On this Day in 1953.

On January 15, 1953, Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 4876 leading The Federal from Boston, suffered an airbrake failure on approach to Washington Union Station and crashed spectacularly landing in the main concourse of the building. The floor collapsed under the weight of the heavy electric locomotive. Photographs of the disaster were printed on the front pages of newspapers around the country.

The locomotive was rebuilt and remained in service until 1983.

On June 27, 1983, my father, my brother Sean and I found the old electric resting at the motor storage in South Amboy, New Jersey.

At the time, the locomotive and South Amboy were a subjects of my model railroad interest.

I made this view on Kodachrome 64 with my Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens. The film had a red tint to it, that I’ve preserved in scanning. This can be easily color corrected.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Winter Sunrise

A few days ago on my walk to the office in Conway Scenic’s North Conway Station, I exposed this view of the station using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm Fujinon zoom lens.

I made adjustments to color and contrast to make the most of this frosty wintery scene.

To make an impressionable image, it helps to have stunning light. Or an old wig wag grade crossing signal. Or both, as in this image here.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Port Clinton and 425.

Reading & Northern’s 4-6-2 Pacific #425 was the draw.

In December 2014, this handsome steam locomotives was operating a series of holiday trips on the old Reading Company lines out of Port Clinton, Pennsylvania.

Pat Yough offered to drive and so I traveled down by train to meet him and make photographs.

At the time, I was keen on investigating the FujiFIlm X-series mirrorless cameras as my next avenue for digital photography, so Pat lent me his Fuji XT1 to try out.

In addition, on that day I was also working with my Lumix LX7 and Canon 7D cameras.

We arrived at Port Clinton in the morning in time to catch 425 making some switching moves in preparation for its run up to Schuylkill Haven.

Overall, I was extremely impressed by the Fujifilm camera that day and a month later I invested in one.

The territory served by the old Reading Company also impressed me, and I’ve chosen this area as the setting for the model railroad that my girlfriend Kris Sabbatino and I are building.

Recently, Kris, impressed by my results with the Fuji X-series has invested in a Fuji XT4.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1.
Exposed using a Lumix LX7. Notice the old Pennsylvania Railroad right of way above the locomotives.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Steam at Cressona, Pennsylvania.

In December 2015, Pat Yough and I photographed restored Central Railroad of New Jersey 0-6-0 113 working excursions on the former Reading Company at Cressona, Pennsylvania.

Photographing with my FujiFilm XT1 mirrorless digital camera, I made this telephoto view of a westward excursion threading its way through Reading & Northern’s yard.

I like the composition featuring the complicated track work.

Tracking the Light is a Daily Blog!

Minersville Station

A minor station on the former Reading Company will be a significant focus of the model railroad I’m building with Kris Sabbatino.

On a visit with Pat Yough in December 2015, I exposed this unusual angle of the oddly angled Minersville Station using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.

This is one of the few photos I found in my collection that shows the rarely pictured east face of the building, which sits at the junction of two lines.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Reading Company Retrospective

Recently, my girlfriend Kris Sabbatino and I decided to build a model railroad.

For a prototype we selected eastern Pennsylvania anthracite country.

I began scouring my archives looking for material.

Part of my inspiration for this model railroad began many years ago when I was looking through my father’s photographs of Reading Company’s Iron Horse Rambles that he exposed over a five-year period beginning in 1959. Many of these photos were made from the excursions or on chases through eastern Pennsylvania. Most were not captioned at the time of processing, which often makes location details elusive but also part of the dreamlike mystery of building the scale railroad.

Reading Iron Horse Ramble, exposed in May 1964 on Agfachrome using a Leica M. Location unrecorded.Photo by Richard Jay Solomon ©1964.

In 2007, I assembled a book titled the Railroads of Pennsylvania, and made a detailed study of the region.

In 2014 and 2015, I was researching on books on steam locomotives and made several trips with Pat Yough to photograph the Reading & Northern.

The model railroad will blend together all of this inspiration and much more.

As part of a new on-going feature on Tracking the Light, I’ll be reporting on progress with this model railroad and the source material from which we draw.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Snowy Day on the Cog.

At the end of December 2020, Kris Sabbatino and I, paid a brief visit to the Mount Washington Cog Railway, where I made this photo of a pair of bio-diesel powered excursion trains near the base station.

The Mount Washington Cog was the worlds first cog railway. Although uncommon in North America, mountainous cog railways are relatively common in the Alps where there are numerous examples in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.

In 2002, I traveled on a cog line at Strba, Slovakia, but that’s a photo for another day.

Tracking the Light posts daily!

DM&IR at Proctor

On a September 1994 trip with Tom and Mike Danneman, I made this unusual portrait oriented (vertical) image on Kodachrome 25 of a Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range manifest freight approach the yard at Proctor, Minnesota.

It was dull and raining lightly. To make for a more engaging photo I included portions of the bridge on which was I standing over the tracks. This makes a frame for the primary subject and ads depth, while distracting viewers likely to complain by directing their interest to the out of focus bridge members and away from the featureless sky.

This was a trick I learned in the early 1990s when executing commercial product photography to avoid overly complicated re-shoots by distracting fault-finding art directors.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Cropped for the horizontal-demanding internet below;

Water Extra along the Saco.

Among my final photos from Saturday January 2, 2021, were these images of Conway Scenic’s ‘Water Extra’ paused along the Saco River near milepost 64 in Glen, NH.

I was traveling on the extra which stopped while the Winter Steam special performed runbys at Mountain Junction.

All photos were made with my Nikon Z6.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

WInter Steam! Round 3; Using the Z6 at Second Iron.

On Saturday, January 2, 2021, I limited my photo arsenal to just three cameras.

For this view of the Conway Scenic Railroad’s Winter Steam crossing the Saco River at ‘Second Iron,’ I was used my Nikon Z6.

I made some nominal modifications to the camera raw file (NEF) using Adobe Lightroom. Specifically, I lightened the shadow areas, brought down the highlights, while whitening the whites to help separate the steam from the sky and keep the snow looking clean and fresh. I also slightly increased saturation since the RAW capture appeared a bit dull.

Locomotive 7470 was reversing over the bridge after making its first run-by for the photographers on the trip.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Winter Steam! Round 2 the RAW files.

As a follow up to yesterday’s post, I’ve included a second selection of photos exposed with my FujiFilm XT1 of last Saturday’s Winter Steam event at Conway Scenic Railroad. (See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2021/01/04/winter-steam-round-1/)

Yesterday, I presented images scaled directly from the Camera produced JPG files.

To make the most of the images presented in today’s post, I imported my Fuji RAW files into Iridient X-Transformer for conversion into the DNG format, and then imported the DNG conversions into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.

As previously described on Tracking the Light Iridient X-Transformer does a superior job of interpreting the data captured in RAW by the Fuji X-series camera than simply importing the RAWs directly into Lightroom.

Using the Lightroom sliders I made nominal adjustments to contrast, color temperature, and exposure in order improve the interpretation of the photographs.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Winter Steam! Round 1

Saturday, January 2, 2021, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its Winter Steam special to Sawyer River hauled by locomotive 7470.

I helped plan, organize and advertise this event.

Instead of traveling on the train westbound, I’d opted to ride the Water Train that preceded it to Sawyers. This allowed me to help set up the location for the first photo stop, and make images of the train arriving.

I then traveled on Winter Steam eastward to Second Iron, where we staged the second photo run by.

These photos were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 using the the built in Velvia color profile. Other than scale the camera JPG files in Adobe Lightroom, I made no changes to color, contrast or exposure.

Snow covered crossovers at Bartlett, NH.
Sawyers.

More images to follow!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

A Ride on the Water Train

Yesterday—January 2, 2021—I traveled on Conway Scenic’s Water Train, ‘Work Extra 573,’ that cleared the line of snow and carried the tank car filled with 5,000 gallons of water to refill the tender of steam locomotive 7470.

This was the support train for the main event. Winter Steam was Conway Scenic’s first steam excursion of the new year. Locomotive 7470, the railroad’s former Grand Trunk Railway 0-6-0, followed the Water Train by about an hour, running to from North Conway, New Hampshire to Sawyers and back.

Sawyers is the siding on the old Maine Central Mountain Division located immediately timetable west of 4th Iron, where the railroad crosses Sawyer River.

I made all of these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Stay tuned for photos of Winter Steam!

The view west along the Saco River at milepost 64 near Glen, New Hampshire.
Paused at Glen.
Testing the new pump on the waterer.

View from a snow bank at Glen near the Ellis River bridge.
Pause at Bartlett to clear switches.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Central Vermont 562 on State Line Hill-June 1986.

In 1986, my pal TSH and I had been comparing the differences between Kodachrome 25, Kodachrome 64, and Fujichrome 50 slide film.

It was early during this trial period that I made this photo of Central Vermont’s southward freight 562 with Grand Trunk Western 5808 in the lead ascending State Line Hill in Monson, Massachusetts passing the old Zero Manufacturing plant on Bliss Street.

I was very much impressed by the colors in this image when it was returned to me from Kodak, and the appearance of this slide and other K25 images contributed to my decision to adopt this emulsion as my standard slide film.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Then & When: Rices 15 Years Apart.

In scanning my vintage Kodachrome slides, I found two color views at Rices near Charlemont, Massachusetts that I exposed nearly 15 years apart.

The top view was made looking east from a Mystic Valley Railroad Society excursion to the Hoosac Tunnel in May 1982. We had just over taken a short Boston & Maine local freight heading for North Adams. Interestingly this was my first photo at Rices.

The second photo was made of an empty coal train following a late-season heavy snow in April 1997.

Exposed on Kodachrome 64 using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar in May 1982.
Kodachrome 25 exposed with a Nikon F3T fitted with an 80-200mm Nikkor Zoom lens. April 2, 1997.

Happy New Year from Tracking the Light!

New Year’s Eve 1988—Springfield Union Station.

On this day 32 years ago I exposed this frame of Kodachrome 25 slide film using my old Leica M2 rangefinder with an f2.0 50mm Summicron lens.

Kodachrome slide adjusted using Adobe Lightroom to control contrast, correct for color, and improve exposure.

Low sun and dark clouds made for a moody dramatic setting.

An Amtrak shuttle working the Springfield, Massachusetts to New Haven, Connecticut run has just departed Springfield Union Station.

The towers on either side of the train historically housed the elevators that connected the platforms with a below-track concourse.

Back in the day, I hand-printed an 11×14 inch Cibachrome print from this slide.

Happy New Year’s Eve from Tracking the Light!

Steam Over the Saco.

The book High Green and the Bark Peelers describes this then-new bridge (built c1949) which had replaced a traditional wooden covered bridge.

The other day, I walked along the banks of the Saco River in Conway, NH to make this view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s 7470 on its northward run in freshly fallen snow.

The original image was exposed as NEF (Raw file) with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. I imported the file into Adobe Lightroom to make nominal adjustments to color, exposure and contrast. This allowed me to make the most of the directional winter lighting.

Although a largely monochromatic scenic, this is actually a full color photograph. Perhaps I should return one of these days with a film camera?

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

339 at 399—Unusual Perspective.

Note: To get the full picture, you will need to view this post on Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light.

I like to find non-standard angles and unusual perspectives to make common subjects, uncommon.

In April 1989, an Amtrak F40PH leading Amfleet, was about as common as it got.

I’d set up along Conrail’s former New York Central Waterlevel Route at milepost 399, near the School Road grade crossing, east of Batavia, New York.

Working with a Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt prime telephoto attached using a Leica Visoflex and fixed to a Bogen 3021 tripod, I selected a rail-level view.

My angle deliberately forces the eye away from the primary subject. Why do this? The bright Amtrak train already dominates the scene, so by forcing the eye downward it makes for an unusual angle that better captures your attention.

An unwise photo editor, might try to crop the bottom 20 percent of the image in a misguided effort to center the train from top to bottom.

Sadly, photographer’s compositions are too often foiled by less insightful editors.

Tracking the Light posts daily!

Santa Fe 5959 at Valley

Another photo from my classic Kodachrome file.

I made this photo of Santa Fe F45 5959, then working on Wisconsin Central, at Valley siding near Fond du Lac on May 20, 1995.

This was in the last light of evening when warm light bathed the landscape. Wisconsin Central had recently acquired a variety of 20-cylinder EMDs from Santa Fe. This is one of many slide I made of Santa Fe diesels working the WC.

I scanned the slide using a Nikon Coolscan5000 digital scanner.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Steam at Second River Run!

Yesterday (Saturday, December 26, 2020) Conway Scenic Railroad fired up and operated steam locomotive 7470 for the first time since January.

The 1921-built 0-6-0 made three public runs, two to Conway and its last run of the day to Bartlett over the former Maine Central Mountain Division.

Cool temperatures made for stunning displays of locomotive exhaust.

Wayne Duffett was at the throttle of 7470 working it west at Second River Run in Bartlett, NH in these photos made toward the end of the day.

All were exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens. Working with the camera RAW (NEF format) files in Adobe Lightroom, I made a variety of adjustments to improve overall appearance.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Dresden Tram-Two Versions

This is another view from Dresden, Germany exposed with my Rolleiflex Model T in June 2001. It was on the same roll of Fuji Neopan 400 that I described last week on Tracking the Light.

I’m at street level, with the Dresden Neustadt station behind me.

In the first interpretation, I made no alterations to the reversal scan of the original negative.

In the second (below), I’ve made significant adjustments to exposure and contrast.

Tech data:

Exposed using Rolleiflex Model T with Carl Zeiss 75mm lens. 120-size Fuji Neopan 400 roll film. Processed in Agfa Rodinal Special (not to be confused with Agfa Rodinal) mixed 1-32 for 3 min 45 seconds. Scanned with a Epson V600 flatbed scanner, digital processing with Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Christmas Lights

Last night (December 23, 2020), I made this handheld view of the 1874-built North Conway station for the Conway Scenic Railroad’s Facebook page.

There was nothing fancy about making this photo,

Working with my Fujifilm XT-1 and 16-55mm lens, I set the ISO to 3200, the white balance to ‘daylight’, and based on the in-camera light meter, I put the shutter speed to 1/8 of a second.

Tracking the Light wishes you Happy Holidays!

Wheels at Whitehead.

On August 23, 2003, I made these studies of steam locomotive drivers at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Whitehead shops in Northern Ireland.

I was working with a vintage Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss 75mm lens and loaded with Kodak 120 size Tri-X.

I processed the film in my old Dublin apartment on Synge Street using the following recipe:

Ilfotec HC mixed to a dilute ratio, stop bath , two fixer baths, long rinse, perm awash, the toned in Selenium 1-9 for 9 minute, second rinse.

The Selenium provides better highlight definition and superior contrast.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Six Years Ago Today—Pan Am OCS.

The short days were making photography a challenge six years ago, when on December 22, 2014, Paul Goewey and I photographed the Pan Am Railways office car train at East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

The light was failing fast, and I upped the ISO on my Canon EOS 7D to 1600 in order to stop the action.

I made this sequence of images from the famous ‘Railfans Bridge’ as the OCS backed beneath us,

My RAW files were a little on the dark side and the contrast was very flat, so I made some adjustments in using Adobe Lightroom to improve the presentation.

The last photo shows the unadjusted file adapted from the camera RAW. Exposure was at f3.5 1/100th of a second, ISO 1600, with my Canon EF100mm prime lens.

Tracking the Light posts Daily!

Santa’s Holiday Express at Dusk

Friday evening, December 18, 2020, I made this photos of Conway Scenic’s Santa’s Holiday Express at Conway, NH.

I helped arrange this event, as well as plan the schedule of the train and organize the advertising.

It was nice to get the train in the fading daylight on a frosty December evening.

FujiFIlm XT-1 with 16-55mm lens at 16mm, f3.2 1/2 second at ISO 800.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Dresden-June 2001.

I visited Dresden, Germany for the first time in June 2001.

The Dresden Neustadt station impressed me with its arched train shed and vintage mechanical semaphores.

Working with my old Rolleiflex Model T, I made this pair of photos on 120-size Fuji Neopan 400 roll film.

I processed the film in Agfa Rodinal Special (not to be confused with Agfa Rodinal) mixed 1-32 for 3 min 45 seconds.

I like the technological contrast between the then modern train (a Siemens Desiro railcar) and the old signals. This contrast is mimicked in the visual contrast of my black & white technique that produces stark dark lines against fluffy afternoon clouds.

120 size negative reversed and adjusted for internet presentation.
Direct scan (without reversal) of the same negative.
Reversed scan with contrast adjustments.
Direct and unmodified scan of the above negative.

Tracking the Light Explores Railroad Photography Every Day

North Conway Snow

Wednesday night and Thursday (December 16 and 17, 2020) snow fell in the White Mountains.

The morning of December 18 dawned clear and bright with a few lingering clouds to temper the light.

December 19, 2020
December 18, 2020
December 18, 2020
December 18, 2020
December 18, 2020

I made these photos at the North Conway yard where I work for Conway Scenic Railroad.

All were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 and processed in Adobe Lightroom

Tracking the Light Posts Each and Every Day!

Saco River Bridge Monochrome.

In October (2020), I made this view of the former Maine Central twin-span truss over the Saco River near Glen, NH, while traveling eastbound on the headend train #162 Mountaineer.

This is favorite bridge of mine, but a difficult one to photograph satisfactorily from track side. As a result most of my best photos have been from the engine.

I exposed this using my Canon EOS 3 loaded with Ilford HP5 black & white film. I processed this in a customized split development process using a presoak of Kodak HC110 mixed 1-200 at 68F for 5 minutes 30 seconds, followed by primary development using Ilford ID-11 stock mixed 1-1 for 6 minute 30 seconds at 68f. This technique facilitates exceptional dynamic range and superior overall tonality.

After processing, I scanned the negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner, and made final adjustments to the scan in Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Work Train Makes the Sun

Monday was dull and overcast.

Monday afternoon, Conway Scenic operated a work train out along the Redstone Branch in North Conway, NH.

After the train left the yard, I walked from my office in the North Conway station a few blocks east to the North-South Road that runs parallel to the Redstone line to make a few photos of the train on the branch.

The next day I sent them to the Conway Day Sun.

Yesterday, December 16, 2020, I was greeted by my photo on the front page of the paper! (Complete with credit and quote).

So I went back over to the newspaper’s offices to make a few photos of the newspaper boxes with the railroad in the distance, and then gave a copy to Dave Swirk, president & general manager of the railroad. I posed him in front of steam locomotive 7470, and then posted this to our facebook.

If all goes well, 7470 may be next up for its day in the Sun!

All photos were made using a FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55 Fujinon zoom lens.

Tracking the Light posts Daily!

Cherryville Junction—March 29, 2002 Part 2.

As a follow up to yesterday’s post, here are a few more choice photos from Good Friday 2002, when I visited Cherryville Junction, Co. Kildare.

Effectively unseen for more than 18 years. The other day, I scanned this roll of Fuji Neopan 400 that I had neatly stored in an archival binder.

All the photos were exposed using my old Contax G2 rangefinder that I’d fitted with a 28mm Zeiss Biogon lens. I had four lenses for the camera, of which the 28mm was probably the most useful.

This lens offer a characteristic look and exceptional sharpness. I still have the camera and the lens, but the body stopped working back 2007, more than five years after these photos was made.

Down 1205 liner to Cork with locomotive 216 at Cherryville Jct.
1205 liner clatters through Cherryville Jct.
Irish Rail 133 and 159 lead the up bulk-bogie cement at Cherryville Jct.
Irish Rail 133 and 159 lead the up bulk-bogie cement at Cherryville Jct.
Down push-pull.
Sunset at Cherryville Jct with an up train headed toward Dublin.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Good Friday at Cherryville Junction. Five Photos!

And it’s a was a very good Friday too. Years ago, Good Friday was a busy day on Irish Rail and there was lots to garner a photographer’s attention.

In addition to Railway Preservation Society of Ireland steam excursions, and ‘extra’ Friday-only passenger trains, Irish Rail tended to operate a lot of daylight freight.

So on the morning of March 29, 2002, Hassard Stacpoole and I joined Paul Quinlan at Kildare for a foray to Cherryville Junction (where the Waterford Line joins the Dublin-Cork mainline) and spent the day rolling by the parade of trains.

I made most of my photos on Fujichrome slide film, but also exposed a roll of Fuji Neopan 400 black & white film in my Contax G2 rangefinder with a yellow filter.  I processed this in Agfa Rodinal Special (mixed 1-32) for 3 minutes 45 seconds at 20c.

Then after 18 years in an archival box, yesterday I decided to scan a few of the photos for presentation here.

Irish Rail class 201 number 226 pushes a Mark3 push-pull working the up Waterford.
Irish Rail 087 with down Waterford.

Class 201 number 219 works the up ammonia.
Trailing view of the up ammonia.
Railcars running toward Waterford (or Carlow?) at sunset.

What may have passed as ordinary in 2002, now looks fascinating.

More to come from that day soon!

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

A RAW and Vivid Sunset at Conway

Friday evening, December 11, 2020, I traveled to Conway, NH on the headend of Conway Scenic’s Santa’s Holiday Express to make advertising photos.

A gorgeous wintery sunset graced the sky.

Working with my Nikon Z6 plus 24-70mm lens, I made a series of photographs, exposing in RAW and JPG simultaneously. I had the JPG profiled using the Vivid preset.

Below are three examples.

The camera RAW file (NEF format), the camera profiled JPG, and an adjusted file made from the RAW using Adobe Lightroom.

Nikon camera RAW (NEF) without modifications.
Camera JPG in ‘VI’ mode (vivid color)
Adjusted camera RAW.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Ballast at Tipperary

In August 2003, I exposed this photo of an Irish Rail ballast train at Tipperary that was in the passing loop.

At the time I was working with a Rolleiflex Model T that used 120 size roll film.

I was using Kodak Tri-X (400 ISO) that I processed in Ilfotec HC and toned in Selenium to improve the highlights. I scanned the photo last night using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

There is an amazing amount of detail in this photo. I’ve enlarged one small section of it as an example.

At the time Irish Rail class 141 number 169 was one of the last locomotives operating with the old ‘IR’ logo, a herald remarkably similar to the Portuguese Railways logo.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

This Day 9 Years Ago.

On December 12, 2011, I photographed Irish Rail 083 leading the down IWT passing Islandbridge Junction in Dublin. This was an unusually heavy train.

The locomotive was wearing the relatively short-lived silver, black & yellow livery introduced in 2007, and since vanished into history.

It has been 13 months since I last visited my favorite vantage point.

Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D with 18-135mm lens set at 38mm Canon zoom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Railway photography by Brian Solomon

%d bloggers like this: