Central Oregon & Pacific

9-22-2022

The Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad runs from Weed, California to Eugene, Oregon. This is the former Southern Pacific Siskiyou Line back in the days when Southern Pacific was still operational (before Union Pacific RR took it over). After a few years of not operating, due to a tunnel fire, this railroad has been operational for the past several years.

Being a railroad fan, I have taken some photographs of the Central Oregon and Pacific RR (CORP), several times. One example is “The Mill” shown in an earlier blog post on 12-13-21. I was trying to come up with some new photo ideas that I had not done before. I happened to be in the Weed area and drove by the company office in the town. I saw two of their locomotives sitting on some tracks near the office and thought maybe I could make a night photograph out of it. This of course provided the locomotives would still be at this location when I returned during a future evening.

I returned a few nights later and luckily for me, the locomotives were still there (or returned and parked near the same spot). The spot is far enough away from any street that passing car lights would not interfere with the photograph. There was only one parking lot light nearby, but I figured I could use the light it emitted to help illuminate the photograph.

So I set up my camera and started to figure out how to light paint the locomotives. I obviously wanted to have the locomotives be the main attraction. I experimented with a flashlight and also a light panel. Seems one worked for part of the photo, but not all of it. The other light source was the same, it worked for part of it but not all. The size of the engines made it a challenge to light up completely. If I kept my shutter open for a period long enough to light up everything, then that one parking lot light would overexpose part of the engine front and ruin my attempt.

After a few more experiments, I found a happy solution that included both types of lights. I took several different photos of the locomotives while lighting a portion of the locomotives each time. I could later merge these different photographs in Photoshop.

Now that I finally had this completed, I focused on the sky. It was a clear night with the stars shining bright. I first thought just a single photograph of the sky would be sufficient. But as I looked at the sky, I noted the North Star was over the top of the locomotives. I am a fan of star trails and especially if you can capture them going around the North Star. So I set up the camera to accomplish several exposures to create star trails.

After completing all of the photographs, I returned home. I edited my photos in Lightroom and then merged all the best photos in Photoshop. The attached photograph is the end result of 25 different photos merged into one. Shortly after I completed this photograph, a devastating fire roared through Weed and destroyed a portion of the town near where this photograph was taken. I’m not sure if this exact location was destroyed, but I don’t think I would have the spirit to try this again here, due to the devastation.

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