Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Berea Ohio’

On Photography: Venturing Out at Night

June 15, 2015

Night photo Berea 1

Night photo Berea 2

On a recent Saturday night I decided to get reacquainted with night photography.

I had dabbled with taking photos during the nighttime hours, using available light, several years ago. I was still using film then and, for the most part, I had been pleased with the results.

I showed some of those images at an Akron Railroad Club member’s night.  That program, titled “between dawn and dusk,” had prompted one member to quip, “do you ever take photographs during the day?”

But I hadn’t tried night photography since going digital nearly four years ago. It was time to see what my digital camera could do after dark.

I went to Berea, had dinner at the restaurant in the old station there and waited for the night to come.

But even before the sunlight has slipped over the horizon for the day, I began facing the first of many challenges.

Those started with the realization that I had forgotten most of what I once knew about making time exposure photographs at night.

I took with me a book on how to use the particular model of camera that I have, but as I looked through it I realized that it lacked the instruction in night photography that I thought it would have.

Therein was lesson one about night photography. You need to prepare for your photo taking well before the sun goes down.

In this case, I should have reviewed the book before leaving home and not assumed that it had the instruction that I needed. Nonetheless, I decided to press ahead and do some experimenting.

I got the tripod out and set it up, only to learn that the knob that locks into place the component that levels the camera no longer works effectively.

It is an old tripod that I bought used and haven’t used that much.

The book I had brought along did have some useful tips, including an explanation of why you should manually focus your camera in low light situations rather than use the auto focus.

I quickly discovered that focusing in low light is not easy.

Framing the composition is tricky for the same reason. It’s dark and you can’t see well what you are including or not including.

But digital has the supreme advantage of immediately showing the results of your work. I did a lot of test shots and those helped me to hone the focus and composition as well as make other adjustments.

Now all I needed was a train, but CSX and Norfolk Southern were both in lull periods.

A westbound on CSX stone hoppers train finally came past just after 11 p.m. and it yielded my best image of the night (top photo above).

For this image I set the shutter speed to 2.3 seconds, with an aperture setting of f7.1 and ISO of 100.

A half hour later, another westbound CSX train rolled by and I decided to for one of those streaking light images (bottom photo above).

I set the camera to the bulb setting, holding the shutter open for 9 seconds with an aperture of f8 and ISO of 100.

I would rate the quality of both images as fair. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get, but at least I got something.

I also learned that next time I need to be better prepared by doing my homework before setting out for the scene.

I learned that I probably need a new tripod, but that isn’t in the cards right now.

Finally, I had just enough success to whet my appetite for doing more of this type of photography.

Although some guys specialize in nighttime photography, I don’t see myself going there. I do see myself learning to do more of it.

It is, I suppose, like learning to walk. Once you’ve done it you’ll want to keep doing it and keep working to get better at it.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

New Signals Going Up in Berea

May 27, 2015
The new signals for the Toledo connection stand ready to be turned and placed into service as a westbound tanker train passes on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern with the Interstate heritage locomotive in the consist.

The new signals for the Toledo connection stand ready to be turned and placed into service as a westbound tanker train passes on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern with the Interstate heritage locomotive in the consist.

Soon, these signals heads will be turned.

Soon, these signals heads will be turned.

The old and the new even if the old dates back to the Conrail era. The Type G signal heads have performed well over the years.

The old and the new even if the old dates back to the Conrail era. The Type G signal heads have performed well over the years.

During the Conrail era, the Toledo connection in Berea was a busy piece of railroad. But use of that track all but ended after Norfolk Southern and CSX divided Conrail in 1999.

But the connection remains in place because the railroads have an agreement that each can use the other’s tracks even if that seldom occurs.

In recent weeks, crews have been busy installing new signals in Berea, including modern Safetran signals on the Toledo connection.

Reportedly, the work is part of a project to enable CSX to have control of its own tracks through the CP 194 interlocking. At present, NS controls the interlocking even through CSX trains do nothing more than pass through.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

McKay Day Outing in Berea Saw Range of Trains

April 5, 2015
There  was a fair number of BNSF locomotives to see during the 11th annual Dave McKay Day at Berea. A pair of "pumpkins" lead the eastbound K038 on CSX.

There was a fair number of BNSF locomotives to see during the 11th annual Dave McKay Day at Berea. A pair of “pumpkins” lead the eastbound K038 on CSX.

It wasn’t a record. In fact, it was second best. But during the time that at least one Akron Railroad Club member was in Berea on Saturday during the 11th annual Dave McKay Day, 69 trains passed through. The record number of trains for a McKay Day is 74.

Unlike in past years, the traffic was nearly evenly split with Norfolk Southern putting 35 trains through and CSX dispatching 34 trains through the interlocking plant.

One of the last trains of the day enabled ARRC members to wrap up some “unfinished” business from last year. At the 2014 McKay Day outing, the Wabash heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern made an appearance, but it was trailing.

This year, the NS 1070 came back on the point of the 67W, a train of empty tank cars bound for the oil fields of North Dakota. However, by the time the train reached Berea it was nearly dark.

The approximately 10 club members and guests who spent part of their Saturday in Berea were treated to sunny skies, but chilly temperatures. Although the sunshine felt nice, the wind had a bite to it that didn’t diminish until late in the day.

Aside from a Loram rail grinder that went east on CSX, there was nothing other than CSX or NS trains. The Wheeling & Lake Erie, which uses trackage rights on both railroads to reach Cleveland, was a no show. Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited, the train that we would have been most likely to see, arrived in Cleveland early at 5:27 a.m.

Nonetheless, those who spent time trackside were treated to some variety in motive power with locomotives of Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, BNSF, Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern making appearances.

As expected, intermodal trains made up the lion’s share of the traffic on both railroads. But the mix also included manifest freights as well as unit trains carrying coal and coke, grain, stone, crude oil and ethanol. The count also included a handful of auto rack trains.

There had been a report that a Bessemer & Lake Erie locomotive would pass through on NS train 145, but we later learned that the B&LE unit was not on that train. Furthermore, the 145 didn’t come through Berea during the time that an ARRC member was present.

President Craig Sanders was the first member to arrive, pulling into the parking lot just after 7:30 a.m. He had scarcely halted when the first train of the day roared past, an eastbound CSX crude oil train lead by BNSF 5679.

Eight minutes later, the first NS train arrived, the eastbound 34N, which sported a caboose on the rear. It appeared to be used to escort oversize loads because it was attached to a heavy duty flatcar.

Traffic was particularly brisk in the morning with five trains passing through in 15 minutes, starting at 8 a.m.

On more than one occasion, CSX and NS trains passed simultaneously. The most notable of those events occurred at 11:20 a.m. when three westbounds passed through at the same time, including side-by-side trains on NS.

It was quite a sight to see three headlights of westbound trains approaching at the same time.

How busy was the morning? Thirty-two of the day’s 69 trains had passed through by noon. Traffic remained fairly steady in the afternoon, but lulls began cropping up, the longest lasting just over an hour between 5:38 p.m. and 6:39 p.m.

As four club members went to dinner at the Berea Union Depot and Taverne in the old Big Four station, traffic picking up again with 13 trains passing through as we dined, including the Wabash H unit.

Article by Craig Sanders, Photographs by Richard Thompson

The day would not be complete without seeing at least one rent-a-wreck.

The day would not be complete without seeing at least one rent-a-wreck.

A pair of Canadian Pacific units are tucked in behind CSX 7361 on the Q364.

A pair of Canadian Pacific units are tucked in behind CSX 7361 on the Q364.

A Loran Rail grinder made an appearance on CSX.

A Loran Rail grinder made an appearance on CSX.

Although most of the crude oil trains on CSX were going east, this train of tankers is headed west.

Although most of the crude oil trains on CSX were going east, this train of tankers is headed west.

Blue skies were the rule for the most of the day as the Q377 passes in Berea.

Blue skies were the rule for the most of the day as the Q377 passes in Berea.

Whether watching or photographing, the line has formed to observe eastbound K140 pass by with CSX 666.

Whether watching or photographing, the line has formed to observe eastbound K140 pass by with CSX 666.

The 15N rattles the windows of BE Tower.

The 15N rattles the windows of BE Tower.

There were lots of stacks, but not as many racks as in auto racks. CSX train Q123 heads westward.

There were lots of stacks, but not as many racks as in auto racks. CSX train Q123 heads westward.

Passing trains were a common sight throughout the day. Shown is the westbound 21Q and the eastbound 14N.

Passing trains were a common sight throughout the day. Shown is the westbound 21Q and the eastbound 14N.

That the Q166 had Canadian Pacific power on the lead was not a surprise because it is a CP train. But the Kansas City Southern unit trailing was a surprise.

That the Q166 had Canadian Pacific power on the lead was not a surprise because it is a CP train. But the Kansas City Southern unit trailing was a surprise.

The Q009 hustles past the former Big Four station. The four ARRC members who had dinner at the station had just arrived and were waiting to be seated when this train came by.

The Q009 hustles past the former Big Four station. The four ARRC members who had dinner at the station had just arrived and were waiting to be seated when this train came by.

It was getting dark as the 67W with the Wabash heritage locomotive passed by Eastland Road.

It was getting dark as the 67W with the Wabash heritage locomotive passed by Eastland Road.

 

Looking Good in the Snow Despite February blues

February 27, 2015
CSX train Q010 plows through a snow squall at Berea.

CSX train Q010 plows through a snow squall at Berea.

Yeah, I know many of you are sick of winter, particularly the cold. I could do without the latter. But it doesn’t look like it is going away just yet.

Last Saturday I was able to get out for a while in the afternoon before going to a railroad club banquet that night.

The outing began with a chase of a Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive leading a crude oil train. I posted earlier this week my images of the Central of New Jersey leading that train through Vermilion.

After that, we drove back to Berea. Here is a selection of some of the images that illustrate trains and railroad operations in winter.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The Q008 was not far behind the Q010.

The Q008 was not far behind the Q010.

What's a little snow storm? Norfolk Southern eastbound intermodal train 20E pushes through the snowfall in Berea.

What’s a little snow storm? Norfolk Southern eastbound intermodal train 20E pushes through the snowfall in Berea.

The NS 14N has eight locomotives up front.

The NS 14N has eight locomotives up front.

A man and his young son wave at the L091 as it rumbles past with an approach signal at the west end of the interlocking. The L091 would meet an eastbound crude oil train at CP 13.

A man and his young son wave at the L091 as it rumbles past with an approach signal at the west end of the interlocking. The L091 would meet an eastbound crude oil train at CP 13.

The headlights of the lead BNSF locomotive illuminate the rails ahead as an eastbound crude oil train approaches.

The headlights of the lead BNSF locomotive illuminate the rails ahead as an eastbound crude oil train approaches.

Standing on a pile of snow provided a slightly different perspective than you usually get in Berea.

Standing on a pile of snow provided a slightly different perspective than you usually get in Berea.

Memories of Winter Railfanning at Berea

January 3, 2015
Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited is westbound at Berea behind a pair of burly SDP40F locomotives.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited is westbound at Berea behind a pair of burly SDP40F locomotives.

Remember when Conrail ran through Berea? When Amtrak ran SDP40Fs and new F40PHs? When Front Street was at grade level? When you could drive into the Berea interlocking and visit the tower without being arrested?

I’ve been visiting Berea for many years and I lived there while working at the nearby NASA facility by Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

I not only shot photos from Front Street grade crossing, but also in the middle of the interlocking. I used to drive by the tower from Front Street travelling west toward the western signal bridge.

I sometimes parked in the access road near the MOW shanty that still existed there. The road was plowed by the Conrail crews so getting in and out was without problems.

Here are a few of the photos taken that I have scanned. I hope that you enjoy them.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited sends the snow flying as it rushes westbound at Berea behind F40PH No. 275 and an E-unit that helped to provide steam heat.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited sends the snow flying as it rushes westbound at Berea behind F40PH No. 275 and an E-unit that helped to provide steam heat.

 

Conrail power everywhere! SD50 No. CR 6798 leads a westbound by BE tower on Track 1, while SD50 No. 6790 leads a light power move on the former Big Four.

Conrail power everywhere! SD50 No. CR 6798 leads a westbound by BE tower on Track 1, while SD50 No. 6790 leads a light power move on the former Big Four.

Conrail BUEL train passes BE tower behind BN, NS and SF power. BUEL was a Buffalo Frontier Yard  to Elkhart, Ind., train.

Conrail BUEL train passes BE tower behind BN, NS and SF power. BUEL was a Buffalo Frontier Yard to Elkhart, Ind., train.

Conrail westbound freight is about to cross Front Street while passing Berea Hardware behind SD50 No. 6782.

Conrail westbound freight is about to cross Front Street while passing Berea Hardware behind SD50 No. 6782.

A Conrail westbound passes BE tower and MP 194 behind GP40 No. 3165.

 

Conrail westbound fright behind U33B No. 2922 as it travels through Berea interlocking on a cold winter day. Note the signal box and MOW structure.

Conrail westbound fright behind U33B No. 2922 as it travels through Berea interlocking on a cold winter day. Note the signal box and MOW structure.

 

UP Heritage Day in Berea on Conrail

December 20, 2014

BE02April11-98

Fans flock to Berea to see trains and “foreign power.” You never know what you might see on a Norfolk Southern or CSX train in the way of motive power.

That was also the case in the Conrail era. Shown is an eastbound manifest freight on the Chicago Line crossing the East Branch of Rocky River with a Union Pacific “heritage” consist.

On the point is Chicago & North Western No. 8526, one of 30 GE C40-8A units built in June, July and August 1998 for the C&NW.

Trailing are a pair of Southern Pacific locomotives, each wearing a different livery. The middle unit is letter for SP subsidiary Cotton Belt while the third unit wears the SP speed lettering that came into vogue after SP and Denver & Rio Grande Western hooked up.

Union Pacific acquired both the SP and C&NW and at the time that this image was made on April 11, 1998, these units were UP owned.

I don’t recall which train this was, but it may have been the NPSE, which originated in North Platte, Neb., on the UP and terminated at Selkirk Yard near Albany, N.Y.

It was not uncommon for the NPSE to have Union Pacific motive power that ran through Chicago with the train.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

 

Tank Cars Everywhere

December 10, 2014

Berea tankers

It was bound to happen. With the proliferation of trains carrying crude oil it is no surprise that while railfanning in Berea you might be able to see tank car trains passing simultaneously on Norfolk Southern and CSX.

However, in the interest of accuracy, the train on CSX being lead by a Canadian Pacific locomotive is carrying ethanol. The tanker train on NS, though, is carrying crude oil.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

December Sunset at Berea

December 8, 2014
Westbound manifest freight Q377 had a red signal at CP 13 and had to wait for a few trains to clear, including two that ran around it. The eastbound containers train is approaching just before the Q377 got the signal to go west.

Westbound manifest freight Q377 had a red signal at CP 13 and had to wait for a few trains to clear, including two that ran around it. The eastbound containers train is approaching just before the Q377 got the signal to go west.

The money shot of the day. The sun has has just dipped below the horizon but the light reflecting on the clouds and sky made for a nice sight as an eastbound manifest freight approaches.

The money shot of the day. The sun is just about to dip below the horizon but the light reflecting on the clouds and sky made for a nice sight as an eastbound manifest freight approaches.

How about a blue light special? The westbound Canadian Pacific overhead intermodal train makes an appearance by the Berea depot.

How about a blue light special? The westbound Canadian Pacific overhead intermodal train makes an appearance by the Berea depot.

I went to Berea on Sunday afternoon primarily to watch trains but with the idea of sticking around to get some sunset photos. The sun at this time of the year sets behind the signals at the west end of the interlocking on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

If you get an eastbound CSX train, you can compose the image to get the sunset to the right of the lead locomotive. The trick, of course, is to get a day when it isn’t overcast and to get a train at the right time.

With Sunday being mostly sunny, I figured to have a good shot at the first of those conditions. Clouds began gathering in late afternoon, but there was enough of a break to allow for a nice sunset.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A Long Time Ago at Berea

December 4, 2014

Dave on April11-98

I was recently going through some of my film negatives from the late 1990s looking for halfway decent photographs that I made of Conrail operations in its final two years.

I came across a negative of a guy posing in the engineer’s seat of a locomotive at Berea. The face looked familiar and after I scanned the negative I realized it was Dave Mangold.

The image was made on April 11, 1998, and Dave had just gotten aboard a train parked in the Berea siding.

In those days I often would walk with Dan Davidson from the railfan parking area to the west end of the Berea interlocking. We would stand on an abandoned bridge and photograph trains on the Chicago Line crossing the east branch of Rocky River.

One day we were standing closer to the tracks near the signal bridge when a familiar looking figure got out of a crew van. It was Dave and his conductor coming to assume their next assignment.

I wasn’t in the Akron Railroad Club then and in fact I’m not sure that I knew that it existed. But Dave gets around and I had met him at a regional meeting of the National Association of Railroad passengers in Detroit. Our paths had crossed during rail excursions in Northeast Ohio.

We chatted a bit and Dave and his conductor got to work. He apparently agreed to pose for this photo.

A lot has changed since the day this image was made. Conrail was split by Norfolk Southern and CSX just over a year after I made this photo.

I would not even think about walking to the spot where I made this image. Railroads have tightened security, particularly since 9-11. The days of being able to walk around unfettered on or near railroad property to make photographs so long as you weren’t on the tracks or doing something stupid are long past.

Dave went with NS and he still is at the controls of trains passing through Berea. I can think of at least four other occasions when I photographed him behind the throttle of an NS train with two of those occurring this year.

But Conrail 6167 went with CSX or should I say CSX chose it. The unit was repainted and renumbered to 7349.

I’ve long since given up making photographs on color negative film and, in fact, have long since given up shooting on slide film, too, in favor of digital photography.

So here is to old times even if those times were not that long ago, and to old friends.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Another Day in the Life of the Railroad

November 13, 2014

Crew change at Berea

I spent a few hours at Berea last Saturday where I kept getting blocked from shooting what I wanted on both railroad by stopped or slow moving CSX trains on Track 2. But we’ve all been there before.

One of those CSX wall trains was the Q022, a stack train whose crew was coming close to outlawing. The dispatcher arranged for the crews to change just east of The Station restaurant.

They are shown here mingling as a westbound container train approaches on Track 1.

Just another day in the life of the railroad and its operating personnel that make it go.

Photograph by Craig Sanders


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 75 other followers