You Know It Don’t Come Easy
Brookhaven, Mississippi – August 2012

Above is the set-up shot.  All I needed was a south-bound freight train rolling by that lovely old Brookhaven station for a great train picture. So I waited. I had no idea how long I would have to wait, but I wanted the perfect shot that was dancing in my head. I wait some more. A headlight down the track! I get in position, but the locomotive in the distance stops, and then backs up; just an engine switching cars.

I wait some more. After nearly two hours of waiting, I see a headlight in the distance, the crossing guards sound off, and in just a few seconds the train is on me, moving right through downtown Brookhaven at about 50 mph. I got off about five frames as the engine roared by.

In the excitement though, I panned on the fast moving locomotive, completely forgetting about the station, so instead of a nice shot of a locomotive passing the brick station, I have an very ordinary shot of a train passing, well, me.

Brookhaven, Mississippi – August, 2012

Perhaps in your imagination you can put the locomotive above into the picture of the old brick station with the nice clouds. I can see it in my head, but that’s not the same thing as a photograph. The clouds were thickening and a sprinkle of rain cooled the Mississippi summer air.  I packed up my camera and headed back to the car forming dark thoughts about the vagaries of railroad photography.  Sometimes, it just don’t come easy.

By the way, the little stone marker next to the station has two round brass plaques, one of which reads “For 100 Years—1851-Illinois Central-1951—Mainline of Mid-America.” The other plaque displays an Illinois Central route map. I know because I took a picture of it while I was standing around waiting for the train.

Edd FullerPhotographs and text Copyright 2017


12 thoughts on “Editor’s Notebook

  1. The thrills and disappointments of photography are part of the process. I love your self-effacing story as it’s the story many serious photojournalists can relate to. Now dive into you archives and enjoy the thrill of all those that came out perfectly. -Don Bartletti

  2. I’m sure we have all been there, done that. It’s nice to know that others do the same! Remember the ones that worked out just as you had planned… and remember the misses too.

    Think of it this way – you got two decent photos – the station and the train – and a bonus with the stone marker. A good outing.

    1. Thanks Steve. Pictures good or not so good, it is amazing how much memory of the day those pictures bring back. That alone makes it worthwhile.

  3. Edd, your story summed up many of my earlier photography experiences! Too often, in the excitement of the train’s passing, I would forget what my intent was and follow the train in the viewfinder…completely missing my shot. I get around that now by always positioning my camera on a tripod….pre-setting the framing, focusing and exposure. Then I can sit down, absorb the surroundings and relax until the train comes with the assurance that I’ll be ready come train time!

  4. One of my favorite places to sit and watch trains. I’ve been shooting there since the mid-1970s. Wonderful place to take in small town America.

Leave a Reply