Second Chance

Looking back through photos from earlier in 2011, this photo really has a story behind it.

It was to be a blindingly hot day, so we decided to choose a slightly cooler place to photograph trains, and headed up the Blue Mountains to shoot, before retiring to the pub at Mt Victoria to discuss the days takings. Everything started off according to plan, arriving at Wentworth Falls with plenty of time to walk up to the overpass at the Katoomba end of the station to get a shot of NR28 hauling the up IP, as well as the down Dubbo XPT. Plenty of time, that is, to arrive and note the excessive shadow over the line from nearby trees. Not enough time to actually re-locate for either train, naturally! In my defence (and this was a point I made vehemently on the day as well) the last time I’d shot this train at this bridge, it was raining. I’m just saying, in case any of you decide to lay judgement on me while reading this.

With those two trains out of the way, we turned our attention to 8162N, the up freight from Blayney to Port Botany that typically follows the Indian Pacific. We discovered that, while the bridge shot was shadowed out, there was a remarkable shot from the car park on the down side of the line, located between the bridge and the station (of course, when we’d walked to the bridge, it had been via the shops, so we’d not noticed this shot until now). So, as the temperature rapidly rose, and with less and less shade to be found (unless you count the shadow on the mainline from the trees…), we found ourselves slowly cooking in the hot sun.

With word coming through from Sydney that 8162N had been put into the refuge at Katoomba to refuel from a road tanker, we figured that they’d have to wait there to follow the next passenger service to Sydney (not the one it normally followed). We waited for one passenger train to pass, before moving back to the station to find some much needed shade. We decided to jump on the train and head to Bell, for a planned shot of 1721N empty Kandos cement. Minutes before our train arrived, we could hear the low growl of EMD engines – wouldn’t you know it, 8162N had been let out ahead of the passenger service we had assumed it would follow. We all dashed over to the other side of the platform to find that the very shade we had craved only moments before, was shadowing out the photo!

At the time, and every time I looked at it until now, I had assumed the shot was a total write off. The subject was deep in shadow, while bright sky in the background ensured that no amount of post processing could correct the shot. It was only recently that, with news that Independent Rail had lost the contract for the Blayney train (to Pacific National), that I reflected upon the photo once more. You see, I had *seen* the Blayney train a number of times in the Blue Mountains, but I’d never successfully photographed it. Sure, I’d shot the train in the Sydney metropolitan area, but if you’re in the right location, it’s not uncommon to photograph any IRA train. 8162N was the only regular daylight runner over the mountains (aside from coal and the occasional domestic grain traffic), and it seemed as if another train had passed without fanfare. A victim of the “It’ll always be there, I’ll photograph it eventually” attitude.

Thankfully, a fresh motivation to rework the photograph, resulted in this black and white image, completed by the obviously disappointed passenger who has realised that he has missed his train, and must wait for the next one!

Never delete a photograph* if you think there might be something there – with the right motivation, it’s sure to prove worthwhile one day.

*Obviously if something is beyond hope, it’s often better to cut the cord and say goodbye, for example, if the photograph is obviously out of focus, crooked beyond repair, or you’ve managed to get rain on the lens… If it’s just a bad shadow, or less-than-ideal lighting…

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