Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chasing the sunset to the tracks

Sunset comes early this time of year, just a bit after 4 p.m. so I generally miss it since I am stuck behind a desk. However, today we had reduced hours so I got out a bit early and got some shots along the river with 7D and 300mm lens.
When I got the 7D about a week and a half ago one of the first shots I took with it was one of the trees on Butler Island with the 100-400mm lens at 400mm. Ugh! I was not that happy with the picture. Today I shot the same picture with the 300mm and found much more detail. I am still getting pictures at time that are too crunchy (clarity setting in Adobe Camera Raw) but this was an improvement. I posted a comparison composite.
It was getting dark but I tried for birds in flight. Probably too dark but a few shots that I was willing to post. The subject birds, Common Ravens, are challenging in two ways: they need a lot of exposure compensation (two stops) and they are difficult for focus (pretty featureless and dark).
There was surprisingly little snowmobile traffic but got a couple of shots of the one that went by headed towards the setting sun.
Lots of clouds meant a chance for an interesting sunset so I went inside and grabbed a 5DII with my usual walk around lens, 24-105mm IS.
A few shots up the river and then off on foot to figure out best place from which to shoot the sunset. This is not as easy as it sounds. Ideally I would like a place where I have a lot of empty space in front of me and no overhead wires. The best place would be on the other side of the river but I didn't have the time or inclination to head over.
I kept walking until I got the tracks by which time the sun was down but the sky was still interesting.
It was about 4:30 by the time I was standing beside the tracks so I decided I might was well wait and get a shot of the train which heads south at 5:00. It was getting darker very quickly. Decided to try a video at high ISO. It turned out very noisy, as expected, and I called it Night Train from Moosonee. As usual, it looks a lot better on my monitor than it does on youtube: viewed at home I can clearly see the smoke billowing from the lead locomotive. The Polar Bear Express is, for much of its length, a fairly dark train. It has lots of head end cars (flat cars, boxcars) before the passenger cars with their lights at the end. In its present form, it is only a couple of years old. There used to a train with the same name that was a summer time only excursion train and a year round mixed train that had lots of freight with passenger cars at the end. The Ontario Northland got some extra money from the provincial government to improve service. They ended up with a five day a week Polar Bear Express that has some freight type cars that mostly carry vehicles for local residents and baggage and a separate freight train. But, there is no longer a train with all passenger equipment.

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