Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Railfan Five Challenge

Eric Gagnon over at the excellent Trackside Treasure blog threw down the gauntlet and challenged myself and three other bloggers to share five photos from our railfan journeys.

Unlike Eric, I haven't been a railfan for most of my life. Eric said he started in early 1976. At that time I was living in Moscow, USSR and riding trains but paying no more attention to them than I would to a bus or a car.

It wasn't until late 1998 or early 1999 that I really became a railfan. It started after I visited the Salem and Hillsborough Railroad in New Brunswick. Something clicked and I started paying attention to trains.


The first photo I'm sharing with you was taken in what was then Chatham, NB and is now part of Miramichi. I was driving north to Belledune or Dalhousie when I spotted a pair of red locomotives across the river. I actually turned around and drove back to cross the river to see these engines - you could tell I was a railfan by that action. I was a bit confused because they looked like CP Rail engines to my new railfan eyes but I was 75% sure that CP didn't have any track in New Brunswick any more*.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this "NBEC Rail" thing. It was NBEC 1866 and NBEC 1867 working the Loggieville Subdivision, but I didn't know anything about them. This was the first railfan photo I ever took. I had a Minolta Maxxum 5000i film camera at the time and I'm surprised I actually had it with me.

* actually, CP still had a small section of track near Edmundston.


This one was taken in the fall of 2007. Until that time my railfan photos were usually roster photos, or generally unplanned photos taken whenever I saw a train. To me, this photo marks the start of when I began to intentionally seek out photogenic locations for trains. I credit David Morris for this. I went on a few railfan trips with him and he had a set of locations that he liked to use, and I could see why one would want to step away from the yards and photograph trains in a nice scene.

I took this photo with the intention of photographing the VIA Rail Ocean with fall colours. I went to this location at the west end of one of the Miramichi River bridges, hoping to get some foliage. I had never been to this location before but fortunately it delivered the goods.

(buy this print)


After my Minolta Maxxum broke (the mirror jammed, photographing an Ontario Northland engine in Saint John), I bought a Canon S3 and used it for several productive years. The VIA Rail photo was taken with that. I still have the S3 and use it for video now. It's not HD but it works.

In 2010 I decided it was time to move to an SLR. You may remember on my blog that I talked about my decision. In the end I went with a Canon T1i DSLR. The following photo is the first ralifan photo I took with that camera, unedited.

I was delighted with that camera, and I still am... although I'm hungry to get the Canon 7D Mark II. I'm going to have to save my pennies!


I decided in 2012 that I should try to sell my photos online to make a few $$$ toward more camera purchases. The following, "Bridge Over Tranquil Waters", was my first sale, three packs of postcards for a decent amount of money.

Since then I have sold a few prints here and there, made a few commercial sales, and I look forward to more.


This last one is just a favourite of mine. I like the Rocky Mountaineer and whenever I'm in Banff* I look for it. I first photographed the Rocky in 2010 and I managed to catch it again in 2013. This photograph was taken at Muleshoe between Banff and Lake Louise. I left Banff ahead of the train, intending to shoot it at this location, and got there about 5 minutes ahead of the train. After scrambling down a hill and firing off a few test shots to adjust for exposure, I was ready. The Rocky didn't disappoint.

(buy this print) (see the video)

* I say "whenever I'm in Banff" like I go there a lot. I think I've been there five times in my life, but we're on schedule to go back in 2016!


I'm going to challenge four other bloggers to come forth and share their own Railfan Five.

Go have a look at their blogs! Thanks again to Eric for the challenge. I'll be donating to the Winnipeg Railway Museum.


Eric said...

Beautiful selections, Steve. I appreciate you taking up the challenge and passing it on. That Rocky Mountaineer shot's lighting and positioning is great!

Across the country and across the decades - fine fodder for Your Railfan Five! And all for a good cause - my donation to Exporail is going in tomorrow's mail!


Michael said...

Interesting story, Steve. I never had a chance, coming from a line of railway men. You found this hobby on your own later in life. Given how much you travel, you have found the perfect hobby. I love the shot of the old CP unit. What a warhorse.