Friday, January 15, 2010

Off to watch the freight train

Moosonee sees two different trains: the Polar Bear Express which looks like a mixed train and shows up every weekday and a twice weekly freight train. I miss out on the train most of the train because I am at work. Today, I took a holiday and decided to get some shots of the freight train.
I used a Canon 5DII and my usual walk around lens, the 24-105mm L f4.
The Polar Bear Express operates on a schedule and is often, these days, pretty much on time. I am not keen on standing around for hours waiting for a train to show up (not a real serious railfan, I guess) so getting shots of the freight can be a little troublesome. Fortunately today I timed it just right and showed up at the station just as the train could be seen in the distance. Yes, I took a taxi and yes, I have lots of radios.
It was snowing more than a little bit but not that bad. The snow adds a blanket of blur to every picture especially for anything that is not up close. So when I am taking pictures of a train in the snow I can count on brilliant images of what is close to me with the far end of the train being an obscure dark blob. I guess that is art.

I got a few shots from the station and then, when the train stopped, headed closer to the bridge across Store Creek. The freight train is pretty long compared to the station platform. It arrives a couple of hours ahead of the Polar Bear Express so it can be switched out of the way.
The train today carried mostly boxcars, some flatcars with insulated pipe and a few other flatcars with vehicles that cannot be accommodated on the Polar Bear Express. Other days the consist can include fuel tankers and containers, sometimes double stacked.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Not a lot of photography so far this year

2010 has not been a big year for photography for me. I did something to my wrist which made it very uncomfortable to do simple things such as zooming and focusing if they involved turning anything and I got very busy at work over the holidays.
I missed out on some photographic opportunities because of my wrist. At times it seems a little better but then it reminds me of the agony it can cause when I go to do certain things.
I should be out taking a lot of pictures given that I have two new cameras, a Canon 7D and a Canon S90. Instead I have been sitting in my office moving pieces of paper around and typing stuff into the computer. Doing these things gives me a great feeling of professional accomplishment. However, taking pictures would be a lot more fun.
I have done some reading, on paper and online. One blog that I have started to read is called Canon Field Reviews by Ole Jørgen Liodden, a photographer in Norway. I first saw it when he was talking about the cold weather performance of the Canon 7D. That is a topic of considerable interest to me since I bought one and it is cold outside here in the winter.
Generally, the first thing to do in winter photography has been me, not the equipment. Battery life is an issue although it is easily handled by carrying an extra battery in a warm place. Usually I come inside when it is much below minus 20 or so although I have made some exceptions.
Liodden has an amazing video that demonstrate the cold weather tracking abilities of the 7D and also the obedient nature of his dog. That second item amazes me the most as I have never owned a dog that was so well trained as to sit still in a designated place.
He has also written a bit about a much more expensive camera, the Canon 1DIV. Buying one of those could put off my retirement for another couple of years but I suspect it would be worth it.

Yesterday I stuck my 2X extender and the 100-400mm on the 7D. This means that there is no autofocus as the maximum aperture is f11 (yes I have heard that you can tape the pins so the camera will try to focus but I decided to try manual focusing). I picked a dark day to shoot at f11. I tried to focus on the hydro towers a few miles up the river. My eyesight is not what it was thirty years ago but I think it almost worked. I shot at ISO 3200 so there is a bit of noise. I should try this on a brighter day; 800mm on the 7D is the equivalent of 1280mm on a full frame camera.