Manor Junction to Lara

Last summer I spent some afternoons on the Geelong line, videoing services in the area around Manor Junction, Little River and Lara. Since the opening of the Regional Rail Link this line has enjoyed a 20 minute off-peak frequency on weekdays and even more frequent services during the peak periods. The afternoon peak is especially busy and the long afternoons during the daylight saving months provide opportunities for capturing much of the late afternoon action in good light.

Monday 1 February was one afternoon that I found myself down in that area. Mondays have the advantage of the Up Overland running on the standard gauge line, which is generally closely followed by SCT’s ‘Wimmera Intermodal’ service. Later, Pacific National’s nightly Melbourne – Adelaide service runs through the area (on Monday this train is 2MA5). The broad gauge services include the usual numerous V/Locity rail cars but also feature loco hauled passenger trains (hauled by N class locos) and a five car Sprinter service. With trains running on the Down (i.e. away from Melbourne) every 10-15 minutes as well as the normal 20 minute service on the Up, in addition to the random standard gauge offerings, a busy few hours can be had between about 4 and 8 pm.
The last train in this video is the last one I captured that day – 2MA5 at the level crossing about 5 km north of Lara. The sun was about 10 minutes away from setting and I had almost given up hope that the train would appear while daylight was still around but I saw the gates on the next level crossing up the line go down and figured it was on the way. Sure enough, two NRs duly appeared with their train in tow, racing along the somewhat bouncy standard gauge track. A nice end to a very enjoyable afternoon!

Mossman Mill

In October 2015 I spent just over a week in far North Queensland to film the various sugar cane train networks that can be found between Mossman and Tully. I spent about a day and a half in Mossman and experienced mostly difficult weather conditions: overcast and very windy. The former takes away the brightness that sunny shots provide and the latter plays havoc with audio recordings, even with a ‘dead cat’ on the microphone. Certainly not the best conditions but having travelled so far you have to work with what you get.

Mossman is located north of Cairns and sits in the shadow of Great Dividing Range (hence the propensity for wet weather). It is the last town of any significance prior to Cooktown and one of the last before entering the Cape York area. The townscape still has that ‘undeveloped’ look about it, notwithstanding a relatively new supermarket complex south of the main business district, and the skyline is dominated by the sugar mill which, during the season, also scents the air with that rich, sweet aroma that is so prevalent around the mills.

One of Mossman’s most famous streets is Mill Street, which runs from the mill towards the centre of town and then out to the cane fields to the north and west. Trains trundle along the street regularly during the season (and this will be a feature of a future film). Out in the cane fields, the relatively small network (65 km) runs north, south and west of the town. Some of the runs are very short (e.g. to nearby Shannonvale, where there is a large loading point). One feature of this network is the use of bogie wagons (or ‘bins’ as they are known in the industry). Many networks only use four wheel bins or a limited number of bogie wagons but Mossman has embraced the larger bogie variety.

I saw a decent number of trains on this day, but the weather was daunting, which took the edge off the experience. Ironically, on the drive back to Cairns in the late afternoon, I was clear of the cloud cover and enjoyed brilliant sunshine – well away from any railway lines!

Sydney Passenger Trains

This video was shot during a short visit to Sydney in December 2015. It features a cross-section of the passenger trains that can be seen in Sydney, including the new ‘Waratah’ suburban trains (A sets), the K and M (Millennium) sets and also intercity V sets. All of these trains are double decker – a feature of Sydney’s electric rolling stock scene for over 50 years. The last of the single decker trains was withdrawn from regular service in 1992. You can also see NSW TrainLink XPT and Explorer trains. I used a number of suburban locations to capture a wide cross section of trains.

The video was shot with a GoPro camera, a device that I regularly use for my videos. GoPros come with a ‘protune’ setting, which equates to the ‘cinema’ camera style that can be colour graded and manipulated to give a more film like finish.  I am still experimenting with the use of ‘LUTs’ (Look Up Tables) that pre-formulate a colour combination and tone. I have been using the LUTs made by Ground Control and have had some interesting results, although not always to my liking. The LUTs are added and then further corrected in Da Vinci Resolve software – another piece of kit that requires a massive learning curve and much experimentation to get right.
I used a GoPro clamp to secure the camera for this shoot, using available points such as seats or railings to hold the camera clamp. I have since built a small rig to hold the GoPro in place and, after some modifications, it is proving to be a useful addition to my kit, although it is heavier than the previous clamp and it all adds up to more equipment to be carried. However, I am a big believer in holding cameras ‘steady’ during shooting, be it by tripod or some other form of stabilisation.

Welcome to krdcountrytv!

This blog supports my YouTube channel ‘the home of beautiful movies of trains’.

I will be using this blog to write ‘the making of’ stories behind my videos. Some of you may find these stories more interesting than the videos themselves!

I will also be talking about the equipment I use and the manner in which I use it (without claiming to be a technical expert, my comments will be based on my experiences).

I have long had an interest in photography and have been ‘seriously’ taking photographs for more than 40 years. My experience with videography is somewhat erratic, starting with some high school adventures that introduced me to the wonderful world of video (in an era when video equipment was large, cumbersome, expensive and of lamentably poor quality compared with today’s offerings), through to random uses of such equipment starting with my Russian holiday adventure in 2007. With the arrival of digital cameras I re-embraced the world of video and have now moved most of my photography to that medium.

I publish a new movie on my YouTube channel every Monday at 1130 eastern Australian time. The videos are generally of short duration (3 – 8 minutes is typical) and each one is devoted to a specific area or theme. I live in Melbourne, Australia, and many of the videos have been shot in and around Melbourne, or in regional areas in close proximity to Melbourne. However, I regularly travel elsewhere, both to other Australian locations and also overseas, and videos from those journeys can also be found on the channel. Over time, I will retrospectively write about some of those videos.

I am planning to cover many areas and aspects of Melbourne’s rail operations in what will inevitably be a very long term project.

As a sample, here is a video that was published on 18 April 2016 that was shot at Tottenham, in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, during the last weeks of summer. Tottenham is a large and sprawling marshalling yard that is now largely redundant. It is mostly used for storage of unneeded rolling stock and as a staging post for broad gauge freight trains, very few of which still operate in the state of Victoria. The interstate standard gauge line runs along the northern edge of the yard and, at its western end, is the junction for the lines to Sydney and Adelaide. The northern side of the yard adjoins a residential area with open or park land beside the line. Unusually for Melbourne, this area is actually fenced (most railway lines in Melbourne are not fenced).

This video features a number of trains that can be seen during the late afternoon, although the timing of some of them is such that they don’t run each day. Included here is the Overland, Great Southern Railway’s Adelaide – Melbourne service that runs only twice each week, V/Line’s Albury passenger train and NSW TrainLink’s Sydney – Melbourne XPT (both run every day), Pacific National’s MA5 Melbourne – Adelaide freight train (M -F), Aurizon’s MB7 to Brisbane (6 days/week), SCT’s ‘Wimmera Intermodal’ train (5 days/week) and Aurizon’s shuttle service from SCT’s depot at Laverton to North Dynon (the wagons are then added to MB7). The video was shot with my Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera in ‘film’ mode.