Pan Am’s Fresh Blue Diesels Work West at Shirley—November 18, 2015.

Tracking the Light on the roll!

We were heading for Ayer. We’d heard some non-descript chatter on the radio about Pan Am’s POED (Portland to East Deerfield). I had the MBTA schedules on my lap. The sun was shining brightly.

Bob Arnold was driving, Paul Goewey was riding shotgun, and I was in the back.

“There’s freight cars moving west!”

“It’s the POED, turn around”.

“The new SD40-2s are in the lead!”

These were the coolest engines in New England as this moment in time, and they’d handily presented themselves in nice light.

Our opportunity was narrow and before long we were saddled with waddler (a slow moving car that impeded our forward progress). However, the freight was only ambling up the grade, and we began to overtake it.

I rolled down my window, set my FujiFilm X-T1 to ‘turbo flutter’ (continuous high) with a 1/60th of a second shutter speed to ensure the effect of movement, and made bursts of images of the shinny blue engines on the move.

Art of the pace: Bob was driving so I leaned from the rear passenger window and exposed a series of images. By selecting a slower shutter speed I was able to convey motion. He's a secret: although the pacing action resulted in most of the ground blur, I was also panning back to keep the locomotives sharp and had my image stabilization 'on'. This takes practice.
Art of the pace: Bob was driving so I leaned from the rear passenger window and exposed a series of images. By selecting a slower shutter speed I was able to convey motion. Here’s a secret: although the pacing action resulted in most of the ground blur, I was also panning back to keep the locomotives sharp and had my camera’s image stabilization ‘on’. This takes practice.
Both the locomotives and the car are moving, yet at different speeds, so compensation is necessary or everything will turn into a sea of blur.
Both the locomotives and the car are moving, yet at different speeds, so compensation is necessary or everything will turn into a sea of blur.

Despite the frustrations caused by our less than quick progress, we were soon ahead of the freight. At Shirley, Massachusetts the road and the old Boston & Maine are parallel. Bob asked “where should we stop.”

“Pull in short of the new signal bridge. . . Here, it’s open and clear.”

It was a fire drill as we bailed and assumed photographic stance trackside. POED was bearing down with its diesels roaring. We only a few moments.

I set my camera’s focus position, readjusted my shutter speed (to stop the action), set my zoom to a wide position to allow for more broadside on the engines, and looked to minimize poles, wires and extraneous brush. My shutter setting was still in ‘turbo flutter’.

I waited until the locomotives were close and exposed a prolonged burst of images, while aiming to position the lead locomotive nose at the upper left of the frame for maximum visual impact.

Nice clean locomotives work west on heavily blasted track at Shirley, Massachusetts on November 18, 2015.
Nice clean locomotives work west on heavily ballasted track at Shirley, Massachusetts on November 18, 2015.
I turned for a trailing view looking toward the new signal bridge. Word of advice, get the old searchlights before their gone. (That was our next project).
I turned for a trailing view looking toward the new signal bridge. Word of advice, get the old searchlights before their gone. (That was our next project).

In short; we scored! Yea team!

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