I made this view from the Up-Enterprise (Belfast to Dublin) as the train rolled across the Craigmore Viaduct near Newry station.
Exposed in the late afternoon using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
I made this view from the Up-Enterprise (Belfast to Dublin) as the train rolled across the Craigmore Viaduct near Newry station.
Exposed in the late afternoon using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
Last week I traveled around Northern Ireland on a Translink Adult Zone 4 iLink day card, which allows for unlimited travel on NI Railways and Translink buses for a flat fee of £16. This offers great value and travel flexibility.
I arrived at Coleraine from Derry and wanted to make a photo of a train arriving at Portrush. Rather than take the branch train and wait around at Portrush for an hour to photograph the next arrival, I opted to board a bus.
Not only did the bus take less time than the train, but arrived before the connecting branch train was supposed to depart. This gave me time to explore my angles and set up my photo.
Portrush still features classic mechanical signaling, although on my visit the signal cabin was ‘switched out’. (In other words the cabin was not involved in controlling train movements on the line, which is a normal situation when there’s only one train at a time working between Coleraine and Portrush.)
Once the train arrived I made a few photos of it in the station, then boarded for the return trip to Coleraine (and on to Belfast).
Just an ordinary winter’s day at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts last month.
I made this view of CSX’s B740 using my Lumix LX7 .
One of the advantages of digital photography is the ability to check the exposure on-site. Although this scene had a tricky exposure, I was able to gauge my result at the time of exposure.
Consider the dynamic range of exposure in the this image: note the headlights on the locomotive (which appear brighter than the snow on the ground) and the sky (which is slightly darker than the snow).
The other morning I arrived in Derry, Northern Ireland with an aim to photograph NI Railways from the Peace Bridge over the Foyle.
Snow covered the distant hills while areas at right were deep in shadow. Complicating matters were clouds rolling across the morning sky, and NI Railway’s silver trains with bright yellow fronts, and reflective river waters to the left that were rapidly alternating from light to dark as clouds passed over.
Rapidly changing lighting conditions combined with these exposure extremes left me with few options to produce an ideal exposure.
If I set my Lumix in manual (M) mode, I risked getting the exposure completely wrong at the moment the train entered the optimal place in the scene.
However by using the aperture-priority (A) mode, I found the camera’s preset metering tended to over expose the snow and train.
On my second attempt, I used the aperture-priority mode with a manual override to dial down 1/3 of stop, which compensated for the dark areas in the scene while doing a better job of retaining highlight detail.
So, I wonder how my colour slides from the same place will look?
Tracking the Light posts Daily.
On this day (February 19, 2006), I exposed this photo of Guilford’s ‘Sappi Job’ at Fairfield, Maine.
In the lead is an old Boston & Maine GP9 that had been built in 1957 using some trade-in components from World War-II era FT diesels.
I was traveling with Don Marson and Brian Jennison and exposed this view on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3 with 180mm lens.
Last weekend, I was making use of that same lens to photograph Ireland’s Bord na Mona narrow gauge railways.
Nothing fancy here. Just some views I made from NI Railways trains using my Lumix LX7.
Sometimes you get great scenes in the rolling panorama from a moving train. I’m not proud, when I see a nice view I make a photo.
For some of these I’ve uses a comparatively slow shutter speed. For others I try to freeze the motion. In general, I try to avoid or minimize reflections in the windows by paying careful attention to my angles.
Plans are afoot to redevelop Belfast’s railway hubs. With this in mind, the other day I made a few views around Great Victoria Street Station to document the way it looks now, before the changes.
Documentation is a large part of my photography, and it always helps to anticipate change.
I look back with satisfaction at photographs I made in the 1980s at Boston’s South Station that show the terminal before it evolved into the modern transportation center that it is today.
Yet, I also regret not making better images of the classic semaphores at South Station that controlled train movements at the terminal.
Dublin’s new LUAS Cross City tram line transits the old Midland Great Western cutting on its way from the city centre to Broombridge.
In my exploration of the new line I’ve been keeping a close eye on sun angles. Although many of the locations are familiar to me, when the sun favors the trams still requires careful investigation.
Owning to the depth of the cutting direct sun only illuminates the tracks for a relatively short period during midday this time of year.
I timed my visit to the Phibsborough station of the North Circular Road to make the most of the lighting.
Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.
Five years ago I featured Dublin’s Broadstone Station that was historically Midland Great Western’s Dublin terminal.
Today, the new LUAS Cross City tram line skirts the front of the historic building in a purpose-built cutting.
I visited this much altered location on a bright morning, aiming to feature a LUAS tram in the sun with the old station.
Beyond Broadstone, the tram line has re-used the old railway right of way to reach its terminus at Broombridge.
Photos exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.
The bright wall in the cutting combined with the lightly coloured stone on the station façade along with the silver tram complicated my exposures, because these reflected more light than normally expected for a Dublin city scene.
It was nearly 20 years ago that I traveled on this Irish Railway Preservation Society special from Connolly Station Dublin to Mullingar.
The train paused for a crossing with an up-passenger at Enfield, and I made this view from the main road bridge.
It was my first trip to Enfield, and I returned many more times over the years. The signal cabin and mechanical signaling were the big attraction for me.
The Mosel Valley is a wonderfully scenic setting to picture trains on the move.
In September 2015, my friends and I hired a car at the Köln airport and drove to the Mosel for several days of photography.
We selected this vantage point high above the railway line in Hatzenport and photographed a procession of freight and passenger trains.
I exposed this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens; ISO 640 f7.1 at 1/250th sec. White balance was set manually to ‘shade’ to warm up the scene. RAW file converted to a Jpg for presentation.
As a railway photographer, I’ve often used changing trains as an opportunity to make photos.
Years ago I made photos at New Haven, Connecticut on the way to and from New York City.
Last week I changed from the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise to an NI Railways local train at Portadown, Co. Armagh.
In the ten minutes at Portadown, I made these views with my Lumix LX7. Locomotive 8208 in the siding was an added bonus.
I often walk by Heuston Station in all hours of day and night. I’ve been photographing this station for almost 20 years.
Despite this, I never let this pioneering railway terminal building escape notice. Just because something is familiar doesn’t mean I’ll ignore it.
Quite the opposite; I’m always looking for a new angle, different light, or some way of capturing this building.
This recent selection of photos was made using my Lumix LX7.
Here are colour and black & white views at NI Railway’s Lisburn station exposed at sunset in late January 2018. Both original images were exposed within a few moments of each other.
The colour photo was exposed in RAW format using my Lumix LX7 digital camera, while the black & white image was made on Kodak Tri-X exposed using a Nikon F3 with 24mm Nikkor lens. (Film processed in ID11 1-1 for 8 minutes at 20C (68 F).
I imported the files into Lightroom and made a series of contrast adjustments to better balance the sky with the train, station and platforms.
I made my changes to compensate for limitations of the recording media while aiming for greater dynamic presentation.
Below are both the unaltered files, Lightroom work windows, and my penultimate variations, which are aimed to demonstrate the changes, the means of alteration, and my results.
At 1007 (10:07 am) this morning (8 February 2018), Irish Rail’s 071 (class leader of the popular 071 class of General Motors-built diesel locomotives) passed Islandbridge Junction with the down IWT Liner.
This locomotive was repainted in 2016 into the attractive 1970s-era livery.
Although, I’ve made a number of photographs of this locomotive in heritage paint before, it’s always nice to see it on the move. I’m told it had been laid up for the last few months and it’s only back on the road this week.
Ok here’s the story: so as part of Dublin’s Cross City Extension, new extra long Citadis 502 trams were ordered from Alstom. These have nine-sections and are claimed to be among the longest trams in the world to date.
I knew that.
Mark Healy and I had discussed this on the day the photo was made.
We were out to photograph the new LUAS Cross City line.
Then I needed to visit the Bank of Ireland, and run a few errands. It had clouded over the light was flat and dull.
On the way back into the Dublin City center I saw an out of service tram on Parnell Street so, having the Lumix handy I made a few photos as it passed.
Not being up on the new tram numbering, or paying that close attention to it, I though very little of this photo.
It didn’t even make my initial cut.
I wasn’t going to show it on Tracking the Light.
A couple of days later Mark phone to let me know that somehow we’d missed one of the pioneer trials with the new longer trams.
‘Oh?’ I said. ‘What’s the number of the tram in question?’
‘You know, I think I have that.’
Afterwards I looked back through my photos from the day, and here it is! (I blame jet lag).
Now, I warned you that you weren’t going to believe me!
Over the years I’ve made many photos of southward trains ascending State Line Hill from Bridge Street in Monson, Massachusetts.
This one was exposed in January 2018, shortly before I left for Dublin.
Lightly falling snow and a red GP40-2L made for a Christmas card scene. This is New England Central job 608 on its return run on the old Central Vermont Railway line to Willimantic, Connecticut.
Compare this winter view with those made in Spring 2017, See: Bridge Street Monson—Two Takes, Four Views.
I was pleased to learn the my wintery photo of Amtrak ACS-64 611 was selected for the cover of the March 2018 issue of Trains Magazine.
Using my Canon EOS 7D and a telephoto lens, I exposed this view on a visit to Branford, Connecticut with Patrick Yough just over three years ago.
Not all photos are made on bright sunny days.
Here are two views of Irish Rail class 207 in the Enterprise livery working the back of the Cork-Dublin Mark4 push-pull approaching Heuston Station in Dublin.
One was made on a dull afternoon. The other on a frosty evening a day later.
In both instances I exposed photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with a Fujinon Aspherical ‘Super EBC XF’ 27mm ‘pancake’ lens.
I have a number of photos of this locomotive, but in my 20 years photographing the 201 class at work in Ireland, it remains among the most elusive of the fleet.
On February 3, 1995, Canadian National Railway’s American affiliate Central Vermont Railway ended operations.
Shortly thereafter, the newly created RailTex short line called New England Central assumed operation of the former CV route. Since that time, New England Central became part of Rail America, which was then acquired by Genesee & Wyoming.
Despite these changes, a few of New England Central’s start-up era GP38s are still on the move in the classy blue and yellow livery.
Although exposed more than 30 years apart. This pair of ‘then and now’ photos at Maple Street in Monson, Massachusetts, helps delineate my appreciation for New England Central and Central Vermont.
Over the last few years I’ve posted a variety of photos showing Dublin’s LUAS Cross City tram line under construction and trial/training runs.
In December 2017, this new LUAS service commenced from St. Stephens Green (at the north end of the original Green Line service) to Broombridge on Dublin’s Northside. But, at that time, I was elsewhere.
So last Friday (26 January 2018), Mark Healy and I went for a spin out to Broombridge and back. I made digital photos with my Lumix LX7 and colour slides with my Nikon N90S.
These are a few of my digital views.
A lesson in Night-photography.
It was an arctic evening at East Brookfield when we crossed the bridge over the tracks near CP64.
There it was, making an alien roar: the Loram rail-grinder in the old sidings.
Hard snow on the ground and the moon rising.
‘This will just take a couple of minutes’.
We were on our way to a gig at Dunny’s Tavern, but I wanted to make a few photos of this machine. Interestingly, it was my old friend Dennis LeBeau that both invited us to the gig and alerted me to the Loram grinder.
I tried a few photos using my Lumix LX7 in ‘night mode’. But the extremely low light levels didn’t make for great results.
So then I balanced my LX7 in the chain-link fence, dialed in 2/3s of a stop over exposure, set the self-timer to 2 seconds, pressed the shutter and stood back.
I did this several times until I made an acceptably sharp photo.
I manipulated the RAW files in Lightroom to better balance the information captured during exposure.
I know someone will moan about the tree at left. There’s nothing I can do about that, it’s part of the scene. Sorry 2001-fans, no black slab! So far as I can tell, anyway.
Last week, using my Lumix LX7 I exposed these detailed views of the old Great Northern Railways (of Ireland) station at Lisburn, County Down.
I also made a few photos with a Nikon F3 with 24mm lens on Kodak Tri-X. I’ll need to process those and scan them before I can present those here.
Here’s a classic station on a traditional branch line. Back in the early 1980s, my father and I photographed the old Lackawanna Edison cars on the Gladstone Branch. I was just a kid and those cars seemed like rolling antiques from another era.
I made this modern view a couple of weeks ago.
Here’s a scary comparison: these NJ Transit Arrows are nearly as old today as those Edison cars were back then.
On this visit to Mine Dock Park along New York’s Hudson River, I focused on a southward CSX doublestack container train. In the wide-angle view I made use of ice floes in the river as a compositional aid.
Compare these frosty views with the autumnal images made from atop the nearby rock cutting in my earlier post: CSX on the Hudson at Mine Dock Park—November 18, 2016.
Last month I visited with Jim Shaughnessy, who shared with me his latest book Essential Witness that features some of his finest vintage black & white photographs.
I’ve enjoyed this wonderful book, not only for the exceptionally well composed images of railroading, and its beautiful black & white reproduction but because Jim has photographed in many of the same places that I often make my own images.
This gives me a greater perspective and appreciation for both railroading and railroad photography.
Jim is selling signed copies of his book. You may contact Jim via email at: JShaughnessy@nycap.rr.com
Back in the mid-1980s, my friends and I made trips to Mechanicville, New York where the adjacent Boston & Maine and Delaware & Hudson yards lent to lots of action and a great variety of diesel locomotives.
The yard was an early casualty of Guilford’s short lived consolidation of B&M and D&H operations. By 1986 the yard was a ghost town.
In more recent times a small portion of the yards were redeveloped for intermodal and auto-rack facilities, but very little of the sprawling trackage remains
In December, I returned to Mechanicville with a Leica IIIA and Sumitar loaded with Kodak Tri-X in an effort to recreate the angles of photos I exposed in November 1984 using the same camera/film combination.
To aid this exercise, I scanned my old negatives and uploaded these to my iPhone. The viewfinder of the Leica IIIA presents difficulties as this is just a tiny window and not well suited to precision composition. (Topic for another day).
Also complicating my comparisons was the fresh layer of snow in the 2017 views.
In some places the only points of reference between ‘then’ and ‘now’ views are the electrical lines crossing the yard.
I was going to call this Boston Blue Line. But the “Train to Wonderland” sounded more evocative.
Boston’s Blue Line subway offers a great example of when to make good use of a digital camera’s ‘auto white balance’ feature. This is in contrast to yesterday’s post describing when to avoid ‘auto white balance’.
Auto white balance is a good tool when exposing photos under fluorescent lighting, where the color balance varies with the color temperature of the bulbs. With this setting the camera will automatically select a neutral white that avoids unnatural tints caused by color-spikes in the bulb’s spectrum. These artificial bias-tints are typically invisible to the eye but produce a strong color cast in photos.
I made these views of New England Central job 608 working timetable northward at Stafford Spring, Connecticut.
It was about 7:30am, and the sun was just tinting the eastern sky.
Rather than set my camera with ‘auto white balance’ (a typical default setting), I opted to fix the white balance with the ‘daylight’ setting.
Auto white balance arbitrarily selects a neutral color balance and adjusts the balance based on the conditions at hand. This is a useful feature in some situations, such as photography under incandescent lighting, or in situations with mixed lighting, such as in a museum or subway.
However, auto white balance settings have the unfortunate effect of minimizing the colorful effects of sunset and sunrise and so using the ‘daylight’ setting is in my opinion a better alternative.
But there’s really much a more complex problem; the way that digital cameras capture images is completely different to the ways the human eye and brain work in fixing visual stimuli. You could write a book on that!
Tracking the Light Posts Daily!
I made this study of West Chester Railway C-424 using my Panasonic Lumix LX7. Soft afternoon sun allowed for superb tonality and color.
This is a former Canadian Pacific locomotive. I wonder if I’d crossed paths with it in years gone by on forays to Vermont, Quebec or Ontario?
It’s entirely possible.
One of the fun things about exploring old railway lines is discovering old hardware still in use.
When you look in out of the way places you can find some really antique signs, signals, and other equipment that date from decades past.
Never assume, though, that just because its there today, it will still be there next time you visit.
In my puzzle from last week see: https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5fZ
I asked viewers three questions, below are the questions and my ‘correct’ answers:
ANSWERS: The three elements are: 1) the streetcar infrastructure: tracks and wires. 2) SEPTA’s former Pennsylvania Railroad Chestnut Hill Railroad Station (behind the bus). 3) The advertisement on the bus that reads ‘Respect the Train.’
The silver Nissan automobile in the foreground has been double exposed.
I was using the Lumix LX7’s HDR (high dynamic range) mode that combines several images in-camera, which exposed differently. Although these exposures are made in rapid succession, the moving car confused the camera’s combination software and resulted in a double exposure.
Thanks to all the viewers who submitted guesses! And congratulations to everyone that guessed correctly!
Sorry if the streetcar wires and tracks are counted as one answer. 🙂
Here are two views of the same train: led by the same locomotive, at the same location, more or less at the same time of day, exposed using the same camera with the same lens.
Both photos show New Engand Central job 608 led by GP38 3845 working northward in the morning along Plains Road in Willington, Connecticut (south of Stafford Springs).
Photos were exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. The slight difference in angle may be attributed to the inconvenience of a mushy snow bank along the road in winter view that was not a problem in the summer.
Make it hard on yourself. Give yourself a handicap, but make it work.
Try this example: Limit yourself to one fixed lens.
Back story: Most camera systems these days give you a wide-range zoom that allows you to easily adjust the focal length from wide-angle to telephoto. This is convenient, too convenient. So how about forcing yourself to use just one fixed focal length lens, regardless of the circumstance.
Back in the day, many beginning photographers started with a camera and just one lens. Some photographers were happy to use one focal length for all their photos.
What do I mean by fixed lens? I mean a prime lens; in other words a lens with non-adjustable focal length, so not a ‘zoom lens’. Fill the frame as you see fit; you might need to walk around a bit to make your composition work.
So why not give it a try. Pick a lens, maybe a 50mm, but make it work.
In my examples, I was using a prime 90mm lens with my FujiFilm XT1.