Posts Tagged ‘Arcola Illinois’

This Time I Got it Right. Or Did I?

July 29, 2020

Back in mid June I stopped in Arcola, Illinois, to photograph Amtrak’s northbound Saluki passing a massive grain elevator complex.

My objective was to recreate an image I had made here of that train in August 2012.

Since then the P42DC locomotives used to pull the Saluki have been replaced with Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives.

My June photograph was not bad but not quite what I had wanted.

I had not spent enough time checking out the photo angles and the arrival of the train caught me by surprise and out of position.

I had to scramble to get across the street and into position and ended up photographing the train a little too soon. It was more grab shot than planned image.

Last Sunday I was again in Illinois hunting trains to photograph. I timed my trip so I could get Amtrak’s northbound City of New Orleans shortly after sunrise in Rantoul and then catch the northbound Saluki three hours later.

This time, I did it right. I checked out various photo angles well before the train arrived.

As is typical, Train No. 390 was running a few minutes late when it left Mattoon, its previous station stop.

Having ridden this train numerous times when I used to take Amtrak from Cleveland to Mattoon to visit my Dad, I knew about how long it took the train to reach Arcola.

Soon there was an LED headlight in the distance and I got into the position I wanted to be in. No. 390 was not going to catch me off guard this time.

The grain complex in Arcola that I wanted to feature is laid out in three rows.

There is a row of silos, some of then concrete, next to the former Illinois Central tracks. There is another row of metal silos to the west of those and a third row on the other side of U.S. Route 45.

Without having a drone you can’t get all three rows of the complex in a photograph with an Amtrak or Canadian National freight train.

The top photograph above is the best of the images I made as the northbound Saluki rushed past last Sunday.

Pleased with what I’d captured, I declared it “mission accomplished” and moved on to find something else.

But a funny thing happened as I was writing this post and started comparing the 2012 image with the photographs I made this year.

That June image is far more similar to the 2012 photograph than is the July image.

You can see for yourself. The middle image above was made in June and the bottom image is the August 2012 photograph I was trying to duplicate.

My opinion of an image can change as I work with it. What looked good on the screen on the back of the camera doesn’t look so good when the image is downloaded onto my computer and projected onto the large screen that I use.

Of course I’ve seen it happen the other way, too. I’ve also begun to warm to a photograph as I processed it in Photoshop and eliminated some of its “imperfections” through cropping and adjusting such things as color, tone and shadows.

In a direct comparison of the August 2012 and June 2020 images, I still give a decided edge to the 2012 photograph in terms of quality.

The 2012 rendition does better at encompassing the enormity of the grain elevator complex and the light is a little less harsh. The latter is probably the difference between photographing in June versus photographing in August at approximately the same time of day.

You may notice that in 2012 the service building to the right had white siding whereas six years later it is tan.

There is another footnote to the comparison of the June and July photographs. In June, No. 390 was carrying a Heritage baggage car in order to meet a host railroad imposed minimum axle count for Amtrak trains using single-level equipment.

But by late July the Heritage baggage car had been replaced by a Viewliner baggage car. In neither case was checked luggage being carried in that car.

All three of the images create a sense of place and do a nice job of contrasting the size of the grain complex with that of the train.

We tend to think of trains as large objects, which they are, but it is all relative to what you compare their size with.

The way that grain complexes loom over trains adds to the drama of the photograph by creating contrast.

My original theme for this post was that last Sunday I got the photo right in a way I had not done it in June.

But once I started comparing the June and July images I began seeing that really wasn’t true. That June photo was more like the August 2012 image than I had remembered.

Ultimately, it wasn’t so much about getting it right versus getting it wrong, but how I felt about what I had just created when walking away from the scene.

Upon further review, there are reasons to feel good about all three images. Although they may be similar all three have their own character that I found pleasing. Each comes with its own set of memories of the trip on which it was created.