Palmer, Massachusetts—The Visual Quandary of the North Side of the Tracks.

In the longer months, there’s nice morning sun on the north side of the tracks at Palmer, Massachusetts and this seems to offer a potentially good vantage point.

There are several interesting structures here: including the former Union Station (now the Steaming Tender restaurant) and the old Flynt building (painted grey and lavender with fluorescent pink trim).

Yet I’ve found that placing a train in this setting rarely yields a satisfactory composition.

Here’s the on-going compromise; using a wide-angle perspective if I place the train far away, it tends to get lost in the scene. And, yet when it’s too close it obscures the old station building. The Flynt building either dominates on the right, or ends up cropped altogether. A telephoto view here presents its own share of complications.

The other day, I turned on to South Main Street in time to see the CSX local freight (symbol B740) west of the New England Central diamond (crossing). This gave me just enough time to park the car, walk briskly across the street, set my exposure and use my FujiFilm XT1 to make this sequence of photos.

CSX local freight B740 has a pair of vintage GP40-2 diesels. To the left of the train is the old Palmer Union Station.
CSX local freight B740 has a pair of vintage GP40-2 diesels. To the left of the train is the old Palmer Union Station.
This closer view obscures the station.
This closer view obscures the station.
The trailing view lack a sense of place. I know this CP83 in Palmer, but really it could be anywhere. It does offer a good view of the antique diesels and the signals, so that's something.
The trailing view lacks a satisfactory sense of place. It is  CP83 in Palmer, but it could be anywhere. Yet, it does offer a good view of the antique diesels and the signals, so that’s something.

Not bad for grab shots, but they still suffer from my visual quandary as described.

Puzzling through these sorts of vexations is part of my process for making better photos. Sometimes there’s no simple answer, but then again, occasionally I find a solution.

In the meantime I present my photos as work in progress.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light is a Daily Blog.

4 thoughts on “Palmer, Massachusetts—The Visual Quandary of the North Side of the Tracks.”

  1. Not sure what you drive, but I used to carry my 8 ft step ladder until I discovered that just standing on my minivan gave me another foot in height. Just a thought….. Also maybe moving about six feet or so more to the south to catch the train and the two buildings as well as the passenger car???

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