Last Night in Maine!

My last night in Maine. Tomorrow, Sunday, I drive Mom and myself back home to Vermont in the bright hours............eeeek! I sacrificed the seafood dinner for a Subway Veggie-Delite salad with egg, in the interests of arriving in Livermore Falls, easily a two hour drive, before RUPO did. Once I arrived in Livermore Falls, I waited to hear some indication from the District One dispatcher of RUPO as the previous night I had heard them starting out of Rumford in the wee hours, most unusual. Instead, after an hour and a half, having heard nothing, I feared the worst, that the job was not in the area, and headed southeast to Winthrop, figuring I could double back in the event the job showed some sign of life and if not, I could still count of WAPO being around overnight. Thirty min. later I am in Winthrop, park and shut off the car to listen...........both to the scanner and for WAPO on the line that goes through town, after twenty min. of uncomfortable silence I get the idea to go to Monmouth. Maybe a twenty min. drive.
Arriving in town from the north rather than the south, I drift down the hill to the rte. 132 crossing and turn to swing in and park at my familiar spot. Bright red reflects back from my headlights! Another car is parked in my spot! A man is inside staring back at me! What the heck!? You gotta be kidding me I thought. I drove down past the freight house, turned around and come back up and park behind the red car. Having heard nothing on the scanner, I figured to set up anyways hoping to see WAPO. It’s my last night here for a while, I would like to shoot a train of course. I pop the hatchback, get out and change into hiking boots, then start to put together the lighting. The man jumps out to ask if he is “in the way”. I assure him he is not, and we converse about our various “missions” tonight. His name is Justin Berard, a railfan, he is waiting for WAPO as a friend of his, the engineer, is making his last run on this job before taking a yard switcher job in Waterville! Justin relates how he normally waits to see WAPO further east in Belgrade, but tonight, for some reason, he decided to go to Monmouth with his grandson accompanying him! 
We chat while I set up a couple lights. He asks about the lighting and what I am up to over here from Hinesburg, Vermont. Then Justin mentions how “they are already by Belgrade”. I walk a little quicker now, LOL! Knowing it will not be 02:30 tonight when they go by! Justin is surprised I seem to know where each flash unit needs to be placed, then I mention how I just did this setup last night! LOL! I invite Justin to pose in the photo waving to his friend for me. Please? He agrees to! His grandson is asleep in the car seat, so why not! I’m pumped up! This could be great! And to think I tried to bribe Bonnie & Richard Wingler to come over from Cadyville, NY and pose for me with the promise of a gift certificate to The York River Landing?! (Big smile) Justin shares the lead locomotive, it’s the 611, an SD45 carbody wearing the “Blue Dip” scheme. Perfect! I have not shot the Blue Dip here. Tonights the night! 
I finish setting up the lighting, (whew!) and I position Justin in the scene. After a couple test shots and repositioning of flash units, I’m happy. A headlamp goes on the ground behind Justins feet to remind him where he needs to stand and to prevent me from cutting off his feet while hand holding the tiny GR when the 611 comes past us. Just like it was rehearsed, an air horn blows for a crossing in town! WAPO is here! Like previous run-bys here, everything slows down. Minutes seem to pass as WAPO proceeds towards us. Justin practices his “wave” as I do a couple test shots. It is so quiet, the power sounds like it right up around the curve. Now the crossings signals activate, headlights illuminate the cut above the crossing then slowly swing into view, navigating the short tangent section of track then 611s loud air horn blows for the crossing leading WAPO over it! The live view monitor on the GR goes dark as the shutter closes down from the headlights! Justins is down in front of me waving away, I’m atop the stepladder watching my marks. This time I want to wait until the cab is closer to me. 
I’ve got Justins feet framed OK as 611s cab looms large coming off the crossing. I find my other mark as it goes out from 611s plow passing in front of it, pause, then press the shutter release. Blue reflects back before darkness returns! I give the engineer a wave as the cab slowly passes me then wait to carefully get down after the last car is past. There’s no waiting to see the photo though, it looks like SUCCESS on the back of the GR! I give Justin a thumbs up! Back down on the ground Justin agrees, he likes the photo too! We share emails before he takes off to follow his friend further southwest towards Portland. I am on cloud nine afterwards! This is a shot I wanted to get before the EMDs disappear with more GEs coming to Pan Am. 
I was reminded of the late Dr. Alan Irwin reflecting on tonights adventure. A constant source of encouragement and admiration for my railroad photography, Alan himself a highly skilled photographer, he was always reminding me how “Luck favors the prepared.” This was certainly the case tonight! Special thanks of course to Justin Berard! Shot in Monmouth, Maine on June 24, 2017 at 00:12. 1/800 at f2.8. Please enjoy! Comments are welcomed.

All The Best In 2017;
Gary Knapp

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