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

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

Nevada Northern Railway Part 2…

The morning was chilly, but enthusiasm was high as we gathered for Day 1 of the Nevada Northern Railway Photography Workshop. I ate breakfast in the hotel, so I passed on the selection of donuts provided by the staff (my body was very happy with this choice). We got to know each other a little more as we shared images from past shoots. The group included accomplished photographers. Some had been to Ely before and had great images to share. One participant was from Nebraska, and was a regular contributor to the Union Pacific Railroad with his images of the steam locomotive 4014, the legendary Big Boy, recently restored and touring the country.

After our morning classroom session, we headed out into the rail yard. First stop was the Engine house, where I grabbed a few shots.

One of several images inside the Engine House. I used a softening filter to give this a more abstract look.

We spent much of the morning in the yard watching the locomotives move around the yard as they gave us photo opportunities and set up for tomorrow’s action.

The 40 powering through the yard. RIP Building behind and Coaling Tower on the left.

The 40 was our primary subject in the yard today. I tried this sepia-style filter and like the result.

The 40 approaching the ‘service station’ – the legs of the Water Tower and the dump chute of the Coaling Tower.

A popular shot among the instructors, this view of the 40 under full steam on the east side of the yard . In our final session, I was told this would make a great magazine cover.

A fun picture of the 40 framed by the base of the Coaling Tower. Great sky and the mountains in the background.

After lunch, we all enjoyed a class in lighting. I’ve never taken a lighting class before, so I really enjoyed the learning opportunity. The instructor pulled me out of the crowd and had me sit in the subject chair while he moved lights around and showed us different techniques. He gave me all the pictures he took. No, I won’t be sharing them.

A few more shots around the yard and some dinner, then we moved inside the Engine House for some strobe lighting shots. The staff set various scenes for us, we set our cameras and opened the shutters, the strobes popped and we had images. Here’s a sample of the evening’s activities.

The 40 in the foreground and the 93 in the back, with a sepia filter. Most of my night shots are black and white, since the black of the locomotives and lack of background lends itself to monochrome shooting.

Lots of steam and smoke, giving these images a surreal feel. Another participant shared his secret for enhancing the smoke and steam during processing – and it works!

The trick for enhancing the steam also works on the lights. In this image, it helped disguise that I had removed the ugly modern sodium vapor lights in the ceiling, maintaining the old time feel of the image.

I never imagined I could make images like this.

I returned to the hotel very satisfied with the day and almost 500 image files to process. Working around the coal fired locomotives is interesting. Safety First – as it says everywhere in the yard and on the front of the locomotives. I emptied a few cinders from my shoes and out of the hood on my jacket, and detected a slight odor of train in my clothes, but it was all worth it. Two more days of shooting and learning. Stay tuned and enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Nevada Northern Railway Part 1…

Living in Nevada, gaming is all around you. When you roll the dice, sometimes you hit snake eyes and sometimes you hit big. I had heard great things about the Nevada Northern Railway’s Photography Workshops so I rolled the dice and drove to Ely. Oh boy, did I hit the jackpot!

The Nevada Northern Railway ( https://nnry.com/) was a short line serving the mining community in White Pine County. The Railway began operating in 1906 and ceased operations in 1983 when the mine closed. In its heyday, the Railway transported ore from the mines to the smelter, workers from their homes to and from work, and students to and from school. When the mines closed and the Railway ceased operations in 1983, the workers put everything away and locked the doors anticipating that the mine would reopen as it had in the past. Long story short, the mine did not reopen for many years and when it did, ore processing had changed and the Railway was no longer needed. The mining company donated the Railway assets to the local community and the rest is history (pun intended). The Nevada Northern Railway is a National Historic Landmark, America’s best preserved short line and complete rail facility. They have all records and most of the equipment from the time the Railway began operations to present day.

The Railway is based in the East Ely Yard. The Depot houses the museum and gift shop, and is the first stop on any visit. The workshop began on Thursday afternoon with a get together. I arrived in Ely the day before and spent some time in the East Ely Yard to explore on my own. The following pictures are around the Yard.

 

The East Ely Depot. The Museum on the 2nd floor is a ‘must see.’

The Freight Depot.

The Coal Tower on the left and the Water Tower on the right. Like a service station for locomotives, but they didn’t wash your windshield!

The Paint Shop.

The RIP Building.

Around the Yard.

Snow plow?

Around the Yard.

The Number 40 Locomotive was built by the Baldwin Company in July 1910. A 4-6-0 type, Number 40 was purchased new for $13,139 and used for passenger service. It’s called the Queen of Steam.

Around the Yard.

And a new adventure begins. Stay tuned for the rest of the photo weekend! Enjoy – Photorogr

Summer Vacation Part X – the Journey Home!

Our last day in Yellowstone Park and we woke with mixed emotions. We were sad that our Yellowstone adventure was over, but we were excited to be heading home. Imagine my surprise when I opened the cabin door to get the truck and found this…

…Elk calf enjoying a little breakfast just outside our door…and then I noticed the white stuff! SNOW on June 8!

Just a dusting by our standard, but fun and exciting nonetheless.

After brushing the snow off the truck, we loaded up, got a little breakfast, and headed out. Our route took us up the hill south of Mammoth Hot Springs and we saw the sign to drive the Upper Terrace Loop. We decided on a little side trip adventure. Holy cow – were we in for a surprise!

In this view, Mammoth Hot Springs is on the left just outside the frame. The road you see is headed to Tower Junction.

Looking down to Mammoth Hot Springs…with the snow, the colors were wonderful.

And then we found the Upper Terrace. This view through some trees…

…and this view of the Upper Terrace. This image went viral on the ‘Wyoming Through the Lens’ group on Facebook. I printed it as a triptych (3 panels, each 13″ wide x 19″ high) and display it in my home.

Having gotten in the habit of taking pictures of our ride each day, I couldn’t pass up the PhotoFun50 in the snow!

Continuing down to Madison Junction, the scenery and wildlife did not disappoint. We found several herds of Elk close to the road.

We had pulled off the road and I walked back to where we saw several Elk. When I came back to the truck, I saw this pair – closer – with a nice view of the river in the background.

This Elk cow was a little further down the road…and something on my left had her attention.

I love the new green grass under the snow cover, with a little frosting on the trees.

Beautiful scenery everywhere you look.

Of course, the Bison were looking for something to eat.

Leaving the Park by the west entrance, we passed all the Saturday traffic trying to get in. Some of our friends from the Yellow Bus were headed east and some were headed south to catch their plane at Jackson Hole. We’re not sure how their trips went, as the storm had closed the roads to the south, east, and northeast entrances to Yellowstone. The storm also closed Bear Tooth Pass, where we had traveled the week before (the day after that road had opened from the winter snows). Obviously, we got home safe and sound, a couple thousand miles added to the odometer of my pickup.

Thanks for sharing our adventure. Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Summer Vacation Part IX – Yellow Bus Tour Day 4…

Day 4 is the final day on the Yellow Bus. We will depart Lake Village and proceed north through the Hayden Valley, Canyon Village, past Mt. Washburn to Tower Junction, and on to Mammoth Hot Springs. We parallel the Yellowstone River and make our first stop at Artist Point – the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

We stop briefly to see the Upper Falls. We crossed the bridge at the top of the image on our way to this view. Mother Nature gave us a beautiful rainbow to enhance the shot.

The Yellow Bus at Artist Point parking lot.

The iconic view of Yellowstone Falls, with an obliging sky.

In portrait orientation.

Tour guide Nancy helped us out. She’s pretty good with a camera that also makes phone calls. Even on June 7, it was jacket weather.

My lovely bride with Matt, our Yellow Bus driver…

…and Nancy, our tour guide.

This is Lower Yellowstone Falls from the other side of the Yellowstone River, and a little closer than Artist Point.

A view of the Yellowstone River looking downstream from the Falls area.

After a lunch stop at Canyon Village, we continued north through Dunraven Pass. Throughout the day, we saw lots of wildlife: Sandhill Cranes, Blue Heron, many small birds, Osprey, a Bald Eagle, and Great Horned Owls in a faraway nest.

Of course, Bison were common. An artsy Bison shot.

After seeing several Coyotes from some distance, I finally got the chance for some up close shots of this one hunting. We had been watching a couple Coyotes at some distance when, as usual, I turned around to see what was behind me. This hunter was just across the road and intent on getting some lunch.

Even with all this wildlife around, the focus of the day turned out to be (drum roll please) the Bears.

This big guy was walking through a thermal area which explains his wet appearance.

We pulled into the Tower Fall parking lot and heard everyone talking about the two Black Bears just down the path.

I grabbed the big camera and ran down the path. Sure enough, a young Black and this Cinnamon Black were playing together in the trees across a ravine.

Since I had run from the Yellow Bus with the big camera, all I had for a picture of the Tower Fall was my trusty mobile phone.

I had been trying for pictures of a Great Horned Owl nest some distance away, when my tour buddies started talking about the Bear in the trees below the nest. (Matt had his spotting scope out and was checking to see what was around.) This Black Bear sat on this rock and watched the people watching him!

I grabbed this shot out the Yellow Bus window as we crawled along with the rest of the traffic. We encountered six Bears in a brief stretch of road.

Another of the many Bears we saw that afternoon.

The Yellow Bus was alive with chatter about our unusual luck seeing bears that day. Nancy and Matt deemed us the luckiest tour that either had ever been on.

We arrived back at Mammoth Hot Springs for our last night in Yellowstone. We all gathered in the Mammoth Dining Room for one last meal together, recounting our wonderful week with newfound friends. As we arrived back at our cabin, all was right with the world.

This Cow Elk was grazing just across the street from our cabin.

We repacked the PhotoFun50 for the trip home and got to bed, still discussing our lucky Bear Watching day.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Summer Vacation Part VIII – Yellow Bus Tour Day 3…

We departed Old Faithful and headed east towards Yellowstone Lake. We stopped at the Continental Divide and had a couple nice surprises.

This is a Barrows Goldeneye. He swam around and climbed on this log for me. A beautiful bird and very accommodating for the camera.

I found this gorgeous scene across the road from the parking lot. A quick shot with my ‘camera that also makes telephone calls.’

Yellow Bus at the Continental Divide.

Our next stop was the West Thumb Geyser Basin on the west shore of Yellowstone Lake.

To protect the fragile landscape, the Park Service constructed boardwalks from the parking lot to the shore. I made this image from the boardwalk.

An interesting feature – a geyser in the lake.

We were fortunate to see wildlife there. This cow Elk was across a geyser field.

We enjoyed our lunch in the lobby of the Lake Lodge.

Matt posed with the Yellow Bus at the porte cochere.

After lunch, we headed to the Yellowstone Lake Marina for a hike but the trail was closed due to bear activity.

We walked around the marina. The tour boats were not operating yet, but we saw the boat operators getting their safety and other training to start operating tours the following week. The Park staffs up during the summer months to handle the increase in visitors. Of course, much of Yellowstone is closed during the winter months.

We stopped into the Marina Visitors Center and had a wonderful guided tour through the displays there.

Since we couldn’t go hiking, Matt drove the Yellow Bus towards the east entrance to see what we could see. Near Lake Butte, we found lots of vehicles parked along the road and people were looking down the hill. We saw two Grizzly Bears engaged in, well, an intimate moment.

We’ve all heard the old joke that asks what bears do in the woods, but never this version…

After a half hour or so, the sow kicked him off and they just rooted around for a while…

I have many friends who regularly take pictures in the Yellowstone ecosystem, and through them I learned that this sow is named Raspberry…

With our hike canceled, we had some extra time on our hands, so we watched these two for another hour or so. They eventually moved off and the crowd dissipated. We drove up Lake Butte and found this stunning view.

The versatility of my iPhone helped me have success on this trip. This is a panorama from my iPhone, and can be printed at 48″ wide by 12″ high.

A different view of the Yellow Bus on the north shore of Yellowstone Lake.

From Lake Butte, we drove west across Fishing Bridge (where you can’t fish from the bridge) and turned north, following the Yellowstone River to the LeHardy Rapids. We saw a pair of male Harlequin Ducks doing a little fishing.

Harlequin Ducks are found in the United States along the Washington, Oregon, and northern California coasts, in a narrow section of central Washington into Oregon, and from Yellowstone Park north along the Montana-Idaho border, into Canada (British Columbia and Yukon provinces) and then into Alaska.This fella’ stepped out of the water for his close up.

After a little more sightseeing along the River, we headed back to the Lake Lodge for the night. Our accommodations were in the Cabins.

Very nice inside. A little bigger than the cabins at Mammoth Hot Springs. Matt was good enough to drop us off and pick us up literally at the door.

We had a wonderful dinner with Nancy, Matt, and the others in the dining room at the Lake Lodge.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR