This was actually an accidental find. Recently there was a snowstorm in the area and I thought it would be interesting to try and get some train photos with snow piles next to it. I took off for the Dunsmuir yard area to see what I could find. On the way there, I passed by the town of Weed on the freeway. As I was driving, I noticed the large lumber mill off to the east had interesting steam clouds coming from its smokestacks (or do you call them steam stacks?). I thought to myself I might swing by there on the way back and see if I can capture a good photo of this.
After taking photos in Dunsmuir for a couple hours, I started to head back. I remembered those smokestacks so took an exit and started to hunt for a good composition. I’ve been in Weed numerous times, but mainly on the main drives, so I’m not completely familiar with all the ins and outs of the town. I started to drive around, looking for the right road to take me to the right angle to try and find the “view” I saw from the freeway. Remember, it is dark, which isn’t helping me either. I tried several different spots and angles, but nothing was giving me the look I had envisioned.
I saw a little road off of the one I was driving on. It looked like a private road but had a street sign on it. So I figured if it has a street sign, it is clearly open to the public. The road took me right to the mill with large buildings on both sides of me. I was looking at the steam columns and trying to figure a composition when I came to these railroad tracks. Looking down the tracks at the mill was clearly the best composition I had seen on my search.
I jumped out and started to set up my camera for a photo. I moved it around a few times until things were just right for me. For all those people worried about safety around the tracks – there were no trains running at this late hour. I grabbed a few photos from slightly different angles and exposures. I purposely tried different long exposures to try and get the steam clouds to blur and trail some. In the end, I was very happy with my find.
When I got back home and started to look at the photos from the night, this one was clearly the best. Even though there was some color in the photo, the original shot was mostly black and white because of the shadows and the white steam on the dark sky. So when I changed it to a black and white photo, there really wasn’t much difference from the original.
For the record, I was driving around in circles so much trying to find the right composition, I lost track of where I was. As I tried to retrace my steps getting back out, I “kinda” got lost and turned around. Luckily the town is pretty small and I was finally able to make my way back to the freeway and eventually home (yes the navigation map in my car might have helped at that point).