Call of the express
This has been a disappointing season for capturing autumn colors around the city. Pushing my vacation back a week this year has not helped, as the leaves have barely changed. After a day of dull shooting yesterday at the Bronx Botanical gardens, I had hoped for better today here in Riverdale at Wave Hill.
No small part of my burning desire to delve into panoramic shooting was fueled by my first visit to Wave Hill last spring. Hanging a left from the main entrance and cresting over the hill and looking at the huge beautiful tree line, made me dream of taking a beautiful panoramic shot in the fall, but I had neither the equipment nor the skill to do so last autumn.
This year I made it my mission to have both by this fall so I could capture this hill in a manor befitting it on my annual fall vacation this year. But the dull autumn colors put that dream on hold at least for one more year. After my day of shooting what panorama's I could, I left Wave Hill and boarded the free shuttle for the Metro north station and my trip home.
Getting off the shuttle I walked up the stairs to the overpass that leads to the city bound tracks. The overpass is quite a welcome feature of this station. It protects you from the harsh winds blowing off the Hudson. It has chairs for you to sit and wait on, a vending machine to dispense snacks, although the last time I tried it, the machine just ate my money and gave me nothing in return. The overpass also has a monitor terminal that lists the next half dozen trains due to arrive at the station, and if they're on time or running however many minutes late.
The dull fall colors had me leaving here earlier than I planned when I left the house this morning. So when I looked at the screen to see when the next train was coming, I was pleased to see it was on time and arriving in about 5 minutes. I was going to get a leg up on the rush hour crowd by catching it, quite a good thing to do when your lugging around a backpack full of camera gear and a tripod to boot.
Peering through the windows over looking the tracks, I gazed north at the train that just pulled out of the station, and took a few shots of it with my camera, then turned to my left and paused for an extra moment while taking in the view of the city to my south. The sun was quickly setting, lighting the pair of apartment buildings nestled in the hills off in the distance in a rich red, that made the scene most pleasing. But to record the best image of this scene I needed to leave the comfort of this overpass and the windows that, while great for viewing the coming trains, was too dirty to allow for the kind of shot I was hoping to capture. Now I had a hard decision to make.
While I could get the shot I was imagining if I left these warm comfy environs and walked over to the small bridge about 30 yards away that stood over the tracks and gives access to the Riverdale Yacht club. But I'd never get back in time to catch the next train for Grand Central if I did. Also the nice colors lighting those apartment buildings was already starting to fade in the quickly changing late day light, and would in all likelihood be gone by the time I got in position to shoot.
I wrestled with all these thoughts in my mind - getting home early, avoiding the worst of rush hour, the cold I'd be re exposing myself to. But five minutes later, no doubt nudged by the lack of great fall shots captured to this point overall, and my inability to get that magic panoramic shot at Wave Hill today, I found myself bundled up tightly from the cool autumn breeze coming off the Hudson with my camera up to my face, standing on the 254th street bridge waiting for the 4:40 express out of Grand Central to hit the magic spot in my viewfinder, while I listened to my 4:40 train headed for home, pulling out of the station without me. Being a photographer at heart, it was probably the only decision I was likely to make no matter the amount of rational thoughts to the contrary that echoed back and forth through my mind.