Posted live from Dublin Bus. I’m on the 747 bus on the way to the airport. The Wednesday-only second IWT liner (Ballina to Dublin Port) just crossed the road. I had a perfect vantage point from my seat on the top deck.
I using my Lumix LX7, I exposed these views.
What fantastic luck!
Tracking the Light Posts Daily (but rarely from a bus)
A decade ago, David Hegarty and I made a project of photographing Irish Rail’s South Wexford line between Rosslare Strand and Waterford.
Sugar Beet traffic ended in January 2006, and regular passenger services were withdrawn five years ago in September 2010.
Yesterday, RailTours Ireland’s Emerald Isle Express (operated in cooperation with the Railway Preservation Society Ireland and Irish Rail) ran as a train of empty carriages across the line. This was probably the first train in months to use the scenic route.
Maximum speed was 15 mph.
Mark Healy and I were among the photographers on site to witness this very unusual move.
In addition to these digital photos, I exposed a handful of colour slides, you know, for posterity.
In Dublin, LUAS Cross City works are underway. Ultimately, these new tram lines will link Red Line and Green Line routes (presently isolated from one another) and run all the way to Broombridge for an interface with Irish Rail’s line to Maynooth.
Back when the first two LUAS lines were under construction, I missed the opportunity to make lots of ‘before’ photos. I did make some, but not nearly enough.
The other morning was clear and bright, so I walked the route of the new tram line from the Midland Great Western terminus at Broadstone to O’Connell Bridge.
Excavation and track laying works are underway in several places along with detailed signs about the project. These photos probably won’t win prizes for artistic achievement, but I’m sure that they will age well, and make for excellent ‘before’ scenes in a few years time.
Today, the Emerald Isle Express began its second annual run working from Dublin Connolly Station to Rosslare Strand, and then empty carriages across the rarely used South Wexford line via Wellingtonbridge to Waterford.
The train was sponsored by Rail Tours Ireland in cooperation with the Railway Preservation Society Ireland and Irish Rail.
It was a beautiful day, and I made dozens of fine photographs. I’ll post more tomorrow! Stay tuned.
It’s rare that I’ll display one of my all-time favorite photos (if you are not viewing this on Tracking the Light, you’ll need to click the link to get the full image).
This has been published several times. It’s a simple image, but it wasn’t easy to make.
I exposed it in September 1991. As I’ve previously told, Southern Pacific’s Bob Hoppe had hired me for the weekend to document an event involving engine 4449.
Following a serious derailment at the Cantera Loop, where the railroad spilled toxins into the Sacramento River above Dunsmuir, California, SP organized the historic streamlined engine and train to make public appearances in the Sacramento River Canyon as a goodwill gesture.
Brian Jennison and I made the most of the three days of Daylight steam specials. Over the years, I made great use of these photos.
My choice image is this one. It clearly shows SP’s famous engine, yet captures it in motion and in silhouette.
I had two frames left on my roll of Kodachrome 25 (actually I thought had had only one left, but I also managed a photo of the tail car).
I opted for a ‘wrong side’ view of the engine, in order to make this silhouette with the oaks that characterize the rolling valley along Hooker Creek north (railroad timetable east) of Tehama, California.
To insure I kept a hint of rail in view, I needed to gain a vantage point slightly above rail level. Rather than pan the locomotive, I set my F3T on a tripod and used my Nikkor f1.8 105mm lens nearly wide open.
The locomotive approached at speed; I had only one shot at this, and timing was everything. I wasn’t quite ready when I could hear the distinctive exhaust of the locomotive rolling up the valley. Some last second fumbling with my meter, convinced me to lower my shutter speed. Thus the hint of motion blur.
Five minutes later, it would have been too dark to capture this scene on Kodachrome 25, which was the only imaging medium I had that day.
Among the distinctive features of Germany’s Mosel Valley route is the Hanging Viaduct southwest of Bullay.
To avoid a circuitous loop in the Mosel, this double track electrified line crosses the river on a combined road/rail bridge and punches through a ridge. Upon exiting the tunnel, the line clings to a steep hillside populated with vineyards supported by an unusual curved Hangviadukt, a ‘hanging viaduct.’ (A sort of half-bridge, whereby half the structure is built into the hillside.)
Earlier this month, Denis McCabe, Gerry Conmy, Stephen Hirsch and I made a visit to this famous structure, photographing it from a variety of angles.
The railway cooperated by running a variety of trains. Footpaths through the vineyards and surrounding areas offer many vantage points.
In addition to mainline trains, a branch railcar traversed the viaduct in each direction hourly.
A little while ago, Fed Ex delivered my author’s advance copy of my latest book: Majesty of Big Steam, published by Voyageur Press.
Thanks to my editor Todd Berger for getting this to me!
I’ve dedicated this luxurious volume to memory of my friend John E. Pickett who passed away as the book was nearing completion. It features many of his photographs, as well as images by a host of other talented photographers.
John Gruber authored sidebars.
Special thanks to Pat Yough who helped with the cover image and opened many doors during the book’s production. I exposed the cover photo using Pat’s FujiFilm X-T1, and this adventure was one among the experiences that helped convince me that I needed to invest in the Fuji camera.
This new book will soon be available for purchase.
MittlerheinBahn operates modern Siemens-built electric multiple units on all-stops local trains on the picturesque Left Bank route between Köln and Mainz, Germany.
Trains operate on an hourly basis throughout the day, with more frequent services at peak times.
The service is affordable, comfortable and the scenery provides an unending tapestry of wonder.
These trains come at such regular intervals, it would be easy enough to let their passage go undocumented while waiting for more unusual movements, such as freights with colourful engines. But I always try to make the most of all trains.
Over the course of a week I exposed dozens of images of MittlerheinBahn’s trains, often using them as a catalyst for complex scenic compositions. Would these views work if there were no trains in them?
Pairs of red electrics leading more or less uniform consists of coal cars make for great subjects as they wind their way along the supremely scenic Rhein Valley.
Most locomotive-hauled trains traversing Germany’s Rhein Valley work with just a single locomotive, and an ever-greater number of passenger trains use electric multiple units.
By comparison to continual parade of these more common trains, dual-red electrics on coal trains/and empties are relatively rare, and only make an appearance every few hours (often just after you move to change locations).
Here I display two empty trains train, both exposed on 10 September 2015. The first is a morning view on the Left Bank with a pair of DB class 185 electrics, the second is in the evening on the Right Bank across from Oberwesel.
I have no doubt that punchy delicious colours and heavily altered contrast can grab the attention of viewers. I saw Fantasia, I look at Facebook.
It’s not a matter of right or wrong, or right or left. With modern software, tweaking colour and contrast has never been easier.
Below are three versions of an image I exposed digitally in the Rhein Valley. Not necessarily in order: One image is RAW (straight out of the camera, only reduced in size for internet), the other two have been altered.
Of these latter two images, one is my interpretation of how the scene appeared at the time I exposed the photo, the other is pure fantasy.
I’ll let you sort out which is which. Of the three, which do you like the most?
There’re some locations that just jump out at you. This view of the Rhein’s Right Bank is one of them. The combination of the river with vineyards rising above punctuated by the ruins of a medieval castle make for a postcard view.
The railway is an added bonus. Red Die Bahn locomotives are a nice touch. It helps to have bright afternoon sun.
Exposed near Rudesheim, Germany using my FujiFilm X-T1
There we were, poised at Filsen on the Right Bank line anticipating a northward train, but not knowing what would come around the bend next.
Previously, my attention to the signals, had revealed that once the signal cleared to green, a train would pass within 3-5 minutes. However, more than 8 minutes had passed. I wondered what was the cause of the delay.
Then, we were surprised by a lone DB class 145 electric hauling an exceptional load: twenty axles distributed the weight of this Schnabel railcar.
While this was not what I expected to see on the move, my cameras were ready to record what passed. In addition to these digital images, I exposed a 35mm colour slide for posterity.
Right Bank passenger services are largely provided by Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbahn. Trains are operated by VIAS Gmbh as Stadt-Expresses use Stadler Flirt electric multiple units and make local stops between the Koblenz Hbf (on the Left Bank) and the Frankfurt area.
Every hour all day long (with half hourly intervals at peak times) these modern Flirts glide along the supremely scenic Rhein Valley, working between the seemingly continuous parade of freights on the same line.
The cars stand out nicely against lush back drops and make for interesting photographic subjects. The tricky part is selecting the correct exposure to avoid over-exposing the lightly coloured trains.
Every so often, events in the news play a role in my daily photography. Last week, I was waiting with my friends for a Regional Express on the platform at Mainz, Germany, when an unscheduled train of InterCity carriages arrived.
There was no destination given on the depart boards.
The doors did not open.
No announcement was made.
A glance at the passengers on-board told the story. This was a trainload of refugees operated by DB AG as part of a greater humanitarian effort in Germany.
Seeing the people on board, appearing weary and exhausted, I thought of my own ancestors, who more than a century ago fled their home countries to seek a better life.
In the case of last week’s passengers, DB provided a nice comfortable train for this portion of their journey.
After a few minutes pause, the nameless service was on its way again.
Die Bahn/Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) operates an intensive nation-wide railway network. The traffic on many lines is impressive.
Conveying volume in photographs is perhaps best done with image sequences.
On the morning of September 12, 2015, Stephen Hirsch, Denis McCabe, Gerry Conmy and I arrived at the Bonn-Beuel station (located on the Right Bank line between Koln and Koblenz) to make a few photographs.
Our choice of locations was fortuitous. As it turned out, planned line works at the Bonn Hauptbahnhof on the Left Bank line had resulted in diversions, and this normally busy line was pushed to its potential capacity.
In addition to the normal half-hourly passenger service and parade of freights, the line was also handling InterCity and EuroCity long distance express trains, plus a mix of freights that might ordinarily use the Left Bank route.
In addition to the two main tracks, Bonn-Beuel has passing loops (passing sidings), which were well used this day. In several instances, a train was held on the main track, while higher priority traffic was routed via the loops around it.
This selection of images is intended to demonstrate how DB handled a mix of traffic on a double track mainline; keep in mind that stopping passenger trains and freights coexisted on the same route.
I’ve included the time that each photograph was exposed, and organized them in chronological order.
I decided to relocate to the island platform, as this offered a better angle for the sun.
To avoid getting blocked again, I walked further south along the platform.
In February 2010, I was traveling with Chris Guss and Pat Yough when I exposed this Fujichrome slide of Western New York & Pennsylvania’s Driftwood Turn (known as ‘the DFT’) on its northward ascent of the former Pennsylvania Railroad grade over Keating Summit.
The Right Bank of the Rhein is a busy freight corridor. Trains run in waves, and often follow each other several minutes apart on their north-south journey across Germany.
Kaub station sits wedged into a hillside with a castle above, and a sweeping curve to the south. In the afternoon, the sun swings around, which makes it a great place to photograph trains on the move.
Bombardier’s TRAXX locomotives family includes several classes of electrics. While the DB red class 185s may seen repetitive, open access operations make for a bit of variety. It seems that there’s always another freight working its way up or down the Rhein Valley. And this provides an opportunity to refine photographic angles and technique.
I made this selection using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
The fine art of the pacing shot was perfected many years ago. In the steam era, Jim Shaughnessy and others paced big steam across the prairies and grasslands in a quest for dramatic images.
I was traveling along the west bank of the Rhein a couple of days ago with Denis McCabe, Stephen Hirsch and Gerry Conmy.
The railway here is exceptionally busy. The sun was bright and we were searching for photographic locations.
‘Green signal. Southbound.’
A minute later, ‘there’s a train overtaking us!’
I unrolled the window, switched my Lumix on, set it to ISO 80 at f8 and used the ‘A’ (aperture priority) mode, and exposed this series of images in rapid succession.
By using the settings described above, I allowed the camera meter to adjust the exposure to compensate for changing lighting conditions, while insuring the slowest possible shutter speed to maximize the effect of background blur.
Complicating the exposure was the reflective silver paint.
Other than scaling for internet presentation, I have not altered these images in post processing.
Yesterday (September 10, 2015) was an exceptionally clear and bright day in the Rhein Valley.
The conditions were ideal for photographing across the river, which opened up numerous photo locations.
Gerry Conmy, Dennis McCabe, Stephen Hirsch and I selected this view near St. Goarhausen. Behind us is the double track west bank (or ‘Left Bank’) line.
In addition to DB (Deutsche Bahn—Germany Railways), there a great variety of private and open access operators on the Rhein Valley lines.
I used my Lumix LX7 to capture a southward freight led by a Siemens Taurus electric against an impressive cliff-face as intermodal ships pass in the river. There’s always something interesting to watch alone the Rhein. This was just one of dozens of trains we photographed yesterday.
In the dim early hours of September 9, 1995, I spotted Wisconsin Central’s recently acquired former Santa Fe FP45 leading a southward train through Duplainville, Wisconsin.
Normally I walked to work. I lived just a few blocks from the Pentrex Publishing offices on Grand Avenue. That morning, twenty years ago today, I’d been prowling around in my Mazda looking for angle to photograph the Wisconsin Central.
WC’s FP45 6652 was a one of a kind, and a prize to be scored! When I saw that engine roll across the diamonds at Duplainville, knew I’d be a little late to my desk.
WC freights tended to roll along, and chasing was difficult.
However, this southward freight had to make a meet at Vernon, south of Waukesha. The resulting delay was both long enough for me to make a swift drive on country roads to Burlington, Wisconsin, and for the sun to rise high enough to expose Kodachrome.
I set up in the park on the east side of the tracks. The Canadian Geese in the pond were an unanticipated bonus.
The KölnTriangle building in Köln Deutz on the east bank of the Rhein offers a magnificent view of the railway bridge and the famous Dom.
A few days ago, Gerry Conmy, Stephen Hirsch, Denis McCabe and I spent about an hour watching the trains here. To the northeast is the Köln Deutz Bahnhof and a maze of related trackage. Beyond is a junction and a yard.
From above, it’s like an enormous model railway.
Photography is challenging because of the plate glass barricades in the roof garden. I largely overcame difficulties with reflections and dirt by using a very wide aperture and holding the camera lens as close as possible to the glass, while shading the camera with my hand.