My next eBook will be, "Photographing
TRAINS, Vol. 1: Southwest Chief"
This eBook includes tourist trains, rail museums, and private rail cars
close to the Southwest Chief route which runs from Los Angeles to
Chicago. A Guide to where to eat, and where to stay along the
way. Includes over 200 photos by the author to illustrate proven
The first few chapters will be what to do and see at the beginning of
the Southwest Chief route near its first stop in Fullerton. The
two tourist trains I will highlight will be Knott's Berry Farm's steam
train and Disneyland's train. This photo essay is about the
Fullerton Amtrak Station, Knott's Berry Farm is reachable
by bus at, 8039 Beach Boulevard, Buena
Park, CA 90620, from the Fullerton Trans Ctr Dock 1, ½ block from the
Fullerton Station. Bus No. 43 and 38 44 min.
ride $4.00 every 20 min.
(In this report, click any
photo to see it with a black border without text, click BACK in your
browser to return to this page.)
The steam train runs daily, unlike many train-only parks that run
their steam only on weekends, and
operating hours during my visit were 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with the train
running constantly those twelve hours. Although I went to Knott's ½ hr.
after opening during Spring Break, I had no problems getting full shots
the train at the station (above) without people. The visitors
were more interested in the many thrill rides in the park during the
day, and the DJ music in the evening. Train passengers generally
are families with small children and old rail fans like me and my
wife. Since riders of the train line up to the right, beyond the
station, near the coaches, photos of the engine always seem to be
uncluttered. They close gates across the tracks in front of the
train before it departs, and standing by the gates before they are
gives a very good front shot of the locomotive.
Photo Concepts: Morning light is
perfect since the train is stationary on a south-southwest heading, and
departs the station in that direction before making a full circle
around the park. There are modern structures behind the station
to the north, but with a little work, you can get a shot of the
locomotive with the newer structures blocked by a nice tall pine tree
and water tower on the far side of the tracks. The best
horizontal photo of the full cars is as the train slowly leaves the
Photo Concept: With an 18 mm
lens, you can get close enough to the train to get a portrait of the
engineer and the details on the cab, while they await the next run.
The locomotive Engineer/Fireman on duty this day was Ben Viola.
Standing behind the safety fence is close enough for detailed shots of
the locomotive. Mechanic's Assistant, Woodrow Gilbreath, was on
the ground and close enough to speak to above the locomotive's
noise. He has to know some of the details of the train in order
to qualify to work in that capacity. Woodrow mentioned that No.
41 was built in 1881 and is mostly original except for replacing the
boiler in 1916 to satisfy the law about train boilers. Knott's has two
locomotives, the one I photographed, No. 14, and No. 340, which is
being repaired now. Both locomotives are C19s. One of their
C19s is the oldest one built, and the other is the youngest one
built. He told me that Walter and Cordelia Knott started with a
berry stand selling berries and boysenberry pies. Walter had
boysenberry by combining the raspberry, blackberry, and
loganberry. The second building to be built on the farm was the
dinner restaurant. For folks waiting to get into the restaurant,
Walter built the Ghost Town. Next the stage coach was added.
From the Chicken Dinner Restaurant placemat I learned that in 1952,
Walter bought America's last operating railroad, the Denver and Rio
Grande, and moved it in its entirety to Knott's Berry Farm. The
steam-powered train is christened the Ghost Town & Calico Railroad,
proving a perfect addition to the growing Ghost Town. The train
first circled the parking lot, but now is surrounded by other
attractions in the park. In 2012, the 60th Anniversary of the Ghost
Town and Calico Railroad was celebrated with a Golden Spike Ceremony
and the re-naming of engine 41 to “Walter K.” after Knott's founder
Photo Concepts: This converted cattle car is the best for
photography during the run. Other cars are enclosed coaches with
open windows. It is easier to move from side to side in this open car
and the openings are larger.
About half way around the run you will pass, on your left, some other
cars of the D&RGW. Locomotive No. 340 was not in sight,
perhaps it was inside the closed shed. Since the cars are on an
adjacent track, you will need a wide angle lens to get them all in your
photo. I used the 10 mm setting on my 10-20 mm lens.
The tender from locomotive No. 340
This car was like the one on which I was riding, except that it
had no roof.
In the train shed, I spotted Galloping Goose No. 3.
Wikipedia says, "Galloping Goose
is the popular name given to a series of seven railcars (officially
designated as "motors" by the railroad), built between 1931 and 1936 by
the Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS) and operated until the end of
service on the line in the early 1950s.
Originally running steam locomotives
on narrow gauge railways, the perpetually struggling RGS developed the
first of the "geese" as a way to stave off bankruptcy and keep its
contract to run mail to towns in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. There
was not enough passenger or cargo income to justify continuing the
expensive steam train service at then-current levels, but it was
believed that a downsized railway would return to profitability. The
steam trains would transport heavy cargo and peak passenger loads, but
motors would handle lighter loads.
Motors were not only less expensive
to operate, but were also significantly lighter, thus reducing impact
on the rails and roadbeds. This cost saving meant that the first Goose
was paid off and making a profit within three weeks of going into
service. RGS built more Geese, and operated them until the company
abandoned their right-of-way in 1952.
Of the seven "geese", only #1
does not survive, though a replica was built in 2000 for the Ridgway
Railroad Museum. The other six are located as follows:
Geese #2, #6, and
#7 are preserved at the Colorado Railroad Museum and are operational. Goose #3 was sold
to Knott's Berry Farm and is operated regularly during off-season
periods when park attendance is low. Goose #4 was on
static display in Telluride, Colorado. It was restored to operation in
Ridgway, Colorado, as of June 2012.
the restoration of Goose #4, all of the Geese are now operable.
Goose #4 was relocated back to Telluride on May 2013.
#5 was bought by the city of Dolores, Colorado. After restoration in
1998 it is now operated from time to time on the Cumbres and Toltec and
Durango and Silverton tourist railroads, as well as at the Colorado
Photo Concepts: When the
gates close, the engineer gives a steam blast on the whistle, then
steam escapes on both sides of the locomotive making a nice action
shot. A colorful new ride is immediately behind the train in this
angle, so I made the photo black and white to make the new ride less
noticeable and the photo more authentic to the 1881 year when it was
built. This photo was taken at 1/250 sec, f/9.0, ISO 800, 20 mm
on (10-20mm zoom).
Photo Concepts: A second
location for a nice black and white is a few steps south between the
tracks and attraction 18, the Screamin' Swing. I walked in the
exitway (above left in the photo) and set up with the nice cactus
garden as foreground and back wall of a set as background and waited
for the next train trip to begin. Since you can see and hear the
locomotive from here, it is easy to catch the train as it slowly
passes. This photo was with a 10mm lens and still cropped maybe 25%
top, left, and bottom. Setting: 1/1600 sec at f/11, ISO 800
RAW format. At this point the near side of the locomotive was in
shadow. With all the detail in the RAW image, I lightened shadows,
decreased brightness of the cloudless sky, increased sharpness,
clarity, and contrast for the resulting image above.
Since our tickets were for 12 hours in the park, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., we
decided to have lunch after the morning shots at the Chicken Dinner
Restaurant. There are other places to eat in the park, but this place
has been here longer than the train and we have eaten here many
times. We selected the 4-piece fried chicken, mashed potatoes,
rhubarb appetizer, green salad, rolls, and I had boysenberry sherbet
for dessert. The only surprise was that the price is now $19 for
lunch. We got our hands stamped for re-entry and drove back home,
only about 25 minutes from the park, and returned near sunset. I
wondered how night photos of the train might turn out knowing the train
ran until closing time, 10 p.m.
Photo Concepts: I believe
night photos look best with some light still in the sky, about 30
minutes after sunset. The photo above was my first of the
evening. There were no lights on the locomotive at this time of
night, so I used a tripod and popped up the built-in flash. The
result was a “light-painted” locomotive with the following
settings: 2.0 sec. At f/11, ISO 800 10 mm. (This was the
same ISO I had used all day.) The two seconds were long enough to
capture some steam escaping above the locomotive with the dark water
tower behind the steam. The flash illuminated the front of No. 41
showing the gray front paint which without the flash would have been
black. Exterior lights illuminated the side of the cab and the
Since the train runs until closing, there are many opportunities to try
different settings and locations. After dark, more lights
adjacent to the parked locomotive come on highlighting the steam.
In addition to that, at one stop a mechanic with a work light worked on
one of the drivers. Even though the long exposure blurred him a
bit, his pants, shoe and toolbox and the light falling on them was
constant enough to make an interesting photo.
Photo Concepts: In Lightroom, I converted the photo to black and
white, and used “Spot Removal” for some spots in the lower right and
lens flare in the upper left. I used the “Graduated filter to
darken the upper left corner and lower right corner to direct the
viewer's eye to the locomotive and mechanic, the center of
interest. Settings: 4.0 sec at f/16, ISO 800, 20 mm.
Photo Concepts: I kept this
photo in the book because it included the name on the water tower and
the steam looked the best of any photo. However, I had to do a
lot of doctoring in Lightroom. First I took the image into my HDR
program, Photomatic Light and processed it in the enhanced mode.
I used practically every control in Lightroom and finally used the
Graduated Filter to darken the upper left and lower right
corners. I did not convert it to black and white, but the only
color seems to be the front red and green lights on No. 41, and a
tungsten glow on all reflective surfaces.
Smartphone users can apply the same principles of photography and get
reasonable results. I usually take an iPhone photo to post on my
Facebook photo page (https://www.facebook.com/MoKnowsPhotos) when I am
Photo Concepts: Earlier in
the day I had posted a daylight image, but at the end of this evening's
shots, I pulled out my iPhone and took one more, without a
tripod. The original settings in an iPhone 6+ were: ¼ sec
at f/2.2, 4.15 mm, ISO 160 GPS: 33°50'39" N 118°0'3" W (If your
DSLR does not have GPS capability, pull out your iPhone, take a photo,
and you have the correct location once you put the photo into Lightroom
or other post-processing software.)
The size of an iPhone Plus photo is: 2448 x 3264 By
comparison, a Canon T3i DSLR image dimensions are 3456 x 5184
Admittedly, I used Camera Plus on my iPhone to crop and select HDR
mode, then used Lightroom to do further work, but the image above would
be acceptable in most arenas. I do note the unavoidable blown out
whites in the headlight and steam, but the backlit conductor on the
ground is interesting. Unfortunately, the modern structure on the
right is distracting, but would have been more so if I had left it as a
color image. My summary, it is better than no image at all.
My DSLR has a video setting, and since I was using my tripod, I
decided to make a movie of Knott's Steam Train at night.
Background music is from
the entertainment area next to the tracks and Screamin' Swing ride
beside which I made this video:
Where to Stay Knott's purchased the Buena Park Hotel that was built literally
closer than some of the parking spots for Knott's, within walking
distance from the front gate. It is now called Knott's Berry Farm
Hotel. Address: 7675 Crescent
Ave, Buena Park, CA 90620 Phone: 714-995-1111
Their website says:
Berry Farm Hotel combines luxurious accommodations for both business
and leisure. This 320-room deluxe property features a SNOOPY-themed
wing, fitness center, pool with children’s activity area, lighted
sports courts and many other amenities. Dining options including Amber
Waves, specializing in All-American fare and hotel room service. A
variety of affordable family vacation packages, including admission to
Knott’s Theme Park, are available year-round. All located just steps
from world-famous Knott's Berry Farm Theme Park and Knott’s Soak City