While down here in the Sunshine State, I’ve been talking with a few of the local FEC fans about the goings-on along the railroad. One of them, who lives up by Ft. Pierce, invited me up to check out the area, as well as an FEC 0-8-0 undergoing restoration. As it worked out, I was able to make the 90 minute trek north last night after the kids were in bed. But it wasn’t just the steamer that I was able to shoot in the darkness of southern Florida.
On my way north, I had the scanner spinning away on the usual frequencies – FEC, CSX and TriRail. In the back of my mind, I knew that FEC train 222 was somewhere in southern Florida, and was to make a stop in West Palm to set out a couple units for an upcoming RBBB Circus train, and some cars. Well, as headed north through West Palm, the scanner was silent. But as I was approaching the Jupiter exit, I heard 222 report to the FEC dispatcher that they were done in West Palm with the set outs, and was on the move northbound. OK, cool, I should be able to get up there ahead of 222 and get a shot off before shooting the steamer.
I had arranged with local FEC fan Rick to meet up in Ft. Pierce and he’s bring me over to where the steamer is sitting to get a few night shots. So I pulled into the parking area we had pre-arranged, and Rick was there waiting. We exchanged introductions, and after figuring that 222 was about 10 minutes from us, I started to set up my gear for a quick shot.
With everything in place, we waited. This time we didn’t have to wait too long – 222 soon came through Ft. Pierce yard, and into view where we were standing. I got one shot of the northbound rolling past us at near track speed.
Not bad – a bit of motion blur on the nose, but I think I have that figured out – more on that later.
As I was breaking down, Rick & I were talking and we figured the southbound was at least 20-40 minutes away. So we had time to head over and shoot the steamer, and if all went well, the southbound job.
We got over to the site of the 0-8-0 road switcher FEC #253 and I got a few shots of the steamer.
And a shot of the former FEC heavyweight, most recently used as a tool car
With what I came for in the camera, I decided to set up for a shot of the southbound.
After about 20 minutes of fiddling with the setup, I decided to try a tele shot through a curve and set everything up. Then the waiting set in. And unlike earlier in the evening, the wait was long. But that’s OK – Rick & I had some nice conversation to pass the time. But with no sign of the southbound, I decided to call it quits at about 12:15am. I still had a long ride ahead of me. So we bid farewell, and I headed back down I-95.
On my way south, the scanner was still on. Not long after getting on the highway, I started picking up some crackling talk on the CSX frequency. As I got closer to West Palm, it was coming in clearer – it was a southbound CSX freight calling signals. OK, now the question was could I overtake them and catch them at Deerfield Beach before heading back to the house?
As I continued south (yeah, I may have been bending a speed limit or two…), the transmissions progressed from getting clearer, to crystal clear, to getting more choppy. That meant I was ahead of them, and putting more distance between myself and the head end. This just may work out!
At about 2am, I got to the Deerfield Beach exit, and headed for the TriRail station. After getting out of the car, I checked the signals to the south – which were still showing a clear for track 1. Cool, I should have about 4-5 minutes to set up before the southbound freight showed up.
While setting up I decided to do something different – I put the camera on a tripod and did 9 different exposures in ambient light of the station (at ISO 200), and saved one final exposure using the Lumedyne for the arrival of the train (at ISO 1600). I figured that I’d try doing an HDR blend of both ambient and Lumedyne lit exposures. Hey, if that didn’t work, at least the Lumedyne shot would be decent (I hope).
After my last exposure I could hear the train approaching. Then the Hillsborough Blvd. signals activated, soon followed by the southbound job’s horn. As the train came into view, I popped the shutter at the pre-determined spot, flooding the station and train with light. And yes, the HDR blend worked out, as you can see the results below (the Lumedyne looked good itself, but the HDR looked better to me)
Happy with what I got there, I started breaking down the equipment, while enjoying the freight speeding past me. As the markers went past me, I started to fold up the light stand. But something odd caught my attention on the scanner – it was someone doing a rollby of the southbound freight. Another CSX job?
Yep, it was – there was a northbound on the other track. So I hastily set my gear back up and got a shot of the northbound job clawing past me
Now that it was after 2am, I figured it was time to head home. I can’t complain – I intended to get one static steamer, and ended up with three freights as well.
Thanks for looking!