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Edition #182  September 15, 2012

Everyone Deserves a Second Chance

Photographer: Bryant Kaden

                                                                      Photo by Bryant Kaden

Everyone Deserves a Second Chance

As I drove west along US Highway 10 in western Minnesota, the sun broke over the horizon.  While my primary goal of this trip was to capture a late running eastbound Empire Builder with heritage unit #184 leading, I had left home several hours early, hoping to capitalize on the beautiful early morning light of a long summer day. 

A few miles past the town of Perham, I came alongside BNSF’s busy Staples Subdivision.  This former Northern Pacific line hosts dozens of trains a day, so I was hopeful that I would see something during the early morning hours.  Sure enough, a headlight soon came into view to the west.  “Perfect!” I thought, as I made a quick U-turn and drove a few miles back east to a grade crossing.  With a few minutes to spare, I got out of the car, surveyed the photographic possibilities, and decided to try a backlit silhouette shot of the train against the sunrise.  The exposure was set, the shot was composed, and the train was closing in.  I waited for the right moment to press the shutter.  Unfortunately, I was a little too eager.  The 3 frames per second of my Nikon is usually fast enough for me, but it still takes some good reflexes at times to get the train in the right spot.  This time, I failed.  The first frame was a little too early and the next one too late. 

I climbed back into my car to continue driving west.  I was a little disappointed and upset with myself that I had messed up a good opportunity.  I tried to shrug it off as I knew the day was just beginning and my main objective was still on its way, but for those few minutes, I couldn’t help but feel like the botched shot was an omen of things to come. 

In photography, especially outdoors and of moving objects like trains, it’s not often that you get the chance to atone for a mistake.  Too often the light changes quickly or there won’t be another train for hours or even days.  Every once in a while, however, you get a second chance.  That’s why I was surprised and elated when I saw another headlight break the horizon just a few more miles down the road.  I pulled over to another grade crossing and readied myself to try again.  I wasn’t going to miss it this time.  The train roared past and I pressed the shutter.  As I climbed into the car, I looked at the camera screen and smiled.  Second chances are a wonderful thing. 

Bryant Kaden

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