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Chasing trains

I believe I’ve mentioned before about the lack of railroading in Ottawa. Let me iterate; there is very little in Ottawa for a railfan/train person to see beyond VIA trains, which are very typical. In fact, most trains in Ottawa are typical and predictable. So one must make the most of what little there is.

I live near the main track that VIARail uses, and passenger trains just don’t do it for me. I like freight trains. Again, there is very little in Ottawa as I mentioned here. Where I work, I do have a limited vantage of the track going up to Arnprior. There is a weekly local that takes some tank cars up there and that really is the only thing to see. From my cubicle, I can hear the train coming and watch it trundle up the line. Its about a five hour turn to come back, and if its a later train, I can make a stop after work and wait for its return. Of course, the camera comes with me every Wednesday, just in case.

Such was my luck last week. It was a late one going up, meaning I could get to a spot to see its return. Being winter and all, I kept to a spot that I knew I could access easily with all the snow (although, not as easy as I’d imagined). After a short wait, I heard the tell-tale horn and got ready for some shots.

I brought my Fuji X100T. Not the best for variable shots, but I like the camera, and I can learn to make do. As it approached the level crossings, the bells and lights went off. As it came around the corner it blew its horn. As it went under the highway bridge, the echoes made it very loud.

And shortly thereafter it came by. It goes at a fairly slow pace, so there is time to get ready for the picture.

The consist is typically three to four tank cars from (and to) the Nylene plant. Again, very predictable. Even the engine is typically the same. Sometimes there is two locomotives, which I suspect is only because one has had some repairs, and it is sent up the line with the other as a backup should the “fixed” one fail.

And within 30 seconds, the train has passed, and I wait another week to possibly see it again.

Fleeting as it is, I look forward to potentially seeing this train each week. As the warmer temperatures approach, I hope to catch it in a few different locations and scenery.

A day for a walk

Its been a nice few days. After last week’s snow storms and dump of 50cm of snow, this weekend was well above normal, and freezing temperatures was a happy change. It was Family Day in Ontario, which means a day off from work, so we went to the Jack Pine trail for a bit of time outside.

Others did too, so it wasn’t quite as quiet in the woods as one would like. But still, nice to see people outside and not sitting in their houses watching TV.

I brought along the Fuji X-T1 and wide angle lens to get some photos. I’ve been lacking in photos for a while. While I did get some good shots, a telephoto lens would have been useful for some bird shots. In this area, the chickadees will land on your hand for some seed.


Winter Wonderland

Happy New Year!

January in Ottawa always brings some crazy weather. Storms, rain, snow, warm and cold. In this first week of 2017, we had a nice bout of freezing rain followed by 10 cms of snow. It made for crappy driving, but the ice on the trees looked magical.

This shot is from my office. I was hoping to catch some sun before it became to warm and everything melted away. As expected, the sun came out, it got above zero and the wind picked up, shaking off the icy designs on the trees.

And believe it or not, this is a colour image.

Taken with my Fuji X100T.

Christmas Lights

Christmas eve I had some free time, so I went for a walk around the neighbourhood and brought along the Fuji X-Pro1 to get some christmas lights photos. I set the ISO to 1600 and brought the 18mm lens.

Hometown Holidays

It’s a regular event, possibly a tradition, that I go down to visit my family in Dundas the weekend before Christmas. This year was no different. We took some time to go into town and do some shopping.

Downtown Dundas is a classic small town with a main street full of small shops. Rarely do we not come away having found something interesting or new treasure. Its the way I like it, unlike in Ottawa in the suburbs where there is no central location like this.

I few shots of the town, all decked out for the holidays. All shot with my Fuji X100T.

Foggy night

A couple of weeks ago it was a foggy night in Ottawa. I took the opportunity to head over to the VIA rail station. Being the train geek that I am, I knew a train was due, and I was keen to get some foggy light-beam shots. I grabbed my Fuji X-T1 and a tripod and headed to Fallowfield station.

As is typical, the train was a wee bit late, but the end result was worth it.

While waiting, I took a shot of the signal lights. All red. Shortly after, a yellow over green over red appeared, meaning stop at this location, then carry on and proceed with caution to the next signal.

The train did show. And while passengers debarked, I set up this shot. The ditch lights (lower lights on the locomotive) are off at the station. They come on when its set to depart. That’s when I took this shot. The black and white treatment made for a more interesting photo.

After the train had left, I went over to the parking for the bus commuters and got this shot.

All in all, a good set of photos for a last minute decision to see what I could get. Of course, the entire duration was some hour and a half, but it was worth it.

Alien macro photos

We picked up this really neat flower on sale. One of those end-of-season things. It is a slow bloomer but the flowers that come are awesome. The other day I took to it with my X-T1 and 60mm macro lens. Here are a couple shots. Without context, it looks like something from another planet. Or a Dr. Seuss book.

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Early morning ride

Over the summer I’ve taken up cycling as a way to stay in shape and keep some weight off. There are a few bike paths near the house so I don’t need to ride on the streets. I find that going out early in the morning on the weekends the best. Most people tend to sleep in so there are less people on the paths other than joggers or dog walkers. Not that its a problem, it makes for a hassle-less ride.

Last weekend I awoke early and saw on the weather site that there was fog. I jumped to it to ride to a spot I knew there would be fog. I brought along my X-Pro1 and 35mm lens to get something.

Sadly, at 8:00 am the fog was burning off already, such that by the time I got to where I wanted to be, it was too late. I carried on though and ended up down at the Rideau river by the locks. There I scored a few photos. So all was not lost. There was still mist on the very calm waters.

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And in an inlet the water was perfectly still allowing me to get these photos for my reflections series I’m poking along with.
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As the days get shorter, and my ability to get out for a ride after work continues, I hope to maybe get some nice sunset photos as well. We shall see.

Shoo Fly

Trying to keep the photography going. Again, an evening outside after work, a fly landed on the chair next to me and was eating away at something. Probably Chipmunk poop or something. Enough that it didn’t care I was there. I had the Fuji X-T1 and the 60mm lens for the birds. As a bonus, its a macro lens. So I was able to get really close.

This is a fairly extreme crop, but still, cool how close I managed it.

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Train Double Play

Train watching in Ottawa is, to be kind, limited. This city is definitely not blue collar or industrial in any way. As such, there is very little in the way of rail traffic other than passenger trains. For the railfan, it is a wasteland. Basically, the only freight is local 589 that services a couple of industries, and this is on a weekly basis. Oh, and not on a particular schedule, so to see something is pure luck.

So double-bonus for me! My new job has a view to the railway up to Almonte. The once-a-week delivery to the Nylon plant up there. The window behind my cubicle looks that way, and if I’m at my desk, I hear the horn of the train approaching the level crossing. If I see/hear it, I know six hours later (at the end of the work day) it returns, and I can potentially catch it.

Such was last week. I heard the horn, and looked to see two locomotives pulling five tank cars up the line. I looked at the time, and knew when they would be coming back. The time is random, but the day is not, so I had my X-Pro1 with me to hopefully catch the return. Luckily, I did.

I knew where I wanted to be, so I hung out there a bit early to make sure I’d catch it. When it did come, I got some shots. When I came home and looked, I saw that in my excitement to see the train (remember, nothing much happens here) some shots were not very crisp. The one below looked better with a black and white treatment.

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The other shot, though not much better, worked in colour.

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As a bonus, this Sunday while I was sweeping up the walkway, I heard a train coming. I’m just across the street from the tracks served mostly by Via Rail. The train sounded different and when I looked, it was the local delivering lumber to the nearby lumber yard. I immediately grabbed my camera and made for the tracks. There is a bike/walk path along the tracks on either side. It was a quick job, and I caught it on its return to Walkley yard.
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XT015335What the photos don’t show is motion.  The locomotive is pushing the box car. As I saw it coming down the tracks, I could see the flashing red light of the End of Train device coming towards me.

I’ll leave out the train-geek reasons for this. But suffice to say, for a very barren train location of Ottawa, I had a pretty good week.