I had some mighty fine weather today so even though nothing exciting was on the books I decided to head out and take advantage of what the forecasters promised to be the last sunny day for well over week. It turned out that they got it wrong, big surprise there, but how was I to know? Best to strike while the iron’s hot though, so when a cloudless noon hour approached I hit the road to take in the local rail scene.
Today’s goal was Belmont Ave, a spot I normally avoid on weekdays due sparse nearby parking, but I was kind of desperate to hit somewhere other than Fairview or Main St in Downers. It turned out that my parking fears were unfounded; I found a halfway decent spot in the commuter lot (permit spaces are free after 11 a.m.) although it was a bit of an obstacle course to get to the platform thru all the cars.
Arriving trackside it looked like I’d picked a good time to drop by; I had an eastbound green on M3, a westbound flashing yellow on M1, and a nice shiny headlight to the east that I figured was for a commuter. Looking over the lay of the land I headed for the west end of the platform, an area that seemed to offer the best set of options no matter what happened. Good choice because despite that headlight to the east, my first action came from the west!
11:59 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Belmont Ave
BNSF e/b loaded unit coal – Train C ETMCGW
BNSF 5718 AC4400EV
BNSF 9450 SD70MAC
I didn’t have very many options on how to shoot this, the train was tight to the platform on M3, and because of the curve thru the station area for all practical purposes it was coming right at me! I fired off some telephotos as it came in from the west before cranking back for a shot of it passing under the signal bridge. I’d loved to gone for a low level shot, but the train was too fast and my knees are too old for that sort of thing!
The train seemed to be moving right along for only having two units, so I limbered up for a possible DPU. Hey, another good move on my part, two in a row!
12:01 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Belmont Ave
BNSF e/b loaded unit coal – DPU
BNSF 9728 SD70MAC
All I could do were increasingly distant telephotos, which worked out quite well despite the near total back light.
I’d been half expecting the westbound I’d seen earlier to sail past as the unit coal rumbled by, but as it turned out I had plenty of time to observe and compose before it arrived:
12:02 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Belmont Ave
BNSF w/b vehicle – Train V CHCDIL
BNSF 9321 SD70ACe
BNSF 8953 SD70MAC
A couple of surprises, first off it was on M2 rather than M1, and rather obviously, it wasn’t a commuter! All racks and no stacks, I got a couple nice shots as it passed thru the station area. It sure was cool to catch an ACe on the lead; too bad I hadn’t gotten here ten or fifteen minutes earlier when a pair of brand new ones passed thru leading a coal empty that a friend of mine out in Sandwich caught on video! Shiny!
Done? Not by a long shot; yet another headlight appeared to the east. For this one I hiked down to the east end of the platform to line up a shot:
12:09 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Belmont Ave
BNSF w/b priority intermodal – Train Z CHCSTP
BNSF 5822 ES44AC
BNSF 8987 SD70MAC
Just a couple shots this time of the train passing the Belmont Ave staircase shelters, it’s amazing how barren the area looks when no one is around, they really could use some planters.
After all that action having to wait a whole half hour for the next train seemed like forever! (Living along the triple track spoils you.) I spent the time camped out on a nice sunny bench near the east end of the platform trying to keep warm; while it was nice and sunny out, there was a constant cold wind that I could only escape by standing inside one of the platform shelters, and unfortunately this was one of those days were my back was giving me a firm command of ‘Sit!”
Things began to pick up with the arrival of an eastbound commuter:
12:47 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Belmont Ave
METX e/b commuter
METX 116 F40PH-3
I could hardly be called ambitious; I got most of my shots from the bench!
As the commuter departed, the headlight for a freighter popped up to the east and I set out to try a new photo angle:
12:53 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Belmont Ave
BNSF w/b merchandise – Train H BRCNTW
BNSF 5435 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 4961 Dash 9-44CW
In my wanderings I’d noticed an interesting angle from the small parking lot east of Belmont Ave; standing on it’s edge put you at about head level with the tracks, which for me was a minor miracle; low level shots without bending my knees! Nice!
Time for another pause the action; if it wasn’t for the darn wind I’d really be enjoying myself! Luckily I’d brought a book along (“Gulp – Adventures on the alimentary canal” by Mary Roach, and yes, it’s a book about the digestive process) although reading it was a challenge as the wind kept flipping the pages! The next train was a westbound commuter that I set up to catch passing the Belmont Ave staircase shelters:
01:29 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Belmont Ave
METX w/b commuter
METX 188 F40PHM-2
I’d only planned one shot, but the train held up just long enough to deal with some handicapped borders that I had time to get some more. In the mean time a headlight had appeared to the east on M2, so after getting my commuter shots I moved to the western end of the platform to catch this new move passing thru the station area:
01:33 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Belmont Ave
BNSF w/b priority intermodal
BNSF 5484 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 4876 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 5280 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 5403 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 4549 Dash 9-44CW
Wow was this a long train; I half expected to see a DPU on it.
At this point I had to hit the pause button, a steadily growing call of nature had turned into a shouting match that I was rapidly losing, so I took off for home planning to return to trackside later.
Previous post: 04/03/13 “A helping hand”
Back at home after playing in the fog all morning. Quite frankly I thought that I was thru for the day, but then the sun came out! Honesty you’d think that I’d gotten enough photos to satisfy just about anyone, but for some reason the idea of catching some sunny shots after all that gloom intrigued me enough to grab my gear and head out again even though I was terribly behind on my blog and needed to catch some computer time! All I can say is that it’s hard to pass up a chance to shoot under fall light.
Looking for some scenic variety I headed for Fairview rather than Westmont, a very good move on my part because as I crossed the tracks I spotted a headlight to the east! Luckily everything clicked; the train was slow, traffic was light, and most importantly of all, I caught the left turn green at the next light and I made it to trackside in time to catch the action:
12:12 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Fairview Ave
BNSF w/b stacks
BNSF 7764 ES44DC
BNSF 6877 ES44C4
BNSF 664 Dash 9-44CW
Well they certainly didn’t play favorites with the power today! The train was on M3, which really limited my photo options. I caught some telephotos as it passed Pepperidge Farm, and then tried for a wide angle wedgie that I screwed up when I tripped the shutter way too soon and impaled it with a platform light; too bad because I caught really good color.
Stacks, stacks, and nothing but stacks, this was a tall train that blocked the view of another train waiting to the west until it crossed over to M1.
As the stacker cleared the eastbound headed my way:
12:19 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Fairview Ave
BNSF e/b stacks
BNSF 4320 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 6606 ES44C4
The sun, which I’d been so enthusiastic about back at home, was not doing so well at the moment; a fair number of clouds were still around and doing their best to screw things up! Most of the time they were thin enough that they just lowered the light level a bit, but as the train passed the Fairview crossovers they put on steam and more or less trashed the shots I had planned! Luckily the sun popped out at the last moment and I managed to catch a fairly bland looking wedgie.
After all that action in such a short time I figured that was it for a while, but then I began to hear train noises to the west and a few moments later yet another set of headlights popped up! Busy, busy, busy! Looking for a new angle, and praying for better sun, I moved down by Fairview Ave to catch the action:
12:33 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Fairview Ave
BNSF e/b merchandise
BNSF 4474 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 5381 Dash 9-44CW
Hmmm, maybe someone was listening because this time the clouds were a little more cooperative and I got some nice sunny captures.
The tracks cleared leaving me with time on my hands. This may sound strange, but I’ve found that boredom actually enhances my creative side, I’m not so focused on thinking about trains and I get a better view of the world around me, or in this case right under me when I played around with getting low level shots of the safety tiles along the platform edge!
Fun, but then reality intruded when a westbound green popped up on M1, I was guessing freight, but what I got was some kind of Metra extra:
12:49 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Fairview Ave
METX w/b commuter extra
METX 185 F40PHM-2
I have no idea what this was for, no trains were due, so I can only guess that it was some kind of equipment move.
Next up by a few minutes was an eastbound commuter:
12:52 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Fairview Ave
METX e/b commuter
METX 183 F40PH-3
There was no mystery about this one; it was the regularly scheduled train. The clouds were getting pushy again so I didn’t do too much with it.
Lots of action seemed to be on the way, I had westbound greens on M1 and M2, as well as eastbound on M3. I was hoping for big things, but ended up with a mess instead. A headlight appeared to the west, good except that a cloud shadow seemed to be following it along. Then a few moments later a headlight, popped up to the east! Great, just great; everything was showing up at once, plus it looked like I was losing my light! The one ray of sunshine in all this was that the westbound was closer, so I’d catch in the clear and under the last of the sun:
01:10 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Fairview Ave
BNSF w/b vehicle train
BNSF 997 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 4088 Dash 9-44CW
I caught some telephotos under full sun, but as the train closed in it began fading out to sort of a half light. By time the eastbound arrived I was under full clouds:
01:11 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Fairview Ave
BNSF e/b loaded unit oil
BNSF 980 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 4964 Dash 9-44CW
CSX 955 ES44AC
Dang, a unit oil, and I lost my light! I fired off some near head on telephotos that looked like crud, and then backed off a tight wide angle wedgie where I was lucky enough to get a bit of sun. Definitely not one of my better catches!
The trains cleared, and of course, so did the skies. A westbound green on M2 joined the one already up on M1. Considering the timing, I was pretty sure that the green on M1 was for a commuter, and I wasn’t disappointed!
01:20 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Fairview Ave
METX w/b commuter
METX 209 F40PHM-2
Not the most exciting of subjects, but at least I had sun!
A flashing yellow popped up on M1 in the wake of the commuter, good news since it had to be for a freight, and as it turned out, even though it was second up in signals, it was the first to arrive on scene:
01:29 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Fairview Ave
BNSF w/b merchandise
BNSF 4096 Dash 9-44CW
BNSF 5002 Dash 9-44CW
Nice, great light, good angle, the only fly in the ointment was that the westbound on M2 showed up while it was still trudging past!
01:32 p.m. – Downers Grove IL / Fairview Ave
BNSF w/b empty unit oil
BNSF 6788 ES44C4
BNSF 9695 SD70MAC
I was less then thrilled; while the merchandise wasn’t in the way, it was a distractive backdrop that I could have done without. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, it just a personal quirk I guess. I got some good telephotos and wide angles, and then I put my earlier experience with ground level shots of the safety tiles to use to shoot the passing cars.
I can’t claim that they worked very well, but at least I know how to do it my next time around!
With that I called it quits. I was pretty pooped from the morning’s adventures, plus while the sky was definitely improving, I was tired of playing dodgem’s with the clouds. I can’t say that my p.m. adventures were anywhere as successful of my morning fog encounter, but it’s always nice to get out in the fall.
Previous post: 11/22/12 a.m. ”Fog”