Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Afternoon in the Mojave Desert

It's been a long time since my last post. I've been more involved with my flickr account. However, last Thrusday (July 15, 2010) I noticed the build up of thunder clouds in the east while I was at my daughter swim lessons and decided that there could be some great opportunities to capture some storm action. I took off and made my way up through Cajon Pass where I made a stop to look for a different view of a place I used to spend so much time. I made my way up to the off road vehicle staging area above Summit and found a very nice view of the pass. This first image shows the pass with the clouds forming. The temperatures at this location were in the low to mid-90s.

I hung out there for a while and captured a few images of the vegetation that surprisingly still green.

A BNSF mixed freight made its way up the pass leading to this different perspective of train traffic.

After the train passed by, it was time to continue the journey into the Mojave Desert. My route took me along the surface streets leading to Hesperia and into Victorville. I jumped on I-15 and headed toward Barstow. The storms along the highway were beginning to dump scattered rain showers in the distance, so I pulled over at a couple different locations to photograph the action.

I continued past Barstow and got of the interstate just past the Marine Corps Logistic base east of Barstow and made my way toward Daggett. The lights of a westbound train appeared in the distance, so I pulled over to set up for a few images with the approaching storms to add some drama. The train came to a stop, which meant I had time to wait. The train got its light to continue to Barstow, and it was time to get some images.

This first image seems to give a better perspective to the size of the storms in relation to the train.

The train approaches my location and passes me by with the storm clouds making their way over Dagget.

Continuing along Santa Fe St., I came to a set of signals by the grade crossing for Hidden Springs Rd. and decided to get a few images from this location.

The storms were growing and I got a few more images along National Trails Highway (historic Route 66). This black and white image shows the storm clouds over I-40.

At one of my favorite spots led to a image of the mother road under stormy skies.

I continued along Route 66 past Newberry Springs but decided that it might be a good idea to make my way toward home given the time and what appeared to be less storm activity eastward. I jumped back on I-40.

I decided to get off at National Trails Highway at Newberry Springs to get some images of the storm clouds over the hill in the area.

Making my way back toward Daggett after capturing my images at Newberry Springs, some irrigation lines that were in an alfalfa field(?) caught my attention.

Continuing on along Santa Fe St., I came to the signals where the train I photographed earlier had stopped. They were lit and seemed to be begging for a picture. :-)

Continuing on after capturing the images of the signals brought me back on to historic Route 66 where I decided to set up for a train shot since the signals seemed to indicate something would be coming along soon. I was not disappointed. Two eastbound trains came out of Barstow.

After stopping for gas in Barstow, I got on I-15 and continued my trek home. The storm activity was quite active along the way which prompted me to get off at Hodge Rd. to find a somewhat remote looking location to photograph the activity.

Retracing my route through Victorville and Hesperia led me back to Cajon Summit where I was greeted with this beautiful sunset and, as luck would have it, a train heading down the tracks.

It was a fun day with the excitement of the thunder storms. There were a lot of lightning strikes and claps of thunder to enjoy. I only wish I could have captured a lightning bolt or two in my images.

Thanks for stopping by and looking. I hope you enjoyed the report.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

UP Heritage Chase

On Saturday August 1st, I made my way up to Cajon Pass to see if I could catch the Union Pacific KG1LA train which was being led by three of their special paint scheme units: UP 1983, the Western Pacific heritage unit; UP 1996, the Southern Pacific heritage unit; and UP 2002, one of the Olympic torch units for the 2002 winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. I was able to catch four BNSF trains before another rail fan I know pulled up behind me. I found out that the train I was waiting for was not far away.

This firs image shows the train as it passes through the cut below Summit.

After capturing my images there, I made my way to my next location. I had to see which set of tracks the train was on in order to make my decision on my next location. I saw that the train had crossed over from the BNSF tracks the UP tracks (the Palmdale cut-off). I headed for Mormon Rocks. As I passed over the BNSF track at Pine Lodge, I saw several people set up for wonderful angles to catch the train on the BNSF mains. They guessed wrong. Other were set up where they could make quick adjustments in their choice of angle. This second group made the wiser choice. I turned off to set up for my shot trying to position myself so would have minimal impact on the other photographer on the other side of the highway. This image is one of my captures as the train crosses Cajon wash.

On to the next location--Swarthout Canyon Rd. When I arrived at the grade crossing for the BNSF tracks, I was greeted by malfunctioning crossing gates. I knew they were malfunctioning since there were no westbound trains between this location and Summit and no sound of an eastbound working hard up the pass. To be sure of the eastbound issue, I turned around and drove down Cajon Blvd. to eye ball the tracks. They were clear, so I turned around and made my way up to the location along the UP tracks. There were quite a few photographers on the hill I was thinking of at first which caused me to rethink my choice of shot. I decided to use my 70mm to 200mm lens since I went with my wide angle the previous two locations. I tried to position myself to the side again to minimize my interference in the others images. There was a delay in the arrival of the train due to a northbound train coming up the tracks. This allowed me to make a few test shot for the angle I chose. After the train passed, there was a bit of a wait. Finally, just as the train was about to arrive, a person came driving up along the tracks, and I was sure I was going to miss my shots with his truck driving by between me and the train. As it worked out, he decided to stop just before entering my frame. Now I had to worry about the dust cloud that he kicked up and was drifting across my view. I am pleased with the resulting image.

My last location was Pepper Ave. where the train would come off the Palmdale cut-off and on to the Alhambra sub as it approached West Colton. When I arrived on the scene, there were a lot more people waiting. I don't think I have ever seen this location with so many photographers. I like the view in this image and was pleased with the result.

One last image shows some of the photographers at Pepper Ave. as the train continued along the tracks.

Thanks for stopping by and looking


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Going through my Archives

It's been a long while since I've posted anything, so I thought I'd share a few images that I dug up from my archives.

First up is an image I took just after I had purchased my first "L" series lenses. This was taken south of the old Colton yard in March of 2006. UP 2774 is tied down for the day.

October 2006 is the month for the next three images:

The moon rose over the old cabooses that were parked on the siding track at Fullerton. I captured this image with my 70mm to 200mm f/4L lens on October 6, 2006.

On October 29, 2006, several of us took a day trip out along the BNSF Needles Subdivision. We were fortunate enough to catch the Arizona and California Railroad working the interchange at Cadiz. After hooking up to the string of loads that BNSF had sent out from Barstow, ARZC 3894 is set to head back to Parker, AZ.

This last image is of the BNSF power that delivered the set of load to the Arizona and California. The powere set is getting moving down the tracks to allow the ARZC power to come out on to the interchange track and shove back to the cars in the distance. BNSF 8600 would then shove up the ARZC tracks to hook up to the set of cars that the Arizona and California brought to interchange. It was a great day and moment to witness the two railroads at work.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Favorite Rail Images from 2008

With 2008 drawing to a close, I put together a slide show of some of my favorite images from my adventures along the rails during the year. The show is around 15 minute long and is chronological in order through the year. You might have to down load an updated version of the free presenter software in order to view the show. The software is windows based. I hope you enjoy the show.

I want to wish everyone the best for 2009.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

December Snow in Cajon

During the week of December 15, 2008, two winter storms passed through southern California binging snow levels down low and causing the closures of the main passes in and out of the Los Angeles basin. Cajon Pass is one of those passes. On December 18th, my wife and I made a trip up to Cajon to see what we could find in the way of train traffic and opportunities for photography in the snow. Samantha was in school, so it was some time for us. The traffic was not too bad until we got about a mile past Kenwood Ave. on I-15. The traffic slowed to a crawl. Apparently the off ramp for SR 138 was back up due to the heavy volume of skiers headed for Wrightwood. According to the radio traffic reports and the information signs on the freeway, chains were required for all vehicles on SR 138, and we didn't have any. We were able to get off the freeway at Cleghorn Rd. where we found a westbound BNSF train sitting at Cajon Jct. We stopped there and joined up with the other half dozen or so rail fans, who were getting their pictures of the stationary train. It sat there for a while, and the crew watched two eastbound trains pass by on track 1 before they were gived permission to continue down the pass on track 2. This image shows BNSF 4051 after it got permission to head down the pass.

We saw several trains in the couple hours we spent in the area, but we decided to head back to Upland to pick up our daughter from school. We had a good time together.

On Saturday, December 20th, we made a family trip back up to Cajon. This time were were abel to head up SR 138 and up on some of the dirt roads leading to the tracks. We spent some time in the snow near the tracks at Dell, along Power Line Rd. Samantha had fun throwing snow balls at mom and making snow angels and snow penguins. There were a lot of people in the area. Many of them were rail fans, and ohters were out to play in the snow. We were amazed at how much snow was still on the ground after two days of sunshine. It helped that the temperatures were lower than normal. In this image, a Union Pacific manifest makes its way down the Mojave Sub.

After a while, we moved up to the pull over area at Summit along SR 138. It was a parking lot up there. I don't remember the last time I saw so many rail fans in one spot except for a steam train. We spent about an hour at this location and caught a few trains. One train was an ethanol train that made its way down track 2. In this image you can see the DPUs of the ethanol train as it disappears around the curve.

We had a great time up in the pass. It was fun to get up in the snow, which is not that common for us. More images from these two trips to the pass can be seen in the slide show or at my webshots album.

December Snow in Cajon Pass

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Morning @ Calafia Beach

Sunday, September 21, 2008

After dropping my wife off at her hospital site for her current phase in her nursing program, my daughter and I made our way down to Calafia Beach in San Clemente to find a spot to catch the special run
of the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners (AAPRCO) convention train on its way down to San Diego. The AAPRCO train was being led by ATSF 3751, a former Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe steam locomotive. This woud be the second run of this restored locomotive to San Diego this year. Before this year, this wonderful old steam engine had not run on these tracks for more than fifty years, when it was a regular pulling trains to and from San Diego. ATSF 3751 was restored and is maintained by the San Bernardino Railroad and Historical Society. It was very overcast and gray when we arrived at the beach. Not the best conditions for photography, but you take what is given to you and make it work. We parked and made our way along the bluffs to claim our spot for the capturing images of the train. We were there pleny early, so we ejoyed watching the surfers in action.

Bodysurfers were active too.

Passing Surfliners provided a chance to practice for the arrival of the AAPRCO train. Northbound train 565 p
asses by our location.

Not too long after 9:00, we saw the signal light up with a red light indicating the train was approaching our location. A distant headlight appeared and more photographers were racing to g
et a spot to capture their images. The train came more into view and began to blow its whistle for the pedestrian crossing as people stopped to watch. Many of these people were completely unaware of this special train.

The train passes the signal and was upon our location faster that expected with 24 private railroad cars in tow.

An Amtrak employee was enjoying the view as he watched from the window of the last Amtrak P42.

We went back to the car
after the train had passed by and put away the tripod and chairs. We had plenty of time remaining on the parking meter, so we made our way down to the beach to have a little play time. The sea birds were not bothered by our presence and posed for some images.

Samantha had her sand bucket and shovel and proceeded to fill the bucket with wet sand. After filling up the bucket, she brought it up to me and left it there. She went back to play in the water as it came in.

We were closer to the surf action, so I captured a few more images of the surfers as they made the best of the conditions that were given to them.

One last image as we made our way back to the car. The sun came out making for a nice scene.

All in all, it was a nice morning away from our home and some memories to boot.

Thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Some Free Time in Cajon Pass

Well, it's been a while since I last posted. I had a busy summer at both of my colleges and did not really have much to share. I am now on a three week break before the fall semester starts at both of my colleges. I made a few trips up to Cajon Pass this week, and I'm sure I'll be back before the break is over. I thought I'd share a few images from my wanderings around the the pass.

Monday morning (8/4/08), I went up to the pass and spent a few hours watching the trains and capturing images. I arrived in the pass around 6:30 a.m. It was pretty gray and overcast at first. The first train I was able to capture was a Union Pacific (UP) mixed freight train heading down the Palmdale Cutoff. I set up for the train near Mormon Rocks and came up with these two images. UP 5384 leading the train across the dry wash as it makes its way south.

As I was scrambling down the embankment, I saw the DPUs (Distributed Power Units) at the end of the train and came up with this grab shot.

After getting back to my car, I made my way up State Highway 138 to see what was happening at Summit. A BNSF manifest started down the pass. I captured a few images of it and saw another train come around the curve above Summit. It was Amtrak's Southwest Chief (train #3). It started to overtake the manifest. Here is an image of it as it rounds the curve above Silverwood.

I got in my car and made my way down to Cleghorn Rd. to set up for a shot of this train as it came down the track from Sullivan's Curve.

After the Southwest Chief cleared, I waited for the BNSF manifest to appear on track 3. Just as the train came into view, a BNSF truck made a dash across the tracks in order to avoid waiting for the train.

BNSF 7712 passed by my location.

It was back to Summit to see what was coming next. Another train started down track 2, so I made my way back to Cleghorn Rd. to capture this image of this colorful set of locomotives led by BNSF 4712.

After capturing images of BNSF 4712, I decided to take a drive along the UP tracks to Sullivan's Curve after a quick stop at one of the fast food establishments in the area. I wanted to catch something coming around the curve with the new track laid in place. An eastbound BNSF baretabel came up and around the curve. Shortly afterward, a southbound UP train came into view and allowed me to capture this image.

I really liked the sky at the time and the way the clouds were sprawled out over the rock formation. Now if I only had a train in the image.

Another train was making its way up the tracks, so I decided to take a drive and explore for a different photo location. I drove along the Palmdale Cutoff where it is high above the BNSF mains at Martinez east of Summit. I used my 200mm lens to capture this image of BNSF 7550 working its way through the S-curves.

I started back toward the street. As I made my way down the road known as Powerline Road, I saw another train heading upBNSF track 3. I made my way to Summit and had just enough time to get into position for shots the train as it rounded the curve above Silverwood. The train was slowing down when I heard a horn in the opposite direction. BNSF 512 was leading a manifest, and a container train was heading down the same track and crossing over to track 2. the result was this image of the head ends of both trains meeting.

I turned around as BNSF 512 creeped up as the train in front of it cleared.

I made may way down to Cleghorn Rd. and set up for images of BNSF 5345 coming down from Sullivan's Curve. I decided to use the wide angle for this train.

It was time to head home to be able to go to my daughter's swimming lessons and support her as she learns to swim.

I made a second trip up to Cajon late Wednesday afternoon. I saw a few trains making their way down the tracks as I drove up I-15. As it turned out, I would only end up capturing one train. BNSF 7672 crosses over the dry wash as it approaches Highway 138.

I also made a trip this afternoon (Thursday, 8/7/08) with my daughter accompanying me, I was able to get a couple images worth sharing. This first image has BNSF 4301 leading a container train down track 1.

It got slow as I drove around looking for vantage points. Finally, there was some action. I had missed a train heading up track 1, but I guessed that the next train would also be coming up from San Bernardio, so I went back over to Sullivan's Curve to wait. I could hear the sound of a train working up the tracks and was in position to capture this image of UP 8469 leading a manifest around Sullivan's Curve on track 1.

It was getting late, so we made our way home to have dinner.

I hope you enjoyed the images and commentary. Thank you for stopping by and viewing my blog.