An Afternoon at Jung

“Where the heck is that”, I hear you ask! Jung is a township located along the mainline between Melbourne and Adelaide, in Western Victoria. A small town with a population only just nudging 100, it is a farming community, with many acres of crops surrounding the town area. Jung is the highest point in the Wimmera region, the skyline dominated by the disused grain silos, the connection to the mainline long severed. I was fortunate enough to spend a few hours trackside at Jung with a couple of good friends in October of 2012. Although we only saw three trains (3WX2 PN SteelLink, 2PM6 PN superfreighter and 5MA6 extra QRNational freight), we did take great delight in watching the sun set across the impressive concrete silos.

As usual, click on any photo to be taken to Flickr to see a larger size.

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Are We Pushing or Pulling?

Over the course of three days recently, I managed to record two very different push-pull workings. One, a heritage steam locomotive and diesel pairing on a tour of the Sydney metropolitan area, the other, a test of some of the most modern horsepower in the state! Both trains had one thing in common, they covered some pretty hilly terrain!

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Two Seasons In One (Diesel) Day

It seems one can never really predict the weather. More accurately, one can predict the weather, but that’s useless if one doesn’t check the prediction before leaving the house. Thanks to my apathetic attitude towards weather forecasts, I managed to both swelter and freeze almost to death, whilst also getting drenched in torrential rain, all within the space of a few hours. Wait on, back it up a bit, what happened…

A co-worker of mine suggested to me that Sunday would be a good day to visit Trainworks at Thirlmere, as the venerable 4001 would be leading the loop line trains between Thirlmere and Buxton, rather than the more commonplace 2705 (that’s right, we specifically chose a day to visit a train museum when there would be NO operational steam engines to be seen). This was the annual Diesel Day, a celebration of vintage diesel motive power, often underappreciated in the world of preservation, as even historic diesel engines lack the crowd drawing power of steam.

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2012 Top Ten

Last year, when I complied and submitted my top ten photos for the year, they all felt somehow right, like each one had earned its place in the list. Everything felt natural, as if “yes, these are the top ten photographs for 2011”. This year couldn’t have been harder. I’m not going to get ahead of myself and say that I had “too many” good photos to choose between them. I’m not conceited. That being said, I’m not going to play the “I can’t find one good photo, let alone ten” card either, because I know I got plenty of good shots this year.

The problem is the curse of knowing too much. That XPT shot at Donnybrook, look at the colours there! That’s a shoe in. A closer look reveals that it’s crooked. The headlight shot from the final ZZR train of the year? Looks like I’ve cut the top of the signal box off slightly. Too much blur here, not enough there. I managed to find something wrong with almost every shot that I suggested – that’s not to say that they are necessarily “bad” shots. Just that I know how they could be better, because I pressed the shutter.

I could go on and on about shots that could be better, but that’s not the point of the exercise. The point is to highlight my favourite ten photos from the year, and provide a bit of back-story to each shot. The year in review will be summed up in a separate blog post. Continue reading “2012 Top Ten”

Rail Scenes Photography

Rarely an event goes by in the railway industry without some enterprising enthusiast capturing it on “film” (or pixels as the case may be). At some point in recent times, the art of train photography has made a transition from just “recording a loco/wagon/colour scheme” to being a standalone expression. It’s not just about capturing “the best steam locomotive”, but it’s about how you capture it. Slowly people are trying out new things and moving past the stereotypical three-quarter sunny roster shot (although these still have their place).

Some railway photographers have earned their spurs as “regular” photographers (either professionally, or more often, photography enthusiasts). Others have gained all of their experience through the rail enthusiast hobby. However, what is a budding photographer to do when faced with a situation they have no experience in – the ever challenging but also very rewarding art of night photography. Previously, unless enthusiasts had access to the skills and the knowledge, it seemed like a very steep learning curve that would frustrate more often than reward.

Thankfully, Rail Scenes Photography (RSP) has seen this as an opportunity, and has begun holding a series of events designed to provide everything a photographer needs to learn about night photography. It’s easy (albeit expensive) to take photography classes, but until now there’s been nothing specifically tailored to railway photography. Thankfully, RSP has come up with an inventive and inexpensive solution.

Their first event was held at Newport Workshops in Melbourne, Victoria on the night of July 28th, 2012. The premise was simple – turn up with a tripod and camera, and the experts on hand will provide the “scenes”, the lighting and the expertise for any level of photographer. Despite having a reasonable experience with night photography (both railway and non-railway related), the event piqued my interest, if only because I would not have to wait for scenes to set themselves up – here was a chance to have steam locomotives parked up in photogenic locations specifically to have their photos taken! Continue reading “Rail Scenes Photography”

Quality Over Quantity – Part Two

Day Two – July 30th

Thanks to a friendly SSR driver, we had learned that B61 would be departing Parkes Yard pre-dawn with a southbound loaded railset (loaded at Bathurst the day prior). Sure enough, when we arrived on a very cold Parkes Station a little after 0500, we found B61 idling away at the head of its train. Their departure would be delayed by L270, 48157 and 48152 (those locomotives sound familiar?) shunting grain wagons within Parkes Yard.

We were more than happy to snap plenty of photos of both L270 and B61. As L270 was shunting, it was almost impossible to get a “normal” shot of the locomotive in the rather pleasing station and yard lighting. In fact, it was only as we were getting in the car to go for a coffee that Todd remarked “oh look, it’s parked next to B61”. I grunted something in reply, conveying the message that the “stupid thing” would likely end up moving as soon as I set up the tripod again. When he went on to mention that the crew had climbed out and walked off, he finished the statement to a dust-cloud outline, as I was already back on the platform setting up. Shot taken, I returned to the car with a rather bemused expression on my face. The first success of the day and the sun wasn’t even up yet! All of the “real” photographers would likely still be in the warmth of their beds – everyone knows that if you can’t get a 3/4 sunny shot, it’s not worth leaving the house for!

Perhaps this success made us over confident. While ordering our coffees, we heard the distinctive sound of a veteran EMD loading up as B61 blasted her way out of town. Convinced that we would easily catch up to the train on the Newell Highway, we collected our drinks and headed south to Daroobalgie (just outside of Forbes). It was there that we set up camp, planning to follow the railset south until it either stopped to cross a northbound train, or started to dump rails. As the sun rose, the shot just got better and better… Continue reading “Quality Over Quantity – Part Two”

Quality Over Quantity – Part One

Western New South Wales is always an oddity (at least in terms of rail activity, I make no prejudice against those who call the area home) when compared to the other parts of the state. When compared to the oft-photographed lines of the Hunter Valley and Main South, Western NSW seems almost “Victorian” in terms of train frequency (in short, there are trains around, but they have no intention of showing up at the same place until at least six hours has passed since the last train). Certainly the scenery in parts of the Western Line (especially in the Lithgow to Blayney section) could rival that of the scenic North Coast Line, traffic is far less likely to show up during daylight, if at all! Thus, any trip to Western NSW will often involve covering  a lot of ground in pursuit of the movements that are being made, especially as the motive power used will often differ from the other mainlines of the state.

As such, many visits to the region will often ensure a photographer will end up with a smaller set of images, however if all has gone to plan, each photo should almost stand alone as a unique shot, without having to rely on any other shots in the set. By comparison, photos from other regions will often feature the same train multiple times, or the same location for a number of different trains. Granted, it takes a degree of skill and patience to whittle down a set with very few sightings, as the temptation will be there to “make the most” of the trains one did see – instead, it is better to keep things concise, and keep the interest level high. This is all well and good in theory, and I’ll let my readers be the judge of how successful I was in this endeavour! Continue reading “Quality Over Quantity – Part One”