Mais, Alea Iacta Est

by Jim on 2011/01/19

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Today, I went about foaming again on the Lafayette Sub for what will be the last time in at least a few months and maybe longer than that.  I really wanted to get the Chip Local, of all things.  This post is being made within a few hours after the pictures were taken.  If you see any additional shots of trains on the Lafayette Sub on this site in the near future, they will have been taken before today.

Making Plans

My plan was to shoot the Chip Local and shoot Amtrak ahead of him, both at Chachahoula.  Also, my plan was to do the ground-level shot of the Sunset Limited and do the top-of-the-truck shot of the Chip Local so that you could compare the two.  However, despite my best efforts, this didn’t happen, and you’ll soon learn why.

I could go into detail about this, but I frequently get questions about the top-of-the-truck shooting, and in some cases, the inquisitors obviously don’t get it because they seem to think I’m being silly or vain by climbing atop the truck.  That’s silly!  I couldn’t care less how I look on top of the truck.  I just care how the picture looks, and perspective is everything in photography.  Reread that sentence a few times and let it sink in if you must.  Simply put, I go where I need to go to get the shot I want.  I could go far into detail and get philosophical about this, but for reasons I don’t care to mention just yet, I’m incredibly busy tonight and need to get this stuff posted and done.


The town of Schriever supposedly owes its existence to the fact that the people of the already established community of Thibodaux (then spelled Thibodeaux) did not want a mainline railroad built through their town.  Schriever was originally called “Terrebonne Station” and was later renamed after a railroad official.

Whatever the history, it has long been a part of my history as a favorite train-watching location since I grew up along the bayous near the area.

Here, the #1 comes to a stop in Schriever, and I get the heck out of town so I can beat him to the shot at Chacahoula, as seen below.

Actually, that’s not my classic Chacahoula shot.  This is, except for the fact that it’s taken at ground level:

Compare it to the top-of-the-truck shots shown in the inaugural post here.

Now What?

I was completely devoid of any knowledge of the whereabouts of the Chip Local.  I simply returned to Schriever.

A Different Local!

Well, there was indeed a local arriving into Schriever from the east, but it was the Louisiana & Delta Railway local that’s based there.  Other than some going-away shots I took at Salix on Monday, these were the first shots I get of the LDRR 1707.

There’s Something Wrong Here

There’s a reason why I left much of the trees in the right side of the picture and didn’t crop the image so that the train took up more of the frame.  Can you tell what it is?

Still haven’t figured it out?  If not, then I’ve succeeded in hiding the problem by leaving a wider-angle image.

In the shot below, the distance between the train and me is much shorter, and that’s why this yet-undisclosed problem is not seen here.

There, that’s better.  So, what is this problem?

I Hate Heat Distortion

I really do.  The heat distortion was terrible today, as it often is on these sunny winter days.

Below, the LDRR 1707 is shoving his train into the east storage track for pickup by the BNSF.

You can see the heat distortion problems in this shot too.  As far as I know, there’s simply no way to avoid head distortion.  To do so would either violate the laws of physics or would use something other than visible light.  In other words, it’s impossible to avoid.  Dammit!

Did I mention that I hate heat distortion?

There’s No Sign of Chip

Not only was there no sign of Chip, but a combination of comint and humint indicated that if I saw him at all, it wouldn’t be for at least three hours.  MofW (that’s maintenance of way for those of you unschooled in railroad jargon) was going to occupy the line east of here for the next three hours and was waiting on the L&D job to clear.  Plus, there were rumors of the Chip Local having problem with its locomotive.

So, I went back to the farm and got some of the zillions of chores I have to do done.

It Ends How It Ends

. . . and it is what it is.  Acceptance is surely virtue, I have learned recently, but it’s tough to accept!  Anyway, I had to go buy a new phone because mine broke, and after that, I headed out to the track around dusk to see what was happening.

On the way there, I shot a picture of DuCros Plantation, which is more than 150 years old.

Then, I arrived on the scene and nearly wet myself when I looked to the east and saw this:

Don’t know what you’re seeing there?   Well, about 4000′ away from me at the east siding switch, you can see a manlift leading to the yard light.  On the mainline, you can see a BNSF MofW truck.  And what do you see behind him?  It’s Chip waiting!

A Communication Breakdown

I don’t feel like getting into details, but there was some back-and-forth between the dispatcher and this MofW crew about getting out of the way for Chip to meet an eastbound (which was the BNSF’s M-DYTCSX1-18, in case you care), and I was hoping it would mean that I would get an actual shot of him before dusk.  It was not to be.  In the meantime, here’s another shot that is fouled by heat distortion.

I really wanted to shoot him at Chacahoula, as I wrote at the beginning, so that you could compare the on-top-of-the-truck shot to the ground level one, and by this time of the day, the lighting would be really sweet at the Chacahoula shot.  It was not to be.  The sun set before the train could move  much past this point, and Chip decided to turn at Schriever anyway.

All Is Well That Ends Well

Ain’t that the truth?  All I could really do was fire off this shot over the pond where steam locomotives once quenched their thirst.

This is a sunset in more ways than one, and that can be a great thing!

So long, Lafayette Sub.  It’s been real, sometimes too real.  I hope you’re here whenever I return.

Closing Time

Remember that every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.  For that to happen, though, you just have to let go.  That’s something that is not always easy, and that is oh-so true for me, but I’m grateful for my new eyes.

Until next time . . .



1 jenni January 20, 2011 at 08:32

Great one James…good luck!

2 Jeff Guidry January 20, 2011 at 09:00

Great shots, Jimbo………
Get back to shooting the Laf sub. Make time for it.

3 Mike January 20, 2011 at 09:30

I wish that I had heat distortion problems! :^) Tomorrow high temp up here (near Chicago) is going to be a sultry nine degrees!!!!!

BTW, great job with the blog.

4 Gibbens Robichaux January 20, 2011 at 09:57

Hi James: Thanks for beautiful pictures ( I hope there was no loco motive in what you do). Just kidding. My DAD used to love Schriever and would go alone sometimes and just sit there to watch trains come and go. My wife took a class of children on the train from Schriever to BatonRouge on a field trip. I took the train from New Orleans throgh Schriever to go to Camp Stoneman in California for USAF service in 1952. Coming back in 1954 from Okinawa I took the train as DAd didn’t like flying. It took three days to come home and I met two servicemen on the trip, one I still correspond with in SanAntonio. They talk about the Post Office shutting down and all businesses failing in this economy but the train business will never stop. If only people realized what trains to for this country. Keep up the great work and great pictures.

5 Howard Bingham January 20, 2011 at 20:57

Perspective control, it’s just in knowing what different lenses can do & the end result.

Somehow with all my years in a professional photo darkroom, everytime i go out & try something new, am limited by lens selection & the ability to get the right angle.

Great lesson above..!

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