Last week I was downtown for the day and before leaving the urban cacophony spent a bit of time dragging my shutter among my fellow commuters. It had been quite a long time since I was downtown during the evening rush hour and I enjoyed panning with the C-trains, shooting in the middle of the cross walk and looking for ways to capture the movements of people and their conveyances.
Trains in the Rockies raise mixed feelings for me. There is a majesty to travel by rail, especially through the mountains. And, the railway certainly played a role historically in binding this country together that continues today. The wildlife deaths from train collisions on the tracks that wind through the Banff National Park is an issue that has improved but has a long ways to go before the animals are safe. Wildlife photographers like John Marriott and Peter A. Dettling are among those stakeholders who are raising awareness and making positive changes. Hopefully increasing awareness and engagement by the public and those on all sides of the equation will continue to reduce deaths of wolves, bears and other wildlife on the railways in the Rocky Mountains. It will be good when the trains and their rich history can be enjoyed without the dark shadow that currently hangs around them.
I panned with this train as it slid through downtown Calgary, working to keep the front sharp. When I reviewed the photograph, I liked the driver’s wave to his counterpart on the just passed train. A detail I didn’t see in the moment.
The city was still fairly dark when I was downtown early on Wednesday. I dragged the shutter, using long exposures mixed with some panning to capture the motion of the commuter trains coming into and heading out of the core. Many of the trains were sparsely populated with passengers with the rush of people yet to start building. This afforded the opportunity pick out individual riders and follow them through the exposure to give the illusion of freezing the person while surrounding them with movement.
The station matched the trains at that hour – both were pretty quiet.
In this image
Two 4400 horsepower diesel-electric locomotives (GE AC4400CW is the model of both trains if anyone is interested) lead a convoy of freight cars past the Third Vermilion Lake heading west through the Banff National Park.
A photograph created by using a slower shutter speed (here 1/13 sec.) and then panning with the train to keep the engines in focus and blur the surrounding landscape. This joins the images that chronicle my long running love of things in motion!
Here, I panned with the one of Calgary’s C Train cars as it moved out of downtown towards the southern reaches of the line. I used a longer exposure, 1/4 of a second, to really stretch the lines of light and dark in background. Usually I pan the trains at between 1/10 and 1/20 of a second as that allows for decent blur streaks in the background and achieving a sharp subject (the train or sometimes its occupants). Longer exposures can end up a blurry mess quite easily. In this image, my panning matched the train’s movement pretty well so outline at the front of the vehicle is clearly that of a train. Not sharp but I think there is a good balance between the background blur and the lines and edges of the train. I think there is a lot of movement in this photo which was my intent.
I found myself in Cochrane waiting for repairs to the wagon a few days ago. The sky was blue and the wind was blowing so it felt like a good time to take a walk. With gear in hand, I wandered the back streets of the town and ended up playing around the tracks (don’t tell my children, they might think I’m talking about real play, not shooting).
I’m endlessly fascinated by motion and trains with their history, power and shapes always draw my eye.
Throw in the rusted boxcars waiting on the secondary tracks and I happily filled an hour down on the rails.