At Porteau Cove, at least in the summer months, there is a freight train that regularly goes through at about 11:45pm from Vancouver to Whistler. You get a little warning that it’s coming, because about 15 minutes before it arrives, they send through a pickup truck converted to run on the rails, presumably to check that the track is clear of obstructions.
Unfortunately, being a freight train, it is fairly poorly lit from anything except right at the front, and as it’s usually going in the same direction I’m looking, I’ve never managed to get a good shot of it with the stars (despite frequently trying).
However, this time the pickup truck came in the other direction — from Whistler to Vancouver. I wasn’t sure if it was simply returning home, or if this was a sign that for once the train would be going in the opposite direction. Once I heard the sound of the train horn about 15 minutes later, I couldn’t get set up quickly enough!
I knew the front lights would be bright, but I didn’t really know how bright, so I scrambled to level the camera, compose the shot, and guess at some settings, opening the shutter just as it rounded the corner. As the light seared my retinas, it was immediately clear the shot was going to be significantly overexposed — but I hadn’t expected this stunning (unedited) lens flare, especially from a lens that is usually very resilient to flare.
I would love to take credit for the lens flare lining up with the Milky Way in the sky above, but this was really just luck!howe sound night sky