Photo Inspiration on a Rail

Photo Inspiration on a Rail

Photo Inspiration at Keddie WyeFor months now, I have been experiencing a definite lack of photo inspiration. It’s like a fog hanging over me. Or maybe it’s just laziness. The other day, I decided to go in search of some inspiration by visiting an area the railroad tracks run through. On a number of other occasions, railway lines have inspired me. It’s easy to understand why if you know that Feather River Country is criss-crossed with dozens of railroad tracks. Just about any dirt road you take off on, or most any paved road, you’ll come upon railroads and crossings.

Western Pacific RailroadPlumas County, CA is home to the great Western Pacific Railroad Museum. I’ve never gone there for photos. There must be plenty of places where one might catch a photo of an oncoming locomotive pulling a line of freight cars. I haven’t done that. There’s a couple places where you can perch yourself on an elevated location to photograph down on moving trains or interconnecting lines of railroad tracks. I haven’t done that either. Granted, some of those are stereotypical and predictable railway pictures, but they could be the beginning of some needed photo inspiration.

So, maybe it is just laziness. If I plan carefully, I can manage to set up a location to realize some of those possibilities. Instead of the oxygen tank in a backpack, which is only good for 40 minutes or so, I can drag one of those tanks on wheels, which will give me up to 3 hours wait time for the perfect shot. All my lenses are zooms, so I can just select the one that will have the best focal range for the specific location. The one hand can tow the oxygen tank, the other can carry my camera already mounted on the tripod and with the filter frame attached to the chosen lens and a few filters in my pocket, along with the cable release…

See, I’m trying to talk myself into that kind of excursion, all the while knowing I’m not that organized. And to be even more honest, probably not that strong either. I just had to have a Nikon D810 and zoom lenses and a heavy duty tripod and all that stuff is damn heavy and cumbersome. Then there’s the water I’d have to carry to keep hydrated, an inhaler for the inevitable shortness of breath and half a dozen or more other little things I’d need to carry.

This is why 99% of my photos are taken just 20 or 25 feet from my vehicle. I can stay tethered to an oxygen tank in my Jeep by a 25′ hose, or stay within range when carrying the o2 in my backpack. I have found plenty of photo inspiration that way for the last number of years. Maybe I’m short of inspiration at the moment, but if I keep dragging my ass out there, I’ll find the kind of inspiration I had when I captured the photos you see on this page. These railroad photos were made in February, March, April, July and October 2016. They were good inspiration, even if they’re not my best photos. I may not even have been all that inspired the days I captured these, but they almost assuredly inspired me to go out again afterward. Maybe that’s all I need to do now; just get out and shoot and do the best I can until I find that photographic inspiration I need to make beautiful pictures to share with you.

Sometimes photo inspiration is fleeting; sometimes you can find it on a rail. Maybe you will enjoy some of my other inspired photos at my Photography site.

Jim McClain

Born 1949 and not dead yet.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Dan Winters

    Love these Jim! Keddie Wye is a way cool location. If we are talking the same place… there is a spot directly above the track comvergence not too far from a parking spot. This would be a great B/W photo location because of the subject matter and the contrast of the dark green foliage and the mechanical nature of the track system and convergence with a fast lense. Going back this summer with my Tokina 2.8 11-16. a little wide but with some crop I could get some very good converging lines… Fill up that tank and hangout in the shade Jim!

  2. Vanessa Lambdin

    These are great pictures, I love the colors the composition… I love trains, and train tracks, bridges, trestles… These are great.

Go Ahead, Leave a Reply (you know you wanna)