May 26, 2014

Rail Fanning Port of Los Angeles

BNSF engines shuffling steel skeleton flats at Pasha Stevedore Terminal on S Fries Ave.
AW and I were in Los Angeles last week to attend the graduation of one of my nieces. While there I had an opportunity to do some rail fanning one afternoon at the Port of Los Angeles. I was lucky because the area I was mostly interested in was very busy. When I first got to the Pasha Terminal on Fries Street, they were unloading brand new 53 ft empty containers from the GearBulk ship Finch Arrow. This is a special design ship optimized for special bulky cargo delivery.

Double barreled container ship action!
Next stop was the USS Iowa to check out the battleship and get photos of the Evergreen container terminal across the channel. The Ever Strong was being unloaded there. At about 4:45PM the container ship Spring R left the Yusen Container terminal and headed out to sea. As it went past and I was able to get a bunch of photos.

Leaving Terminal Island over the Badger Bridge.
From there I checked out the Alameda Corridor, especially where the railroad and the highway cross the Cerritos Channel.  In this area I saw 5 BNSF container trains heading to Terminal Island or leaving in about one half hour.  I saw a lots UP stuff further inland on the Corridor too, but I could not find a safe and good place to shoot them. In general, the trains at the port are very difficult to photograph as the security requirements due to terrorists, theft and smuggling have resulted in fences being installed every where. Since the area is relatively flat, fences are a big problem.
Fences in the way everywhere!

Light engine sets heading out to switch at night

Next I headed to Wilmington. I caught  two light power sets heading to the Pier A area. One came down Alameda Street and headed past Pier A to San Pedro. The other came down McFarland Ave and went to the Fries Street switch district. There it switched sorted and pulled steel skeleton cars at the Pasha Terminal.

I watched this for about an hour. By then the light was fading and I was hungry. Too much action to stop to eat.

Street Running - BNSF Heading out S Fries Ave to switch the industries and terminal
I was very happy to catch all the activity on S Fries Ave as I have selected that area for a future project. But more on that later as it develops. In the meantime here are some shots I got.


  1. Beautiful shots Bernie! You've got a good eye for photo composition. I like the street running the most. Thanks for sharing! It is fun to get out every once and a while and see the reall thing running, no?

  2. Yes, rail fanning is fun every now and then. But I am way too Type A to be a good railfan photographer. To be really good takes lots of patience and waiting for the perfect shot.

    1. What did you use for a camera and lens(es)? Also, did you use them on a tripod or monopod?

  3. I used a Canon 5D, 28-105mm Zoom, polarizing filter, hand held. All shots were raw, with in-camera auto white balance. ISO around 400.