Bernadotte Line and Engineer Black – 29 March 2009

by Jim on 2014/03/29

[Jimbaux loves those Mid-City, Mid-City nights.]

Usually, the NS Bernadotte Line – an urban railroad branchline in the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans – is served sometime between midnight and dawn (and usually on Mondays.)  On the evening of Sunday 29 March 2009, the line was served a few hours before midnight, and I took advantage of the opportunity to photograph this neat little operation that is the last relic of a once much more extensive urban branchline.

Regular readers of the site will recall already-published images from the Bernadotte Line, each of which describes the history and operations of the line that I do not feel like retyping here now:

  1. In a blog post that starts with some KCS activity, I got the Bernadotte Line train at night spotting one boxcar on 15 December 2007.
  2. One of my favorite-ever shots shows a locomotive and three boxcars with the New Orleans skyline in the background on 16 March 2008.
  3. I photographed a rare daylight appearance of the Bernadotte Line train on 26 October 2008.
  4. Two days later, this time at night, I photographed the Bernadotte Line train again, and this time I got my first portraits of Engineer Black, whom we will see in today’s post too.
  5. On a very overcast day in January 2009, I photographed Engineer Black and Conductor Nette – a posed portrait of them, and action pictures too – on the Bernadotte Line.

So, here we go again, though this set of pictures is a big different too, as you will soon see.

You really can’t tell in this picture, but there is a locomotive being eclipsed by that boxcar, the loaded boxcar of bricks that the train came to deliver.

Yes, as I have said before, imagine the Southern Railway’s Crescent and the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad’s Rebel passenger trains going down that track.  It happened!

Here comes our locomotive, which is running around the boxcar that it just delivered so that it can spot it.

I guess that that’s a conductor’s lantern that is making the squiggly light streak.

Things got weird.  The trainmaster showed up to do a job briefing.  I thought this to be an odd place for a job-briefing, but I’m not a railroader, much less a Norfolk Southern employee.

While the trainmaster was meeting with the men on the ground (this train had a three-man crew), Engineer Johnny Black, who went to work for the Southern Railway (NS’s predecessor) in the late 1970s and worked the Bernadotte Line on his first day, began to converse with me.  He posed for a portrait.

I knew that he had been planning to retire two months later, and this is the last picture that I got of Johnny Black.

It seems strange now that I only started photographing Conductor Chip well after this, even though I had photographed his train for years before that.

The trainmaster and the other trainmen can be seen conversing on the ground at left.

Once the conversation had ended, Engineer Black moved the NS 5832 back to couple with the loaded boxcar.

Now, we are coupled.  Let’s move up and have a look toward the city center.

Okay, now, the train is about to depart.

The trainmaster then drove away, and you can see the light from the headlights of his vehicle in the below picture.

Boxcars are beautiful; aren’t they?

Below, for our final image, we see what is in more ways than one – and more than two, though the third is metaphorical – a going-away shot, as both the train and the trainmaster move away from us.

For whatever reason I cannot seem to remember (I may have simply needed to get to sleep to get to work the next day or get some paperwork done before showing up there), I didn’t stick around to photograph the spotting.  So, this is the end!




1 Charlie Kilbourne March 29, 2014 at 06:53

Great shots, Jimbaux!
Do you attribute your high resolution to your lens?
Does megapixel quantity play a significant role say beyond 20?

2 Jimbaux March 29, 2014 at 12:59

Hi, Charlie,

Thanks for asking. To answer your first question, probably “yes.” The lens that I used for these picures was a Canon 17-40mm/f4 lens.

The short answer to your megapixel question – a very legitimate and important question that defintely is not asked often enough – is “no,” and I think that the same would be true if you had asked about 12 megapixels.

There was a big discussion on my site about this nearly two years ago. It was prompted by some commentary that I made in a blog post, but I didn’t bring up the megapixel issue until the comments section. Read it all here:

3 Charlie Kilbourne March 29, 2014 at 13:55

Thanks, James, the quality of your photos is stunning. particularly for night photos. Beside camera make, lens and the essential megapixels, let’s not forget the photographer, and, of course, here is where you excel.


4 Jeffrey Eatley March 29, 2014 at 13:13

Great Job. I love the night time art… really shows off the trains.

In addition to what Jimbaux said I would have to agree… Unless you are using the images to go directly on a billboard or something where you would need more mp. Most times I think it is all about resolution of 300 or better and the lens. That would be way more important. Still using a D90 with 12mp and can tell no difference from my new camera with 16mp nor the other camera I shot with 24mp. File size is larger yet on the internet size images I can tell no difference.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: