Nevada Northern Railway 2021 – Day 3

After two days of class room and shooting around the East Ely Yard, on Day 3 we climbed aboard the train and headed out for Grand Landscape Day. It was chilly, but it wasn’t snowing so that was a big plus. We boarded the train and headed out to the Hy-Line. This section of track leaves the East Ely Yard and heads toward McGill, where the smelter was located.

For the workshop, I carried two camera bodies with different focal length zoom lenses. On the tripod, I had my Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 24-240mm lens. My Canon EOS 6D Mk II hung from my body with a Tamron 28-300 lens. When making images of trains, I love having my camera on a tripod. I set the tripod to a low height for the vantage point I want, and I have a stable platform for exposure bracketing and focus stacking. Sometimes the action is fast and a tripod-mounted camera is not ideal, so I carried my 6D II for those quick handheld shots. In addition, the second camera body provided redundancy in case I had a problem with my primary camera.

Workshop Instructor Mike Massee captured me a couple times during the workshop. Big thanks to Mike for letting me include these images.

Nevada Northern Railway Winter Photography Workshop on February 12 through February 14, 2021. Photo by Mike Massee while acting as the workshop instructor. This image was made on Friday – no snow on the ground!
Nevada Northern Railway Winter Photography Workshop on February 12 through February 14, 2021. Photo by Mike Massee while acting as the workshop instructor. Sunday in Robinson Canyon. Note the height of the camera on the tripod, typical for my railroad photography.

And so, on to my images from the day.

A somewhat unique shot – the black smoke is from the boiler, while the white smoke is from the whistle.
The train crew makes several runs at each location so we can change position for different views. I liked this one in black and white.
A little different interpretation. Great sky in the background. Some participants rode in the Caboose (the yellow car) and the rest rode in the Outfit Car, just ahead of the Caboose. The view from the cupola of the Caboose is amazing.
Since I’m in a line of photographers, I keep my eyes open for other perspectives. For this shot, I crossed the tracks and crouched down in a ditch (to stay out of the other photographers shots). I was by myself, so I was the only one to get this shot.

After several runs on the Hy-Line, we headed up to the Tunnel.

I love the east side of the Tunnel. Great background for the locomotive.

We returned to the East Ely Yard for lunch and prepared for the afternoon shoot at the Tunnel and Robinson Canyon. The crew reconfigured the train for a different look.

In that ‘road less traveled’ theme, I climbed the side of the Tunnel to shoot down on the train. Again, I was by myself.
When a locomotive exits the Tunnel, the smoke does amazing things. Since the 93 is pulling uphill in this shot, it’s working hard and making a lot of smoke. This view from just behind the guardrail on U.S. 50.
Robinson Canyon is a marvelous venue for shooting. For this shot, I went high on the slope. I had my Canon EOS R5 camera and tried some new techniques on this portion of the shoot. One of the great things I learned about this amazing camera is the AutoFocus system is wonderful. When used in combination with the Touch Sensor Shutter Release (touching the LCD screen on the back of the camera to release the shutter, the AF system focuses on the point that I touched), I adjusted the position of the camera body with the tripod head, recomposed for focal length and composition, and touched the screen to focus on my desired focal point and release the shutter. I need to perfect my technique, but I liked the process for slow action such as this moving train. The resulting image files were easier to process.
On the way back from Robinson Canyon, we stopped at the grade crossing at County Road 19 for some shots. In this shot, I am looking east, with the East Ely Yard in the background. I processed this image using a different filter than I usually use, providing a softer look for the locomotive.

That ends three days of fun but challenging photography. I learned more about using flash, but also learned how to take pictures in driving snow and cold. A trip to the Nevada Northern Railway is always great, but also wonderful when one’s photographic skills are pushed to the limit.

On the drive home, I stopped by Eastgate Canyon. This canyon is located 5 miles from U.S. 50 on State Highway 722., and is the home to a band of Desert Bighorn Sheep. My lovely bride and I found them last October when we drove by, so I checked to see if I could find them. Sure enough, they were grazing on a hillside within range of my camera.

A young Ram, making sure I wasn’t getting too close.
The view looking west towards U.S. 50 through the entrance to Eastgate Canyon.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this series from the Nevada Northern Railway. Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Nevada Northern Railway 2021 – Day 1

Friday morning dawned cool but otherwise nice. The workshop participants gathered in the East Ely Depot to begin the day. We all brought some pictures of our work so we could get to know one another and the instructors could assess our photography skills, then we headed into the East Ely Yard for some pictures.

One of my favorite images from the weekend. I was able to process the image file in Adobe Camera Raw and cleanup some clutter in Photoshop. No need to use other software for a filter.

This is the NNRY’s 1956 Pontiac Hy-Rail car, used by the NNRY for track inspection. Look close and you can see the wheels that keep the car on the tracks just behind the bumper in front of the tire.

I took advantage of the open door at the RIP Building. Just inside, I found this line of wheels and axles, so I did a little focus stacking. There are four different focal planes and five exposures of each focal plane to create the image. I blended the RAW image files in Helicon Focus 7, then applied a black and white filter in Nik Silver Efex.

This is the interior of the Outfit Car, used by the crews to travel to work locations. This was our base of operations for our shoot on Sunday. For this image, I used three image files with different exposures blended in Adobe Camera Raw, some clean up in Photoshop, then a filter from Topaz Studio.

This is the interior of a Caboose, taken from the door.

This is the scene when you walk through the cupola and into the back of the Caboose from the previous image. I paused before taking the picture…thinking about the men who spent their working lives in this space. Do you think they had to sneak a little coal from the Tender to keep the Caboose warm?

After the morning in the Yard, we returned to the Depot for some lunch and the lighting class. Then we headed back into the Yard to finish the day.

This is the Photo Line. And this one was easy because of the low number of photographers.

We’re all going for shots like this…

…and this!

Keep your eyes open and camera ready. Every now and then you turn and see something like this.

As the light began to fade, we set up in the Freight Depot and the 93 made several runs by us. Shutter speed is key here, depending on what you want your image to show. I used a fast shutter speed to freeze the action in this shot. I also made some shots with the 93 ‘blurring’ by.

That’s not everything from the day, but it’s a nice representation. Lots to see and lots of images to make. But wait ’til the next post – cuz the weather went bonkers on us!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Nevada Northern Railway 2021 – The Prequel

Recall that a year ago, I ventured to Ely NV to participate in a photography workshop at the Nevada Northern Railway. I had a wonderful weekend with lots of great photography, so I returned for this year’s workshop. There was quite a difference in the shooting this year versus last. We had two running locomotives last year and only one this year. The attendees were different this year – an older group and not as mobile in some ways, limiting certain locations. And then there was the weather! Last year we had some older snow on the ground, but mostly just cooler temperatures. This year we got snowed on all day Saturday! You will see the snow in a future post. Shooting in snow has special challenges, but I’ll save that discussion. For now, the drive to Ely and the day before the workshop started.

The drive across U.S 50, The Loneliest Highway, was uneventful. I did, however, come across the best sky and light at Sand Mountain that I’ve ever seen.

Situated between Fallon and Middlegate, Sand Mountain is a popular recreation area. I took this photo from US 50.

The workshop didn’t start until 3 p.m., so I had some free time to fill. I had grand plans – a drive to Hamilton, a mining camp active from about 1868 for a couple decades, now a ghost town. Located 36 miles west of Ely and about 10 more miles off US 50, I headed out with high hopes. After five miles of interesting dirt road, I abandoned this quest and headed back to Ely. I caught this gorgeous view of the Diamond Mountains across the Newark Valley.

When the Nevada skies have character, they really have character! A great view from the Mokomoke Mountains in the White Pine Range.

I decided to see what was new in the East Ely Yard, so I grabbed cameras and tripod, checked in at the Museum Store, and headed into the Yard.

This sign is on the East Ely Depot. The information is correct, as those offices still exist on the second floor.

In the Yard, I found these cars. The NNRY is a time capsule as many of these cars were parked and haven’t moved in 30-40 years.

Heading into the Machine Shop and the Engine House, I found a couple surprises!

Locomotive 40 is sitting in the Engine House, waiting for its turn in the Machine Shop for boiler maintenance. My lovely bride and I were in Ely last October for its last weekend of operation.

Great light on the front of Locomotive 40.

I had the 100 mm Macro lens on the 6D II, so I shot some close ups and played with a little focus stacking. This image was made from multiple exposures and three focal planes.

Locomotive 81 is in the Machine Shop, nearing completion of its overhaul and coming back into service. The crew at the NNRY is painting the boiler jacket green, as it was in the 1950’s.

Stay tuned! There’s lots more coming – three more days of photography at the NNRY and then the drive home! Until next time – enjoy! PHOTOROGR

A fun new technique…

When I began blogging almost 6 years ago (has it really been that long?), my blogs were all about the fun new things I was learning about photography. This blog is trying to get back to that kind of sharing.

During the recent madness, I’ve found myself staying closer to home. Because of that, I’ve actually come close to getting my money’s worth from the several photography training subscription sites to which I belong, and I’ve tried out a few new ones.

Recently, I watched a webcast about a technique called Intentional Camera Movement (ICM). Simply put, the concept involves the use of long exposure techniques to capture movement in an image. There are two main methods of creating movement: manipulating the camera or allowing an outside influence, wind for example, to create movement. Long exposures can be created by several means, but the simplest for me is to use neutral density (ND) filters to limit the amount of light passing through the lens and striking the sensor in the camera body.

Until this webcast, my use of ND filters has been limited to smoothing water to create a pleasing image. This image is one of my favorites.

This is not my first attempt at creating movement in an image. Several years ago, I participated in a weekly photography challenge, where I tried different photo techniques each week. One of those techniques involved changing the focal length on a zoom lens with the shutter open. Here was my top image from that week’s challenge.

And then there was that day several years ago when I was out looking for fall colors. I found some, jumped out of the truck, and began shooting. Thankfully, I checked my camera after a couple shots and realized that several of my camera settings had changed. I fixed the settings, but have these two interesting images as a result. I call the technique ‘Accidental Camera Movement.’

With that background information, here we are in present day. I took a drive into the Sierra Nevada Mountains yesterday to play with a new lens. I found some flowers and got a few shots, but the wind was bouncing the flowers around so I grabbed my ND filters and tried the wind movement technique. My Canon 6D Mk II was mounted on the tripod and the filters were in place. I stacked my filters to reduce light by 16 stops, which gave me a comfortable exposure 3-4 seconds. This was just right for the experiment.

Very fine art and very fun! I continued my adventure and found other subjects – including a nice waterfall – and then found a subject for trying actual camera movement. I first tried the camera on tripod, but didn’t get enough movement to make me happy. I moved to handheld and exaggerated the movement even more. Voila! (That’s my high school French kicking in!)

Yes, this is a very overdone composition, but we all have to start somewhere. This is just the beginning into this fun technique. Stay tuned to see where it takes me.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Nevada Northern Railway, the Post Script.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the images from my weekend with the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely NV. In a previous post, I think I mentioned that the Nevada Northern is a National Historic Landmark. The listing is because the Nevada Northern is the best preserved example of a short line railroad in the country (and probably the world). When the Kennecott Mining Company ceased operations in the Ely area in 1983, the workers simply put everything away, locked the doors and walked away. With the ups and downs of the mining industry, this was not the first time the mine had closed but the mine usually reopened within a couple weeks. Weeks turned into years and the railway assets were eventually turned over to the museum, which currently operates this historic railroad.

But it’s not just the rail yard and rolling stock that gives the Nevada Northern Railway its well-deserved historic status – there’s so much more! According to the Walking Tour Guide of the East Ely Yard, “…The complex includes a full-service rail yard encompassing fifty-six acres with sixty-three buildings, shops and structures. The museum collection consists of three steam (two operating) locomotives, six (three operating) diesel locomotives and over sixty pieces of historic railroad equipment.” The Guide continues, “…The museum also houses an extensive paper record of the railroad. The museum is also unique in that it not only preserves the artifacts of the railroad but it also is working the (sic) preserve the knowledge necessary for the maintenance and the operation of the artifacts.”

The Railway’s offices are located on the second floor of the East Ely Depot. This area is under the control of the State of Nevada, and houses all the records for the Railway’s more than 75 years in operation. These records include payroll records for all employees, architectural and engineering drawings for the infrastructure, all the paperwork necessary to operate the system (remember, the railroad was in operation before computers), beautiful historic pictures, and wonderfully preserved offices.

As I recall, the Superintendent’s Office…

…an administration area…

…and the Yard Master’s Office.

Admission to this area is a separate ticket from the Yard, but it is well worth the price. Next time I go visit, I’ll get some better images to share.

Here’s a few new images from the big boy camera.

This is the interior of the freight car, including an area where the mail was collected and sorted.

The interior of the luxurious passenger car. The stained glass over the windows is beautiful, and the seats are more comfortable than they appear.

An artistic version of Locomotive 40 pulling out of Tunnel 1.

And a few images from my mobile phone.

A monochrome version of the 40 in the East Ely Yard.

This rock cut was a tunnel at one time.

My new friend, Con, maintaining…

…and polishing the 40…he also makes it go! I love this painterly filter on this image.

A view of the Schell Range from the East Ely Yard.

I don’t do selfies very well, but I try. Yes, it was a bit chilly.

I hope that my images have enticed you to go visit Ely when the madness is over. Ely is located in eastern Nevada at the intersection of US highways 6, 50, and 93. Great Basin National Park is an hour or so away, along with a couple Nevada State Parks.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Nevada Northern Railway Part 4! The Final Day!

As we finished our shoot the day before, we looked at the weather forecast and voted to forego the sunrise shot. Not a bad call, considering the temperatures. So, we loaded into the Caboose and headed east. If you’re looking for an adventure, the Caboose can be rented for an overnight stay. The bunks were somewhat comfy, but the ‘necessary’ accommodations are not for the faint-of-heart.

We stopped at a stream crossing and headed into the brush. The 40 pulled by us several times, but I missed the best reflection shot. Darn it!

I chose a sepia monochrome filter for this image, giving it a vintage look.

While I missed the best reflection shot (if I’d only set up about 15 yards left of this spot), this one isn’t too bad.

Back in the Caboose and down the line. We stopped at the North Yard Limit for more shots.

One of my favorite shots from the weekend. I asked the facilitators of the workshop for this composition and they happily obliged me. We were at a ‘Y’ and the 40 was running on the track left of this location. The grey sky made for a bad background, so I asked them to run on this track. Huge difference in the background. I also tried some new editing techniques to really make this image pop.

The Nevada Northern has two routes on the east side of the Steptoe Valley: the McGill Junction Route runs from the Ely Yard to the Town of McGill; the Hi Line Route runs east of the McGill Route, further up the hill. We took the Hi Line Route to a rock cut – formerly a tunnel – and spent some time taking pictures there.

We shot from over, around, and in front of the locomotive. This was a very fun place.

And just like that the morning was over. In the Caboose and back to the Ely Yard for lunch. While we were eating, the crews were busy changing up the train. When we boarded to head west towards the mine at Ruth, we found ourselves riding in style – the fancy passenger car with a mail processing car in the train. First stop – Tunnel 1!

The 40 pulling out of Tunnel 1!

With multiple runs in and out of the tunnel, shots like this were easy to get!

I only crashed on the snowy hillside one time, resulting in some soreness and a bloody shin – but I saved the camera when I fell! On westward to Robinson Canyon!

The rocks behind make for a great background, assuming you don’t get photobombed by truck traffic on the road behind. Even with multiple pulls, this was one of my best from this location.

I really like this one, as well.

Our last venue was Keystone, as close to the Ruth Mine as you can get without being in the hole.

I chose to set up on the bridge overlooking the tracks for this image. I took some liberties during processing, using multiple filters and some layer masks to get this result. Not my favorite from the shoot, but this was a fun image to edit.

So, there you have it. Four days of steam locomotives and new friendships. I look forward to shooting on the Nevada Northern again!

A little post script. These Pronghorn were on the side of US 50 on my way home. Sadly, the only time I used my Canon EOS 7D Mk II on the trip!

They posed nicely for me. uncommon for one of the fastest animals on land.

Thanks for allowing me to share my weekend with the Nevada Northern Railway with you! Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Nevada Northern Railway Part 3…

The day started early and cold. Cameras in hand (or maybe on tripod), we waited outside the Engine House for the sun to come up to begin the day’s shooting. Finally, the front of the Engine House was in full sun and the 40 and 93 started their runs!

The 93 exiting the Engine House under full steam.

One of the many side by side runs.

After multiple runs out and in the Engine House, we followed the 93 to a piece of track south of the Engine House for a different background.

The building on the right is the Master Mechanic’s Office.

Moving back into the yard, I found the 40 sitting outside the Engine House…

…with the Paint Shop is in the background. A nice side shot.

I took several images of the 40 with my camera on tripod and my mobile phone. As I started to send phone pictures to family, I heard my name called out behind me. I turned and found a line of cameras waiting to take this shot!

Even the model had his arms crossed and was shaking his head. Needless to say, I grabbed my cameras and ran out of their picture and then snuck into line with them.

Heading to the next venue on the east side of the yard, I passed by a caboose with NNRY President Mark Bassett intently watching activity in the yard.

I shared this picture with Mark, so he knows I have it.

On the east side of the yard, the 93 ran through a road crossing with an active signal.

An artistic interpretation. I used this soft filter on several of the images from this shoot. I like what it does to some images. A friend suggested that I make the light red, since I caught it in the off position. You know, signal lights flash off and on while they’re active.

After a busy morning, we took a quick lunch break and then back to work. Building on the classroom session on lighting and the previous evening’s shoot, we set up lights in the Engine House for some ‘light’ practice.

My turn to have the light controller on my camera – I set up the shot and got ready to fire. Little did I know that I would be ‘photobombed’ by Dirt, the Engine House cat. Dirt is world famous. The drive wheels from the under renovation Locomotive 81 are in the background.

Meanwhile, back in the yard…

…a different look for the 93, with a filter called Old Western. This filter makes the image monochrome and adds an old film look.

Looking northeast from the west end of the Freight Depot (right edge of the image), with the Coaling Tower and Water Tower on the left. This image is popular with the NNRY staff.

I had many more images, but chose these 10 to represent the day’s effort. One more day to come! Stay tuned.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Night Photography Workshop…

I participated in a Night Photography Workshop at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in mid-November. The workshop started after lunch with a safety briefing and introductions, and then the fun began.

The wonderful volunteers at the Museum had the McKeen car, the 25, and the Glenbrook all fired up and running around for us. I took advantage of the afternoon light to get a few of the Glenbrook.

As daylight faded to evening light, the actors arrived and the instructor set out the big lights. First up, the McKeen car at the Depot.

The sun was setting over the hills in the background and gave beautiful light.

We spent several hours in the cold evening with the locomotives at different locations around the Museum property. This is my favorite from the evening.

Set at the crossroads on the north side of the property, the Glenbrook and the 25 have a discussion over who has the right of way.

Just for fun, I put a black and white filter on the color image, then reduced the opacity on the b/w and the browns in the image came through. I like the effect.

One of the last venues for the evening was the turntable. I had to experiment with a little low light-long exposure work.

The rear of the Glenbrook is lit by headlights from a truck parked behind and to my left. The front is natural light with about a 30 second exposure. I’ll try to get the truck lights off the next time.

The volunteers were preparing to put the Glenbrook away for the night and they invited participants into the cab. This long exposure was one of my last images on the night.

The open fire box door complements the glow of the lantern for this warm image. The low light capabilities of the Canon EOS 6D Mark II are amazing.

This workshop was a great experience and I look forward to the next workshop at the Museum.

Prints are available – send me a message.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Ready for my Close Up, Mr. DeMille…

One of the reasons I love photography is that I never stop learning. Whether it’s a new technique or equipment or subject or even just a different way of seeing things, there’s always something to learn. Now that the Raptors have moved on to other places, my eye has turned to smaller and closer subjects – the pollenators and flowers in the back yard!

Over the years, my cameras and I have spent a lot of time in the yard and have enjoyed some success. Although Spring is still fairly new this year, I’ve had a good time so far. This is a Hyacinth, and it was the first flower to bloom in our yard. I put my Canon 6D Mk II with a 50 mm lens on a low tripod and got as close as the minimum focus distance would allow. I did not use focus stacking, but it may happen this year.

All images processed in Adobe Camera RAW and PhotoShop, with a Nik ColorEfex Pro filter.

I upgraded my mobile phone to an iPhone XS a couple months ago and I’m slowly exploring its photographic capabilities. With Spring so young, the Bees are working very hard and are tough to capture…but it can be done…even with an iPhone.

This flying critter was on our Peach tree – looking forward to those peaches!I also bought a new Super Telezoom lens this year and decided to see what it would do on close up shots. Mounted on my 6D Mk II body – a full frame sensor camera – and with a minimum focus distance of more than 8 feet, the Bees are very small so the following images are heavily cropped. The end result, however, is very nice.

This Bee is on one of our Chanticleer Pear trees.

Our Flowering Plum tree has been very popular with the Bees this year.

And so it begins. Spring has sprung and it’s time for some close up. I’m ready Mr. DeMille…

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Silhouettes as Fine Art…

Last month I shared some silhouette images with you – images I made during one of the classes I took at the Winter Wings Festival. I also took a class in wildlife as fine art which is the subject of today’s post.

I was out the other day and I found these two Geese floating in one of the irrigation ditches in the Carson Valley. Geese aren’t my favorite subject and the light wasn’t in my favor, but I decided to try something new using the techniques I learned in Klamath Falls and seeing if I could make some ‘fine art.’ I made several images using various exposures. Fortunately, the Geese were just floating along so they weren’t disappearing into the distance or making great ripples in the water.

When I downloaded the images and began processing, I tried several different ideas – color versus monochrome, variations in contrast and color, and a variety of filters. I ultimately chose this single color image, processing the dark areas into silhouettes to accentuate the position of the Geese on the water and in the frame using Adobe Camera RAW, and then finishing in Photoshop and Topaz Studio.

I hope you like it. Enjoy – PHOTOROGR