random thoughts on railroad photography, railfanning, technology, and such

Entries from February 21, 2010 - February 27, 2010


VIDEO PREMIERE - TRACKSIDE with ChasingSteel.com

I am pleased to announce the release of a new series of rail-related media, TRACKSIDE with ChasingSteel.com!

In the TRACKSIDE video series you will stand next to me as we witness a passing train, or trains, as I shoot some photos of the train.  I’ll give you the location information and as much train information as I know, where possible.  Within the video you will hear the camera shutter fire at the points that I took some photos and at the end of the video I show you some of the photos taken of that train.  This is a virtual railfanning trip for the uninitiated or those who prefer to let me do the dirty work.  Don’t worry, I am happy to do it! 

If you click on the video link in the menu bar above you will be taken to my YouTube channel where the current and any subsequent videos can be viewed. 

Any always, your feedback is appreciated.


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


Puppy Update # 1 (3 Weeks Old)

Here is a shot comparing the puppies from when they were 2 days old to when they became 3 three weeks old:

          Chase (bottom each photo) ‘n Steel - My they have GROWN!