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Edition #259  December 1, 2015

“The best photos you’ll ever take will usually be in the worst weather conditions.”

Photographer: Ron Flanary

                                                                                  Photo by  Ron Flanary

 

“The best photos you’ll ever take will usually be in the worst weather conditions.”

Have you ever found yourself on a railfan adventure far from home, and you open the door to step out in wretched weather conditions for photography? Heavy rain, overcast, and fog can instantly kill the enthusiasm of a sunny day photo addict. But, having committed to long travel and cash outlay to be there, you suck it up and head out into the elements in search of trains. If you were back home, of course, you wouldn’t even consider it. I always tried to find the bright side of these moments, even if it wasn’t literal reality at that moment. One of my favorite statements: “The best photos you’ll ever take will usually be in the worst weather conditions.” Sure…

On September 10, 1988, I joined four of my friends on what turned out to be an outstanding adventure—away from home. We were committed, rain or shine. Through our various contacts with both CSX and NS management, we rode the cab(s) of the three Southern units (GP35, GP30 and GP30) on a “death march” NRHS excursion from Johnson City, TN. The train first ran south on the former Clinchfield to Marion, NC, then westward (by railroad direction) to Asheville, including the loops above Old Fort, and finally along the French Broad River to Bulls Gap, TN. There we backed through the wye and returned to Johnson City late that night. It was hot and muggy all day and the sky was gray—not great weather for photography.

Most of the trip I was stationed in the cab of the second unit—a GP30. I've had a lot of cab rides in my life, but this photographic experience from the head end ranks up there as one of the very best. We ran through a major rain storm before crossing from North Carolina back into Tennessee, rendering any photography hopeless. It finally relented and we opened the cab windows again. I remember the cool, moist air hitting my face as we rolled along at track speed. This was railroading as I loved it.

South of Del Rio, TN, the setting sun started to peek through the thinning clouds every so often. I grabbed my camera and started burning film, hoping some of the shots might work. They did. The Kodachrome 200 in my Nikon FE2 had just enough speed to capture spectacular shots like this. Had it been fully sunny, this would have been just another frame of film. I guess there might be a grain of truth in that old adage---this was a pretty good image after all.

Ron Flanary

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