By Samuel Phillips
Published April 18, 2012
The last light of the day sometimes seems to be forgotten by some photographers. As one might look and witness the long shadows and the quickly fading light might state "Well... I think I am going to call it day and go home." I have heard this more than once and little does that person know what kind of shot he/she might miss out on. In the last year out of the 10 years I have been shooting train pictures, have I realized the last 30 minute of light can produce some of the most spectacular and intriguing photos one will ever have in their portfolio.
There is something special about being trackside when the Sun is setting and witnessing the closing of yet another day of our lives. Not only that, but my best photographs have been captured as the Sun is setting or after it has set and the sky is bursting with color. Nature will, most of the time, unleash the most beautiful scenes in the last 30 minutes of light; one just has to be at the right spot at the right time to capture it! The way I look at it, if one has stayed out all day photographing trains, why not stay the extra 30 minutes and see what kind of photo opportunity may unfold? Another thing, always remember that one will most likely not capture the most amazing image the first time being trackside at Sunset. It takes diligence to keep on trying. It's like with everything, most of the time, one cannot shoot the biggest buck or catch the biggest fish on their first try. One has to be persistent and keep on trying, and, eventually, one will capture "the money shot." Sometimes, its sheer luck in what one might capture. Just being at the right place at the right time, but you have to be out in that last light to even get lucky. You cannot get that spectacular image when sitting at home!
I have included two of my most favorite images I have captured thus far. First of which is a glint shot I captured in the last 5 minutes of light in the town of Bluefield, WV. As one looks at it, you can see the power in the image created by that golden Sunlight produced in the late evening. Imagine this shot if it was taken middle afternoon or middle morning? It would lose the intriguing light that makes the photo so special.
This image was taken in the hamlet of Shawsville, VA and depicts train 37Q climbing uphill just after the Sun had set behind the gorgeous mountains of Southwest Virginia. I will admit, itís hard to take a bad photo at this location, but the phenomenal color created by the last few minutes of light makes this hands down my favorite photo ever from this location. The awe inspiring scene just completes this absolutely gorgeous location nestled in the mountains of Southwest Virginia.