johngriffiths
johngriffiths

VIA 67 8536



VIA 67, 25 minutes late, Toronto bound at around 80 mph, in an April snowstorm, passing CN freight 377, also westbound at about 50 mph....
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VIA 67, 25 minutes late, Toronto bound at around 80 mph, in an April snowstorm, passing CN freight 377, also westbound at about 50 mph.
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Awards

Peer Award
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Superb Composition
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Top Choice
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Absolute Masterpiece
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Outstanding Creativity
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All Star
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Magnificent Capture
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Superior Skill
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Image Of The Month Photo Contest Vol 9Top 20 class
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Behind The Lens

Location
This is a road/rail level crossing in the eastern Ontario town in which I live. The railway is the CN mainline between Montreal and Toronto, also used by VIA Rail Canada for passenger trains between these cities. It is a very busy rail corridor used daily by numerous freight and passenger trains.The advantage of the location for taking train photos is that it gives a relatively unobstructed view from both directions while one can remain a very safe distance back from the tracks [trains are typically travelling between 45 and 80 mph past this point].
Time
It was late afternoon, about 5:30 pm EST, on a day in late winter/early spring. April in this part of the continent can be very changeable, with bright sunny warm days alternating with blustery blizzard days, blowing snow and cold temperatures. It was snowing, and there was some wind.
Lighting
Because the rail line is running almost directly east/west at this point, the sun is almost always a factor in taking photos at the crossing - morning in bright sunlight is difficult for a shot of trains approaching from the east, while afternoon sun makes a view to the west very difficult. Being on the south side of the tracks helps somewhat, and at this crossing, there are trees which can limit the direct sunlight; however, that in turn causes major hard shadows which can be difficult to allow for. In cloudy weather, in winter, these problems are minimized, the light is much more even, although the sky will of course be merely a bright uniform gray. A fast shutter speed, and consequently a high ISO was used, and the approach angle of the trains minimizes problems with motion blur.
Equipment
This is my old, faithful and reliable Canon Rebel XTi camera, here with the original Canon EFS 18-55mm kit lens. For several years I used this lens as my main workpiece and have been mostly very satisfied with the results. As I have gained experience, I became aware, as have we all, that this work-a-day starter lens has limitations, and I am fortunate to have been able to add some additional lenses of late. However, for this light, for this subject, in this weather, the EFS 18-55 was a reliable and predictable lens that worked well.
Inspiration
This is one of several local locations that offer relatively unobstructed SAFE views of the high-speed railway in action. I am not as much interested in what are called [in the railfan/railphotography hobby] 'roster' shots of railway equipment, that is, static views of engines and equipment. 'The train in its environment' is what I am trying to achieve. Poor weather is actually better, in many cases, for this type of photo: not only is the light more uniform, weather elements add to the context - blowing snow, for example, can be dramatic for a scene of a train at speed.
Editing
I lightly cropped the original to move the main subject slightly to the right, a bit less centered, and I enhanced the JPEG just a touch in Photoshop. Since there are snowflakes throughout the shot, many quite close to the lens, it could not be sharpened or enhanced very much without introducing large distortions. The 'twilight' effect, and the blurry blowing snow, were wanted features.
In my camera bag
I carry two Canon Rebel XTi bodies, one of which is a replacement for an earlier iteration which did not survive a shoot in a furious rainstorm [I am not able to afford weatherproof camera/lens equipment; I try to do as much as I can to protect my stuff under a coat or in a bag until the actual shot is made. Poor weather is good for photos, so I persist]. For lenses, I recently was able to largely retire my earliest EFS 18-55mm kit lens and it's companion EF 75-300 zoom. On one camera, I am now using mostly a Canon EFS 35mm f/2.8 IS STM prime ["zoom with your feet"] and intend to keep at it until I feel I can use it reliably and predictably. I also have a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 'Nifty Fifty' which I am in the early stages of learning how to use. For the other body, I have a newer Canon EF 75-300 f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM which is a better lens but much heavier than the one it replaces. All three new lenses were gifts from family, marking a significant birthday recently.
Feedback
Poor weather offers excellent opportunities - blowing snow can be especially dramatic for action situations, as is late afternoon lighting. A fast shutter speed, and a high ISO are needed, which are trade-offs to maintain a reasonable aperture for depth-of-field. With my present 35mm prime, I find that there is a very modest 'field-of-view' which is ideal for the subject [railway equipment is BIG]. The trick is to find it and hit it reliably. A road/rail 'level' crossing is an ideal location, offering good approach angles well back from the tracks - and it is fully signal-protected, allowing great opportunities in SAFETY! The latter is emphasized: railways, especially high-speed railways, are inherently dangerous and your safety and the safety of all those involved in operations is of the utmost importance. That said, trains create their own mini-weather systems as they pass, and the effects can be fun and satisfying to capture.

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