Reading Company 2102 Location Unknown

In May 1963, my father exposed this Kodachrome slide of Reading Company class T-1 4-8-4 number 2102 leading one of the railroad’s popular Iron Horse Rambles.

21 years ago, I ran this photo across two pages in my large format book Locomotive published by MBI.

Today, this image of great interest to me as part of our on-going model railroad project, which aims to recreate the spirit of the Reading Company in anthracite country.

Leica M3 with Summicron lens. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon.

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Change at Crewe.

On April 9, 2000, I was traveling across the UK from Oxford to Holyhead (and then on to Dublin), and changed trains at Crewe.

During my layover, I exposed this 400mm view of new Class 175 diesel railcars arriving from Holyhead.

I was working with a Nikon N90s loaded with Fujichrome. The lens was an older model Tokina f5.6 400mm that I’d bought years earlier from Doug Moore.

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Nice Day for a Plow Extra

Yesterday (Wednesday February 24, 2021) was bright and sunny with textured clouds in North Conway, New Hampshire.

The railroad had scheduled a plow extra to clear the line toward Attitash in Bartlett.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens, I made these photos of the plow being readied for action and heading west out of the yard.

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Intervale Cross

On Sunday, February 21, 2021, Kris Sabbatino and I visited the old Intervale, New Hampshire station site at Intervale Cross Road to catch the in-bound snow train from Attitash.

In the lead was former Maine Central GP7 573, one of Conway Scenic’s most productive locomotives. It is pictured on former home rails.

Historically, Intervale was the interchange between Maine Central’s Mountain Division and Boston & Maine’s Conway Branch.

Exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1. File converted from Fuji’s RAW format to a DNG file using Iridient X-Transformer and adjusted in Adobe Lightroom.

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Stone Train at Grand Ave

In the mid-1990s, Wisconsin Central actively pursued traffic to fill its lines with trains.

In this September 1996 photo a former Algoma Central SD40-2 leads a short stone train at Grand Avenue in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

These trains typicallyl ran with a single six-motor diesel and former Canadian National gypsum cars, often make several trips a day over the line.

I made this image using a Nikon F3T with f4.0 200mm Nikkor lens on Kodachrome Film.

Kodachrome’s grain structure permitted superior definition in extreme exposure situations such as the locomotive headlights. Where E6 films and digital media often suffer from poorly defined headlight areas, Kodachrome had a much better ability to retain detail.

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Snow Train at Glen

Yesterday (Sunday February 21, 2021) a clear blue dome made for excellent winter photographic conditions.

Kris Sabbatino and I went out to picture Conway Scenic’s afternoon Snow Trains.

We caught the 3pm departure passing Glen, New Hampshire.

After exposing a few Provia 100F color slides of the train crossing the truss bridge over the Ellis River, I made this view with my FujiFilm XT1 as the westward train approached the grade crossing.

I’ve presented two versions. The first is the camera-JPG using the Fuji Veliva color profile. The second is a JPG made from the camera-RAW, which I first converted using Iridient X-Transformer to a DNG file, then working in Adobe Lightroom I made very slight adjustments to the highlights and shadows to maximize the detail in the image while retaining the color profile.

Notice the difference in the amount of highlight detail in the snow, particularly to the left of the train. Also notice the tint of the green paint on the front of locomotive 216.

Camera produced JPG using the Velvia Color profile.

RAW file converted for adjustment to a DNG file, then adjusted in Adobe Lightroom to maximize highlight detail and adjust color, while retaining the overall Velvia color profile.

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Ontario Midland 1987

I paid a visit to the Ontario Midland at Sodus, New York on a windy October day in 1987.

The sky was a tumble with autumnal clouds blowing off Lake Ontario with occasional patches of blue sky.

I made this view on Kodachrome 25 slide film with my Leica M2 and 50mm Summicron.

I’d missed a wink sun on the Alco RS-11 by a few moments.

I wonder why I didn’t wait a little while to see if it would have come out again?

Below are three versions of the photo. The first is my uncorrected scan, the second and third are variation with corrections to exposure, contrast, saturation and color balance implemented with Adobe Lightroom.

RAW uncorrected scan, scaled for internet presentation. Sodus, New York, October 17, 1987.
Adjusted scan.

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Stainless Steel Sunburst

A few days ago on my walk to the North Conway station where I work, I made this sunrise sunburst of Conway Scenic’s Budd Vista Dome Rhonda Lee.

The secret to making this type of photo is manually selecting a very small aperture (in this case f22) with a wide-angle lens (16mm in this case), while allowing the sun to intersect a dark area (station roof).

It is also helpful to have a relatively dark sky, in this situation against a polarized winter sky.

I’ve made good use of this effect over the last few months where stark winter weather has given me plenty of opportunities for sunburst.

Incidentally, this image was made without the benefit (or detraction) of external filters. Nor was it substantially modified in post processing.

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Empty Branch Train—May 20, 2006

It was a lovely Spring morning in Claremorris, County Mayo, when I made this telephoto trailing view of the empty Irish Rail Ballina Branch train approaching the yard.

Finding a ‘mixed pair’ of 121/181 diesels on the passenger train was a rare event by 2006, and certainly worthy of my attention.

Irish Rail 075 that had been assigned to work the branch passenger train had failed at Ballina day or two previously, and the older EMDs were borrowed from their freight assignment to fill in.

I exposed this Fujichrome slide using my Nikon F3 with a short telephoto, probably a 105mm, from the road bridge west of the Claremorris Station.

Irish Rail 124 and 184 lead the Ballina Branch train.

I scanned the slide last night using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner set to 3200 dpi. Then I made nominal color/contrast corrections in Adobe Lightroom before scaling the image for internet presentation.

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Snow and Ice (and more snow)

Winter in the White Mountains.

Yesterday afternoon (February 17, 2021) I made this photo Conway Scenic Railroad GP9 1751 at the Golf Course Crossing near our North Conway Station.

Over the last few weeks winter weather has made for a textured monochromatic landscape.

Exposed using my FujiFIlm XT-1 with the ‘Velvia’ color profile.

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Zoom Preview

This evening (February 17, 2021) at 7pm Eastern time, I’m schedule to give a Zoom slide show on my Conway Scenic Railroad photography to the 470 Club.

Below is just a brief preview of the slide show, which draws on more than three decades of photography, but focuses on my work for Conway Scenic over the last two years.

I’ve included a host of film images as well as my digital work.

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Stark

It is a cool, and aptly named northern New Hampshire village.

Stark. Literally and figuratively. And when I say cool, I’m being ironic.

It was cold.

The old Grand Trunk Railway runs through Stark on the north side of the Ammonmoosuc. Today, this is Genesee & Wyoming’s St. Lawrence & Atlantic.

Trains, when these pass, typically pass in the wee hours.

Very wee.

There’s also an auld bridge here. And a wee church.

A feeling of minimalistic surrealism permeates the frosty landscape.

I made these views on a Stark visit with Kris Sabbatino over the weekend.

All images were exposed using my Nikon Z6, and processed in Adobe Lightroom.

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Silver Meteor—St Johns RIver.

A few days after Christmas 1984, my father and I set up for photographs at the St Johns River bridge on the former Atlantic Coast Line just north of Sanford, Florida.

I made this trailing view of Amtrak’s northward Silver Meteor on Kodachrome 64 using my Leica 3A rangefinder with 50mm lens.

The color in the slide was unusually pastel and had shifted to a blue-cyan bias, so after scanning, I imported the photo into Adobe Lightroom to adjust the color and improve sharpness and saturation.

Color corrected scan of an original Kodachrome slide.

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A Moment of Sun Near Ballybrophy—2 slides.

It was a dull Friday afternoon in mid June 2005, when DH and I were exploring locations along the Cork Road (Dublin to Cork) between Mountrath, Co Laois and the top of Ballybrophy Bank.

We’d stopped in sight of the tracks on a lightly traveled dirt road, and were cleaning the car, when off to the east we heard the distant drumming of a class 071 in Run-8 (full throttle).

Irish Rail’s class 071s are mid-1970s era EMD diesel-electrics, built with Dash-2 technology and powered with 12-cylinder 645E3 (turbocharged) engine. Their sound is distinctive.

I grabbed my Nikon F3 loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO). As the Friday-only ‘Down Kerry’ (Dublin Heuston to Tralee) came into view, the sun peaked out from a thick overhead cloud-bank. Irish Rail 072 was driven by Irish Rail’s Ken Fox, who recognized us and gave a few friendly blasts of the hooter (horn).

As the train passed on its ascent toward Ballybrophy, the sound intensified—a characteristic of the doppler effect. We could hear the aged EMD until Ken shut off at the top of the bank—several miles distant.

I scanned these slides a couple of weeks ago.

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Reading Retrospect

On October 22, 1987, I made this study of former Reading Company 50-foot boxcars stored on the Genesee & Wyoming at P&L Junction in Caledonia, New York.

When Reading was folded into Conrail, Delaware & Hudson took title to a variety of Reading Company equipment, yet these cars were still painted for their original owner.

For more than 30 years this Kodachrome slide languished in the dark, and only recently did I retrieve it. These cars are of special interest to me now because I’m building a scale interpretation of the Reading Company in HO, and, Kris Sabbatino and I recently purchased models of Reading Company cars similar to these.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with a 90mm f2.8 Elmarit.

Scanned using a Nikon SupersCoolScan5000 digital scanner operated using VueScan software. Scan adjusted in Adobe Lightroom.

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Wild Ride on a Plow Extra.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021, Conway Scenic organized another plow extra to clear accumulating snow on the line between North Conway and Attitash near Bartlett, NH.

Instead of following the plow train by road as I have in the past, I arranged to travel on it, mostly riding in GP7 573 that powered it.

Although there was only about 18 inches of snow at North Conway, we encountered deeper snow and drifts on the run toward Attitash, with some of the deepest snow along West Side Road, near where the old Maine Central Mountain Division ducks under Route 302 west of Glen, NH.

I made these views with my FujiFilm XT1. It wasn’t as warm as it looks!

This morning I am preparing a short video on the plow ride that I will post on Conway Scenic Railroad’s Facebook page later today. This is a follow up to last week’s video of Conway Scenic’s Plow Extra that has proven extremely popular with hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook.

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Waterford July 2005

To my eye, this 400mm view at Irish Rail’s Waterford yard is more about the tracks and the signaling than about the timber train.

I made the photo using a Nikon N90S loaded with Fujichrome Velvia 100 and fitted with an old Tokina 400mm lens.

Backlighting accentuated the trackage while making silhouette of the signals and lighting polls. It also give the distant trees a dream-like pastoral effect.

I was standing on the platform at Waterford Station beneath the main road bridge over the tracks. Notice the wires and rods used to control semaphores and switch points.

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Bright Sun at Westwood Junction.

In December 2015, the sun was bright along the old Mine Hill & Schuylkill Haven at Westwood Junction, near Minersville, Pennsylvania.

Little did I know when I made this view of a Reading & Northern excursion, that this minor component of the old Reading Company was one of the oldest railway lines in North America.

In my study of the Reading for our model railroad project, I’ve learned many fascinating things that are difficult to translate in HO.

Digital photo exposed with my FujiFilm XT1.

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Maplewood—Second Visit

Last Autumn Kris Sabbatino and I paid a visit to old Boston & Maine Maplewood Station near Bethlehem, New Hampshire.

This old railway station has been abandoned for nearly a century.

Last weekend we paid a brief second visit to make photos in the stark wintery landscape.

Below are three versions of a RAW (NEF) file exposed using my Nikon Z6.

JPG scaled from unadjusted NEF file. In other words, there were no corrections to the appearance of the image.
Adjusted JPG; color temperature warmed; contrast reduced, shadows lightened, highlights darkened.
Scaled adjusted JPG; color temperature cooled, contrast increased, highlights darkened, shadows darkened.

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Norfolk Southern Train 145 on the Street

Working with ripe professional Kodachrome 25 (PKM), I made a series of photos of Norfolk Southern trains traversing the former Nickel Plate Road street trackage on 19th Street in Erie, Pennsylvania.

This was part of a great adventure with my pal TSH in the summer of 1988 that brought us to many fascinating places on the railroad.

Kodachrome was wonderful film, and PKM was among my favorite emulsions, but when used a little on the ripe side (too fresh) it shifted cyan (blue/green).

I scanned this slide the other day using a Nikon Coolscan5000 digital scanner then imported the high-res TIF scan into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.

Working with the sliders in the program, I made a host of small corrections to color, contrast, and exposure that improve the overall appearance of the photo while minimizing the effects of the cyan color cast.

I’ve included a scaled version of the unaltered scan; my adjusted scan, and one of the Lightroom work windows that shows some of the adjustments that I made during post processing.

Lightroom work window showing control sliders.
Unaltered scan of the original Kodachrome slide.
Corrected scan.

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Frosted Balls

Yesterday on a drive through the White Mountains, Kris Sabbatino and I found the sun shining at Whitefield, New Hampshire.

Fresh snow covered the famous ball signal that protected the old crossing of Maine Central and Boston & Maine tracks.

Dramatic clouds filled the sky and there was no chance of the rails being disturbed by flanged wheels.

This selection of digital photos was exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm zoom lens set with a ‘Vivid’ color profile.

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Dusk from the North Tower.

Friday evening I heard a locomotive whistling for Route 302 near White Mountain Oil. This was former Maine Central 573 on its return from Attitash. Our crew had taken it west to clear the line after more than 5 inches of snow had fallen.

When they reached the old Post Office crossing near the North Conway, NH station, they paused.

I looked out my office window in the North Tower of the station and thought, ‘that’s a nice scene, and some nice evening light.’ And so grabbed my FujiFilm XT1 and set the ISO to 3200 and popped off a few digital photos.

Nothing fancy, just a few photos at dusk from my office window.

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Snow Plow February 3, 2021

Snow fell on North Conway starting the evening of February 1, 2021 and kept on falling for a full day. This was a heavy wet snow that settled like concrete. There was over a foot on the ground by the time it was all done, and over 18 inches in some places.

On Wednesday, February 3rd, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its first plow extra of the season.

I made this photograph at the North Conway station as the plow was being readied for its trip west to Attitash.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera. RAW file convert to DNG format using Iridient X-Transformer and adjusted with Adobe Lightroom.

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Central Vermont 444 at Palmer

Back in the mid-1980s, I’d often catch Central Vemont’s southward road freight arriving at Palmer, Massachusetts. This would operate overnight from St. Albans, and typically arrive in the morning.

On this occasion, 444 was lead by a colorful mix of locomotives including Grand Trunk Western GP38 5808 and a couple of GTW GP9s, a CV GP9, and a Canadian National M-420.

I must have been so enthralled by the array of motive power that I didn’t mind my exposure. My original slide is about 2/3s of a stop over exposed. Which means the photograph is too light.

Back in the day, I’d instantly reject an image of this quality as ‘unsuitable’ for projection. Although, I labeled the slide, I filed it away with my ‘3rds’, where it was protected from the light for more than 34 years.

I scanned it the other day using a Nikon Coolscan5000 digital scanner, making a multiple pass scan to extract the most amount of data possible in a 4000 dpi scan, then imported the TIF file into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.

The actual adjustment required to correct for over exposure required just a few seconds of my time. Using the histogram as a guide, I lowered the exposure, set the black and white limits and exported as a JPG for presentation here.

Below is the unadjusted scan, followed by my exposure adjusted scan.

The original over exposed photo unadjusted after scanning.
My exposure-adjusted scan.

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Vienna, Austria September 2008

It was on the afternoon of 9 September 2008, when I made this image of the Wiener Lokalbahn tram sheds in Vienna.

At the time I had visions of writing a book about the lost Hapsburg Empire that once spanned much of central and eastern Europe.

Denis McCabe and I visited Vienna at the tale-end of a whirlwind trip that had taken us around the Czech and Slovak Republics.

I made this view on Fujichrome, which I scanned last night using my Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

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Cortland, NY June 11, 2005

I was working on a book on Electro-Motive Division early General Purpose diesels. Specifically the GP7s, GP9s, GP18s and GP20s.

I needed photos of GP18s to illustrate the book, and at the time New York Susquehanna & Western was still regularly operating their small fleet of three GP18s, which the railroad had bought new from EMD.

So, photographer Pat Yough and I drove to central New York state and sought out these vintage locomotives.

I made these Fujichrome color slides at Cortland, NY, where the NYS&W operated a portion of the old Lackawanna.

Last night I scanned the slides, then processed the images in Adobe Photoshop to correct for color, adjust highlight and shadow areas and make other minor adjustments to contrast etc. Below I display both the uncorrected and corrected scans to show the differences between them.

Uncorrected scan.
Uncorrected scan.
Corrected scan. Version 1
Corrected scan. Version 2
Corrected scan. Version 1

Outside my window it is snowing, so looking at photos made on a bright Spring morning is a refreshing change of scene!

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Bogie Beet Reversing.

At first glance this view from November 8, 2005, might appear to be an ordinary container train.

It is not.

During its final season carrying sugar beet, Irish Rail took the tops off some 40ft container and fitted them to bogie (8-wheel) flat wagons to haul beet from Wellingtonbridge Co. Wexford to the sugar factory at Mallow, Co. Cork.

These unusual freight haulers were known as ‘bogie beet wagons’, since Irish Rail’s traditional beet wagons were rigid-base four wheelers.

In this photograph at dusk, a laden sugar beet freight reverses into Limerick Junction, having just come up the line from Waterford that crosses the Dublin-Cork main line at grade (to the right of the signal cabin).

The locomotive will cut off and run around the train in order to proceed to Mallow. This was necessary because there was no direct chord at the Junction to facilitate a direct move. The lights at left had been installed to make it easier to reverse the train at night.

I exposed this photo on a tripod using my Contax G2 Rangefinder with 45mm lens using Fujichrome Sensia slide film. I scanned the slide with an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

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San Diego Trolley

In June 2008, I traveled from Los Angeles to San Diego to research and photograph my book titled Railroads of California (Published by MBI-Voyageur Press in 2009).

I traveled over most of the San Diego Trolley system, during which time I made several dozen photos of the cars including this one near downtown San Diego.

I was working with a pair of Canon EOS 3s. This was was loaded with Fujichrome and fitted with a 200mm Canon lens.

Today, looking back on San Diego from frozen New Hampshire, it seems like a long way away and a long time ago.

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East Deerfield—Nice Light, No Trains.

Sunday, January 24, 2021, on the drive back to the White Mountains, we diverted to the old Boston & Maine yard at East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

It was my most recent visit to this hallowed ground of New England railroading, a place where I’ve photographed countless hundreds of trains over the last four decades.

It was Kris Sabbatino’s first visit.

Winter evening light made for some wonderful photographs.

These images were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens using the Velvia color profile. Other than scaling for internet presentation, I made no alternations to the camera Jpgs.

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Winter Work Extra on the Redstone Line

Yesterday, I exposed a few photos of Conway Scenic Railroad’s work train unloading cut trees at Kearsarge in North Conway, NH as part of materials that I was preparing for story about the railroad in the Conway Daily Sun.

The railroad has been cutting dead and dangerous trees along its lines and storing the timber at the Kearsarge siding on the Redstone Line.

This operation is parallel to the North-South Road in North Conway which used as a bypass for highway traffic through town.

I like photographing this lightly used former Maine Central line because it runs just a few blocks from my apartment in town.

Photos exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm Fujinon lens.

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The Mists of TIme

Here’s another one from the ‘3rds’ file.

I’d been chasing the Mass-Central freight and caught it here winding along the Ware River at Thorndike, Massachusetts. Condensation from the factory added atmosphere, and partially obscured former Conrail GP9 7015 that was leading the train that day.

Until a few days ago this image was lost to the mists of time, languishing among ‘BAD’ slides.

It was a Kodachrome 25 exposed using my father’s Leica M3 with f2 Summicron, probably in January 1987.

Although a color slide, there’s very little color in this scene.

I scanned it last night using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000.

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Best of the Worst!

The other day plowing through my old yellow Kodak boxes, I found one marked in pencil ‘RR-BAD, 2nds & 3rds’.

Translated from my teenaged sorting classification system this was code for ‘real garbage, but not so bad that it should be thrown away’.

Without opening this box, hidden away in the dark for more than three decades, I joked to Kris Sabbatino, “these slides are marked as ‘Bad’, so they must be the best of the lot!”

I explained further, “In my younger days I’d dismiss a photo for the slightest perceived imperfection and classify it as ‘junk’. I know better now! Any box that’s coded as ‘garbage’ is filled with lost treasure!”

Sure enough when I opened this yellow box last night and examined it closely, I found host of fascinating photos. Many only a quick correction away from public presentation.

So what was wrong with this view of a Bangor & Aroostook GP7 at Northern Maine Junction? I’d exposed it on Kodak Ektachrome back in July 1983, and missed my ideal exposure. The original is a bit hot (too light). But that’s a quick fix using Adobe Lightroom.

What you see here is my corrected scan of the original overexposed slide. Not all that bad after all!

Northern Maine Junction near Bangor, Maine on July 3, 1983.

So what else was in my garbage file?

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Brussels PCC Tram-1996

I exposed this color slide on a visit to Brussels with my father in May 1996.

I carried two cameras on that trip. My primary body was a Nikon F3T that I bought new from Nikon in 1990. My secondary camera was second hand Nikkormat FTN with an outer covering of red leather. I called it ‘my red Nikkormat’.

Back then, I’d usually load Kodachrome 25 in the F3T, and Fujichrome 100 in the Nikormat. I exposed film in both cameras manually using a handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe light meter to calculate exposure.

I carried two cameras on that trip. My primary body was a Nikon F3T that I bought new from Nikon in 1990. My secondary camera was second hand Nikkormat FTN with an outer covering of red leather. I called it 'my red Nikkormat'.
K25 color slide exposed using a Nikon F3T with f1.8 105mm lens. Slide scanned digitally and adjusted in Lightroom. May 1996.

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Z6 at Palmer

I made my first photos of the railroad scene in Palmer, Massachusetts back in 1977 using a Leica 3C rangefinder on Black & White film.

I made my first Nikon Z6 digital photos of Palmer on Saturday. (January 23, 2021). Kris Sabbatino and I passed through this old haunt of mine during a visit to Monson, Massachusetts. Time was short, so we paused trackside for just a few minutes.

Although the railroads were quiet, and not a steel wheel turned, I made the opportunity to record the railroad scene with my latest camera. A pair of New England Central locomotives were in the yard, and made for subjects to capture digitally.

This morning, I processed these photos using Adobe Lightroom. For me this was an exercise in learning how I see in this long photographed place with my new camera, which I purchased in September 2020.

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Ten Years Ago!

Ten Years ago on this day (January 24, 2011) I caught Mass-Central and CSX freights side by side at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts using my Canon EOS-7D.

This was an effort in passing; I’d been out running errands and saw the signals lit on CSX’s Boston Line and so I turned down the road to see what was going on.

January 24, 2011 at Palmer, Massachusetts. If you look carefully, there’s a second CSX westbound blocked behind the first.

It helps to have a camera at the ready!

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Sugarbeet Crossing Over

In January 2012, Stephen Hirsch, Denis McCabe and I were on a visit to Austria.

On the way to the Wien Flughafen, we paused at a rural station along the busy Westbahn.

At dusk a laden eastward sugar beet freight was crossing over from the old line to the newer route as a westward train approached at speed.

This is one impressive piece of railway infrastructure!

Exposed using a Canon 7D. Photo adjusted in Adobe Lightroom.

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Railway photography by Brian Solomon

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