Sometimes Life Throws You a Curve

Whenever we are out for a weekend on one of our shooting trips I try to get up before sunrise.  I learned sometime ago to appreciate the special lighting conditions and opportunities that occur only when the light level is low and soft that happens at sunset and sunrise.

On our most recent outing to Lavic, CA, on BNSF’s Needles Subdivision, Lappy woke us up because he needed to go outside.  The time was 4:15 AM. Perhaps a tad bit early but I didn’t want to chance it and oversleep so I got up.  I cleaned up, got a little something to eat, and put on ample layers because I knew it was going to be cold outside - and it was.

It was still dark when I got outside but the sunlight was making a discernable streak in the eastern sky.  The weather continued to be as excellent as it was the day before.  There was little to no cloud cover and no wind at all, but is was cold, very cold.

I began to assess the location, its accessibility and scenic features.  Little need to analyze the color was required because the darkness stripped away all but several shades of blackness.  My hopes were for an opportunity to shoot an eastbound train lit by the rising sun but it would also be cool to get a westbound train silhouetted against the dawn.  I picked a spot that afforded me an opportunity to get a shot of a westbound or an eastbound train and began to gather my gear.

I recalled hearing trains passing our location all night as we slept and I was worried that one would come before I was ready so I franctically yet methodically worked to get everything ready.  Eventually I was ready.  My camera was mounted and my tripod leveled and securely positioned.  My video camera was  also in place and fully charged.  The sun was beginning to rise as the eastern sky began to glow.  I was filled with anticipation.

I was ready and my gear was ready.  The skies were beginning to develop into a canvas of promise.  There was only one thing missing for a railroad photographer, the train.  So I waited.  And waited.

Did I mention that I waited?  Because I did.  I waited and I waited. And then I waited some more!  Where were the trains?  No clue.  All I knew was I in place, ready to shoot, and the moment was perfect except there was no subject in the frame.  Such is the life of a railroad photographer, I thought.  Unlike a landscape photographer, we are dependant on the presence of a train in order to fulfill our desire to get the perfect shot.  None was seen, or heard at all.

The sun began to reflect off of the rails and highlighted the eastern edge of the curve that was before me.  I took this opportunity to create a rail-related scene without a train.  I compose the shot and reviewed the results.  I missed.  The lighting was all wrong.  I adjusted the settings on my camera and proceeded to shoot the sun rising over the curve.

I like the shots that I took, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t help but think about what the shots would look like if a train had been there.  Perhaps I would have emphasized the train too much and missed the moment.  I’ll never know for sure.  Maybe next time I’ll get the shot that I had hoped for. 

Deb, let’s go out again! 

Sunrise Curve 3

Sunrise Curve 1

Sunrise Curve 2

Sunrise Curve 4

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Reader Comments (1)

Sunrise Curve 4 really sings. I like shots like this that create a feeling of anticipation and promise. The road (or in this case rails) are there, but with nothing on them the scene invites me to put myself into the shot. Thanks for shooting what you were given rather than being upset about what you weren't.

February 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterchip

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