Trinity Rail Express, January: I took my son E. out for a day of riding the Trinity and DART commuter trains in the Metroplex; it was largely rainy and grey all day, but the sun came out for sunset. . .it was wild watching the "Texas Fireball" pass behind a Fort Worth skyscraper before re-emerging for one last blast of glint light. It reminded me I hadn't taken a pure glint shot in a couple of years. . .
The end of the year is traditionally set aside for reflection upon the previous 12 months; it's fitting to take an inventory of the year photographically, through 10 favorite images from 2007. I was tempted to include a couple of the kids, but instead tried to keep the choices non-family in nature. Not surprisingly, my favorite photographs were largely of a "non-traditional" nature, with reference to the "normal" type of railroad photography practiced in the United States. Some might derisively refer to such images as "artsy-fartsy," but to me efforts such as these stretch my own creativity, and I've learned from each one of them.
Click on the photo for a full-sized image.
Where The West Begins: During a late-night photo session in Saginaw, this view of massed U-Haul trailers presented itself. It reminded me of Conestoga wagons rounded up for the evening under a prairie moon. Well, sorta. We're a mobile society, and for many of us, these U-Hauls are the modern equivalent of a sideboard wagon. Round em up, move 'em out. Yeee-haw.'
Rock Island Drive, Irving, Texas: Next three images were for a book project edited by Brian Solomon--a "day in the west" type thing occurring on May 10, the anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike. Rather than go for the traditional railfan photography, I decided to cover the mass transit operations in the area, and shot Trinity Rail, the McKinney Avenue trolley line in Dallas, and the DART light rail. Here's how my day began: pacing an empty TRE train into Irving on the old Rock Island, headed for its first stop of the day. No expectations that anything would be sharp in this photo. . .it actually turned out as I envisioned it would.
Fort Worth's Urban Tunnel: And here's how May 10 ended: A light streak of the last train of the day passing trough the old Tindal Storage Building in Fort Worth. This will soon be condos; fittingly, it was TRE's creation that helped fuel a gentrification of downtown Fort Worth's warehouse district.
Off to the Salt Mines: On board TRE, May 10: I used my best street photographer technique; digital SLR's are a bit quieter than their film counterpart, but not as silent as a Leica rangefinder. No matter, I held the camera at my waist and snuck a few shots of commuters resigned to their workaday fate.
SP 1744 at Alamosa, Colorado, July: On a family vacation to Colorado, we rolled into Alamosa late in the afternoon as the sun dropped below the rainclouds. I wasn't expecting to find the San Luis & Rio Grande's 4-6-0 switching its train after returning from Antonito. It was like turning back the clock to, say, Tracy, California, 1953. . .
Rain shower on the Transcon: Later that week, driving from Santa Fe to Amarillo, we jogged south to parallel the BNSF's former Santa Fe mainline. Amazing number of trains. Miss one? No problem, more coming. Got three trains in 20 minutes here to provide variations on a them. This is the best of bunch.
Up Before Dawn: Often, my favorite shots from a rail trip won't be of the trains. In September, Joe Brice and I were driving to Oklahoma before dawn to meet up with UP's 844 steam engine. In the town of Bowie, Texas, we passed this scene where workers at a machine shop gathered before starting their day. A quick u-turn, roll down the window, jack the ISO on the digital camera to 1600, and the scene was recorded. I really like that small-down, early-morning feel. You can almost smell the pot of coffee.
Oklahoma Centennial Express: While the horde of caravaners following UP 844 that day opted for the 3/4 wedgies along the mostly-straight Duncan Subdivision, we stumbled onto a perfectly placed windmill near the tracks north of Ringgold, Texas. Just got a new ultra-wide Tokina zoom, and was amazed how sharp a lens it turned out to be.
Close to Home: To end this set, a cool "sky shot." Had a great two-hours of photography one day this summer, diverted en route to the Saginaw post office and stumbling in a whole mess of trains in a short period of time. Finally headed for home, made this last image of a BNSF coal train holding out of town next to a pond of rainwater, under the big Texas sky.