Wait, where are the photos??

Sunday morning. Mothers’ Day. And I’m camped out for a quick photo shoot in Corinth. Yep, I’m trying to find that perfect Saratoga, Corinth & Hudson train photo to enter in Competition Season 2023.

There’s a small bridge across a little creek near the intersection of Heath Road and Route 9N, just before the SC&H crosses 9N on its southern journey.

I scouted the location. This is actually a good shooting spot.

That’s pretty decent. All I have to do is hop a fence, shimmy down to the side of the creek, and photograph the train as it heads southbound.

Most likely the train orientation will be the SC&H’s #3021 “Radio” engine pushing the train down to Greenfield Center, and then pulling it back to Corinth. Great. I’ll get the train as it passes by, scootch over to the Saratoga Springs Farmers Market afterward, and then head home. Easy Peasey.

The slope to the ground level was a tad slippery, but I managed okay. There were plenty of felled branches and twigs on the ground, and I wiggled my way around some thorns and pricklers to get in the perfect shooting spot. Nikon Df camera at the ready, with my super-ultra-wide Irix 15mm f/2.4 on the chassis.

And here comes the train. Yep, Radio’s pushing the cars. Just like I expected.

Get my shots. Clip clip clip clip.

Oh these are going to be great. Competition Season material for sure.

After the train left, I climbed back up the hill, got in my car, and started checking the images.

Hey, wait … where are the images?

I’ve got shots of the creek, shots of the bridge … but where are the shots of the train?

I know I took the shots of the train. The camera fired. The shutter clicked.

But the photos aren’t there.

I checked the battery. Fully charged.

I checked the SD card. 128g. Plenty of room.

And then I had a terrible thought.

The Nikon Df … the one I purchased in 2012, the camera that produced several of my award-winning photographs, and was my #1 shooter for the past decade … failed me.

The photos weren’t there. They weren’t on the chip. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Yeah, this is some serious bullshit. Horseshit. Batshit. All other forms of animal byproducts.

Okay. I have one chance for a do-over. The SC&H has to come BACK up the route in an hour. I can still get my groceries at the Farmers Market afterward … but I just have to go back down the hill, navigate toward the creek, and pick my spot again.

Well … let’s do this.

Back down I go. Dodge the thorns and the pricklers. Swat away the flies and other bugs.

Okay. I’m here.

Of course, now I have an hour to stew over why my Df failed. Yeah, I know. I have a 12-year-old camera and it probably just had a senior moment.

But I can’t have my camera experiencing “senior moments” when I’m chasing the Canadian Pacific (now CPKC) Holiday Train next year. I can’t have my camera experiencing “senior moments” when I want to shoot stereo shots when the Saratoga flat track opens up this summer.

And I sure as hell don’t want this Df failing me when the solar eclipses arrive.

Thankfully, I own two Nikon Df cameras – this black one, and a silver one I purchased last year. And as of this day, unless I decide otherwise, the silver one is now designated as my top shooter for the eclipse, while this black Df is now relegated to a backup position.

Trust me. I want my equipment to work EVERY DAMN TIME. I press that button, I expect my camera to shoot. I don’t expect it to tell me, “I’m sorry, Chuck, I can’t do that,” and start singing “A Bicycle Built for Two” and looking for pod bay doors.

I looked over the creek. There’s still plenty of sunlight glistening off the waters. It’s highlighting the creek as the water flows over the rocks and over the twigs and over whatever that metallic thing is in the – wait, is that a snack chip bag in the water?

Aw, hells no!

I grabbed a stick and fished the bag out of the water. Great. Some chisel-brained navel-gazer tossed an empty bag of Funyuns out their car window, and it ended up in the creek. Trust me. Nobody’s ruining my photo shoot. Not a camera that has grown sentient, and certainly NOT a Funyuns wrapper in the water.

Okay, Chuck. Bring back your center of gravity. You’re in the Adirondacks. It’s peaceful up here. Nothing but chirping birds and whistling winds and possibly a black bear or a brown bear or some other bear.

And then I heard the railroad crossing bells. Radio is on its way.

Okay. Back in position. Camera on. A few test shots. A quick chimp of the back screen to make sure the test shots are there. Okay. They’re there.

And here comes Radio with the rest of the rolling stock.

And after all that work … I got this image for my efforts.

3021 Radio. Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. Photo (c) 2023 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Hello, short pile. Iowa … Syracuse … Durham … Altamont … one of those four will get this image in competition. Conductor in the window? Check. Ticket-taker in the front car? Check. Funyuns wrapper in the stream? Chuck checked, no wrapper. Check.

I tell you, for all the effort I put into this project, this photo needs to win in Competition Season. My plan is to actually enter four different SC&H pictures – one for each competition – with the exception of the Big E, where my B&W shot of the SC&H took a blue ribbon last year.

Let’s see what we can achieve this time around.

And as for my black Df camera … I may need to let my bud Alan over at CameraWorks give this bad boy a once-over.

Trust me. I expect my cameras to work every time I press that shutter.

I don’t need them getting sentient on me and questioning my decisions.