Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Olmsted Falls Ohio’

My Shortest Day Outing

December 22, 2017

CSX crude oil train K048 has a pair of BNSF units and a badly faded Union Pacific motor as it passes westbound NS manifest freight 309 in Berea.

NS local B14 heads west to do some work in Olmsted Falls. It is shown passing through Berea.

It’s the westbound manifest freight 35N with a standard NS motive power consist as it slices through Olmsted Falls en route from Conway Yard near Pittsburgh to Decatur, Illinois.

For several years the Akron Railroad Club has had a tradition of holding a “longest day” outing in June, usually on a Sunday after the summer solstice.

I’ve often thought if we have a longest day outing why not have a shortest day outing.

However, the winter solstice falls in December just before Christmas when winter weather is a good possibility. The ARRC is in slumber mode for most of December.

Undeterred by that, I held a “shortest day” outing of my own on Wednesday in Berea and Olmsted Falls.

The actual winter solstice was on Thursday, but I had a doctor’s appointment that day and other plans for the afternoon.

Besides, the weather was better on Wednesday with mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures. Maybe I should have put the word “mild” in quotation marks because some might question whether temperatures in the 30s qualify as mild.

But coming on the heels of a week with temperatures in the teens and wind chills in the low single digits, it felt downright balmy outside.

I didn’t spend as much time trackside as I would on a longest day outing. I got to Berea about 10:30 a.m. just as a westbound intermodal train was passing through on Norfolk Southern.

A few minutes later an eastbound stack train came roaring through on CSX.

By the time the 11 o’clock hour arrived, I had seen five trains. Four more came past before noon.

Then things died on both railroad lines. I wouldn’t see another train until 1 p.m. By then I had shifted to Olmsted Falls, primarily because with the wind out of the north that meant aircraft landing at Cleveland Hopkins Airport would landing to the northeast.

On the rails, nothing out of the ordinary came by. It was the usual mix of intermodal trains with a couple of crude oil trains thrown in and a pair of manifest freights on NS.

Aside from a pair of BNSF units leading a CSX eastbound crude oil train, the motive power was the same old, same old. No NS heritage units were anywhere in the picture.

In all, I spotted 16 trains, although that number rises to 17 if I double count NS local B14, which I saw twice. Both times it had one locomotive and three boxcars.

I had to leave just after 3 p.m. because of an obligation at home. On the whole, it was a nice day.

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See the Train, Mommy

December 21, 2017

A mother and her young son watch the approaching steel coil train 60W in Olmsted Falls on a late September day. The woman and her two children spent time train watching before moving on to other things. Notice that her other child is watching the train from the rear of the vehicle.

Let Those Stackers Roll

December 20, 2017

Stacker is a term that some railfans use to describe a double-stacked container train. These trains are ubiquitous on all Class 1 North American railroads although they are more common on some lines rather than others.

If stack trains are your passion, you would do well to spend time along the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Olmsted Falls.

Unlike such routes as the CSX New Castle Subdivision, which has just one pair of stack trains a day through Northeast Ohio,  there are a dozen or more stack trains on the NS Chicago Line.

If you spend any amount of time on the Chicago Line no matter the time of day you’ll will see a stack train go by eventually.

Most of the stack trains on the Chicago line are bound for or coming from Chicago. Some will run through as interchange trains with other railroads while others will originate or terminate in the Windy City.

Although stack trains tend to have a uniform appearance, there is some variation in the colors and markings of the containers hauled on the trains.

And I’ve always wondered what was in those containers. Probably just about anything you can imagine that moves by rail.

By the Glint’s Late Day Light

December 4, 2017

I had a trunk load of railfan magazines to convey to Marty Surdyk to be sold at trains shows at which the Akron Railroad Club has a table.

We arranged to exchange the magazines one evening last summer in Olmsted Falls, which is a favorite railfanning haunt for both of us.

After transferring the magazines, we settled in to do some evening railfanning. I had brought my tripod to try some night photography.

But before you get to darkness you get to that time when the low sun angle makes for some nice glint lighting.

Of course you need a train to show up when the light is just right to go glint hunting.

On this evening NS cooperated by sending eastbound manifest freight 16G at just the right time. As a bonus, the Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive was on the lead.

Strictly speaking, the going away shot of the NS 8114 below is not a glint shot. But I liked it and included it in the gallery because it is part of the story.

Night Trains

September 2, 2017

Back in early August I had some magazines that had been donated to the Akron Railroad Club to convey to Marty Surdyk, who stores the inventory of merchandise that we sell at trains shows.

We arranged to meet in the evening at Olmsted Falls, where we would also spend some time railfanning the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

It was reminiscent of an outing we had in the Falls several years ago when I brought my tripod and dabbled with night photography.

I admire the work of those who have mastered the art, but that hasn’t motivated me to do much of it myself.

But my appetite for night photography was whetted earlier this summer during a night photo shoot at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

I’ve also wondered what I could do with a digital SLR camera. One advantage of digital is that you will know right away if what you tried worked.

In North East I was working with steady light. That would not be the case in Olmsted Falls.

I was fortunate that much of the NS traffic on this evening was moving west.

I was able to get some late day images with natural lighting that didn’t require a tripod.

But along about 9 p.m. it was time top set up the tripod and shuttle cable release.

My first effort is the top image that accompanies this post. It was a straight-forward long shutter release of seven seconds at f/16 at ISO 100.

It has the streaks that I wanted and there was enough natural light to bring out some detail in the station and the fading blue light.

About 25 minutes later I tried this technique again, this time focusing on an approaching train. This image, shown immediately below the text, was made with a 16-second exposure a f/16 at ISO 100.

OK, what do I do for an encore? Marty suggested “painting” the station with light from a small flashlight, then keeping the shutter open but covering the lens with the lens cap.

I did a couple test images by shining the flashlight on the station. The results were good results.

Marty said that if I did that as a train approached, the crew might mistake the light for a signal telling them to stop their train.

My first effort was promising. I kept the shutter open for 77 seconds. Getting the lens cap on and off was more tricky than it might seem because I did not want to cause any vibration.

I tried the same technique a second time with an exposure time of 36 seconds. I also changed the f stop to 22. Of the two images, I liked the second one the best and it shown below this post.

Of course I didn’t like all of the “spots” on the image. That was light reflecting the aperture and made it appear that it was raining and I had water droplets on my lens.

I swung my camera around to try to get the train going away with the red light of the EOT “trailing behind.”

This ideal didn’t work well. I couldn’t get the blinking red light to “trail.” My best image, shown below, didn’t feature the train so much as a landing aircraft at nearby Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

For an encore, I went over to Berea and tried getting NS and CSX trains there.

The results were only so-so. The best of the lot is the final image shown below showing an eastbound.

Like any endeavor, there is a learning curve to learning how to do night photography. It requires study, practice and no small amount of trial and error. Having good equipment, particularly the tripod, also helps.

For most photographers, it is much easier to get trains in daylight. Yet some of the most dramatic images I’ve seen have been made at the extremes of the day in varying lighting conditions.

I don’t know that I’ll be doing much night photography, but I’m willing to learn and try it again.

 

Planes Were the Objective Along With the Trains

May 1, 2017

Having picked up a third unit, the motive power set of the 20R is returning to its train, which was parked east of CP 194.

When I saw the weather forecast for Sunday, April 23, I knew I just had to get out someplace trackside.

The winds were going to be northeasterly, which sealed the deal on going to Olmsted Falls. Why? Because aircraft landing at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport would be landing on runway 6 left and that would put their final approach path just to the west of the depot.

I could photograph trains and planes. Maybe I would get lucky and get a heritage plane as well as an NS heritage unit.

It turned out that I got neither. All of the motive power was standard NS black. All of the planes were in their usual colors and markings.

Not a single foreign unit led a single train during my nearly nine hours there.

I did succeed, though, in photographing for the first time Allegiant Air, which began flying into Hopkins in February. That same month Allegiant stopped serving the Akron-Canton Airport.

I also got an American Airlines MD80 in its original livery. American plans to phase the MD80 out of its fleet later this year so those planes are flying on short time.

This outing had something in common with the ARRC’s Dave McKay Day back on April 1.

On McKay Day, NS train 20R had to pick up another locomotive. The same thing happened on this day, too.

The 17N cut off its power and dropped a spare unit at the far west end of the Berea siding. The 20R power set ran light through the Falls to pick it up.

Otherwise, it was a pretty routine day, but even a routine day can be a good day when you are trackside on a nice spring day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Eastbound 22K passing a budding tree by the depot.

The crew of NS train 17N returns to its train after dropping off a unit for the 20R in the Berea siding.

A stack train with a colorful set of containers approaches the Olmsted Falls depot.

I believe this is NS train 206.

Big wheels keep on turning. Tractors hitch a ride on eastbound NS train 14A.

An Allegiant MD80 is lined up to land on at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Catching Allegiant for the first time was at the top of my objective list for this outing. This flight is inbound from Orlando Sanford Airport.

The Paint Was Barely Dry on NS 7328

April 26, 2017

Norfolk Southern 7328 used to be Union Pacific 8263.

There was something that looked different about the Norfolk Southern train of hoppers as it approached Olmsted Falls.

The lead unit of train 547 was gleaming in the mid-morning sunlight and there was a couple of specs of orange behind it.

It turned out that NS 7328 had just been repainted. That was good news and bad news.

The good news is that a freshly-painted locomotive, even one that is black, makes for a nice image. The bad news is that this is one of the former Union Pacific SD9043MACs that NS purchased used a while back.

These units ran around in UP Armour yellow for a while, sans their UP markings, and added a spot of color to the otherwise all black NS world.

Sure, NS has heritage locomotives and special tribute locomotives to break up the black monotony, but it is still good to get some color every now and then.

In the case of this train the two trailing BNSF “pumpkins” helped to provide just enough of that to enhance the interest of this motive power set.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Spring in Olmsted Falls

April 25, 2017

 

During a railfan expedition to Olmsted Falls last Sunday, I noticed a small flowering tree next to the parking lot for the city park that sits along the north edge of Norfolk Southern’s Chicago Line.

I would have liked for that tree to have been larger and closer to the rails. But it wasn’t and I had to work with what I had.

Framing trains with that tree was a challenge. No matter what angle I tried the light was not going to be ideal. It might be in late in the day in the middle of summer, but trees flower in the spring and not in June.

I’ve not had much luck being able to photograph trains and flowering trees. I’ve found very few of them along railroad tracks anywhere, particularly in large numbers. Such trees might exist somewhere next to an active rail line, but I haven’t found such a location yet.

Like peak fall foliage, flowering trees in the spring bloom in a short window that closes all too soon, giving way to what Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee likes to refer to as the great green blowout of summer.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

 

Last Gasp of Winter

April 11, 2017

Where did the winter go? That’s a term more commonly heard about summer, a season  that most people embrace, and not winter, a season that most people dread.

We had snow this winter, but not as much as I remember there being in past winters and for various reasons I didn’t get out when we had it to make any photographs.

It is not that I didn’t make photographs during the winter months, but when I did get out there was little to no snow on the ground.

So here it is April and this is one of the best snow and trains photograph that I have to show for the winter of 2016-2017.

Yeah, I know it is kind of lame, but at least there is snow in the image even if little of it.

There will always be another winter and the next one might have more opportunity than I care to have. But I’ll deal with that then.

Wabash Heritage Unit Makes Appearance

March 23, 2017

The Wabash H-unit made a pass through Cleveland on Tuesday leading the 21Q. I was lucky enough to be able to get off work in time to catch it. As luck would have it, 21Q was held up near where I had set up to photograph it. Both scenes are in Olmsted Falls, the first one at Milepost 196 (Lewis Road) and then near the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot.

Photographs by Roger Durfee