Matt finds the trains in TRAINS’ backyard: Ode to the pole line

Posted by Matt Van Hattem
on Thursday, August 11, 2011

Union Pacific freight MPRSS charges west at 6:52 a.m., on July 9, 2011, en route from Chicago's Proviso Yard to South St. Paul, Minn.

Throughout the month of August, I want to try a photography project that focuses on the trains in TRAINS Magazine's backyard. How many different pictures can be taken in a circle extending 10.27 miles from downtown Waukesha, Wis.?

Thank you to all of you who have "liked" or commented on the pictures!

I have a question for all of you.

Would you rather see photos that clearly illustrate what this area is like, although the lighting and composition might be more "standard" (sun behind the photographer, perhaps a three-quarter wedge situation), or see photos in different lighting situations, even though the background or surroundings might be more obscured?

I've tried to combine those creative and documentary-type elements when I can. But I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

As for this photo, once again, I've broken my rule, but only slightly. We're about 2 miles beyond the 10.27-mile circle, although the rail line pictured here does indeed penetrate the 10-mile zone. You're watching Union Pacific freight MPRSS charging west at 6:52 a.m., on July 9, 2011, en route from Chicago's Proviso Yard to South St. Paul, Minn.

Chicago & North Western built this route in 1910 to make a bee line from Milwaukee to the Twin Cities, avoiding an earlier, hillier, circuitous routing through downtown Waukesha and downtown Madison.

One of the hallmarks of the line, which happens to frustrate photographers, is the high-tension power lines that parallel the tracks through eastern Wisconsin. I wanted to see if there was a way to make the power line part of the scene, and the Marcy Road grade crossing in Menomonee Falls offered what I thought might be a good opportunity to do so.

You'll have to tell me whether it works or not.

What I like:

In this case, the backlighting works to the scene's advantage. Bonus: at the far right you can see the silhouette of the railroad's pole line, with its classic wooden poles.

What I don't like:

The tall, high-tension power lines are growing out of the locomotives. Never an ideal situation.


Flickr: Matt finds the trains in TRAINS' backyard album
Facebook: Trains Magazine Facebook Page

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