Daily Post: Zephyr Glints on the Chicago Raceway


Amtrak’s California Zephyr on the last lap to Chicago.

Last Saturday afternoon, Chris Guss, Pat Yough and I finished up a day’s photography on the former Burlington ‘Triple Track’ around La Grange, Illinois.

We inspected Metra’s Congress Park Station, which consists of two narrow platforms along the busy mainline. Here the sun held a little longer than other places where trees were causing difficult shadows.

An outbound Metra scoot accelerates toward Congress Park, Illinois on November 9, 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
An outbound Metra scoot accelerates toward Congress Park, Illinois on November 9, 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Trailing view of a Metra train at Congress Park.  Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Trailing view of a Metra train at Congress Park. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Shortly before sundown, we caught an outward Metra train. An automated voice announced that this train wouldn’t stop. After it passed, I spotted a headlight on the horizon. Mistaking this for a relatively slow moving freight, I returned to the car for a longer lens.

Pat Yough shouted to me, as the train was approaching quickly. I hastily returned to the platform, making test exposures as I ran.

The resulting photos are what our friend Tim Doherty calls ‘Hail Marys.’ I had just enough time to compose and pop off a few frames as the Zephyr blew through Congress Park.

 Amtrak Number 6, the California Zephyr approaches Congress Park, Illinois at sunset on November 9, 2013. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. 400 ISO 1/500th second at f5.6
Amtrak Number 6, the California Zephyr approaches Congress Park, Illinois at sunset on November 9, 2013. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. 400 ISO 1/500th second at f5.6. As the train got closer I adjusted my exposure (see below).
A slightly closer view. with my Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. 400 ISO 1/500th second at f9. I adjusted my exposure as the train was bearing down on me. By 'stopping down' from f5.6 to f9, I reduced the amount of light hitting the sensor. This enhances the glint effect on the side of the train and better retains detail and color in the sky, but results in a very dark locomotive front. I can work with the RAW file in Photoshop to boost shadow detail, and perhaps I'll play with this image at a later date.
A slightly closer view with my Canon EOS 7D and 200mm lens. Set at: 400 ISO 1/500th second at f9. I adjusted my exposure as the train was bearing down on me. By ‘stopping down’ from f5.6 to f9, I reduced the amount of light hitting the sensor. This enhances the glint effect on the side of the train and better retains detail and color in the sky, but results in a very dark locomotive front. I can work with the RAW file in Photoshop to boost shadow detail, and perhaps I’ll play with this image at a later date.

Amtrak Number 6, the California Zephyr approaches Congress Park, Illinois at sunset on November 9, 2013. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm.

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2 thoughts on “Daily Post: Zephyr Glints on the Chicago Raceway”

  1. JDS would be proud of you. The “glint” is obviously the highlight (pun intended) of the picture. To me, the headlights and ditchlights provide sufficient definition of the front of the locomotive.

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