Night Light of the North Coast: Bridge Beauty
[Editor’s Note: Starting today, Redheaded Blackbelt will be publishing images from photographer David Wilson as part of a weekly photo series, Night Lights of the North Coast. Please keep in mind that Wilson’s photos are not always strict photo representations but can be images edited for artistic purposes. You can view more of Wilson’s work at http://mindscapefx.com/]
Built in 1910, this old railroad bridge crosses the Main Fork of the Eel River just upstream of the confluence with the South Fork Eel River. I’m not absolutely certain what to call this bridge, having heard it called variously “South Fork Bridge,” “Caine Rock Bridge” and “Dyerville Bridge.” Google Maps calls it the Dyerville Train Trestle.
It is part of the old Northwestern Pacific Railroad that used to run through Humboldt County until about the end of the 1990’s. One can see this bridge from a broad overlook, complete with information signs, on the Avenue of the Giants just to the north of the Honeydew exit off Highway 101. From that view, look south up the left-hand Main Fork Eel River to see the bridge. The South Fork Eel River Valley is to the right. It’s also visible from the freeway in that area.
I have heard that two of the four spans of this bridge were washed away in the 1964 flood, and I imagine that they were the two spans on the left (only one is visible here), because they are shinier and perhaps newer.
These are the same railroad tracks you see against the Bluffs across from Rio Dell, and the same tracks that run along Eureka’s waterfront, where you can still find some rusty trains at Commercial Street and Waterfront Drive. These are the same tracks that run along 101 between Eureka and Arcata, and the ones that continue out past Janes Road toward Blue Lake. It’s easy to forget that not too long ago the trains were running, and one could watch them pass and hear their whistles and rumblings daily.
The plan was to photograph the bridge with the Milky Way flying over it. I had been here the week before during daylight to scout it out.
I was out with a photo friend of mine named Kris, and he and I were experimenting with different ways to light this up. We added touches of light with our flashlights, and some light came from street lamps along Highway 101 behind us. The scene is made bright and details are exposed by a combination of our lighting and a long exposure of 30 seconds, a high light sensitivity setting (ISO) and a fairly wide aperture.
It’s often cloudy along the river late at night, though, and such proved to be the case this night. The sky grew progressively cloudier and, though we waited patiently, we were never able to get a clearer view of the Milky Way. Though the scene seems bright, to our naked eyes, we were standing in relative darkness.
Note the shooting star above the Milky Way near the middle of the image. This is a single exposure.
Camera/exposure information below:
Nikon 14-24mm lens at 15mm
Here are two other photos of the same bridge taken from different angles during daylight.
Earlier Adventures: Tunnel Travel in Loleta