Old 08-03-2008, 10:30 PM   #1
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Default Has anyone ever done 24 hours?

After watching some old home movies that my dad took back in the 90's its gotten me thinking about how much time we actually spent just sitting and waiting for something to show. In a recent panic to shoot as much as possible I've been toying with the idea of using my days off from school to do 24 hours out at either one spot that can yield many different angles or a small section of a mainline. I was just wondering if anyone has done this and if so if they would share some details about the experience (i.e. sleep, boredom, traffic levels, etc.)
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Old 08-03-2008, 10:38 PM   #2
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In a recent panic to shoot as much as possible
Why the panic? And so bad it's forcing you to do 24hrs. of 'fanning?!? You dying or something?
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Old 08-03-2008, 10:44 PM   #3
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Funny you mention that Andrew...the same idea was just running through my head the other day. Tomorrow I'm taking the Saluki back north to spend a quality week and a half on the Overland Route (home) before heading back down for the start of fall semester and another year at the newspaper. I know some people who live on the property just adjacent to the former North Western tower in "downtown" Nelson, IL, and I've always wanted to do a 24 stint out there, just because the area screams C&NW to me. What better time to do it?
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Old 08-03-2008, 11:25 PM   #4
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Why the panic? And so bad it's forcing you to do 24hrs. of 'fanning?!? You dying or something?
Thanks for the concern but no, just nervous about the 'real world' and not having the time off I do now when I graduate in a year. (Time is flying by. )
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Old 08-04-2008, 02:43 AM   #5
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Most I've ever done is 4 in the morning til just past midnight. Only 20 hours, and I went home for a nap during high sun hours, but it was still pretty sweet
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Old 08-04-2008, 06:26 AM   #6
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AB(2) entering the real world is good news for anyone who likes getting PCA's

I've done 8-10 hours at one location, but I've never made (or attempted) 24 hours.

Saginaw Texas (Just north of Fort Worth) has an event called "24 Hours at Saginaw" every Memorial Day Weekend - I never had a chance to make it to one myself, but I know they do slideshows, presentations, etc. at the depot there, temporarily breaking whenever a train approaches.

If I was going to throw 24 hours at railfanning I'd do it over a weekend - two 12 hour shifts with a good amount of sleep would yield much better results and probably be safer than 24 hours in a row.
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Old 08-04-2008, 05:28 PM   #7
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Andrew, doing the 24-hour thing is my usual MO when I go out railfanning, and I've been doing them for quite a while. As the weather cools out here, it won't be uncommon for me to do them 2-3 times per month. It's not for everyone and it can take a lot of will-power but the results can be a lot of fun...or a lot of heartbreak if you fan along the LA&SL! "I just stayed up 24 hours for 8 trains!?!?!? I knew I should have done the BNSF!" I'd recommend that you try it. I think it's not only something you'd enjoy but would end up with you taking some new kinds of photos that you might not ordinarily take (since you'd be in bed). Some thoughts and recommendations:
  • Find a Comfortable Place.

    Pulling a 24-hour railfan session can take a horrible toll on your body. Sometimes it can be down right misery. If you plan to sleep in your vehicle, make sure it's comfortable. Otherwise bring a nice lawn chair or something that's comfortable to sit in or sleep in, because you'll probably regret it if you don't. I pretty much despise railfan parks, but they're not half bad for longer stays as they usually have a few creature comforts.
  • The best way to beat boredom is a lot of trains...but lots of trains are the enemy of sleep.

    While it's awesome to have a ton of trains to keep you busy, sleep is pretty important to the quality of your day. I like doing 24-hours on the LA&SL as it's a good way to guarantee a train count of 12 trains or so. I do pretty well sleep-wise here, but I also have hit the BNSF and other busy hotspots, and generally I don't feel too hot during my time there. My perfect situation would be 18-24 trains per day. Enough trains to keep you busy getting shots, few enough that you can slip some decent naps in the lulls. Take a friend along and you can stagger your naps and not miss anything.
  • Find a place that offers interesting shots both at day and night.

    This is easier for you than me, since the best I could manage at my night spots is some light streaks. I usually use the dark of night as a time to forget about photography and enjoy the sights and sounds of trains at night. However, some day I would like to find a place where I could get different angles of each train, even at night.
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Old 08-04-2008, 05:35 PM   #8
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Thanks for the concern but no, just nervous about the 'real world' and not having the time off I do now when I graduate in a year.
Good, glad to hear you'll be okay!

But, if you're worried about time off, then:

1) Never get married
2) Never have kids

Seriously though, when something is your passion, you will find the time to pursue it. I'll think you'll be surprised at how much time you'll have...no need to panic!
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Old 08-04-2008, 07:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ween
1) Never get married
It's not that bad as far as your railfanning is concerned. If you've got an understanding wife she might even take a small amount of interest in it... Emily (my other half) doesn't exactly enjoy the train watching, but she enjoys hanging out trackside once in a while if I find a nice scenic spot that's relatively hooligan free. She's picked up the differences between the BNSF schemes and can spot an SD40-2 (and is disappointed if it isn't a snoot), SD60M, SD70M, and has a pretty good grip on different types of rolling stock. She's cute too!

Not sure about the kids yet... my goal is to get one that can enjoy it at least half as much as I do.
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Old 08-09-2008, 11:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
Thanks for the concern but no, just nervous about the 'real world' and not having the time off I do now when I graduate in a year. (Time is flying by. )
Well, there is another option. Change majors. Keep going to school. I knew someone who changed majors so often he wnt to schoolfor ten straight years to get his four year degree. Had an awesome GPA to!


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Old 08-11-2008, 01:07 AM   #11
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Gotta assume photography is not an objective if you try for a 24 hour binge. The problem nowadays is hanging out trackside at night gets you alot of problems with being hassled by: cops, thugs, railroad cops, nervous residents
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Old 08-11-2008, 06:52 PM   #12
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Twenty-four hour sessions are generally reserved for railfan operators, the popular term for those of us who keep detailed block sheets or movement logs. Our group of said individuals does such sessions regularly, with several at certain locations such as the Water Level Route, Western Penn Division, and Fostoria among others being annual rituals.

A 24 hour photography session would be a serious challenge, based on the written and unwritten commonly accepted rules of "operating day sessions", which among other things state, that every train must be successfully recorded in whatever format of writing/recording you may prefer.

Miss one, miss part of any information, leave anything incomplete, get any info incorrect, or blow the shot...it doesn't count and your 24 session is over/incomplete/invalid.

Hey...it's not supposed to be easy. That's the fun...
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Old 08-11-2008, 10:45 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by NSditch
Twenty-four hour sessions are generally reserved for railfan operators, the popular term for those of us who keep detailed block sheets or movement logs. Our group of said individuals does such sessions regularly, with several at certain locations such as the Water Level Route, Western Penn Division, and Fostoria among others being annual rituals.

A 24 hour photography session would be a serious challenge, based on the written and unwritten commonly accepted rules of "operating day sessions", which among other things state, that every train must be successfully recorded in whatever format of writing/recording you may prefer.

Miss one, miss part of any information, leave anything incomplete, get any info incorrect, or blow the shot...it doesn't count and your 24 session is over/incomplete/invalid.

Hey...it's not supposed to be easy. That's the fun...
Dont get me wrong, I used to do quite a bit of night railfanning, but it just seems that in this day and age, it is hard to find a place that you:
A: get more than 2 trains in a 3 hour period
+
B: dont get harrassed by cops
C: dont get harrassed by thugs / criminals / shady people
D: is safe
E: is conductive to railfanning (this is of course subjective, I am referring to the presence of toilets and "support" within a 10-15 mile radius)

I just find that anymore, I dont feel comfortable doing things I wouldnt think twice about 10+ years ago, plus since 9/11, cops (especially RR cops) have a chip on their shoulder and dont even need an excuse to ruin your life with some petty tresspassing arrest
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Old 08-12-2008, 02:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troy12n
Dont get me wrong, I used to do quite a bit of night railfanning, but it just seems that in this day and age, it is hard to find a place that you:
A: get more than 2 trains in a 3 hour period
+
B: dont get harrassed by cops
C: dont get harrassed by thugs / criminals / shady people
D: is safe
E: is conductive to railfanning (this is of course subjective, I am referring to the presence of toilets and "support" within a 10-15 mile radius)

I just find that anymore, I dont feel comfortable doing things I wouldnt think twice about 10+ years ago, plus since 9/11, cops (especially RR cops) have a chip on their shoulder and dont even need an excuse to ruin your life with some petty tresspassing arrest
I definitely agree but over the course I have compiled a list of locations that meet most if not all the criteria above. This of course includes my beloved Horningford, PA on the NS Pittsburgh Line. This will probably be the first place I try a 24-stint sometime in the near future.
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Old 08-12-2008, 03:01 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Joe the Photog
Well, there is another option. Change majors. Keep going to school. I knew someone who changed majors so often he wnt to schoolfor ten straight years to get his four year degree. Had an awesome GPA to!


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Hahahaha! I don't want to bash my school but the work is ridiculously easy so I'm hoping their goal of getting a Masters program running by 2010 is reached. I may also go for a few more degrees in various subjects including photography on my own so who knows what the future holds.
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Old 08-12-2008, 03:57 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troy12n
Dont get me wrong, I used to do quite a bit of night railfanning, but it just seems that in this day and age, it is hard to find a place that you:
A: get more than 2 trains in a 3 hour period
+
B: dont get harrassed by cops
C: dont get harrassed by thugs / criminals / shady people
D: is safe
E: is conductive to railfanning (this is of course subjective, I am referring to the presence of toilets and "support" within a 10-15 mile radius)

I just find that anymore, I dont feel comfortable doing things I wouldnt think twice about 10+ years ago, plus since 9/11, cops (especially RR cops) have a chip on their shoulder and dont even need an excuse to ruin your life with some petty tresspassing arrest
This is simple paranoia. Nothing more. The kind of hype the government and DOHS would like everyone to take to heart.

The reality is that as an operator, and a member of a close group of them, we do an average of 6-8 twenty-four hour sessions per year. A regular casual outing can last from 4 to 18 hours depending on what's going on. Rarely if ever, are any of us bothered.

However, the police and other forms of law enforcement have a job to do. And I praise them for doing it so selflessly, putting themselves in danger everyday so we aren't. And when any of our group is approached, we are polite, courteous, law abiding, and cooperative. As a result, all that usually happens with the average law agent, is a few shocked questions about the fact that anyone is into doing such a thing. No ejection, no summonses, nada.

The reality is that most of the railfans out there who have "horror stories", suffered of their own attitude, arrogance, and consequences.

Last edited by NSditch; 08-12-2008 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 08-12-2008, 07:18 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by NSditch
This is simple paranoia. Nothing more. The kind of hype the government and DOHS would like everyone to take to heart...The reality is that most of the railfans out there who have "horror stories", suffered of their own attitude, arrogance, and consequences.
get out of Cassandra once in a while, and you will see what its like, i'm not making this stuff up. also in groups, you are likely less apt to be screwed with by thugs, cops, etc.
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Old 08-13-2008, 12:42 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troy12n
get out of Cassandra once in a while, and you will see what its like, i'm not making this stuff up. also in groups, you are likely less apt to be screwed with by thugs, cops, etc.
I get out of Cassandra plenty. Most of my life was spent around New York and Chicago. And again, I found most of the horror stories were self-inflicted.
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Old 08-13-2008, 01:02 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NSditch
I get out of Cassandra plenty. Most of my life was spent around New York and Chicago. And again, I found most of the horror stories were self-inflicted.
Most of your life? Just curious...how old are you?
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Old 08-13-2008, 12:34 PM   #20
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I get out of Cassandra plenty. Most of my life was spent around New York and Chicago. And again, I found most of the horror stories were self-inflicted.
boy, you must be some bad ass dude, balls of steel, 'fraid of nuthin

super railfan you are

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
Most of your life? Just curious...how old are you?
I was thinking something along those lines. Thats quite a lifestyle change, Chicago to New York, to CASSANDRA, PA...

EDIT: According to his profile, he was born in CASSANDRA, PA in 1985. So he is what, 23. Gotta love someone barely able to drink lecturing me on the woes of the world

Birthday:
January 16, 1985
Biography:
I was born, and now I live.
Location:
Cassandra, Penna.
Interests:
Trains
Occupation:
Got one.

Last edited by troy12n; 08-13-2008 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 08-13-2008, 03:20 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troy12n
boy, you must be some bad ass dude, balls of steel, 'fraid of nuthin

super railfan you are



I was thinking something along those lines. Thats quite a lifestyle change, Chicago to New York, to CASSANDRA, PA...

EDIT: According to his profile, he was born in CASSANDRA, PA in 1985. So he is what, 23. Gotta love someone barely able to drink lecturing me on the woes of the world

Birthday:
January 16, 1985
Biography:
I was born, and now I live.
Location:
Cassandra, Penna.
Interests:
Trains
Occupation:
Got one.
Gotta love assumptions just as much. Born in Chicago actually, Cambria County is my adopted home, and that eight should be a seven. I'll get right on that typographical error.

Now, again, it is not a matter of "'fraid of nuttin". Most railfans inflict the pain of security on themselves. If you have a holier than thou attitude, immediately jump on the constitutional soapbox, or come off annoyed that you're being approached of course you are going to get ejected from wherever you are. And chances are, the law enforcement agent did it just to spite you for giving him/her a hard time.

Will there be cases where no matter how well behaved and cooperative you are you will be asked to leave? Of course! However, you need to keep in mind that even in a small town, officers generally have a mile long list of "special attentions" created due to events or intelligence you and I may not be aware of.

My point is they have a job to do. And 9 out of 10 times, if you're not a jerk or a self proclaimed God, you will not have a problem once they're convinced your not a threat or issue of concern. It's all in how you act. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Last edited by NSditch; 08-13-2008 at 03:28 PM.
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Old 08-13-2008, 04:38 PM   #22
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You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
I never understood/liked this saying. You could just as easily say, "You catch more flies with dog poop than with vinegar." So then the moral would be to act like dog s**t to people who bother you...
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Old 08-13-2008, 04:49 PM   #23
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Yeah, only time I've ever had any trouble is when railfanning around chemical companies. Which, can be difficult in some areas, due to living along the "chemical belt" outside of Chicago.
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Old 08-13-2008, 05:09 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NSditch
My point is they have a job to do. And 9 out of 10 times, if you're not a jerk or a self proclaimed God, you will not have a problem once they're convinced your not a threat or issue of concern. It's all in how you act. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
You could be a nun with orphans on a train platform, every one of them holding cameras, but if "Da Rules" handed down by management say No Photos, whether you smile, give them a hug, or slip them 20 bucks, they still won't let you take photos. They're just trying to follow the rules to keep their jobs, and you should be more than aware of walking the straight and narrow from what I'm getting by your reclusiveness.
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Old 08-13-2008, 05:34 PM   #25
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This debate is silly. Both types of situations occur with regularity, where a railfan goes to excess and the police/security are reasonable, and where the police/security step out of line.

Not to mention management - remember all the problems with NJDot and shooting from public locations?

So, as railfans, we need to chill and be cooperative sometimes, and at other times we need to assert our constitutional rights, else they be lost. It's a complex world.
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