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Edition #82, July 15, 2008

Location, Location, Location

Photographer: Alex Mayes

                                                                                                      Photo by Alex Mayes

Location, Location, Location

While in Indiana on CSX’s Monon Sub in August 2007 photographing trains passing through the semaphores, one of my objectives was to obtain a dramatic shot of a side-by-side pair of semaphores at sunset. The first two days were spent north of Crawfordsville, IN, where there is a cluster of the blades which start 1/4 mile north of the Amtrak station and extend to Romney, about five miles. We did well shooting CSX trains and Amtrak’s Cardinal splitting the blades during the day, however we had no luck in finding a pair of semaphores which would be the ideal candidate for a dramatic sunset shot. Each pair we checked had undesirable complications: poles and wires obstructing a clear view, trees directly behind or the sun was not in a good alignment.

Additionally, both evenings were cloud-free, thus preventing an orange sunset. We relocated to south of Mitchell on the third day, where there are numerous semaphores between Orleans and New Pekin, however far fewer trains than on the north end. Traffic during the day was sporadic, with long waits between trains, however this gave us ample time to check for semaphores which would be suitable for a sunset shot. At Orleans the Monon Sub turns to the east, and stays on an east-west alignment for 20 miles to Salem, which provides a perpendicular angle to the setting sun. We thought this alignment would work well for a sunset shot. As the afternoon was getting later and the sun began to set on the first day we went back to the east end of the siding at Orleans, which we checked earlier in the day.

The sun was setting behind the pair of blades, and clouds were thickening, with an orange tint beginning to develop. We felt that we had finally found the ideal location for a sunset shot. As the sun sank lower the skies became bright orange, and it was time to start taking photos. With our cameras on tripods we began bracketing our exposures, checking the results after each shot. The images in the LCD monitor looked quite good, however we would have to wait until we got home and looked at them on a PC monitor to make a more thorough evaluation. When we were finally able to view the images at home we were confident that our time spent finding the perfect location was well worth the effort.

Alex Mayes

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