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Edition #18, November 15, 2005

The Chef On The Chief

Photographer: Jeffrey Bass


                                                                                                   Photo 2005 by Jeffrey Bass

The Chef On The Chief

July 11, 2004  7:45pm    Fullerton, CA

Each Friday evening after work, I gather with friends on the east end of Amtrak's Fullerton station platform to swap stories, eat food and of course watch trains. It seems that we've exhausted every photographic possibility from the platform, but I still drag out my camera, tripod and related gear. Amtrak's Southwest Chief #4 doesn't generate much enthusiasm with me on most Friday nights, but the quality sunlight did this evening. When The Chief arrived I admired the low evening light and grabbed my camera in hopes that something would catch my photographic eye.

Most evenings of walking the length of the #4 result in nothing more than a few family good-byes or an Amtrak crew member turning aside as I raise the camera to my eye, hoping to catch an impromptu moment. Scenarios like this have happened many times before and will likely occur many times again. This warm July evening would be different.

After passing the sleeping cars I noticed a head peeking out of the service door of the lower level of the dining car. Usually this door is closed as the staff are in the midst of food prep for the dinner hour. As I approached I could see a well fed young man, very possibly the Chef. He was enjoying the fresh air of the outside world and escaping the odors of the Amtrak kitchen. Even though he didn't cross the line and step off the train he did lean out of the door repeatedly. He was looking up and down the platform expectantly, much like a grade-schooler ready to exit his math class for a recess break.

With the hope of catching this unusual moment, I quickly checked my camera's settings after deciding to shoot blind from my waist rather than lifting the camera to my face. Shooting from my waist would hopefully keep his quizzical gaze intact. The commotion of the passengers and the hustle-n-bustle of a nearby cafe provided the necessary cover to continue my clandestine photo operations. I pointed and squeezed the shutter in the burst mode filling the camera's digital buffer twice as passengers shuffled between us. After the first burst, I anxiously checked the LCD display to see the images as they were saved to the CF card. A minor focal length adjustment was needed to get the composition I was looking for. The resulting image was captured as the chef on the Chief took an interest in a passing attraction on the Fullerton platform.

I was able to capture this moment of the simplest human interest and share it here. Now over a year later, I still wonder what his thoughts were at that moment...

1/50th sec @ f5.6, ISO 100 - Canon 300D - 18-55mm EF-S lens at 35mm.

Jeffrey Bass

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