Tracking The Light Presents: a Clear Morning waiting for Amtrak’s Autotrain—Seven Photographs.

 

Amtrak’s Autotrain (trains 52/53) is one of America’s most unusual daily services. This runs non-stop between Lorton, Virginia and Sanford, Florida and is designed as a passenger/auto ferry.

It is Amtrak’s longest and heaviest train. It is one of the only trains that is regularly scheduled to use the older 800-series General Electric Genesis diesel-electrics (model P40).

Because of its length and unusual motive power, it makes for an interesting subject, provided you can find a place to photograph it that conveys these attributes.

On Monday, June 8, 2015, Doug Riddell met Pat Yough and me at Ashland, Virginia. Among our goals for the day were to photograph Amtrak 52 (the northward Autotrain).

The old passenger station at Ashland, Virginia at dawn on June 8, 2015, looking south. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
The old passenger station at Ashland, Virginia at dawn on June 8, 2015, looking south. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
The old passenger station at Ashland, Virginia at dawn on June 8, 2015, looking north. Fujifilm X-T1 photo. (White balance set to 'daylight' rather than 'auto' to enhance the effect of sunrise).
The old passenger station at Ashland, Virginia at dawn on June 8, 2015, looking north. Fujifilm X-T1 photo. (White balance set to ‘daylight’ rather than ‘auto’ to enhance the effect of sunrise).
Doug elaborates on his book Santa Trains. Lumix LX7 photo.
Doug elaborates on his book Virginia’s Legendary Santa Trains. Lumix LX7 photo.

Based on our experience a few days earlier (see: Tracking the Light visits Ashland, Virginia—June 4, 2015) where we’d photographed the southward Autotrain in the rain, I’d suggested Ashland because of the long tangent and accessibility. Doug concurred and suggested a favorite spot near Patrick Street.

Amtrak number 53, the northward Autotrain, led by locomotives 831 and 816 at Ashland, Virginia. This train was running a on a 'limited clear' aspect behind a northward CSX intermodal freight. Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens set to 135mm (telephoto). Notice the unusual grade crossing signal with the bracket arm at right.
Amtrak number 53, the northward Autotrain, led by locomotives 831 and 816 at Ashland, Virginia. This train was running a on a ‘limited clear’ aspect behind a northward CSX intermodal freight. Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens set to 135mm (telephoto). Notice the unusual grade crossing signal with the bracket arm at right.
Amtrak number 53, Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens set to 34mm . Notice the unusual grade crossing signal with the bracket arm.
Amtrak number 53 is the longest passenger train consist in America, Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens set to 34mm . Notice the unusual grade crossing signal with the bracket arm.

And so we waited. Good things come to those who wait! The morning was clear, and although 52 fell down a bit (it was running behind schedule), its delay benefited us greatly. Not only were we treated to a steady parade of northward trains with soft June sunlight, but the light gradually improved.

 

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