Some time ago while surfing around the web I had occasion to pop into Travis Dewitz' website (general photography website here, railroad specific website here, alternative railroad view here). I no longer recall why, but I was at the site for a particular image and I decided to poke around and see his other shots. I was impressed! What a series of excellent shots! Consider these samples from the 25 shots numbers 1126-1150 at this link, you may need to click to get to a previous or subsequent section of the sequence.
This shot is a wedgie zoom pan, nicely done, rich purple skies complementing the dark yellows further down. I like the blur in the sky, with the clouds particularly dynamic, and the train sort of zooms out of background. Nice action shot with interesting color.
Here we see a traveler of some sort crossing the tracks. I like how the light appears on both sides of the person, headlights on the right, headlight reflections on the left. The person's gaze is angled a bit some so one can see a bit of his face. Shallow depth of field and black/white treatment complete the work (and the bit of flare does not bother me). An interesting moment in the night time.
I love the idea behind this shot, as I see it, to emphasize the height of the bridge by capturing only part of the legs, and by showing an entire tree comfortably ensconced underneath. The train completes the scene, filling a bit of a hole in the middle, but for me it remains about the bridge and its context, which at this time just happens to include a train.
I am a big fan of town and train scenes, and this night version is a real beauty. The town is present as much in street and window lights as it is in buildings The train provides obvious interest (and its headlights create a nice code line pole silhouette, and reveal roadbed detail) but the structure is equally interesting. A small bar, open late, with one patron? What is that purple light shining out of its window? (The purple nicely contrasts with the overall mustard hue) A tree breaks up the horizon, itself silhouetted by an extra glow in the sky. (I might prefer cropping a bit off the right, but losing some lights in the background reduces the town feel.)
Of course, Travis can capture a traditional scene also, witness this bridge shot, framed in a classic manner with branches, and nicely capturing snow blowing off the bridge as the train passes.
Catching a snow plow snow blast at night had never occurred to me until I saw these two shots. Instead of the scene being too dark to catch the dynamism of the snow movement, it turns out that light sources shining through the snow from the back create a fascinating glow, and the lack of visible detail leads to greater abstraction. In the first show, the glow is great, the grabirons from the engine provide just enough presence (along with the ditch lights) to explain the scene, the car and structure (a sign?) establish the location, and the streaks of light along with the clumps of snow convey the energy and the motion.
The second shot tells its story through more complete abstraction. Capturing the snow being pushed over the grade crossing signal adds bold color; the crossbucks are barely visible above. The engine is essentially not visible, despite the bit of nose, and the white lights contrast with the red. The snow flies, there are few lines if any, everything has a soft feel. A real beauty of abstraction, a study of color and light.
Finally, a shot of the station at Red Wing, MN. A nice compositional choice to put the train in the background to feature the station more. Not ideal, in terms of edge distractions, and I think the placement of the light pole, but an interesting shot.
Now, I suspect that if one were to pick some other 25, one might not get quite the same number of special shots. So one might say I am cherry picking. But, in actuality I am not, I really did stumble into this set at random, and furthermore, while some other set of 25 consecutive shots loaded up by Travis might be a bit lower in quality on average, there will still be plenty of quality shots. Also, the shots I am featuring here do contain a strong share of night or approaching night shots, but other samples will feature other light conditions. Travis certainly has many excellent daytime shots, and I know him first for his "open spaces" shots from the west, including the PRB, with dramatic clouds. At any rate, Travis does outstanding work.