Night time photography is one of my favourite types of photography. The challenge of shooting in dark conditions is one that takes some adjustments compared to usual daytime shooting, but when it works, it's often absolutely spectacular. Such is the case when looking up at the stars - a challenge to photograph, but when it works...
There are many night time and night sky types of photography, though I only practice a mere handful. Primarily a more basic type of light painting, using the headlights of locomotives passing by to illuminate a subject and act as their own focal point as they shoot across the frame. However, I've wanted to expand those horizons a bit further and try a different type of long exposure photography - by pointing my camera up to the sky.
Star trails are something I've wanted to try for a while now, but committing to actually doing them didn't come easy. They take time and careful setup on the camera side, and it's easy to screw up and waste all that time. All it would take is one tap on the tripod and a few late hours have now been wasted. Learning to use my intervalometer properly was also necessary - for the last year or so I've had all the tools but not the know-how. Thanks to some quick tutorials and tests at home, I had figured out how to work it all properly.
The question then, is what to shoot? Yes, I could just go to a dim parcel of land anywhere and look up, but adding in a subject to a star trail photo takes it to the next level, and I wanted something more than just the trails themselves.
Thanks to light pollution maps and some previous knowledge, I knew exactly where to go. It only seemed fitting to visit my favourite control point on the NS Bloomington District - CP Osman!
2020: The Year of the Deathstar
In years past, when asked about the things I take photos of, I always answered with trains - of course - but always specified something to the effect of: "only really interesting ones, like steam engines. I would never go chase a diesel because they aren't very interesting."
Well, suffice to say I don't say that anymore.
I happen to live at an interesting railroad crossroads of sorts. The old east-west line, owned by too many companies in years past to list but including the New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail, and now Norfolk Southern, certainly acts as a bit of a dividing line in town. But it's the north and south mainline of the Illinois Central that is the true split. It literally divides the town in half and is very much a focal point in the town. In fact, this mainline is the reason the town exists at all.
The Illinois Central went through many changes over the years, including a rebranding into the Illinois Central Gulf after its merger with the Gulf, Mobile, & Ohio, but its parent company finally dumped the railroad on its own in the 1980s. Finally, the IC was on its own again, and ready to rebrand. The new Illinois Central saw a dip back to its classic black paint, but with a new set of logos - a big "i" overtop a circle made up only of parallel lines. The birth of the Illinois Central Death Star.
Well. I don't think I need to bore you with world events as of late. I think we all get the gist.
So, furloughed, no classes, no work, and really anything else going on, there hasn't been much to talk about. It's been depressingly quiet for the most part - until somewhat recently, at least.
If you've seen the Gallery lately, or my Flickr or Instagram, you might have noticed a few new shots crop up. A few things happened in the last two months which have given me a few nice photo opportunities. Shameless shoutout where I ask you to follow me on either or both of the aforementioned platforms - stuff appears there first almost always. Links to those (and others) in the sidebar.
So, let's start from the beginning.
The Union Pacific certainly has a thing for Great Races - which certainly makes sense, as chasing down their trains certainly is a race!
Throughout July and early August this year, the Big Boy #4014 embarked on its second journey - called "The Great Race Across The Midwest." The locomotive visited Minneapolis, Duluth, Chicago, Des Moines, Omaha, North Platte, and many, many towns and cities along the way. It took routes a Big Boy has never once travelled before, making it a prime opportunity to chase. Of course, it was about a full month, so there was no way I was to be able to follow it the way I did during the Great Race To Ogden because it was prohibitively expensive (as we all know from the Ogden trip...) and getting that much time off work was difficult.
Nevertheless, I managed to secure a short trip - July 30th & the 31st. The route for these two days was simple: West Chicago to Cedar Rapids on the 30th, then Cedar Rapids to Des Moines on the 31st. In Part 1, we'll cover the first day, the 30th, and the ridiculousness that was chasing a Big Boy in Illinois & Iowa.
Hello, my name is SM, and this is where I write.
This little blogspace is where my thoughts go - whether it's talking about a photography trip or a DJ mix, this is where it all ends up.
SMWorks isn't free to run! Consider sending a little support our way if you can.