Old 05-30-2017, 04:31 AM   #1
bigbassloyd
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Default 611 Trips kicked butt

Trying to breathe a little life in here.

I shot 611 on Saturday and Monday (both trips each day), and had a great time doing it. I didn't attempt to chase it; just settled for one good photo per direction, per trip. I also tried to stay away from the big crowd (and bigger stupidity) places. There was a much stronger Anti-foamer alliance this year, as several locations were blocked off or restricted at different times (John Farm Road, Sparrow Road, Wabun, etc). Montgomery Tunnel was a disaster as always, and I'll die happy without a single 611 photo from that location.

For Saturday's AM trip I shot off the Blue Ridge Parkway between Ballsa... Bonsack and Webster and at Tower Road near Villamont. For the PM Trip I had a spot all to myself (and my buddy) below Shawsville and we finished up at the depot in Christiansburg.

Todays' (Monday) trip I had my two boys with me, so we went to Walton for the arrival and departure of the AM trip, then to Shawsville, and finished up in Salem. The PM trip we shot from Ryan Road in Shawsville (my favorite shot of the weekend), and due to a major accident on 11, gave up on the chase and went home.

I applaud the VMT for the trips, and hope they continue onward with their plans for next year.

Did anyone else get out and shoot these trips? What's your thoughts?

Loyd L.

(I'm not posting any of my photos. You all will be sick of 611 shortly as everyone attempts to upload varying degrees of quality photos...)
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Old 05-31-2017, 01:57 PM   #2
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As much as I dislike chasing, and the craziness that often accompanies that, I decided that this year, I needed to get down to VA. My only photos of 611 are from a yard shoot a couple of years back, and those really don't convey the power and grace of this locomotive in the environment for which she was designed. My plan had been to fly from Boston to Richmond last Thursday night, and then drive to Roanoke on Friday, spending the entire weekend riding with a friend and colleague who knows the area well. I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, mother nature and JetBlue had other plans. It was raining hard all up and down the east coast, and flight schedules were getting into the FUBAR region.

I knew things weren't going well when I got a text from Jet Blue before I even left work on Thursday, indicating that my 9:30 PM flight to Richmond would be leaving at 1:30 AM and getting in just before 3AM. That wouldn't get me much sleep in Richmond before setting off for Roanoke. Still, I elected to head for Logan and deal with it. When I arrived at the airport, I was greeted with more good news. My departure would now be at 2AM. I munched down my Subway sandwich and settled in for very long evening. At about 10PM, the friendly Gate Agent gave us all an update on the PA....we would now be leaving at 3:30 AM. I was hoping to get to use the hotel room I'd paid for to get a shower and a shave. At 11PM, the roof fell in. JetBlue was canceling my flight altogether. The Gate Agent didn't even know where the jet was, much less when it might arrive. She didn't have much to offer us either. Nothing but standby for most of the next day, and a confirmed reservation on the same flight the following evening. Not good. As it later turned out, JetBlue's schedule didn't get a lot better the next day. When I checked it Friday night, the 9:30 PM departure was again scheduled for 1AM. That was the 3rd night in a row. I think that flight is a perpetual loser.

While in line to get a refund from the airline, I called my hotel. They were nice enough to actually cancel the reservation free of charge. They didn't have to do that. I headed home in the rain and while on the bus, I made a mighty attempt to find other ways to get to Richmond. I looked at rail and air options. All had long travel times and the last-minute prices were ridiculous. I reluctantly decided to pull the plug on the entire trip.....perhaps a bit prematurely, but I was dog-tired. This is the first photo trip I have bagged in the last 10 years. I was pretty bummed all weekend, despite the fact that the Civil Air Patrol (my other expensive hobby) let me fly about 6 hours on Uncle Sugar's nickel.

I have been watching for the pics all weekend to see what I missed. It looks like there was some sun on at least Saturday and Monday and the run directions should have been mostly favored by the light. Still, I haven't seen many shots that were particularly well-lit....just a few here and there. A lot of the ones I see are down-the-throat shots, which don't really show off the pretty paint on the sides of this engine. I also see a lot of drone-shots, which certainly offer a different perspective, but many of them are shot at too high an angle for my tastes. If I had a drone, I'd be shooting on the tree-tops, at a fairly shallow down-angle. A little elevation can really add to the impact of an image. Too much altitude and/or down-angle, and the photo starts to take on the look of a "U2" surveillance photo....at least in my humble opinion.

Hopefully, I will get to see the 611 at even a moderate gallop before I die...... From what I hear, it just might not be in VA or NC.
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Old 05-31-2017, 05:24 PM   #3
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Sorry your luck went South, that had to be rough.

While I don't consider myself a hardcore steam fanatic, I do have a decent amount of experience around steam locomotives of various types and locations. Experiencing 611 pound up either of the 4 grades between Walton and Bedford is unmatched by anything I've been around previously.

I 'may' throw a couple pics in here that are more akin to what you're looking for Kevin. It was certainly a great weekend.

Loyd L.
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Old 06-01-2017, 01:33 AM   #4
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I kinda like this one and it sorta fits your desires. Coasting downhill on the Monday morning return to Roanoke at Shawsville. The daily climb up 4 separate grades is evident. Shined up and flawless isn't what a steam engine should look like. Dirty is beautiful.

Loyd L.
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Old 06-01-2017, 02:52 AM   #5
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Yes, very nice! I like that they ran with the baggage express (tool car) and one red coach behind the water car. In most locations, that configuration would nicely hide the odd conglomeration of first class dome/parlor cars on the train and let the viewer dream that he/she is looking at a real N&W consist.

And yes, when it comes to steam engines, dirty is usually the best. When Pete Lerro did his N&W 382 charter at Strasburg some years back, he and his crew spent the previous night wetting down the 475 with a hose, then spraying the engine with cinders using an air hose and a shovel. It worked marvelously. When we showed up for the trip the next day, the engine looked far filthier than anything at Strasburg normally looks. They wipe their entire train down every morning, so there's no excuse for the moms to complain about the filth.
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Old 06-02-2017, 04:47 PM   #6
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I also see a lot of drone-shots, which certainly offer a different perspective, but many of them are shot at too high an angle for my tastes. If I had a drone, I'd be shooting on the tree-tops, at a fairly shallow down-angle. A little elevation can really add to the impact of an image. Too much altitude and/or down-angle, and the photo starts to take on the look of a "U2" surveillance photo....at least in my humble opinion.
I agree. Most drone shots that I see immediately jump out and scream "drone shot". I think that they would be much more effective if they looked like they were taken from a non-existent adjacent hillside, and not from the overlook at Gore Canyon.

Sorry for the bad luck with the trip - I didn't make it out to see the J this year either.
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Old 06-02-2017, 06:39 PM   #7
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I agree. Most drone shots that I see immediately jump out and scream "drone shot". I think that they would be much more effective if they looked like they were taken from a non-existent adjacent hillside, and not from the overlook at Gore Canyon.
Amen, Doug. Just because a drone pilot can legally go to 399 ft. AGL (Above Ground Level) does not mean they should. How often do we scope out a potential shooting location and say: "Gee, I wish I could get up there" or "Man, if there were only a building there with a second floor window." Those are the ideal applications for these machines. The problem with excess altitude and/or down-angle is that the image no longer has a human perspective that most people can relate to. It becomes a bird or airplane perspective. And truthfully, at least with respect to trains, the bird perspective is not always more interesting.

I've been flying fixed-wing aircraft for 36 years. People often ask me why I don't shoot train pictures from airplanes and my response is pretty much always the same. Number one, I don't fly a helicopter. A drone is more like a helo than an airplane. Putting a fixed-wing airplane that is moving at perhaps 75 knots (slowest safe speed for gentle maneuvering) into just the right position for a shot, at the exact moment when the train is positioned perfectly is extremely difficult to do. The Blue Angels have an easier time getting two F-18s to cross the center of an airfield at the same time. Second, the perspective sucks. I'm looking at the top of the train as much or more than the side of it. Sure, for someone who doesn't fly, that unique perspective may initially be interesting because it is so different from what they are used to.....but that's a thrill that fades quickly for most. In my humble opinion, the percentage of train pictures that are improved by more than 100 ft. of elevation is pretty darn small.
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Old 06-20-2017, 01:31 AM   #8
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I had a real good time. I drove up after work Friday from Florida, family in tow...

I checked into my hotel at 5:30am, dropped off the family, headed to the yard area just as 611 was rolling up through the yard to the station.Took some shots then headed to the Blue Ridge parkway overlook.

I shot Saturday both trips, Sunday morning only and Monday both trips.

This was my first exposure to this type of railfanning for my fiance and step son. We went to the O. Winston Link museum on Tuesday morning on our way out of town, and the VMT Sunday afternoon.

I had a great time as normal, enjoyed everyone's company and am looking forward to next year's trips.

Weather played havoc at times with my shots, first time using the new 6D and I could have used some more practice, but I got some good shots...
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Old 06-20-2017, 03:36 PM   #9
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I had a real good time. I drove up after work Friday from Florida, family in tow...

I checked into my hotel at 5:30am, dropped off the family, headed to the yard area just as 611 was rolling up through the yard to the station.Took some shots then headed to the Blue Ridge parkway overlook.

I shot Saturday both trips, Sunday morning only and Monday both trips.

This was my first exposure to this type of railfanning for my fiance and step son. We went to the O. Winston Link museum on Tuesday morning on our way out of town, and the VMT Sunday afternoon.

I had a great time as normal, enjoyed everyone's company and am looking forward to next year's trips.

Weather played havoc at times with my shots, first time using the new 6D and I could have used some more practice, but I got some good shots...
Troy, I've been watching your postings and I would say you did well in your 611 chasing. Others may have a shot or two that stands out, but your collection as a whole was probably better lit than anyone's. I would have been very pleased with a take like that.

I hope there are trips next year......
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Old 06-20-2017, 06:33 PM   #10
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Troy, I've been watching your postings and I would say you did well in your 611 chasing. Others may have a shot or two that stands out, but your collection as a whole was probably better lit than anyone's. I would have been very pleased with a take like that.

I hope there are trips next year......
Thanks for the kind words. I overexposed the shit out of several shots that I think are too far gone and I really had to work with some of the others that I have submitted to date. But I am pretty happy with the way some turned out. I feel if we had the weather we had for the trips out of Spencer, I would have done better. But that's neither here nor there. The weather forecast the entire weekend was looking like rain the whole time and for the most part, it stayed away.

I'm not done either. The important part is I had a good time.
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Old 06-20-2017, 06:46 PM   #11
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I hope there are trips next year......
Yeah, i'm hoping too.

My life was just too hectic / busy in 2015, I missed all the excursions in 2015 and really wish I could have gone out that year. Got one trip in 2016 (the Roanoke trips) and 2 this year (Spencer trips and Roanoke trips), so I feel pretty good.

Looking forward to them keeping this up. I would love to see them do a Pokey trip, or one up the C-V line. They could do Bluefield to Iaeger or Williamson and return one day, then Bluefield to St. Paul and return the next, that would be awesome! Or for that matter, one going East out of Bluefield to Radford. They could do a morning/afternoon trip like that. Bluefield to Richlands, wye, return to Bluefield and then run Bluefield to Radford/Walton, wye and return.

I think 3 years in a row doing the trips out of Roanoke may be hurting them some on the sales of tickets, which fund this whole thing. Pretty sure no steam excursions have run out of Bluefield since the early 90's
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Old 06-20-2017, 07:01 PM   #12
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611 will get to have some fun next year, if things go to plan.

I'll probably do some traveling as well.

Loyd L.
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