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Planning for 150

22nd August 2017

With Canadian Pacific’s 150 train travelling to Ottawa on VIA’s Smiths Falls Sub, I had to make some hard decisions about where best to photograph it from.  Here were the factors I took into account when deciding where to take them from.

1. Sightline’s / Obstructions

It is important that if you wish to take a picture, that you can get the subject in the frame and the subject facing (or heading) towards the camera.  I knew that this was a long train, so I needed a place with long unobstructed sight lines looking south west.

2. Lighting

I needed to ensure that I wouldn’t be shooting it with shadows, so a location on the side of the south side of tracks was important.  If the weather was solidly overcast, the “Lighting” wouldn’t been a factor.

3. Crowds

It is much easier to frame the shot when there aren’t tones of people mulling around (and getting into your shot).  A location with the fewest amount of people makes it easier.

4. Uniqueness

The location should be one where there aren’t going to be tones of other people photographing it from as well.  If there are going to be 25 people at a location all taking images, odds are that many of the images will look the same, so why bother getting an image that everyone else is getting.

5. Accessibility

I was hoping that I would be able to possibly catch the train twice, so it was important that I could easily get from the location to my car in a reasonable amount of time.

Using that criteria, I was able to figure out where best to photograph it from based on the table below.  My plan was to get it at Dwyer Hill (and also hope to get some images of it meeting a VIA train as well).  When I arrived at Dwyer Hill, there was a huge pile of rail ties on the left of the frame which was blocking my sight lines.

I believe the saying is that plans are useless, but planning indispensable.  After finding out that Dwyer Hill wasn’t an option, I headed up to Montague Boundary Road and setup there.  The resulting image is shown below.

CP passing by quickly south west of Dwyer Hill

After the shot, I then tried to catch it at Twin Elm, but missed it by 5 minutes.  I continued on to the station and managed to catch it arriving.  I overestimated the crowds at the curve as there were about 8 or so people there, which made taking images was easy.

CP Approaching Ottawa Station

In the end, I was quite pleased that I was able to catch it twice on its way to Ottawa.

…Running Extra…

After it had arrived at the station, I then headed to the Belfast Overpass just to take a look.  At first I was a bit concerned because this location rates poorly on the sight lines (due to power lines), crowds, and uniqueness.  But we were all in for quite the treat as it spent alot of time shunting and moving cars around allowing us to capture photos without as many power lines.


  • Steve Boyko
    Posted at 11:40 pm 2017-08-22
    Steve Boyko
    Reply Author

    A decision matrix! You took planning to the next level.

    Nice approach shots… I like the four units isolated, from the overpass.

    • DaveM
      Posted at 11:58 pm 2017-08-22
      Reply Author

      Given the low probability of CP visiting Ottawa again in the next 50 years, a bit of extra planning was called for in order to make sure I reduced the risk of messing up the shot. 🙂