This is an old favorite location with a great name. How can you go wrong with a street called Wisdom Way? Much better than Losers Lane.
The other day, Norfolk Southern/Pan Am Southern symbol freight 14R was on its way east. I was struggling to find a suitable place to make a photograph, and the best I could come up with was old Wisdom Way.
The light was ‘wrong’ (is that possible?). So I opted for an unusual angle.
Notice that I’ve made the most of the vertical framing by allowing the length of the freight to run diagonally from the top right of the photo to the bottom of the image. This culminates with Norfolk Southern’s emblematic horse and ditch lights on the point of the common General Electric wide-nose cab diesel.
While the locomotive is dominant, my down-on angle emphasizes the machine’s angular shapes from a decidedly different perspective yet includes the freight behind it. Where does your eye fall first?
My aim is to show the power of the machine, the length of the train, and yet capture the atmosphere of the autumnal scene. Notice the dead track to the left, that’s the old eastward main, long out of service.
Would this have worked as well if I was at ground and level with the train using classic ‘over the shoulder’ three-quarter lighting and common centered composition?
Of my older black & white images, I feel this is among my most successful compositions. For me it goes beyond simple documentation of the railroad, yet captures the essence of Northeastern railroading in the early 1980s.
I’m standing in the ruined shell of the old Boston & Maine tower at Johnsonville, New York, where the line to Troy had diverged from the route to Mechanicville and Rotterdam.
In the tower’s broken windows, I’ve framed a distant eastward B&M freight (operated by Guilford Transportation Industries). The railroad, like the tower, is a shell of its former glory, having suffered from decades of decline. Yet, the trains still roll.
The stark, yet diffused November light adds to the scene and backlights the train illuminating the locomotive exhaust. Although the train is small, it is clearly the subject of the photo. The eye is immediately drawn to the locomotives and only later explores the rest of the image. I was particularly pleased with the placement of the old railings inside the tower.
For many years I had a 5×7 inch black and white print of this image on my wall.