I didn’t get out of the car expecting to take this picture. My intended subject was a billboard on the other side of the railroad berm. (The Duck in It’s All About Timing on 10/23.) I’d walked perhaps 15 yards from the truck to this spot when I saw the train headlight in the distance. It wasn’t moving fast, but it was obviously coming my way, and what with how much bigger it was than me, it seemed a good idea to wait for it to pass before attempting to scramble up the berm, cross two sets of tracks, and then shimmy down the other side with an armload of camera gear in the dark.
When the locomotive turned a minor bend in the tracks I saw the possibility for this shot. There wasn’t much time to compose, and no time at all for a test shot, so I hastily dialed in my default settings, looked quickly through the eyepiece, and opened the shutter, hoping for the best. As the train rumbled by, I stared transfixed at the scale and the power of the big iron beast. When I heard the shutter close, I previewed the results to see what I got–much like a kid looking in his Halloween bag after leaving the first door of the night. And like that kid, when I saw the unexpectedly generous treat in the bag, I vowed to continue my quest all night long. It was another one of those moments when it was better to be lucky than good.
93 seconds @ f/8; ISO 200; 35mm; moonlight only