April 22nd, 2009

Wig Wag

Train Time

This morning shortly after 9 AM, the Union Pacific 844 Steam Train Twitter feed announced that the train was moving out on its trip south toward Fremont, where it would turn east through Centerville station and head out into Niles Canyon toward Stockton. I took my camera and Cheryl's unipod and walked over to the station. As I got there, I knew I was in the right place, as the station was festooned with many other people turning out for a look at the steamer. I picked out a spot along the platform where I thought I could get a decent shot of the train coming and going and that wouldn't be blocking the view of any of the other people set up to shoot. There's some etiquette to forming photo lines. One person complained at the people milling around in front of him, and I called out to ask if I was blocking his shot. He told me I was okay; it was the other people between him and me that were the problem.

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As the train's headlight became visible in the distance, I zoomed in and started recording. There are a bunch of grade crossings before Centerville station, so the locomotive made a good show and lots of noise. As the train neared, I zoomed back out and watched the train come at us. This video doesn't do nearly enough justice to the wall of sound and vibration that is 844 traveling at track speed -- 50 mph on this stretch of track -- less than ten feet in front of me standing on the platform.

As you can see, as the train continued around the bend on its way toward Stockton, someone stepped right in front of my shot and I had to pick up the camera and step to my right to catch the last few cars of the train disappearing in the distance. That's a minor annoyance, though, and not worth getting too excited about.

My hour of waiting had culminated in under three minutes of sound and fury, and I was delighted to have experienced it. However, I now needed to hustle back home and get into work, where I had a meeting at Noon that I only just barely met. I can't upload videos to YouTube from work, so processing had to wait until I got home this evening.

I'm not thrilled with the quality of this video on YouTube. I shot it at the highest setting my camera will take, but the movie I created is at a lower resolution. I may try creating a higher resolution movie from the source video and see if YouTube can manage it.
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