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In A Blur

June 15, 2009

Through the pages of Trains Magazine and a pile of books found at various libraries, I was introduced to railroad photography as a kid. Through these pages, I found my first inspiration to try my hand pointing my lens at the railroad myself. I was nine years old when I took my first railroad photos. My first attempts were rather limited, as I initially was shooting with my mother’s old Kodak box camera. From there I went to a pair of disc cameras (remember those?) and a cheap 110 camera. I got my first 35mm camera in 1987, which was another cheap camera an uncle had gotten with a magazine subscription.

It was 1991 before I got my first SLR, a Pentax K1000. Finally I had a camera that could open some creative doors. One thing I wanted to experiment with was the art of using slow shutter speeds to bring out the motion of the trains as they passed. Diesels, after all, don’t look much different at track speed than they do standing still. Blurred motion can make the subject much more dramatic that the same shot stopped dead in its tracks (pun not intended).

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It was five above zero as this Chicago & North Western locomotive headed up a train headed west across the Union Pacific mainline along U.S. 30 through Nebraska. Apparently the cab was warm enough, as the crew forgot to close the nose door. It was a few days before Christmas, 1996.

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A pair of Cotton Belt Dash-8s lead a northbound train at John’s Spur, Illinois in 1997.

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A Santa Fe SD45-2 leads a northbound train shortly after dawn at John’s Spur, Illinois, in 1997.

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A rebuilt Illinois Central GP40 leads a southbound train under U.S. 51 north of DeSoto, Illinois.

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An Amtrak P40 leads the northbound Illini from Carbondale to Chicago through Elkville, Illinois.

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It is just before dusk as a northbound Union Pacific train exits the truss work of the bridge over the Big Muddy River on the Chester Subdivision south of Grand Tower, Illinois.

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A Canadian National Dash-9 and an Illinois Central SD70 lead a northbound BNBX empty coal train through Balcom, Illinois.

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The same train passes through Dongola, Illinois.

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Amtrak’s southbound Saluki from Chicago is minutes away from the end of its run as it crosses the Big Muddy River north of Carbondale, Illinois.

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A northbound Union Pacific train passes near Wolf Lake, Illinois, on the Chester Subdivision.

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A distributed power unit brings up the rear of an empty coal train as it climbs the hill to Goreville at Balcom, Illinois.

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A westbound Metra train for Aurora passes the station at Hinsdale, Illinois.

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Another Metra commuter train passes the signal bridge at Hinsdale.

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Copyright 2009 – Mary Rae McPherson

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One Comment leave one →
  1. T.J. Kaufhold permalink
    February 7, 2010 4:31 pm

    Mary Rae: Even the burs are nice T.J.

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