Cumbres & Toltec Scenic at Windy Point—Daily Post

Steam Working in a Stunning Setting.

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic is one of America’s treasures. This timeless railway is always a joy to visit and photograph.

The combination of its sinuous and steeply graded line with stunning Rocky Mountain vistas and authentic Denver & Rio Grande Western Baldwin-built Mikados makes for endless opportunities for dramatic photographs.

Cumbres & Toltec steam locomotive
Chama, New Mexico to Antonito, Colorado excursion train works near Windy Point on the ascent of Cumbres Pass. Exposed on Fujichrome with my Nikon F3T. By including the out of focus tree on the lower left and the patch of sunlit fields at upper right, I’ve created a greater sense of depth; while the column of exhaust smoke draws the eye to locomotive, which is the primary subject.

I’ve used this image in several books and calendars.

For more steam photos see my book: Steam Power published by Voyageur Press

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Tomorrow: a look back at Conrail!

 

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Daily Post: Art Deco Masterpiece: Cincinnati Union Station

A Foggy Night, October 25, 2002.

 My first visit to Cincinnati was brief and focused. I was driving from Madison, Wisconsin to Roanoke, Virginia and I stopped off with the specific purpose to photograph Fellheimer & Wagner’s Cincinnati Union Station.

During a low ebb of appreciation for architecture, this magnificent building nearly succumbed to the wrecking ball.

On this night it looked to me like a dark vision from a Batman comic.

16mm Hologon view of Cincinnati Union Station.
16mm Hologon view of Cincinnati Union Station.

I made a few photos with my Nikons in color. But my more successful images were exposed on Fuji Acros 100 using my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with the super wide-angle flat-field 16mm Hologon.

That night I took a motel in Covington, Kentucky, where I watched television news reports about a horrific theater hostage situation in Russia.

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Tomorrow: Rocky Mountain Narrow Gauge.

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Irish Rail Trip to Co. Mayo—Part 3

Ok, so this was really a detour into County Roscommon.

After photographing Irish Rail’s Ballina Timber, Noel and I cut cross-country via Knock and Ballyhaunis, to Castlerea, County Roscommon, to intercept the train a second time.

I hadn’t paid a visit to Castlerea in several years, but I recalled a visit to the old signal cabin before the Mini-CTC was installed (in 2007). Back then, mechanical semaphores and electric train staff instruments had been the rule.

Irish Rail at Castlerea.
Castlerea’s premier railway enthusiast, Sean Browne. The old signal cabin survives, but it no longer controls train movements on the line. Lumix LX3 photo.
Through careful planning and expeditious driving, Noel and I were able to catch the Ballina timber a second time. It is seen here approaching Castlerea station on March 13, 2014. Canon EOS 7D  with 100mm lens. I also exposed a series of colour slides of the timber passing the signal cabin with my Canon EOS 3. The structure at the left is the old water tank, a vestige of the steam era.
Through careful planning and expeditious driving, Noel and I were able to catch the Ballina timber a second time. It is seen here approaching Castlerea station on March 13, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens. I also exposed a series of colour slides of the timber passing the signal cabin with my Canon EOS 3. The structure at the left is the old water tank, a vestige of the steam era.

While waiting for the timber, Noel phoned Castlerea’s foremost railway enthusiast, Sean Browne. Sean’s Hell’s Kitchen railway themed pub is a local attraction.

Sean dropped down to Castlerea station and we caught up on old times. Then, following passage of the Ballina timber train, we went for an impromptu visit to Hell’s Kitchen that Sean opened specially for us.

This claims to be ‘the only pub with a train in the bar.’

This ‘train’ is, more precisely, a locomotive. Irish Rail’s A55—one of the surviving 1950s-era Metropolitan Vickers-built diesel electrics—is the Hell’s Kitchen center-piece display.

Sean has collected an impressive collection of railway memorabilia, most of it from Ireland. A Conrail hard hat on display impressed me! Every item of historical value comes with a story, so we had a good visit with Sean.

This was interrupted, when Noel learned that the IWT liner from Dublin to Ballina was getting close. We said farewell to Sean and went back trackside to find a suitable photo location! (As you do).

Hell's Kitchen of Castlerea.
Hell’s Kitchen of Castlerea.
This shunt signal is among the displays that caught my eye. Lumix LX3 photo.
This shunt signal is among the displays that caught my eye. Lumix LX3 photo.
Irish Rail's A55 is the locomotive on display in the Hell's Kitchen pub. Although the pub was closed, owner Sean Browne opened the doors for Noel Enright and I.
Irish Rail’s A55 is the locomotive on display in the Hell’s Kitchen pub. Although the pub was closed, owner Sean Browne opened the doors for Noel Enright and I.
Steam gauges, old badges, photos, and signaling apparatus and diagrams are among the many items on display.
Steam gauges, old badges, photos, and signaling apparatus and diagrams are among the many items on display.
Mixed in with ephemera from long closed Irish lines is a Conrail hard hat. Hooray!
Mixed in with ephemera from Irish lines is a Conrail hard hat. Hooray!

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Irish Rail's Dublin-Ballina works west of Ballyhaunis on March 13, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Irish Rail’s Dublin-Ballina works west of Ballyhaunis on March 13, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.

 

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Irish Rail Trip to Co. Mayo, Part 2—Daily Post.


Ballina Timber at Ballyvary.

I’d arrived at Foxford, Co. Mayo having traveled from Dublin by train. Noel Enright collected me there, and we immediately began discussing a location to photograph the Ballina Timber that would depart the Ballina yard upon arrival of the 2800-series that I traveled on to Foxford. Got all that?

South of Foxford near Ballyvary, the Ballina branch runs along the base of some low hills. In previous years, I’d explored some of these location, and Noel had a spot in mind. If we could find it quickly.

Although it was overcast, I was keen on an elevated broadside view of this train in order to show its cargo. There isn’t much bulk rail freight on the move in Ireland, and the pair of weekly Ballina timber trains are well worth the effort. But they’re not as impressive head-on.

We found our hillside. And after a few minutes we could hear the 071-class General Motors diesel in the distance. Noel said, ‘It’s 078.’ Ah! That one. Over the years I’d made dozens of photos of this diesel. But this was the first time I seen it in its new grey livery.

Soon we spotted the headlight and the timber train came into view. I made a series of photos with three cameras.

Irish Rail 078 leads the Ballina Timber near Ballyvary, County Mayo on March 13, 2014. Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 200mm lens.
Irish Rail 078 leads the Ballina Timber near Ballyvary, County Mayo on March 13, 2014. Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 200mm lens.

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Tomorrow the adventure continues! Stay tuned!

 

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Looking Back on the End of an Era—Daily Post.

Lincoln Park, Rochester, New York, January 8, 1986. 

B&O GP30 works at Lincoln Park, Rochester, New York on 3:15pm January 8, 1986. Exposed with a Leica 3A rangefinder on Kodachrome 64.
B&O GP30 works at Lincoln Park, Rochester, New York on 3:15pm January 8, 1986. Exposed with a Leica 3A rangefinder on Kodachrome 64.

It was a cold afternoon with more than a foot of fresh snow on the ground. Soft wintery sun made for directional pastel lighting, ideal for railway photography.

I found this Baltimore & Ohio local freight working sidings adjacent to Conrail’s former New York Central mainline. At the time, what interested me was the GP30 still wearing B&O blue with the classic capitol dome on the nose, and the caboose. By that date both types of equipment were getting scarce.

Technically, CSX had been the umbrella over Chessie System (the marketing name for the affiliated B&O, Chesapeake & Ohio, Western Maryland railroads) for several years. But this didn’t seem important to me. I was blissfully unaware of CSX, or that it planned to soon sell B&O’s former Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh lines to Genesee & Wyoming.

In fact, by summer, B&O operations would be conveyed to G&W’s newly created Rochester & Southern, and two years later remaining BR&P lines to G&W’s Buffalo & Pittsburgh.

Even more dramatic, in 1987 CSX would meld B&O into its new CSX Transportation; a system-wide rebranding that would soon affect all of CSX’s railroads. Ironically, one of the first locomotives I photographed in CSXT paint was a former B&O GP30!

See my new book North American Railroad Family Trees that traces corporate changes to railroading during the 20th century. Available now from Voyageur Press!

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Tomorrow: Continuing adventures on the Ballina Branch!

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Washington Union Station—Daily Post.

May 2002, Hologon View.

It’s always fun to play with a new piece of equipment. I’d just bought a 16mm flat field Hologon super wide angle lens for my Contax G2 and I used this to make some dramatic photos inside Washington Union.

Washington D.C. Union Station as it appeared to me in May 2002. Exposed on Fujichrome slide film using a Contax G2 Rangefinder with 16mm Hologon lens.
Washington D.C. Union Station as it appeared to me in May 2002. Exposed on Fujichrome slide film using a Contax G2 Rangefinder with 16mm Hologon lens.

This lens is specially corrected to eliminate barrel distortion (commonly associated with super wide lens design) but it must be kept completely level to avoid perspective convergence to vertical lines in the image. A bubble-level is provided in the clip-on viewfinder to aid with the leveling process.

For this image, rather than make any effort to keep the camera level, I happily embraced the effect of perspective convergence to make for a dramatic image of Washington Union’s magnificent barrel-vault ceiling.

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Tomorrow: looking back at the end of an era!

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Jamaican Sunset—Daily Post

Long Island Rail Road, March 2003.

Jamaica, Queens, New York looking west on the Long Island Rail Road. I exposed this photo on Fujichrome using my Nikon N90S with a 80-200mm Nikon zoom lens. To capture the silhouette effect I exposed for the sky, allowing detail in the shadows to fade to an inky black.
Jamaica, Queens, New York looking west on the Long Island Rail Road. I exposed this photo on Fujichrome using my Nikon N90S with a 80-200mm Nikon zoom lens. To capture the silhouette effect I exposed for the sky, allowing detail in the shadows to fade to an inky black.

It is one of America’s busiest railway junctions; LIRR at Jamaica, Queens hosts hundreds of trains daily and rush hours can be especially intense.

In March 2003, Pat Yough and I visited in the afternoon. We concluded the day’s photography by making images looking in to the rosy sunset.

I’ve always liked the arcing from the third rail, which seems to add a bit of life to the image.

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Irish Rail Trip to Co. Mayo—Daily Post.

Traveling Across Ireland by Train.

Heuston Station departure board shows the 0735 Galway train with connections to Mayo. I was heading to Foxford, one of the smallest stations on the route. I used a slow shutter speed to capture the LED sign. My exposure was f2.5 at 1/40th of a second.  LEDs are not a constant light source and flicker on and off many times a second. While this isn't perceptible to the naked eye, when photographed a higher shutter speeds the lights may be caught instead of on, which makes it hard to read the signs.
Heuston Station departure board shows the 0735 Galway train with connections to Mayo. I was heading to Foxford, one of the smallest stations on the route. I used a slow shutter speed to capture the LED sign. My exposure was f2.5 at 1/40th of a second. LEDs are not a constant light source and flicker on and off many times a second. While this isn’t perceptible to the naked eye, when photographed at higher shutter speeds the lights may be caught instead of on, which makes it hard to read the signs.

On March 13, 2014, I bought a day-return from Dublin Heuston to Foxford, Co. Mayo, and traveled on the 7:35 am Galway train. My train was well patronized, but I had no difficulty finding a seat.

Rotem-built 22000 series Intercity Rail Cars are Irish Rail's standard passenger consist for most services. On March 13, 2014, ICRs destined for Waterford and Galway were side by side on the platforms at Heuston Station. Lumix LX3 photo.
Rotem-built 22000 series Intercity Rail Cars are Irish Rail’s standard passenger consist for most services. On March 13, 2014, ICRs destined for Waterford and Galway were side by side on the platforms at Heuston Station. Lumix LX3 photo.
Another view of Rotem ICRs at Heuston. My train is the closest to the camera. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Another view of Rotem ICRs at Heuston. My train is the closest to the camera. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.

It was foggy in Dublin. Ensconced in my seat, I observed that my train departed Heuston precisely on time and soon was rolling down-road at track speed.

My train was a four-piece Rotem-built Intercity Rail Car, of the type that is now standard for most Irish Rail Intercity services.

Except for some rough spots west of Kildare, the ride quality was comfortable and smooth.

Interior of the Rotem ICR at Heuston Station. Exposed with my Lumix LX3.
Interior of the Rotem ICR at Heuston Station. Exposed with my Lumix LX3.

At Portarlington, we diverged from the Dublin-Cork mainline and traveled on the single track branch toward Athlone. At Clara we crossed (met) an uproad train.

I changed trains at Athone. Here another four piece ICR was waiting to continue the journey toward Co. Mayo. At Castlerea we met the Ballina-Dublin IWT liner, a train I’ve often photographed.

It was as foggy in Athlone as it had been in Dublin. I changed to the ICR on the left. This was destined to Westport.
It was as foggy in Athlone as it had been in Dublin. I changed to the ICR on the left. This was destined to Westport. Notice the LED display boards are impossible to read in the photo. This is an affectation of using a faster shutter speed. A few of the LEDs are on, but many are off. Lumix LX3 photo exposed at f2.1 1/500th. Since the trains are stationary, I probably should have manually set the shutter speed to about 1/30th to better capture the destination boards.

Upon reaching Manulla Junction, I again changed trains, this time for the 2800-series railcar that works the Ballina Branch. Years ago this would have been a single General Motors class 141/181 Bo-Bo diesel electric with a short Craven set.

When I arrived in Foxford I was met by my friend Noel Enright. We spent the rest of daylight photographing trains and visiting friends. I’ll post those adventures soon! Stay tuned.

Interior view of the 2800-series railcar I traveled on between Manulla Junction and Foxford. Lumix LX3 photo.
Interior view of the 2800-series railcar I traveled on between Manulla Junction and Foxford. Lumix LX3 photo.
Foxford, County Mayo. This 2800 will terminate at Ballina, several miles to the north. Lumix LX3.
Foxford, County Mayo. This 2800 will terminate at Ballina, several miles to the north. Lumix LX3.
Noel Enright poses with the driver of my train.
Noel Enright poses with the driver of my train.

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Semaphores at Polly—Tracking the Light Daily Post.

A Nearly Literal Interpretation of the Southern Pacific Logo.

Semaphores at Polly, New Mexico; exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikormat FT3 fitted with a 28mm Nikkor lens. Exposure calculated manually using a handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell.
Semaphores at Polly, New Mexico; exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikormat FT3 fitted with a 28mm Nikkor lens. Exposure calculated manually using a handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell.

In January 1994, I spent several days photographing along Southern Pacific’s Tucumcari Line in central New Mexico.

One morning I made this image of the sun on the horizon with classic Union Switch & Signal Style B lower quadrant semaphores at Polly.

For me it is nearly the literal translation of SP’s safety logo with semaphores and the sun. The only difference is SP’s sun was setting (thus the ‘Sunset Route’) while mine is rising.

I’ve published variations of this image many places, including my original signals book titled Railroad Signaling. Presently, I’m working on its sequel, classic signaling which will focus on steam-era hardware.

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York Train Shed—Tracking the Light Daily Post

4 July, 1999.

A funny way to spend American Independence Day: I was on my way from London to Scotland, and I stopped over at York to intercept Britain’s most famous steam locomotive, engine 4472, better known as Flying Scotsman.

This was my first visit to York, and I was fascinated by the Victorian train shed. Using my Nikon N90S, I exposed a variety of images on Fujichrome.

 The unusual curved York train shed was built between 1871 and 1877. A Virgin Cross Country HST pauses at York on 4 July 1999. This was led by one of the less-common varieties of the Class 43 power units that featured buffers. Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia using a Nikon N90S with 24mm lens.

The unusual curved York train shed was built between 1871 and 1877. A Virgin Cross Country HST pauses at York on 4 July 1999. This was led by one of the less-common varieties of the Class 43 power units that featured buffers. Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia using a Nikon N90S with 24mm lens.
Looking like the ribs of some ancient beast, I made this study of the cast iron members of York’s Victorian train shed. Fujichrome Sensia using a Nikon N90S with 80-200mm zoom lens.
Looking like the ribs of some ancient beast, I made this study of the cast iron members of York’s Victorian train shed. Fujichrome Sensia using a Nikon N90S with 80-200mm zoom lens.

Five months later, I returned with my Rolleiflex to document the shed on medium format film. Both those photos and the images of Flying Scotsman may be the topics of future posts.

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Semaphore Dawn—Tracking the Light Daily Post.

Adrian, New York, May 1987.

 A thick Spring fog blanketing the Canisteo Valley acted as a sound envelope. The combination of moisture and the valley’s walls produced an acoustic environment that enhanced the railroad experience. Making this special was the almost total void of other human made sounds.

The trickle of  water from the nearby Canisteo and a light breeze through the trees was punctuated by the distant roar of an eastward train. Engine noise and the clatter of freight cars gradually swelled as it worked from Hornell down the valley on the former Erie Railroad.

I’d positioned myself at lightly used private crossing near westward signal 318 (measured in miles from Erie’s Jersey City terminus). A hint of blue in the sky marked the rising sun.

After more than ten minutes, I’d listened to the mournful warning blasted for the public crossing in the village of Adrian, two miles to the west. The roar grew louder. Then finally, there was a hint of headlight piercing the fog.

Semaphore at dawn
Delaware & Hudson’s symbol BFOA (Ford autorack train destined for Ayer, Massachusetts) blasts by a former Erie upper quadrant semaphore east of Adrian, New York at 5:20am on May 16, 1987. This vintage signal, one of several dozen protecting the railroad in the Canisteo Valley was the primary intended subject. This image was first published in Pacific RailNews in the 1990s. Images like this one will help illustrate my new book; Classic Railroad Signals that I’m now assembling for publication later this year by Voyageur Press.

My college roommate had lent me his Canon A1 35mm SLR, which I’d loaded with professional Kodachrome 25 slide film. I had this tightly positioned on a tripod.

 

When the train began to illuminate the scene, I opened the shutter. This closed again moments before the headlight of the lead locomotive left the scene, leaving a truncated streak of light to represent the train’s passage.

 

Images like this one will help illustrate my new book; Classic Railroad Signals that I’m now assembling for publication later this year by Voyageur Press.

 

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Tomorrow: Like the Ribs of some Ancient Beast.

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Canadian National at Subway Road—Tracking the Light Daily Post.

Fond du Lac, Wisconsin in June 2004.

Ten years earlier in my Pacific RailNews days, I’d often photographed along the Wisconsin Central. By 2004, the railroad had been absorbed by CN, yet quite a few of WC’s old SD45s were still on the move.

It might surprise some regular readers, but photography wasn’t the prime reason for my visit. Rather, I was trying to make high-end audio recordings of the old SD45s working in multiple. As I’ve explained in other publications; the SD45’s 20-cylinder 645E3 produces a distinctive low-frequency sound when working in the mid- throttle positions. I wanted to preserve these sounds that had been so familiar to my earlier railroad experience.

So what does that have to do with this CN DASH 9?

A Canadian National DASH9-44CW hits the Subway Road crossing in North Fond du Lac, Wisconsin on a June 2004 afternoon. Exposed with a Nikon F3T fitted with a 24mm lens.
A Canadian National DASH9-44CW hits the Subway Road crossing in North Fond du Lac, Wisconsin on a June 2004 afternoon. Exposed with a Nikon F3T fitted with a 24mm lens.

Simple opportunity; that is all. I’ve never been one to squander a chance to make a photograph.

This CN General Electric was leading a southward freight toward the yards at North Fond du Lac, and I set up this image at Subway Road a little ways north of the yard.

Unfortunately, a thermal cloud covered the sun moments before the locomotive reached the optimum position. This would have been a greater problem if I’d been using Kodachrome. As it happened, I was exposing Fujichrome.

I’ve made a few minor post-processing adjustments to the slide scan designed to improve the contrast and color balance.

What about the audio recordings? I made most of those late at night when there was minimal interference from random noise, but that’s really the topic for another time.

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Tomorrow: Semaphore Dawn.

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Vestiges of Narrow Gauge—Tracking the Light Daily Post.

Three Foot Gauge over the Grand Canal.

On Saturday March 8, 2014, and Irish friend and I were exploring the extremities of the Bord na Mona network near Allenwood. My Ordinance Survey map showed a line with a lift bridge at the crossing of the Grand Canal, and I wondered if this was still in place.

A drive along the tow path revealed that the bridge was out of service (the lift span had been removed). On the far side of the canal an old wagon lay abandoned. Yet, the three foot gauge tracks remain—albeit buried in the muck.

Canal bridge.
Lumix LX3 photo of the disused Bord na Mona three-foot gauge railway bridge over the Grand Canal near Allenwood, County Kildare, Ireland.

Derelict railways always fascinate me. How long had it been since a Bord na Mona train last used this bridge?

I made several photos with my Lumix LX3, and a couple of colour slides with my Canon EOS-3.

Will this ruin still be there on my next visit? One never knows.

Detailed view of a chain once part of the Bord na Mona bridge near Allenwood. Lumix LX3 photo.
Detailed view of a chain once part of the Bord na Mona bridge near Allenwood. Lumix LX3 photo.
End of track. Lumix LX3 photo.
End of track. Lumix LX3 photo.

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METRA at Harvard—Tracking the Light Daily Post.

Metra F40PHs catch the afternoon sun at Harvard, Illinois.

I'd only had my Canon EOS 7D for a few weeks when I made this study of geometric shapes. Metra F40PHs at Harvard made for a colorful subject. Exposed with my Canon 200mm lens handheld at f13 1/250th of a second.
I’d only had my Canon EOS 7D for a few weeks when I made this study of geometric shapes on June 19, 2010. Metra F40PHs at Harvard, Illinois made for a colorful subject. Exposed with my Canon 200mm lens handheld at f13 1/250th of a second. I made a very minor crop to improve the level and remove an obnoxious orange highway cone at the left of the frame.

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Special Post: Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, 2014.

History on the Streets of Dublin!

I made my annual pilgrimage to view and photograph Dublin’s famed St Patrick’s Day Parade. The theme was history! Yea!

Below are a sample of the hundreds of photos that I exposed with my Canon EOS 7D.

The parade is an opportunity to work with colour and motion to capture moments in history and burst of emotion.

Click here to see my Dublin Page for more photos and check my Ebook: Dublin Unconquered custom designed for Apple iPad available from Apple iTunes.

St_Patricks_Day_Parade_kids_with_flags_IMG_0395

St_Patricks_Day_Parade_bus_IMG_0273St_Patricks_Day_Parade_Irish_ferries_IMG_0363

St_Patricks_Day_Parade_St_Patrick_IMG_0247

St_Patricks_Day_Parade_green_kid__IMG_0517St_Patricks_Day_Parade_hat_IMG_0251St_Patricks_Day_Parade_IMG_0205

Click here to see my Dublin Page for more photos.StPatricks_Parade_book_signing_IMG_0688

St_Patricks_Day_Parade_screaming_Celt_IMG_0327

St_Patricks_Day_Parade_top_hat_IMG_0214

Click here to see my Dublin Page for more photos.

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Dublin Lit for St. Patrick’s Day.

Special Post.

See my Dublin Page for more photos.

Bank of Ireland on College Green, Dublin.
Bank of Ireland on College Green, Dublin.
Irish Four Courts along the River Liffey.
Irish Four Courts along the River Liffey.
General Post Office on O'Connell Street with Spire.
General Post Office on O’Connell Street with Spire.
Sin é.
Sin é.
LUAS at Heuston Station.
LUAS at Heuston Station.

 

Learn more about Dublin:

check my Ebook: Dublin Unconquered specially designed for Apple iPad.

This unique collection of images is available from Apple iTunes.

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Heuston Station Lit For St Patrick’s Day Part 3—Daily Post


Attempt Number 4.

Sometimes Hollywood film makers have this trick where after rolling the credits they save one last scene that ties the whole picture together.

Ok, so after four tries to make a satisfactory photo of Dublin’s Heuston Station lit in the Spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve finally achieved a more acceptable result.

On the previous two evenings, I’d walked to Heuston with intent of catching the station lit in green with a hit of dusk in the sky. I’d come prepared with my tripod, and stood around in the chill of evening waiting in vain for the lights to come on.

No joy there, I’m afraid. In both instances, while I made fine images of the station in the evening light, I wasn’t rewarded with the seasonal lighting.

I'd arrived from County Mayo on this Irish Rail Intercity Rail Car (ICR), seen on the platforms at Heuston Station Station on the evening of March 13, 2014. Exposed with my Lumix LX3.
I’d arrived from County Mayo on this Irish Rail Intercity Rail Car (ICR), seen on the platforms at Heuston Station Station on the evening of March 13, 2014. Exposed with my Lumix LX3.

On Thursday March 13, 2014, I arrived at Heuston by train having traveled by train from County Mayo. My train arrived after 9:30 pm and a wafting fog had settled over the city.

On exiting the station I noticed that it was bathed in green light. Finally!

I set about making photos, although I was hampered by the lack of a tripod. To brace the camera, I used various existing structures, propping it up with coins to get the desired angle.

Having previously found that automatic settings, even when adjusted for nominal over exposure, tended to result in an unacceptably dark image, I opted to set the camera manually. I made a series of images, of which this one offered the best exposure and the greatest sharpness.

All things being equal, I’d preferred to have had the camera on a tripod and a twilight quality in the western sky, but I was happy with my Paddy’s Day Heuston.

This is the un-modified camera produced Jpeg exposed on the evening of March 13, 2014.
This is the un-modified camera produced Jpeg exposed on the evening of March 13, 2014. Exposed using a Panasonic Lumix LX3; ISO 80 f2.0 shutter open for 1 and 1/6th seconds. Image stabilizer was set to ‘Auto’.

 

Exposed using a Panasonic Lumix LX3; ISO 80 f2.0 shutter open for 1 and 1/6th seconds. Image stabilizer was set to ‘Auto’. File nominally adjusted in post processing to lighten shadow areas while controlling highlight contrast, and removing undesired flare from the sky.
Working with the camera RAW File,  in post processing I manually lightened shadow areas, controlled highlight contrast, and removed undesired flare from the sky, in a effort to replicate the scene as I remember it.

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but. . . . wait . . . 

You see, I’m not so easily satisfied. Sure after four tries at this photo you’d think I’d be happy with what I just got. However, on March 15th I returned to Heuston Station one more time. I timed my arrived to allow for a hint of dusk in the western sky. And, I brought my tripod.

Saturday evening is a better time to make photos at Heuston. There’s less highway traffic and fewer people to get in the way.

I had my spots all picked out by now. I just had to go and execute the photos with the station bathed in green light. Significantly these photos are unmodified camera Jpgs. All I’ve done is scale them for presentation. It helps to have the light just right.

Heuston Station on March 15, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 at f 2.8 for 2 seconds. Daylight white balance. Camera mounted on mini Gitzo tripod. Unmodified file.
Heuston Station on March 15, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 at f 2.8 for 2 seconds ISO 80. Daylight white balance. Camera mounted on mini Gitzo tripod. Unmodified file.

 

Heuston Station on March 15, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 at f 2.8 for 1.6 seconds. Daylight white balance. Camera mounted on mini Gitzo tripod. Unmodified file.
Heuston Station on March 15, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 at f 2.8 for 1.6 seconds, ISO 80. Daylight white balance. Camera mounted on mini Gitzo tripod. Unmodified file.

—The End—

(of Part 3).

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Heuston Station Lit For St Patrick’s Day—Part2—Tracking the Light Daily Post

 . . . Camera, Action! Sorry, there, isn’t something missing? Really, you just couldn’t make this up!

On the evening of March 12, 2014, I was in position at Heuston Station just after sunset: my Lumix LX3 was positioned on a mini Gitzo tripod. I selected a nice view of the station headhouse and made test photos to gauge the lighting. And I waited. And waited. And it got colder, and darker. And after about an hour I gave up? Did you see yesterday's post?
On the evening of March 12, 2014, I was in position at Heuston Station just after sunset: my Lumix LX3 was positioned on a mini Gitzo tripod. I selected a nice view of the station headhouse and made test photos to gauge the lighting. And I waited. And waited. And it got colder, and darker. And after about an hour I gave up? Did you see yesterday’s post?

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Tomorrow: To green or not to green? That is the question!

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Heuston Station Lit For St Patrick’s Day—Tracking the Light Daily Post


Night Photo Challenge.

The other evening I made this opportunistic photo of Dublin’s Heuston Station. I was on my way to meet a friend for coffee, when I noticed that the station was seasonally bathed in coloured light.  I made a couple of quick photos with my Lumix.

Using my night photography technique (see: Lumix LX-3—part 2:  Existing Light Digital Night Shots) I tried to balance the exposure in order to compensate for the very contrasty scene.

I set the over-exposure for +1/3 and allowed the camera to set the exposure using  the ‘A’ (aperture-priority) setting (set for f2.0).

This is the in-Camera Jpg file. While the lights on the station are properly exposed, the over-all image appears too dark. The exposure was f2.0 a 1/6th of second at 200 ISO.
This is the in-Camera Jpg file. While the lights on the station are properly exposed, the over-all image appears too dark. The exposure was f2.0 a 1/6th of second at 200 ISO.

Unfortunately, the exposure was still too dark for my liking. While the front of the station is properly exposed, the rest of the scene was unacceptably dark.

I compensated with some post-processing contrast/exposure adjustment. Yet, I still feel this photo is too dark. But, since I’m walking distance from Heuston, I can return and try this again! As they say on the radio, ‘stay tuned!’

Working with the camera RAW file, I lightened the image using Photoshop while selectively controlling contrast and saturation. While much better than the camera produced Jpeg, I still feel this image is too dark.
Working with the camera RAW file, I lightened the image using Photoshop while selectively controlling contrast and saturation. While much better than the camera produced Jpeg, I still feel this image is too dark. This however demonstrates the advantage of working with a RAW file, which has considerably more information than a comparable Jpeg.

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Victoria Station Jul 2000—Tracking the Light Daily Post

Capturing a bit of History.

London’s termini are fascinating places to make photographs. A constant parade of trains and continual bustle of urban activity combined with a blend of classic and modern architecture allow for endless visual opportunity and juxtapositions.

In July 2000, I was photographing at Victoria while waiting for a friend to arrive. I made this view from the steps that lead to an elevated shopping area above the platforms.

London stations.
A view of Victoria Station in July 2000, preserved on Fujichrome Sensia using a Nikon N90S with 24mm AF lens.

What caught my eye were the antique slam door carriages that were slated to soon be withdrawn. These commuter cars had doors for each set of seats that allowed for rapid loading and unloading at busy stations, yet required passengers to open and close doors using an outside handle reached through a window.

While the essential door design had been a standard feature for generations of British trains, the modern health and safety regime in the United Kingdom frowned upon such primitive appliances and discouraged their continued use. It was only a matter of time before scenes like this one would be history.

As it turned out, the classic “slam door” BR era electric multiple units out-lasted ill fated train operator Connex South Eastern. In 2003, Connex lost the South Eastern Passenger Rail Franchise (that served some routes to Victoria among other London termini).

The revolving door of British railway franchises makes for a seemingly unending tapestry of modern railway names. The days of Connex’s London operations have been largely forgotten, yet some of the old BR slam door EMUs have been preserved. I saw some at Clapham Junction on a visit in July 2013.

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Tomorrow: Dublin station lit for Paddy’s Day.

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Daily Post: Deutsche Bahn Rainbow at Koln in August 1998


Class 110 Electric in Blue.

Today, Deutsche Bahn’s locomotive fleet is largely dressed in red paint with very light gray lettering, while Intercity carriages and ICE train sets wear an inverse arrangement. (Admittedly, the light gray looks nearly white.)

I exposed this photograph on Fujichrome Sensia with my Nikon F3T with a Nikkor f2.8 135mm lens.
In August 1998, I exposed this photograph on Fujichrome Sensia with my Nikon F3T with a Nikkor f2.8 135mm lens.

During a visit to the Köln Hauptbahnhof (Cologne Main Station) in August 1998, I counted no less than eight different DB locomotive liveries. Passenger carriages were equally colorful.

I made this slide at the west side of the Hauptbahnhof of an inbound regional express. One of the common class 110 electrics leads this train. Back then, this was the normal arrangement. By contrast, recent trips to Germany’s Rhein has found that regional express and local trains tend to be operated by local operators using modern electric multiple units/railcars. So much for traditional locomotive hauled stopping passenger trains.

Scenes like this one are now largely in the realm of slide collections.

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Tomorrow: History at Victoria Station!

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Several Shades of Grey In Colour—Tracking the Light Daily Post.

Experiment in Post Processing.

On March 6, 2014, I was poised to make an image of Irish Rail 085 (in relatively fresh grey paint) using my Canon EOS 7D with 40mm lens. Before the train arrived, I made my requisite test exposure.

I always do this. A test exposure insures the camera is working and is set properly. It also allows me to fine tune my settings to optimize the amount of  information captured.

In this case, I realized that to obtain the best exposure and retain sky detail, I would necessarily need to allow the ground and primary subject to be bit dark. However, since I can adjust this in post processing, I opted for the darker exposure.

I could have simply used the ‘levels’ or ‘curves’ feature in Photoshop to lighten the image. This is my normal quick adjustment. However, I thought I’d experiment. So I made series of localize contrast adjustments using the ‘Magnetic Lasso’ tool.

My aim was to even out the relative exposure of various areas, and specifically to reduce the extreme contrast between the sky and the train’s shadow areas, with an ultimate goal of presenting the scene in the final image as it appeared to me at the time of exposure.

I had no intention of exaggerating or distorting the effect of the overcast morning, but rather to correct for some of the inherent limitations of the camera system.

Below are a series of images that illustrate the steps of my contrast adjustment. I’ve intentionally grossly exaggerated adjusted areas as to make the process more obvious. My actual adjustments were relatively subtle. It is my feeling that if the process becomes obvious, the end result will seem artificial.

1Irish_Rail_085_w_Panel_tra
This is a JPG from the camera RAW file. I made no adjustments to the picture other than convert and scale the file for internet presentation). I intentionally exposed the scene to retain detail in the sky, recognizing that with a digital image detail is lost when an area is over exposed, while it is easy to adjust contrast and brightness after the fact in darker areas.
2Irish_Rail_085_w_Panel_tra
Using the ‘magnetic lasso’ tool I selected the lower area of the photo and adjusted contrast and exposure using the ‘curves’ tool. Please note, I’ve exaggerated the selected area; my actual adjustments were subtle.
3Irish_Rail_085_w_Panel_tra
For the next step, I again used the magnetic lasso to select the darkest shadow areas of the locomotive and wagons, then lightened this selection using the ‘curves’ feature.
4Irish_Rail_085_w_Panel_tra
Although the sky had sufficient detail, I felt that it would be best to make this area slightly darker as a interim step in preparation for an overall lightening of the image. To avoid an unnatural darkening of the Wellington Testimonial, I carefully excluded this from the sky area. I then lowered the contrast and darkened the sky using the ‘curves’ feature.
5Irish_Rail_085_w_Panel_tra
This is the image following the global lightening. While this is very close to how I saw the scene, I felt it still required nominal contrast adjustment as it appears slightly ‘flat’ (contrast levels too low).
6Irish_Rail_085_w_Panel_tra
This is my final image following my multi-step contrast adjustment experiment. Notice, that while the sky is relatively bright, I’ve retained detail in the clouds.

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Daily Post: Recent Photos of Dublin, Ireland

 

Photos from February and March.

Walking Dublin’s streets always presents opportunities to make photographs.

Below are a few images exposed with my Lumix LX3 since late February 2014.

Check out my Dublin Page for more photos of the Irish capital.

A rainbow graces Dublin's Phoenix Park. On the right is the Wellington Testimonial. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.
A rainbow graces Dublin’s Phoenix Park. On the right is the Wellington Testimonial. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.
A LUAS tram makes a stop at Heuston Station, Dublin. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.
A LUAS tram makes a stop at Heuston Station, Dublin. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.
The Market Arcade on South Great Georges Street catches the afternoon sun. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.
The Market Arcade on South Great Georges Street catches the afternoon sun. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.
Sunset on Stoneybatter in Dublin's north inner city. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.
Sunset on Stoneybatter in Dublin’s north inner city. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.
Bord na Mona peat briquettes make for an inviting domestic hearth.Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.
Bord na Mona peat briquettes make for an inviting domestic hearth.Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.
Irish Central Bank on Dame Street. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.
Irish Central Bank on Dame Street. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.
Wall of Fame in Temple Bar.
Wall of Fame in Temple Bar. Photographed in March 2014.
The ever going bustle on Temple Bar, March 2014.
The ever going bustle on Temple Bar, March 2014.
Northside Map on Liffey Street.
Northside Map on Liffey Street.

Click here for my  Dublin Page for more photos of the Irish capital.

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Daily Post: Aerial View of Pan Am

Fitchburg, Massachusetts, February 22, 2014.

We could hear a freight dropping downgrade toward Fitchburg on the old Boston & Maine mainline. I was traveling with Rich Reed and Paul Goewey. We had limited time to select a photo location.

Complicating matters, Pan Am’s dispatcher came on the radio and told the train it would be working at Fitchburg Yard.

The implication to this seemingly innocuous instruction was that it might be hours before we saw the train east of the yard. We needed to pick a location west of the yard as it might be our only chance to catch this train.

We drove into Fitchburg, and overtook the slow moving freight. After inspection of a few ground level locations, we decided to try the top of the parking garage near the MBTA station.

This offered a superb elevated view. And we arrived in time to check out several angles, before settling on the southeast corner.

Pan Am Railway's EDPO (East Deerfield to Portland) eases downgrade in downtown Fitchburg. Our vantage point from the top of the parking garage at the railway station offered a superb place to make photos. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Pan Am Railway’s EDPO (East Deerfield to Portland) eases downgrade in downtown Fitchburg. Our vantage point from the top of the parking garage at the railway station offered a superb place to make photos. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

I made a series of photos using my Canon EOS 7D with 100mm telephoto and Lumix LX3. One of my favorite images is the unconventional down-on view of the old SD45-2 (now effectively converted to an SD40-2, having had its 3,600 hp 20-cylinder 645E3 replaced with the 3,000 hp 16 cylinder version of this engine). This angle shows the great length of the locomotive.

Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
A view made with my Lumix LX3 takes in the panorama of downtown Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
A view made with my Lumix LX3 takes in the panorama of downtown Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
I turned the Lumix vertically to make this photo. I didn't get the level perfect, so I made a minor adjustment in post processing (in other words: I cropped the photo.).
I turned the Lumix vertically to make this photo. I didn’t get the level perfect, so I made a minor adjustment in post processing (in other words: I cropped the photo.).
Tight view of Maine Central 507 (a former Canadian National GP40-2L) exposed with my Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Tight view of Maine Central 507 (a former Canadian National GP40-2L) exposed with my Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
My favorite of the sequence: an unconventional view of Maine Central 614, a locomotive built as an SD45-2, which featured  an unusually long frame. Lumix LX3 photo.
My favorite of the sequence: an unconventional view of Maine Central 614, a locomotive built as an SD45-2, which featured an unusually long frame. Lumix LX3 photo.
From the stairwell in the parking garage looking down on the MBTA station as Pan Am Railway's EDPO trails away. Lumix LX3 photo.
From the stairwell in the parking garage looking down on the MBTA station as Pan Am Railway’s EDPO trails away. Lumix LX3 photo.

We made a wise choice. Not only did Pan Am Railway’s eastward EDPO pick up at Fitchburg yard take more than two hours, but the crew finished before the train could continue east. At 1pm, it was still sitting in the yard.

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Daily Post: Union Pacific Feather River Canyon

Rich Bar, California on May 23, 1993.

A Union Pacific westward freight growls downgrade on the former Western Pacific near Rich Bar, California on May 23, 1993. Exposures in the Feather River can be deceiving. Shafts of sun can make the scenes appear brighter  to the eye than they really are. A careful use of a handheld meter allowed for exposure of this Kodachrome slide.
A Union Pacific westward freight growls downgrade on the former Western Pacific near Rich Bar, California on May 23, 1993. Exposures in the Feather River can be deceiving. Shafts of sun can make the scenes appear brighter to the eye than they really are. The careful use of a handheld meter allowed for ideal exposure of this Kodachrome slide.

There’s a certain thrill to photographing in California’s Feather River Canyon. This massive cleft in the Sierra offers numerous vistas with ever changing light around each bend in the river.

It’s easy to follow the railroad west from Keddie (location of the famous Keddie Wye) to beyond Pulga (in the deep lower reaches of the canyon.

The morning of May 23, 1993 was clear and bright; a radiant blue dome capped the canyon walls as the occasional ray of sun penetrated the shadows.

I’d picked up a Union Pacific westbound and followed it on Highway 70. There’s a pull off near Rich Bar where the sun had illuminated a retaining wall, where I made this broadside view with my Nikon F3T on Kodachrome film.

 

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Tomorrow: Pan Am from above.

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Daily Post: Arnold Loop, Silver Zone Pass, Nevada.


Westward Train in a Broad Landscape. 

The afternoon of July 26, 1993 was one of those lucky times when everything falls into place.

Fellow photographer TSH and I had hired a Chevy van at the San Francisco airport and drove to the shore of the Great Salt Lake, then worked our way back following Union Pacific’s Western Pacific route across Nevada.

Near Wendover (on the Utah-Nevada line) we came across a struggling westward coal train. One of its locomotives had failed, and it was making poor progress. It had three manifest trains stacked up behind it.

Armed with this knowledge, and having the best light of the day ahead of us, we drove west to the famed Arnold Loop, where Western Pacific’s engineers had designed a sweeping curve to maintain steady elevation. (Running west from  the Nevada-Utah line the railroad ascends a continuous 35-mile 1 percent grade, and crests at 5,907 feet above sea level, 15 miles beyond Silver Zone Pass.)

Union Pacific westward freight at the Arnold Loop, July 26, 1993. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T with 28mm lens.
Union Pacific westward freight at the Arnold Loop, July 26, 1993. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T with 28mm lens.

While not a complete circle, such as that used further west at the Williams Loop near Blairsden, California, this loop arrangement is an excellent place to photograph trains.

To the east is the wide expanse of desert punctuated by Pilot Peak some ten miles distant.

We got ourselves in position; cameras loaded with Kodachrome 25 and planted on tripods, and a clear blue dome above us. To the east we could make out the four trains in the distance, seeming to crawl over the landscape like tiny worms. Soon the first of the trains was upon us. These followed every ten minutes or so for the next 45 minutes.

I’ve used my images from this day in several books and calendars. This one slide is well published.

We were spoiled by the experience. The next day on the Western Pacific wasn’t as productive. Such is the luck of desert railroading!

Tomorrow: A Feather River Vista.

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Today’s Post: Another Day, Another Bridge

Sculpting with Light: CSXT Eastbound Freight Emerges from the Cut at Charlton, Massachusetts.

 

I thought I’d follow up on theme of yesterday’s post: sometimes the infrastructure is more interesting than the train.

On the morning of February 22, 2014, I met Paul Goewey in Palmer, Massachusetts. We were on our way to Fitchburg. He tells me; “An eastbound train came through about ten minutes ago.”

“We’ll get that. Hop in.”

I know that from many years of photographing on the Boston & Albany route, it is easy enough to catch an eastbound after it’s passed Palmer. The railroad loops north through the Quaboag Valley to Warren. And after passing the Brookfields, it climbs over Charlton Hill.

By contrast, the Mass-Turnpike and Route 20 offer a much faster and more direct route. So we drove to Charlton posthaste.

Old milepost 57 (as measured from Boston, Massachusetts), located at the east end of the cut in Charlton. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Old milepost 57 (as measured from Boston, Massachusetts), located at the east end of the cut in Charlton. Canon EOS 7D photo.

I have a long favored location east of CP57 at milepost 57 (pardon any sense of gratuitous redundancy) where the line exits the rock cut constructed in the 1830s. In 2011, a new road bridge was built here to improve clearances on the railroad to allow for operation of taller double-stacked container trains.

A window of morning sun on the tracks was nicely illuminating the new bridge while leaving a good spot to feature the leading locomotive.

We could hear CSXT’s Q436 (Selkirk, New York to Framingham, Massachusetts) climbing Charlton Hill when we arrived. For ten minutes we listened to modern General Electric Evolution-Series diesels chug up the old railroad grade.

Then a headlight came into view. As the train exited the cut, I used my pair of digital cameras to expose a sequence of images featuring the new bridge.

A view with my Lumix: CSXT's Q436 exits the cut at Charlton, Massachusetts. Which is the subject: the freight or the bridge?
A view with my Lumix: CSXT’s Q436 exits the cut at Charlton, Massachusetts. Which is the subject: the freight or the bridge?
I made this closer view with my Canon EOS 7D. The Evolution-Serie locomotive has entered a nice patch of morning sun. A moment later the nose of the locomotive hit a series of obtrusive shadows that disrupted my intended composition.
I made this closer view with my Canon EOS 7D. The Evolution-Series locomotive has entered a nice patch of morning sun. A moment later the nose of the locomotive hit a series of obtrusive shadows that disrupted my intended composition.
Trailing view of CSXT's modern GE diesels as the descend the old grade toward Worcester. Lumix LX3 photo.
Trailing view of CSXT’s modern GE diesels as they descend the old grade toward Worcester. Lumix LX3 photo.
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Daily Post: Dusk at West Warren, September 1984.

Twilight, Change, and a Long Lost Negative.

 This was among the negatives lost for most of the last 30 years. Today, it interests me for several reasons.

Boston & Albany at West Warren
Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited passes West Warren, Massachusetts in early evening in September 1984. At that time train 449 operated with a much later departure from Boston than it does today. Time exposure using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens, mounted on a Linhof tripod with ball head. Approximate exposure time: 8 seconds. Film: Kodak Tri-X. (Process information un-recorded)

In 1984-1985, I went through a phase where I made a lot of night photos. I employed a variety of techniques, and made hundreds of black & white images (and a few color slides too).

This image depicts Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited (train 449) passing beneath the bridge at West Warren, Massachusetts on the Boston & Albany route.

I only vaguely recall making the photograph above. Today, it is more like looking at someone else’s work than my own. I like it because it features the highway bridge over the tracks while allowing the train to be just an incidental streak of light. The famous mill dam water fall (featured in many West Warren photos) is clearly evident at the right.

It is one of the few photos I have at West Warren that shows the double-track. Conrail discontinued the directional double track arrangement between Palmer and East Brookfield in 1986, two years after I exposed this photo.

Over the years I’ve made many photos at West Warren, and regular viewers of Tracking the Light should find the name familiar. Yet, this view is the only one I’ve come across from this angle. It puts a new perspective on the place. Would this viewpoint be conducive to a modern daylight image?

Compare with the photo I made in January 2014 from the bridge (and featured in an earlier post).

Amtrak heritage locomotive
Amtrak 449 at West Warren, Massachusetts, 2:03pm January 24, 2014. Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 40mm pancake lens exposed at ISO 200 f5.6 1/1000th of a second. Camera RAW file converted to a Jpeg in Adobe Photoshop.

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Tomorrow: 30 years later; Another Day, Another Bridge

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Daily Post: CSXT at Stateline.

Sunday Empties Kicking Snow.

On the morning of February 16, 2014, I anticipated a photo of a westward CSXT empty intermodal train on the former Boston & Albany at the Massachusetts-New York State Line.

Where B&A’s Lima 2-8-4 Berkshires once hauled freight, now CSXT’s modern GE Evolution-Series diesels do the job.

Today Stateline is just a wide spot on a curve, but there’s a lot of history here.

Lumix LX3 photo.
Lumix LX3 photo. Looking east at Stateline.

A trackside concrete marker identifies the border. B&A’s one-time multiple track mainline is now a single main track. A vestige of the old eastward main is buried beneath the snow.

New Haven had maintained an interchange with New York Central here; this was a carryover from the early years, when no less than four railroads operated to Stateline to interchange traffic. Their convergence on this spot was no coincidence as the state border defined original operating charters.

Waiting in my car near the grade crossing on this cold windy morning, I knew this train was close, so when the warning lights began to flash, I jumped into position.

CSXT Evolution-series locomotives.
To capture the effect of the locomotive enveloped in swirling snow, I used my Canon EOS 7D with a 200mm telephoto. Exposure: f5.6 1/800 ISO 200. (I’ve allowed the blowing snow to lose detail, while retaining detail in the crusted snow on the ground).

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Daily Post: Visions of Omaha

October 2002.

During a visit with John Gruber at the old Omaha Union Station, where we met with the late-Bill Kratville, I made a series of photographs with my Contax G2 on Fuji 100 Acros black & white film.

The station is an art deco gem and well suited to the tonality of black & white photography.

I worked with my 16mm Hologon and 45mm Zeiss Planar and processed the film in Dublin using my customized formula for Agfa Rodinal Special developer (not to be confused for the more common Agfa Rodinal).

Omaha, Nebraska.
Omaha Union Station, exposed with a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 45mm Zeiss Planar lens. Fuji 100 Acros black & white negative film.
Omaha, Nebraska.
Exposed in October 2002 using a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 16mm Hologon lens. Fuji 100 Acros black & white.
John Gruber and Bill Kratville inside the old Omaha Union Station.  Exposed with a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 45mm Zeiss Planar lens. Fuji 100 Acros black & white.
John Gruber and Bill Kratville inside the old Omaha Union Station. Exposed with a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 16mm Hologon lens. Fuji 100 Acros black & white.

Recently, I scanned these negatives using my Epson V600 flatbed scanner, then scaled the image-files for presentation here.

Omaha Union Station, exposed using a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 16mm Hologon lens. Fuji 100 Acros black & white.
Omaha Union Station, exposed using a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 16mm Hologon lens. Fuji 100 Acros black & white.

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Tomorrow: snow and history at ‘Stateline’.

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Daily Post: Snow Exposure Quandry

Pan Am 310 East of Shelburne Falls

I exposed this image of Pan Am Railways GP40 310 leading MOED on the afternoon of February 17, 2014. By any measure this scene posed a difficult exposure.

Canon 7D in-camera Jpg of Pan Am Railways 310 east of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. To my eye, this image appears too bright. Had it been a color slide I'd say it was about a half stop 'over exposed.' This Jpg was created using the Canon's picture style profile called 'landscape' (one of several built in Jpg picture styles).
Canon 7D in-camera Jpg of Pan Am Railways 310 east of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. To my eye, this image appears too bright. Had it been a color slide I’d say it was about a half stop ‘over exposed.’ This Jpg was created using the Canon’s picture style profile called ‘landscape’ (one of several built in Jpg picture styles).

The locomotive is a dark blue, while the scene posed a full range of tones from bright white snow to deep shadows. The train was moving, and there was little time for exposure bracketing.

Using the camera’s histogram, I’d made a test exposure before the train came into the scene, and then made a series of images focused on the composition.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D, I always expose simultaneous Jps and Camera RAW files. Most of the time the in Camera hi-res Jpg proves acceptable, and simply archive the RAW files for the future.

However, in this instance when I got home, I found that the in-camera Jpg appears to bright to my eye. I re-checked the camera’s histogram for that file and confirmed that the image was exposed correctly.

Histogram.
This is the information displayed at the back of the camera. The histogram is just about ideal. The bulk of the exposure is at the center of the graph and there is virtually no clipping of shadow or highlight areas. (See my earlier post on snow exposure for graph interpretation.)

In previous posts I’ve explained that with modern digital imaging old-school film-based assessments of ‘under’ (too dark) and ‘over’ (too light) exposure do not allow for the most accurate way of selecting exposure. (see: Snow Exposure—Part 1)

Instead of using the image at the back of the camera, or even the photo on my home computer screen, to judge exposure, I use the histogram. This graph allows me to select an exposure that maximizes the amount of information captured by the camera on-site.

In this case, although the Camera processed Jpeg seemed too bright (over exposed), the camera RAW file was perfect.  Since the problem was in the camera’s translation of the RAW to Jpeg, the solution was simple:

I converted the RAW to a Jpeg manually, which produced a result that matched the scene. This retained excellent highlight detail in the snow, produced a pleasing exposure for the side of the locomotive and hills beyond, while retaining good shadow detail in the tree at the left.

Here's the camera RAW file. This has not been interpreted by in-camera processing to conform to a pre-established 'picture style'. The result is perfectly exposed. I simply converted the file to a Jpg manually and scaled it for display here. I did not adjust exposure, contrast, or color. In other words its was an easy fix: there was never really a problem with the file, on with my perception of how the 'landscape' style Jpg had interpreted the image.
Here’s the camera RAW file. This has not been interpreted by in-camera processing to conform to a pre-established ‘picture style’. The result is perfectly exposed. I simply converted the file to a Jpg manually and scaled it for display here. I did not adjust exposure, contrast, or color. In other words it was an easy fix: there was never really a problem with the file, only with my perception of how the ‘landscape’ style Jpg had interpreted the image.

I did not manipulate or adjust the file except to scale the image and convert it to a Jpg for presentation. (the RAW file is far too large to up-load effectively).

For more on snow exposure see:

Photo Tips: Snow Exposure—Part 1

Photo Tips: Snow Exposure–Part 2 Histograms

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Daily Post: Old Type 5 on both Film and Digital

On October 20, 2013, I stopped by the Connecticut Trolley Museum near East Windsor and made a variety of photos. The day was perfect; warm and sunny with a cloudless clear sky. A bit of autumn color clung to the trees.

This was an opportunity to experiment with my cameras and I’ve displayed here three images of former a Boston Type 5 streetcar that was working the line.

I exposed the top image on Fuji Velvia 50 color slide film with my father’s Leica M4 fitted with a 35mm Summicron. The bottom images were simultaneous files made with my Lumix LX3 (which features a Leica Vario-Summicron lens).

Connecticut Trolley Museum
MTA type 5 streetcar photographed at East Windsor, Connecticut on October 20, 2013 using a Leica M4 with 35mm Summicron and Fuji Velvia 50 slide film.
Lumix photograph; Camera RAW converted to a scaled JPG in two step post processing for internet display.
Lumix photograph; Camera RAW converted to a scaled JPG in two step post processing for internet display.
In-camera Lumix JPG exposed using the 'Standard' color profile. File scaled for internet display.
In-camera Lumix JPG exposed using the ‘Standard’ color profile. File scaled for internet display.

The Lumix allows me to make both a camera RAW file and a JPG at the same time. The Lumix software has a variety of color profiles for the JPG files that alter the appearance of the image. Typically, I use the “Standard” profile such as displayed here.

Although I’ve scaled all of the files and processed them for internet display, I’ve not made major changes to contrast, exposure or content. The color slide required a nominal color balance adjustment to remove the inherent bias associated with this film.

I scanned the slide using my Epson V600 scanner.

My father has some nice views of Boston’s Type 5s in revenue service exposed on Kodachrome in the 1950s.

All things being equal, I wonder which photographs will survive the longest? The 50+ year old Kodachromes? My Velvia slides exposed in October? Or the digital files exposed the same day? All the digital files (including scans) are preserved on at least three hard drives. While the slides are stored in a dark, cool dry place.

Any bets?

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Tomorrow: refining snow exposure.

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