Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Tehachapi Loop (Photography Location)

The Tehachapi Loop is a railroad landmark just outside of Tehachapi, California. Because the mountains rise so quickly, the railroad has to criss-cross with hairpin curves and even use a loop to get to the top of the pass. It is indeed an engineering achievement and a unique site.

Both the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroads use the Tehachapi pass, but the U.P. owns and operates it. I have no idea how many freight trains rumble over The Loop each day, but I would guess in the range of 40-50 on average.

It is pretty easy to get to The Loop. The Woodford-Tehachapi Road goes right by it. You can exit the Highway 58 freeway at Keene or you can find the road on the west side of Tehachapi. Once there, historical markers and a small parking area let you know you are in the right place.

These photographs were captured using a Pentax K-30 DSLR during about a two-hour period. Four trains traversed The Loop while I was there with my three-year-old son.

I did not want to create "typical" photographs of this location. There have been hundreds of thousands of images captured at this location, and 90% of them are basically the same. With a little creativity and vision, one can craft photographs that are different than everyone else's.
One Pine - Tehachapi, California
Most people only photograph the trains and miss the rugged scenery around them. 
Man, Preparing - Tehachapi, California
Don't forget to capture the human aspect of this location.
The Orange Three - Tehachapi, California
This is more about depth, balance and lines than the actual subject.
On Top of Tunnel 10 - Tehachapi, California
While there is a lot of private property that you'll want to avoid, if you hike around a little you can find interesting vantage points that most people overlook. 
Horsepower - Tehachapi, California
Photographs don't have to be of the front locomotives. These five locomotives were a little more than halfway back. The tank cars in the tunnel were towards the front of the train. Note the parallel lines (there are several groups if you look closely).  
Out of the Tunnel - Tehachapi, California
This image shows depth and context. While the train is the punchline, the remainder of the image is the sentence.
Filming The Loop - Tehachapi, California
This is a great example of putting a twist on the typically "Loop" photograph. Yes, the train is going over itself, but that is not what the picture is about. 
Filming The Train - Tehachapi, California
The front of the train does not need to be the subject of every image. Note how I used the curve to draw the viewer right back to the man. 
Life Rock - Tehachapi, California
Don't forget to look at the scenery around you. Photography opportunities abound if you keep your eyes open.
Lady In Red - Tehachapi, California
Adding humanness to your Loop images is a quick way for them to stand out. People like photographs of people.
The Crack - Tehachapi, California
Be careful! The terrain in the Tehachapi Mountains can be tough. It's best to stay on the roads and trails.
Two Oaks - Tehachapi, California
This image has been done plenty of times by other photographers (and myself). Even so, each train is different, each season is different, and each person's unique perspective is different, so this been-there-done-that photograph has its own flavor.
Running Home - Tehachapi, California
My son had so much fun, and that is really what's important. He loves visiting The Loop and talks about it all of the time. I will cherish the trips to his favorite train spot. These are memories that will last a lifetime.

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