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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Flint Hills future lesson


Date: 07/19/19 17:27
Flint Hills future lesson
Author: santafe199

It’s funny how things work out! When you’re a novice railfan photographer there are so many ways to demonstrate how you really don’t have a clue what you’re doing. Yet. With my right index finger upon the shutter-release I broke a couple of major train-shooting rules getting this scene. I’ll get back to that later*…

About 6 weeks prior to this shot I had met one Mr David A Franz down on the Santa Fe passenger platform in Emporia, KS. This chance meeting would be the onset of a life-long friendship that will last literally until death robs one of us from the other. At that point I thought I was a super-slick Johnnie-Ace, railfan photographer. I had converted to shooting 35mm Kodachrome not even 9 months prior to our meeting, and I was feeling kinda smug. This chance meeting culminated in Dave extending an invitation to meet him again the next weekend so we could go “down the 4th District”. I had NO clue what a 4th district was, but I sure wasn’t going to let him know that! We met at the Strong City depot on August 14, and with Dave driving I quickly found out how much I didn’t know. Right off the bat he dropped a huge bomb on me! He had stopped by the SFe depot and scribbled down a line-up of expected trains & times. Line-up… Whut-the-hell-iz-that? Isn’t that like cheating???

So now I mainly tried to steer my side of the conversation away from tipping him off to my newly-realized ignorance. I am quite sure I failed miserably in this attempt. When my much more experienced chauffeur started taking about this or that location requiring certain shutter speeds & focal lengths I knew I was in way over my head. But I was also run over with a deep desire to learn everything I could. ASAP. Dave took me to the “east switch at Matfield”. He drove us up an impossibly steep access road and a short bit of hiking put us on a rise overlooking an S-curve. I would take a shot by which I would judge every single Matfield shot for the next 4+ decades ( https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,2443048,2443048#msg-2443048 ). It wasn’t even close to the BEST shot I’ve ever taken in the Kansas Flint Hills. But it was the first. Very much like a highly beloved first-born son.

I was deeply enamored with what Dave had shown me. In the coming months I would make any excuse I could to go back “down the 4th” and shoot whatever I could find. Thank goodness I had an understanding wife (at the time). *A week or 2 after that fateful virgin trip down into those Flint Hills I spent a day down there solo. Later on I was headed home, nearly out of sunlight. While northbound on highway 177 I spotted a headlight coming my way. I screeched to halt right on the overpass midway between Bazaar & Matfield. I then proceeded to commit 2 huge shooting errors right on top of each other! I had neglected to realize that (1) Mr Shadow (from the overpass) would ruin the shot, and (2) there was Mr Wire running right across the top of the train. Ironically both of these novice mistakes would combine for an extraordinary result. The wire disappeared in the deep shadow, and only the nose of the lead unit would be lit up.

In the nearly 42 intervening years I’ve never been able to duplicate this shot…

1. AT&SF 6308 leads train 305 R-1 with engineer R. L. "Ronnie” Brammell at the throttle. Within a couple of years I would get to know Ronnie as a co-worker on the Santa Fe. His train is catching a narrow shaft of sunlight running under the KS hwy 177 overpass south (TT west) of Bazaar, KS on Sunday September 18, 1977.

Thanks for the introduction, Bob-a-loo!
Lance Garrels
santafe199

By the way: Dave "Bob-a-loo" Franz & I would work our entire railroad careers working for the same 3 railroads in the same 3 time eras...



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 07/19/19 17:39 by santafe199.




Date: 07/19/19 20:26
Re: Flint Hills future lesson
Author: ATSFSuperChief

Ah, a great photo taken with the mighty sun winking at you.

Don Allender



Date: 07/19/19 21:22
Re: Flint Hills future lesson
Author: monaddave

santafe199 Wrote:
>> Thanks for the introduction, Bob-a-loo!  >>

You're welcome.
Dave in Msla



Date: 07/20/19 08:14
Re: Flint Hills future lesson
Author: ntharalson

And today this spot is all trees!.  When I saw it, I thought it was an eastbound until I looked at the symbol and realized it was a westbound.  
Thanks for posting, Lance.

Nick Tharalson,
Marion, IA



Date: 07/23/19 06:37
Re: Flint Hills future lesson
Author: LocoPilot750

Ronnie was a hard guy to work with. Hated the young guys, and they hated him. His brother was a Conductor, and they even hated each other. He was difficult too. Their dad used to be the operator at Elmdale, I suppose they grew up there.

Posted from Android



Date: 07/23/19 21:32
Re: Flint Hills future lesson
Author: santafe199

ntharalson Wrote: > ... And today this spot is all trees ...

No. This spot is NOT all trees

Posted from Android



Date: 07/24/19 07:40
Re: Flint Hills future lesson
Author: engineerinvirginia

I don't do railshots but my methodology would work if I did.....if somebody gives me tips on what shutter speed, focal length, aperture and so on I would take that as a well meaning suggestion, and if I knew their work, I'd know what those settings would create. When I shoot I look at a scene more or less the way Ansel Adams did, in that what is there in reality is NOT what the mind sometimes can see, and I will shoot with settings that gets me close to what my MIND sees. That requires a spot meter to find medium gray and go from there.....I vary the tone of the scene by looking at the whole thing....finding an object that is medium gray and then decide how I want to render THAT....darker or lighter?  And bracketing...yep...three shots minimum....when making a scene vary from reality you need to have wiggle room the extra shots will give you that. And I do see your sample shows good thought AND good post production.......very striking. 



Date: 07/24/19 19:40
Re: Flint Hills future lesson
Author: ntharalson

santafe199 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ntharalson Wrote: > ... And today this spot is all
> trees ...
>
> No. This spot is NOT all trees
>
From what I remember the last time I was down there, it's pretty d*** close!

Nick Tharalson,
Marion, IA



Date: 07/25/19 13:57
Re: Flint Hills future lesson
Author: mmisin2

East switch at Matfield Green in April of 2017. The steep road referred to by Lance is below the grade by the signals.

Mark Mitscher
Shawnee, KS




Date: 07/27/19 00:54
Re: Flint Hills future lesson
Author: santafe199

Nice shot, Mark! That's quite a little hike to get to where you got that shot, ain't it?!! I really don't know which I enjoyed more: Shooting trains rolling through that S-curve... Or getting paid to ride trains rollling through that S-curve... ;^)

Lance/199



Date: 07/28/19 20:06
Re: Flint Hills future lesson
Author: mmisin2

Getting paid would be nice!

Mark Mitscher
Shawnee, KS



Date: 07/30/19 16:25
Re: Flint Hills future lesson
Author: jst3751

Absolutely stunning picture. Thanks for post it and the story.



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