Sony A6600 – Trains

Picture Date: January 4, 2020

Friday I took some pictures around my front and back yards with my new Sony A6600 with an 18-135mm lens. On Saturday it was time to see how it works with trains!

My favorite local location for train pictures is was near the entrance to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. There was a lovely little spot to park and get pictures of northbound and southbound trains on the BNSF line between Seattle and Portland. I could be safe far back from the track and the sightlines were great; there was even a signal in view making it easier to determine where the next train might be coming from. I’ve posted about my visits here numerous times.

Last year they replaced the single lane wooden bridge over Lake River (yes, that’s the name) with a new two lane structure that goes over the tracks as well as the river. The new bridge is complete but they are still removing the old one. The access is closed during the week for that work. Being a Saturday and having a new camera , I thought it would be a good time to see if I could still get in to take some train pictures. Dang; there is a little turn off to that area but it is now protected by a locked gate. I had to find a new place to grab my pictures.

So I headed into the town of Ridgefield and looked for places where a road might cross the tracks. I found a spot on Railroad Avenue that provided some access. It wasn’t long before I was rewarded with a train horn. I had a memory position in my camera set up for action photos. Unfortunately the train was coming from the south and I had to shoot practically right into the low winter sun.

BNSF coal train rolling through Ridgefield, WA

What a difference the light makes! As the train passed I turned to face north with the sun behind me. I got a dramatically better picture. Light is everything.

Nice light on the back end of BNSF coal train rolling through Ridgefield, WA.

Less than 10 minutes later a UP container train was headed north.

UP on BNSF trackage in Ridgefield, WA

I’m delighted with the performance of the camera. While it isn’t as capable as my Sony A7R3 with the 24-105 lens, the new camera is so light and the motion tracking may even better than its big brother. Less weight is good when packing for a trip and for hiking or walking around a city all day. And the images are definitely good enough for my use.

There is a nice pedestrian bridge over the tracks at the Carty unit of the sanctuary, but it is protected by a chain link fence limiting train pictures. A train passed just after I parked but I got to the bridge as the train was pulling away. I tried to shoot through one of the gaps but you can see a blurry white artifact to the right of the last car.

View from the pedestrian bridge of the Ridgefield Wildlife Sancuary Carty Unit.

Train traffic had slowed or stopped so I headed down to the depot in downtown Vancouver, Washington. There was no action on the main north/south line over the bridge but there were a couple of freights pulling out of the yard and headed east out the Columbia Gorge. I grabbed a couple of frames. These yard locomotives look freshly painted for 2020.

Vancouver, WA train yard
Vancouver, WA train yard

All in all an okay day despite the disappointment of my favorite spot not being available anymore. But hey, any day with trains is a good day!

You can also check out my A6600 album on Flickr.

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