Think Different

Sometimes I get a little bored with the “usual” railfanning.

I think all railfans do. We like the “different” things. Heritage units, leased locomotives, fallen flags cars, that kind of thing. Something different.

When I set out to do some railfanning on Boxing Day (Dec 26, 2020), I resolved to try something “different”.

To me, that meant taking shots from different angles or different compositions.

The morning’s photography started at CN East Elie (which is geographically west of the town of Elie).

CN 8950 at East Elie

That was my first “different” shot – framing it up with some scrub on the ground.

Next, a pan as the train rolled through the crossing.

CN 8950 at East Elie

I didn’t have to pan – there was enough light to freeze the action – but I felt it showed the movement of the train better. I panned the tail end locomotive as well.

Clean CN 2666 on the tail end
Clean CN 2666 on the tail end

After that train passed, I carried on west to Oakville. I passed through the town and started toward Newton, but as I approached that tiny community I saw the crossing gates were down and flashing ahead of me. Train! A quick U-turn brought me back to Oakville where I quickly considered where to photograph the rapidly approaching train.

CN 2309 and the trailer
CN 2309 and the trailer

There were a few interesting things beside the grain elevator that I thought about including in the shot. I think the photo above works OK with the trailer, but the one below… I don’t like it.

Wrong angle?
Wrong angle?

I think there’s potential with the stacks of wood and that bin, but I didn’t have the right angle.

I did like this old truck and I had to include that in a shot.

Passing the truck

I noticed this train had four distributed braking boxcars in the consist, so I “went wide” to include them and the truck.

A quartet of braking boxcars
A quartet of braking boxcars

After that train passed, I headed back toward Winnipeg. I got to Diamond and found a westbound train approaching. I set up right at the diamond where the CP Glenboro subdivision crosses over the CN Rivers subdivision and waited to capture that moment when they crossed the diamond.

Well, it didn’t work out.

Didn't work
Didn’t work

I caught it in the awkward point between freezing the action, or blurring it enough for motion. I think it just looks out of focus. I used a shutter speed of 1/200s. I should’ve slowed the shutter down to something like 1/60 or 1/30s.

However… I kept shooting. I slowed the shutter down some more and after a few shots, caught this one at 1/30s.

Much better
Much better

I’m quite pleased with how that one turned out.

Moving slightly east toward Winnipeg, I found CN 2309 East sitting at Hall Road. This was the same train that I shot at Oakville. I took a few roster shots of the locomotives, then continued east.

Soon, I encountered a westbound train, so I turned around and headed west to mile 15, where I found another train stopped. Things were getting busy on CN.

Here’s the westbound train, led by CN 8832 and CN 2110.

CN 8832 at mile 15
CN 8832 at mile 15

I intentionally shot it with the mileboard in “front” of the locomotive. Trying something different!

Speaking of different, I noticed this “inukshuk” sitting beside the track so I had to include it in the shot when I captured the meet.

Meet at mile 15
Meet at mile 15

Here’s a closer look at it.

Snow "inukshuk"
Snow “inukshuk”

After the westbound passed, I drove a little west to record the mid-train locomotive and take a few more photos.

CN 3055 mid train
CN 3055 mid train

There was a distributed braking container on the tail end. I see a lot more distributed braking boxcars than containers so I took the time to photograph it from a few angles.

CN 0003 on the tail end
CN 0003 on the tail end

I tried heading back east toward Winnipeg again, and there was another eastbound. I’m not complaining – more trains are always good.

This time I elected to capture it at mile 13. I grabbed this pan shot as it rolled by.

CN 3229, up close and personal
CN 3229, up close and personal

Here’s the mile 13 sign.

Passing mile 13
Passing mile 13

I think I need to “think different” a little more. That was fun.

Just One More Thing

I’ve started yet another project. I keep discovering Canadian train books that I never heard of, so I went looking for a list… some kind of “master database” of books about Canadian railways. The best I found was this Canadian railway bibliography compiled by Ken Jones. It’s pretty extensive.

I started building a list of Canadian railway books. So far I have 134 books in the list and there’s a lot left to add. I’m not going to copy or refer to Ken’s list, to respect the tremendous amount of work he must have put into it.

Feel free to email me at steve@traingeek.ca or comment below with suggestions on books to add.

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