Fallowfield Station has become a fixture for residents in west Ottawa over the last two decades. It is one of the few suburban stations Via Rail maintains in large cities. Other than Guildwood Station in east Toronto (Scarborough to be specific) and Dorval Station west of Montreal, Via maintains one station per city or community in just about all other cases.
Fallowfield has become a convenient place to pick up and drop off friends and family who are either visiting or departing Ottawa. Its vantage points are tricky, from the point of view of rail photography, as its platform is long and extremely narrow. To make matters more challenging, the station has 100 parking spots in two long, narrow parking lots that stretch along tracks far from the station. In other words, if you want pictures of trains that aren't almost head on or free of vehicle obstructions, you need to get creative. I have blogged about Fallowfield many times, as it is one of the few accessible, busy train spots near my home, but I have not been in the habit of visiting there all that much lately. I feel I have more than enough Via Rail photographs from my near decade of photographing there.
However, when family was visiting in early January and expected to arrive on Train 44 at 6:30 p.m., I decided to take my camera with me to attempt a little nighttime rail photography. I have done this in the past at this station, as its overhead lighting does ease the challenges.
Before the train arrived, I tried getting a shot of the signal towers to the east of the station, although the mist made it difficult to get the sharp image I wanted. However, I did like what I got, amid the mist.
At this point, the city had received quite a bit of freezing rain and flurries, which made for some tricky and messy driving. It also meant that the extreme ends of the station platform were treacherous to walk on, which I did, of course, in the search for an interesting shot.
Some of these shots didn't turn out, so all my slipping and sliding didn't pay off, but it was worth a try, at least. On the safer part of the platform, I tried to get the ice and frost on the rails in an image. This time, the effort paid off.
It's not often that an image with no train in it becomes my favourite of a shoot, but this image turned out really well. I was sitting on the platform and trying to get the rails, the icy platform and the signals in one shot that was compelling. I think I had some success. This image to me is the essence of railroading in Canada in the winter. You never know what you're going to get, but it's always interesting.
Train 44 arrived shortly after I got my frost shot. The all LRC consist was led by P42 915 in its original Via colours. The trains itself was not a double-ender, as there was no power on the other side. I do like that you can see the headlight shining in the darkness in this shot. The snow had not yet begun to fall, which would have made the shot even more wintry, but I was satisfied nonetheless.
One last vertical shot and then it was off to retrieve my family, who were in the last car on the train and likely wondering where I was. I was happy with this vertical shot, as it shows the headlight shining through the darkness much more clearly. You can also see the station lights and other passenger silhouettes on the platform. It's a timeless image of people reuniting on the holidays, being thankful to see each other and spending time together.
I don't take a lot of vertical shots anymore, as they usually mean I am taking shots of trains with very little angle. However, once in a while, I think this format suits a scene really well, as it did here.
There have been a few other times when I've been to Fallowfield in the evening and most of the shots were not worthy of sharing. Over the years, as I have gotten a bit better, I have managed to get a few cool shots in the snow at night. My favourite nighttime shot is the one in this post.
As Fallowfield Station just celebrated the 20th anniversary of its grand opening in the fall, I thought it might be worthwhile to look into the history of the station. I am in the process of going through old newspaper articles about the station and its surprising history.
Stay tuned for that post coming soon.