Push Pull at Dromkeen.

Back in the Day.

It was a glorious bright Spring day in April 2003. For years, a single Irish Rail class 121 had worked a short push-pull Mark 3 set on the Limerick-Limerick Junction shuttle. But when I made this photograph the set was on borrowed time.

Irish Rail’s Limerick Junction shuttle near Dromkeen, County Limerick on April 19, 2003. Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia 100 with a Nikon F3 with 85mm lens.
Irish Rail’s Limerick Junction shuttle near Dromkeen, County Limerick on April 19, 2003. Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia 100 with a Nikon F3 with 85mm lens.

Earlier in 2003, Irish Rail had suddenly withdrawn most of the 121 class, and most were quickly reduced to scrap. Only two remained in service and it was rumored they might soon go the way of the others.

As it turned out, the 121 with Mark 3 set didn’t last much longer Limerick Junction shuttle and this was among my last photos of in that service. However, the locomotives struggled on much longer than I anticipated. I last photographed them in permanent way service in Dublin in early 2008, nearly five years later. Not that I’m complaining.

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Earlier that day, I'd made this view of the same Limerick Junction shuttle at Oola. This was previously published on tracking the light. Photo was also exposed on Fujichrome Sensia 100 with a Nikon F3 with 85mm lens.
Earlier that day, I’d made this view of the same Limerick Junction shuttle at Oola. This was previously published on tracking the light. Photo was also exposed on Fujichrome Sensia 100 with a Nikon F3 with 85mm lens.

 

Maine Central Tracks in the Snow.

Lincoln, Maine 1996.

 

Exposed on Fujichrome 100 with an F3T fitted with Nikon 80-200mm lens.
Exposed on Fujichrome 100 with an F3T fitted with Nikon 80-200mm lens.

In the heat of summer sometimes it’s nice to remember how things are in the winter.

Looking compass south on the Maine Central at Lincoln, Maine in the Winter of 1996.

The trick is exposing so there’s some texture in the snow without making the image so dark that the snow appears battleship gray and the shadows become opaque. Controlling flare helps.

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LUAS Ad Tram At Heuston Station

A Bit of Colour for the Summer.

I arrived back in Dublin aware that LUAS had a couple of trams working the Red Line in colourful advertising liveries. As I was on the 747 bus passing the city centre from the airport, I noted one of these working its way toward the Docklands.

Although I’ve been gone a few months, my memory of LUAS timings had the wheels turning in my head as the bus wandered its circuitous path through Dublin’s inner city.

By the time the bus arrived a Heuston Station, where it terminates its airport run, I calculated that the brightly coloured Citadis couldn’t be more than a few minutes away. So, with my luggage in tow, I marched toward my preferred morning location.

Just then it came into view.

The shade of yellow on the front of the 'Join Me' LUAS tram reminded me of the Portugese multiple units I photographed in April. Lumix LX7 photo.
The shade of yellow on the front of the ‘Join Me’ LUAS tram reminded me of the Portugese multiple units I photographed in April. Lumix LX7 photo.

Thankfully, it made a prolonged stop at Heuston, giving me time to dig out my LX-7 from the camera bag and reset it. I’d last been making multiple exposure HDR images of real 747s at Logan!

Air France 747 at Boston's Logan Airport on the previous evening.
Air France 747 at Boston’s Logan Airport on the previous evening.

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Southern Pacific at Roseville, December 1989.

Tunnel Motor and a Donut Shop.

Trains crossing vast western vistas make for compelling images, yet, back in 1989 I also made an effort to document western railroads in ordinary urban environments.

in December 1989, this Southern Pacific eastward freight was easing up to the east end of Roseville Yard, preparing to depart for its run over Donner Pass. Its EMD diesels with 20-cylinder 645E3 engines pulsed their dynamic sounds of power.

Southern Pacific 8233 at Roseville, California. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M2 with f2.0 50mm lens.
Southern Pacific 8233 at Roseville, California. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M2 with f2.0 50mm lens.

I framed it up in the trees and featured a non-descript donut shop that was part of the scene. Also, I placed my car in the photo. Soon, I was rolling east on I-80, thinking about where to catch the freight on the grade.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M2 with f2.0 50mm lens.

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Clio Viaduct, California

Under Clear Western Skies.

On the morning of November 11, 2003, John Gruber and I set off from Reno, Nevada and drove up to Union Pacific’s former Western Pacific main line

Although we weren’t expecting it, we caught this BNSF westward freight near Reno Junction and followed it for many miles.

Western Pacific was built by virtue of improved bridge design. Tower supported steel viaducts such as this one allowed for relatively inexpensive construction of very large and tall spans. A century later the bridge remains in service.
Western Pacific was built by virtue of improved bridge design. Steel tower-supported viaducts, such as this one, allowed for relatively inexpensive construction of very large and tall spans. More than a century later the bridge remains in service.

I opted for this view of the famous Clio Viaduct west of Portola, California, where 11 years earlier, I’d exposed a Kodachrome slide of Union Pacific’s Challenger from nearly the same angle.

For this photograph I use my Nikon F3T and Fujichrome slide film.

Personally, I like the bit of glint reflecting off the second locomotive.

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Pleasant Valley Sunset

Union Pacific’s Encina Hill in eastern Oregon on June 12, 1993.

Looking west on the Union Pacific. I exposed this view on Kodachrome 25with a Nikon F3T fitted with a f1.8 105mm lens. Kodachrome had excellent dynamic range that allowed it to capture detail and color from the brightest highlights to the deepest shadows. Look carefully. Follow the tracks around the bend to the right; a train has passed, but the exhaust from its helpers can still be seen illuminated by the setting sun.
Looking west on the Union Pacific. I exposed this view on Kodachrome 25 with a Nikon F3T fitted with a f1.8 105mm lens. Kodachrome had excellent dynamic range that allowed it to capture detail and color from the brightest highlights to the deepest shadows. Look carefully. Follow the tracks around the bend to the right; a train has passed, but the exhaust from its helpers can still be seen illuminated by the setting sun.

Pleasant Valley siding on Union Pacific’s mainline in eastern Oregon is aptly named. I made this image on Kodachrome 25 while traveling with Brian Jennison.

We’d driven up from Nevada to intercept Union Pacific’s Challenger, locomotive 3985, that was running trips toward Portland. The weather was excellent and this was a good excuse to photograph this remote but scenic section of heavily traveled steeply graded mainline.

I remember the scent of sage and the wide open skies and the relative quiet; qualities I associate with the great American west.

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Tomorrow: BNSF on the Western Pacific!

 

Colorful Consist Crossing the Connecticut River.

July 10, 2014.

We were waiting for Pan Am Southern’s westward empty autorack, train 206. This was just the gravy: Earlier Mike Gardner, Brian Jennison and I, had already had a productive summer’s day following the Mass-Central and caught Amtrak’s Vermonter in perfect light at Millers Falls.

As we waited for 205, Pan Am’s dispatcher routed its eastward counterpart, loaded autorack train 206 (destined for Ayer, Massachusetts), through the yard at East Deerfield to get it around a track gang.

Pan Am Southern train 206 crosses the Connecticut River at East Deerfield, Massachusetts on the evening of July 10, 2014.
Pan Am Southern train 206 crosses the Connecticut River at East Deerfield, Massachusetts on the evening of July 10, 2014.

This was an unexpected bonus! The train was led by a colorful consist of General Electric diesels. A Union Pacific Evolution-series was up front, followed by a curious former Conrail and/or LMS DASH8-40CW lettered for Canadian National and sublettered for CN’s subsidiary Illinois Central. Trailing was a common Norfolk Southern DASH9-40CW.

It’s just as well I shot this as a digital image and not as a color slide. I couldn’t have fit all this information on the slide mount! (Although I did exposed a frame of black & white film).

We never saw Pan Am’s 205 that day.

Nor did we catch the following unit grain train with BNSF locomotives leading. You can’t win all the prizes.

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Tomorrow: Union Pacific Sunset!

 

Massachusetts Central, July 10, 2014—Retro Views

Black & White in the Modern Age.

Here are a few views I made with my Rolleiflex Model T of Mass-Central’s former Boston & Albany branch on July 10, 2014.

Why black & white? Why film? Why in 2014?

Mass-Central GP38 1751 crosses the Route 32 bridge in Ware, Massachusetts on July 10, 2014. Exposed on Tri-X using a Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss Tessar lens.
Mass-Central GP38 1751 crosses the Route 32 bridge in Ware, Massachusetts on July 10, 2014. Exposed on Tri-X using a Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss Tessar lens.
Former Boston & Albany freight house at Gilbertville, Massachusetts along the Mass-Central's Ware River Branch on July 10, 2014.
Former Boston & Albany freight house at Gilbertville, Massachusetts along the Mass-Central’s Ware River Branch on July 10, 2014. Exposed on Tri-X using a Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss Tessar lens.
Exposed on Tri-X using a Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss Tessar lens. The film was processed in Kodak HC110, dilution B (1 part developer to 32 parts water) at 70 degrees F, for 6 minutes using three agitation inversions every 30-60 seconds.
Exposed on Tri-X using a Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss Tessar lens. The film was processed in Kodak HC110, dilution B (1 part developer to 32 parts water) at 70 degrees F, for 6 minutes using three agitation inversions every 30-60 seconds.
Mass-Central 1751 works north of Gilbertville on July 10, 2014. Exposed on Tri-X using a Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss Tessar lens.
Mass-Central 1751 works north of Gilbertville on July 10, 2014. Exposed on Tri-X using a Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss Tessar lens.

There’s no question, digital photography is easier. If I desire a square black & white image, all I have to do is set my Lumix LX7 to a 1:1 aspect ratio using a switch on the camera, and set the ‘photo style’ to ‘monochrome’ using the function button.

This set up procedure takes just a few seconds, and I can switch back to color quickly and easily whenever I choose.

Working with the Rolleiflex is more cumbersome; the camera is klutzy to load, it only makes 12 frames per roll of film, and the film takes about an hour to process in the darkroom (dry to dry). Then I need to cut and sleeve the negatives and then scan them for presentation here.

Yet, I still do this. Not for every photograph, not on every outing, but I still go through the motions of using black & white film.

Why? I have five reasons:

1)    I like it.

2)    It gives me a subtle ‘retro’ quality that I can’t really get from digital.

3)    It allows me visual continuity: I’ve been making black & white railroad photos since the 1970s. Why stop now?

4)    I can still do it: I have the cameras, the film, the darkroom and the skills to get great results.

5)    The B&W film medium is known to be archival. I process my film using a two bath fixer, permawash and rinse for 15 minutes in clean running water. They are stored in archival sleeves. Barring the unforeseen, the negatives I processed should still be in good condition for viewing in 50 to 100 years, maybe longer. They will need no extra attention regarding ‘back up’, except to store them in a safe dry place.

This last point is not true with digital photos.  I make three backup copies of every digital image and store them in separate locations, but digital remains an ephemeral media. Hard drives, DVDs and all other existing means of commercially-available digital storage will, in time, go bad. Hard drives can fail, suddenly, completely and without warning. The information will be lost. The photos will vanish. Like the tide coming in on a child’s sandcastle, the images in their digital form will be washed away, forever.

Mass-Central at South Barre, Massachusetts. Exposed on Tri-X using a Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss Tessar lens.
Mass-Central at South Barre, Massachusetts. Exposed on Tri-X using a Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss Tessar lens.
A cropped section of the above photo, enlarged to show detail. One of the flaws with WordPress web media is that images are automatically compressed which lowers the quality for ease of display.
A cropped section of the above photo, enlarged to show detail. One of the flaws with WordPress web media is that images are automatically compressed which lowers the quality for ease of display.

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Tomorrow: Colorful consist on a bridge!

 

On the Old Nickel Plate Road, April 1988.

New General Electric DASH-8s Nose to Nose.

In April 1988, I was exploring locations along Conrail’s former New York Central ‘Water Level Route’ west of Dunkirk, New York. Parallel to this line was the old Nickel Plate Road.

Where the former New York Central Line was a highly engineered grade-level route  and crossed the terrain on high earthen fills, Nickel Plate was built to a lighter standard and used plate girder viaducts over the valleys of rivers and streams.

Lighter engineering often results in more interesting photographs.

Exposed on black & white negative film using a Rolleiflex Model T with f3.5 Zeiss Tessar lens. By using a 645 ‘superslide’ insert, I obtained a rectangular negative size instead of the more common square associated with the Rollei T. This gave me a more conventional photographic aspect. In retrospect, I’ve found that I prefer Rollei photos made in the square format.
Exposed on black & white negative film using a Rolleiflex Model T with f3.5 Zeiss Tessar lens. By using a 645 ‘superslide’ insert, I obtained a rectangular negative size instead of the more common square associated with the Rollei T. This gave me a more conventional photographic aspect. In retrospect, I’ve found that I prefer Rollei photos made in the square format.

I caught this Norfolk Southern freight working toward Buffalo over a tower-supported plate-girder trestle near Westfield, New York.

At the time, Norfolk Southern had recently purchased a fleet of General Electric C39-8s and tended to work these long hood first. I found this arrangement fascinating and so I made a variety of images of the big GE diesels working ‘hammer head’ style.

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One Less Diamond, July 22, 1986

Palmer, Massachusetts.

I exposed this image using a Rolleiflex Model T with fixed f3.5 Zeiss Tessar lens.
I exposed this image using a Rolleiflex Model T with fixed f3.5 Zeiss Tessar lens.

Twenty-eight years ago I made this photo. It was the day after Conrail began single-tracking the Boston & Albany route. On July 21, 1986, track forces had cut in CP83 at Palmer, and CP92 in Springfield, removing the old number 1 (westward) track from service.

The remains of the second diamond crossing with Central Vermont are in the foreground. A westward empty autorack is taking the new switch at CP83 in front of the Palmer Union Station.

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Massachusetts Central, July 10, 2014

Palmer to South Barre, Massachusetts.

Trying to see the railroad differently; I’ve been photographing the former Boston & Albany Ware River branch for more than 30 years, so finding new angles is a bit of a challenge.

On July 10, 2014, I met Mike Gardner, Paul Goewey and Brian Jennison in Palmer with the expressed goal of following Mass-Central’s daily freight northbound.

It was a bright morning following a night of heavy rain and mist still clung to the valleys. Mass-Central was working with GP38 1751, one of two locomotives acquired last year and custom painted into a variation of the 1950s-era Boston & Maine ‘Bluebird’ livery.

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Mass-Central switches at the Route 181 crossing north of Palmer. The morning mist clung to the valley but it soon burned away. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Mass-Central switches at the Route 181 crossing north of Palmer. The morning mist clung to the valley but it soon burned away. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Thorndike, Masschusetts on the morning of July 10, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
Thorndike, Masschusetts on the morning of July 10, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.

After the train passed Thorndike, (a few miles from Palmer yard), it slowed to a craw then stopped unexpectedly. Trees had fallen on the line. This delayed it while crews cut the trees with chain saws. In the mean time, Paul showed me an angle near Forest Lake that I’d never seen before.

Track speed on the line is a casual 10 mph. The trick isn’t trying to keep up with the train, it’s trying to stay focused on the subject. In addition to the slow running, Mass-Central spends a lot of time switching freight cars, and often in places that aren’t conducive to summer-time photography.

A plow warning signal near a crossing at Forest Lake. Mass-Central still retains many of these simple steam-era signals. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
A plow warning signal near a crossing at Forest Lake. Mass-Central still retains many of these simple steam-era signals. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Mass-Central at Forest Lake where the water is covered with lilly pads and other growth. Thanks to Paul Goewey for showing me this angle. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
Mass-Central at Forest Lake where the water is covered with lilly pads and other growth. Thanks to Paul Goewey for showing me this angle. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
Where? Ware. That's right. Mass-Central 1751 crosses the old bridge over Route 32. Lumix LX7 photo.
Where? Ware. That’s right. Mass-Central 1751 crosses the old bridge over Route 32. Lumix LX7 photo.
The Whistle Stop was closed so I opted to feature the station building that is often blocked with cars. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
The Whistle Stop at Gilbertville was closed so I opted to feature the station building that is often blocked with cars. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
Or, for an alternate view. . . .
Or, for an alternate view. . . .
Pastoral scene near Barre Plains. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
Pastoral scene near Barre Plains. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

South Barre is as far as the Mass-Central goes. Beyond that the old B&A branch is abandoned. Having done well with the northward run, we opted for lunch, then moved on to other lines.

I worked with three cameras; my Lumix LX7 and Canon 7D, plus my old Rolleiflex Model T. (This isn’t the same old Rollei, that I used back in the 1980s, but one similar to it.) Unfortunately, it wasn’t functioning perfectly in the morning, and I missed a few photos before I got it working. Now, to process the film!

South Barre, where Mass-Central reaches the old mills by way of a spur that crosses Route 32. Lumix LX7 photo.
South Barre, where Mass-Central reaches the old mills by way of a spur that crosses Route 32. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Tracking the Light Daily Post: SEPTA at Overbrook, Pennsylvania—Part 2

Another day another Angle.

On evening July 2, 2014, my brother Sean and I returned to Overbrook. I wanted to get there a bit earlier to focus on SEPTA’s electric locomotive-hauled rush hour services, including the named ‘Great Valley Flyer.’ Also, I wished to feature the signaling more closely. Those vintage Pennsylvania Railroad position lights won’t be around forever.

The lighting was more diffused than the previous day, but this offered different opportunities.

SEPTA Silverliners meet at Overbrook on July 2, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA Silverliners meet at Overbrook on July 2, 2014.  Here we have a classic view that features the trains, the railway station and ornate passenger shelters, plus SEPTA’s connecting bus. If every town could only be as fortunate as Overbrook! Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA's Great Valley Flyer crosses over at Overbrook. Pat Yough had warned me of this in advance, so I was prepared. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
SEPTA’s Great Valley Flyer crosses over at Overbrook. Pat Yough had warned me of this in advance, so I was prepared. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Only a handful of SEPTA's suburban trains run with electric locomotives; most are EMUs. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Only a handful of SEPTA’s suburban trains run with electric locomotives; most are EMUs. Canon EOS 7D photo.
SEPTA's Great Valley Flyer, one of the system's few named trains. What other modern commuter operators have named suburban services? I wanted to feature the train passing the tower.
SEPTA’s Great Valley Flyer, one of the system’s few named trains. What other modern commuter operators have named suburban services? I wanted to feature the train passing the tower.
SEPTA's Great Valley Flyer doesn't serve Overbrook. Lumix LX7.
SEPTA’s Great Valley Flyer doesn’t serve Overbrook. Lumix LX7.

Often it helps to revisit locations several days in a row. Becoming more familiar with a place, helps to find different ways to photograph it.

Yet, with familiarity comes the risk of complacency. When a subject becomes so familiar that you stop seeing it in new ways, have you lost the edge? Is finding a new place the best time to make a photo, or at least perceive an opportunity?

Overbrook is hardly a new place for me, yet it is also one I’ve yet to master.

Rule 290, Restricting, displayed in classic Pennsylvania Railroad fashion using a reverse diagonal row of lights on the second head.
Rule 290, Restricting, displayed in classic Pennsylvania Railroad fashion using a reverse diagonal row of lights on the second head.
An inbound train approaches Overbrook. I was happy to catch a train with a restricting aspect displayed on the opposite signal. Canon EOS 7D photo.
An inbound train approaches Overbrook. I was happy to catch a train with a restricting aspect displayed on the opposite signal. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Minutes later an express train zips through Overbrook on track 2. Notice the signal on the far side of the tracks has cleared to 'Approach'. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Minutes later an express train zips through Overbrook on track 2. Notice the signal on the far side of the tracks has cleared to ‘Approach’. Canon EOS 7D photo.
One last view. This outbound express tends to run with a locomotive hauled consist. I positioned myself to feature the locomotive and the tower. Lumix LX7 photo.
One last view. This outbound express tends to run with a locomotive hauled consist. I positioned myself to feature the locomotive and the tower. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Happy Birthday to Tracking the Light!

It has been two years today (July 19, 2014) since Tracking the Light’s first Post (July 19, 2012).

The first installment featured this image on the Central Vermont Railway crossing the Connecticut River.

Kodachrome slide of a Central Vermont freight train at Windsor, Vermont.
Central Vermont Railway at Windsor, Vermont. Originally posted on July 19, 2012.

Click HERE to check out the inaugural post.

Tracking the Light has been posting daily since March 2013.

To date, the most popular item was posted January 20, 2013: TRACKING THE LIGHT NEWS FLASH: Photos of Philadelphia Schuylkill River Bridge Derailment. This alone received more than 800 views.

In the last two years of Tracking the Light, I’ve covered a variety of themes, posted thousands of images, and visited many places.

What was your favorite Tracking the Light story?

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Mass_Central_near_Creamery_P1010055

 GCT_interior_P1050416

 

Trailing view at the Palmer diamond in the glinty evening light. A CSX westward intermodal train makes for a graphic subject. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Trailing view at the Palmer diamond in the glinty evening light. A CSX westward intermodal train makes for a graphic subject. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

 

Four years ago today: John Gruber with his vintage Nikon F on a restored North Shore car at the Illinois Railway Museum. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
Four years ago today: John Gruber with his vintage Nikon F on a restored North Shore car at the Illinois Railway Museum. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
N&W 611 surrounded by the enemy.
N&W 611 surrounded by the enemy.

Photographers_at_night_PRR_and_C&O_at_night_sideview_P1030770Sou_WAB_DL&W_tight_night_100_IMG_6252

CSX Q423 (or L423) was working Palmer yard. In this view it pulls passed CP83 to double its train out of the yard. I exposed several telephoto views with the LX-7. By keeping the camera relatively low to the ground, I've minimized foreground distractions while allowing for a more dramatic perspective on the locomotives.
CSX Q423 (or L423) was working Palmer yard. In this view it pulls passed CP83 to double its train out of the yard. I exposed several telephoto views with the LX-7. By keeping the camera relatively low to the ground, I’ve minimized foreground distractions while allowing for a more dramatic perspective on the locomotives.
Exposed with a Nikon F3 with 85mm lens on Fujichrome Sensia 100 slide film.
Exposed with a Nikon F3 with 85mm lens on Fujichrome Sensia 100 slide film.

CN Tower at Night Toronto P1060978

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Irish Rail 220 leads Monday's Dublin-Ballina IWT liner seen west of Kildare, near Cherryville Junction. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Irish Rail 220 leads Monday’s Dublin-Ballina IWT liner seen west of Kildare, near Cherryville Junction. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
A closer horizontal view with the same camera-lens combination. I adjusted the exposure by a one-third stop, opening to f8.0 to compensate for the lack of sky in the image. Locomotive 085 features a variation of the gray and yellow paint scheme introduced last year. This features the traditional three-digit locomotive number in larger fonts on the cab. This in addition to the recently introduced European multiple number printed in tiny type elsewhere on the engine.
A closer horizontal view with the same camera-lens combination. I adjusted the exposure by a one-third stop, opening to f8.0 to compensate for the lack of sky in the image. Locomotive 085 features a variation of the gray and yellow paint scheme introduced last year. This features the traditional three-digit locomotive number in larger fonts on the cab. This in addition to the recently introduced European multiple number printed in tiny type elsewhere on the engine.
This car works interlaced track where up-hill and down hill lines overlap. Canon EOS 7D.
This car works interlaced track where up-hill and down hill lines overlap. Canon EOS 7D.

Foggy_night_Porto_IMG_2517

Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 100-400 image stabilization zoom lens set at 135mm; f8 at 1/500th of second, ISO 200.
Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 100-400 image stabilization zoom lens set at 135mm; f8 at 1/500th of second, ISO 200.
Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100 using a Nikon F3T with an f1.8 105mm lens. Exposure calculated manually.
Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100 using a Nikon F3T with an f1.8 105mm lens. Exposure calculated manually.
Locomotive 461 works west along the Royal Canal near Enfield on March 23, 2014. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 20mm lens and firmly mounted on a Bogan tripod. Focus and exposure set manually.
Locomotive 461 works west along the Royal Canal near Enfield on March 23, 2014. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 20mm lens and firmly mounted on a Bogen tripod. Focus and exposure set manually.
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. Metra F40PHs at Harvard made for a colorful subject. Exposed with my Canon 200mm lens handheld at f13 1/250th of a second.
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.
16mm Hologon view of Cincinnati Union Station.
16mm Hologon view of Cincinnati Union Station.
Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.
Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.
Conrail
In July 1984, Conrail 6666 leads an eastward freight on the Boston & Albany at Washington Summit, Hinsdale, Massachusetts. This photograph is unpublished and previously unprinted. It was exposed on 35mm Tri-X using a 1930s-vintage Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens. Post processing allowed for localized contrast control to maximize the detail in the original negative.

NS_high_hood_GP38s_at_xing_IMG_4129

 

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 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.
The dappled light on the trees and the dark shadowed hillside beyond made for a dramatic painterly back drop, while tree shadows on the foreground snow minimized the effects of glare and provided texture.
The dappled light on the trees and the dark shadowed hillside beyond made for a dramatic painterly back drop, while tree shadows on the foreground snow minimized the effects of glare and provided texture.

SEPTA_inbound_vert_IMG_4019

Market East. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Market East. Canon EOS 7D photo.
The Cement train crew gets off the engines after stabling the train in the sidings. After exposing these photos I boarded a train for Mallow and Tralee.
The Cement train crew gets off the engines after stabling the train in the sidings. After exposing these photos I boarded a train for Mallow and Tralee.
Cumbres & Toltec former Denver & Rio Grande Western three-foot gauge line, Colorado.
Cumbres & Toltec former Denver & Rio Grande Western three-foot gauge line, Colorado.

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Tracking the Light Daily Post: On The Main Line at Overbrook, Pennsylvania—Part 1

Visual Quandaries in a Fascinating Place—July 1, 2014

Overbrook retains much of its Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line heritage. Not only is it a surviving portion of four track line, but it retains an active tower, traditional PRR position light signaling, plus its old station buildings and historic signage.

SEPTA at Overbrook.
Outbound SEPTA Silverliner V approaches Overbrook on a sunny evening, July 1, 2014. All the elements are here, but what is the best way to put them together in a dynamic image? Can one photo really do Overbrook justice? Canon EOS 7D photo with 100mm lens.

It remains a busy place with a regular interval SEPTA suburban service and Amtrak Keystone trains.

Curiously, it features track-work dating to an earlier era of railroad engineering. It is located on a sweeping curve with a full set of crossovers set in and around the station and low-level platforms.

Without getting into a detailed discussion on modern railroad engineering, let me just say, that there’s no way an interlocking and station would be situated like this today.

The interlocking at Overbrook is a vestige of steam-era railroad engineering. Today railroads wouldn't consider placing crossovers on curve in the middle of a busy station with low level platforms. Note the signal displaying 'Restricting' with a classic PRR aspect. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. July 1, 2014.
Looking west on the Main Line: The interlocking at Overbrook is a vestige of steam-era railroad engineering. Today railroads wouldn’t consider placing crossovers on curve in the middle of a busy station with low level platforms. Note the signal displaying ‘Restricting’ with a classic PRR aspect. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. July 1, 2014.

Yet, for all this historic railroad interest, Overbrook is a challenging place to make photographs. The curvature which adds so much character to the place, also makes it difficult to find a satisfactory photographic angle. While there is lots of antique infrastructure, it’s hard to find way to include it in balanced compositions.

Further difficulties are caused by nearby trees and a large overhead arched bridge that cast shadows on the line.

On successive evenings, July 1st and July 2nd, 2014, my brother Sean and I visited Overbrook to watch the evening parade of trains. Working with my Lumix LX-7 and Canon EOS 7D, I exposed images from a variety of angles. I was particular interested in featuring the old Pennsylvania signaling.

A vintage PRR position light signal (designed by A.H. Rudd) displays 'Approach Medium'. This signal is controlled by Overbrook tower, one of several classic interlocking towers on the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
A vintage PRR position light signal (designed by A.H. Rudd) displays ‘Approach Medium’. This signal is controlled by Overbrook tower, one of several classic interlocking towers on the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Outbound SEPTA local at Overbrook catches the evening sun on July 1, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Outbound SEPTA local at Overbrook catches the evening sun on July 1, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Why make one photo when you can snap away! Which do you like better? The closer image or the distant one.
Why make one photo when you can snap away! Which do you like better? The closer image or the distant one?
SEPTA logo catches the evening glint at Overbrook on July 1, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
SEPTA logo catches the evening glint at Overbrook on July 1, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Sean Solomon checks the SEPTA app on his iPhone.
Sean Solomon checks the SEPTA app on his iPhone.
An inbound SEPTA local pauses at Overbrook station. The shinny silver train makes for a dynamic subject, but does this convey the spirit of Overbrook? Lumix LX-7 photo on July 1, 2014.
An inbound SEPTA local pauses at Overbrook station. The shiny silver train makes for a dynamic subject, but does this convey the spirit of Overbrook? Lumix LX-7 photo on July 1, 2014.
An eastward Amtrak Keystone passes Overbrook Tower. The signal displays Approach Medium. Canon EOS 7D photo.
An eastward Amtrak Keystone passes Overbrook Tower. The signal displays Approach Medium. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Cab car trailing. Remember the Metroliner? Long gone, but the cab cars survive—for now.
Cab car trailing. Remember the Metroliner? Long gone, but the cab cars survive—for now.
An outbound Silverliner IV accelerates away from Overbrook after 8pm on July 1, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
An outbound Silverliner IV accelerates away from Overbrook after 8pm on July 1, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.

Tomorrow, Happy Birthday to Tracking the Light!

Overbrook Part II to follow.

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Amtrak Keystone Catches the Sun at Wayne.

The Last Twinkle of Glint.

On June 30, 2014, Pat Yough and I arrived at SEPTA’s Wayne Station minutes before sunset. We’d already spent a productive afternoon and evening catching the evening rush-hour on the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line.

I was interested by the ‘around the corner’ light effect west of Wayne. The nearest eastward SEPTA train was half an hour away. Thankfully, this Amtrak Keystone arrived before the sunset.

Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens set at ISO 400, f9 at 1/500th of a second. White balance set to ‘daylight’ to avoid allowing the camera to balance for sunset conditions which would have minimized the reddish-orange effect of sunset.
Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens set at ISO 400, f9 at 1/500th of a second. White balance set to ‘daylight’ to avoid allowing the camera to balance for sunset conditions which would have minimized the reddish-orange effect of sunset.

For this image, I’ve cropped the leading former Metroliner cab car, and focused on the trailing AEM-7 and Amfleet coaches. The AEM-7s are running on borrowed time and I was happy to make this simple graphic image of one of the old electrics.

Calculating exposure wasn’t easy. My initial guess for exposure was about a stop too bright. I manually dialed the f-stop downward as the train entered the frame and the glinting sun reflected back towards me.

I’ve made many images like this on slide film. Kodachrome was a particular good means of capturing the glint effect. Its combination of a black & white film base (using a traditional silver halide grain structure) plus a wide exposure latitude tended to produce excellent results.

This day, Pat exposed a slide on Fujichrome, but I was limited to using my digital cameras.

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Tracking the Light Daily Post: SEPTA at Bryn Mawr.

On the Main Line.

It was a bright afternoon on June 30, 2014, when Pat Yough & I arrived at Bryn Mawr. We’d been photographing the former Pennsylvania Main Line west of Philadelphia.

Bryn Mawr is a Welsh name. Pronunciation is tricky. It’s a great place to photograph the evening rush hour. The station is relatively open. The tracks come up a slight ascending grade, and since there’s a set of crossovers, there’s no fences between tracks that make for unobstructed images of westward trains.

SEPTA AEM-7 2302 leads an outbound rush hour stopping train at Bryn Mawy on June 30, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA AEM-7 2302 leads an outbound rush hour stopping train at Bryn Mawr on June 30, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
Panned view of SEPTA AEM-7 2302 westbound at Bryn Mawr on June 30, 2014. Lumix LX7 view.
Panned view of SEPTA AEM-7 2302 westbound at Bryn Mawr on June 30, 2014. Lumix LX7 view.
SEPTA Silverliner Vs approach Bryn Mawr on June 30, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA Silverliner Vs approach Bryn Mawr on June 30, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.

To the west of the station is the old Pennsylvania Railroad interlocking tower. It’s in sad shape, but survives as a reminder of the old order.

We spent about an hour here in nice light before working further west.

SEPTA Silverliner Vs catch the glint at Bryn Mawr on June 30, 2014.
SEPTA Silverliner Vs catch the glint at Bryn Mawr on June 30, 2014.
Close-up of SEPTA Silverliner Vs at Bryn Mawr on June 30, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo with 200mm lens.
Close-up of SEPTA Silverliner Vs at Bryn Mawr on June 30, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo with 200mm lens.
Close-up of SEPTA Silverliner Vs at Bryn Mawr on June 30, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo with 200mm lens.
SEPTA Silverliner Vs depart Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on the evening of  June 30, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo with 200mm lens.

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America’s Shortest Passenger Branch.

Not as long as it used to be.

NJ Transit's Dinky approaches Princeton Junction on June 30, 2014.
NJ Transit’s Dinky approaches Princeton Junction on June 30, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.

There’s something fascinating about a branch line. A single meandering track, often built for the single purpose of linking an important town or industry with the mainline. Branch lines are simple railroads; light appendages; feeder lines.

Once upon a time branch line passenger trains were part of the fabric of American transportation. A single engine and coach might traverse the line several times daily to meet through trains on the mainline. The conductor on the branch was a friendly chap who may have worked the line for years.

Mainline conductor directs passengers to the Dinky at Princeton Junction on June 29, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200 mm lens.
Mainline conductor directs passengers to the Dinky at Princeton Junction on June 29, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200 mm lens.
The Dinky arrives at Princeton Junction on June 29, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
The Dinky arrives at Princeton Junction on June 29, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.
Take spin, it isn't very far. Lumix LX7.
Take spin, it isn’t very far.
Lumix LX7.
View from the Dinky towards a Trenton-bound train on the mainline. Lumix LX7 photo.
View from the Dinky towards a Trenton-bound train on the mainline. Lumix LX7 photo.
Princeton Junction on June 30, 2014.
Princeton Junction on June 30, 2014.

New Jersey Transit’s Princeton Branch is the shortest regular scheduled branch passenger train in the United States. A pair of electric EMU’s scuttle back and forth on the train to connect with the Northeast Corridor at Princeton Junction.

Until a few months ago, the branch served a handsome old station in Princeton. But the ever wise transportation visionaries decided this was too good to continue and forced a trimming of the line, moving its terminus further from downtown. It’s an old story, new again.

End of track near Princeton. The short branch was made even shorter. Exposed with a Lumix LX7 on June 30, 2014.
End of track near Princeton. The short branch was made even shorter. Exposed with a Lumix LX7 on June 30, 2014.
Not everyone is impressed by Princeton's latest improvement. A pen-wielding pundit wrote 'The Princeton Buck Stops Here.'
Not everyone is impressed by Princeton’s latest improvement. A pen-wielding pundit wrote ‘The Princeton Buck Stops Here.’

Someone said something about it being cheaper to run a bus? Better than an electric train?

Might the Princeton Dinky join the hundreds of other branch American services that once dotted the pages of the official guide? There’s always that nefarious illusion of ‘progress’ often offered as the explanation for ill-minded change.

NJT_Ticket_Princeton_P1000192

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Smiles at Princeton Junction on June 29, 2014.
Smiles at Princeton Junction on June 29, 2014.

Princeton Junction, New Jersey, June 29, 2014.

Views on the Long Tangent.

The former Pennsylvania Railroad at Princeton Junction is on an exceptionally long level tangent and on fast track. A headlight appears as a twinkle. Minutes pass. The rails begin to sing and the catenary starts to resonate. Then a train blasts by at more than 100 mph!

Amtrak's Acele Express blasts through Princeton Junction at more than 100mph. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7.
Amtrak’s Acele Express blasts through Princeton Junction at more than 100mph. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7.

It was here that my father captured the United Aircraft TurboTrain on trial at speed back in the 1960s.

Princeton Junction is also where you can switch to the ‘Dinky’, which traverses NJ Transit’s shortest branch (recently made even shorter) to Princeton.

Old Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals (modified with color aspects) remain standard on the Northeast Corridor. Exposed using a Canon 7D with 200mm lens.
Old Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals (modified with color aspects) remain standard on the Northeast Corridor. Exposed using a Canon 7D with 200mm lens.
On the evening of July 29, 2014, an Amtrak Keystone train approaches Princeton Junction. The old PRR tower is on the right. An eastbound Keystone from Harrisburg was bearing down at the same time. The two trains passed at the station with a closing speed of more than 200 mph!
On the evening of June 29, 2014, an Amtrak Keystone train approaches Princeton Junction. The old PRR tower is on the right. An eastbound Keystone from Harrisburg was bearing down at the same time. The two trains passed at the station with a closing speed of more than 200 mph!
Think fast and act faster; I had only a few moments to turn around and catch this running meet between Amtrak Keystone trains. Both are moving at more than 100 mph!
Think fast and act faster; I had only a few moments to turn around and catch this running meet between Amtrak Keystone trains. Both are moving at more than 100 mph!
An NJ Transit train from New York Penn Station pauses on the platform at Princeton Junction. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
An NJ Transit train from New York Penn Station pauses on the platform at Princeton Junction. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
An eastbound New Jersey Transit train from Trenton glides toward Princeton Junction. Since track 1 is out of service, passenger will board from platform extensions to track 2. The fading light of this June evening made for an atmospheric image on the busy North East Corridor. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
An eastbound New Jersey Transit train from Trenton glides toward Princeton Junction. Since track 1 is out of service, passenger will board from platform extensions to track 2. The fading light of this June evening made for an atmospheric image on the busy North East Corridor. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Tomorrow, Tracking the Light takes a spin on the Dinky!

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Anniversary of a Last Run

Photo of a Photo, June 29, 2014

Print of George W. Kowanski made by Richard Jay Solomon from a digital file that I exposed one year earlier to the day.
Print of George W. Kowanski made by Richard Jay Solomon from a digital file that I exposed one year earlier to the day.

On the first anniversary of his final run, retired locomotive engineer George W. Kowanski holds a photo that I made of him in front of his locomotive at Grand Central Terminal minutes before he took the throttle for the last time.

George holds a copy of my latest book, ‘The Twilight of Steam.’
George holds a copy of my latest book, ‘The Twilight of Steam.’

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New York Penn-Station, June 2014.

A Difficult Place.

Once upon a time, long long ago, Pennsylvania Railroad’s New York City terminal was among the world’s greatest railway stations.

Its architecturally enlightened design cleverly blended classical motifs and modern engineering on a colossal scale. Electrified lines brought long distance trains directly into the station. It was beautiful and functional.

Fifty one years ago the wrecking balls put an end to the fairy tale. Although, from what I’m told, in its last years the old Penn-Station was a tired, tatty vestige of its earlier days. Yet, New Yorkers were justly disgusted when the Pennsylvania Railroad ruined its once-glorious gateway to the city.

Madison Square Garden, which as someone famously pointed out, is neither! Pennsylvania Station is below.
Madison Square Garden, which as someone famously pointed out, is neither! Pennsylvania Station is below.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

Penn_Station_P1050568

In its place, PRR built the present uninspired maze of passageways and escalators. I find it more confusing than Heathrow Airport. It looks something like mall, feels a bit like an overgrown bus terminal, and seems to have very little to do with railways until you descend into its bowels to hastily board a train.

In June, I decided I’d try to make some photos of the place. After all, it is Amtrak’s busiest station, thus noteworthy.

Philadelphia you say? I'll give it a shot!
Philadelphia you say? I’ll give it a shot!
Penn-Station was mobbed with railway passengers, all trying to get someplace.
Penn-Station was mobbed with railway passengers, all trying to get someplace.

Penn_Station_departure_boards_P1050488

 

Penn_Station_P1050483

Brass railings, a vestige of earlier times. Drop down into the roar and odors that characterize New York Penn-Station and board a train for New Jersey! (That's what I did).
Brass railings, a vestige of earlier times. Drop down into the roar and odors that characterize New York Penn-Station and board a train for New Jersey! (That’s what I did).

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Times Square Shuttle

One of the World’s Shortest Subway Routes.

Lumix LX-7 photo at Grand Central of the New York City Transit Authority's Times Square Shuttle.
Lumix LX-7 photo at Grand Central of the New York City Transit Authority’s Times Square Shuttle.

I was making my way from Grand Central toward Penn-Station and took a few minutes to photograph New York City’s famous Times Square Shuttle using a Lumix LX-7.

Although I’ve been making subterranean photos since the 1970s, I find that the digital photographic medium makes the process much easier, and my results generally are better.

In the 1990s, I made many New York City subway photos using a Nikon F3T with Ektachrome 200 and various filter combinations to compensate for artificial light conditions.

Calculating exposure was difficult, and despite the filtration my color balance was never 100 percent.

For these images, I set the camera for 400 ISO, selected the ‘A’-mode (Aperture priority) and set the aperture to f2.0, dialed in +1/3 exposure compensation (my standard override for interior photos), and allowed the camera’s auto-white balance take care of the artificial light.

Times Square, New York.
Times Square, New York.

NYCTA_GCT_Times_Sq_Shuttle_P1050466

New York subway's tiled signs are a vestige of another era. After leaving the Times Square Shuttle I made my way to a change of trains to bring me south to 34th Street.
New York subway’s tiled signs are a vestige of another era. After leaving the Times Square Shuttle I made my way to a change of trains to bring me south to 34th Street.

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Grand Central Terminal, New York City.

Tribute to the Golden Age of American Railroads.

GCT_interior_P1050416

America’s most famous station, New York Central’s crown jewel, and in 2014, a great place to photograph; that’s Grand Central Terminal. It was also my gateway to Manhattan in late June.

I’d taken Metro-North from New Haven.

Metro_North_closeup_GCT_P1050389

Metro_North_platform_GCT_P1050390

When I arrived, I had a few minutes to re-explore the station and make a few photographs. I wasn’t alone in that regard. It seemed like everywhere I turned there were people aiming iPhones, or staring through the viewfinder of cameras.

GCT_interior_information_desk_P1050438

GCT_interior_P1050412

GCT_interior_P1050399

GCT_vert_flag_P1050447

The vast space of Grand Central’s main concourse with its trademark information desk and celestial ceiling makes for a compelling urban scene. It’s makes for complete contrast to New York Penn-Station’s maze of uninspired passageways that looks more like a run-down 1970s-era shopping mall or bus terminal. I was heading there next, by subway.

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GCT_Departure_boards_P1050445

 

Tracking the Light Mystery Photo!

Can You Tell Where This Is?

(if you’re viewing via Facebook, you’ll need to click to see the whole image).

Brian Solomon photo.
Brian Solomon photo.

I thought I’d try something a little different today! I used to be fascinated by David P. Morgan’s impossible photo puzzles in TRAINS. I sifted through a bunch of photos, and I selected this one as my puzzle. (A few months back, I included another puzzle, however it was so opaque that most viewers didn’t even notice! So much for subtlety!)

Leave a comment (comments feature is toward the bottom of the post) if you think you know the location of the photo (be as specific as you dare). If you are really clever, you can include the approximate date of exposure! Or you may wonder in silence.

I’ve deliberately left in several visual cues that should make this something less than impossible to identify. Here’s a tip: it’s not in Germany! (or Ireland!) 🙂 Another tip? Something useful? Reminds me of a comic.

Stay tuned! I’ll post the location and names of any lucky guessers at a later date. (If you don’t want your name listed, use a pseudonym.)

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Powell and Mason Car on Columbus Avenue.

San Francisco May 1994.

Cable Car on Columbus, exposed on Kodachrome in 1994.
Cable Car on Columbus, exposed on Kodachrome in 1994.

This isn’t your typical cable car image. Where photographers, myself included, have often focused on San Francisco’s exceptionally steep hills, where cars appear to cling precariously to tracks, instead I’ve tried to make the most of one of more level sections of the cable car system.

I exposed this on Kodachrome 25 this using my old Nikormat FT3 with a secondhand Tokina 400mm lens.

This exceptionally long telephoto was very sharp but had very shallow depth of field. I used this quality to set background highway traffic, include some MUNI Trolley buses, out of focus, thus helping the viewer concentrate on the main subject—the famous cable car.

Although a simple image, there’s a lot to see in it. Despite my use of selective focus, the path of the cable car track (with its trademark central conduit) leads the eye beyond the car and around the corner toward Powell Street.

Aiding my effort was the rich afternoon sun for which San Francisco is often blessed. There’s an exceptionally pleasant quality to Bay Area sunshine that is best experienced in person, but has made for a great many photographic opportunities. I miss that quality of light when I’m not there!

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Tracking the Light Daily Post: Mixed Pair at Ennis, County Clare.

Dusk, May 18, 2003.

By this date it was unusual to find pairs of small GMs working passenger trains in Ireland. Mixed pairs (dual-cab 141/181s and single-cab class 121s) were even stranger, but not unheard of.

I was in position on the platform at Ennis to catch the arrival of this Gaelic Athletic League special that ran with 134 and 163 and a set of Mark II carriages. The crew wasted little time in running around the train in preparation for returning the empty train to Limerick.

Irish_Rail_GAA_special_at_Ennis_163_134_18May2003_Brian Solomon 234338
Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia 100 with a Contax G2 Rangefinder fitted with a 28mm Zeiss Biogon lens.

I had only a few minutes to make this image of the locomotives on the Limerick-end of the train before it departed. If you look carefully, you can set a shunter coupling the locomotives to the carriages.

I’ve always like the effect of dusk in this image. For me it serves as both a graphic and a symbolic role. However, I’m not completely satisfied with the composition. The orange cone in the foreground is distracting and the radio mast at the far right annoys me.

As I recall, I didn’t have time to refine my angles. Before I could relocate, the driver sounded the horn, throttled up and was on his way!

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Tracking the Light Daily Post: German Tram-Train at Dusk

Karlsruhe, Germany, May 2011.

Dawn and dusk are great times to make urban images where there’s a mix of natural and artificial light.

The reduced amount of daylight and the change in color temperature helps control contrast, simplifies exposure, while making for a more dramatic image.

I exposed this view of a tram train under the shed at Karlsruhe on the evening of May 11, 2011 using my Lumix LX-3.

The Germany tram train system allows specially designed light rail cars to share tracks with mainline trains. The system greatly benefits passengers and maximizes the use of the railway network.
The Germany tram train system allows specially designed light rail cars to share tracks with mainline trains. The system greatly benefits passengers and maximizes the use of the railway network.

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Tomorrow: Dusk and an annoying cone!

 

Holyoke; Railroading in a Post Industrial Environment

 June 22, 2014.

Back in the 1980s, I’d buy my film at Frantek in South Hadley, and then return via Holyoke, where I’d almost always find the Boston & Maine switching. Back then the old Connecticut River line was busy with through and local trains.

On a typical day, there would be between three and four freights daily, plus the nocturnal Amtrak Montrealer.

Holyoke itself generated a fair amount of traffic, and the yard there was always full of cars. Pioneer Valley Railroad interchanged with B&M at the south end of the yard. During the day it wasn’t uncommon to find one of PVRR’s EMC SW1s or Alcos working Holyoke industrial trackage.

The old Boston & Maine station at Holyoke, one of a handful of surviving railroad stations designed by noted architect H.H. Richardson (also responsible for the station in Palmer, Massachusetts, which is routinely featured in Tracking the Light.) Canon EOS 7D photo.
The old Boston & Maine station at Holyoke, one of a handful of surviving railroad stations designed by noted architect H.H. Richardson (also responsible for the station in Palmer, Massachusetts, which is routinely featured in Tracking the Light.) Canon EOS 7D photo.

 

Vestiges of Holyoke Yard on June 22, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Vestiges of Holyoke Yard on June 22, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.