Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Random Ramblings -- I Hate Cords!

Back in July 2010 I had just purchased four Alien Bees strobes for doing synchronized night photography of moving trains. The Bees arrived just before I headed out from New Jersey to Milwaukee, where I was giving a presentation to the National Model Railroad Association. I had purchased only one battery to power the Bees, which meant I had a ton of extension cords so I could spread the lights around.

After working locations in Ohio on the way out, I had dropped down into Illinois on the return trip, heading for the Illinois Railway Museum. One target I wanted to get was the large coaling tower that still straddled the former Chicago & North Western at Nelson. I pulled into Nelson later than I wanted to on July 16, at about 10:00 p.m., and started setting up the strobes. Unfortunately, my extension cords had become hopelessly tangled, and when a westbound train rolled through at about 10:30, I was still trying to get cords straightened out. Not to worry, though -- this is a fairly busy main line and there would be another westbound shortly. Or not.

Midnight came and went without any trains at all. I was beginning to think about calling it quits when an eastbound train (the wrong direction) came by. Still thinking about calling it quits, I snapped the last car on the train to get some idea of what my shot would look like if a train came from the proper direction -- and it was really good. Okay, that decides it -- I have to wait it out.

Finally at about 2:00 a.m. a westbound finally showed up. Click! Success.
Union Pacific; Nelson, Ill.; July 16 (technically 17), 2010
While tearing down, an eastbound coal train wandered by. It had a Distributed Power Unit (DPU, a locomotive attached to the back of the train for added power) on the rear. I was well into putting away my lights, but I broke out the tripod and took a going-away shot of the train under the coaling tower.
Union Pacific; Nelson, Ill.; July 17, 2010
My extension cords misadventures cost me about four hours of sleep that night. Needless to say, I went out and purchased a second battery which, with judicious light placement, has cut down on my extension cord needs by about 80%. Still, the results were worth the lack of sleep. But I still hate cords.

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Newton, New Jersey, United States

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