I was in Moncton, New Brunswick recently for business. After that was concluded, I headed to the Fredericton-Oromocto area to visit my mom. I hadn’t seen her since December 2019 due to COVID travel restrictions. I spent Friday afternoon and evening with her, then headed out around 9 PM. I was still internally on Manitoba time so I wasn’t too sleepy, and it was a clear night with a bright moon… why not head to the McAdam train station for some night photography?
Why not, indeed.
I drove west on the Trans-Canada Highway out of Fredericton, then took highway 3 toward Harvey and McAdam. As I passed through Harvey at 10 PM, I saw the tail end of an NB Southern train. After the train passed, I continued on and arrived in McAdam. The station was looking great under the bright moon.
The town of McAdam was pretty quiet on that Friday night. A pickup truck was parked near the station, with two guys inside listening to the radio and talking quietly, but otherwise there were few signs of life.
It had been a long time since I was last in McAdam. I looked it up and it was March 2013 – more than 8 years ago. Sheesh.
I set about photographing the station from various angles. I did have one significant challenge…
I didn’t have a tripod.
Since I was only in New Brunswick for a few days, and I never planned on doing any night photography, I had a small suitcase that wasn’t big enough to hold my tripod. If you’ve ever done any long exposure photography, you’ll know that a tripod is highly recommended to hold your camera steady while the shutter is open. Hand holding a camera steady for more than, say, half a second is practically impossible.
What to do?
I ended up bundling my coat up and laying it on the ground to use as a base to hold my camera. I could have laid my camera on the ground by itself, but I needed to be able to angle the camera up or down to compose the photo. My coat did the trick.
Another option is to press the camera against something, like a post. I tried that for a few photos but I didn’t find it to be stable enough for 20 second exposures.
I used a 2 second self-timer when taking photos to ensure the camera had stopped moving before the shutter opened. My coat wasn’t the most stable platform to photograph from…
The station is oriented more or less north/south. When I was there, the station was well lit on the “town side” (northwest) by spot lights so it was relatively easy to photograph that.
The “pond side” (southeast) was partially lit by the moon and a few lights in the train yard. This required longer exposures and higher ISO values to get a decent shot.
It was a bit challenging to photograph with so many lights around; I had to compose most of the shots so that the yard lights weren’t in the photo. I enjoy the challenge of night photography.
After a bit, I walked down the path by the pond to photograph the station from there. It wasn’t possible to exclude the yard lights from this angle, but I didn’t mind.
When I wrapped things up, it was 25 minutes after midnight – time to head back to Fredericton and grab a few hours of sleep.
McAdam is always worth a visit!
Just One More Thing
Want more McAdam? Here’s a few “blasts from the past”.