Bord na Mona, Lanesborough, October 2013—Part 1

A Busy, Bright and Clear Day Visiting Irish Narrow Gauge.

A laden Bord na Mona approaches Lanesborough in October 2013. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scanning.
A laden Bord na Mona approaches Lanesborough in October 2013. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.

Last week, Mark Healy and I made another venture to photograph Bord na Mona’s (Peat Board) three-foot gauge industrial railway. This time we chose the network focused on feeding the Lough Rea Power Station at Lanesborough in County Longford.

Although we departed Dublin under cloudy skies, by the time we reached the Midlands, the clouds parted and we enjoyed most clear sunny weather for the remainder of the day.

Empty train heads out for reloading against a backdrop of the Lough Rea Power Station at Lanesborough. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scanning.
An empty train rocks and rolls as it heads out for reloading against a backdrop of the Lough Rea Power Station at Lanesborough. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.

From past experience, I’ve found that clear days are by far the best time to photograph Bord na Mona’s trains at work. The heavily harvested moon-like landscape of the peat bogs doesn’t translate as well on dull days. Also, the brown and cream livery on the locomotives and aluminum peat wagons look best with sun on them.

Finding a clear day in the Irish Midlands isn’t so easy. The weather is famously dull and changeable. On more than one occasion I’ve found that a forecast for fine weather proved overly optimistic.

Bord na Mona
Backlit view of a laden Bord na Mona train as it approaches the highway bridge at Derraghan Cross in October 2013. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.

For this excursion, I brought four cameras. Yes, four. In addition to the two digital cameras (Lumix LX3 and Canon EOS 7D), I had my Canon EOS-3 and a Rollei Model T 120-size camera both loaded with Fujichrome Provia 100F.

There’s certain types of images that I still like to put on film. Also, while I expose a lot of digital images (and make multiple back-ups of each and every file) I’m very reluctant to trust digital imaging for long term applications.

So, in the event of a digital apocalypse, I’d like to have a few Bord na Mona photos on color transparency film for posterity.

My film has yet to be processed, so here are a few of my recent digital results.

Bord na Mona
An empty scuttles below the road at Derraghan Cross. Lumix LX3 photo.
A pair of laden trains amble toward Mountdillon on their way to Lanesborough. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.
A pair of laden trains amble toward Mountdillon on their way to Lanesborough. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.

 

A bit of foliage at Mountdillon. Canon EOS 7D with f2.0 100mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.
A bit of foliage at Mountdillon. Canon EOS 7D with f2.0 100mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.
A lone locomotive with a per-way vehicle rests quietly on the bog. The turf has been exposed for harvesting and blackened by recent rains. This can make for some very tricky exposures. I used my handheld Minolta Mark IV light meter to help gauge the settings. Also, I made several test photos to keep the tones within an acceptable range. Simply using the camera meter resulted in a washed out locomotive and a lightly colored bog. Lumix LX3
A lone locomotive with a per-way vehicle rests quietly on the bog. The turf has been exposed for harvesting and blackened by recent rains. This can make for some very tricky exposures. I used my handheld Minolta Mark IV light meter to help gauge the settings. Also, I made several test photos to keep the tones within an acceptable range. Simply using the camera meter resulted in a very washed out locomotive and a lightly colored bog. 
Lumix LX3 Photo.

Tune in tomorrow for more highlights from this most recent Bord na Mona adventure!

Also see previous Tracking the Light posts on Bord na Mona, including: More Adventures with Ireland’s Bord na Mona—September 2013Bord na Mona, Lanesborough, August 10, 2013, Irish Bog Railways—Part 5, August, 2013, and Irish Bog Railways—Part 3, March 2, 2013.

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2 thoughts on “Bord na Mona, Lanesborough, October 2013—Part 1”

  1. Hello Brian
    Very interested to find your photo blog, especially the Bord na Mona photos.
    I’m what my wife would readily call a BnM fanatic and spend as much time on the bogs and railways as I can – living in England. I provide a “BnM guide” e-booklet to show other Brits how to find their way around – they don’t realise how vast some of the networks are!

    I’m compiling a photo book about the railways & bogs and the men who work them. This not being done for profit – I just see it as a record of something unique and worth recording. Any money the book makes would go to a deserving railway – Dromod for instance. I think it could be something a bit special if it’s done right.
    Would you be interested in contributing to the book? Several English blokes have sent me BnM photos but they tend to be formal three-quarter shots which show little background – or people or wagons or bridges……….

    I’ll be following your blog from now on – Carthach sent me the link.

    Regards
    Ted McAvoy

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