Author Topic: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020  (Read 13167 times)

Roger Cole

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2019, 07:15:19 PM »
When I was younger and without my health problems, a railfan buddy and I rode various special excursions all over the Northeastern & Southeastern US as well as one two-week trip to Colorado.  The costs for a couple of those events probably was on par with your Winter Photo Special in 70s-90s dollars.  Fortunately, I had a job with 4-weeks vacation and a very understanding wife.  My regrets?  Only that there were a couple of ones I really wanted to ride but circumstances (marriage, children, finances) prevented it.  My railfan buddy succumbed to a brain tumor and I am pretty much homebound now.  Fortunately, I took photos on each of our adventures and have scanned and cataloged them on my laptop.  Every so often, I browse through the old photos and relive fond memories. Yeah, it might be a chunk of change now but looking back someday you'll have forgotten about the cost and be glad you "went for it".

Kevin Madore

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2019, 12:29:51 AM »
I note that several posts mention they can't afford it. The price is pretty steep for young working people and retirees on fixed incomes.  Members, and especially Life Members, ought to be given a discount and first dibs on reservations.  Beyond that, perhaps a lottery system could have given away a limited number of tickets.
  Most attendees will need to stay overnight in a motel which will add greatly to the total. 
  Maybe change the name of the event to, "Maine Two-footer Money Specials"?

As someone who participates in a lot of photo charters, I can offer the following background:

Generally speaking, most of the folks who attend photo charters are serious photography enthusiasts, who happen to specialize in rail photography....as opposed to railfans who happen to own cameras.    You're absolutely correct in your assertion that the cost of a typical photo charter these days has gone beyond the means of the average Joe.    It's not the actual charter fees that push it over the edge, but all of the travel and living expenses in addition to that.   The T&L typically more than doubles the cost of the trip.   It is not unusual for the total trip cost to exceed $2,000, and some can go way beyond that.   Most of us who do these deals are older folks, who don't have any kids left in the house.....or never had any in the first place.

Some charters, such as the ones at the WW&F are offered by the railroad itself, but more often than not, they are organized by an independent charter operator, who is usually a very accomplished professional photographer.   The most successful ones develop a reputation for putting their patrons in a position to get spectacular photos, and they deliver on that reputation most of the time.  That's why they get repeat business.

Here's are a few examples: https://www.railpictures.net/photo/719748/

https://www.railpictures.net/photo/603703/

https://www.railpictures.net/photo/507991/

The charter operator will typically conceive an idea that involves a particular railroad and specifically lettered equipment.   He/she will negotiate with the railroad for a specific number of days/hours, including all of the extras.  The cost of a day of operation varies, depending on the number and size of the locomotives desired, and the number of hours of operation.   Many charters will operate from 6AM (before sunrise) to as late as midnight....then do it again the next day.   That often requires multiple railroad crews ($$$).   Just to give you an idea, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad typically charges $10,000 per day for one K-36 locomotive and one crew.  Their engines are a tad bigger than our 2-footers.   Want a 2-engine Cumbres Turn?   That's a $20,000 train. 

Once they arrive at a price the operator thinks he/she can sell, it is advertised, usually privately, to a known list of prior clients.   If the operator can't get a price that is saleable, the project will be abandoned.   Similarly, if the idea does not sell with the clients, the event will be canceled.   The group size is typically between 25 and 50 people, depending on what the railroad is charging, and the size of the run-by locations.   At a wide-open railroad like the C&TS, you can have larger groups without compromising the quality of the photo opportunities. Obviously, the cost per person drops if the group size is larger.   At typical New England railroads like the WW&F, the photo locations are much tighter, dictating smaller groups. 

If the event runs, the operator will coordinate closely with the railroad to create an operating plan that is doable, and which will hit locations with great scenery at the times of optimal sunlight for each location.  They also have back-up plans in case the weather is bad.   That's how you get shots like the ones I posted above.   Of course, each photographer still has to execute on the shot.    These things are definitely not for everyone.   They require a reasonable level of photographic skill, some degree of physical fitness (climbing and hiking involved), and the ability to go with minimal sleep for a few days.    They are photographic events, not railfan events. 

As you might expect, the market for these charters is not huge.   There are perhaps 200-300 people in the US who will do one of these per year.   Perhaps half that number will do 2-3.   Perhaps 75 will do as many as half a dozen.   It's basically the same folks on most of them....the social aspect is a big part of it.

Fortunately, many railroads also do railfan-type events, with much larger groups, shorter hours, and significantly lower prices.   For most people who are just looking for a fun railfan experience, that's a much more cost-effective approach.  :)

/Kevin Madore   
« Last Edit: December 31, 2019, 12:42:47 AM by Kevin Madore »

Mike the Choochoo Nix

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2019, 11:41:55 AM »
Thanks Kevin.
Mike Nix
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Steve Smith

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2019, 04:46:45 PM »
Thank you Kevin for taking the time to compose this excellent explanation.

Mike Fox

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2020, 08:07:46 PM »
Got a car load of wood ready for the weekend. They are not cut for anything special, I just had to save them from Fred. He can cut them up in a month..

Mike
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Bill Reidy

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2020, 10:27:24 PM »
Got a car load of wood ready for the weekend. They are not cut for anything special, I just had to save them from Fred. He can cut them up in a month..

Fred was sad Saturday there was nothing to cut on the Mountain this winter.  Hopefully this is a good consolation.
What–me worry?

Paul Uhland

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2020, 12:38:50 AM »
So Mike...do I see some truss roof framing just set on the east end of the coming event building at Alna Center, behind the log-loaded flatcar?
Verrrry interesting.  ;)
Looks great!

Paul Uhland

Kevin Madore

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2020, 10:21:25 AM »
Weather forecast for the first upcoming photo event looks interesting....and challenging.   Windy and COLD on Friday, but otherwise a nice, sunny day.   Saturday looks to start out sunny and cold (near zero), but with increasing cloudiness.  Snow will overspread the area in the late afternoon or evening.   Looks like snow could be plowable Saturday night into Sunday morning, with the storm wrapping up during the day.  Temps will be rising during the storm, but will never get much above freezing.

I'm staying in Brunswick, so my big concern will be getting to/from the hotel Saturday night and Sunday morning.   I'm thinking that by the time the event wraps up on Sunday, the roads should be in better shape for folks to depart for home.

Bob Holmes

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2020, 08:15:21 PM »
FYI, forecasts have proven to be overly pessimistic recently.

Maine does a good job with highway plowing.  Assuming you have good tires, you should find going back and forth pretty easy.

Besides, we LOVE your snow pics....

Mike Fox

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2020, 08:30:54 PM »
More set up today..



Mike
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Bill Reidy

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2020, 09:01:13 PM »
Brilliant.  I know there was concern Saturday on how 4 and 8 would line up for this weekend's Grand Reunion event.  That scene looks perfect to me.
What–me worry?

Kevin Madore

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #26 on: January 15, 2020, 03:04:10 PM »
The level of interest in the upcoming Grand Reunion has been impressive. The WW&F, MNG and ML&MW bringing all 5 original Maine Two-Foot gauge locomotives together for the first time has been noticed by narrow gauge fans and historians across the US and around the world.  A good example is the response to the news post about B&SR #7 arriving at Sheepscot last week.  As of this morning the post has been viewed by over 24,500 people.     

This will be the first time I've seen the 7 or the 8 operate anywhere but Portland since the Edaville days.   I rode behind 8 in the 60s at Edaville, when she had a small diamond stack on her.  Never saw the 7 that day.  It will be nice to see the 7 running in an authentic environment, with freight cars.   I just wish it wasn't going to be in such extreme weather.   Keeping the fingers and toes from freezing is going to be a challenge, especially on Friday.   After work today, I'm going to head out looking for some electrically heated socks.   The good ones are apparently about $300 a pair....well worth it, if they work.   The activated charcoal toe heaters just don't work as well as the hand warmers.   You get about an hour of warmth.....and then you freeze.

Ed Lecuyer

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #27 on: January 15, 2020, 05:08:03 PM »
Coach 14 (with stove, in-service) will be the "photographers car" throughout the whole weekend. It will be out on the line for all photo sessions so that passengers (and crew) have at least one heated car to take shelter in as needed.
Ed Lecuyer
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Bill Reidy

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2020, 08:17:06 PM »
This will be the first time I've seen the 7 or the 8 operate anywhere but Portland since the Edaville days.

I grew up in Wareham, MA, one town over from Edaville, and had the great fortune to visit Edaville during the 1970s and '80s, particularly during railfan weekends, with 3, 4, 7 and 8 all in operation.  Of course, I thought then this would never end in Carver.

How fortunate we are to have Maine Narrow Gauge, the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes in Phillips, and of course the WW&F to keep the Maine two-footers alive for future generations.
What–me worry?

Roger Cole

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Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« Reply #29 on: January 15, 2020, 11:13:57 PM »
On a family vacation to New England back in 1977, we swung by Edaville.  #3 (with diamond stack) was the power that day. 
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 11:15:57 PM by Roger Cole »