Passenger Special Past Ely

Firstly, thank you to Bill Lipfert for the hot tip about this photo opportunity. We are looking southward at Ely, (the “Y” is pronounced as the Y in really, per the Vermont State Trooper who “interviewed” me later in the night further south, I thought we could take his word for it....... ) Vermont as Vermont Rail Systems (VRS) “Polar Express” train set behind GP 40-2 308 slows to a stop. LDK Engineering Services out of White River Jct. has chartered the train set for the company Christmas Party this year, to make a round trip between White River Jct. and Ely! Bill, who is on my mailing list, asked me if LDK could hire me to take a photo of the train for the company to make a print from to display on a wall? I said SURE! I will require only gas money as the chance to shoot a northbound here is very rare, and if LDK Engineering wants to charter the train, I will be more than happy to take a photo for ‘em!
Tracks were first laid here in 1848 when Boston & Maine (B&M) predecessor Connecticut & Passumpsic Rivers Railroad arrived. The classic B&M station with family living quarters on the second floor was built around 1900, I have included a photo showcasing the building. It is lived in at present. For many decades the B&M and Canadian Pacific (CP) operated this line jointly. Providing the B&M with access to Montreal and Quebec and CP access to New England and the East Coast. Legendary railroad photographer Phillip Hastings grew up and took his first photos ten miles north of Ely at Bradford. Today it is The Connecticut River Division of VRS’ Washington County Railroad (WACR), a (daytime) photographers delight running past farms and through villages while keeping close by the west bank of the Connecticut and Passumpsic Rivers with a short wayfreight in each direction weekdays. While it is not uncommon to shoot southbounds at Ely after dark this time of year, it IS rare for me to have a northbound to shoot as the crews terminal is only some twenty five miles away to the south in White River Jct.
I arrived after the two hr. drive from Hinesburg but not before checking out a location at nearby N. Thetford which had a (gasp!) lit christmas tree trackside! Finally I thought..........I’ve discovered the elusive VRS christmas tree! But it would have been a tight shot with the train and I moved on to Ely. Pulling in, I jump out into silence, the occasional car on rte. 5 the only disturbance, and take a look, the view I wanted was too close for the GRs normal 28mm view............I returned to the car for the snap-on 21mm wide angle lens and that looks gorgeous! Lets light this up I think. So I park and get to work setting up the lighting. I’m about half way done when I hear an air horn..........to the south, I stop and weakly contemplate...........is that MY train? LOL! Of course Gary! Well I think, it IS silent so they are a good ways away and...........I don’t have to worry about over lighting the scene, I won’t have time to! LOL!
The lighting set up flows smoothly and I have eight of ten flash units set up when I take the shot of the station with 308s headlights in the distance. I have a street with grade crossing at my back, so the crossing signals guide me where I place the stepladder. These “one and done” setups work the best much of the time at night, too much thinking can get me in trouble. For example here, I spot a flash just beyond a telephone pole to my right, aware it will throw a shadow onto the scene and make sure to eyeball where the nose of the 308 is planned for so the flash will cover part of it. Back atop the stepladder the test shots show the shadow from the telephone pole forming a frame with the white semaphore mast for the 308! If I TRIED to do that, I would be going back and forth, back and forth.
Here they come slowly drifting up to the station, I’ve fired off the lighting for the crews awareness although they know I will be here, and 308 almost comes to a stop short of my mark, then the engineer notches the GP 40-2 out a bit and it pulls ahead. Oh my gosh what a sight! My mark blinks out, the lighting reflects back the red & white from 308 and the yellow of the station! Success appears on the rear monitor of the GR! One shot makes the night again! Yes, get paid to do this? No way! It is too much fun! I’m happy getting my gas paid for. Shot at Ely, Vermont on December 7, 2017 at 19:08, 1/500 @f3.2. Special thanks to Bill Lipfert and LDK Engineering! Please enjoy! Comments are welcomed.

All The Best In 2017;
Gary Knapp

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