Photo of the day: Searchlight Signal near Pownal, Vermont


On Pan Am Railway’s Fitchburg Line.

 

Looking west toward North Pownal, Vermont. The once standard searchlight style signal is rapidly disappearing. On Pan Am Railway's many have already been replaced.
Looking west toward North Pownal, Vermont. The once standard searchlight style signal is rapidly disappearing. On Pan Am Railways many have already been replaced. Dull day’s can make for better signal photos because its easier to capture the signal aspect.

These old sentinels are on the wane. Get your photos before they are all gone.

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Tomorrow: A Frozen Austrian Sunset

DAILY POST: Palmer Freight House Demolition

 

 25 Years Ago, Conrail Demolished Palmer’s Boston & Albany Freight House.

During the 1980s, Conrail demolished many disused structures along the Boston & Albany line. The East Brookfield freight house went in 1984, Worcester’s went in 1986. In January 1989, I noticed that the railroad was preparing to erase Palmer’s B&A landmark.

The wrecking machine was parked out in front and had already taken a bite out of the northeast corner of the steam-era red brick structure.

Boston & Albany Railroad
Palmer freight station on the eve of demolition. Exposed with a Leica M2 in January 1989.

I proposed a short article to the editor of Palmer Journal Register. The newspaper supplied me with a roll of black & white film and processed it for me. I photographed the building from every angle and wrote the article that appeared about a week later.

Conrail made short work of the old building, which had stood at the west-end of the yard near Haley’s Grain Store. Today there is almost no evidence of the building.

For me it had been tangible evidence of the old Boston & Albany—never mind Conrail or Penn-Central. While its usefulness to Conrail may have ended, I recalled speaking with the agent there on various occasions in previous years.

I still have the negatives that I exposed with my Leica M2 and I’ve scanned these using my Epson V600.

Palmer freight on the eve of demolition. Exposed with a Leica M2 in January 1989.
Palmer freight on the eve of demolition. Exposed with a Leica M2 in January 1989.
Palmer freight on the eve of demolition. Exposed with a Leica M2 in January 1989.
Palmer freight on the eve of demolition. Exposed with a Leica M2 in January 1989.

Corner_Brian_Solomon_235244

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Tomorrow: Tracking the Light takes a look a classic searchlight signal on Pan Am Southern’s Boston & Maine route.

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DAILY POST: Johnsonville, New York, November 4, 1984.

 An Early Favorite.

Johnsonville_Nov4_1984_Brian Solomon
Exposed on Tri-X with a Leica 3A; image cropped slightly to correct for level, contrast adjusted locally in Photoshop. 

Of my older black & white images, I feel this is among my most successful compositions. For me it goes beyond simple documentation of the railroad, yet captures the essence of Northeastern railroading in the early 1980s.

I’m standing in the ruined shell of the old Boston & Maine tower at Johnsonville, New York, where the line to Troy had diverged from the route to Mechanicville and Rotterdam.

In the tower’s broken windows, I’ve framed a distant eastward B&M freight (operated by Guilford Transportation Industries). The railroad, like the tower, is a shell of its former glory, having suffered from decades of decline. Yet, the trains still roll.

The stark, yet diffused November light adds to the scene and backlights the train illuminating the locomotive exhaust. Although the train is small, it is clearly the subject of the photo. The eye is immediately drawn to the locomotives and only later explores the rest of the image. I was particularly pleased with the placement of the old railings inside the tower.

For many years I had a 5×7 inch black and white print of this image on my wall.

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Amherst Railway Society’s Big Railroad Hobby Show part 2

More Photos from January 25, 2014.

Amherst Railway Society‘s Big Railroad Hobby Show show is pure sensory overload. Everywhere you look there’s something or someone that seizes your interest. An old friend, an F-unit, a trolley buzzing underwire, video of a steam locomotive, the sounds of trains.

NS_high_hood_GP38s_at_xing_IMG_4129Rio_Grande_244T_IMG_4088

Paul Carver
Paul Carver.
Pioneer Valley Railroad's Dave Swirk.
Pioneer Valley Railroad‘s Dave Swirk.
Dan Howard with the Seashore Trolley Museum.
Dan Howard with the Seashore Trolley Museum.
Wait, what? A vintage fishbowl bus? At the TRAIN show?!
Wait, what? A vintage fishbowl bus? At the TRAIN show?!
Caboose and a vision of Pennsylvania's Martin Creek Viaduct in the distance.
Caboose and a vision of Pennsylvania’s Martin Creek Viaduct in the distance.
Lens-master George C. Corey.
Lens-master George C. Corey.

Highway_layout_IMG_4109

NMRA promoter.
NMRA promoter.
Railroad Museum of New England's Bill Sample.
Railroad Museum of New England‘s Bill Sample.

CSX_GP15-1_IMG_4120

Quabog Valley Modelers.
Quaboag Valley Railroaders of East Brookfield.
Boston & Albany Hudson on the Quaboag Valley Railroader's layout.
Boston & Albany Hudson on the Quaboag Valley Railroader‘s layout.

American_Flyer_IMG_4101 4-4-0_w_soldiers_IMG_4123

 

I exposed several hundred photos in a few hours, but after a while my mind began to numb. Railways of all kinds in all directions.

I guess it was a good show!

Click here for part 1.

 

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Amherst Railway Society’s Big Railroad Hobby Show—Part 1

West Springfield, Massachusetts, January 25, 2014.

NYC_F_unit_IMG_4092

This past weekend (January 25-26, 2014) was the annual Big Railroad Hobby Show sponsored by the Amherst Railway Society.

It fills four buildings at the Eastern States Exposition grounds at West Springfield, Massachusetts and attracts tens of thousands of visitors.

For railway enthusiasts it’s an epic event and an annual pilgrimage. The show is the living testimony of the late Bob Buck—long time show director and proprietor of Tucker’s Hobbies.

Through clever marketing, unceasing persistence and a life-long passion for trains of all scales, Bob built the show from a small railroad hobby event into a massive one.

This weekend’s show was another well-attended event. It was a virtual sea of trains and people. Here are a few photos of people I met at this year’s show and exhibits that I enjoyed.

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Otto Vondrak of Railfan & Railroad Magazine.
Otto Vondrak of Railfan & Railroad Magazine.
Scarlett promotes Palmer's premier railroad restaurant, the ever-popular Steaming Tender (located at the old Union Station).
Scarlett promotes Palmer’s premier railroad restaurant, the ever-popular Steaming Tender (located at the old Union Station).

 

Quabog Valley's Boston & Albany J-2 Pacific.
Quabog Valley’s Boston & Albany J-2 Pacific.

Jim_Beagle_and_company_P1600194

Berkshire Scenic.
Berkshire Scenic.
Model Station.
Model Station.
Phil and Rich.
Phil and Rich.
Rich Reed's Penn Central display.
Rich Reed’s Penn Central display.
Tucker's Hobbies of Warren, Massachusetts.
Tucker’s Hobbies of Warren, Massachusetts.

Did you attend? What was your favorite exhibit?

Stay tuned for more photos tomorrow!

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DAILY POST: Kodachrome Afternoon at West Springfield, February 1986


Making and old Slide Even Better.

Conrail
Conrail’s sunday TV9 departs West Springfield yard at 3:55 pm on February 9, 1986. The film had a decidedly red color bias (Kodachrome as it aged tended to shift towards the red). This has resulted in a pinkish cast that is especially noticeable in the snow. The image is also off-level. I corrected these problems and others after scanning the slide. See below.

Here we have a typically New England scene; a fresh blanket of snow has fallen and the sky has cleared to a clear blue dome. Perfect light right?

Not exactly. The great contrast between the brilliant bright snow and the shadow areas makes for a difficult exposure. Complicating matters was Conrail’s rich blue paint.

While I was fortunate to catch Conrail’s TV9 leaving West Springfield Yard, I faced an exposure conundrum. If I exposed for the train, I risked grossly over exposing the snow, furthermore if I simply set the camera based on the snow on the ground, I’d end up with a pretty dark slide.

In the end I compromised, and stopped down enough to retain detail in the snow, while leaving the rest of the scene reasonably exposed.

However, 28 years later I’m still not satisfied with the slide.

There are three problems. I was concentrating on the exposure and the moving train (while trying to manipulate two cameras simultaneously) and I missed the level by about two degrees. Secondly, the Kodachrome film had a decidedly red bias, which resulted in pinkish snow (hardly what my eye saw that day).

I was easily able to correct these flaws after scanning the slide. I imported it into Photoshop and made three changes.

1) I cropped and rotated the image to correct for level.

2) Using the red-cyan color balance sliders, I shifted the highlights and mid-tone areas to toward cyan to minimize the excessive red in the scene. (cyan is the color opposite of red)

3) I made a localized contrast adjustment on the locomotives by outlining the area I wanted to change and then making a slight change using the curves feature.

I’ve illustrated the original unmodified scan two intermediate steps and the final image.

Here I've corrected the level; and using the color balance sliders I've shifted the color balance in the highlight and mid-tone areas to eliminate the pink-cast.
Here I’ve corrected the level; and using the color balance sliders I’ve shifted the color balance in the highlight and mid-tone areas to eliminate the pink-cast.
The last step requires a subtle localized contrast adjustment. I selected the area to be adjusted and made a very minor change to the contrast and color balance. For this example I've grossly exaggerated the area selected strictly to illustrate where I've made the changes.
The last step requires a subtle localized contrast adjustment. I selected the area to be adjusted and made a very minor change to the contrast and color balance. For this example I’ve grossly exaggerated the selected-area strictly to illustrate where I’ve made the changes. Obviously the extreme contrast change looks absurd when viewed out of context.
Here's the final image. One last change require the use of the burning tool; I made a few light passes around the seem between the area of localized contrast change to minimize the effect. My feeling is that if you can quickly perceive the adjustment, then the effect is too extreme.
Here’s the final image. One last change require the use of the burning tool; I made a few light passes around the seam between the area of localized contrast change to minimize the effect. My feeling is that if you can quickly perceive the adjustment, then the effect is too extreme.

 

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Springfield, Massachusetts, April 2004

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DAILY POST: Springfield, Massachusetts, April 2004

Old Pointless Arrow and the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Springfield, Massachusetts Union Station, where Boston & Maine, Boston & Albany and New Haven once shared common space. Today, its a local Amtrak hub. Exposed with a Contax G2 with 28mm Biogon lens.
Springfield, Massachusetts Union Station, where Boston & Maine, Boston & Albany and New Haven once shared common space. Today, its a local Amtrak hub. Exposed with a Contax G2 with 28mm Biogon lens.

Ah Springfield! Probably best known because of the Simpson’s cartoon set in a mythical city of that name. Could be Springfield, Massachusetts, or Illinois, any of a couple dozen other cities with this common name.

On April 5, 2004, I met Tim Doherty for lunch and we made a few photos in Springfield.

A visit to Union Station found a westward CSX freight with a Conrail blue General Electric DASH8-40CW rolling through.

Later, we went down to an footbridge near the Basketball Hall of Fame to catch Guilford Rail System’s elusive EDPL (East Deerfield to Plainville, Connecticut) freight.

In 1982, Boston & Maine bought several Connecticut-based former New Haven Railroad operations from Conrail, and EDPL was one the only remnants of that transaction. At the time, the freight ran once a week. Catching it was a matter of planning and good luck.

Westward CSX freight rolls through Springfield Station on April 5, 2004.
Westward CSX freight rolls through Springfield Station on April 5, 2004.
Guilford's weekly EDPL against a backdrop of the Springfield skyline on April 5, 2004.
Guilford’s weekly EDPL against a backdrop of the Springfield skyline on April 5, 2004.
This slightly closer view of the same train suffers (or benefits, depending on your perspective) from tree-branch shadows on on the front of the locomotives. Contax G2 photo.
This slightly closer view of the same train suffers (or benefits, depending on your perspective) from tree-branch shadows on on the front of the locomotives. Contax G2 photo.
Guilford's EDPL with Springfield's top tourist attraction (or one would assume); the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Guilford’s EDPL with Springfield’s top tourist attraction (or one would assume); the Basketball Hall of Fame.

I exposed these photos on Fujichrome Velvia 100F (RVP100F) color slide film using my Contax G2 rangefinder with a 28mm Biogon lens. The film was processed locally in Springfield at ComColor, which back then offered a 2-hour turn-around time for E6 films (processed and mounted).

In 2008, ComColor ceased processing E6 film. At the time, I was told my rolls were ‘the last run.’

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

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The Amherst Railway Society ‘BIG RAILROAD HOBBY SHOW‘ is on this weekend (January 25 and 26, 2014) at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

See: http://www.railroadhobbyshow.com/

Brian Solomon will cover the train show in Tracking the Light.

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DAILY POST: When the Common is Uncommon.


Remembering the SPVs!

They were Budd’s follow up to its successful stainless steel rail diesel cars built in the 1950s. But where Budd’s RDCs had established standards for self propelled diesel cars, Budd’s SPV-2000 didn’t measure up.

I think ‘SPV’ was supposed to mean ‘Self Propelled Vehicle,’ but all the railroaders I knew called them ‘Seldom Powered Vehicles.’

These were adapted from the original Budd Metroliner (MP85) car style and in the same family as Amtrak’s Budd-built Amfleet.

For a few years they were routinely assigned to Amtrak’s Springfield, Massachusetts-New Haven, Connecticut shuttle trains.

Amtrak at Springfield Station.
Silhouette of a Budd SPV2000 at Springfield Station on the morning of September 30, 1984. Exposed on 35mm Kodak Tri-X with a Leica 3A with 21mm lens.
On the morning of September 30, 1984, Conrail B23-7s lead  eastward freight SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester) through Springfield (Massachusetts) Union Station. A set of SPVs rests in the shadows. Although not the primary subject, I was sure to include the SPV2000s in my photograph. Exposed on Tri-X using a Leica 3A with 21mm lens.
On the morning of September 30, 1984, Conrail B23-7s lead eastward freight SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester) through Springfield (Massachusetts) Union Station. A set of SPVs rests in the shadows. Although not the primary subject, I was sure to include the SPV2000s in my photograph. Exposed on Tri-X using a Leica 3A with 21mm lens.

I admit now that I didn’t like the SPVs. I didn’t like them because they were new, and I much preferred the traditional RDCs. Also, at the time, I found the round car style un-photogenic.

Despite my dislike of the SPV’s, I photographed them anyway. While I wish that I’d made more photos of them, I’m very glad that I bothered to put them on film at all.

As it turned out, Amtrak appears to have disliked the SPV’s even more than I did! Their tenure on the Springfield run was short. By 1986, they’d been largely replaced with locomotive hauled consists. Other than my own photographs, I’ve seen very few images of these cars working on Amtrak.

A lone SPV2000 makes a station stop at Windsor Locks, Connecticut in May 1985. From my experience, it was relatively unusual to find single SPVs working in Springfield-Hartford-New Haven shuttle service. Exposed with a Leica 3A fitted with a Canon 50mm lens. Contrast controlled locally in post processing using Photoshop.
A lone SPV2000 makes a station stop at Windsor Locks, Connecticut in May 1985. From my experience, it was relatively unusual to find single SPVs working in Springfield-Hartford-New Haven shuttle service. Exposed with a Leica 3A fitted with a Canon 50mm lens. Contrast controlled locally in post processing using Photoshop.

Here’s an irony: in retrospect I’ve come to appreciate the SPV’s. They were a rare example of a modern American-built self-propel diesel car, and to my well-traveled eye, I now find them very interesting. So, what seemed new and common, now seems rare and peculiar!

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

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Also see: Old Pointless Arrow and the Basketball Hall of Fame.

and: Springfield Station, March 31, 1984

The Amherst Railway Society ‘BIG RAILROAD HOBBY SHOW‘ is on this weekend (January 25 and 26, 2014) at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

See: http://www.railroadhobbyshow.com/

Brian Solomon will cover the train show in Tracking the Light.

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Rolling on the Railroad Special Post: Frosty Morning in Philadelphia.


As Transmitted from Amtrak number 56, The Vermonter. 

This morning I started at Overbrook, Pennsylvania, where frosty temperatures and a clear sky made for some stunning lighting effects. The cold wasn’t aiding timely railroad operations.

I caught a SEPTA local to 30th Street Station. I was booked to travel on the Vermonter, but delays gave me ample time to wander around and down load digital photos from my cameras.

An outbound SEPTA multiple unit catches the glint of the rising sun at Overbrook, Pennsylvania before 8am on January 23, 2014.
An outbound SEPTA multiple unit catches the glint of the rising sun at Overbrook, Pennsylvania before 8am on January 23, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
An eastbound SEPTA multiple unit passes Overbrook, Pennsylvania before 8am on January 23, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
An eastbound SEPTA multiple unit passes Overbrook, Pennsylvania before 8am on January 23, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Canon 200mm view of a non-stop SEPTA MU east of Overbrook, PA, on January 23, 2014.
Canon 200mm view of a non-stop SEPTA MU east of Overbrook, PA, on January 23, 2014.
The Solari boards at 30th Street didn't paint a happy picture. Delays and cancelations were the rule of the day. My train was only about 40 minutes behind the advertised. Lumix LX3 photo.
The Solari boards at 30th Street didn’t paint a happy picture. Delays and cancelations were the rule of the day. My train was only about 40 minutes behind the advertised. Lumix LX3 photo. 
30th Street Station, Philadelphia on the morning of January 23, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.
30th Street Station, Philadelphia on the morning of January 23, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.
30th Street Station from the 29th Street side. Lumix LX3 photo
30th Street Station from the 29th Street side. Lumix LX3 photo
Amtrak veteran, AEM7 932 roars into 30th Street Station with the Vermonter in tow. I'm riding behind this locomotive as I write this. Lumix LX3 photo.
Amtrak veteran, AEM7 932 roars into 30th Street Station with the Vermonter in tow. I’m riding behind this locomotive as I write this. Lumix LX3 photo.
Amtrak 56 arrives at 30th Street, 40 minutes after its scheduled time. Better late than never. Lumix LX3 photo.
Amtrak 56 arrives at 30th Street, 40 minutes after its scheduled time. Better late than never. Lumix LX3 photo.

At present I’m gliding eastward across a snow covered urban landscape on the former New Haven Railroad. This is Tracking the Light’s first post sent directly from an Amtrak train.

View from Amtrak 56 on approach to New York's Hell Gate Bridge with the New York City Transit Authority below and the Manhattan skyline beyond. Lumix LX3 photo.
View from Amtrak 56 on approach to New York’s Hell Gate Bridge with the New York City Transit Authority below and the Manhattan skyline beyond. Lumix LX3 photo.
On board Amtrak number 56 The Vermonter, east of Penn-Station, New York. Lumix LX3 photo.
On board Amtrak number 56 The Vermonter, east of Penn-Station, New York. Lumix LX3 photo.
Metro North Railroad HyRail truck as viewed from Amtrak 56 on the afternoon of January 23, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.
Metro North Railroad HyRail truck as viewed from Amtrak 56 on the afternoon of January 23, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.
USDOT test car on the old New Haven Railroad west of Stamford on January 23, 2014. Lumix LX3.
USDOT test car on the old New Haven Railroad west of Stamford on January 23, 2014. Lumix LX3.

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DAILY POST: Springfield Station, March 31, 1984

From Brian’s Lost Archive.

Conrail, Springfield, Mass.
Conrail C30-7 6608 pauses at Springfield, Massachusetts Union Station on March 31, 1984. Exposed on Panatomic-X ASA 32 (Kodak Safety Film 5060) with Leica 3A fitted with a 50mm Summitar.

I made this photo when I was a senior in high school. Paul Goewey and I’d planned to meet some friends at Springfield Station, and then drive north to photograph Boston & Maine at Deerfield.

While we waited for the others to arrive, I exposed a series of images of Conrail on the former Boston & Albany mainline. At the time, Conrail regularly stored locomotives between runs on track 2A in the station (at right). On the left is a set of light engines led by Conrail 6608, one of ten C30-7s.

More interesting is the locomotive trailing 6608, a relative-rare former Erie-Lackawanna SDP45.

The trip to the B&M was very successful and I exposed two rolls of 35mm Kodak Panatomic-X ASA 32 (Kodak Safety Film 5060) with my Leica 3A, and a couple of rolls of 120 B&W with my dad’s Rolleiflex. I processed all the film in the kitchen sink, using a crude formula of Microdol-X. I sleeved the negs and made 3×5 size proof prints.

The 120 negatives have been in my files for three decades, but the 35mm negatives had vanished. I have a photo album from 1985, with many of these images, but for years was vexed by the loss of the 35mm negatives. As a rule, I don’t throw photographs away.

The other day, I found a carton with school papers and photographs. There, at the bottom was an unlabeled crumpled manila envelope. What’s this? Ah ha!

It was chock full of negatives from 1984-1985. All missing for decades, many of them unprinted.

A raw negative strip from my morning at Springfield Station on March 31, 1984. Although stored in a manila envelop for the better part of three decades, the negatives were processed properly and kept flat in a cool dry place, and so remain in very good condition.
A raw negative strip from my morning at Springfield Station on March 31, 1984. Although stored in a manila envelop for the better part of three decades, the negatives were processed properly and kept flat in a cool dry place, and so remain in very good condition.

I scanned these negative strip on my Epson V600 scanner. Using Photoshop I cleaned up a few minor defect and made necessary contrast adjustments, then exported a reduced file size for display here. A photo lost for nearly three decades can now be enjoyed in through a medium I couldn’t have foreseen when I exposed it.

Also see: Old Pointless Arrow and the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Amherst Railway Society ‘BIG RAILROAD HOBBY SHOW‘ is on this weekend (January 25 and 26, 2014) at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

See: http://www.railroadhobbyshow.com/

Brian Solomon will cover the train show in Tracking the Light.

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

Please spread the word and share Tracking the Light with anyone who may enjoy seeing it!

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

Conrail, Springfield, Mass.
Conrail C30-7 6608 at Springfield Union Station on March 31, 1984.
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Daily Post: Busy Morning at West Trenton


Photographing on the former Reading Company.

 The word was out that Norfolk Southern’s Pennsylvania Railroad painted heritage locomotive was to work a detoured stack train over CSX’s Trenton Subdivision to avoid a scheduled engineering project at Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Pat Yough and I planted ourselves at the West Trenton, New Jersey SEPTA station in anticipation. A number of other enthusiasts had similar plans, so there was plenty of company.

Railroad station
Former Reading Company station at West Trenton, New Jersey on the morning of January 19, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.
Railway station detail.
Detailed view of West Trenton station. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
West Trenton station's build date is carved in stone. Lumix LX3 photo.
West Trenton station’s build date is carved in stone. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA
A SEPTA train for Philadelphia’s Airport pulls into the West Trenton station. CSXT’s unit oil train K040 with BNSF locomotives waits in the distance. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
CSXT oil train.
After the SEPTA local departed, CSXT KO40 led by BNSF 9688 and 5523 rolls southward through West Trenton. This section of the old Reading demonstrates how freight and passenger traffic can coexist on the same line. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
CSXT symbol freight Q439   works south behind mixed consist of GE and EMD locomotives. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
CSXT symbol freight Q439 works south behind mixed consist of GE and EMD locomotives. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Switchers have become relatively rare items on modern railroads so I made this grab shot of CSXT 1137 as it rolled by. Lumix LX3 photo.
Switchers have become relatively rare items on modern railroads so I made this grab shot of CSXT 1137 as it rolled by. Lumix LX3 photo.
A SEPTA Silverliner V waits to enter West Trenton Station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
A SEPTA Silverliner V waits to enter West Trenton Station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

 

The much anticipated Norfolk Southern detour I5T, (running as CSXT B100-19) works northward through West Trenton. At the back of the train are a pair of NS diesels to aid with reverse moves necessary for the detour arrangements. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
The much anticipated Norfolk Southern detour I5T, (running as CSXT B100-19) works northward through West Trenton. At the back of the train are a pair of NS diesels to aid with reverse moves necessary for the detour arrangements. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

The former Reading station building at West Trenton is now privately owned (and serves a non-railroad function), while the platforms remain active for SEPTA’s regularly scheduled passenger trains to Philadelphia.

When we arrived, morning clouds were giving way to sun. A pair of westward CSX trains was holding just west of the electrified zone and the radio was alive with activity.

In a little more than an hour we caught three SEPTA trains and four freights. This kept me and my three cameras pretty busy. My goal was not just to photograph the trains, but to capture these trains in this classic railroad environment.

Norfolk Southern 8102 was in clean tuscan-red paint at it trailed at the back of nearly two-miles of double stacked containers. Canon EOS 7D with 100 mm lens.
Norfolk Southern 8102 was in clean tuscan-red paint at it trailed at the back of nearly two-miles of double stacked containers. Canon EOS 7D with 100 mm lens.
Trailing with of NS I5T (CSXT B100-19) passing the West Trenton tower.
Trailing with of NS I5T (CSXT B100-19) passing the West Trenton tower. Canon EOS 7D.
CSXT empty oil train K041 works northward behind the detoured stack train. BNSF locomotives make a bit of color in this otherwise drab New Jersey scene. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
CSXT empty oil train K041 works northward behind the detoured stack train. BNSF locomotives make a bit of color in this otherwise drab New Jersey scene. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

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See related posts:  Exploring SEPTATake a Ride on the ReadingPhiladelphia’s Reading Terminal Revisited

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SPECIAL POST: SEPTA in the Snow

Afternoon and evening, January 21, 2014.

SEPTA in snow
SEPTA local arrives at Overbrook on the way to Thorndale. Canon EOS 7D photo.

This morning dawned with a blood-red sunrise. Something about a red sky in the morning?

What I’d call ‘winter’ has been given all sorts of new fancy names. Probably the most absurd is the ‘polar vortex.’ Next up is the term handed to today’s precipitation: ‘bombogensis.’

Call it what you like. By about 2:30 pm today 6 inches of snow was improving photography all over Philadelphia, and by 5 pm there was 8-10 inches was making for interesting images.

My brother Sean and I spent the afternoon in Philadelphia making photos of SEPTA and snow accumulation while running errands. Falling and drifting snow made for some dramatic photography opportunities.

SEPTA in the snow
Inbound SEPTA multiple unit approaches Overbrook Station. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Late-running Amtrak Keystone service crosses over at Overbrook. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Late-running Amtrak Keystone service crosses over at Overbrook. Canon EOS 7D photo.
SEPTA number 10 trolley takes the corner at Lansdowne Avenue. Canon EOS 7D photo.
SEPTA number 10 trolley takes the corner at Lansdowne Avenue. Canon EOS 7D photo.
SEPTA trolley
SEPTA number 10 glides along in the snow on the afternoon of January 21, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.
PCC trolley
A vintage PCC in Route 15 service ambles along snow-covered Girard Avenue. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Trailing view of a SEPTA PCC on Girard Avenue, on January 21, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Trailing view of a SEPTA PCC on Girard Avenue, on January 21, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Snow exposure I always tricky. My basic rule of thumb is to use the camera meter to set a gauging point, then open up (over expose) by 2/3s to a full stop above the camera meter. Using the histogram on the back of the camera, I then fine tune my exposure depending on the setting.

I detailed how to interpret the histogram for snow exposures in an earlier post. Click to see: Photo Tips: Snow Exposure–Part 2 Histograms

Cleaning the sidewalks on Viola Street at dusk. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Cleaning the sidewalks on Viola Street at dusk. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Former Pennsylvania Railroad position light signal shows a 'stop' aspect. January 21, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Former Pennsylvania Railroad position light signal shows a ‘stop’ aspect. January 21, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.

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SEPTA train.
An inbound SEPTA MU arrives at Overbrook on the evening of January 21, 2014. Despite the snow, this service was on schedule. Canon EOS 7D photo.
PRR main line.
Former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line looking east at dusk. Canon EOS 7D photo.

 

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See related posts:  Exploring SEPTATake a Ride on the ReadingPhiladelphia’s Reading Terminal Revisited

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DAILY POST: Vestiges of the Pennsylvania Railroad

46 Years Later, Hints Remain of the Old Order.

 Philadelphia was the Pennsylvania Railroad’s headquarters city. Despite multitudes of change in the industry since PRR merged with New York Central in 1968, there’s still plenty of  Pennsy cues around Philly.

For me this is like finding hints of a long lost empire.

Philadelphia
Pennsylvania Railroad’s Suburban Station. Lumix LX3.
Interior of 30th Street Station. The commemorative statue depicts an angel carrying a soldier skyward which symbolizes PRR’s employees who perished in action during World War II.
Interior of 30th Street Station. The commemorative statue depicts an angel carrying a soldier skyward which symbolizes PRR’s employees who perished in action during World War II.

 

The keystone was PRR's symbol. If one searches around Philadelphia's 30th Street, there are still plenty of PRR keystones to be found. Lumix LX3 photo.
The keystone was PRR’s symbol. If one searches around Philadelphia’s 30th Street, there are still plenty of PRR keystones to be found. Lumix LX3 photo.
Old PRR station at Clifton-Aldan, Pennsylvania. Lumix LX3 photo.
Old PRR station at Clifton-Aldan, Pennsylvania. Lumix LX3 photo.
Railroad signal.
A PRR-style position light signal at Overbrook, displays an ‘Approach-Medium’ aspect. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Overbrook Station on the Main Line, as seen on the evening of January 18, 2014.
Overbrook Station on the Main Line, as seen on the evening of January 18, 2014.

 [click here for views of the January 20th 2014 Schuylkill River derailment]

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See:  Exploring SEPTA

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TRACKING THE LIGHT NEWS FLASH: Photos of Philadelphia Schuylkill River Bridge Derailment.


Monday Afternoon; January 20, 2014.

View from I-76; a crane attends to a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill RIver Bridge derailment. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
View from I-76; a crane attends to a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill River Bridge derailment. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

The news media reported that early this morning (January 20, 2014), an oil train destined for Philadelphia derailed while crossing the Schuylkill River.

The derailment occurred near I-76 and within sight of Center City.

This afternoon, my brother and I were on our way through Philadelphia, and I had the opportunity to make photos from the car as we passed the derailment site.

Traffic was very slow on I-76, and I ample time to make snapshots with my Canon EOS 7D. On our way back, the clean up efforts continued, so I made a few more images.

It pays to have a camera at the ready to capture events such as this one.

View from I-76; a crane attends to a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill RIver Bridge derailment. Canon EOS  7D with 100mm lens.
View from I-76; a crane attends to a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill River Bridge derailment. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
View from I-76; a crane attends to a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill RIver Bridge derailment. Canon EOS
View from I-76; a  derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill River Bridge derailment. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
View from I-76; a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill River Bridge derailment. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
View from I-76; a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill River Bridge derailment. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

 

Derailment_on_Schuylkill_River_Bridge_IMG_0990

Dusk on January 20, 2014, clean up crews attend to derailed cars on the Schulykill River Bridge. ISO 6400, Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Dusk on January 20, 2014, clean up crews attend to derailed cars on the Schulykill River Bridge. ISO 6400, Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

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DAILY POST: Exploring SEPTA

January 2014 Philadelphia Photo Exercise

SEPTA_Map_IMG_3911

For me, SEPTA is one of the most photogenic American big city transit systems. Sure, other cities have their charms, but Philadelphia has a lot going for it; variety, accessibility, interval services on most routes, real time displays at stations, visual cues to its heritage, interesting and varied equipment and etc.

On January 16, 2014, my brother Sean and I, spent an afternoon and evening wandering on SEPTA’s rail systems making photographs. I had a minor agenda to ride a few pieces of the network I’d not yet traveled on.

I worked with two cameras; Lumix LX3 and Canon EOS 7D, but traveled relatively light (no film body or big telephotos)

Lumix LX3 photo.
Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA has a App that shows schedules, train times & etc. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA has a App that shows schedules, train times & etc. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA Airport station
Philadelphia is one of the few North American cities with direct heavy rail airport connections. Trains run every half hour with stations at each terminal. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA.
Afternoon sun catches an outbound Silverliner V at University City. A CSX freight rolls overhead on the Highline. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

All of the lines we traveled were well patronized (some at standing room only) and yet everything seem to run to time. SEPTA’s staff were friendly and helpful. (Especially when we were running for trains).

SEPTA
SEPTA SIlverliner V interior. Built by ROTEM. Lumix LX3 photo.
End of the line at Elwyn.
End of the line at Elwyn.
Silverliner V at Elwyn. The line used to continue to West Chester.
Silverliner V at Elwyn. The line used to continue to West Chester. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA railroad station
Old Pennsylvania Railroad station at Clifton-Aldan.
End of the Sharon Hill trolley line. Lumix LX3 photo.
End of the Sharon Hill trolley line. Lumix LX3 photo.
69th Street terminal at Upper Darby. Outbound trolleys for Media and Sharon Hill. Lumix LX3 photo.
69th Street terminal at Upper Darby. Outbound Kawasaki trolleys for Media and Sharon Hill. Lumix LX3 photo.
Norristown High Speed Line at 69th Street. Lumix LX3 photo.
Norristown High Speed Line at 69th Street. Lumix LX3 photo. Contrast adjusted in post processing to improve the overall appearance of the image.
Norristown transportation center. The old Reading Company on the lower level. A Norfolk Southern freight rolled through as we boarded the train for Center City. Lumix LX3 photo.
Norristown transportation center. The old Reading Company on the lower level. A Norfolk Southern freight rolled through as we boarded the train for Center City. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA Daypass; a bargain that cost just $12. We got good value with ours. SEPTA's conductor sold us the passes on the train. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA Daypass; a bargain that cost just $12. We got good value with ours. SEPTA’s conductor sold us the passes on the train. Lumix LX3 photo.
Market East. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Market East. Canon EOS 7D photo.
SEPTA
Market East. Lumix LX3 photo.
Market East. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Market East. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Overbrook station on the Main Line. Canon EOS 7D photo, with 40mm pancake lens.
Overbrook station on the Main Line. Canon EOS 7D photo, with 40mm pancake lens.

 

Click to see related posts: SEPTA Silverliners at Market EastSEPTA’s Number 15 StreetcarSEPTA Wanderings in Early January 2013; and SEPTA One Year Ago: June 29, 2012

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DAILY POST: Amtrak to Philadelphia


Snapshot of a Northeast Corridor Trip, January 2014.

I used my trip on Amtrak 475/175 as an opportunity to make a few photographs. While I had some bigger cameras in my bag, I exposed all of these images with my Lumix LX3.

I boarded shuttle train 475 at Berlin, Connecticut just as the sun was setting. By the time I arrived in New Haven, only a faint blue glow remained of daylight.

Amtrak 475 (Springfield, Massachusetts—New Haven, Connecticut shuttle) works as a two-car push-pull with a former Metroliner (MP85) cab car leading. The train glides to a stop in front of the old Berlin, Connecticut railway station. Once a double track line, today this is a single track route. Lumix LX3 photo.
Amtrak 475 (Springfield, Massachusetts—New Haven, Connecticut shuttle) works as a two-car push-pull with a former Metroliner (MP85) cab car leading. The train glides to a stop in front of the old Berlin, Connecticut railway station. Once a double track line, today this is a single track route. Lumix LX3 photo.
Even the branch train has WiFi.
Even the branch train has WiFi.
A Boston-bound Acela Express pauses at New Haven. I had about 15 minutes to make photos before my connection, trian 175, from Boston arrived.
A Boston-bound Acela Express pauses at New Haven. I had about 15 minutes to make photos before my connection, trian 175, from Boston arrived.
The Acela Express accelerates out of New Haven. I panned the rear of the train with the Lumix image stabilization set 'on'; f2.8 at 1/5th of a second, ISO 200.
The Acela Express accelerates out of New Haven. I panned the rear of the train with the Lumix image stabilization set ‘on’; f2.8 at 1/5th of a second, ISO 200.
A Shore Line East suburban train roars away on the platform. These New Haven painted diesels have auxiliary engines to provide head-end power.
A Shore Line East suburban train roars away on the platform. These New Haven painted diesels have auxiliary engines to provide head-end power.
A set of new Metro-North M8s arrived from Grand Central Terminal. It's nice to see a shiny new train every so often!
A set of new Metro-North M8s arrived from Grand Central Terminal. It’s nice to see a shiny new train every so often!
An HHP electric slides westward with train 175 in tow. How much longer will these powerful machines work the Northeast Corridor?
An HHP electric slides westward with train 175 in tow. How much longer will these powerful machines work the Northeast Corridor?

I didn’t have a tripod with me, so I used the station signs and other available flat surfaces on the platform to steady the camera. To avoid camera shake, after composing my image, I set the self timer to 2 seconds and press the shutter button.

Also, I overexposed each image by 1/3 to 2/3s of a stop to compensate for the prevailing darkness.

The trip was uneventful. Amtrak is my preferred means for navigating between cities in the Northeastern USA.

On board train 175 at New York Penn Station.
On board train 175 at New York Penn Station.
Crossing the Delaware at Trenton, New Jersey.
Crossing the Delaware at Trenton, New Jersey.
Philadelphia 30th Street. We were about 5 minute behind the advertised, but that's within tolerance, right? This classic Pennsylvania Railroad station is one of the gems of the Northeast Corridor.
Philadelphia 30th Street. Amtrak 175  arrived about 5 minute behind the advertised, but that’s within tolerance, right? This classic Pennsylvania Railroad station is one of the gems of the Northeast Corridor.
30th Street Station as viewed from the 29th Street side.
30th Street Station as viewed from the 29th Street side.
A classical entrance to Philadelphia; you just don't get the same feeling from an airport.
A classical entrance to Philadelphia; you just don’t get the same feeling from an airport.
Philadelphia.
Looking east on JFK Blvd toward Center City. SEPTA’s former PRR line to Suburban Station is on the left.

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DAILY POST: Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited


“It never gets old”

Amtrak 449, in sun and rain; one day and the next. Last week, I was over in East Brookfield visiting the LeBeaus to do some videography for a music video. Dennis LeBeau lives a block from the Boston & Albany (CSXT’s Boston Line).

I said to Dennis, “I’m just going to nip down to the bridge to catch 449. It should be getting close.”

“Passes here every day at one-thirty. I’ll join you in a minute.”

I phoned Amtrak’s Julie (the automated agent: 1-800-USA-RAIL) to find out if 449 as on time out of Worcester. As it turns out, it departed Worcester Union Station 4 minutes late.

Worcester is at CP45, East Brookfield is CP64. It takes 449 about 25-30 minutes to run the 19 miles.

Since it was nice bright afternoon, I opted for a broadside view that shows a few of the houses in town. At 1:39, Dennis shouted to me from the road bridge, “He’s around the bend.” I was poised to made my photograph with my Lumix LX3.

This can be tricky since there’s really only a split second to get the train in the right place. If the camera isn’t cued up, all I’ll get is a photo of the baggage car. But I was ready, and put the train precisely where I wanted it.

Amtrak's westward Lake Shore Limited at East Brookfield, Massachusetts on January 13, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited at East Brookfield, Massachusetts on January 13, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 at f4.0 1/1600th of a second. I selected a fast shutter speed to insure I stopped the train. When working broadside, the relative motion of the train to the film plane requires a fast shutter speed than when aiming at tighter three-quarter view.

The train glided through town. I turned to make a few going away views with my Canon, and said to Dennis, “You know that never gets old. I’ve been photographing that train since the 1970s.”

Dennis said to me, “I’ve been watching it since it was the New England States Limited, with New York Central E8s!”

A day later, I was in Palmer (CP83). The word was out that Amtrak 145 (one of the Genesis P42s in heritage paint) was working 449. The weather was foul, but since I was in town anyway, I figured I’d give the train a roll by.

It was stabbed at CP83 by a southward New England Central freight going into the yard, which allowed ample time for photos. Such a contrast in days. Pity the heritage P42 hadn’t worked west a day sooner.

Amtrak has painted P42 145 in its 1970s-era scheme. It sits at CP83 in the driving rain waiting for a southward New England Central freight to clear the diamond on January 14, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
Amtrak has painted P42 145 in its 1970s-era scheme. It leads train 449 which is sitting at CP83 waiting for a southward New England Central freight to clear the diamond on January 14, 2014. Driving rain was the order of the day. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

See: Kid with a Camera 1978Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited catches the glint at Palmer, May 28, 1986.

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DAILY POST; Retro Railroading at Greenfield


Pan Am Railway’s EDMO roars west on the Boston & Maine.

It’s almost like stepping back to the 1970s; three EMDs powered by turbocharged 16-645 diesels working under searchlight signals with a carload train.

Pan Am Railways
On January 12, 2014, Pan Am Railway’s EDMO (East Deerfield, Massachusetts to Mohawk Yard) works the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg route at Greenfield, Massachusetts. The line on the left is the Connecticut River route running south toward Springfield. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with an f2.0 100mm lens.

This is a nice contrast to the parade of  double-stack containers and unit trains that characterize most American mainlines. While the details of the motive power have been altered since they were built, the spirit of the operation reminds me of watching trains more than 35 years ago.

If you think about it, as point of comparison, if in 1979 you were to see 35 year-old motive power and a traditional freight train that probably would have been either steam engines, or EMD FTs leading 40-ft cars.

Sure, you could argue that Pan Am’s paint scheme is a relatively recent development, and the locomotives have been modified since the 1970s (the lead former Santa Fe SD45-2 had its 20-645E3 swapped with a 16-cylinder engine among other changes), but that belies the point.

EDMO. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with an f2.0 100mm lens.
EDMO. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with an f2.0 100mm lens.
Tight view of Pan Am 616.  Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with an f2.0 100mm lens.
Tight view of Pan Am 616. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with an f2.0 100mm lens.

For similar posts, click to see: Pan Am Southern at Millers Falls, Massachusetts, October 2013Pan Am Railways Ayer Massachusetts, January 17, 2013;  Boston & Maine Revisited, PART 2Boston & Maine MERU, February 10, 1985

My book Classic Locomotives published by Voyageur Press is available from Amazon.

Also see my big hard cover classic: Modern Locomotives

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DAILY POST: Lucky Afternoon

I went to the Post Office and Scored a Train.

The other day, I had a few packages to send out. I’d delayed going to the post office until after the school buses were out, using the logic that if I waited, I wouldn’t get stuck behind one on the way back.

On the way into the PO, I heard a distant whistle. And while at the desk, a train rumbled by.

New England Central’s (NECR) former Central Vermont line runs on a slightly elevated gradient behind the Monson, Massachusetts PO. This is on the climb up State Line hill, and heavy trains make a good racket coming though town. This freight, however, wasn’t very heavy and the engines weren’t working too hard.

I made an expeditious exit after mailing my packages, and started south on Route 32. No sooner than I was south of town, I found myself looking at the back of a school bus!

And this bus then stopped, as required, at the South Monson grade crossing.

I could hear the southward climbing. It had already gone through. Fortunately, once over the tracks, the bus driver kindly pulled in to let traffic around. I sailed southward, and arrived at State Line crossing. Once out of the car, I could hear the train working.

New England Central's daily freight at the Massachusetts-Connecticut state line. Notice the granite marker to the left of the locomotives. Exposed with a Lumix LX3, set at ISO 200.
New England Central’s daily freight at the Massachusetts-Connecticut state line. Notice the granite marker to the left of the locomotives. Exposed with a Lumix LX3, set at ISO 200.

Although the light was fading, there was enough to work with. While, I’d left most of my cameras at home, I had my Lumix LX3 in my coat pocket. I set up a shot immediately south of the Massachusetts-Connecticut state line, and included the granite marker at the left of the image.

After the train passed, I followed it to Stafford Springs, where I made a few more photos. As it turns out, these NECR images are my first railway photos for 2014.

New England Central's GP38s lead a southward freight through downtown Stafford Springs, Connecticut on January 9, 2014.
New England Central’s GP38s lead a southward freight through downtown Stafford Springs, Connecticut on January 9, 2014.
NECR
New England Central’s GP38s lead a southward freight through downtown Stafford Springs, Connecticut on the afternoon of January 9, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.

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DAILY POST: Timber and General Motors, June 10, 2006

Westport, County Mayo, Ireland.

This pair of images will never be repeated. Here we have Irish Rail’s afternoon passenger to Dublin consisting of  Mark 3 set led class 201 number 222 (known colloquially as the ‘Bishop Tutu’).  That same afternoon, at about 3:40pm an empty timber with a mixed pair of 121/141s arrived from Waterford.

Irish Rail at Westport

The afternoon Westport-Dublin passenger is ready to depart Westport on June 10, 2006. Nikon F3 with Nikkor f2.8 24mm lens.
Irish Rail empty timber train.
Irish Rail 146 and 134 arrive at Westport with an Empty Timber from Waterford on June 10, 2006. Nikon F3 with Nikkor f2.8 24mm lens.

What was unusual that day was an electrical power cut had required the use of portable generators at the station, making for an unusual discordant cacophony at the normally peaceful location.

Despite the racket, I went about making photographs. Here, I carefully composed both views from the footbridge by the signal cabin using the same angle to show the contrasting trains in the classic scene. It was the end of an era. Soon all would change.

Since that time, Irish Rail has retired the small General Motors diesels. The 121s made their final runs in 2008, the 141s finished a couple of years later. The Mark III passenger carriages were withdrawn from traffic; today passenger trains to Westport run with Irish Rail’s Rotem-built 22000-series railcars.

I exposed both photos on Fujichrome with my Nikon F3 fitted with a 1960s vintage Nikkor f2.8 24mm lens.

I returned to Dublin on the evening passenger train, also with Mark 3s and a 201 class General Motors diesel.

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Special Post: Electric Train Music Video


Rock and Roll Panic by The Big Gunz.

Thomasina the Cat is among the stars of Rock and Roll Panic the Third Rail Mix on YouTube. See http://youtu.be/1DweE3JLpEA
Thomasina the Cat is among the furry stars of Rock and Roll Panic the Third Rail Mix on YouTube. See http://youtu.be/1DweE3JLpEA

Tracking the Light takes a diverging route: Cats, Lionel, Beer, and Rock and Roll. Take a look at my most recent production. I’ve filmed and edited a short music video.

The soundtrack is the song Rock and Roll Panic performed by The Big Gunz of  East Brookfield, Massachusetts. Popular for their evening entertainment at Dunny’s Tavern, the Big Gunz are a classic trio consisting of  Paul, Tommy, and Dennis LeBeau.

Rock and Roll Panic third rail mix was filmed with my Canon Eos 7D and Lumix LX3 cameras, and has a train in almost every scene!

Check it out, click here for the link to: Rock and Roll Panic third rail mix

http://youtu.be/1DweE3JLpEA

 

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DAILY POST: Daylight Beauty at Hooker Creek.

On Assignment with Southern Pacific.

Mount Shasta looms more than 90 miles to north, as Southern Pacific’s most famous locomotives races railroad west through along Hooker Creek (near Cottonwood, California).

SP 4449
Southern Pacific’s Lima-built semi-streamlined 4-8-4 number 4449 works railroad west south of Cottonwood, California on the evening of September 2, 1991. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T with 300mm Nikkor telephoto.

I exposed this image on September 2, 1991. Southern Pacific had organized the historic streamlined engine to make a public appearances in the Sacramento River Canyon as a goodwill gesture following a serious derailment at the Cantera Loop which spilled toxins into the river above Dunsmuir. The railroad had hired me for two days to make photographs of the PR event.

Brian Jennison provided transport, and the two of us spent a long weekend making numerous images of SP 4449 with the matching Daylight train. I borrowed Brian’s 300mm Nikkor telephoto for this dramatic image. SP ran one of my photos in their company magazine, Southern Pacific Bulletin.

While SP’s public runs ran from Redding to Dunsmuir and beyond to Black Butte, after the train returned to Dunsmuir, it would run light to the wye at Tehama for turning. It was on this portion of the journey(s) that I made some of the most dramatic photos because they occurred in the evening when the lighting was most pleasing.

I’d chosen this angle to feature Mt. Shasta. Unfortunately, owing to the time of year, the famous volcanic cone wasn’t covered with snow in its higher regions.

This photo has appeared in books, and I’ve used many of the images from the trip in publications. SP 4449 remains one of my favorite locomotives.

See: Classic Locomotives my recent book by Voyageur Press for more great steam locomotive photos.

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DAILY POST: Kid with a Camera 1978

 

Amtrak 449, the Lake Shore Limited with E8As near Palmer.

For my eleventh birthday my father gave me a 1930s-era Leica 3A and a role of film (with more to follow).

Every so often Pop would gather my brother Sean and I into the car and head over the Boston & Albany (then Conrail) to wait for Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited. Back then, the train was still running with heritage equipment and typically hauled by fairly tired E8As.

If we were really lucky we might catch freight too.

Lake Shore Limited
Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited roars along on the Boston & Albany near milepost 81, two miles east of the Palmer, Massachusetts’s diamond with Central Vermont. I exposed this image in summer 1978. In a few weeks I’d start 7th grade. Weeks would pass from the time I released the shutter until I would make prints from the 35mm black & white negative.

On this day in summer 1978, we drove to Palmer. I think we’d started up the Quaboag River Valley, but realized we might not have time to reach Warren before the westward Lake Shore came roaring down the valley. So we reversed and picked a spot near milepost 81, not far from the Route 20-67 split (east of town).

We didn’t wait long. I could hear pairs of twin 12-567s working before the headlight a appeared at the bend near the old barn. And then there it was!

“I see it!”

I made several exposures with the Leica. Unfortunately, in my panic to capture the train passing I shook the camera, so the head-on view is a bit blurred.

I processed the negatives from this adventure in the kitchen sink and made prints that I placed in a homemade photo album. The negatives were well processed and have survived in good order. I scanned them a few weeks ago. My notes from the day appear to have gone missing though.

As 449 blitzed by, I made this trailing view looking toward the Route 20 overpass. My old Leica was a chore to use: Loading the camera was tricky; exposures had to be calculated manually with a hand-held photo cell; and focusing require lining up two ghostlike images while staring through a quarter inch auxiliary viewfinder. Processing the film was another unforgiving multi-step process.
As 449 blitzed by, I made this trailing view looking toward the Route 20 overpass. My old Leica was a chore to use: Loading the camera was tricky; exposures had to be calculated manually with a hand-held photo cell; and focusing require lining up two ghostlike images while staring through a quarter inch auxiliary viewfinder. Processing the film was another unforgiving multi-step process.

Click to see:

Kid with a Camera: Gun Hill Road, the Bronx, New York Summer 1980

Kid with a Camera, Framingham, Massachusetts, 1982.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited catches the glint at Palmer, May 28, 1986.

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DAILY POST: L’viv—Railway Paradise

Ukrainian Adventure, 2007.

An eastward Ukrainian Railways passenger train catches the evening glint in L'viv. The Soviet-built passenger cars took their queues from Milwaukee Road's lightweight Hiawatha cars from the 1930s.
An eastward Ukrainian Railways passenger train catches the evening glint in L’viv. The Soviet-built passenger cars took their cues from Milwaukee Road’s lightweight Hiawatha cars from the 1930s. Exposed on Fujichrome slide film with a Contax G2 with 45mm lens.

For me, a casual visit Ukraine in July 2007 was a great opportunity to ride and photograph former Soviet Railways.

Although the weather was scorching, the sun remained out for days and the quality of light was fantastic.

My favorite place was L’viv, a former Hapsburg provincial capital (previously known as Lemberg), and one of the great un-sung European cities. I found the railways here accessible and very easy to photograph. The city itself was completely fascinating: dusty cobble stone streets with trams everywhere. The beer was cheap and the vodka cheaper.

L’viv’s railways were some of the busiest I’ve ever seen. Here heavily built double track electric lines were saturated with a mix of local electric multiple units, very long intercity passenger trains, and an unceasing parade of heavy freights. In addition to electrics, occasionally a matched pair of 2M62 diesels would chortle by.

Still photographs cannot convey the traffic density; no sooner than one train was out of sight, and the next could be heard grinding along.

Among the wonderful things about Ukrainian railways; lots of carload traffic and virtually no graffiti!

Ukrainian Railways
A Riga-built electric multiple unit in local passenger service hums along in L’viv. These cars were plentiful and colorfully painted. The styling reminds me of North Shore’s classic Electroliners.
Ukrainian Railways
A bit of telephoto compression with my Nikon F3HP and 180mm Nikkor lens focuses on the glint of westward passenger train. The track and trains were heavily built and well maintained.
Ukrainian Railways
Freight rules in the Ukraine; long freights like this ore train roll along every few minutes. This one is led by the common VL80 electric. Contax G2 with 28mm Biogon lens, Fujichrome film.
A trailing view of the same freight. Also, exposed with a Contax G2 with 28mm lens on Fujichrome. I burned through several rolls at this one s-bend.
A trailing view of the same freight. Also, exposed with a Contax G2 with 28mm lens on Fujichrome. I burned through several rolls at this one s-bend.
At the back of the ore train were this semi-permanently electric pair. The ore may be headed for the US Steel plant at Kosice, Slovakia.
At the back of the ore train was this semi-permanently electric pair. The ore may be headed for the US Steel plant at Kosice, Slovakia.

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DAILY POST: Dusk on the Grand Canal.

An Irish Waterway that Preceded Railways.

The blue hour settles over Dublin on a typically damp spring evening in March 1998.

Dublin’s Grand Canal as viewed from Portobello Bridge in March 1998. Nikon F3T with with a 50mm lens, exposed on Fujichrome 64T color slide film.
Dublin’s Grand Canal as viewed from Portobello Bridge in March 1998. Nikon F3T with with a 50mm lens, exposed on Fujichrome 64T color slide film.

I spent the evening working with my Nikon F3T to make photographs in my new neighborhood at Portobello, where I’d rented a flat a short distance from the old Grand Canal.

To enhance the effect of dusk and help balance for incandescent lights, I exposed this image on Fujichrome 64T, a tungsten film that offered a bluer-color balance designed for use with incandescent lighting. Years earlier, when I worked in a commercial photo studio this had been our standard film (albeit in 4×5 and 8×10 sizes).

You can produce a similar effect with digital cameras by adjusting the color balance manually. Many cameras, including my Lumix LX-3 and Canon EOS 7D, offer incandescent light color balance settings. If you use the ‘auto white’ balance, it will tend to cancel out the bluish twilight effect.

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