CN 3148 approaching Lorette at sunset

Sunset Meet

I had to run an errand for my wife on the evening of August 29. After I did that, I decided to see if anything was happening on the CN Sprague subdivision.

As I approached the area, I saw an eastbound train leaving Symington Yard. I gave chase along the Trans-Canada Highway, which parallels the Sprague for many kilometres. As I overtook the train, I saw the signal at Lorette facing them was Clear to Stop, meaning they were going to have to stop at Lorette. Approaching Lorette, I saw a headlight in the distance, from the train they were going to meet.

I got to the crossing by the siding first. I decided that it was too dark for video, so I put my Canon 77D DSLR on the tripod and set it up for long exposures – 1/5 second, f/8.0, ISO 100. I had it facing away from the train, toward the signal.

As the train approached, I took a couple of shots with my cell phone – see the lead image for an example. I then fired the shutter several times on my camera as the head end passed by. I liked this one the best.

Ghost signals
Ghost signals

I liked the effect of the signals showing “through” the train and the ghostly image of the tail end of CN 3148 as it passed by.

The eastbound train that was passing me stayed on the main track, but they were slowing down. I could see that the westbound train had taken the siding and was starting to run around the eastbound. Eventually the tail end of the eastbound train cleared the switch, and it changed over to the siding with a THUNK. The Rail Traffic Controller (RTC) was really on the ball and the westbound train never stopped. The eastbound did stop at the far end of the siding.

Down came the crossing gates again as CN 2982 West came rolling by.

CN 2982 West - trust me
CN 2982 West – trust me

This train had three locomotives – 2982, CN 5800 and CN 8898. I was photographing the locomotives with my cell phone while clicking the shutter on my camera. Multitasking!

Once the head end passed, I packed up and hopped into my car. The eastbound train was now moving again, so I decided to leapfrog it and photograph it one more time. I had noted that the second unit was GTW 5937 and it is unusual to see an SD40-2 on a main line train nowadays.

It was easy to get ahead of them, as they were just getting started. I set up at a private crossing and focused on the crossbucks for another round of long exposure photos.

CN 3148 and its headlights
CN 3148 and its headlights

I really like how this one turned out!

Here’s a cell phone shot of GTW 5937. Note the lack of depth of field, but it did manage to get the important part in focus. Cell phones are getting better and better at taking photographs.

GTW 5937
GTW 5937

I threw my gear in the car and headed back toward Winnipeg. I wanted to record the westbound once more. I decided to get it by the Tinkertown sign just before they entered Symington Yard. It was again easy to get ahead of them.

First the gates came down.

Crossing gates coming down
Crossing gates coming down

Then the train came…

CN 2982 by the Tinkertown sign
CN 2982 by the Tinkertown sign

I forgot how much I like night photography. It was a good reminder.

Just One More Thing

Here are a few night photography related posts:

6 thoughts on “Sunset Meet”

  1. Hi Steve,
    I just wanted to say something about Multitasking (re: Sunset Meet). A lot has been written over the past number of years about “how much work you can get done while multitasking”. However it’s now coming to light that the results are “no more than average” because you need to concentrate on the task at hand. Our brains can only process one thing at a time. This is particularly true with photography unless you’re satisfied with average results. I’m not, and I don’t think you are either. We’ve all tried it
    but there’s a lot going on shooting trains. Maybe there’s a wing plow sign that you’re trying to avoid or half of someone’s car or any number of things which need your concentration.
    I try to take the very best image I possibly can and I know from personal experience that if I am shooting with two (or more) cameras, something is going to suffer. It Really sounds cool, but isn’t.

    • I agree completely, Ian. When I multitask, the quality suffers. What I try to do is concentrate on one aspect / camera and if anything else turns out, great.
      For example, with an approaching train, and my drone in the air, I might pop off a couple of shots with my camera and its telephoto lens, then let it go and concentrate on the drone to get the shot as the train goes by. My video camera is just on the tripod and running, no attention required. For me, the camera shots are gravy if they turn out.
      In the past I’ve tried taking stills and panning a video camera at the same time, and the results were inevitably poor in both cases.

  2. Those in-motion shots are really cool. I need to get out and try that again. I’ve always been so focused as a railfan on “stopping the train” with shutter speed that I forget how “artistic” they can be with implied motion.

    • Thanks, Gene. I’m starting to experiment with daylight blurring, by stopping the aperture way down so I can get a slow shutter speed to either pan a train or focus on a stationary object like a crossing sign and let the train blur by. I agree that “stopping the train” is the default but it’s good to mix things up.


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