Here’s Your Sign

I ran across a set of UP locomotives in Vancouver last Sunday.  The first thing which caught my eye was the little red signs hanging on the trucks.  With the signs being clean and the trucks coated with years of road grime the signs stood out.  It seems Union Pacific wants only tread conditioning brake shoes applied to this locomotive and they need a sign as a reminder.  I wonder what the little red sign will look like after a few years of time on the road?

Kolin Storage

Coal cars stored near Kolin, MT shimmer in the moonlight.

While Central Montana Railway’s bridges are unusable and under repair the CMR is storing cars where they can.  About half of the track from Moccasin to the former GN Judith River trestle is filled with coal cars of various ownership.  These long strings of cars stand out on the open prairie and are quite a contrast to the wheat fields that dominate this particular area.  Kristi from the CMR told me last month they have over 240 cars stored currently.  Nice bit of income for a shut down railroad.

At one of the grade crossings near Kolin I stopped when I noticed how the moon lit the sides of the stored hoppers.  I spent 10 minutes or so photographing this spot until the moon moved around to where it wasn’t shining on the car sides any more.

It Ends With A Caboose

The last bit of my Central Montan Railway excursion included a quick visit to Ware, the current end of the CMR.  It won’t be the end of the line too much longer because sometime before winter Carla anticipates having the Judith River trestle repaired.  That means the CMR’s connection to BNSF will be restored and traffic can once again flow over the entire line.  Good news for the CMR for certain.

12 MPHMoving in reverse from Danvers to Ware at 12 MPH.

Our excursion crossed one of the other impressive steel trestles at Indian Creek and we stopped for another photo session.  Afternoon clouds had rolled in so we had to wait a bit for the sun to come back out before the photo shoot was complete.  No matter we had more important subjects to discuss and a few other photos to take while we waited.  This group of riders was a pleasure to be around so hanging out together for a bit was no issue.

Old Ranch HouseAn abandoned ranch house sits on the hill above Indian Creek while our train rests on the trestle waiting for the sunlight to return.

One of my favorite images from the trip was pointed out to me by Paul Birkholz.  He yelled across the cab at me and said to come over and look at the silhouette of our train on the canyon floor.  Beautiful!  I took several images as the train rolled slowly over the trestle at 10mph.  What an amazing afternoon scene!

Train Over Indian CreekElevated over Indian Creek.

As the title of this post indicates, it ends with a caboose.  After an enjoyable dinner in Denton a group of us trudged back over to the CMR shops and photographed our caboose as the sun dropped behind the clouds.  Jay set some lights into the rear markers and proceeded to illuminate the grain elevator with his light.   After a couple of tries we all had the shots we wanted.

It Ends With A CaboosMy excursion on the CMR ended with this photo of the CMR 100 caboose.

I packed up my gear and made the 30 minute trek back to Stanford.  On the way I reflected on the day.  I was tired but fully satisfied with the photos I’d taken and the experience I’d had.  The railfans on this trip were fabulous and so enjoyable to be around which made the whole thing that much better.

It Takes People To Run A Train

General Manager, lobbyist, and engineer are just a few of the titles CMR’s Carla Allen holds.  On our spring excursion she did a little of each.

We as railfans tend to get caught up with railroad equipment, history, rivets, and other non-human aspects of railroading.  The honest truth is trains move because of the people behind them.  The excursion I rode on the Central Montana is no different.  Without Carla, Kristi, AJ, Alan, and many others we wouldn’t have turned a wheel.

Running around in a couple of 1950’s era GP9’s means problems can happen.  Sure enough when we stopped at Danvers to get the power around to the other end of the train both locomotives wouldn’t load.  With a single ended siding we needed both units move the train around.  Initially Carla and Kristi worked on the issue but soon AJ and Alan were involved.  After 30 minutes of trying different things AJ and Alan popped open a cabinet and started hunting around for the issue.  Soon they discovered a balky relay which stuck in the wrong position and prevented loading.  A quick tap of a flag stick put it back in the right spot and we were in business again.  Without the right people it would have been a long walk back to Denton!

Denton Nights

Our troubleshooters AJ (left) and Alan (right) work to determine which balky relay they need to give a nudge.

With only an engineer and conductor the switching moves at Danvers would have been a challenge.  Thankfully we had a couple of additional railroaders on the excursion and they pitched in to facilitate the work.  After a quick job briefing Alan and AJ teamed up with Kristi and Carla to move the power to the other end of the train.  Without their willingness to volunteer the run around move sure would have taken longer.

AJ

AJ Shewan make a joint between our caboose and a flat car.

As you can see people make it happen, even when it is a simple excursion train…

Lightroom Organization Tips

Matt Kloskowski wrote a post on common Lightroom organization mistakes the other day.  Before you read my comments, please go read what Matt wrote.

I totally agree with Matt’s points.  I hear criticisms of Lightroom which I believe are because new users try the things Matt mentions when starting to use Lightroom.  When they go down one of these paths they become frustrated because Lightroom didn’t work for them.  A great example is moving images outside of Lightroom.  Once you commit to using Lightroom to organize your images if you manually organize outside of Lightroom it is not going to be looking at the same information as before.  Of course it won’t work right!  My advice to new users is read up on how Lightroom works and study advice from folks like Matt.

Speeding Coal

 

In my Ligtroom Catalog this image lives in the Photos folder on my storage drive.  It has the following keywords which will help me find it
in the future: 2013 06/01 CMR Photo Freight, Cars, Signal.  It also lives in a collection called Blur which helps me identify motion blur images.

To Matt’s list I’d add some items which are to some extent corollaries to Matt’s comments but apply to the railfan community.

Organizing By Rail Artifact

Just like organizing by date, I don’t recommend organizing your images files into a folder system based on a rail artifact like subdivision name, station name, railroad, locomotive model, or locomotive manufacturer.  Once you go down the path of organizing this way you will tend to use the folder structure you created to search for things.   Doing that defeats the purpose of having a robust organizing tool like Lightroom.   Instead I recommend all the original images are placed into a single folder and Lightroom keywords are used to categorize by your favorite rail artifact data.  Inside of Lightroom you not only would have access to search the keywords you assigned, but you’d also have an indication of which images are your picks (flags, colors, stars), and the metadata associated to the image.

If you organize images by a rail artifact today transitioning inside of Lightroom to keywords is pretty straightforward and quick.  I would import the photos using the folder structure you have today.  If  you organized by station name, click on the station name folder under Folders on the left side, do Ctrl/Cmd-A to select all the images, then add a keyword for the station name on the right side under Keywording.  Lastly move all of the images to the new folder structure.  Done!

In my catalog I keyword every image with an event (why I was shooting) and keywords which tell me more about what
is in an image.  Railroad images which include a locomotive are key worded with a locomotive number.

Renaming Files

I’ve heard many railfans rename their files to include information about the photo.  For example “4449_AMTK51_trip_to _bend_taken_at_moody_oregon.jpg”.  File names are not the best way to convey meta data like this.  There are too few characters and if you forget your naming standard suddenly there is no consistency so finding something becomes even more difficult.  Instead I recommend keeping the file name as simple as possible.  For the longest time I continued to use the file name assigned by the camera.   As Lightroom detected duplicates it appended a -# (e.g. IMG-0001-5.cr2).  That was fine but I wanted it a bit cleaner so I added the d

ate and time of capture to the file name to keep each file name unique.  There are many different schemes for this so I’m not saying mine is the best way.  My though is pick a naming convention that keeps the file names relatively unique and doesn’t include caption or keyword information.

Screenshot_7_2_13_6_57_PM-3

All of my images have a modified filename which includes the date and original file name.

Those are my thoughts on organizing in Lightroom.  If any of you railfans would like my thoughts on your personal situation or catalog, drop me an email.  I’d love to get you started in the right direction.