Photography can be a lonesome venture. Particularly when one retires from the business, but still continues practicing the art.
Like many retirees who are hobbyist/enthusiast photographers, and that’s what I call myself now that I’m no longer actively seeking clients, we look to the social aspects of photography to fill the void of working with people professionally.
I have a couple of friends whom I regularly shoot with and many others who I bump into along the photographic trail. The biggest challenge for me in this regard is finding people who have the time and inclination to venture out with me. Most younger folks still have day jobs and relegate their photographic activity to weekends.
Tim Meseros is one of my best friends and also an amateur photographer who travels with me from time to time. He doesn’t do Facebook groups and keeps a very low online profile. Tim and I have been taking photography trips together for close to 10 years now.
We were reviewing our photos from the recent trip to photograph the Union Pacific 4014 and when I saw one of Tim’s photos from the trip, I asked him if I could use it on my blog. That photo is the shot in this blog entry today, taken at the Laramie Historic Railroad Depot in Laramie, Wyoming.
Taken with a Canon EOS 50D and a EFS 18-55mm kit lens. Proof that a ten year old camera with a dirt cheap lens can take a great photograph. Tim nailed this scene and created what I consider to be an epic photograph of historical significance. It has everything one could hope for when composing a train image.
It depicts a singular event, in a specific location, at a specific point in time, that is unlikely to be repeated again. The composition is perfect, displaying a historic railroad locomotive on its maiden voyage after being rebuilt and returned to service from decades of being a museum piece. It was Tim’s first time out photographing trains with me.
As my thank you to Tim for having the desire and patience to travel with me from time to time, Tim gets his 15 minutes of fame today.
I took a two year break from photographing steam trains between the Summer of 2016 and the Autumn of 2018. My last Georgetown Loop photo tour was during the Summer of 2016. I guess that after 7 years of doing the photo tours, it was becoming more of a problem and less interesting. I always enjoyed the clients, but the loop itself seemed to be having difficulty keeping their steam train running and it was impacting my photo tours in a bad way. So I just quit doing them.
When my friend Jonathan Steele came to visit in the Autumn of 2018, we made the trip over to Silverton, Colorado and photographed the Durango & Silverton NGRR as the steam train arrived in Silverton from the high-line. As it turns out, that trip was lucrative for both of us and my interest in the Steam Train picked up again.
About ten years ago and for several consecutive years, I had chased the Union Pacific #844 Steam Train between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Denver. Mostly during the Cheyenne Frontier Days excursion. Sometime back though, Union Pacific quit running the #844 and put it in their Cheyenne shop for rebuilding. UP also acquired one of the gigantic Big Boy locomotives from California and it too was in the Cheyenne maintenance shop for rebuilding.
In July 2016 Union Pacific returned the #844 to service, but I never found an opportunity to photograph it, until now.
Union Pacific unveiled the Big Boy 4014 on May 4th, 2019 and along with the “Living Legend” #844 embarked on a grand run to Ogden, Utah. The train is on it’s way to Utah as I write this.
The opportunity to photograph two historic steam locomotives running together seldom arises and since they were running across southern Wyoming less than 30 miles from my home in Red Feather Lakes, well, time to get up off my butt and take some photographs.
I follow the Union Pacific Steam website and when they posted the information about the Big Boy running with the 844 to Ogden, I began planning a photography trip.
My first concern was the state of my health. I was nursing an injured back and just the week before the UP trains were scheduled to run, I was scheduled to make a road trip to Kentucky. Since the back wasn’t good, I cancelled the Kentucky trip. By the time of the steam train, my back was in good shape, and it stood up quite well to 300 miles of road to and from Wyoming.
I always plan my shoots in advance, but I had never tried chasing a train across southern Wyoming before. I knew the area but I didn’t know the rail tracks. First stop, Google Earth.
I found a number of possible positions on Google Earth to mark for the GPS. I ended up selecting a particular spot near the hole in the wall town of Tie Siding, Wyoming. That’s what I programmed my GPS for.
From Denver to Tie Siding is about a two and a half hour drive north along I-25 and then Highway 287 out of Fort Collins. I recruited my photo buddy Tim Meseros as an accomplice and together we set off in the Ford Exploder at 8 am on Saturday morning. The plan was to be in place and ready to take photos when the train came by around 11:30 am. One thing I’ve learned about trains is that they never leave or arrive somewhere early. They are either on time or late and most often they are behind schedule. We’d have plenty of time to get set up before the train appeared.
As we approached Tie Siding, Wyoming, my Sat/Nav directed me to a dirt road on the right of Hwy 287. It felt correct at the time, as that’s what I saw on Google Earth. It turns out though the GPS unit was directing me to drive to my marker using a private road on someones private ranch. What the hell, the gate was open and where I was going was less than a mile from me, so I took the turn. We quickly came to a gate where a young fellow was standing. He informed us that this was his family ranch and that they were asking us to donate $10 to the FFA charity for access to their private road. No problem, we gladly forked over the cash and proceeded to a stretch of dirt road about a mile in. The tracks ran through an open field parallel to the road for about a mile and at the far end were some excellent rock formations. We had a full stretch of track to watch and photograph the train with an unrestricted view from right to let for about 180 degrees. Along the road at various locations were other photographers, perhaps a dozen vehicles or so scattered up and down a couple of miles of road. Paradise. No big crowd, which I fully anticipated. We were on private land about a half mile north of a public access area, where I’m certain the crowds were accumulating. We hit it lucky.
We waited about one hour for the train to appear.
As I normally do it was time to chase and once the train goes past, we jumped into the SUV to drive towards Laramie to catch the train going by us again before it arrived at the Laramie train depot. This would take us off the ranch and back on to HWY 287 where we would drive north looking for the best spot. At times we could see the train moving across the countryside from a couple miles away to our right.
We also noticed there were more train tracks to our left and that a lot of people were camped out along the highway waiting for the train to go by them. Little did they know that they had chosen the wrong set of tracks to outpost. The sneaky railroad took a different route on tracks that were 2 miles east of the highway, with no side road access. Until the train got near Laramie, you couldn’t get near it. This allowed us to get out ahead of the crowd along the highway as they still didn’t know they were going to miss seeing the train. We managed to get to our second spot with still plenty of room to park and shoot. The crowd was thickening by the moment.
Once the train went buy, we jumped into the SUV and headed to the Train Depot in Laramie. Upon arriving, the town was crowded and had gathered for the arrival of the newly restored locomotive and living legend. The depot was wall to wall people and getting anywhere near the parked locomotives required getting in a long line on a raised platform above the parked train.
Laramie hadn’t seen this much excitement in months.
Winter’s last gasps are upon us. My back is improving to the point where I can contemplate actually doing things that don’t involve a television remote control. Life is renewing itself.
I’ve been reading the photography websites (nothing better to do while laid up) and the subject of Adobe Creative Cloud keeps popping up.
Seems like Adobe is testing a new subscription plan for their Lightroom/Photoshop service. Currently priced at $10 per month, they are testing raising the price to $20 per month. They are also “testing” a $10 per month plan that removes Photoshop from the package. The new offerings up the online storage to 1 terabyte. You can read more about the Adobe Creative Cloud plan changes here.
I don’t know about everyone else but I don’t need 1 terabyte of online storage. I have at least 30 terabytes of storage here in the office. I’m skeptical about the “testing” explanation. It looks to me more like another change of service designed to squeeze more money out of their customers. It’s not really offering anything new in the software department, it’s just a 100% price increase in their existing offering.
Last year Adobe offered me a free one year subscription to the Creative Cloud plan that included Lightroom and Photoshop, their $10 a month plan. My free run expires in the next month or so. By that time I’ll have to pay for the previous year retroactively if I continue.
I have the cure. I’m reverting back to my stand-alone copies of Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Lightroom 6.14. This gets me back to 2015 functionality with Adobe Raw editing, which is fine at the moment as I have no cameras in my kit newer than that. All I’ll loose is a dehaze tool and some minor changes to Photoshop. Since I’m running DXO Photo Lab for noise reduction, the ability to put a dehaze function on an image will not be lost, I’ll just do it in DXO Photolab instead, which is what I was doing prior to switching to Creative Cloud. It was nice to get a free test of their latest versions of the software, but it’s not worth paying $240 a year to have, when I have 99% of that functionality for $0. I honestly think Adobe wants to drive their long term customers away. With the improvements in alternative photo editing solutions, it’s only a matter of time before they shoot both their feet, and hands with the pistol of greed. Minor updates take years to occur and price hikes seem to be more frequent. Paying more for less is not part of my business plan.
Enough griping about Adobe.
The back is well enough that I can make a day trip to Wyoming on the 4th of May to photograph the “Big Boy” and #844 Union Pacific Steam Locomotives on their way to Ogden, Utah from Cheyenne, Wyoming. The train is going to be moving through about 20 miles from my cabin in Red Feathers, so it’s a good time to get up there and open the cabin for the year as well.
May is also the month I begin looking for moose, so the moose photography season is officially underway.