Wednesday, November 30, 2005
NS 9363, 9404 and 1702 led a train of about 50 cars. As you can see I decided on the overhead shot this time.
I went out to Cheswick, just east of Harmar, late this afternoon with the intent of filming a train in a different locale. Unfortunately, the train gods did not favour me and nothing came along in the 45 minutes I had before darkness fell. Oh well.
That issue of R&R came out just in time!
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
I wanted to try a place I noticed earlier, near Harmar. There's a bridge that crosses the river and the tracks, and I thought it might be a nice place to get an overhead shot. When I arrived there around 1610 I noticed an even better shot from about 1/4 of the way across the bridge, shooting into an S-curve before the train went under the bridge. I waited there. I was a little concerned that the train might pop out from the trees into the S-curve before I could get ready to shoot.
My fears were unfounded. I heard a train blowing for a crossing before I even saw its lights, and I could easily see the headlights through the trees as it threaded its way along the river toward my S-curve. I really like how the shot turned out.
It was a loaded coal train led by NS 6710 (SD60) and NS 8664 elephant-style. I didn't count the cars but I estimate about 70-80.
After some of the train went by, I sprinted over to where the bridge crossed the track and filmed the rest from almost overhead:
I waited around for another 40 minutes until it got dark, but nothing else came.
Later tonight I thought I'd try to catch the seemingly-regular 2245 train. As it happens I paced it on the highway for a bit but I was unable to catch it. I turned around and started making my way home when I saw a green signal. I got greedy and tried to catch it at the same bridge near Harmar, but it went by just as I was stepping out of my car. That's the lesson - get the shot you know you can get. I'll try to remember that.
Monday, November 28, 2005
It was 7206 and Conrail 7200 leading a bunch of coal loads. The real surprise came at the end when I found NS 7215 and another Conrail 72xx unit pushing.
The bright light to the right of the Conrail engine is the crossing light. I like seeing these Norfolk Southern units because the ditch lights flash alternately. Canadian ditch lights just stay on constantly.
I also saw a CSX train near Station Square, but I was up on the hill and I had no chance of reading any numbers. It was a single unit pulling a bunch of coal empties.
I heard a train at 2245 and another at 2300. It seems like a regular thing.
At lunch, I saw another Norfolk Southern train heading northeast in Harmar, PA at the junction of I76 and PA route 28. It had NS 9163 and 9711 pulling a long train of mostly tank cars. Of course, I was on the wrong side of a four-lane highway at the time so I couldn't get any pictures or video.
After my course ended, I went down to Fox Chapel and parked myself by a straight stretch of track to wait. I figured this was better than running up and down the road and missing another train. After about 35 minutes I heard someone say they cleared "Sharp", which I think is Sharpsburg. That told me another north/east freight was coming.
At 1650 it came into view - NS 9196, 9063, and I think 6717 leading a long long train of hopper cars. If it were Saskatchewan I'd say they were potash cars. It was almost dark by then and my camera had trouble focusing as the cars went by, so the video is not great. But at least I caught something!
EDIT: Added video.
At least I know the line is active!
Sunday, November 27, 2005
The old GP9E's that were on site are long gone. I wish I had taken more photos of them while they were around. For a while they were very common, since all NBSR had were the three GP38s, two SW1200s and a pile of GP9s.
On the way from the airport on highway 279 I crossed under a couple of very impressive Norfolk & Western bridges. I hope to see bridges like that in daylight!
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Under the hood, all web sites use a language called HTML to describe how their pages look. I'm not going to provide a tutorial on HTML here but if you Google for "HTML Tutorial" you'll find fine sites like this or many others. Just understand that the basis of every web site is a bunch of text called HTML.
Many people use a product like Microsoft FrontPage to design their web sites, and that's fine. They provide a word processor-like interface to your web site and allow you to put simple web sites together very quickly. But as a programmer I don't like the HTML they produce and they're not suitable for large web sites.
Believe it or not, I design my web site using the Notepad text editor. It allows me full control over the web site and I know exactly how it is built. It's not for everyone, but it works for me.
I do use some time-saving features, though. My web site provider Pair.com has a feature called server-side includes, which basically means that if a bunch of pages have a portion of the page in common, I can put that in a separate file and use it, rather than writing it over and over again. If you look at, say, my New Brunswick East Coast web pages, you'll see that the header and sidebar on every page is the same. I don't rewrite it every time. It's in a separate file (you can see the header by itself here) and it gets included on every NBEC page. The beauty of that is that if I need to update the header, I change the header file and every NBEC page displays differently.
It's a real time saver.
I'm also starting to use a newer HTML feature called CSS, "Cascading Style Sheets". They're a way of describing how a page should look to the client, that being you. By using one or more standard CSS files across a web site, you can quickly change the entire look of a web site by updating one file, much like I use header files. Not all of my site uses CSS yet, and you'll notice that as you browse, say, the VIA section of my web site. I haven't got to updating that yet. A good CSS resource is here at Glish.com.
My web sites are pretty plain in appearance, and that's for two reasons. I prefer to present information over style, and I'm not a graphic artist. I would appreciate any suggestions you have to improve the appearance of my sites, though - email me at b l o firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
13:02 Bedford Quarry: I just made it here and didn't have time to set up the tripod. The light was pretty good.
The consist, as far as I can tell from the tiny screen on my video camera, was 6415 / 64xx / baggage / coach / Skyline / diner / 4 sleepers / Park / 4 coaches / diner. The last 5 cars are probably the last of the Veteran Train deadheading back to Montreal. You can see the tail end here:
I wanted to race to Milford next. As luck would have it, a truck pulled out very near Bedford Quarry with a huge concrete bridge piece on it, with accompanying escort vehicles. Once they managed to swing that onto the onramp, I was able to get by and get on highway 102. It delayed me a few minutes but I made it to Milford on time, and 15 showed up at 13:32.
Bill Linley recommended that I go to Crowes Mills Road aka the west end of Belmont siding next. I had been to the east end of the siding on the old Tatamagouche Road but never the west end. But beware, there is construction on that road. By the time I made it through there, I only had a couple of minutes before 15 showed up at 14:17.
It's really hard to videotape with a 2-year-old clinging to you, by the way.
There was no sign of VIA 14 at all. I had to stop for a bathroom break and to fuel up the vehicle, so I figured I was too far behind. I called VIA and they said it was expected to arrive in Halifax at 1800 (!) so they were quite late.
On return to the Halifax area I noted CN 4732 and 4722 shunting the Dartmouth yard. The light was very wrong on my side.
Friday, November 18, 2005
There are two scenes, 120 rounding the bend approaching Rockingham Yard, and arriving at the Halifax Intermodal Terminal (HIT).
I hope to have more video for you after my trip, and of course photos of what I have seen.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Too bad there's no number on the taxi.
It has a 10X optical Carl Zeiss lens, which is pretty good quality in my books. It can do up to 120X zoom with digital zoom, but I have that turned off. Digital zoom is just dumb - you lose a lot of quality.
It has a 2.5" flip-out LCD screen, which is big enough to review what you've recorded. I especially like that it does not have a touchscreen. All the buttons are on the camera so my fat fingers can hit the right ones easily.
I have been playing with night video using the "Night Shot" mode and so far I like it. It has a "Super Night Shot" mode but it is not suitable for moving objects. It blurs everything.
The built-in 1 megapixel still camera is OK for quick shots, but the quality is not nearly high enough. It's good enough for small web thumbnails up to 500 pixels but not much more.
I see they're selling used on eBay for a few hundred dollars.
What do you use for video? Leave a comment!
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Saturday, November 12, 2005
In the past few days I've been updating the New Brunswick Southern portion of the site. I have mostly been doing formatting changes but I have added some newer photos, especially of units like 3702, 3703 and 2318.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Thursday, November 10, 2005
13:20: As we rolled up to the crossing, we saw CN local 515 heading down the cement spur, van first with one car and 4774 trailing.
The brakeman and the engineer both gave us a friendly wave. Thanks, guys!
Quite a crowd gathered there to wave at the train. I talked to a few of the bystanders as I listened to radio chatter on the scanner (mostly 515's chatter). There was one woman there holding a Canadian flag who had keys to the nice little ex-CN station there, and she offered to let us in after the train went by. I reluctantly declined, as we had to boot it to Onslow next.
Pat Othen gave us another update and we talked with Bill Linley too.
Soon we saw headlights in the distance. The crowd gathered, the railfans set up for their shots, and VIA 15 blew through in fine style, Canadian flags a-flapping on engine 6420. (14:04) Note the extra headlight on 6420.
I think the video looks OK except that I was a twit and didn't notice the wire running across the top of the shot. Sigh.
We sprinted for the car and took off. We saw CN 515 coming back to the mainline as we rolled past (14:07), so I grabbed a shot out the window as we sped toward the highway. I don't know if you can see it from this picture but there is some kind of eye marked on the nose. It must be a variant of "WASH ME".
Peter G drove us to Onslow in good time, and en route we heard the detector go off, reporting that VIA 15 was doing 66 MPH. Not too shabby! We had lots of time to wait at Onslow. I saw there was someone up at the old Tatamagouche Road and there were a few railfans and other people at the Onslow crossing. I saw "VIAKEN" posted a photo from Onslow, so I guess he was one of them!
Finally the Ocean rolled out of Truro at 14:44. The shot from Onslow was great as we could get the whole train. I unfortunately clipped the Park car off the end of the first shot:
Once the Park car rolled through, we got on the road to Atkinson. We arrived there and it was raining. Drat! Peter and Ken set up for the "coming" shot and David and I set up for the "going away" shot. I had forgotten my hat in the car and I didn't dare go back to get it for fear of missing the train. Tim Dryden showed up a few minutes before the train appeared. We waited for perhaps 20 minutes in the rain until the Ocean appeared at 15:36. Look at the flags on 6420.
We decided to get him coming into Amherst next. We stopped on the side of the road and both Bill Linley and Tim Dryden stopped briefly beside us. They hurried on to catch the train at the station. We turned out to have two good shots, one long-distance showing the whole train and the closer one, which wasn't quite long enough to show the entire train. (16:15)
Our next shot was at Fort Beausejour. I had never gone there before so I was interested in the photo opportunity. I usually go to Fort Lawrence, but after going to For Beausejour. I may never go to Fort L again! You get three good photo ops at Fort B. The engineer gave us a couple of toots as he passed the Fort at 16:31.
The sun poked out enough to light up the train as it went across the Tantramar Marsh. Nice.
We tried to get the train at Sackville station next, but it apparently did only a single stop. It started moving just after we arrived at 16:47 and didn't stop again. There was quite an enthusiastic crowd at the station.
We ran up the old road and got ahead of him before Dorchester. We pulled over next to one of David's favourite spots and found Tim Dryden and Bill Linley already there waiting. The light was terrible and my video camera misbehaved, so I didn't get any good video here. (17:05)
From there we sauntered into Moncton and arrived at the station after the train. They had the engines at the usual spot, so the Park car must have been on or before the overpass. I tried some night shots of 6420 and this one turned out pretty good. Not bad for no tripod, if I do say so myself.
I saw someone else there taking photos of 6420, but he didn't say anything. Comment if it was you!
The Ocean left at 18:06 in practically total darkness. As I started to video their departure my camera announced that it had less than 5 minutes of tape left. It took almost 3 minutes for the entire train to roll out.
We went inside and shot a few photos of the decorated interior, and talked with a few railfans. The staff did a fine job with the decorations. I'm proud to say that the soon-to-be-New Brunswick Railway Museum supplied a few props, including this station board.
Art Clowes joined us for dinner, then we headed home. I got back home at 21:30, almost 12 hours after I left. It was a very good day.
The train approaching Amherst. As you can see, it didn't quite fit in the frame.
The train crossing the Tantramar Marsh on its way to Sackville.
The tail end leaving Onslow just outside Truro.
More pictures and the chase description coming soon!
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Monday, November 07, 2005
Tentatively, these are the clips that will be on the DVD:
- VIA from Halifax to Campbellton
- VIA at Night
- VIA in the Snow
- The Bras d'Or
I hope to have it ready by the end of November. After that, I have to figure out how to market it... a challenge for another day.
- digital video camera
- digital still camera
- spare batteries
- Trackside Guide
I often borrow a scanner, but the person who I borrow it from will be in the same car, so... no need for that.
I would bring a map but I'll be with three other experienced railfans, so I think we'll do fine for navigation.
What's your railfanning equipment? Comment here!
Saturday, November 05, 2005
I will be chasing the Veteran's Train on Wednesday. Pictures and video to follow, of course!
Thursday, November 03, 2005
09:55 Leased CN 7000 was working the transloading facility near Harbour Station. NBSR 3702 and 3703 were pulling a string of doublestacks and CN ballast cars out of the Island Yard by Harbour Station.
CN 5693, 5717 and 2564 were in the yard.
11:10 CN 5693, 5717 and 2564 ran light through the wye in East Saint John heading toward the potash terminal.
11:45 Those three came back through the wye with about 25 empty potash cars.