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Edition #14, September 15, 2005

The Planned Versus Unplanned Photograph

Photographer: John Troxler


                                                                                            Photo 2005 by John Troxler

The Planned Versus Unplanned Photograph

Weeks prior to the late September 2002 journey of the Ringling Brothers & Barnum Bailey circus train from Green Bay to Indianapolis I planned to photograph the circus train traversing part of the CSX Monon route south of Lafayette, IN. I had two potential planned shots in mind: one of a head-on shot of the southbound train splitting the semaphore signals south of Romney, IN or an overhead shot from the highway overpass that crosses the old Monon route. The latter shooting location was chosen so I could get the whole train in the photo and the daybreak lighting on the train would be a better capture from a slight elevation.

An early rise at 4:30 a.m. was required to have a chance at photographing the circus train traversing the Monon south of Lafayette, IN. On a lark I decided to stop at a location where the Monon route crosses the Wabash River north of Lafayette, thus giving me a chance to shoot the backlit train crossing the bridge and have time to move ahead and set up for the planned shot. It was with much luck that I was able to photograph the circus train crossing the Wabash River shortly after sunrise with fog rising off the water's surface. I knew when I arrived at the location I had the potential for a killer shot and all I needed was the train to show at sunrise, which it did, allowing me to bag an unplanned killer shot and move onto the planned shot thirty minutes later. Photographic skill was required to manually meter the scene to properly record detail on the train without blowing out the sunrise highlights and to press the shutter at the perfect moment, but the good LORD provided the beautiful stage and moment in time for the photograph.

John Troxler


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