Tyler’s Year End Wrapup

This is a guest post by Tyler Kowalski, a railfan from Manitoba. He has been posting his work on Instagram (follow tytytrainguy) and more recently on Facebook, and it is fantastic! I met Tyler at Manitoba Mega Train this year. He’s a nice young man and a talented photographer. He graciously agreed to share his year-end wrap up post here.

Since 2019 is coming to an end, I decided to hop onto the bandwagon and show my favorite photos from this wonderful year. I’ve had many new adventures around the province, and I’ve met a lot of new friendships that will last a lifetime. I’ve learned a lot about photography in the year, and purchased a new camera along the way… Also got my motorcycle license so in the summer I’ll be able to ride the “Train Nabber 300” to get more photos around for you guys to enjoy. So to end of the year, I’d like to show you some of my favorite photos and tell a little story about each one. Enjoy!

CN train at Quadra, MB - photo by Tyler Kowalski
CN train at Quadra, MB – photo by Tyler Kowalski

This is the trip you all remember and enjoyed the photos that came along with it. For this shot I was thinking of the best way to get to that spot without sitting there for 20 minutes to wait for a train and freeze in the process. I decided to tell my dad, AKA the driver, to take me to Miniota bridge and wait for a train and then race it back to Quadra. So we got out to Miniota keeping a close eye on the track to our right side to see if any eastbounds were flying down past us. Sure enough we arrive at Miniota and there is a rumble in the distance. I get my tripod set up with my phone to take a video, like I usually do. The train slowly comes around the corner so i have lots of time to take all the photos I wanted at that location. We make it back to Quadra and I fly out of the truck and dash across the field at a 1000 miles an hour to make it up there before the train beats me to it. Just as I see the train at Arrow River the sun pops out and highlights the train BEAUTIFULLY in my opinion giving a perfect end to a great weekend.

Oil train, mile 31, Grandview MB - photo by Tyler Kowalski
Oil train, mile 31, Grandview MB – photo by Tyler Kowalski

It was a cloudy day in August and I hear chatter on the radio. I walk down the street with my phone in hand to take a video. As usual it’s an empty oil train coming towards me. I watch the locomotives go through Gilbert and I decided to bolt it back home and put my motorcycle equipment on and grab my camera. I catch up to the train at Dutton and I pace them a little while just to see the units at a steady speed. Me and the Conductor have a moment and I zoomed away. I decided to go to the Mile 31 corner in Grandview, I got off my bike, took off all of my equipment and grabbed my camera and prepared the shot. Analyzing angles and positions in the empty area. I decided on this spot and waited for the train to come. It finally came and I was all ready to go. Aim, steady, FIRE. I get the shot and I gave my friend the peace sign and they rolled away. Got all of my equipment back on and was ready to go once the last buffer car rolled across and I was gone.

VIA Rail, Grandview MB - photo by Tyler Kowalski
VIA Rail, Grandview MB – photo by Tyler Kowalski

It’s another day with the motorcycle….. I got my bike ready before VIA even left Dauphin. It was my last day of summer break before school so I had to make the most of it. I went out to the HBD (Hot Box Detector) and got some photos and paced it to Grandview. I get setup there and see Clayton is out shooting as usual. The train stops and I get back on and go 200 ft down the track. I run up to the track trying angles like I usually do. I look down at the rail and think to myself “wow thats hella shiny” I drop down into a squat and put my camera on the rail. Snap the shot. Conductor climbs back in, bell turns on and they pull hard out of Grandview. Get back home and start to edit the photo and it turned out great in my opinion. Another great end to a day.

CP Holiday Train - photo by Tyler Kowalski
CP Holiday Train – photo by Tyler Kowalski

It was good ol’ December and I wanted to shoot the CP Holiday Train. I haven’t seen it for a few years so I thought it would be nice to see it again. I asked my dad if we could go and he said sure. We decided on leaving here at about 15:00 and missing some school.🤫 We got photos at Minnedosa to Shoal Lake all along in different locations. This was one of my favorites I got. A long exposure of the classic Christmas tradition many people visit every year. There were about 3 people at every crossing along the track of people doing their own photos. I was freezing my fingers while practicing different exposures before it came. I had a good time reliving memories from years before.

Tyler's father and Ferromex. Photo by Tyler Kowalski.
Tyler’s father and Ferromex. Photo by Tyler Kowalski.

Another photo from the weekend adventure was of my dad in front of a Ferromex autorack. We waited for about 5 minutes and this Q114 comes from the distance. I was way up high taking photos of the train about 200 ft below me. As the train goes by at track speed we were all enjoying it. Seeing the intermodal going by at such a speed is a rare occurrence for all of us. I told my dad to turn around and look like he was having a good time and I wasn’t boring him to death. He came up with this position. I showed him the photo afterwards and he asked me what Ferromex was. I said, “it’s a railway company in Mexico”. He then asked me what a Mexican autorack was doing up here in this cold winter climate all the way across the continent. All I said was “I’m not sure, it must just be the way the cookie crumbles.”

CN 853 - photo by Tyler Kowalski
CN 853 – photo by Tyler Kowalski

The last photo was this 853 perfectly sandwiched between these two metal grates. It was windy and cold that day so I decided to hide behind the elevator for shelter. As I waited for the train I kept looking around for a better angle as my brain always wants to do. I found this rusty old platform from the elevator just laying there screaming my name. I took a few test shots without a train to figure out the correct exposure for the day. I got everything lined up and waited. The train comes around the corner and I see an ES44DC leading with the teardrop cabs, one of my favorites to shoot. The train goes into the position I want and I push the shutter button. Check back at the photo and boom! Perfectly exposed image which I fell in love with instantly. Sometimes you can find the best spots by accident.

So there is my recap of 2019. I’ve certainly had a great year of learning, meeting people, and most importantly just having fun with what I love to do. In 2020 I hope to make more new friends and keep expanding my knowledge of photography, not just trains but all subjects. I look forward to see what others produce and what I can also produce showing my progress throughout the year. I hope you all enjoy this and everything else I’ve posted for you. I’m sorry this was so long but even though it is long I hope you enjoy reading my basic 2019 story. My best wishes for everyone in this group for 2020!

Check out Tyler’s work at instagram.com/tytytrainguy

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