Thursday, April 12, 2018

A little planning pays off

I’ve often read various blogs and articles about planning your shots when trackside. The other day, I had my plans for a railfanning day crushed, which forced me to make do with a brief trip trackside here in Ottawa. That meant shooting another Via Rail corridor consist. This, needless to say, wasn’t nearly as exciting to me.

My first thought was to do a tour of the Smiths Falls Subdivision near my home. I often check a few spots on this stretch of track, looking for something new to capture. Since westbound Train 47 was due to leave Fallowfield Station in Barrhaven in 12:51 p.m., I began there.

Interestingly, there was a pick-up truck hi-railing along the tracks at around 12:30 p.m., although it was nothing worth shooting, so I headed southwest along the line to check out a few other places.

My next stop was the Kott Lumber spur near Moodie Drive. The spur was empty, not that I would have been able to shoot anything around that track, since it is completely inaccessible and shielded from view from most angles. There is a spot along the edge of the Kott property where I considered trying to get a shot of the train crossing the bridge over the Jock River. But the vantage point I wanted was also inaccessible, since it was very likely on private property.

I moved on to the Twin Elm area, to check out the SynAgri spur, which often boasts some interesting covered hoppers, which I have blogged about a few times. When I arrived there, the spur was empty and some bird watchers had taken the spot I was going to use to shoot the Via Rail train. The bird watchers were observing a nest of hawks that have chosen one of the high points of the SynAgri facility to rear their young this spring.

 A very long shot taken of a hawk's nest at Twin Elm. 

My final spot was the Ottawa Street crossing in Richmond, which I sometimes visit, since there is often interesting maintenance of way equipment on the spurs there. However, aside from the standard snow spreader, there was nothing happening there either.

So, what to do?

I decided to head back to the Twin Elm area and try to set up on Cambrian Road, which is not easy, given this road has narrow gravel shoulders. I set up along at a suitable spot, making sure to pull my car off the road far enough so as not to cause any safety issues. When I found my spot, I was glad I had taken the time to think of choosing a good spot. I had the sun mostly behind me, although it was midday, so it was more overhead, but I was definitely not on the shadow side of the train. I was far enough back that my vantage point would allow some wide views of the train when it arrived.

When it did come through Twin Elm, I was pretty happy with the consist. An F40PH-2 led the way, followed by a Via 40 wrapped LRC coach, two more LRC coaches, another wrap, a refurbished Budd streamliner and a P42 on the opposite end. That’s about as much variety as one might expect from a passenger train these days.

I wish I could say I framed this tree deliberately, but it was just a result of me following the train and letting the shutter fly

It made up for the fact that, in my travels the previous weekend on the 401, I missed out on some pretty impressive trains in Kingston along the Kingston Sub, including a long CN freight and a Via Rail F40PH-2 40th anniversary wrap.

As the train raced through Twin Elm, I kept following it  and letting the shutter fly. As I did, I captured this image of the entire train. I think this might be one of my favourite shots I have captured in a long time. There are many elements in this shot that I like, not the least of which is the sky.

Double ender heads west on the Smiths Falls Sub through Twin Elm, Ontario

I should mention that I deliberately got close to the fence in the shot so that I didn't have two fences to contend with when the train first came into view. As I followed it, the wire fence crept into the shot, but I like what it adds to this image.

Here's another shot I liked, as I tried to capture the train next to this barn. Sometimes, I like to take shots trackside where the train is just a small part of an overall landscape shot. This is one of those types of shots.

I will be taking a rain check on that railfanning excursion to somewhere in Eastern Ontario in the coming weeks, but this was a nice a consolation prize for the time being.


AJ said...

Nice shots. The Twin Elm area is probably my favourite place int he city. 5 mins from home and good sightlines.

Ever try O'Neil Road off Dywer Hill? It's on my to-do list right now. Checked it out on Streetview a few times and it looks like it could be ideal (good sightlines, quiet, lots of pull over space, a double tracked section and a light tree).

Canadian Train Geek said...

I like that going away shot with the fence line very much. The fence makes the shot. (the glint helps too!)

Michael said...

Thanks gents> I only had a brief window of opportunity, but I was happy to make the most of it. As much as I get bored shooting Via trains in Ottawa, it at least forces me to be creative with my shots.

Eric said...

Michael, do you have a date for that twin-P42 train with VIA 912 on the tail-end? I have April 14 as a first sighting for this VIA40 wrap so far.


Michael said...

Hi Eric. The date of the meet was April 9th. I had the day off work and made the most of it!

Eric said...

Thanks for the date, Michael!