When I got back from my trip to Australia in 2008, my interest in rail photography had been renewed like an desert oasis after a rare thunderstorm.  My dad and I had an amazing time together doing all the railfanning stuff we used to do, including road trips and, something I hadn’t done without him before, time exposures.

So needless to say, when I got back to Lethbridge, I thought that I had to try it out.  The Canon, a tripod and a sense of curiosity was taken down to Kipp Yard at around 10pm one cloud night in September to make the attempt.  After making my way to the Yardmasters Office to gain clearance (“don’t do anything stupid, don’t climb on the locos and don’t go into the four foot”), I walked down to the loco facilities to see what could be found.  I learned from my trip to Australia that lens flare is hard to avoid if you are shooting in an area with bright lights in the viewfinder.

Yeah, good luck with THAT!!!

North American loco facilities are well lit, and they SHOULD be.  I mean, the crews have all sorts of hazards to avoid in daylight alone, from the various things like protruding points on locos, cars and the fueling/sanding points, to the things like spare coupler knuckles, air hoses and gravel that are, or could be, left on the ground.  Add darkness into the mix, and makes it difficult.  Not only do crews on the ground have to avoid this, but crews in locos have to be able to see all of this, plus see any errant individual wandering around the area.  In this case, illumination IS a good thing.

In this case, it makes railfanning difficult.

I was on the scene for around 30 minutes or so, as I wanted to try a few new things, but I also knew that this was a place of work, and I wanted to try and get what I wanted and get out quickly as to avoid putting any undue stress or pressure on any of the CP Rail staff in the area.  Getting some shots without too much external light sources in the photo proved to be a challenge, and one that I failed at miserably, but there were a few photos I was happy with.  Now to go home and process the shots.

The next morning I learned about a feature on my camera that I didn’t know about.  In the “white balance” mode, there is a setting called “Tungsten”, which adjusts to suit for night photography so that everything in the photo doesn’t have an orange cast to it due to the lighting.  I had taken all the photos the previous night without that.  Oops.

Now, if I had taken the photos as “RAW” images, as opposed to jpeg’s, I could easily have changed the photos to the correct setting using a program like “Adobe Camera Raw” or “Canon Raw Image Task”, but alas, I would have to try and fix things manually.  A lesson learned for a future day.

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