Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Florida East Coast - Day And Night

This is part three of a mini-series on Florida from a trip in February 2013. In the first part we visited the Orange Blossom Cannonball steam operation and in the second we visited the last sugar cane railroad in the U.S. and the South Central Florida Express.

Florida East Coast; New Smyrna Beach, Va.; February 8, 2013
There is no railroad quite like the Florida East Coast. As its name implies, it follows the Atlantic coastline from Jacksonville to Miami. The railroad is a challenging one to photograph, as it is largely a nighttime railroad. Trains leave both ends of the line just after dark and arrive at the other end right around dawn. There are a couple of predictable daytime trains, including Train 101 from Jacksonville in the early afternoon and Train 202 from Miami. Our first train we caught on the FEC on this trip was 101 as it headed through New Smyrna Beach (above).

One good thing about the FEC is the whole railroad can be monitored using ATCS Monitor, which allows you to see a dispatcher-style display of where trains are at any given time. You can tell when you have an hour or more to do something else between trains, and you know when you need to be near the tracks. A location like Stuart is perfect, as there are ample restaurants and other distractions to occupy your time between trains. But come train time there are also ample photo angles around the big bridge over the St. Lucie River. The FEC is painting some locomotives into an early "heritage" scheme to add variety.
Florida East Coast; Stuart, Fla.; February 12, 2013
With the FEC being a nighttime railroad, the best way to keep the fun going is to keep shooting after dark. This was the first time I had brought my Alien Bees flash units to the sunshine state, and they came in handy. We set up on the dock in Stuart to shoot a local train heading north.
Florida East Coast; Stuart, Fla.; February 12, 2013
Using ATCS Monitor, we knew there was plenty of time between trains to enjoy dinner and a beverage at the restaurant adjacent to the bridge, and finished in plenty of time to get reset for a southbound road freight later in the evening.
Florida East Coast; Stuart, Fla.; February 12, 2013
All good things must end, and our time in Florida came to a close a day later. We headed north, and using ATCS Monitor we were able to intercept Train 101 as it headed out through Cocoa Beach. The engineer is a well-known train enthusiast, and he stepped out to wave to us as the train sped south. With the red, white and blue locomotive and American flags flying and painted on the tank, it was a patriotic scene!
Florida East Coast; Cocoa Beach, Fla.; February 13, 2013
We'll conclude the Florida mini-series next time with a look at Amtrak and some odds and ends.

1 comment:

Brad said...

Hmmm. I'll be going to Florida in December for vacation. Starting to get some ideas.

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