Palmer, Massachusetts 11:01pm November 30, 2012

It’s late, it’s dark, and it’s bitterly cold (ok, it’s been colder). I’m tired and I’m in Palmer where I’ve made countless thousands of images. I left my tripod at home. However, I’ve been eying the odd wintry textured sky, and then the CSX home signal at CP83 clears to a high green. There’s a train coming west, and it’s not too far away. As always, I’ve got my Lumix LX-3. I dither for a couple of minutes. No, I should make a photo. I’m here, there’s no good excuse not to. So, I walk to the South Main Street overpass. This was rebuilt in the 1990s in a manner ill suited to photography. A high concrete parapet combined with a chain link fence blocks most places I’ve like to work from. Yet, the fence proves my salvation. (I’ve done this before, now what did I do?)

Railroads at night in Palmer, Massachusetts.
CSX Q427 rolls through Palmer, Massachusetts, at 11:01 pm on November 30, 2012.
Notice the photographer’s shadow superimposed on the blur of the train (lower center). Single exposure with Panasonic Lumix LX-3 (equipped with Leitz Vario-Summicron lens) zoom set to 5.1mm, ISO 200, exposed in ‘A’-mode with +2/3 over-ride, f2.2 at 7 seconds. Entirely exposed with existing light; no flash.

I wedge the Lumix into the chain-links, using the fence to hold my camera. I set the exposure using Aperture Priority (A on the dial), and as explained previously (see: Installment 4: Lumix LX-3—part 2:  Existing Light Digital Night Shots) I use the toggle switch to manually override the exposure, setting it to +2/3. This will compensate for the evening’s relative darkness and lighten up the gloomy sky.

I hear the westward train approaching. It’s about a mile away rolling under the Tennyville Bridge (Route 32). Looking west, I make a test exposure at about 7 seconds, but manage to jiggle the fence in the process. My exposure is spot-on but the is photo softened by blur—no good. I try again, but this time the auto-focus can’t find a focus point and the picture is worse.

Now the lights of the train are illuminating the signals. I’d better get it right this time. I make two more exposures. While the first is too dark, the second is spot-on. In this one, CSX’s Q427 (a manifest freight that originates on Pan Am Railways and is destined for CSX’s Selkirk, New York yards) is racing toward the signal. I’ve got it. It works. Yea! Success. I can go back to my car and thaw out, and never mind CSX’s westward Q119 following two blocks behind.

One thought on “Palmer, Massachusetts 11:01pm November 30, 2012”

  1. The situation demanded a photographic attempt! Cold & tired can be remedied but a photo op is a one time event. Excellent!

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