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Edition #178  July 15, 2012

A Little Help From Nature

Photographer: Bill Mc Bride

                                                                      Photo by Bill Mc Bride

A Little Help From Nature

In November of 1990 I was working a 4PM to Midnight shift on my job in Yonkers, New York. As I drove around the city I could not help but witness the outstanding sunsets that were a result of a forest fire somewhere in the southern states, some 850 miles away in Georgia, I believe. The smoke that blew north in the upper atmosphere turned each sunset a fiery red and orange as if to announce to the entire Eastern seaboard its origins.  I had two days off quickly approaching and was hoping that the spectacle would not abate before then.

Having informed my family that I would not be seated at the supper table with them, I set out on my first day off at about 3pm to find a suitable location near my Cortland Manor, NY residence from which to photograph passing trains with a chromatic background. I was working with the beautiful Hudson River as a backdrop. However, in spite of the vibrant sky that stretched out for a mile or so between Oscawanna on the east bank of the Hudson and Stony Point on the west bank I could not find that "perfect" location that would afford a flank view of a passing train and the picturesque sunset.  I fired off several shot at passing Metro North and Amtrak trains knowing as I did so the shots were too tight and not what I was looking for.

The next evening was more of the same, but with the realization that this would be my last opportunity for the photograph that I had envisioned. Armed with pruning shears I was able to trim some high bushes that opened a small but adequate vista.

Having done that, I waited for some passing trains. As I waited I attempted to compose the settings for the photograph. The train would be moving fast past the small opening and I would be shooting its flanks so shutter speed was a factor . But, at the same time I did not want to wash out the vivid sunset. The sun was setting fast as I heard the distinctive sound of an approaching Amtrak Turbo train. This was the moment of truth, it was now or never. The shutter was tripped and the lens cap replaced for the ride home, not knowing if I got "the shot" or not. I think I did, what say you?

Bill Mc Bride

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