Recap: I set out late on May 7 / early on May 8 to photograph the Milky Way, photograph the grain elevator at Oberon at night, and see some trains. I drove from Winnipeg to just west of Portage la Prairie. It’s 2:30 AM. Let’s continue.
I had to stop at the G3 grain elevator near Bloom to take a few photos. I didn’t want to linger – night was ending soon – but I wanted to photograph it night. I set up the tripod and took six shots at various exposures and let Adobe Lightroom merge them into one image.
That done, I carried on west. I decided to make a quick stop in Austin to photograph the grain elevator there. The elevator is in town so it is surrounded by lights. It was a little tricky to find an angle to take a long exposure photo without a light in it.
As I was doing that, I heard a train horn in the distance. A westbound CP train!
After I photographed the head end, I hopped in my car and drove west to the crossing to wait for the train to pass. I thought I might be able to get ahead of it and photograph it again around Sidney before I had to veer north toward Oberon.
As it happened, the train and I arrived at Sidney at about the same time. No good… but I was driving faster than the train so I would definitely get a chance to shoot it.
I decided to take the exit for Melbourne a little west of Sidney. I had never been there, so it was new territory for me. Driving down provincial road 351 in the middle of the night, keeping one eye on the track somewhere on my left and the other eye on the road, looking for wildlife, adrenalin and caffeine keeping me awake… it was fun.
A few kilometres off the highway, the track and the road paralleled each other. I found a crossing and quickly parked, jumping out with tripod in hand to set up. I could hear the train approaching, so I hastily set up the tripod and got ready for the shot. I lit up the crossbucks with my phone’s light to focus, then pressed the shutter button as the train rolled through the crossing.
I have to disclose that the photo above isn’t a single image. It’s two images together – the head end of the train (most of the streaks), plus the tail end of the train at a longer exposure to show the stars and the Milky Way.
After the train passed, I took some time to appreciate the beauty of the Milky Way. It was definitely visible to the naked eye, though not as colorful to my eye as these photos depict it. It was so quiet and peaceful and amazing to be standing out there, just before 4 AM.
I had to take a selfie…
I retraced my route back to the Trans-Canada Highway and continued west toward Oberon. The quickest way there is to take highway 5 north of Carberry for about 22 km, then route 353 west a few kilometres to Oberon.
Highway 5 crosses the CN Rivers subdivision at grade. As I crossed the tracks, I saw a headlight to the west. Train!
I pulled off the highway onto the shoulder and set up to record the train. It was 4:20 AM and I could see some light in the eastern sky. Sunrise was coming…
You can see there were some clouds in the sky here, and the light at the fertilizer shed (?) really dominates the scene. This is another composite photo.
On to Oberon…
The elevator at Oberon looked much like it did when I last saw it. The driveway has collapsed and it looks like either someone pulled the debris down or it fell down on its own. The elevator itself is still standing… for now. It can’t have much left in it.
I spent about 20 minutes at the Oberon elevator, photographing it from a few angles and taking the time to appreciate this wooden beauty.
The Brookdale grain elevator isn’t far away from Oberon, so I drove over there to photograph it too. In past years, I could’ve gone to Mentmore north of Brookdale, but that elevator was demolished earlier in 2021… they are all falling.
By this time – 5 AM – I was starting to feel a little hungry and a lot fatigued, so it was time for breakfast. I thought for a bit about where to go for breakfast, and I chose to drive north to Neepawa.
After a quick turn through the drive-through at McD’s, and a pit stop at the Esso to top up the car’s tank, I returned to Oberon for a few more photos as the sun crested the horizon.
It was time to break out the drone and take a few photos and video. The warm sunlight looked very nice on the worn wood of this prairie monument.
There’s always time for one more selfie… Brookdale @ 6:38 AM.
You can see I was dressed for the cold. It wasn’t particularly warm out – just above freezing in the middle of the night.
Now that the sun was up, it was time for some sunrise railfanning… coming in part 3. Stay tuned!