Recently I was assigned to cover the historic rail yards in Sacramento, which consist of the Railyard, Boiler Shop, and the Erecting Shop for Sacramento Magazine. If you live in Sacramento, then you know this iconic location. Located in downtown Sacramento, it's been a location that I have wanted to explore my entire life. So my excitement, when I learned I was going to shoot there, was through the roof! The short story on why it became possible to shoot there is that the rail museum became the owner of the property recently and the red tape to get in was reduced. It still took a few months of e-mails and phone calls, which I was more than happy to participate in.
Now for the planning part.
I had no idea what I would face in terms of lighting. All I knew was that the windows are big and beautiful. Knowing I would have some good natural light, I planned on bringing reflectors and strobes. Regularly using my Nikon 810 and Nikon D4, I also wanted to add an extra camera to my arsenal for this assignment, so I rented the Fuji GFX 50R. That's a medium format digital mirrorless camera. I had worked with the GFX the month prior in Palm Springs and loved the files it made. Also, the Electronic View Finder on the Fuji allows the user to see the exact image and exposure of the end product before you take it, which was a massive help in this environment.
Now onto the location.
My assistant Skip and I arrived around 8:45 am for the walkthrough. The first thing I noticed was how friendly the workers were. After further discussion, I came to find out that most of the workers are volunteers. These volunteers are there because of their absolute love of trains.
The next observation I had was how there is a vast amount of trains in the two buildings. As I looked around, I was a bit awestruck by the amazing history that surrounded me. It's tough to do the description justice (which is why I shoot pictures), but everywhere I turned I, saw part of our American history and learned how without the rail system we would not be the nation we are today.
It's time for the images.
We ended up shooting from 9am to noon. I could have gone all day, but our agreement was only for that time window and I never want to push it on these kinds of deals (I want to be invited back!). I made around 550 images and used the GFX for about 80% of those shots. I didn't use any strobes and only used the reflector a little; the light was that good!
Lastly, if you have never been to the main Rail Museum in Old Sacramento, then I suggest you go! And if you have been, then go again. They have some new items that are worth learning about and be sure and talk with the volunteers; they have some fascinating stories to tell.