After arrival at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), I made my way to the Metrorail light rail station.
You have to take the LAX ‘G’ bus to get there.
Buying the fare took a bit of skill.
Once up on the platforms, which are elevated high above ground level at the Aviation-LAX station, I made a few photos of passing trains using my tired and battle work LUMIX LX7. Then I boarded a Green Line train to change for the Blue.
On the morning of November 14, 2018, I made these views of Pan Am Railway’s EDPO (East Deerfield to Portland, Maine manifest freight) crossing the Connecticut River as it left it’s western terminus on the old Boston & Maine Railroad Fitchburg route.
This side-lit scene benefitted from diffused directional light and a textured sky.
I exposed the photos using my FujiFilm XT1 and processed the RAW files to reveal maximum shadow and highlight detail while emphasizing the rich morning light.
Tracking the Light is on Auto Pilot while Brian Solomon is Traveling.
Tracking the Light aims to Post new material Daily.
The October 2018 Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society features my obituary to American photographer and author Jim Shaughnessy who passed away in August this year.
I paid tribute to Jim and his work, both in America and Ireland, while also explaining how I helped Jim publish his photography in the Journal. Jim was always delighted to be represented in this Irish publication.
The Journal is published thrice annually and I’ve been contributing material for nearly 18 years.
This morning (November 14, 2018), I traveled with my old friends Paul Goewey and John Peters to make photographs of Pan Am Railway’s office car train.
The OCS began its run at East Deerfield Yard for its run down the Connecticut River Line to Springfield and Hartford Line toward Berlin and then to Plainville, Connecticut.
Normally the bastion of Pan Am’s well-kept FP9s, today the OCS ran with GP40s because of the need to have cab-signal equipped/Positive Train Control compliant locomotives on Amtrak’s Hartford line and related connections.
I made these backlit photos in the morning from the old ‘East Deerfield Railfan’s Bridge’, a span soon to be replaced as the new bridge is nearing completion.
Tracking the Light Posts Daily and sometimes Twice!
These photos were exposed using my resuscitated Lumix LX7. I worked in RAW and adjusted the files in post processing to optimize highlight and shadow placement, present more pleasing contrast, and improve color saturation.
Clear evening, northward freight, five units and a deck-girder bridge; working with my FujiFilm XT1, I made this broadside view at Three Rivers, Massachusetts of New England Central’s 611 on its return run from Palmer to Brattleboro, Vermont.
My Zeiss 12mm Touit is a special application lens. It’s very wide, very sharp, and free from barrel distortion. However, its necessary to keep the camera level to avoid line convergence as a result of the wide field of view.
A clear sky and low autumn sun begs for photography.
Yesterday, Mike Gardner and I visited Palmer, Massachusetts for lunch at the Steaming Tender, located in the old Union Station, where CSX’s former Boston & Albany crosses New England Central’s former Central Vermont.
Not a wheel turned. So after lunch, I ascertained that New England Central’s 611 was close. Off we went, driving north.
At Three Rivers we saw the freight crawling south through town and hastily set up our photograph.
Nothing fancy; this is just a traditional three-quarter view of a colorful freight in nice afternoon light with late autumn foliage. There’s something satisfying about that.
In addition to digital photos, I made a select few film photographs.
For me there’s something fascinating and compelling about putting a relic of former times on film. It’s just more real.
Photos were exposed using a Canon EOS3 with 40mm pancake lens on Kodak Tri-X; and the film processed in Ilford ID11 stock developer mixed 1 to 1 with water for 7 minutes 30 seconds at 68F, then scanned with a V500 flatbed scanner and imported into Lightroom for final adjustment.
Here’s an archived digital view I made in the summer of 2011 at Smithton, Pennsylvania along CSX’s former Baltimore & Ohio mainline.
Bad luck, just as this eastward freight came into view, a fair weather cloud muted the afternoon sun. I made a sequence of photos with my Canon EOS 7D.
Working with Lightroom, I re-worked the image starting with the camera RAW file. Unlike the camera Jpg which is compressed, the RAW file contains greater amounts of information than maybe immediately evident.
By making nominal adjustments in post processing, I was able to create a more pleasing photograph. I worked on the sky, locally bringing in highlight details in the clouds by moving the highlight slider control to the left, which scales back the relative brightness of the highlight areas.
On a global level (for the whole file), I brightened shadows, warmed the color balance, increased saturation and adjusted contrast.
Lastly, I focused on the train and made very slight (subtle) adjustments to the exposure by lightening and changing contrast.
For comparison, I’ve included both the unaltered in-camera JPG and two versions of the altered camera RAW file.
On this day six years ago, Denis McCabe and I were on an exploration of Ireland’s narrow gauge Bord na Mona (Peat Board) operations radiating from the Edenderry generating station located near the village of Clonbullogue, Co. Offaly, when we discovered this view from overhead bridge over the double track narrow gauge line.
I exposed my photo using a Canon EOS7D with 200mm prime lens. Nominal overexposure resulted in a slightly washed out image.
Six years after the fact, I worked with the RAW File in Lightroom, to bring back some of the sky detail not apparent in the camera-produced Jpg, while aiming to improve colour saturation and colour balance.
Palmer, Massachusetts’s Steaming Tender restaurant has featured my photo in a recent poster advertising a Paranormal Interactive Investigation to be held at the old Union Station building on February 5, 2019.
I made the original photo on Kodachrome in 1992 using my Nikon F3T with 105mm Nikkor lens mounted on a Bogen 3021 tripod.
In more than 20 years of photographing Irish Rail, 23 September 2018 was the first time I’d photographed a pair of 201s together on a train.
I’d been alerted by folks on the Cork-end of the railway that this unusual move was on it way to Dublin. Although the Cork – Dublin Mark 4 with 229 and 228 arrived after sunset, myself and Jay Monaghan documented this unusual occurrence at Heuston Station.
I made photos using my FujiFilm XT1 and Lumix LX7 digital cameras.
Successfully capturing unusual or unique events are among the challenges of the railway photographer.
Brian Solomon sits down with Trains’ passenger columnist Bob Johnston and retired Amtrak engineer Craig Willett to talk about the national passenger carrier. This is the second in a multi-part conversation that began in Episode 2.
I’d reported that my Lumix LX7 coiled up (failed) during the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s fall tour earlier this month.
Excessive dampness contributed to the camera’s lifeless qualities.
For several days it was unresponsive.
On the advice of Eric Rosenthal, I placed the camera in a Ziplock back filled with rice and left it there for more than 72 hours. Then I gave it another couple of days.
Finally, with a freshly charged battery I turned it on. The lens hesitated, attempted to extend from the camera body, and then retracted, leading to an error message in the display.
I repeated this action, but on the second attempted, grabbed the front element of the lens and coaxed to the normal extended position. In so doing I freed it from some grit that had been impeding its progress.
I then turned the camera on-off several times to ensure that it was working.
Since that time it seems to have been performing as expected.
My zombie Lumix can’t be trusted though. Once a camera demonstrates failure, I never assume that it will perform flawlessly. So, I’ll still be seeking the LX7s inevitable replacement.
Below are some of the photos from the Zombie Lumix.
I was trolling through the archives searching for views of Irish Rail’s Mark 2 airbrake carriages and came across this view of class 071 locomotive 088 at Portarlington in summer 1998.
It makes for a fascinating comparison with a similar photo I made of the same locomotive hauling the recent Railway Preservation Society of Ireland autumn tour arriving at the modern Portarlington station.
In retrospect, I wish I’d located the vintage photograph prior to the tour so I could more closely match the angle.
The 1998 view is made from the old footbridge which is now out of service. The October 2018 photo was exposed from the modern footbridge, which is situated further east and slightly higher.
Yesterday, I had one frame of film left in my Nikon F3.
I’d been exposing photos of Dublin’s North Side and I wanted to process the film before dinner.
I exposed this view of Heuston Station and the old Kingsbridge (now Sean Heuston Bridge) on frame 37.
The sky was impressive; dark blue with textured clouds rolling across it like a flowing tapestry.
To make the most of the usual light, I did a few tricky things.
I exposed the film for the sky and clouds with the intention of some non-standard chemical processing.
To make the most of the shadows with out roasting the highlights, I presoaked the film in a very dilute bath of Kodak HC110 at 75F for 6 minutes with very little agitation. Then, I drained the presoak solution and processed the film in Ilford ID11 mixed 1-1 with water at 68F for 7 minutes (considerably less than the recommended time).
As the sunset on Dublin, Monday a week ago (15 October 2018), I used my FujiFilm X-T1 to expose several series of silhouettes as LUAS trams crossed the old Kingsbridge (now formally Sean Heuston Bridge) over the River Liffey.
My goal was to capture the rays of sun bursting through the windows of the tram cars.
I only had a few minutes where the sun was in the optimal position, and luckily LUAS was operating trams on short headways, so I had several opportunities.
My camera was set for ‘turbo flutter’ (continuous high or ‘ch’ on the left-hand dial) which exposes a rapid burst of images when pressing the shutter button.
By exposing for the sky and sun, I allowed the shadows to become an inky black. Using the smallest aperture (f22 on my 90mm lens) creates the sunburst effect while also allowing for better definition of the sun in the sky.
Yesterday was a bright sunny morning in Dublin. I coordinated my walk to SuperValu at Heuston South Quarter to neatly coincide with the passage of Irish Rail’s IWT Liner.
I timed this well and only waited a few minutes at Islandbridge Junction. Rather than my normal angle from ‘the box’, I opted for an over the wall view a little further up.
Continuing along St. John’s Road toward Dublin Heuston Station, I was surprised to hear another 071. I peered over the wall to discover that Irish Rail 073 (in heritage orange paint) had come down to shunt Belmond’s Grand Hibernian.
Dashing to SuperValu, accomplished my shopping in record time, and returned trackside to catch 073 bringing the Grand Hibernianthrough the wash, and then stopped in front of me at Islandbridge Junction. As this was happening Paul Maguire sent me text to alert me that the elusive Sperry train was on its way over to me.
Minutes later, Irish Rail 076 with Sperry came across to Platform 10 where it was scheduled to run around before heading to Bray.
I walked around to Conyngham Road to catch the Sperry train on its way into the Phoenix Park Tunnel.