New Book! Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals

For me writing books is a never ending process. The other day, while working feverishly to finish my current project A Field Guide to Trains, FedEx called by and delivered my latest published work.

cover photo supplied by Blaine Harrington III/Alamy.
cover photo supplied by Blaine Harrington III/Alamy.

Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals covers many of my favorite railway stations in the United States and abroad. It represents more than 30 years of my photography and includes photos by my father, Richard Jay Solomon, as well as those made by Tim Doherty, Pat Yough, Tom Kline, John Gruber, Doug Riddell and others.

Thanks to editor Todd Berger and project manager Alyssa Bluhm at Voyageur press for tying together all the pieces and sending me my advance copy.

The book should be available on October 1st, 2015 from the Quarto Publishing Group and Amazon.

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Irish Southern Steam 2016 Calendar available now!

This is the cover of the new Southern Steam calendar featuring Irish stream locomotives working in Munster.
This is the cover of the new Southern Steam calendar that features Irish stream locomotives working in Munster. Photo by George Norman©2015

I’m honored to have been included in the new Southern Steam 2016 Calendar put together by Ken Fox and Kevin Meany. My photo is August 2016. Buy the calendar and check it out (proceeds for charity).

Rather than spoil it for you, I’ve posted one of my outakes, an image I made in 2006 at Farranfore, Co. Kerry, rather than show you the image used in the calendar.

I exposed this view of locomotive 186 at Farranfore back in May 2006. Some of you may know of my personal connection with Farranfore. This is not the image in the calendar, but rather one made on the same trip a little later in the day. Buy the calendar, support the charity, check it out. Exposed using my Nikon F3 on Fujichrome.
I exposed this view of locomotive 186 at Farranfore back in May 2006. Some of you may know of my personal connection with Farranfore. This is not my image used in the calendar, but rather one made on the same trip a little later in the day. Buy the calendar, support the charity, check it out. Exposed using my Nikon F3 on Fujichrome.

The calendar for 2016 features photographs of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s steam operations in the Munster region. The Price is advertised as  €10.00 plus €3.00 for shipping. Please contact Ken Fox (railwaymad@hotmail.com) or Kevin Meany (kevinmeanydisplays@gmail.com) to order the calendar.

Proceeds from the calendar benefit the charity Pieta House (www.pieta.ie).

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Tram with a Rainbow—August 27, 2015.

Yesterday afternoon some unsettled weather blew through Dublin. In the course of less than an hour the sky went from blue to cloudy with rain showers and then back to blue.

Walking along the LUAS Red Line, I spotted an iridescent glow in the sky. It didn’t last long, but I thought I’d try to work with it.

 

As always, I had my LX7 handy.

Colour in the sky over Dublin.
Colour in the sky over Dublin.

Rainbow_with_LUAS_vert_P1300692

Trams run about every five minutes this time of day, so I made the most of my window.

To make the most of these photos I had to adjust contrast and saturation in Lightroom. I avoided the temptation to over do it. After all the rainbow should appear as I saw it. It didn’t need over-enhancement, just balance. I’ll write more about this subject later, but one of the great advancements of the digital age is the ability to control contrast in photos.

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Pennsylvania Railroad at Three Rivers—Five Years Ago!

It was on the afternoon of August 26, 2010 at Three Rivers, Massachusetts, that my father and I made photographs of a pair of restored Pennsylvania Railroad passenger cars that were being hauled by Amtrak 56 the northward Vermonter.

These were en route for use on a special excursion for a political candidate running for Vermont office. Two days later, we drove to the Georgia Highbridge south of St. Albans, Vermont and followed the special southward.

Amtrak 56 at Three Rivers with Pennsylvania Railroad passenger cars. Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D.
Amtrak 56 at Three Rivers with Pennsylvania Railroad passenger cars on August 26, 2010. Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D.

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611 with Rainbow Consist plus a Bus at Amherst.

That’s New England Central job 611. (A turn that runs from Brattleboro, Vermont to Palmer, Massachusetts).

All I want to know is what Emily Dickenson might say about all this? Hmmm?

PVTA bus crosses the old Central Vermont at Amherst, Massachusetts.
PVTA bus crosses the old Central Vermont at Amherst, Massachusetts.
Connecticut Southern 3771 leads NECR job 611 south at Amherst, Massachusetts on July 6, 2015. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Connecticut Southern 3771 leads NECR job 611 south at Amherst, Massachusetts on July 6, 2015. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Leased CEFX 1016 on its way to Providence & Worcester.
Leased CEFX 1016 on its way to Providence & Worcester.

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TRACKING the LIGHT EXTRA! Steam in the Gullet! RPSI No. 4 works the Marble City

At 10:54 am this morning (Sunday August 23, 2015) Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Marble City (Dublin Connolly to Kilkenny) led by engine number 4 made an impressive display working up the Gullet from Islandbridge Junction in Dublin.

Shortly before the arrival of the special, an Irish Rail ICR eased up to the bridge of signals. While this wasn’t what I anticipated, it makes for an interesting contrast in equipment.

Déjà vu? I think so.

Kudo’s to the RPSI and Irish Rail for running the train. I hope everyone on board has an enjoyable trip!

See: http://steamtrainsireland.com for details on up coming steam trips.

Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom lens. August 23, 2015.
Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom lens. August 23, 2015.
Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom lens. August 23, 2015.
Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom lens. August 23, 2015. Contrast and exposure modified in post processing.

With a few of the distant exposures, I found the camera struggled to pick an accurate focus point. However, by using the ‘continuous high’ setting I was able to make up for the problem by making a lot of photos in short bursts as the camera focused in-and-out. Steam can often fool autofocus (especially on dull days) and its important to be ready this degree of uncertainty when making photographs.

Tracking the Light posts new material every day!

Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom lens. August 23, 2015.
Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom lens. August 23, 2015.

Tracking the Light’s Classic Chrome Archive: Santa Fe at Port Chicago, California

While I’m on the road in late July 2015, I thought it would be nice to look back to August 1993. I made this view on the Santa Fe of an eastward GP60M at Port Chicago, California.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using an F3T with 35mm PC lens. Perspective control  made this angle possible.
Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using an F3T with 35mm PC lens. Perspective control made this angle possible.

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99 on the Trestle; This is about the Process.

Here is a sequence of three views made in rapid succession of Amtrak 99 on CSXT’s former Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac route at Neabsco, Virginia.

Making this photograph was a joint effort: I was traveling with Vic and Becky Stone and Pat Yough. Vic suggest the location, Pat drove the hired car, and I consulted the Amtrak schedules.

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Over the past three years in Tracking the Light, I’ve posted thousands of images. Yet, an underlying purpose of this site is the discussion of the process of making the photos.

It would be easy enough to simply display wonderful calendar quality images, but I’m hoping to enlighten the reader with some of the background behind the photo.

Occasionally a photograph comes easily; by sheer dumb luck an opportunity will present itself that makes for a stunning photograph. However, most of the time making interesting railway images requires research, patience and skill with the camera.

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Amtrak_99_at__Neabsco_VA_DSCF9147

I’ll continue to do my best with providing hints to the research, tips on how to more effectively use a camera, and bits of background behind the photographs. You are on your own when it comes to patience!

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Classic Chrome: NJ DOT E8s at South Amboy, New Jersey, December 1981.

Here’s one deep from the archive: I was traveling with my father and brother and we’d come to South Amboy to watch the engine change where E8s were replaced by venerable GG1 electrics on New York & Long Branch passenger trains (North Jersey Coast Line) running from Bay Head Junction to Pennsylvania Station, New York.

We got lost on the way down and ended up in a post-apocalyptic waterfront at Perth Amboy.

Finally, we were trackside at the South Amboy Station.

I exposed this Kodachrome 64 image using my Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar 
I exposed this Kodachrome 64 image using my Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar. I’ve made some necessary adjustments using Adobe Lightroom to compensate for nominal under exposure and the contrast limitations of the original image.

Here’s a slightly improved variation: It should have a bit more ‘snap’ (contrast in shadows).

NJDOT_E8A_at_South_Amboy_NJ_Dec1981MOD2©Brian_Solomon_899761

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Weather and Spoil; Making Something out of Not Much—read on . . .

 

A few days ago, I stood with Colm O’Callaghan and Ciarán Cooney at the foot bridge near Cherry Orchard west of Dublin.

The most elusive of all Irish Rail trains was on the move. To the uninitiated, the spoil train might seem a fool’s prize, but to the regular hunter and the connoisseur of the obscure, catching the spoil train is about as good as it gets.

As we waited the weather deteriorated. By the time the train came into view we had just about the worst possible lighting: heavy cloud directly overhead but bright bland sky in the distance and no way of minimizing the horizon. In other words, the lighting was too flat on the subject, but way too contrasty (and bright) in the distance.

With black and white film, I’d have over-exposed my negative by ½ to 1 full stop and then carefully processed it by under-developing by about 30 percent. (Shortening up my time). Then I’d selenium tone the negative, and when printing plan on some intensive dodging and burning. In the end, I have a series of dodgy looking prints that I’d probably never show to anyone, except under duress.

Instead, I exposed this image digitally using my Panasonix LX7. Gauging exposure with histogram, I ignored the advice of the camera meter, and did my best to avoid clipping the highlights, while avoiding total under-exposure.

Then, using Adobe Lightroom I experimented by trying replicate the scene using digital manipulation. Each of the following photos represent various attempts of making something out what would ordinarily go into the bin (trash).

The first photo is the un-manipulated RAW, the others show various degrees of adjustment.

Other than scaling the RAW file as a Jpeg for presentation, I've not altered the image. As I've explained, the lighting conditions were pretty awful. Pity Irish Rail couldn't have waited for nicer light to run the train.
Other than scaling the RAW file as a Jpeg for presentation, I’ve not altered the image. As I’ve explained, the lighting conditions were pretty awful. Pity Irish Rail couldn’t have waited for nicer light to run the train.
This is my first attempt at 'fixing' the photo. I've altered the contrast to lighten shadows and reclaim detail in the highlights, but I've also pumped up the colour saturation and used the 'vibrance' slider to alter the tonality. To my eye it looks a bit fake, but it only took about 30 seconds to achieve with Lightroom.
This is my first attempt at ‘fixing’ the photo. I’ve altered the contrast to lighten shadows and reclaim detail in the highlights, but I’ve also pumped up the colour saturation and used the ‘vibrance’ slider to alter the tonality. To my eye it looks a bit fake, but it only took about 30 seconds to achieve with Lightroom.
This is probably my best effort, but require substantially more time. I've used overlapping digitally applied gradated neutral density filters to better balance the sky and shadow areas in addition to global adjustments to highlights and saturation. At least this is a presentable photograph.
This is probably my best effort, but required substantially more time. I’ve used overlapping digitally applied gradated neutral density filters to better balance the sky and shadow areas in addition to global adjustments to highlights and saturation. At least this is a presentable photograph.
This is an over the top version. I've pushed the limits of exposure manipulation so the sky looks something in a dodgy advertisement. It does show the level of detail that was recorded by my LX7's RAW file. The information is there, it just needs to be processed.
This is an over the top version. I’ve pushed the limits of exposure manipulation so the sky looks like something in a dodgy advertisement. It does show the level of detail that was recorded by my LX7’s RAW file. The information is there, it just needs to be processed.
This is the most manipulated version, with no less than three applications of gradated neutral density filters, as well as both localized and global contrast and exposure adjustment, plus saturation enhancement. To me the colors look like a cheap early 20th century hand-tinted postcard. All that's missing is the 'Welcome to Cherry Orchard' greeting on the back. I'm not endorsing this attempt, I'm showing a degree of manipulation.
This is the most manipulated version, with no less than three applications of gradated neutral density filters, as well as both localized and global contrast and exposure adjustment, plus saturation enhancement. To me the colors look like a cheap early 20th century hand-tinted postcard. All that’s missing is the ‘Welcome to Cherry Orchard’ greeting on the back. I’m not endorsing this attempt, I’m showing a degree of manipulation.

Which of these do you like the most?

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Irish Rail Weedsprayer at Heuston Station—18 August 2015—Three Photos.

At 9:50 am, Irish Rail 074 led the weed spraying train out of the old Guinness sidings at Heuston and headed down the Cork line.

Clear skies made for nice weather. Not everyday is as nice. Tomorrow Tracking the Light examines what to do with photos made in dismal conditions . . .

Stay tuned!

18 August 2015, Dublin. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
18 August 2015, Dublin. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
18 August 2015, Dublin. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
18 August 2015, Dublin. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Using a 18-135mm zoom lens allowed me to change focal lengths quickly as the train moved forward.
Using a 18-135mm zoom lens allowed me to change focal lengths quickly as the train moved forward.

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Soviet Flashback

Yesterday I posted a few photos of the Helsinki-Moscow sleeper Leo Tolstoi, which reminded me of some photos I made on a visit to Tallinn, Estonia back in 2002.

At the time, second-hand General Electric C30-7As and C36-7s were being delivered from the USA to supplant Soviet Era M62 diesels.

I thought the old Soviet machines were pretty cool.

Exposed on Fujichrome slide film using a Contax G2 rangefinder.

Builders plate on a M62 diesel.
Builders plate on a M62 diesel.
Why do I keep thinking Timken's Four Aces? ERV's Soviet-era M62 1111 poses for a portrait at Tallinn, Estonia in July 2002.
Why do I keep thinking Timken’s Four Aces? EVR’s Soviet-era M62 1111 poses for a portrait at Tallinn, Estonia in July 2002.

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Leo Tolstoi—Moscow Sleeper

Moscow_sleeper_departure_board_P1300023MOD1

This train is a bridge between east and west, connecting the Finnish and Russian capitals.

It was a dreary evening at Helsinki Central when Markku Pulkkinen and I exposed photos of this unusual passenger train.

The  car behind the Finnish Sr1 electric locomotive is an auto-carrier for Russian automobiles (presumably the expensive imported kind with darkened windows).

Appropriately a Soviet-built Sr1 electric leads the Leo Tolstoi at Helsinki.
Appropriately a Soviet-built Sr1 electric leads the Leo Tolstoi at Helsinki.
An old school heavy sleeping car in modern paint.
An old school heavy sleeping car in modern paint.
Detail of the diner.
Detail of the diner.

Russian_diner_P1300019MOD1

Exposed using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.

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Freshly Painted Enterprise 8208 on Irish Rail’s IWT Liner.

Prelude: on Friday, August 14, 2015, General Motors-built 201-class 8208 worked the Dublin to Ballina IWT liner. I’d photographed that move on the quad-track near Cherry Orchard.

I was interested in this recently painted locomotive, which, of-course, is styled for the Dublin-Belfast express passenger service, and not freight.

Day of action: On Saturday, I saw reports of 8208 working the up-IWT liner. This was an otherwise dull afternoon. I crossed the War Memorial Park on foot. No Vikings with their long boats today.

I found my spot, and was poised at the Con Colbert Road bridge over the three track-line in a cutting (known colloquially as ‘the Gullet’). Moments before the liner appeared, the sun briefly emerged from the clouds. Lucky me! And so this Saturday-freight eased up to the ‘Bridge of Signals’ giving me plenty of time to expose photographs.

First, I made a few strategically composed color slides with my Canon EOS 3 with 100mm lens, then exposed some digital photos with my Lumix LX7

Saturday 15 August 2015; Lumix LX7 digital photograph.
Saturday 15 August 2015; Lumix LX7 digital photograph.
Saturday 15 August 2015; Lumix LX7 digital photograph.
Saturday 15 August 2015; Lumix LX7 digital photograph.

Not bad for few minutes away from the computer on a weekend afternoon.

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Irish Hotspot: Drogheda—16 photos

On August 10, 2015, David Hegarty and I visited Drogheda, where Irish Rail’s Navan Branch meets the Northern Line.

It was our second visit in two days.

In recent years, I’d been dismissive of the Northern Line as being bland. But, I’ve seen the error of my ways.

In just a couple hours we were treated to a steady parade of trains, and this offered just about the best variety of equipment as anyone can expect to see in modern day Ireland.

The highlight of the day was the arrival of the weed-spraying train, which needed to run around, and the propel back to access the branch.

Shortly after we arrived, a laden Tara mines train pulled into view at the end of the branch. The electric DART cars were at the depot for servicing.
Shortly after we arrived, a laden Tara mines train pulled into view at the end of the branch. The electric DART cars were at the depot for servicing.
29000-series railcars take the switch for platform 3.
29000-series railcars take the switch for platform 3.
Hooray! The weed-spraying train as arrived from Dundalk.
Hooray! The weed-spraying train as arrived from Dundalk.
Engine 074 has cutoff and will run around its train in preparation for a run to Navan on the branch.
Engine 074 has cutoff and will run around its train in preparation for a run to Navan on the branch.
A Dublin-bound set of 29000 railcars in the new livery has just departed the station.
A Dublin-bound set of 29000 railcars in the new livery has just departed the station.
The sun came out as the weed-spraying train reversed.
The sun came out as the weed-spraying train reversed.
Irish Rail 233 leads the down Enterprise toward Belfast.
Irish Rail 233 leads the down Enterprise toward Belfast. The weedsprayer waits to crossover.
The chevrons on the front of 074 have been a trademark of the weedspraying train for decades.
The chevrons on the front of 074 have been a trademark of the weedspraying train for decades.
The sprayer is doing its thing as it heads toward Navan.
The sprayer is doing its thing as it heads toward Navan.
Fresh bit of sun on the railcar depot.
Fresh bit of sun on the railcar depot.
Eventually that Tara train will have to move.
Eventually that Tara train will have to move.

Our vantage point was the lightly travel road bridge south of the railway station. During our visit there were more dogs across the bridge than cars.

Drogheda is nicely oriented for sun-lit photography through out most of the day. This is the location of a railcar depot (maintenance facility), so in addition to mainline moves, there was considerable activity at the depot, which include the washing of trains.

As with many busy places, the action seemed to come in waves.

Watching the railcars get washed provided a bit of entertainment.
Watching the railcars get washed provided a bit of entertainment.
I like the new green livery. What do you think?
I like the new green livery. What do you think?
More fresh green 29000s on the move.
More fresh green 29000s on the move.
Finally! The sounds of an EMD 645 engine, and here's the laden Tara mines train on the move. It carries zinc ore to Dublin port.
Finally! The sounds of an EMD 645 engine, and here’s the laden Tara mines train on the move. It carries zinc ore to Dublin port.
Some NIR CAF-built 3001 series railcars are on their way back to Belfast.
Some NIR CAF-built 3001 series railcars are on their way back to Belfast.

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Locomotive Geometry: Rc6—an Electric Classic

The Swedish State Railways (Staten Järnväger, SJ) class Rc4, built by Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolag (ASEA), was the inspiration for Amtrak’s AEM-7 (assembled by EMD).

An advancement of the Rc4 is the Rc6 which was the pattern emulated in the ALP-44 used by NJ Transit.

In July, I made a study of SJ’s Rc6 electrics at Luleå, Sweden. These well maintained machines are a contrast to Amtrak’s surviving AEM-7s that are tired and battle-worn after three-decades of hard service racing up and down the Northeast Corridor.

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SJ_Rc6_1336_Lulea_P1290573MOD1

Some months ago, an Amtrak engineer confided to me, “I understand why you like these electrics, but I hate them. They’re worn out. The suspension is shot. The cabs are drafty.”

Amtrak 915 has been preserved at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. A few continue to work the Northeast Corridor. Most will end up as scrap. In the meantime, their Swedish cousins work electric lines across the country.

Amtrak 914 at Penn Station, New York in June 2015. Lumix LX7 photo.
Amtrak 914 at Penn Station, New York in June 2015. Lumix LX7 photo.
Rc6 in black.
Rc6 in black; imagine a PC noodle on this!

SJ_Black_Rc6_1396_P1290550MOD1Tracking the Light posts every day!

 

To the Station! Swedish Hotspot; Luleå.

This northern town is a port city on the Gulf of Bothnia where iron ore from mines north of the Arctic Circle is trans-loaded to ships. There’s a traditional passenger station that serves sleeping car trains that originate here for Stockholm and points south; a coach yard and sidings.

Markku Pulkkinen, Matti Mäntyvaara, Asko Räsänen and I arrived in early afternoon. We had lunch in the station restaurant and observed the action.

The combination of low-level platforms, ground-level switching activities to make up trains, and conventional locomotive hauled consists made for some proper old-school railroading! And that’s just the way we like it. Only the Kiruna-Narvik service appeared to be provided by a modern wedge-shaped electric multiple unit.

X-T1 panoramic composite of the second Stockholm  sleeper at Luleå.
X-T1 panoramic composite of the second Stockholm sleeper at Luleå.
X-T1 photo.
X-T1 photo.
Luleå is old school; traditional station building with restaurant, low level platforms, plus loco-hauled sleeping car trains with long consists of bogie carriages. All good. Long may it last.
Luleå is old school; traditional station building with restaurant, low level platforms, plus loco-hauled sleeping car trains with long consists of bogie carriages. All good. Long may it last.
Lumix LX7 photo of a sleeping car.
Lumix LX7 photo of a sleeping car.
Since I my visit in 2002, the local passenger service has been 'improved'. (The improvement is the wedge-shaped EMU at right.)
Since my visit in 2002, the local passenger service has been ‘improved’. (The improvement is the wedge-shaped EMU at left.)
An empty iron train led by IORE electrics (the most powerful on the planet) rolls through the station on its way north.
An empty iron train led by IORE electrics (the most powerful on the planet) rolls through the station on its way north.

The low northern sun provided some great light for photographs, and I made the most of our visit working with my FujiFilm X-T1 and Lumix LX7 to make digital photos.

I was bemused when a young British girl complained to her father when he went to make a photo of the Rc6 electric on a sleeping car train, ‘Daddy, don’t do that! Why do you make a photo of the train?’ Surely this child needs to be sent to camp for re-education! I blame the internet and/or television.

A track-level view of a Stockholm sleeper at Luleå. My FujiFilm X-T1's flip down screen and heads-up display with level makes it easy to take low angle photos of trains.
A track-level view of a Stockholm sleeper at Luleå. My FujiFilm X-T1’s flip down screen and heads-up display with level makes it easy to take low angle photos of trains.
It's a long way from Luleå to Stockholm by train.
It’s a long way from Luleå to Stockholm by train.
A second empty ore train rolls through Luleå. These big modern Bombardier-built electrics replaced the old Dm3 siderodders, but I'll forgive them for that.
A second empty ore train rolls through Luleå. These big modern Bombardier-built electrics replaced the old Dm3 siderodders, but I’ll forgive them for that—they’re still pretty impressive!
An Rc6 works the coach yard as the empty ore train heads northward to beyond the Arctic Circle.
An Rc6 works the coach yard as the empty ore train heads northward to beyond the Arctic Circle.
Modern high-capacity ore wagons are a contrast with the old six-wheel jennies from a century ago.
Modern high-capacity ore wagons are a contrast with the old six-wheel jennies from a century ago.
One of the classics is on display near the station. Luleå respects its heritage.
One of the classics is on display near the station. Luleå respects its heritage.

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Vintage Railway Equipment—a Dozen Images.

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In late July 2015, I traveled with Markku Pulkkinen, Matti Mäntyvaara and Asko Räsänen from Oulu, Finland to Luleå, Sweden. Among the goals of the trip was to visit the Norrbottens Järnvägsmuseum (Bothnia Railway Museum).

This has a great collection of preserved steam and electric locomotives, plus freight cars, passenger equipments and related displays. I made dozens of images of the historic equipment using my Lumix LX7.

I found it especially interesting to study the vintage electric locomotives up close. My favorites were the Dm3s, which I recall working iron ore trains to Narvik on my 2002 visit. I bought a Dm3 t-shirt at the museum’s gift shop.

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 wheel_P1290490MOD1Lulea_Museum_LKAB_Dm3_P1290300MOD1New_York_airbrake_Moscow_P1290304MOD1Lulea_Museum_SJ_railbus_outside_P1290441MOD1Lulea_Museum_SJ_railbus_outside_P1290458MOD1Lulea_Museum_SJ_railbus_outside_P1290447MOD1

Dm3 electric.
Dm3 electric.
Dm3 electric.
Dm3 electric.
Dm3 electric.
Dm3 electric.

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Trollhattan—the Swedish Juniata?
Trollhattan—the Swedish Juniata?

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Oh no, the vandals got the handle!
Oh no, the vandals got the handle!

Tracking the light has something new everyday!

See: http://www.nbjvm.se for more on the museum.

Helsinki Pub Tram—four photos.

Here’s a great concept that blends the conviviality of a pub with the rolling urban vistas provided by a streetcar.

Helsinki has a virtual maze of narrow-gauge tram tracks and the pub tram makes hourly circular tours. The car itself is one of the last non-articulated trams in regular service in the city and is painted a distinctive red.

Exposed in July 2015 with a Lumix LX7.
Exposed in July 2015 with a Lumix LX7.

On an earlier visit to Helsinki in 2002, I photographed the car, but was unable to ride because it had been booked for a charter. In July 2015, Markku Pulkkinen and I took a spin on this unusual railway vehicle. I think it is the only city tram that I’ve ever seen with a loo.

The pub tram is great way to see Helsinki. Every city should have one!

Exposed in July 2015 with a Lumix LX7.
Exposed in July 2015 with a Lumix LX7.

Pub_tram_interior_Markku_at_bar_P1300034MOD1Pub_tram_P1300031MOD1

Tracking the Light posts new photos daily!

 

15 Steam Photographs: RPSI trip to Drogheda and Dundalk on August 9, 2015.

I kept the cameras busy yesterday. I’ve altered the way I process my files. Rather than work from camera-shaped Jpgs, instead I’ve presented camera RAW files. With a few I applied a bit of contrast/exposure adjustment, but the others have just been scaled for internet presentation.

I exposed more than 500 images and haven’t, as of yet, had adequate time to digest this photographically intense experience.

Do you have any favorites among these photos?

RPSI_staff_DSCF4478

Upload near Near Mosney.
Uproad near Near Mosney.

RPSI_train_trailing_view_uproad_at_Mosney_DSCF4673

Downroad near Mosney.
Downroad near Mosney.
Dundalk.
Dundalk.
Tea!
Tea!

Signal_Drogheda_DSCF4504

Down Enterprise at Drogheda.
Down Enterprise at Drogheda.
Loco needs water, son.
Loco needs water, son.
Clock at Dundalk.
Clock at Dundalk.

RSPI_No4_LE_at_Drogheda_DSCF4719

Departing Drogheda; FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Departing Drogheda; FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Departing Drogheda; FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Departing Drogheda; FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Departing Drogheda; FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Departing Drogheda; FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Departing Drogheda; FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Departing Drogheda; FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

RPSI_4_at_Drogheda_trailing_DSCF4458

RPSI_herald_DSCF4642Tracking the Light posts new material daily!

See: http://steamtrainsireland.com

TRACKING The LIGHT EXTRA: RPSI Steam Special to Drogheda and Dundalk.

Today, Sunday 9 August 2015, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland in cooperation with Irish Rail operated a steam special from Dublin’s Connolly Station to Drogheda and Dundalk with locomotive number 4.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1; RAW File exported at a Jpg using Adobe Lightroom.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1; RAW File exported as a Jpg using Adobe Lightroom.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1; RAW File exported at a Jpg using Adobe Lightroom.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1; RAW File exported as a Jpg using Adobe Lightroom.

This was my first opportunity to photograph this classic locomotive in more than four years. Special thanks to everyone at the RPSI and Irish Rail who made today’s trips a success.

Stay tuned for more photos tomorrow!

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1; RAW File exported as a Jpg using Adobe Lightroom.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1; RAW File exported as a Jpg using Adobe Lightroom.

RPSI_carriage_at_Drogheda_DSCF4462

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For more information on the RPSI see: http://steamtrainsireland.com

Locomotive Geometry: Finland’s Class Dv12 in detail.

For more than a half century, Dv12 diesel hydraulics have worked Finland’s 1,524mm gauge lines. (Purists will note that in their first decade this type was classified as Sv12).

During my recent visit to Finland I was delighted to find many of these old diesels still on the move. Some have been painted in the new white with green livery, but others were struggling on in their traditional paint, albeit with a green splotch painted across the front.

The Dv12 is to Finland, what the GP9 was to America, and the 141/181 Class General Motors diesels are to Ireland.

A VR Class Dv12 at the yard in Oulu, Finland. Well-worn, but still working! Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
A VR Class Dv12 at the yard in Oulu, Finland. Well-worn, but still working in its traditional paint! Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Builders plate for VR 2533. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.
Builders plate for VR 2533. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.
Modern livery on an old machine. LX-7 Photo.
Modern livery on an old machine. LX-7 Photo.
LX-7 photo.
LX-7 photo.
The trucks are similar to those used by German lass 215-218 diesels.
The trucks are similar to those used by German  lass 215-218 diesels.
VR Dv12 2617 at Oulu. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
VR Dv12 2617 at Oulu. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Cab detail.
Cab detail.

These are just a few detailed views made of these classic locomotives.

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TRACKING THE LIGHT EXTRA—Loco 8209 in flashy paint on the 1100 to Cork.

Saturday, 8 August 2015: I made these photos a few minutes ago of locomotive 8209 in the new Enterprise livery working Irish Rail’s 1100 Mark 4 from Dublin Heuston to Cork.

It was nice to catch this brightly painted engine in the sunlight.

Saturday, 8 August 2015, engine 8209 with the 1100 to Cork passing Islandbridge Junction. Lumix LX7 photo.
Saturday, 8 August 2015, engine 8209 with the 1100 to Cork passing Islandbridge Junction. Lumix LX7 photo.
Saturday, 8 August 2015, engine 8209 with the 1100 to Cork passing Islandbridge Junction. Lumix LX7 photo.
Saturday, 8 August 2015, engine 8209 with the 1100 to Cork passing Islandbridge Junction. Lumix LX7 photo.

Tracking the Light posts new material every day!

 

Experiment in Digital File Adjustment: Helsinki Airport Train with Clouds in Four Variations.

If you are viewing this on Facebook or another 3rd party source, you’ll really need to click the link to get the full effect.

Yesterday on Tracking the Light, I mentioned how on the morning of 31 July 2015, Markku Pulkkinen, Sakari K. Salo, and Juhani Katajisto provided me a tour of the new Helsinki Airport line by car.

Mr. Salo selected this location as being one of the best places to try to get a plane and train in the same photo.

While this didn’t line up the way we’d hoped, the location did allow me to make a variety of dramatic photos. My challenge was in capturing a high-contrast scene digitally.

The sky was dressed with some impressive clouds. So how to best work with such a scene?

I opted to gauge my exposure to retain detail in the sky, while allowing for underexposure of the train. I intentionally included the array of electrical wires to show the advantages and disadvantages of various digital treatments.

With the following four images, the first is the un-manipulated camera ‘RAW’ file. The next three show various types of post-processing adjustment using Adobe Lightroom.

This view is a Jpg converted from the camera RAW file without any manipulation in post processing. All of the detail in the subsequent views exists in the camera RAW file. The challenge with the unmodified RAW file is holding sufficient detail in the shadow areas without blowing out the highlight. Ultimately I'm aiming to achieve balance. However, as you can see, it is easy enough to exaggerate the conditions of the seen to make a more dramatic image.
This view is a Jpg converted from the camera RAW file without any manipulation in post processing. All of the detail in the subsequent views exists in the camera RAW file. The challenge with the unmodified RAW file is holding sufficient detail in the shadow areas without blowing out the highlights. Ultimately I’m aiming to achieve balance. However, as you can see, it is easy enough to exaggerate the conditions of the seen to make a more dramatic image.
This is a simply modified version. All I did was adjust contrast using 'highlights' and 'shadows' sliders under the 'develop' section of Lightroom.  Doing so provides better contrast that more closely resembles the way the seen appeared to my eye.
This is a simply modified version. All I did was adjust contrast using ‘highlights’ and ‘shadows’ sliders under the ‘develop’ section of Lightroom. Doing so provides better contrast that more closely resembles the way the scene appeared to my eye.
To accentuate the effect of the sky and make a more dramatic image, I've used the graduated neutral density effect. This has an effect that digitally emulates the application of a two-stop gradated neutral density filter to the front of the camera. The effect is easily spotted by its treatment of the electrical pylons.
To accentuate the effect of the sky and make for a more dramatic image, I’ve used the graduated neutral density effect. This applies the effect that digitally emulates the application of a two-stop gradated neutral density filter to the front of the camera. The effect is easily spotted by its treatment of the electrical pylons.
In this fourth version, I've heavily manipulated contrast and exposure, and used both 'Clarity' and 'Saturation' sliders. To me, while the photograph has an impressive punch, it no longer resembles the scene. Such manipulation is relatively easy, thus owing to it being commonly applied to images today. Incidentally, you can apply the same techniques to photographs exposed on film.
In this fourth version, I’ve heavily manipulated contrast and exposure, and used both ‘Clarity’ and ‘Saturation’ sliders. To me, while the photograph has an impressive punch, it no longer resembles the scene as I saw it. Such manipulation is relatively easy, thus owing to it being commonly applied to images today. Incidentally, you can apply the same techniques to photographs exposed on film.

Back in the old days, I’d routinely make adjustments to contrast and exposure when I printed my black & white negatives. Often, I’d expose and process the film in anticipation of manipulation in the darkroom. (I’d also make prints from color slides using Cibachrome and Type R materials, but that’s a story for another day).

In effect, my digital manipulation of the RAW file is a modern interpretation of this traditional processing technique. I’ve not added anything to the original file, I’ve simply altered contrast, exposure, and color saturation using controls offered by the program.

 

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Helsinki Airport Train

In July, Helsinki’s new circular Airport service began, including operations on stretches of newly built track.

Firstly, I’ll admit complete failure on my part to experience the train on my arrival at Helsinki Airport. I was aware of the new service, and looking forward to riding it. However, I couldn’t find the train. I was told that I needed to take a bus to the station. So I bought a two-zone ticket, and when a bus arrived with the destination board reading ‘Helsinki Railway Station’ (or something like that), I got on.

I was halfway to Helsinki before I realized my mistake! Before I knew it, I’d been deposited at the Helsinki Central Station in the city center. This was a bitter defeat.

On the plus side the bus turned out to be considerably faster than the train.

Airport Train_-4044

A little more than a week later, I finally had opportunities to experience the new service. This is operated with Stadler Flirt electric multiple units.

Helsinki Airport train approaches Kivisto Station on 30 July 2015. This location was recommended by Sakari K. Salo who accompanied Markku Pulkkinen and I on a tour of the new line on 30 July 2015. (and again the next day by road). FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Helsinki Airport train approaches Kivisto Station on 30 July 2015. This location was recommended by Sakari K. Salo who accompanied Markku Pulkkinen and me on a tour of the new line on 30 July 2015 (and again the next day by road). FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

I made my first pass over the route on 30 July, 2015, and on the morning of 31 July 2015, Markku Pulkkinen, Sakari K. Salo, and Juhani Katajisto provided me a tour of the line by car.

Juhani Katajisto drove us to this line-side location to photograph the Airport train on 31 July 2015. FujiFilm  X-T1 photo.
Juhani Katajisto drove us to this line-side location to photograph the Airport train on 31 July 2015. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

Tomorrow, I’ll explore some necessary digital manipulation of an airport train photograph to demonstrate my experiments with Adobe Lightroom as a tool for making a photograph more effective.

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Helsinki’s Artic Tram—Hold the ‘C’.

  • While in Helsinki last month, I had several opportunities to photograph Transtech’s new Artic Tram prototypes, which were working the city’s streets in revenue service.

    These are state of the art Finnish trams that feature modern low-floors with advanced technologies and yet feature classic styling.

    Artic Tram at Helsinki Central. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7 on a rainy Wednesday morning.
    Artic Tram 401 at Helsinki Central. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7 on a rainy Wednesday morning.
    One of two Artic tram prototypes  in Helsinki, Finland. Exposed with my Fujifilm X-T1.
    One of two Artic tram prototypes in Helsinki, Finland. Exposed with my Fujifilm X-T1.
    The first two times I saw an Artic Tram I missed the opportunity to board. Snooze you lose. Exposed with my Fujifilm X-T1.
    The first two times I saw an Artic Tram I missed the opportunity to board. Snooze you lose. Exposed with my Fujifilm X-T1.
    On board Artic Tram prototype 402 in Helsinki. Exposed with my Fujifilm X-T1.
    On board Artic Tram prototype 402 in Helsinki. Exposed with my Fujifilm X-T1.
    Driver's cab on the 402. The Artic's are single ended. One of two Artic tram prototypes  in Helsinki, Finland. Exposed with my Fujifilm X-T1.
    Driver’s cab on the 402. The Artic’s are single ended. One of two Artic tram prototypes in Helsinki, Finland. Exposed with my Fujifilm X-T1.
    Three generations of trams in Helsinki. The Artic prototype is on the left.
    Three generations of trams in Helsinki. The Artic prototype is on the left.

    Transtech calls them Artics (that’s right.) I think they look pretty cool.

    For more information see: http://www.hel.fi/static/hkl/artic.pdf

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Massachusetts Central on a July Evening.

On the evening of July 6, 2015, I arrived in Palmer in time to find Mass-Central’s daily freight getting ready to head up the Ware River Line.

I relocated to a favorite location on the branch along Route 181 to make this image of the Mass-Central freight on the branch.

Exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera. 32 years ago, I made a photograph from a similar angle of Mass-Central 2100 working a freight.
Exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera. 32 years ago, I made a photograph from a similar angle of Mass-Central 2100 working a freight. Today the track has never looked so good on the branch!

Winter War Battle Sites.

On July 23, 2015, I traveled with Petri and Pietu Tuovinen, Markku Pulkkinen to central-eastern Finland to visit battle sites, trenches and monuments at the Raate Road near Suomussalmi.

Between November 1939 and March 1940, the Finns fought the Winter War to repel invading Soviet forces.

I exposed these images using my FujiFilm X-T1.

Winter War memorial; each stone represents a fallen soldier at the battle site.
Winter War memorial; each stone represents a fallen soldier at the battle site.
Bells toll in the wind at the Winter War memorial.
Bells toll in the wind at the Winter War memorial.
Russian propaganda.
Soviet  propaganda.
Ruins of a Soviet tank.
Ruins of a Soviet tank.
Vestiges of trenches near the Finnish-Russian frontier.
Vestiges of trenches near the Finnish-Russian frontier.
A panoramic composite image of restored  trenches near the Finnish-Russian frontier.
A panoramic composite image of restored trenches near the Finnish-Russian frontier.
Anti-tank defenses near the Finnish-Russian frontier.
Anti-tank defenses near the Finnish-Russian frontier.

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Finnish Sr2 electrics pause with an iron ore train.

Every so often a train stops in a photogenic location, which provides ample opportunity to make a variety of images.

Such was the case the other day, when Petri and Pietu Tuovinen, Markku Pulkkinen were providing me tour of greater Kontiomäki.

This pair of Finnish Sr2 electrics had brought a loaded iron ore train west from the Russian-border and were waiting for a path to continue toward Oulu at the junction with the electrified line at the west leg of the Kontiomäki triangle.

While the train was stopped, I used the moment to expose photographs with three cameras. These are a few angles made digitally with my FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less camera, and my pocket-size Lumix LX-7. The slides remain latent.

Exposed with my Lumix LX-7.
A very traditional three-quarter angle as exposed with my Lumix LX-7.
A tighter  three-quarter angle using my FujiFilm X-T1.
A tighter three-quarter angle using my FujiFilm X-T1.
Here I've featured a flower growing trackside. These purple flowers flourish in the Finnish countryside during the summer. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Here I’ve featured a flower growing trackside. These purple flowers flourish in the Finnish countryside during the summer. Lumix LX-7 photo.
How about an angle from the other side of the train? Lumix LX-7 photo.
How about an angle from the other side of the train? Lumix LX-7 photo.
A study of Finnish Sr2 electrics nose-to-nose. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
A study of Finnish Sr2 electrics nose-to-nose. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

Since the lighting was relatively even, my goal was to obtain the most impressive angle that features the contours and colours on the Sr2s. VR is in a transition from the older white and red livery to a new white with bright green scheme.

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Classic Chrome File: CSX on the former Water Level Route with Storm Clouds.

In September 2000 a thunderstorm was brewing over Lake Ontario when I exposed this silhouette of an eastward CSX freight descending Byron Hill at South Byron, New York.

The wonders of film! Could I have made this image digitally? Would it have captured the texture in the sky? Maybe with a lot of work in post processing. Back then it didn't matter, all I had was film and I was happy for it.
The wonders of film! Could I have made this image digitally? Would it have captured the texture in the sky? Maybe with a lot of work in post processing. Back then it didn’t matter, all I had was film and I was happy for it.

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Night Trains in Daylight!

Finland is a great place to make railway photographs. Two of my favorite features of the country are the long days of summer, (in late July the sun remains above the horizon to well after 10 pm), and the overnight sleeping car trains.

Low rich sun light and long unusual-looking consists of sleeping cars and auto-carriers make for many photographic possibilities.

During my visit three night trains served Oulu in each direction daily. These run between Helsinki and northern cities at Kemijärvi, Kolari, and Rovaniemi.

Not every evening is clear and bright. Too often it rains. But last Saturday evening the sky was free of clouds and the air was clear, making for nearly ideal conditions.

These views are of IC 266 (Rovaniemi – Helsinki) led by a pair of Soviet-built Sr1 electrics. At Oulu cars are added to the train using a Dv12 diesel, which provides ample time to make photographs of the train arriving and standing at the station.

VR overnight train IC 266 approaches Oulu, Finland on the evening of Jul 25, 2015.