Trackside with Trains
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Trackside with Trains.com, Vol. 88: March 10, 2008

Mike Yuhas is joined by Model Railroader magazine associate editor Cody Grivno to share some of their recent railroad photos
Published: March 10, 2008
Mike Yuhas writes: We're back with another installment of Trackside with Trains.com! Our last several editions have featured one new photographer pitted against, well, a long-term photographer (namely, me). In the guest chair this time we welcome Cody Grivno, who joins us from the editorial staff of Model Railroader magazine. Welcome Cody!

Cody Grivno says: Hi Mike! Thanks for the opportunity. I've enjoyed following Trackside with Mike and Erik (and others). There have been many great photos over the course of the 88 installments.
Cody Grivno from Model Railroader magazine
Cody Grivno
Photo by Steve Grivno
As Mike said, I work for Model Railroader magazine as an associate editor. I was born and raised in Crookston, Minn., up in the northwest corner of the state near the North Dakota and Canadian borders (think really cold and really flat). Probably the best description of northern Minnesota I've ever heard was from a railroad friend of mine who moved up from Texas. He said, "It's so flat up here you could watch your dog run away for five days."

I started at MR in June 2002, about a month after graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in print journalism from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. (I rode the Empire Builder to Milwaukee for my interview). Working for MR was a dream of mine from an early age, and I'm really blessed to be here.

I grew up following the Burlington Northern and later BNSF Railway (its Grand Forks, N.D. to Superior, Wis., main line was less than a half block from my childhood home). In December 1996, then RailAmerica-owned Minnesota Northern Railroad (MNN) began operations in Crookston. As much as I enjoyed railfanning the BN and BNSF, I quickly became fascinated with the MNN. I eventually plan to model the short line in HO scale.

You can learn more about Crookston in my article "The evolution of a freight terminal" that appeared in How to Build Realistic Layouts: Freight Yards. Copies of the magazine are available from Kalmbach Publishing Co.'s Customer Sales & Service Dept. (800-533-6644) or buy your copy here.

Obviously, railfanning the BNSF Railway and MNN is tough down in southeastern Wisconsin, but there is some great railfanning to be had in the Land of Cheese. Wouldn't you agree, Mike?

Mike
: Yes, indeed! In fact, I was pondering this just the other day. A friend from Illinois had posted some of his photos on a website, all of them were stunning, and I thought "I wish I could get some pictures like that!" There were a variety of action and static shots, on mainlines and branchlines. When I paused to consider this, I gradually came to the realization that we do have all of that here in Wisconsin. There may be fewer trains, thanks to Wisconsin being situated away from many of the transcontinental through routes, but we do have a variety. Only the players are different.

And speaking of being a different kind of player, Cody, you're an exemplification of that. For the first eighty-seven installments of this series, all the photographers have used digital cameras for the photos submitted. Today, we're breaking from that tradition in an effort to show that fine photographs can still be made on film. And in 2008! Cody, do you see yourself as a renegade? Or just a very happy user of slide film? Or perhaps something different altogether?

Cody: Well, Mike, I think it's something different altogether. I've had my Pentax ME Super since junior high, and I've just grown accustomed to using it. Sure, I don't get the immediate feedback of seeing what I've photographed or have the luxury of switching ISOs, but I'm okay with that. Outside of a few trips to the repair shop, my camera has been, well, super.

However, I wouldn't label myself as a renegade. I use digital cameras (Fuji S3 and Nikon D90) quite often at Model Railroader. The digital cameras are especially useful when working on how-to stories or photographing a layout. There would be nothing more frustrating than finishing a project or returning from a layout shoot only to have the images not turn out.

I'm sure in due time I'll switch to digital. For now, though, I'll enjoy using my Pentax ME Super and shooting slide film.

Mike: And that's the beauty of all this - railroad photography is supposed to be a fun pursuit, and if it ceases being fun because equipment or a process changes, why keep doing it? And it's not as if Cody's using a truly ancient piece of gear. He said he's been using it since junior high school. I'll let you in on a little secret: Cody only recently graduated high school, so that makes his Pentax only about three or four years old!
Union Pacific Granville job at Milwaukee, Wis.
UP Granville job at Milwaukee, Wis. ISO 800, 1/125 sec at f4.5, 50mm
Photo by Mike Yuhas
But enough frivolity for a moment, and on to the railroad photographs. I'll start by showing a photo of Union Pacific's Granville job taken in Milwaukee on the evening of February 22. The photo is a little dark because the scene was dark - note the lit-up red marker lights on the nearby television broadcast antenna towers. The train had just swung off the Shoreline Subdivision at Wiscona, so it wasn't going terribly fast. That's a good thing, because I was using a slow shutter speed. It's perhaps not the best photo I've ever taken, but it does convey the essence of the cool, dark scene as I remember it.

Cody: Great shot, Mike. Believe it or not, this summer is my 10-year high school reunion, so my Pentax ME Super is starting to become ancient. Of course, so am I.
Canadian Pacific 285 at Columbus, Wis.
Canadian Pacific 285 at Columbus, Wis. ISO 100, 1/1000 sec at f5.8, 50mm
Photo by Cody Grivno
Before we get to the voting, I thought I'd share a couple of other shots I've taken in the past few years. The first is a westbound Canadian Pacific train at Columbus, Wis., on September 22, 2007. I joined Matt VanHattem from Trains magazine (see Vol. 86 of Trackside with Trains.com) for a railfanning marathon. We started at Clyman Junction on the Union Pacific Adams Subdivision, then drove to Horicon to see what was happening on the Wisconsin & Southern. Much to our surprise, WSOR was running the Northern Division employee picnic train, so we followed that up to Brandon. After we had our fill of photographing the E unit and three bi-level commuter cars, we drove down to Columbus. We'd just missed the Empire Builder, but we did catch the train 285.
Wisconsin & Southern Railroad at Milton, Wis.
WSOR at Milton, Wis. ISO 100, 1/1000th sec at f11, 50mm
Photo by Cody Grivno
Anyhow, my shot for this week's voting competition is from February 16. I was driving back from the Mad City Train Show in Madison, Wis., and caught this train at Milton. I was surprised to see a westbound at 3:45 p.m. (the Horicon-Janesville, or HJ, usually operates in the morning). Perhaps this was an extra? I don't know. What I do know is that it was one of those deceivingly beautiful Wisconsin winter days. The sun was shining and there was barely a cloud in the sky, but it was really cold. Since we've had a lot of snow in southeastern Wisconsin this winter, I used some nearby piles to frame the train. I'll probably pull this shot out and stare at it longingly in August when it's 90-some degrees.

Mike: That's right. Lately I've been looking longingly at some of my photos from late June, replete with high sun, foliage, and heat waves rising from the trackbed. Come June or August we'll break out these photos and try to remember winter's chill.

I like how the train's framed by the snow piles, Cody. This effect made possible by a brutal Wisconsin winter!
Union Pacific Sheboygan freight at Lakefield, Wis.
UP Sheboygan freight at Lakefield, Wis. ISO 200, 1/500 sec at f10, 112mm
Photo by Mike Yuhas
Here's my photo for the voting competition. Look familiar? For me, this installment is all UP 1063, all the time. Our favorite GP38-2 showed up at the head of an unusual daylight Sheboygan-bound freight on Saturday, March 1. In this photo I violate a sacred cow of railroad photography: Note how I, the photographer, was positioned on the "wrong" side of the tracks. I figured the nose of the locomotive was in shadow, so the side might as well have been, too. The smoky exhaust was amplified by the backlight, too. It is a dime-a-dozen wedgie shot, but the lighting make it a little unconventional.

Cody: Though I miss the leaves on the trees and green grass, there is something to be said about winter photography. At times it can drive you crazy, like when your meter reads off the snow instead of the subject. However, the bare trees and snow-covered landscape do have a certain charm.
Amtrak Hiawatha 340 at Maple Street, Milwaukee, Wis.
Amtrak Hiawatha 340 at Maple Street, Milwaukee, Wis. ISO 100, 1/1000 sec at f5.6, 50mm
Photo by Cody Grivno
Since we've had to deal with snow, ice, and cold for several months now, I thought I'd share a summer-in-Milwaukee photo. This shot of Amtrak 340, the Hiawatha, was taken on June 27, 2006 at Maple Street. There were several photographers gathered at this location waiting for Milwaukee Road 261 to depart from the depot with a dinner train to Sturtevant (I think you were on that train, Mike). Before the steam excursion thundered past, we were treated to this five-car Amtrak train. Notice the green grass and leaves on the trees. I almost forgot what it looked like.

Mike: Aw shucks, you got us all excited with that talk about steam! I do remember that evening well and, yes, I was a passenger on the steam train. We received word recently that the 261 folks will be offering similar itineraries again this summer. That will be fun.

Well, that's about all from here. Cody, any last words before we head to the polls?

Cody: No, Mike. I think that's it. Remember folks, think spring!

Photos for the Trackside with Trains.com Volume 88 voting competition:
Union Pacific Sheboygan freight at Lakefield, Wis.
Mike's photo for this week's vote. UP Sheboygan freight at Lakefield, Wis. ISO 200, 1/500 sec at f10, 112mm
Photo by Mike Yuhas
Wisconsin & Southern Railroad at Milton, Wis.
Cody's photo for this week's vote. WSOR at Milton, Wis. ISO 100, 1/1000th sec at f11, 50mm
Photo by Cody Grivno
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