Sometimes great photos are taken more by accident than skill. Case in point: This is L&N train 65, with freshly-painted F7 number 845 on the point, at Appalachia, VA on the night of January 28, 1968---my 20th birthday.
I had a new Yashica 35mm viewfinder camera, and I was still running film through it to see what it would do. I ordered a cable release and a "mini" tripod from some place (can't recall---maybe something like Honest Throckmorton's Camera Store in Asbury Park, NJ). When it arrived, the cable release was fine. The tripod was something else though. I was indeed "mini." It had the required three legs (expandable), but they were the diameter of a lead pencil. When I mounted the camera on it, you could also sense it was swaying around, trying to support the weight.
On this particular night, I loaded the camera with Ektachrome slide film (why, I don't know: I didn't own a slide projector). When train 65 arrived, set off a couple of cars to the Southern and the power re-coupled to its train, I was ready. I set up the tripod, focused, adjusted the aperture, and held the cable release to open the shutter for some period of time--10, 15, 20 seconds---I don't have any idea. At the instant I closed the shutter, the engineer opened up, and the train departed. I didn't use a flash---just the available light from a couple of street lamps.
A few days later I got the slide back. WOW!! Good heavens, I was now Richard Steinheimer!!!! (sure....) I decided to try a similar shot a few nights later. It was terrible. Another try on the next roll of film: there was movement in the camera and the shot was blurred (a fly must have lit on the tripod while the shutter was open). I must have tried this shot (or similar versions) four or five other times, but they just weren't good at all.
I might have gotten one more good shot, but nothing like the first one. Instead of coming away cocky, I realized how difficult it was to be a good photographer, and how much I still had to learn. That's called humble pie. Years later I would be stunned to see the night photography on the L&N's Eastern Kentucky subdivision by Garland McKee. His work came a few years later (early to mid 70s), and he used flash bulbs for open shutter images---but the results were just stunning.
But, even us blind squirrels have been known to find a few nuts.