Two Weeks in NJ – Week 2


Eastbound at FleetwoodMy second week in NJ had me trying some new lighting techniques, as well as meeting up with friends again – For a recap, here’s the post from the first week.  And being near Norfolk Southern terratory, there is always the possibility of catching another of their Heritage Units.  Would I get that chance to bag another one of the classic paint schemes?

On Monday the 23rd I figured I’d try something different, and head to Fleetwood, PA on the NS Reading Line.  This is the location of the former Fleetwood – as in Cadillac – auto body manufacturing plant right along the tracks.  I was thinking that most shots of trains passing by the historic building were done in daylight – why not try and light them up after dark?

I made the 90 minute trek west to Fleetwood, and just as i got there an eastbound train hit the detector about 10 miles to the west.  Since it was a bit before sunset, and I calculated that I didn’t have time to set up any lights, I went with an ambient light shot of NS train 290 passing by the grain mill in Fleetwood.

 Norfolk Southern train 290 passes by the grain mill at Fleetwood, PA close to sunset.

Norfolk Southern train 290 passes by the grain mill at Fleetwood, PA close to sunset.

With that train in the books, it was time to set up the lights on the opposite side of the grade crossing.

For the shot I had in mind, I wanted to have minimal lighting on the nose of the lead locomotive, the building fairly well lit, and actually use no lights on the near side of the train.  I was looking for more shadow than light on my shots – something that I’m trying to do more of.  So I set up everything with westbounds in mind.  But of course, the next three trains were eastbounds.  On the third one, I tried something else a bit different – I went with a longer shutter speed so I could get some of the light from the headlights, showing the ground ahead of the passing train, in addition to the flash illuminating the side of the train and the building.

 An Eastbound Norfolk Southern freight rolls through Fleetwood, PA past the former Fleetwood (Cadillac) body plant.

An Eastbound Norfolk Southern freight rolls through Fleetwood, PA past the former Fleetwood (Cadillac) body plant.

After they cleared, it was time for the westbound I had been waiting for.  Train 11J came into view, and I fired the shutter just at about the right time – giving a nicely half-illuminated nose, and fully illuminated factory building in the background.

 Norfolk Southern train 11J heading west past the old Fleetwood (Cadillac) body plant.

Norfolk Southern train 11J heading west past the old Fleetwood (Cadillac) body plant.

Right after 11J cleared, I headed back over to the car, where a Fleetwood police officer was waiting.  He was just checking that I was OK, and said I was free to keep on shooting.  Only problem is that was the last train I shot while there – the scanner went silent after that.  But before I broke everything down, the moon was rising above the tracks, so I stuck around until it got high enough so I could get another “balancing act” shot, along the lines of the one I took in Bound Brook the previous week.  This time the rising moon is perched atop the peak of the Fleetwood building.

 The Moon rises over the former Fleetwood auto body plant in Fleetwood, PA.

The Moon rises over the former Fleetwood auto body plant in Fleetwood, PA.

And with the continued silence of the scanner, it was back to the hotel for this photographer…

The next night I went out – which was two nights later because I met up with a friend for dinner Tuesday night – I found myself back in Fleetwood.  This time I was able to catch a westbound soon after sunset – managing to capture a fading wisp of the blue-hour in the skies above the passing train.

 Norfolk Southern train 261 passes by the former Fleetwood (Cadillac) body plant in Fleetwood, PA

Norfolk Southern train 261 passes by the former Fleetwood (Cadillac) body plant in Fleetwood, PA

For the next train, I tried a slightly different angle, but for some reason one of the flashes didn’t go off, leaving the nose of the lead locomotive pretty much in the dark.  But after looking at it, I kinda like it – it’s quite different.

 A westbound Norfolk Southern freight passes by the former Fleetwood (Cadillac) body plant in Fleetwood, PA

A westbound Norfolk Southern freight passes by the former Fleetwood (Cadillac) body plant in Fleetwood, PA

And once again the scanner fell silent.  So after an hour or so of additional waiting – and hoping to hear something on the scanner – I packed up and called it a night.

Now for my final afternoon and evening of shooting while on my trip – one where I would meet up with Bill Willis again, and we’d change plans a number of times, both before we met up and also while we were traveling to our destination.  But we had good reason to change those plans…

And that reason was Norfolk Southern 1074 – the Lackawanna heritage unit – was on the point of train 24Z.  Originally we had planned to meet up at Bound Brook again, and head south down the CSX Trenton Line and shoot around Hopewell, NJ for the evening.  But with word that the DLW unit was on 24Z, we decided to head straight west.

Not exactly sure where the train was, I decided our best bet would be Flemington, NJ, just east of where the controlled siding starts at about milepost 54.

While there, and checking email, there was a possible sighting of 24Z just to the west of us, and not long after that we heard a train call the signal at the west end of the controlled siding – but it wasn’t 24Z, instead it was 18N – a loaded autorack train.

 Norfolk Southern train 18N (loaded autoracks) pulls into the controlled siding in Flemington, NJ.

Norfolk Southern train 18N (loaded autoracks) pulls into the controlled siding in Flemington, NJ.

On the scanner, he had a stop signal at the other end of the siding – which meant there was a westbound coming this way.  And not long after 18N passed by us, 33K came into view.

 Norfolk Southern train 33K rolls down the main in Flemington, NJ

Norfolk Southern train 33K rolls down the main in Flemington, NJ

 Norfolk Southern train 33K rolls down the main in Flemington, NJ

Norfolk Southern train 33K rolls down the main in Flemington, NJ

 Photographer Bill Willis giving NS 33K a rollby at Flemington, NJ

Photographer Bill Willis giving NS 33K a rollby at Flemington, NJ

After 33K cleared, we checked email again, and our quarry – the 24Z – was spotted at Emmaus, PA.  I figured that we had time to get over to Phillipsburg and get a better shot of him there.  So we mounted up and headed west on I-78.

We got there, parked and walked up onto the bridge spanning the Lehigh Line.  Seeing other fans gathered around, we felt safe that we didn’t miss the train.  Bill went with an angle down on the ground, and I stuck with the higher shot – I wanted to get a telephoto shot with Easton, PA in the background, followed by a wider shot with some pretty dramatic clouds overhead.

We didn’t have to wait much longer before we heard “24Z, clear, Easton” on the radio – he was just on the other side of the Delaware River.  A few moments later, we were greeted by 24Z, led by the Lackawanna heritage unit.

 Norfolk Southern train 24Z, led by the Lackawanna heritage unit, crosses the Delaware River into New Jersey.  In the background is the town of Easton, PA

Norfolk Southern train 24Z, led by the Lackawanna heritage unit, crosses the Delaware River into New Jersey. In the background is the town of Easton, PA

 Norfolk Southern train 24Z, led by the Lackawanna heritage unit, passes by the former passenger station in Phillipsburg, NJ

Norfolk Southern train 24Z, led by the Lackawanna heritage unit, passes by the former passenger station in Phillipsburg, NJ

Satisfied with what we got, we packed up and headed further west, figuring on finishing up our night at the pavilion in Macungie, PA.

We ended up catching a trio of trains passing by the garden there – nothing really out of the ordinary, but once again I was trying some different angles.

 An eastbound Norfolk Southern freight passes by the pavilion at Macungie, PA soon after sunset.

An eastbound Norfolk Southern freight passes by the pavilion at Macungie, PA soon after sunset.

 Norfolk Southern train 35Q passes by the pavilion and garden at Macungie, PA

Norfolk Southern train 35Q passes by the pavilion and garden at Macungie, PA

 Norfolk Southern train 64K rolls past the garden and pavilion at Macungie, PA.

Norfolk Southern train 64K rolls past the garden and pavilion at Macungie, PA.

With those three in the bag, and the scanner once again going silent, we packed up and headed back into the Garden State.

And that also wrapped up my second week in New Jersey.  Not too bad overall…

Thanks for reading!
Tom

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