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Dave Blazejewski says of his photo, "So I got out trackside today for a quick little chase of a 120S from Anchorage to Bear Valley thanks to a tip from Frank Keller. The timing and lightning were perfect and I decided to try a shot I've had my eye on for 10 years. While I've shot here at this iconic Placer Creek location countless times, I've never waded down into the creek. In the summer the willows are too green and thick and it will be much more obscured. In winter the snow can get really deep here and the river will ice over, so the window for open water and no brush is pretty narrow.

"But the really hard part is finding a train at exactly the right time in good light. Well today it all came together. I followed the train all the way south shooting along the arm and then after watching him diverge at Portage Junction I buzzed down the road towards Whittier. For whatever reason he took quite a bit longer to get there than usual. This was good and bad. It was nice that it afforded me plenty of time to wade down there and find my angle, but less than ideal in the 15 degree temps out in the creek. I found a nice dry rock to lay on to get the low angle I wanted and then waited.

"The problem always with this spot is that you have no warning of the train approaching. You can't see it and you can't hear it due to the mile long tunnel he traverses before crossing the creek and the fact that the rolling water and occasional vehicle traffic mask any hint of sound emanating from the tunnel such that by the time you do hear him approach you have two seconds. Hence, in order not to miss your shot (and trust me I have more than once!) you have to have your camera positioned and ready.

"But, one benefit today with the cold dry air was the gentle cloud wafting out of the tunnel from the heaters that keep the portals from icing over. As soon as the train entered the tunnel it began pushing the exhaust and warm air ahead of it so the cloud got progressively larger giving me a nice four minute warning this time!

"I thought these two shots of the two distinct clouds coming from the tunnel were just kind of cool."


© 1997-2018 John Combs unless otherwise noted
Picture of the week for 1/22/18