A Steam Locomotive Audible. Strasburg Number 90.

Last week, when I returned from my excursion to photograph the steam locomotives at Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Rail Road, I went through the shots captured and pulled out two nice-looking images. They’re here.

I liked both of them, I really did. But there was something on each one that, well, I could have submitted them as being “just good enough.” But you know me. I can’t submit anything that’s “just good enough.”

So I went back through every shot I took on that Lancaster County, Pa. day. All the good ones, all the bad ones.

And in the end, I found an image – one near the end of my shooting day. It had both the black smoke and white steam from the locomotive. You could clearly see the headlight, bright as day, on the front. There was the “90” on the side. And I could crop it in such a way that the steam and smoke are clearly visible, that there aren’t any dated images or distracting objects in the photo, and maybe this might actually be a better concept.

Say hi to Strasburg Number 90.

Strasburg Number 90. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 lens. Photo (c) 2021 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

You know what? Much better. Much, much better. Look at all that detail. Look at the plume of black, nasty smoke. Look at that explosion of white steam. Heck, you can see every gear on those wheels. And in black and white, it looks incredibly dramatic.

And now I’m curious. I did some research on this train. It’s a Decapod locomotive, meaning that the wheels are situated in 2-10-0 configuration (2 wheels in the front, 10 geared wheels powered by the engines). It’s one of only two heritage Decapod trains operating in the nation. It was built in 1924, arrived in Strasburg in 1967, and weighs over 100 tons. That’s one hefty hauler.

I’m going with this image. This will be one of my main entries for Competition Season 2021. I’m earmarking it for at least the two competitions that have officially called for imagers – the Big E and Iowa – and I’ll keep it on standby for the other competitions.

In instances like this, you have to pull what you can.

I’ll send a print of this to McGreevy Pro Lab (my pro lab of choice) and see if they can turn it into a swank 11×14 print, suitable for entry.

And since I couldn’t get a Christmas-colored diesel train last Christmas…

This steam-powered locomotive behemoth will simply have to do.