Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Something a little different

As I mentioned in recent posts, I was lucky enough to spend some time in Stratford recently, which gave me the opportunity to take some shots of the Goderich Exeter Railway staging yard in the city, although it was quite empty for the most part.

You can read Part I of my series from Stratford here or Part II here

For the final portion of my Stratford pictures, I thought I would showcase one last shot I have attempted over the years, with varying degrees of success. I'm not sure what to call it, but it's kind of like a railway family photo where different railways get together in the same frame. But it's not quite a meet photo, as most have captured from time to time. This type of shot is a little different. The shot I have attempted a few times is a much more focused shot of the lead engines.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, I'd like to show off another few shots of a westbound Via corridor train bound for Sarnia. This train does one run to Toronto and back to Sarnia each day, so catching it is pretty simple. I was certainly not out to capture more Via Rail shots, but with no freight trains imminent, I figured I should capture what I could. 

Here's the first shot of the same consist I caught the previous day (see Part II link above). This time around, it was F40 6413 leading the way. Hard to believe these old warhorses will soon be gone when Via takes delivery of its new Siemens Chargers. I will miss the F40s. I've always liked them. 

The cut of hoppers in the GEXR yard was still there, possibly awaiting delivery the following day, which was a Monday. I hope the old Southern Ontario Railway geep tied up in the yard started okay. Two young railfans pointed out that someone had left the engine's trailing lights on. I had to strain to see the lights, but they were indeed left on. Oops.

 I figured I should also catch trailing P42 906 in the Via wrap design while I still can. It's not easy catching these engines in a single frame from the side, especially on a station platform. They are long units. I will say this. Via's wraps really do improve the look of these beasts, in my opinion. I know a lot of railfans don't like this scheme, but I like it. It's something different and it really does make the Via logo and the passenger train stand out. Both good things.

So with that business out of the way, this is the latest attempt at a family shot. I attempted to capture it as my one last frame before I packed it in for the evening. I have tried this type of shot before. This time around, I was reasonably pleased with the outcome. Unfortunately, my shot was a little off balance so I had to adjust the photo a bit, which trimmed a tiny bit off the top of the F40. Still, I love seeing two railways represented in the same shot. Both of these units are getting on in years and I'm sure one day this will be a shot I will appreciate more.

I will group together a few similar family shots in a future post, simply for the sake of exploring the idea of a different type of railfan photo. I hope this shot also explains that I am not anti-wedge or dramatic close-up, as some might have guessed, based on what I have written in this blog in the last little while.

As the light was fading fast, I didn't push my luck and headed back to the hotel where I was staying. It was a fun weekend in Stratford, which also included a quick trip to St. Marys to see the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and snag a few shots of the town's beautiful Via Rail station. Sadly, there were no trains coming through on the day I was there. Also, the pouring rain made it very difficult to get any shot at all, but here's a quick shot from the platform. You can see the town's water tower in the mist behind the station. You can also see the raindrops in the shot. Unavoidable, sadly.

That was the extent of my railfanning in Southern Ontario this summer. Now that my children are back at school, I do intend to try and catch up with the Wednesday Arnprior Turn here in Ottawa. Anyone who knows when it passes by in the morning these days, feel free to leave a message. I get the impression it has run later in recent weeks (around 10 a.m. or so). Any info is welcome.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Making the most of it

I don't need to tell any of you that 2020 has been a write-off in many respects. For me, it's been a challenge at times, particularly with this blog. Last week, I shared some photos of a nearly empty, quiet railyard in Stratford, since there was nothing happening when I arrived. Later the same day, I made a return visit, just in case. This is what I saw when I returned.

Nothing special right? Well, no quite. First of all, that string of hoppers was not there earlier in the day when I surveyed the yard, so it was obvious to me that a local spotted the cars at some point during the day, when I wasn't around. So that was disappointing. Those cars might have been headed for the salt mine in Goderich or an agricultural spur somewhere on the GEXR Goderich Sub. I'm not sure of the customer base on the CN Guelph Sub. I am just guessing it was headed for Goderich since I was at the same place last year and saw two orange GEXR geeps towing a string of covered hoppers toward the Goderich Sub.

Anyway, you will see that the two signals are showing red. What made that significant was that the signal on the left is a searchlight signal, which is dark unless something is imminent. That was my clue that something was coming. Exciting right? Well, not exciting exactly, since it was clear to me by the people on the station platform that the train that was coming was a Via Rail corridor train heading west for Sarnia. Not exactly was I came to see, but I decided to make the most of this grain elevator backdrop.

This shot, above, was my favourite. I have a few others where P42 906 is closer, but I much prefer this shot, since is incorporates more of the hopper cars and grain elevator. You will notice on the extreme right that I did purposely try to keep the flatcar in the shot as well. I figured, if I couldn't catch a freight train, I might as well keep as many of the freight cars in my shot as possible. I also like what the weeds add to the scene. To me, it screams secondary route, small town. That's the type of image I love to catch.

Here's a shot of the corridor train from a closer vantage point. I included it just for comparison's sake. I've noticed on a lot of railfan sites that these type of shots are usually the preferred image. I have been moving away from these images for quite a while. This is not to say that my way is any better. It's just a personal preference. I find I am much more interested in the overall scene, rather than how much of my frame is filled with the actual train. Still, I like how this shot at least keeps the grain elevator in the shot.

Here's one more shot of the train at the station, with an idle F40 on the tail end. This father and son were checking out the railway action along with me. At one point, they walked off the platform to check the signals, which were just beyond the end of the asphalt. This is a big difference I notice in smaller cities and towns. There is a much more liberal attitude toward railway property. I don't agree with this. I also saw another local resident cutting across a large piece of CN property that was clearly being used as a storage area for various pieces of construction and MoW equipment. I suppose if the railway has no active presence in the town, people don't worry so much about being caught. I still think it is always a bad idea to trespass on railway property. 

The worst example I ever saw of this attitude was when I saw multiple people crossing through CN's Dundas Subdivision yard in London, Ont. to take a shortcut. Given the railway's active staff in the yard and the frequency of trains on this busy route, I can't think of many things that are as reckless as this.

Anyway, before I left Stratford and headed home to Ottawa, I did manage to sneak in one last trip to this rail yard the next evening to catch the same Via Rail corridor train en route to Sarnia. I managed to try something a little different and was pleased with the end result. That will have to wait for another post.