9 AM. I was up early so I decided to head up early and try photographing some trains in the low light.
Driving east along Wilkes Avenue, I came across a westbound potash train. I pulled off, carefully, and panned the lead locomotive at Harstone Road. That’s the lead photo.
I got back into my car and chased the train west along Wilkes Avenue, easily getting ahead of them. The road was a little sketchy west of highway 334 so I slowed down and stopped near Diamond to capture the westbound train again.
I photographed the train as it approached, but the shot I was there for was the “going away” shot below.
I like how that turned out. Fortunately the snowbanks were high so I was able to stand on them to get some elevation.
I retreated to my car as the remainder of the train rolled by, then hopped out again to pan the tail end unit.
It was COLD outside. Environment Canada says it was about -17C air temperature, “feels like” -26C with the wind chill. I was well dressed but I didn’t want to linger outside.
I drove west to check out the signals at mile 17ish, and photographed the speed limit sign against the “sunrise”.
There wasn’t a real sunrise, as it remained gloomy and overcast.
Maryna and Tyler arrived promptly at 9. We chatted outside briefly, and then a distant horn made us scramble for our cameras. I set up my tripod on the snowbank and photographed CN 2907 heading east through the signals at Diamond.
The train had CN 2907 on the point, with CN 2858 mid-train and distributed braking boxcar CN 0024 bring up the rear. It still looks strange to have a boxcar on the end of a doublestack container train.
Here’s the video:
That was fun!
We talked about computers and photography and trains for a while. It was a little too cold for standing outside for long periods, so we eventually retreated to our own vehicles to warm up. It wasn’t long before another eastbound train came rolling along, led by CN 8920.
My video camera (phone) died before the train even arrived, so there’s no video for that train!
There was a lull after those two trains. After a bit of waiting, we all decided it was too cold to stand around any more.
I wasn’t done with railfanning, though.
I drove west to Elie along the CN main line, seeing nothing. From there, I headed north to the CP main line, and ventured a short distance east to the town of Marquette. There, I discovered a little lost locomotive.
CP 5002 was idling on one of the two back tracks in the town. This is one of the 50 SD30C-ECO conversions from SD40-2 locomotives. These units tend to be added to certain trains heading up the CP Minnedosa subdivision.
In days past there were pusher locomotives stationed outside Minnedosa to help trains get out of the valley that the town is in. Nowadays these CP 50xx units are added instead – no extra crews required.
There was nothing else apparent, so I continued east toward Winnipeg. As I approached Meadows, I saw a headlight in the distance – far away, still – so I chose a spot just west of Meadows to wait for the train.
I waffled between using a wide lens and a telephoto lens. I wanted to capture the blowing snow, but I have trouble with the headlights causing lens flare in low light with the telephoto lens, so I chose the wide lens.
In retrospect, I believe I chose the wrong lens. I believe it would have been a more dramatic shot with the telephoto lens compressing the scene.
I think it’s important to review some photo shoots to see what could have been done better. It’s not being negative – call it solo constructive criticism.
Anyway – here’s the shot the wide angle lens gave me.
The train had four locomotives – CP 8944, 2201, 6251, and 8000. Quite a variety of types – ES44AC, GP20C-ECO, ex SOO SD60, AC4400CWM.
Here’s another look at those 4 locomotives.
Here’s the video.
That was it for trains for me that morning.
Thanks Maryna and Tyler for meeting up – even though it was really cold!