I’d received a note that Canadian Pacific’s Albany-Waterford local, D-31, might be discontinued soon, leaving the industries in Albany, Menands, and Cohoes to be switched by the Kenwood Yard crew. D-31 is a pretty reliable train, out night six nights a week by 10 pm. The yard crew, on the other hand, will have to fit the work on the D&H Colonie Main into their other duties. Figuring D-31 was an easy night of shooting whenever I had the chance, I had put off a few shots I’d always wanted. I guess it was time to get what I could.
I knocked on a couple doors, letting residents know I’d be shooting from the sidewalk after it got dark. This is where the trouble started.
- They’d already had enough problems with photographers “soliciting around their property.”
- I may not take photos of their house.
- Please leave immediately and close the gate.
I was trying to explain that I just wanted to let them know I’d be in the neighborhood and was not requesting access to their property. Oh well. Onto the next location: Mohawk Paper.
Three guys rolled up in a Blazer explained that I should:
- Leave this place.
- Not take photos here.
- Leave this place.
Whatever. And then they drove around again, repeating their instructions. And again. With no shots in the camera, I figured, at worst I could just walk away as they trashed my gear. I made a note of their license plate. I also made a note never to be seen shooting in my office clothes again. “Next time, wear a hoodie. Something that might worry people enough to call the cops.” I didn’t see a single police car and honestly missed them driving around the block checking in.
Next. A drunk guy on bike drifted into the intersection and started asking questions from approximately 18 inches away, opening with, “WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU TAKE A PHOTO HERE?” We discussed:
- An interest in starting a fight
- Sleeping in a cemetery
- His ‘old lady’ kicking him out of the house tonight
- A dislike of the city
- A like of Hemmingway
- The price of scrap iron
- Walking the tracks, scrapping tie plates
- The attractiveness of that the cheating actress who plays Bella in Twilight. What’s her name? Kristen Stewart
- Burns received from carrying 200 pounds of heated-in-the-sun tie plates
- A difficulty in screwing normal women when you work a swing shift
The car full of teens shouting “die faggot, die” was just a joke after the first few interactions.
About when I expected D-31 to show up, an oil train rolled south. Crap. Had I known, I could have set up my shots in the other order and been home by midnight. Now I had to wait. At 10 pm, the traffic light switched to a flashing yellow. Some joggers went by. Two women walking asked what I was doing and then told me that lots of people come to Cohoes to take photos, “Ironweed was filmed here.”
My train showed up at 11:45. The crew opened the gates and walked into the mill as the engineer shoved a boxcar into to the loading area. Took a couple shots on the way in and out. Packed up. Coffee and email for an hour. Set up two big lights for shot #2 on the route 32 bridge between Cohoes and Waterford for the railroad bridge, 250 feet away. After an hour and a half of waiting, I got my second shot of the night. Home by 3:30. Two bottles of beer while the files downloaded. Not bad. Nobody stabbed me or tossed the gear into the Mohawk River. We are, after all, professionals.