On a blustery winter morning I find it nice to look through photos made on warm summer afternoons.
In June 2010, I had just bought my Canon EOS 7D DSLR (digital single lens reflex) and made an extended drive around the Midwest to visit friends, gather materials for a book, and test the camera. This went on for several weeks.
On the afternoon of June 24th, I revisited familiar territory along the Mississippi River at Savanna. Not yet fully trusting the digital camera, I exposed a number of slides from the top of the bluff.
I made this pair of images from river level of an eastward BNSF double stack was headed toward Chicago.
Of the two, I much prefer the second photo. For me this better portrays the railroad in its environment with a variety of secondary subjects to add interest.
A favorite location along the river was the Mississippi Palisades Park a few miles north of Savanna. Back in the mid-1990s, Mike and Tom Danneman and I would park at the public lot near river level and follow a designated hiking trail to one of several overlooks.
There standing on a plateau a top a river bluff made from millions of years of sediment, we command grand views of the river.
At the time, Burlington Northern would run a parade of trains in the afternoon and we’d photograph these roaring up and down the old Chicago, Burlington & Quincy line. This was a versatile location, good for photos at all times of the day. I don’t know that we ever tired of it.
At other times, we’d try angles from river level as well.
On June 25, 2010, I used my Lumix LX-3 to expose this backlit image of an eastward BNSF intermodal train hugging the east bank of the Mississippi River near Savannah, Illinois. My vantage point is a limestone outcropping atop the bluffs in Illinois’ Mississippi Palisades State Park
I exposed the image in manual mode, using the camera meter to gauge exposure for the river to avoid blowing out the highlights in the water. I turned all the automatic features, (including the auto focus) ‘off’, thus giving me a virtually instantaneous shutter release that allowed me to neatly fill the frame.
One of the difficulties with many small cameras is a ‘shutter lag’—an undesirable delay from the time the shutter button is released and the actual moment the shutter opens. This unfortunate problem handicaps a photographer’s ability to capture the decisive moment and greatly limits the potential for railway action photography. For me one of great advantages of the Lumix LX-3 is the ability to disable automatic functions and thus obviate the problems associated with a delay. The other camera’s other great advantage is its Leica Vario-Summicron lens, noted for remarkable sharpness and clarity.