Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Good and Faithful Friend

Farewell to a good and faithful servant. My Canon S2IS has finally given up the ghost, after nearly 7 years of service and tens of thousands of photos and videos captured.

It was my first (and some would still say *only*) real camera. It traveled with me across the state of Minnesota many times. I had it set on a tripod shooting video the first time I saw a steam locomotive under power. It went to Glacier National Park and I used it to photograph trains in Marias Pass. It's been shoved in duffle bags abused by bag smashers at many different airports. When it survived its first fall from the dashboard near Springfield, MN, I celebrated my good luck.

With the trusty S2 by my side, I learned to navigate the rocky shoals of That wasn't always easy or fun, but it was certainly rewarding for a while. I like to think that when I learned to shoot what I wanted rather than what I thought other people wanted, the S2 was at least partly responsible.

I remember the Labor Day that I shot this photo:

It's still one of my own all time favorite train pictures. Here are a couple of more shots with the Canon that bring back good memories.

That last one is one of the first photos I took with my brand new S2. I had no idea the Builder was running late, I just parked at the crossing and waited. Darn near peed myself when Amtrak showed up. (First picture I got on railpics too!)

Technically, I have a better camera now. I might just be buying a still better camera shortly. But no matter what it's doubtful any new gear will give the feeling of excitement and satisfaction I got from that old S2. 

Railfanning (and life, I guess) are funny that way for me. The new is so rewarding. So much to learn, so many new experiences to look forward to. In 2006, the world was my oyster. I didn't know how much I didn't know. Anything seemed possible. 

Now, it's more megapixels, faster autofocus, video, ATCS, trunking scanners. Then, it was the excitement of hearing a train blowing for the crossing a couple of miles away. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Luddite who thinks we should go back to the old ways. I love having ATCS on my phone. But don't be afraid to just go out sometimes, sit along the tracks, and see what might come along. You might not bag as many trains, but the ones you do get will mean a whole lot.

I sat and waited two hours for the train pictured below. I had no idea whether a train was coming or not, but I had hope and a cooperative wife. It was my last afternoon of the trip, and I felt like I needed a Tunnel 4 shot to make things complete. As I sat, I watched the shadows creep toward the track. I hoped harder, and sure enough, finally, the sound of an approaching train echoed down the valley. It was great. 

I got it with my trusty S2. Thanks, old friend. Thanks for the memories. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sunrise at Proctor

With a couple of weeks vacation carried over from 2013 to 2014 and the requirement that it get used up ASAP, I took the first couple of workdays of the year off. This morning, Mrs. L4T and I polished off a pot of coffee, and after a peek out the window I decided to head to Proctor to enjoy the sunrise. 

The yard switch job with DMIR 215 pointed north was puttering about when I arrived, well away from my vantage point. That didn't stop me from capturing the sun as it rose in the southeast, preparing to illuminate the yard. 
There was another train tucked back in the yard as well. Limestone loads behind a quartet of SD40 variants were working their way out as the sun climbed in the morning sky. I felt for the conductor who was handling the switches as the train progressed through the yard trackage. It was -21 when I drove up and didn't feel like it was warming up any. 
One more shot as he approaches the bridge. Every time the train throttled up the exhaust formed an almost steam engine-like cloud. Very impressive. 
A loaded pellet train was sitting at the scale, and I wanted to work that into a photo. Got my opportunity when the limestone loads stopped to get a switch before heading out. Oh, and there is our old friend the 403, trailing today. That means that technically the first shot in this post has both remaining maroon Missabe units in it, although you sure can't identify them.
It was about this time one of my pinkies was ready to snap off, so I headed to the Holiday in Proctor to warm up for a bit. Also needed to pick up milk. After that was done I stopped back to see if the sun had climbed enough to illuminate the pellet train, sure enough it had. I grabbed a couple shots of that, even though the wind was preventing any spectacular steam clouds from lingering.

All in all, a productive hour or so. Might get the chance to do it again before I have to head back to work Monday.