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”

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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”

In Pursuit of the P Class – Part One

The Long Road to Cootamundra

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining two friends (better known as Bwana and Fred3801) for a weekend long sojourn to Harden and Cootamundra. Departing East Hills Station at approx 1030 Friday June 6th, we would not return to Sydney until after dark, Monday June 9th.

Why travel over 370km each way for a weekend in the freezing Southern Tablelands? Lachlan Valley Railway, based in Cowra were bringing their own 3237, 4701 and 4716, as well as privately owned 5917 down from Cowra to Harden and then Cootamundra. Over the whole weekend, the two steam locomotives would be running tours between Cootamundra and Harden (as well as a couple of tours Cootamundra to Stockinbingal, a route not normally used by passenger trains).

On the trip down, frequent stops were accounted for to visit a couple of locations along the line. The first stop was at Burradoo, to have a look at the photographic potential of the shot bridge on the Moss Vale side of the station. A lot of potential was found, for some nice low angle photos a shot walk from the station. However, the weather was not on our side and we found ourselves facing dark locomotives on a dark grey background.

A sign of things to come, double NR Class made an appearance here on 3PS6 – once we were south of Goulburn, this seemed to be the only class of locomotive we would see in daylight!

Pausing in Moss Vale for some lunch, and a couple of photos of 8179 (PN RB colours) and 8123 (Freightcorp blue) leading a Medway-bound mineral train ex Berrima, we continued on down to Werai. Due to trackwork on the short north, naturally, nothing was going to run on it’s path. Eventually, NR46/NR81 were sighted on southbound 6NY3, followed by southbound NR102/NR65 on superfreighter 5BM4. Finally, mere minutes before the sun dipped below the horizon, CLF4 and X53 rumbled south with QRNational service 6SM9 (ex Yennora).

With the sun in bed for the evening, we continued on our trip towards Harden (where we had secured accommodation for the weekend in the caravan park), pausing at Yass Junction for dinner. After arrival, we headed down to the station to get a look at the heritage train stabled there. Following this, a sleepless night was spent by myself, listening to the constant rumbling of trains outside on the mainline. Saturday could not come soon enough…

To be continued…