Every photographer knows that proper lighting is essential to a good photo, but situations don’t always develop the way you want them to, expecially outdoors. This is where luck enters into the equation. The train shown here is the regular mid-afternoon Thursday edition of Conrail local freight WPSA-31, or SA-31 for short. The train is pretty predictable, entering the Southern Secondary at Red Bank, NJ, between 2:00 and 4:00pm for the run south to Lakewood. The power is also somewhat predictable, as the origination point, Browns Yard in Sayreville, NJ, only hosts 4 locomotives at a time (three 4-axle units, and one 6-axle unit), so you will see one of the three GP units on this train. Of course, what is not predictable is the weather.
SA-31 left Sayreville under dark, cloudy skies, and chances were slim that conditions would improve in the 90 minutes that it would take the crew to reach the location of this photo in Shrewsbury, NJ. Thankfully, as the weather front moved east, a bit of sun broke through every few minutes, followed by a large cloud, followed by some sun, followed by a cloud. Upon arrival trackside in Shrewsbury, I thought I would have a 50-50 chance of grabbing a sunny shot, so I appealed to the ‘weather gods’ for any assistance that could be provided.
At exactly 2:27pm, somehow, someway, the clouds parted and the low, late Autumn sun shone brightly upon Norfolk Southern 5281, still resplendent in her ‘Conrail Quality’ Dress Blue scheme. NS 5281 is one of the elder locomotives on the roster, originally built for the PennCentral railroad back in February of 1973. Was it fate that sent this veteran locomotive to this lightly used secondary today? Was it good planning on my part to be in the right place at the right time? Did the weather gods actually help?
I don’t know, all I have to say is that, sometimes, a little luck goes a long way…….
Image recorded on November 5, 2010.
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