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

Honored and humbled…

I can hardly believe that I haven’t posted since last May! How the time flies during a pandemic!

Well, I received a package in the mail a couple days ago. When I opened it, I found the 2021 calendar from the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely NV. I am honored and humbled to find several of my images within the calendar and on the cover, too!

I recognize that it’s already a couple weeks into the new year, but just in case you don’t have your 2021 wall calendar for your home, office, school, home/office, or home/school, please consider buying one of these. Not only are the pictures for each month wonderful, but the Railway could use your support as they, too, struggle through these frustrating times. Their website is https://nnry.com/.

Without further ado, here’s my images included in this year’s calendar!

The cover shot! This is the original. Their graphic artist made the cover look a lot more artistic, and I love the work they did on the image.

Starting the year off with a bang! This is January. The caption reads, “Happy 2021! Locomotives 93 and 40 are looking forward to a great New Year!” Locomotive 40 will be in the shop for boiler maintenance for all of 2021, but that’s just part of the life cycle of steam locomotives.

“It’s a busy morning at the Nevada Northern Railway engine house. Locomotives 81, 40, and 93 are all steamed up ready for the day. In fact, this photo was taken in October 2020. It illustrates why the railroad is a National Historic Landmark.” This is April’s featured image.

The featured image for May, although I get to see it every day. I printed this in three panels, each 13″ wide x 19″ high, and hung it above my digital darkroom (aka my trusty computer). The caption reads, “Three original steam locomotives all hot and ready for the day. From left to right, Locomotive 81, built by Baldwin Locomotive Works, March 1917. Locomotive 40, built by Baldwin Locomotive Works, July 1910. Locomotive 93, built by the American Locomotive Works (ALCO), January 1910. This photo illustrates why the railroad is a National Historic Landmark.” The NNRY crew is finishing up the rebuild on the 81, and it should come on line this year, for the first time in decades.

While this looks like it could have been shot in July, this was actually a frosty day last February. “The fireman is adjusting the air pump on Locomotive 93 as it gets ready to leave the East Ely yard. In the background, Locomotive 40 is done for the day and heading into the engine house.”

And there you have it! The images for the other 8 months are fantastic, so this is a must have calendar.

I’m heading back in a few weeks to make new images. Stay tuned! And Happy New Year!

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