Thursday, August 16, 2018

Sublime Sprague Subdivision Sunset Sightings

My youngest son and I went out railfanning on the evening of May 26, 2018 along the CN Sprague subdivision.

I live in southeast Winnipeg, so when I head out to see some main line action, I have two choices - head east to see the CN Sprague subdivision or the CN Redditt subdivision, or head west to see the CN Rivers subdivision or the CP Carberry subdivision. On that day, I chose to head east to the Sprague.

CN 5791 West

I found a westbound freight between Deacon's Corner and Dufresne, and I took the shot at a rural crossing. Westbounds in the evening are nice because you get that sweet nose light.
CN 5791 West
That second unit... another "warbonnet" leaser!
PRLX 250 on CN
The train had a lot of general freight on the head end, then a long string of tank cars.
Tank cars as far as the eye can see
That was nice. I took video with my older Canon T1i on a tripod, with a 50mm lens. I like the sound of the tank cars whooshing by.

We carried on to Dufresne to the grain elevator there. I was hoping for another westbound to get them with the nice sunset light on the elevator.

I set up just west of the elevator and waited... and waited...

I've written about how I am not a patient person. At least this time, I was with my son, so we could chat about Super Smash Brothers or Pokemon or whatever while we waited.

After about 50 minutes of waiting, a train did come along. It was a westbound!

CN 2242 West

CN 2242 by the Dufresne grain elevator
I can't decide which photo I like best - the one above or the one below. What do you think? Leave a comment!

CN 2242, a grain elevator, and the moon
"Death star" IC 1000 was the second unit, and there was a CAT backhoe on a flatcar two cars back.

Here's the video. I should have had the camera a bit farther back, I think.

So that was nice.

I waited twenty more minutes to see if another westbound was following, but nothing came along. I packed everything up and we headed back toward Winnipeg.

In the distance, I saw a headlight...

CN 3086 East

Sweet, sweet sunset light
This was unexpected, but this shot was my favourite of the evening. I just love that gorgeous sunset light.

It's funny how the light can change so much just by the angle you shoot it at. Contrast the photo above with the one below, taken seconds later as the train passed by us.

CN 3086
It's like it was a totally different day.

I didn't have time to set up for video for this one.

This train was a solid intermodal (container) train. I know a lot of people don't like the container trains, as they are basically just a wall of containers, but I like the symmetry... and they look nice at sunset.
Containers at sunset


It was a lovely evening for railfanning. I'm not sure my son would agree :) but I enjoyed it.

As a little extra, here's a freight car I saw earlier in the day when I was in downtown Winnipeg. These Reading and Northern cars show up now and then on CN.
Reading and Northern RBMN 8173
Thanks for reading!

Coming up... the next evening, May 27, when PRLX 250 makes another appearance...

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Book Review: Heckman's Canadian Pacific

This is a review of the book "Heckman's Canadian Pacific: A Photographic Journey" by Ralph Beaumont. If you like Canadian trains, and especially the CPR, you'll want this book!

Joseph Heckman was an engineer turned photographer who worked for Canadian Pacific Railway around the turn of the century (between 1898 and 1915), well before the more famous CPR photographer Nicholas Morant.

Heckman took several thousand black and white photos for engineering purposes, and this has turned out to be a treasure trove of images of the early CPR. These images were collected - presumably by Heckman - into a series of books.

The images show bridges, culverts, stations and other engineering works. One of the defining features of Heckman's photos is that they usually include people posing in them, such as a station agent and his family, or railway maintenance personnel. Heckman usually traveled by motorcar or handcar and his vehicle is also often in the photo.

Here's a typical image, showing his handcar with crewman, plus the station agent and his family. This is Chaplin, Saskatchewan, July 13, 1890.

Heckman kept extensive field notes, and the author used those to help identify the locations and other context around the photos.

Author Ralph Beaumont has winnowed these images down to several hundred excellent images, and he has provided an extensive caption for each photo to provide context. Beaumont also describes each book of photos. It appears that not much was known about Heckman, but Beaumont has done some extensive research to discover details about the man and his life.

This is a remarkable book about a remarkable collection, taken by a remarkable man.

My thanks go out to Ralph Beaumont for the tremendous amount of work that obviously went into making this book.

You can try buying this on Amazon (if it's in stock), through Canadian Express Online (at time of writing, they have 1 in stock), or see if it's in your local library. It's in the Winnipeg library...

Other reviews of this book:

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Light Matters

Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Radway, Alberta
Photographers are always talking about light... the quality of light, direction of light... we're obsessed with it. There's a reason for that. "Good" light makes a BIG difference in photos. Light matters.

Check out the photos above and below. These are churches that I photographed, seconds apart, and processed exactly the same. The left photo is without sunlight and the right photo has sunshine. Click on the photos to see a larger version.

Do you see how having "good light" makes a huge difference in the photo? The left photos are flat and lack contrast, while the subject (church) in the photos on the right stand out and draw the eye.

Limestone Lake Ukrainian Catholic Church, Alberta
Here are my recommendations:

  • Look for "good" light - mornings and evenings
  • On partly cloudy days, be patient and wait for the sun to peek out
  • Try different angles to get the light you want

Another view of the Limestone Lake church - with canola