Cellpic Sunday (and WPC Half-light) – 27 March 2016

DismalRiverBWThedford, Nebraska.

Late yesterday my wife and I completed our biannual three-day trek between our winter and summer homes. After arriving in Albuquerque on Friday evening, I used my iPad to post my weekly photo challenge response. I didn’t, however, do anything more than the minimum that the challenge requested. I simply posted a photograph taken at dusk. In conjunction with today’s Cellpic Sunday selection, I’d like to submit a second entry to the challenge post for the week. Krista’s challenge involves sharing more than a photo. She adds to the challenge by asking us to link the photograph to a “favorite poem, verse, story, or song lyric.” You can read the entire challenge post here.

For Friday’s entry, I shared an image, but other than commenting that the photo was captured along the way on one of our nightly walks, I really didn’t have a story that related to the image. For today’s Cellpic Sunday image, I have a favorite story involving half-light in the early morning. Coincidently, I was able to capture a half-light image taken early yesterday morning just before sunrise on our trek through Nebraska.

Now for the story… Once upon a time, some years ago, Lynn and I chose to ride the Empire Builder, Amtrak’s passenger train that travels from Seattle, Washington or Portland, Oregon to Chicago, Illinois. We boarded at Portland, departed at Whitefish, Montana for a day of sightseeing in Glacier National Park and re-boarded the train the next morning to continue on to our home in Fargo, North Dakota. The overnight stay at Whitefish helped to break up the 32-hour long train trip and gave us a real bed to sleep in for a night.

The train trip was a last-minute decision and we were disappointed to find that all of the sleeper cars were already booked. We would have to settle for coach seats and plan to spend the first night of our travel sleeping in our coach seats. We would arrive at Whitefish at 7:26 AM the next morning. For those unfamiliar with train travel on Amtrak, coach seats on the train are far more comfortable than airline coach seats. They are superior to first class seats on an airliner, and when the train seat’s footrest is extended, they offer a reasonable, if not completely comfortable, sleeping configuration.

The Empire Builder travels through some of the most beautiful country in the United States on its way through the Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately, you won’t get to see much of the mountains as the schedule takes you through in the middle of the night. As many people sleep in their coach seats, the train cars are darkened and curtains pulled down over the windows, illumination provided only by the floor lighting in the exit door wells. I don’t know what woke me up, but it was still dark in the car. Curiously, I pulled back the curtain a bit so that I might get a glimpse outside that might indicate where we were at that moment.

It was barely light enough to determine that we were moving along next to a mountain stream flowing briskly through tiny rapids. It was still so dark in that early morning half-light, my eyes were unable to determine any colors. It was as if Ansel Adams was projecting a video onto my train window, all in glorious black-and-white, dark like a film noir. There would be no photographs of this moment. No camera would have been able to capture enough light to gather an image, sharp and clear like it existed in my mind, as I saw that first light of morning. Any photographic attempt would be a blur of shrubs and evergreens streaking by the window of our moving train. Today, over a dozen years after the fact, that moment is vividly replayed in my head anytime I want to review it.

Fast forward to yesterday morning, traveling through Nebraska. We left well before dawn for a ten-hour drive home. Between North Platte, and Valentine, Nebraska, just south of the town of Thedford, we saw the first signs of dawn. Thinking of the photo challenge and the need for a subject for Cellpic Sunday, I wondered what I might find to photograph along the  way. Rolling hills and fields would be the usual view, however shortly after first light, we happened to come upon a sign that said “Scenic Overlook 2 miles.” This might be my chance to capture a cell pic for Sunday and another entry in the Weekly Photo Challenge!

Turning onto the Scenic Overlook drive, we actually passed the overlook driveway and followed the road down toward an old bridge that crosses a small river. A sign by the bridge identified it as the Dismal River. Looking at the scene possibilities, I thought of our train trip. I captured a few scenes of the river, scurrying about in the early morning chill. Though there was plenty of light to capture a nice, full color view of the Dismal River, I decided to edit into a black-and-white image reminiscent of that early morning Rocky Mountain view. This week’s Cellpic Sunday and Weekly Photo Challenge entry reflects that attempt.

Captured with a Samsung S6, edited on an iPad; the rule for Cellpic Sunday is simple. The image must be captured and edited on a mobile device.

John Steiner

11 thoughts on “Cellpic Sunday (and WPC Half-light) – 27 March 2016

  1. Lovely photo John and loved your story. We have booked the same Amtrack for part of our trip out west this summer and will travel from Seattle to Whitefish. I’m so looking forward to it!

    • Enjoy! We would take the train more often, but it’s so much more expensive than flying. No wonder Amtrak has trouble keeping their trains full. I think many more people would travel by train if it were more reasonably priced. They would make it up in volume. 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment on the photo and story!

  2. Pingback: Half-Light (On the sunny side of the street) | What's (in) the picture?

  3. Pingback: Half-Light (On the sunny side of the street) | What's (in) the picture?

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