Catching the light in Ireland can be a fleeting experience. Even on a bright day, cloud often covers the sky. Yet, sometimes luck shines on me. Such was the case last week when I made this photograph of the down Dublin-Cork Mark4 passenger train led by Irish Rail 215.
A brief wink of sun graced the front of the engine just as it approached.
It was seventeen years ago that I caught my first glimpse of the multiple-arch Kilnap viaduct from the window of a scheduled Bus Éireann coach running from Limerick to Cork.
On various occasions since then, I’ve travelled across Kilnap on trains running between Dublin and Cork.
On April 20th, thanks to the expert guidance of Irish Rail’s Ken Fox, I finally visited this noteworthy bridge on the ground and made these photographs. It is just a few miles from Cork’s Kent Station on the double-track Dublin-Cork mainline.
There are only a few places where the narrow gauge Bord na Mona crosses Irish Rail’s broad gauge lines.
If you ride from Dublin to Cork, you might catch a glimpse of the three-foot gauge tracks ducking under the mainline a ways west of the ‘Laoise Traincar Depot’ (where Irish Rail maintains its Intercity Railcar fleet).
Making successful photos of trains here is tricky. They sail along at 90mph and owing to the angle of the lines, there’s very little time to position the front of the train at the crossing point.
I set my Fuji X-T1 to ‘CH’ (continuous high), which automatically exposes a burst of images in rapid succession.
Owing to infrequent operations on the narrow gauge, it will be a challenge to try to score an ‘under-and-over’ image here. But at least that’s a goal for another day.
There’s an attraction to old machinery. For me it’s a mix of curiosity, nostalgia and the opportunity to get close and make photographs.
On April 19, 2015, some friends from Cork and I arrived by road at the Durrow Vintage Show in County Laois. This was held in field on the old Dublin-Cork main road. It was warm Irish morning with the promise of lots of sun.
While old cars and farm tractors represented most of the equipment on display, there were items of railway interest for the discerning eye.
Using my Fuji X-T1, I exposed dozens of images. This was a perfect opportunity to put the camera through its paces. Lots of visual interest, but not a lot of pressure on the photographer.
I’m always looking for an angle. A family outing on the Schuylkill River in September 2007 provided this opportunity. A SEPTA Silverliner IV glides across the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s Connecting Railway bridge.
In 1914, this massive arch over the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia replaced the original 1867 double-track bridge made of stone arches and a metal truss span. Today it carries Amtrak’s North East Corridor. Although it resembles the stone arches it replaced, it is actually a reinforced concrete arch faced with sandstone.
The tide was in. The sun was low and rich. The train was on time. I was poised at the popular overlook at Pinole, California. Dozens of scheduled Amtrak trains pass this point everyday, so on one level this was akin to ‘shooting fish in a barrel.’
Yet, the ease of photography here, facilitated by great weather, open varied scenery, and frequent operations, makes for a perfect opportunity to experiment and exposed different angles.
In this case, I’ve opted to make a clean, yet dramatic vertical image. Notice how I’ve left ample room on top for a magazine title, and space all around for cover blurbs (left or right) and the requisite bar code (typically located at lower right).
When I was working at Pentrex Publishing in the 1990s, we’d often reject potential dramatic photos as not suitable because there wasn’t room for the cover blurbs. But an absolute killer (that is, no chance for cover placement) was in situations where the bar code would fall on the front of a locomotive. Bar code placement was non-negotiable.
Would this make a good cover photo? I can’t say, but I was looking to fit the format when I exposed this slide in 2008.
From my classic Kodachrome file: it was on the evening of April 19, 1995 that I made this photo of a pair of Chicago & North Western GP9s assembling their train at Jefferson Junction, Wisconsin for the run up to Clyman Junction.
I used a low angle, but using my Nikkor 35mm perspective control (pc) lens, I adjusted the front element to hold the vertical lines in parallel, thus avoiding the unnatural looking parallax effect.
C&NW was just weeks away from being absorbed by Union Pacific. It was the end of an era. Hard to believe it was really 20 years ago!
My experience with the Brussels tram network spans nearly twenty years. This fascinating railway network involves a complex route structure with lots of track and several different types of trams.
Street photography has its fair share of challenges. Automobiles and pedestrians mingle with trams in ways that make it difficult to set up shots.
Further complicating matters is the sedate shades of silver and bronze now favoured by STIB (the transit operator), which I find difficult to photograph satisfactorily.
However, in addition to the regular tram livery are a large number of specially painted advertising trams and a handful of old PCCs in the earlier yellow livery, which certainly add a bit of colour to the fleet.
These photos were all exposed during one afternoon in late March 2015.
It was a typical late summer’s day at the top of Ballybrophy Bank on Irish Rail’s Dublin-Cork mainline in 2006.
I was expecting a procession of passenger trains down road (toward Cork). At the time there was still a good variety of intercity passenger stock and Irish Rail’s 201s were working in four different liveries. This was an opportunity to show the passage of trains.
Here, I’ve presented variation on a theme. I’d mounted my Nikon F3 with 105mm lens on Manfrotto 190PRO tripod. I kept the essential framing the same for each passing train, while making necessary changes to exposure reflecting the changes in light.
Notice how the quality of light and the position of the train changes the scene.
Normally when photographing moving trains, I’d adjust my framing, angle and the focal length of the lens to reflect changes in lighting, length of train, and the colour/shape of the leading engine as it specifically relates to background and foreground elements.
The effects of sunlight and contrast make a significant difference in the end result.
This year, I opted to take the DART to Bray and hike the cliff-walk around the head to make these views.
Despite clear skies and warm spring weather, wafting sea fog made for a challenging photographic conditions.
I made a point of photographing DART electric trains and Irish Rail’s intercity diesel railcars while in position for the steam special.
Shortly before locomotive 461 emerged from the tunnels near Brandy Hole, a cloud of fog rose to add a bit of atmosphere.
In addition to these digital photographs, I exposed a series of 35mm colour slides on Provia 100F using my Canon EOS-3 with 40mm pancake lens. The mix of stunning scenery, wafting fog and bright sun made for a spectacular backdrop for the annual special.
A rare sunny day in Dublin. So much for ‘April Showers’ and whatnot.
The telegraph comes to life: ‘The LWR appears ready to depart North Wall.’ Tea cup abandoned mid brew. A sprint to the usual spot.
Finally Irish Rail 072 appears with the empty long welded rail train and is blocked at Islandbridge Junction.
Photos made, and I march down to Heuston Station, board a LUAS tram for Spencer Dock, and walk toward the road bridge at the North Wall. A 201 sounds its horn. I pick up my pace and arrive in time to catch Irish 218 pulling forward with the day’s IWT Liner (for Ballina).
In the interval, the telegraph relays to me that the freshly painted Irish Rail 087 is reported on the Tara Mines-Dublin zinc train. On the previous day, the Tara Mines arrived at the North Wall at 11:40 am.
I keep a sharp eye on the old Great Northern line in the distance. A procession of passenger trains roll up and down the line. Finally, the glimmer of a gray 071. It’s the Tara Mines.
All photos exposed with a Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera and scaled for internet presentation.
Every morning Tracking the Light posts new material.
After four years out of traffic, Irish Rail class 071 number 087 is back! A visit to Cherryville Junction resulted in these sunlit photographs of the classic locomotive leading the DFDS Liner (a container that runs from Waterford to Ballina).
I exposed this sequence of images using my Fuji Film X-T1. In addition, I made a colour slide using Fuji Provia 100F in my old Nikon F3 with 50mm.
It’s become a tradition to visit Kildare on Good Friday. This day has a history of seeing a good number of freights as well as passenger trains.
Kildare offers a good place to photograph freights running between Waterford and Ballina, since trains need to reverse direction here owing to the lack of a direct connection in the westward direction at Cherryville Junction.
On Good Friday, April 3, 2015, there was the added bonus of a locomotive exchange for the laden timber. Locomotive 071 (the class leader) had come down from Inchicore in Dublin and waited for the arrival of the timber from Ballina (with engine 078).
Although the weather wasn’t the best, I had ample opportunity for photographs. All of these images were exposed between 10:48 and 12:08 am using my Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Tomorrow: Good Friday highlight, a freshly painted locomotive in freight service at Cherryville Junction.
My title may seem strange but it is descriptive: On March 29th, 2015, I visited the NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) station at Bergen op Zoom.
Working with my Fuji X-T1 fitted with an 18-135mm zoom lens (set to its maximum telephoto setting), I made this photo of an NS Verlengd InterRegio Materieel (VIRM) double-deck electric multiple unit arriving at the station.
Even on Sunday, NS provides a half-hour interval passenger service to Bergen op Zoom. The trains are clean, reliable and well patronized.
Among my recent book projects is an illustrated examination of railway station architecture to be published by Voyageur Press later this year. This is an excerpt of my text:
Today’s Antwerpen-Centraal is a blend of architect Louis de la Censerie’s elaborate and elegantly adorned station building and spacious balloon-style shed with two modern new levels. The lowest level provides through connections to the north. The original station opened in 1898, while the improved and expanded modern terminal reopened in 2007.
I revisited this railway wonder of the modern world at the end of March 2015. Yesterday I presented a few interpretive images, today I present an more literal collection of images.
On an evening last week, using my Lumix LX-7, I exposed this time exposure of Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges’s (Belgian National Railways or SNCB) Gare de La Hulpe.
This railway line is being transformed from double track mainline line to a quad track line to facilitate an improved suburban service akin to the Paris RER.
To make this image, I rested the camera on the bridge railing, exposed a pair of trial exposures to gauge the lighting conditions, then set the camera (shutter speed and aperture) manually to allow for sufficient exposure of the sky and shadow areas.
As previously mentioned on Tracking the Light, to make successful night photos it is important to give the scene sufficient exposure (usually 2/3s of a stop more than allocated by many built-in camera meter settings), while keep the camera steady for the duration of the exposure. Keeping flare to a minimum is also helpful.