the regulars

Something unrelated made me look at the calendar yesterday and I noticed that it’s almost my five year anniversary since we moved to Halifax. Of all the change, living here has been about connection and who we are. It’s like a kind of sense of place that seems like a nice coincidence to refer to as the opener for this.

Tuesday was a beautiful sunny evening. I took the ferry over to Halifax, walked along the waterfront and even as far as PSA where CN was lifting containers for the next 121. I missed most of their shunting but got there to watch them slipping under the Young Street overpass on their way to Rockingham. It’s Iranian new year and there were some really fun events on the waterfront that felt so good to attend–thank you for welcoming me in. Ferry boat back across the harbour to watch 509 build a train for Autoport and, to my surprise, meet up with a friend who was working on a 513. Waving my friend goodbye I stayed to watch 513’s power head west to hook onto their hoppers at Wright’s Cove. At nine o’clock it was time for 509 to start their shift. There’s some shunting in the yard and it really is time for me to get back to the house so I’m walking home through Alderney Landing when I tried that photo.

With only a dozen or so exceptions most of the now over 1200 photographs I’ve taken here in Dartmouth are along a very short length of track from here at Alderney Landing to the parking lot for the Dartmouth Marina. While Irving and Classic Freight still receive cars that aren’t autoracks most of the traffic from the yard is, well, autoracks. I always consider a very personal gift when CN sends a GP9 to work in our yard but most often the local GP’s are some combination of GP38’s or GP40’s from some generation of their development. Railroading here is about as complex as that summary. You can imagine that in those “over 1200 photographs” there’s a lot of repetition and you’re not wrong because there is.

This short distance of track is part of a walking trail and it’s how my family gets from home to the ferry terminal or, when we were going into the office, how we went to work so it really is more than just a place I go because there’s trains there. I continue to take photographs here because it feels like an evergreen investment enriching my relationship with the railroad. I (literally) have laid on the ground because there’s a ramp into a parking garage that affords a fantastic low angle view and the track through Alderney is only a fence’s thickness away from the walking path. This repetition is now about more than just more photographs of the same thing because this is becoming a very personal, almost intimate, maturation of a relationship with this railroad. I am getting to know it.

I take these photos on an iPhone 6. Nothing more. Like any tool this same personal relationship with the place means that I am gaining a familiarity with the way this place works and what photos are possible with a little bit of care and respect.

Part in recognition of time itself and part a thank you for patience that has invited me to witness change along this railroad. Scrolling back through this album it’s a photo of cool trains in a favourite place I’ve been visiting for decades and living in for the past five years. No trespassing required is probably the missing Phil Collins album on which he opens with that phenomenal drum solo in I Can Hear it Coming (from Autoport tonight) but, seriously, these last five years are time shared cooperating with a subject that is a living for those working in these pictures and a quality of life for me. I’m so grateful we share this.

That was Krista who needs to be writing here more often
That was my first post from Halifax
This is Krista and Chris and the first day we ever saw a moving CBNS train.

Categories: CN Dartmouth, How I think

7 replies

  1. I’ve enjoyed seeing downtown Dartmouth through your eyes. It is familiar to me from when I lived there many years ago, but not as a railfan. I love how you can shoot so many photos in a tight area and come up with so much variety.

    • Thanks!

      In a blog post on your blog you’d written about when we “take” photos and that point was transformative in both the way it changed my understanding of what I was doing. The ensuing sense of presence maybe isn’t always in what the lense sees but felt in me when being there in that moment.

      It’s funny when I do travel from beyond this comfort zone for the way I feel so unprepared. Just reminds me to get out more…


      • I’m glad my “take” / “make” musings were inspiring to you. Your words often inspire me.

      • Oh my gosh. Take and make has changed so much about how I consider photography. and I think even beyond I was watching some news photographer out just lazily gathering random sunny weekend photographs last weekend. Wandering around the park and just banging off frames of generic photos of people doing things. That was “taking” because he just took those moments like a kind of currency. Where perhaps to make the image is as much about thinking about how the photo would be lit or composed as equally as it would be about what it was saying about that day; not taking the picture of the children playing and forcing a generic story of Sunday’s upon them but finding the relationship between the place and the things in it and how they interrelate. Instead of taking the story away from the people but making a record that is their voice in chorus with our own.

        Your words changed me


      • Wow – I’m so glad my words had such an impact. That means a lot to me.

        I’m a little surprised that a news photographer wouldn’t be trying harder to tell a story with their photography. Maybe part of the problem is today’s leaner news organizations don’t have dedicated news photographers any more, and the reporter is forced to add photographer and sometimes camera person to their repertoire, and it’s hard to do all those things well at once.

  2. Congratulations on your anniversary and thanks for sharing the passing scene there with us.

    Classic Freight sounds, well, cool and classic!


    • Thank you

      Classic Freight is a pretty terrific name isn’t it? What they do and really stands out in a way that’s pretty neat. Like so much here on Prince Street I see inspiration from your own work and for that and so much more I remain grateful.


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