We railfans live in interesting times. With the internet, it is so easy to know when a train is coming to your area that you may want to shoot. Here in the Carolinas, we routinely get reports from all over the east coast about trains that have not even left their home yard yet but already have special engines leading. Consider this train from last year.
We heard there was an Augusta, Georgia-bound ethanol train with Kansas City Southern power leading about to leave Indiana. My first question was what paint scheme was leading. Most railfans prefer the red Southern Belles, but I'm still partial to the old gray engines. I'd be willing to drive out of my way for a grey engines, but might not worry too much about catching a Belle. Since it was a grey KCS locomotive, I decided to try to catch it. For days I kept track of it via various reports on Facebook.
It began timing out that it would pass through Columbia either late on a Saturday or early on a Sunday. I thought of where I'd want to shoot it. I like the photo ops on the line south of Chester in South Carolina. A lot of interesting curves and open scenery. But there are also great shots south of Columbia. For example, the street running in Augusta is very cool. So I kepy my options open and waited.
When I went to bed on Saturday night, it looked like the train might pass through overnight. I decided if it did, I'd have to catch the next one. So when I woke up the next morning and looked for updates, I was very happy to learn it still had not passed through town yet. It was close though so instead of driving north or south, I left my house and drove about three miles to a location I had wanted to shoot a train for years. The weather was a little grey, but that worked in my favor. Otherwise, the sun angles would have been all wrong.
So I got my shot
After days of planning, it turned out all I had to do was drive five minutes from my huose and take a shot.