Steam in the Snow 2012

The “Steam in the Snow” is a special Charter by the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts (Mass Bay RRE). This special train is chartered from the Conway Scenic Railroad. According to the handouts this continues a tradition that was begun  in 1934! This is called a  Fantrip which is a trip made just to  observe and photograph the railroad operations.

The route for this trip was from North Conway to Notchland by diesel and back to North Conway pulled by the steam engine. The return trip includes the photo stops, the main reason I was on this trip.

At a photo stop the passengers who are interested in taking pictures get off the train. A photo line is set up that we aren’t supposed to cross. Then the train is backed up out of sight so that it can be run back by us for photos. After the “run by” everyone climbs back onto the train until the next stop.

There were 300 passengers on this trip which according to the “Car host” was a lot. The photo stops were crowded because a photo club brough 35 members for a class of which photographing the train was the subject. You could spot the class members. Most of them were using tripods. I had been warned not to take a tripod as it would be too crowded.

The organizers tried to split the photographers into 2 groups and do 2 run-bys each stop but it was taking too long to get everyone on and off the train. I was getting a lot of heads in the pictures until about the third stop when I decided to get aggressive. I started asking people to let me get in the front row and then I got on my knees so they could “Shoot” over my head.

My “picture of the day” was actually taken after the train left a tunnel. Everyone was crowded right at the tunnel entrance. I gave up trying to get a position in that mob so I went on down the tracks and knelt down on the berm that sloped down from the tracks. I was pretty close to the tracks but no one yelled at me to move so I stayed. What an adrenaline rush! I could feel the ground shake and the wind as the train rushed by almost knocked me over…but I got the shot! I think If I’d have been standing it would have been instinctive to back away as the train approached. But by being on my knees  I was committed! No time to move.

Although I got that picture and few others, none reached the standard I was trying for. That just means that I will have to go back again next year.

We had dinner at Rafferty’s in North Conway before we all piled back into the bus for the ride home. A long but satisfying day was wrapping up. The sun hadn’t cooperated but it had been pretty warm for January. The overcast made for nice even lighting for the pictures.

Having staged “run bys” is an awesome way to get pictures. I just wish it hadn’t been quite so crowded.

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