Prepared to Get the Shot

September 25, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

I recently came back from a long road trip between Virginia and Michigan. Naturally, I had all my camera equipment with me. If I wanted to stop along the long drive to photograph something interesting, I had everything I needed with me, including my tripod.

How many photographers travel with their primary camera and lenses in the car when they are just going to the grocery store or running errands? I once asked this question to a couple of photographers that I know, and it was 50/50. I do not do it as often as I should, and I can think of a few times when I missed what might have been some fantastic shots.

On a snowy day in late January of this year, I had gone out with all my equipment to see what I could see. It had not just snowed the night before – it was still snowing! I put many miles on my vehicle and drove all over the county and I was rewarded with many different kinds of shots (stay tuned for those to be eventually uploaded to the galleries).

Because I am from Upper Michigan, I know what it means to dress for outdoor winter adventures. I had my boots, snow pants, winter hat, scarf, and gloves. Even after getting into the warm car and driving between winter scenes, I was still very cold after 4 hours.

On my way home, I crossed some railroad tracks and as I looked to the side, a huge locomotive was sitting on the tracks, top light on. It was not moving, but it was not vacant, either. I had to park a quarter of a mile away so that I was safely off the road. I had no idea how long the train had been sitting there nor when it would start moving again.

I hustled back to the train tracks with my camera and got several shots. He still had not moved, so I took a chance and jogged back to my car to get my cell phone. I always get some establishing shots with my cell phone camera to set the time and GPS location, and sometimes some video.

It was still snowing, and my camera lens filter was covered with water droplets and snowflakes. During the previous 4 hours of shooting in snowy conditions, I had used up all my lens cloths. I had to resort to using the bottom of my sweatshirt which was under my coat and still dry. Gusts of wind would blow the snow into my face and into the lens, adding to the excitement of the day.

There were a few cars that were coming and going down the country road and over the tracks while I was there. I took some time to get a few shots of the road behind me. Country SnowCountry SnowWhile waiting for the Norfolk Southern 1198 to start moving down the tracks, I turned around to capture the scene behind me. As I'd been out with the camera for 4 hours while it was actively snowing, all my lens cloths were of no use by this time. Still, I'm happy with how this image turned out, water spots and all. It is a naturally-occuring color enhanced photograph. Even though it is obvious that the lens filter is very wet with snowflakes, I rather like how this image turned out. It represents the weather conditions of the day and adds to the beauty of the shot. Unfortunately, I do not have a clean lens shot of this view, but that is okay. It would have been difficult to change the filter when it was still actively snowing, and I did not want to miss the take-off of the locomotive on the tracks. Because of the weather conditions, the scene looks monochrome with just a few splashes of color for the road’s center line and the red house. I could have tweaked the vibrance and saturation a bit, but I did not – this is how it looked to the naked eye. Ready to RollReady to RollNorfolk Southern 1198 has turned on all the lights and is ready to roll!

Finally, I heard the engines ramping up and all of the lights came on. The Norfolk Southern 1198 was getting ready to move! He blew the train whistle several times before starting forward and it was a glorious sound! He started moving forward and the railroad crossing lights started flashing and the intersection was closed to traffic. It did not take long for the train to get up to speed and move through the crossing. What a marvelous sight and sound!

This experience was the number one reason and reminder to me to always have my camera with me.  Always be prepared to capture your best shot!


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