An eastbound empty grain train rolls through downtown The Dalles, OR.  E 1st street parallels Union Pacific’s track #2 through about 1/2 mile of this part of town and makes for a great place to sit and enjoy the action.

Last weekend I attended the annual GorgeRail railroad slideshow in The Dalles, OR.  I took Friday off with plans of railfanning a bit prior to the show on Saturday.  BNSF and UP had other ideas with both railroads shutting down by 9:30am for maintenance.  BNSF worked projects at Cooks and Bates while UP just seemed to run out of trains.  By mid-afternoon trains began to move again which would set me up for the photos I planned around dark (more on that in a later post).

I found myself in downtown The Dalles as the sun began to sink.  I stationed myself on E 1st. street waiting for a westbound M-HKFI to finish their work at The Dalles yard.  While I waited an eastbound grain train approached and I captured this image as it overtook me on the city street.   What a fun place to sit and watch the trains roll by!  I ended up seeing 4 in a matter of a couple of hours at this location.

Saturday’s shows were engaging, entertaining, and very enjoyable.  I particularly enjoyed David Lange’s Up Close and Personal show which featured his unique perspective on railroad photography.   His show focused on images from his viewpoint and I will say he doesn’t shoot wedgies!  I found each of the shows contained a photographic gem. I saw several in the Rob and Austin Jacox show and a couple in Steve Carter’s review of the Spokane area.  Steve’s show particularly struck me for how he added drama to a couple of images by making the appear to move by revealing more and more of the lit area of the photograph.  Very engaging presentation.  Aaron Hockley’s presentation on train porn was a wonderful after lunch reflection on railfan photography garnering many laughs for the parallels to adult themes.  Scott O’Dell presented some very unique perspectives from the Seattle Sub including many photo locations I’d never been too before.  Martin Burwash and Charles Lange provided shows which gave a wonderful historical perspective to their subjects.  I believe the highlight though was Stathi Pappas’ talk on the world of tourist railroads.  After listening to him you really have to respect the successful tourist railroads which continue to operate.  It is a tough business and I think Stathi has a great insight on where the industry is at and what a railroad has to do to be in the game long term.

Look for more images and updates from the GorgeRail weekend in future dogcaught posts.

GorgeRail This Weekend

A westbound Z-CHCPTL2 races through downtown North Bonneville, WA during GorgeRail a few years ago.

Don’t forget this weekend is the annual GorgeRail slideshow at the Discovery Center in The Dalles.  This year’s line up looks fabulous and includes dogcaught.com founder Aaron Hockley presenting an amusing look at railfan photography.  I plan to be there enjoying the shows and hanging out with friends.  I hope to see many of the dogcaught.com readers there!

GorgeRail 2012 – My Thoughts

Last Saturday I attended the annual GorgeRail railfan slideshow in The Dalles, Or.  This year like all prior years I enjoyed socializing with my railfan friends and viewing some very interesting photo presentations.  In fact I think the socialization and connections with other fans makes this show special.  With attendance less than a hundred, it is easy to chat with folks and build those relationships.


In my opinion GorgeRail is one of the most technologically sophisticated shows in the railfan community.   This year the tech team rented a very powerful projector which displayed images very brightly and very clearly.  It surpassed anything I’ve seen at Winterail or the Autumn Leaf slideshows.  Additionally, the tech team calibrates the projector so color rendition is spot on with EVERY image presented.   Audio quality is top notch thanks to the Discovery Center’s wonderful audio system (and a fix by the GR tech team).  I must say here that having a professional A/V engineer, a digital imaging expert, and a strong technical geek on the technical team makes all of these pieces work together smoothly and professionally.  These guys make the presenter’s show work smoothly and look great.  I know that plans for next year’s show will have the presentations looking even better!

The presentations ended up about a 50/50 mix of story shows (those with a story that is supported by the images) and photo stream shows (those that are simply a stream of photos set to music).  Also the shows were about a 50/50 mix of modern day images and historical images.  I’d say the programs were most heavily weighted towards the SP but since most everyone loves the SP, there were few complaints.  This year there were no Gorge related programs at all.

From the feedback I heard everyone enjoyed the presentations.   I did too.  I saw all sorts of wonderful photos spread throughout the day.

I do struggle with programs which aren’t well thought out, scattered, and don’t follow the theme or story they start with.  A few of the GorgeRail shows went down one or more of those paths.  Were they huge problems?  Not really since the staff placed these shows at a good location in the line up to reduce their impact.  Was there anything wrong with the photos in these sorts of show?  Not really, the only issue (in my mind) was there were way too many photos in them.   Was I satisfied?   I was.  I have a passion for trains and I really enjoy seeing the variety which is presented at GorgeRail even I my taste in presentations is different from that of the presenter.

Saturday evening and Sunday are traditionally railfanning days and this year was no different.  Late Saturday the weather began to change in advance of an approaching storm so the sun was obscured near sunset.  Sunday ended up being cloudy all day.  No problem though because it was good to hang out trackside with friends.

Blowing Out

There’s no need to shoot the usual photograph all the time.  Watching this train roll by me I was motivated by all the motion and speed to slow the shutter down and catch the DP exiting the tunnel differently.  Makes a brute of a coal train look like a streamliner doesn’t it?

Distributed Power Units on the rear of C SXMRBE0 76B blow out of tunnel 5 between Bingen and Cooks, Wa.  Despite their size and weight coal trains don’t loaf through the gorge.

Jackson’s Tunnel

Not all the weather over the GorgeRail weekend was dark and rainy.  Friday was sunny most of the day though the sun suffered from an overcast which started to roll in late in the afternoon.  The early part of the day was beautiful though.  In fact it was warmer than I’ve felt all year with the 81.7 detector reporting over 80 degrees once!  After a cool wet winter and spring that felt wonderful.

Sunday was sunny as long as you were far enough east but it wasn’t very warm.  With a jacket on it was comfortable out of the wind.  In the wind or shade it was kind a cool.  Hopefully more summer like weather will be here soon!

In this photo the lead unit on the M PASTAC is about to dive into the first of 4 tunnels west of Lyle, Wa.  These tunnels are carved out of the basalt rock that forms much of the hills lining the Columbia River Gorge.