Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Steaming Diesels

Last Saturday the wonderful new steam locomotive LNER A1 Class 4-6-2 no 60163 Tornado came thundering through Huntingdon. Being forewarned of this wondrous event I dragged myself down to the railway station armed with my new Fujifilm camera. Guess what?? - it was early and I could only stand in frustrated sorrow as it charged through the station before I could get onto the platform, let alone take a photograph. Even so, undaunted, I decided to return in the evening to catch it coming in the opposite direction. Entering the station I joined all the anoraks armed with their video cameras, mobile phones, walkie talkies etc etc....... Now, as I have previously stated, I am not an anorak, honest, and I had no mobile phone, walkie talkie, beard, thick pullover, notebook, or any other such anorak paraphernalia about my person, - just a few details hastily written on a scrap of paper.

The train came through a bit late.

On ISO 3200 the resulting photo was crap. Dohhh!!!!

Oh well, back to the drawing board.

I did learn one thing from this experience, and that is my Canon EOS 350D is the best camera I have for doing action shots of steam engines charging along railway lines. The Fujifilm S100 is a wonderful camera, but because of the digital viewfinder and the small delay in the shutter firing after pressing the button does rather throw one in one's action photography exploits!

Sooo...... this Saturday the “Cathedrals Express” BR Britannia Class 7MT 4-6-2 no 70013 Oliver Cromwell steam train was due on its way “oop north”, and I was determined to get the best action shot in the world.....ha ha!!! By the way, I am not an anorak, please understand.

Armed with my trusty EOS, I trudged with a friend for about a mile through Offord Cluny to a really good spot where pedestrians can legally walk across the railway line. I decided, however, it would be safer to photograph the mighty steaming snorter hurtling towards me from the edge of the track rather than standing in the middle of the line, taking the shot, and jumping out of the way at the last moment.

We assumed our positions and waited. And waited. Now, I have got to say there were a fair number of fellow anoraks...er...not “fellow”, sorry, yes, I must remember I am most definitely NOT an anorak.............wondering around with their tripods, video cameras, stills cameras with long extensions, beards, long sideburns, pullovers etc etc assuming various positions from various viewing points. There were also horses around. To relieve the boredom, I struck up a conversation with one, though he was obviously fed up as he had a long face!

I returned to my viewing point. I had the perfect spot. The weather was perfect. The test shots of passing electrics were perfect. Nothing could go wrong.

Wrong – it went!!

Presently, a train spotter came up to us and informed us that the steam loco had broken down (dohhh) and so the carriages were now being hauled by a diesel engine instead. Soddit!

For a while, I mused that maybe he was spreading a rumour so that when I left and vacated the perfect viewing spot he would suddenly emerge from a cunning hiding place and assume MY position!!! This would not stand, I decided, and resolved to remain undaunted until said train eventually steamed by.

Finally, it appeared. He wasn't fibbing. An old (though not very) diesel pulling loads of old carraiges came trundling up the line and past us. I held steady, held my nerve, stood my ground, and didn't fire until I saw the whites of the driver's eyes.

I hope you like my shot the Type 57 Diesel Loco, which, as everyone knows, is a re-build using the outer shells of the earlier type 47s which were introduced in the 1960s. The type 57s, of course, ran from 1997 to 2004 when they were withdrawn, though, of course, everyone knows that as well – of course!

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