I have limited mobility. In fact, ninety percent of my photographs are taken through the driver’s side car window that has been rolled down. This would be done despite wind, storm, torrential rain, snow or searing hot and humid weather conditions. I have become quite good in positioning the vehicle at just the right spot and angle of attack.
I have decided for my Spring Project to scale a steep railroad overpass embankment and photograph a train, outbound or inbound, crossing the Cumberland River at Burnside, Kentucky. It is an ambitious endeavour for sure.
I did a year or so ago climb halfway up the steep slope for a few semi-successful photographs. Halfway back down, I slipped and slid quickly down six or more feet. Fortunately, a large rock with numerous sharp facets dug into my rear end and groin area and stopped my downward trajectory. I was safe despite several moments where stars floated in front of my eyes, over and over again.
After this forceful reminder, my feet and legs combined with my fear of heights, then reinforced by an image of myself sliding the rest of the way down the steep slope on the loose rocks to a prolonged, and certainly painful hospital stay, curtailed my photographic efforts that afternoon.
Despite my reservations, I did catalog the location for future consideration or re-evaluation.
Part of the problem with the limited success of the first shoot was totally incorrect footwear. It is hard to climb much of anything when wearing Diabetic Neuropathy shoes or Frankenstein Boots as I call them. I will have to find some tennis snickers that will, for short periods of time, be kind to my feet. I will also have to make this photographic effort clothed in farmer’s type overalls. There will be no repeats of the past shoots involving belt or suspender failures.
I also have to decide on the equipment to carry up to the tracks. Serious reservations come to mind when I think of carrying a heavy camera backpack upwards. Of course its cushioning value is debatable should I fall or slide down the steep slope. Such an occurrence also wouldn’t do my cameras and accessories much good either. For the moment, I am looking at a small shoulder cloth bag containing a camera and extra lens.
Photographs taken during the planning stage suggested a route up to the tracks was possible by climbing up the steep hillside using the sapling trees as hand holds. This would also add a measure of safety to the attempt since if you fall . . . you can’t miss all the trees on your way down. The sapling trees would be much like a safety line used by rock climbers. One or two trees would surely snag my body. At least, you would think so.
Of course the tree route, both left and right avenues, though steeper and a greater distance, does offer the use of my hardwood throwing cane.
My hardwood throwing cane would necessary for this proposed photographic adventure. For preventing rapid acceleration and injury causing sudden de-acceleration from a steep incline, nothing beats a hardwood throwing cane that can reach right out there and snag a young sapling, jagged rock or other available lifeline. One of the disadvantages of the underneath route up the steep incline is that there is nothing to but loose rock to navigate. There is no safety net or lifeline with loose rock.
So . . . I have a choice. A kind of pick your poison type of decision. I can go up from directly underneath or up the slope and through the trees either left or right. Whatever my final decision, I will give it the best effort an Old Guy can who suffers with bad feet and legs, a weak heart, diabetes, and an ever creeping disability from an advancing case of “bone Idleness”.
And … everything remains in the planning stage at this time. Before anything moves forward, it has to get a lot warmer and the slopes cannot be covered with snow. I will also have to get an idea of when the freighters run. All will be nought if I get up to the top of the embankment and nothing crosses the Cumberland River Bridge.
Hopefully, the Spring will be kind to my shooting project.