Golden Slumbers

VIA Rail's "Canadian" in a golden sunrise
VIA Rail’s “Canadian” in a golden sunrise

Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles await you when you rise – the Beatles

Photographers talk about the quality of light. We talk about soft light, hard light, direct and indirect light. It’s not until you start making photographs seriously that you really notice the quality of light.

I’m a huge fan of sunrise and sunsets because of the soft, warm light you often get at those times. This summer, I made a point of getting up and getting OUT early to make photographs. With the long days of summer, it was easy to get out and make some photos, then get back home to shower and get to work.

August 9, 2018 was one of those days. I had resolved to get up early and head east out of Winnipeg to capture the VIA Rail “Canadian” coming into the city. It was due into Winnipeg at 8 AM, which was a great time as the sun would be over the horizon.

Hit the Road

I woke up, used the washroom, threw on some clothes and hit the road. It was very foggy that morning, which is highly unusual for a city surrounded by prairie! I was practically rubbing my hands together with glee in anticipation.

The CP Emerson subdivision runs north-south through Winnipeg, and it’s located about three kilometres east of my house. I can hear trains blowing their horns for crossings from my living room, but sadly I can’t see them.

As I drove through the railway crossing on the Perimeter Highway that morning, I glanced north and saw headlights. Train!

First Train

I quickly exited and got trackside. I wanted to be sure to include a bit of fog, so I composed the scene, fired off a test shot, and the train was upon me.

CP 8641 in the fog
CP 8641 in the fog

CP 8641 was leading an oil train south on the Emerson subdivision. Given the relatively low light at 6:17 AM, I had set my Canon 77D to ISO 800, f/4.5 and a shutter speed of 1/160s. In retrospect the shutter speed was a bit slow and the train blurred just a bit.

The train went by quickly, with CP 8534 bringing up the rear a mere 2 minutes later.

CP 8534 on the rear of the oil train
CP 8534 on the rear of the oil train

I continued on my way around the Perimeter, heading toward the east-west Dugald Road that parallels the CN Redditt subdivision that the “Canadian” was coming in on. I pulled over briefly to check VIA Rail’s app to see where VIA 1 was. I decided I had enough time to get to the east side of Dugald and set up there.

Dugald

I took a moment to photograph the Dugald grain elevator at 6:37 AM before continuing east out of town.

The Dugald grain elevator at sunrise
The Dugald grain elevator at sunrise

I don’t know how many times I have photographed that elevator, but there’s always room on my hard drive for one or two more!

The Waiting Game

There's track out there somewhere
There’s track out there somewhere

There’s a quiet railway crossing not far east of Dugald that is a favourite of mine. You get good visibility in both directions and there aren’t any clanging crossing bells for videos, just a set of crossbucks. I arrived there at 6:45 AM.

It was foggy there too, with grey fog to the west and lovely golden, diffused light to the east. Magic!

Sweet, sweet sunflowers
Sweet, sweet sunflowers

I took time to smell photograph the flowers. I do love sunflowers.

Heeeere’s VIA!

On golden fog
On golden fog

At 6:52 AM, the west-facing signal lit up, red, indicating that a train was in the block. It had to be VIA! I double checked my camera settings, turned the video camera on, and waited.

Two minutes later, I saw headlights emerging from the golden fog as the “Canadian” hurtled toward me. I popped off a number of photos using my telephoto lens. The lead photo of this post was my favourite. This is one of the approach photos.

Here it comes
Here it comes

Standing a safe distance back, I made a few photographs of Canada’s flagship train zooming by. That train looks great in any light!

Stainless steel rail cars at sunrise
Stainless steel rail cars at sunrise

“Laurentide Park” was on the tail end. I wanted to include the sunflowers in the shot, and I managed to shoehorn them in behind the train.

Laurentide Park and sunflowers
Laurentide Park and sunflowers

There was no chance of catching that train, so I took a moment to appreciate the beautiful light, the beautiful morning, and my good fortune to live in a place and have a life where I could experience this. Then I packed up!

Here’s the video.

SunSET

Sunset at Opapiskaw
Sunset at Opapiskaw

That evening, we went camping! We went to the beautiful Whiteshell region of Manitoba, near the Ontario border. We set up our trailer in Opapiskaw campground, and at 9:19 PM I enjoyed the other end of the beautiful daylight – sunset over a little inlet a few steps away from the campground.

Blessings. I count them, and they are many.

Just One More Thing

I made a sunrise and sunset train playlist. It’s a compilation of all my train videos at either sunrise or sunset. Go watch it!

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