Exploring Historic Railways of Cork-Two Dozen Unique Images.

Cork’s railways were once vastly more complex than they are today.

Over a three-day span beginning 7 May 2016, I was given a thorough tour of Cork’s historic railways that included: a walking tour of the route of the old Cork City Railway; a cycle tour of the route of the Cork, Blackrock & Passage; and a detailed look at the numerous railway terminals that once served this southwestern Irish city.

I made numerous photographs composed to document railway settings as they are today. In many instances service was discontinued decades ago and the lines lifted and so the role of the railway is more conceptual than literal.

Thanks to Ken Fox, Donncha Cronin, Brian Sherman, Kevin Meany and Richard Lee for their expert guidance and historical knowledge.

I arrived by Irish Rail's Mark4 from Dublin. This view of Cork's Kent Station (Glanmire Road) was made from the foot bridge over the right of way of the line to the old Summer Hill Station.
I arrived by Irish Rail’s Mark4 from Dublin. This view of Cork’s Kent Station (Glanmire Road) was made from the foot bridge over the right of way of the line to the old Summer Hill Station. I featured Kent Station in my book Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals.
I've always liked Kent Station's Victorian-era curved train shed. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
I’ve always liked Kent Station’s Victorian-era curved train shed. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Irish Rail 201-class diesel 220 at Kent Station Cork on 7 May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Irish Rail 201-class diesel 220 at Kent Station Cork on 7 May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Old footpath over the line to Summer Hill Station.
Old footpath over the line to Summer Hill Station. Kent Station is 180 degrees behind this view.
Site of Summer Hill station that once handled trains working the line toward Cobh.
Site of Summer Hill station that once handled trains working the line toward Cobh.
Detail of the iron work on the foot bridge near Summer Hill station.
Detail of the iron work on the foot bridge near Summer Hill station.
Kent Station viewed from the Glanmire Road bridge. The earlier Penrose Quay station was located to the right of the curved shed.
Kent Station viewed from the Glanmire Road bridge. The earlier Penrose Quay station was located to the right of the curved shed.
Donncha Cronin hold a vintage photo of the Capwell Station at the old station building (now used by a Bus Eíreann maintenance depot).
Donncha Cronin holds a vintage photo of the Capwell Station at the old station building (now used by a Bus Eíreann maintenance depot). Historically, Capwell was the terminus for the Cork & Macroom Railway.
Panoramic composite of the old Capwell Station.
Panoramic composite of the old Capwell Station (centre).
Old railway gate at the site of Cork, Blackrock & Passage's Albert Road Station. Lumix LX7 photo.
Old railway gate at the site of Cork, Blackrock & Passage’s Albert Road Station. Lumix LX7 photo.
Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway's Albert Road Station.
Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway’s Albert Road Station.
The former offices for the Cork, Bandon & South Coast Railway near Albert Quay in Cork City.
The former offices for the Cork, Bandon & South Coast Railway near Albert Quay in Cork City.
Quayside trackage on the Cork City quay.
Quayside trackage on the Cork City quay.
Right of way of the old Cork City Railway.
Right of way of the old Cork City Railway.
Right of way of the old Cork City Railway.
Right of way of the old Cork City Railway.
Perhaps the last vestige of track relating to the Cork City Railway located near Albert Road in Cork.
Perhaps one of the last vestiges of track relating to the Cork City Railway located near Albert Road in Cork.
Perhaps the last vestige of track relating to the Cork City Railway located near Albert Road in Cork.
Perhaps one of  the last vestiges of track relating to the Cork City Railway located near Albert Road in Cork.
The old train staff that had been used to authorize train movements on the Cork City Railway. Photo courtesy of Kevin Meany.
The old train staff that had been used to authorize train movements on the Cork City Railway. Photo courtesy of Kevin Meany.
Site of the old Western Road station (now a hotel).
Site of the old Western Road station (now a hotel).
Cork, Blackrock & Passage was originally a broad gauge line, later converted to a largely double track 3 foot gauge suburban railway (similar in concept to the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn). Now a popular urban cycle path.
Cork, Blackrock & Passage was originally a broad gauge line, later converted to a largely double track 3 foot gauge suburban railway (similar in concept to the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn). Now a popular urban cycle path, seen here at Blackrock.
Site of Blackrock Station on the Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway.
Site of Blackrock Station on the Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway.
Near Monkstown Station on the Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway.
Near Monkstown Station on the Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway right of way.
Near Monkstown Station on the Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway right of way.
Near Monkstown Station on the Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway right of way.
Ken Fox studies a sign illustrating the history of the Cork, Blackrock & Passage.
Ken Fox studies a sign illustrating the history of the Cork, Blackrock & Passage at Carrigaline, Co. Cork.
A sign illustrating the history of the Cork, Blackrock & Passage at Carrigaline, Co. Cork.
A sign illustrating the history of the Cork, Blackrock & Passage at Carrigaline, Co. Cork.
Site of the Crosshaven terminus of the Cork, Blackrock & Passage suburban narrow gauge.
Site of the Crosshaven terminus of the Cork, Blackrock & Passage suburban narrow gauge.
Irish Rail's footbridge at Glounthaune Station. Lumix LX7 photo.
Irish Rail’s footbridge at Glounthaune Station. Lumix LX7 photo.
Glounthaune Station.
Glounthaune Station.
An Irish Rail 2600 passes the old container terminal at North Esk, last served by Irish Rail in summer 2005.
An Irish Rail 2600-series railcar passes the old container terminal at North Esk, last served by Irish Rail in summer 2005.

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Sunrise on the old Western Rail Road; Middlefield, Massachusetts.

Since 1841, the rails of the old Western Rail Road (later Boston & Albany, and for the time-being CSXT’s Boston Line) have served as a conduit of commerce through the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.

I made this photograph at sunrise using my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens and a graduated neutral density filter to control contrast.

My friend Mel Patrick has often posed the question: ‘must all railroad photos show trains?’

Exposed in May 2016 using FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 12mm Zeiss lens.
Exposed in May 2016 using FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 12mm Zeiss lens.

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This Budd Could Be For You!

—For ten NEW photos, click on Tracking the Light—

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Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum’s Hoosac Valley Service is operating with a vintage Budd-built Rail Diesel Car.

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Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

Budd Company’s RDC made its debut in 1949 and was first used in regular revenue service on New York Central’s Boston & Albany in 1950.

I made these views of Berkshire Scenic’s RDC on the former Boston & Albany North Adams Branch yesterday, May 28, 2016.

Berkshire Scenic plans to operate this car on weekends and select public holidays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. For details see: http://www.hoosacvalleytrainride.com/schedule.php

Also see Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/hoosacvalleyservice

Berkshire Scenic's new North Adams station area. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1; contrast adjusted in post processing.
Berkshire Scenic’s new North Adams station area. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1; contrast adjusted in post processing.

Want to learn more about Budd’s RDC and other classic streamlined trains? Check out my new book: Streamliners—Locomotives and Trains in the Age of Speed and Style published by Voyageur Press.

A Budd with a view! FujiFilm X-T1; contrast adjusted in post processing.
A Budd with a view! FujiFilm X-T1; contrast adjusted in post processing.

 

Looking southward on the old B&A branch. At one time Boston & Albany's North Adams Branch connected its namesake with Pittsfield. As late as the 1940s, through trains operated fro Grand Central Terminal to North Adams using the Harlem line to Chatham and B&A mainline to Pittsfield.
Looking southward on the old B&A branch. At one time Boston & Albany’s North Adams Branch connected its namesake with Pittsfield. As late as the 1940s, through trains operated fro Grand Central Terminal to North Adams using the Harlem line to Chatham and B&A mainline to Pittsfield.
Berkshire Scenic's RDC departs North Adams for Renfrew on May 28, 2016. FujiFilm X-T1; contrast adjusted in post processing.
Berkshire Scenic’s RDC departs North Adams for Renfrew on May 28, 2016. FujiFilm X-T1; contrast adjusted in post processing.
Berkshire Scenic's RDC departs North Adams for Renfrew on May 28, 2016. FujiFilm X-T1; contrast adjusted in post processing.
Berkshire Scenic’s RDC departs North Adams for Renfrew on May 28, 2016. FujiFilm X-T1; contrast adjusted in post processing.
Where else does the old Boston & Albany cross below the old Boston & Maine? Here we have trains top and bottom.
Where else does the old Boston & Albany cross below a route of the old Boston & Maine? Here we have trains top and bottom.
Tickets!
Tickets!

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Berkshire Scenic Railway’s RDC-1 is on the roll Memorial Day Weekend

Saturday May 28, 2016, I rode and photographed Berkshire Scenic Railway’s RDC-1 on the former Boston & Albany North Adams Branch. (More RDC photos see: This Budd Could Be For You!)

On Saturday May 28, 2016, Berkshire Scenic Railway's classic RDC-1 worked between North Adams and Renfrew, Massachusetts on the old Boston & Albany branch. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1; contrast adjusted in post processing.
On Saturday May 28, 2016, Berkshire Scenic Railway’s classic RDC-1 worked between North Adams and Renfrew, Massachusetts on the old Boston & Albany branch. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1; contrast adjusted in post processing.

Last autumn my dad and I rode this classic railway vehicle, but at that time it was being hauled/propelled by a vintage SW8 diesel. Saturday, I found the RDC-1 running as intended as a self-propelled diesel rail car.

I recalled riding RDCs on the Springfield-New Haven shuttle back in the 1970s and 1980s, and on Metro-North branch line trains, as well as Boston area service.

For details on Berkshire Scenic’s Hoosac Valley service which is now running out of North Adams, Massachusetts see: http://www.hoosacvalleytrainride.com

Also see Berkshire Scenic Railway on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/berkshirescenicrailway

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Belfast-Dublin Enterprise arriving Connolly Station.

Recently the cross-border Enterprise service operated by Irish Rail and NIR has undergone an image upgrade.

In early April 2016, I made these images a revamped Enterprise set with engine 207 arriving at Connolly Station in Dublin.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 mirrorless digital camera.
Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 mirrorless digital camera.

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Tracking the Light presents: London Terminals—May 2016; a Dozen new Photos.

London boasts some of the most historic and most famous big city railway terminals.

Earlier this month I visited several of these stations during the course of my travels.

Soon Euston may be dramatically redeveloped. Yet, owing to its 1960s design, this terminal may be among the least photographed in modern times. FujiFilm X-T1 photo, May 2016.
Soon Euston may be dramatically redeveloped. Yet, owing to its 1960s design, this terminal may be among the least photographed in modern times. FujiFilm X-T1 photo, May 2016.
Euston Station, London.
Euston Station, London.
Departure boards at London Euston in May 2016. FujiFilm X-T1 photo, May 2016.
Departure boards at London Euston in May 2016. FujiFilm X-T1 photo, May 2016.

Hassard Stacpoole brought me on a tour of London’s 1960-era Euston Station to show me sites of anticipated changes to this busy terminus as result of its planned redevelopment.

My favorite London station is St. Pancras. Which is yours?

The most elegant and ornate London terminus is St. Pancras. The head house originally served as the Midland Grand Hotel as well as booking offices. Today the grand old building is again a hotel, while the station serves Eurostar trains to Paris, Lille and Brussels as well as domestic services using the old Midland route. FujiFilm X-T1 photo with Zeiss 12mm lens, May 2016.
The most elegant and ornate London terminus is St. Pancras. The head house originally served as the Midland Grand Hotel as well as booking offices. Today the grand old building is again a hotel, while the station serves Eurostar trains to Paris, Lille and Brussels as well as domestic services using the old Midland route. FujiFilm X-T1 photo with Zeiss 12mm lens, May 2016.
St. Pancras train shed was restored during redevelopment in 2007. FujiFilm X-T1 photo with 12mm Zeiss lens, May 2016.
St. Pancras train shed was restored during redevelopment in 2007. FujiFilm X-T1 photo with 12mm Zeiss lens, May 2016.
Kings Cross, London, May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Kings Cross, London, May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Kings Cross, London, May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Kings Cross, London, May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Grand Central train at Kings Cross, London, May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Grand Central train at Kings Cross, London, May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Statue of Isambard K. Brunel at Paddington Station, London. Lumix LX7 photo.
Statue of Isambard K. Brunel at Paddington Station, London. Lumix LX7 photo.
Paddington Station, London. Lumix LX7 photo.
Paddington Station, London. Lumix LX7 photo.
London Victoria on a quite Sunday morning. Lumix LX7 photo.
London Victoria on a quiet Sunday morning. Lumix LX7 photo.
I feature several of London’s stations in my recent book Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals published last year by Voyageur Press.

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All Change! Photographing trains and Clapham Junction and Vicinity—May 2016.

On my visit to London earlier this month, I called into Clapham Junction to visit with my friend Hassard Stacpoole who lives nearby.

Hassard brought me on a tour of the area to highlight the changes south of the Thames since my last visit.

London is a dynamic city. There are cranes and construction sites everywhere you look.

The area around Battersea Park is rapidly being transformed from an old industrial area to a modern residential community.

Using my FujiFilm X-T1 and Lumix LX7, I made these photos from our tour of the area.

Five car Overland trains now serve Clapham Junction.
Five car Overground trains now serve Clapham Junction.

My intention is to compare these images with similar views exposed years ago, as well as photos showing further change from my next visit.

FujiFilm X-T1 digital photograph at Clapham Junction.
FujiFilm X-T1 digital photograph at Clapham Junction.
Clapham Junction.
Clapham Junction.
Wandsworth Road looking toward Battersea Park. Construction now dominates this horizon.
Wandsworth Road looking toward Battersea Park. Construction now dominates this horizon.
The old Battersea Park Generating Station is being repurposed.
The old Battersea Park Generating Station is being repurposed.
Massive modern apartment blocks have sprung up around Battersea Park like mushrooms after the rain.
Massive modern apartment blocks have sprung up around Battersea Park like mushrooms after the rain.
Transportation changes are part of the story.
Transportation changes are part of the story.
Thames bridge on approach to Victoria. Look at all the new building underway.
Thames bridge on approach to Victoria. Look at all the new building underway.
Looking south from Victoria toward Battersea Park.
Looking south from Victoria toward Battersea Park. Here the background is the subject.
In London little remains unchanged for long. Even the train companies play musical chairs with the franchises every few years. How much longer will South West Trains serve Clapham Junction?
In London little remains unchanged for long. Even the train companies play musical chairs with the franchises every few years. How much longer will South West Trains serve Clapham Junction?
A view south of Clapham Junction Station.
A view south of Clapham Junction Station.
A South West Trains emu clatters along south of Clapham Junction.
A South West Trains emu clatters along south of Clapham Junction.
It's been a long time since the London, Brighton and South Coast was a going concern. This is the old station at Clapham Junction.
It’s been a long time since the London, Brighton and South Coast was a going concern. This is part of the old station complex at Clapham Junction.

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London Underground‑May 2016; Ten New Photos.

Tracking the Light presents new material every day! 

Digital photography has made photography of the London Underground vastly easier than with film.

ISO 400 too slow? Notch it up to 1000, or 1600, or higher.

In the old days with film I’d rarely experiment with any lens longer than 100mm underground. Not only were my longer lenses relatively slow, but trying to keep them steady at low shutter speeds was impractical.

Today, I push up the ISO and snap away.

The adjustable rear screen on my FujiFilm X-T1 is a great tool for photographing from the hip. Back in the old days, I’d take the prism off my Nikon F3T for a similar technique, but this made focusing difficult.

I made these photos in Early May 2016. For me the Underground is more than just photos of the trains and tunnels.

Which is your favorite?

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo at West Brompton.
Lumix LX7 photo at West Brompton.
Telephoto view at Embankment with my Fuji X-T1.
Telephoto view at Embankment with my Fuji X-T1.
I like a bit of subtle humor or irony in my photos. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
I like a bit of subtle humor or irony in my photos. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo. Auto white balance is a blessing when working with artificial light.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo. Auto white balance is a blessing when working with artificial light.
View of the Circle Line at Embankment.
View of the Circle Line at Embankment.
Some of the Tube is well below the surface.
Some of the Tube is well below the surface.
Bond Street Station at Oxford Street.
Bond Street Station at Oxford Street.

Underground_DSCF7158

This is London Euston, please mind the gap!
‘This is London Euston, please mind the gap!’

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Exotic Railway Journeys Radio Interview on Wednesday!

Yesterday, Jerry Puffer of KSEN Radio (1150 AM)  in Shelby, Montana interviewed me and we spoke at length about my new book: The World’s Most Exotic Railway Journeys and my upcoming Voyageur Press title: A Field Guide to Trains.

You can listen to the Jerry Puffer show  on-line tomorrow on KSEN Wednesday 25 May 2016 at 4:30 pm Mountain Time (that’s 6:30 pm Eastern Time, and 11:30 pm in Dublin and London).

To reach KSEN’s website click the link below:

http://ksenam.com

Cover photo by Scott Lothes.
Cover photo by Scott Lothes.

The World’s Most Exotic Railway Journeys was published in the UK by John Beaufoy Publishing. The book is available at The Guardian Bookshop, at Amazon, and in select bookshops, including Chapters on Parnell Square in Dublin.

The Field Guide to Trains is available via Amazon.

See: http://ksenam.com for a link to KSEM’s live radio broadcast.

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“That Train Keeps a Rolling . . .

The other day my music-guru Dennis LeBeau phoned from East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

“Come on down to the South Barre Rod & Gun Club on Sunday, my sons and I are playing a gig!”

Where?

“You know it, it’s just across the Mass-Central line south of the Barre/South Barre town line. We’ve got some great bands. Real talent. You’ll like it!”

Lively live music clip

[Click on the video clip (above) for an inspired interpretation of Johnny Cash.]

Mass-Central's line from Palmer to South Barre passes right in front of the South Barre Rod & Gun Club (located off Route 32).
Mass-Central’s line from Palmer to South Barre passes right in front of the South Barre Rod & Gun Club (located off Route 32).

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As it turned out, I was well familiar with the crossing. Over the years I’ve worked this location for photographs of Mass-Central freights.

Mass-Central is a weekday operations, so my Sunday visit was strictly about the music.

Country music has its railway influences, and in the end this tied together nicely.

Dave Pike and the Good Old Boys. That's Dave in the cow boy hat, and music guru/railway photographer Dennis LeBeau on bass.
Dave Pike and the Good Old Boys. That’s Dave in the cowboy hat, and music guru/railway photographer Dennis LeBeau on bass.

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Dave Pike & the Good Old Boys, The Franklin County Sweethearts, and The Jays, were all playing. These bands have some crossover and were all helping each other out. You can find them on Facebook.

The audience was more lively than these beasts.
The audience was more lively than these stuffed  beasts.

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The Franklin County Sweethearts; Rosie Porter playing bass and singing with Tommy LeBeau.
The Franklin County Sweethearts; Rosie Porter playing bass and singing with Tommy LeBeau.
The Franklin County Sweethearts; Rosie Porter playing bass and singing with Tommy LeBeau and Lexi Weege.
The Franklin County Sweethearts; Rosie Porter, Tommy LeBeau and Lexi Weege.

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The Franklin County Sweethearts; Rosie Porter playing bass and singing with Tommy LeBeau, and Lexi Weege.
The Franklin County Sweethearts; Rosie Porter playing bass and singing with Tommy LeBeau, and Lexi Weege. (Here I’ve de-saturated the color for a period look).
Rosie Porter steps in for a song or two with Dave Pike and the Good Old Boys.
Rosie Porter steps in for a song or two with Dave Pike and the Good Old Boys.

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Three LeBeaus (Dennis on bass, Tommy on drums, and Paul on guitar) backing Rosie Porter.
Three LeBeaus (Dennis on bass, Tommy on drums, and Paul on guitar) backing Rosie Porter.

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British Railway’s HST 40 years on.

It’s been more than 40 years since British Railway’s HST (High Speed Train) made its commercial debut.

These comfortable diesel powered 125mph push-push train-sets have worked intercity services on a variety of routes ever since.

Today they are one of the few types of 1970s-era equipment surviving in regular traffic in the United Kingdom.

I detailed the history and development of the HST in my book Railway Masterpieces (Krause Publications, 2002). Here’s an except from my text:

“[British Rail marketed the HST] as the Intercity 125, a name obviously playing on the HST’s high-speed ability. The most successful aspect of the HST development and where BR really scored a coup was how they used the trains. Where the old school might had ordered just a few trains to offer just a handful of premier high speed services, BR introduced a full service of high speed trains on the lines west of Paddington. The Intercity 125 was not just fast, new, clean and more comfortable than older trains, but operated frequently as well and did not cost any more to ride. When the full HST schedule was in service, there were some 48 daily Intercity 125s. This was exactly the sort of convenience needed to lure people away from their cars, and the strategy worked.”

HST at Reading on the old Great Western Railway route from Paddington.
HST at Reading on the old Great Western Railway route from Paddington.
Trailing view of an HST Class 43 locomotive power car at Reading. All HST sets work with Class 43 diesels at each end with Mark3 carriages between.
Trailing view of an HST Class 43 locomotive power car at Reading. All HST sets work with Class 43 diesels at each end with Mark3 carriages between.
Evening view of an HST at Reading. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.
Evening view of an HST at Reading. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.

Rebuilt HST sets continue to serve several private operators in Britain.

Earlier this month, I traveled on HSTs with my father, and made several opportunities to photograph the trains in some of their most recent paint liveries.

In the shadow of Mallard; a Virgin HST idles at London's Kings Cross on 3 May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
In the shadow of Mallard; a Virgin HST idles at London’s Kings Cross on 3 May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Eurostar to St. Pancras.

We boarded at Lille Europe and flew a cross northern France on the ground. Breakfast was served to us by the staff. There was a minor delay at Calais and then we plunged into the darkness of the Channel Tunnel.

The Eurostar approaches! Lille Europe station is a modern facility with all the charm of an airport.
The Eurostar approaches! Lille Europe station is a modern facility with all the charm of an airport.
Breakfast (with tea!) was served on board soon after departing Lille.
Breakfast (with tea!) was served on board soon after departing Lille.
In 1980, my brother was the first to photograph his meal (served on a World Airways DC-10). I'm following his example and not that of the millions of copycats.
In 1980, my brother was the first to photograph his meal (served on a World Airways DC-10). I’m following his example and not that of the millions of copycats.
We sat at Calais for a while. At least there was some entertainment such as this 'LeShuttle'.
We sat at Calais for a while. At least there was some entertainment such as this ‘LeShuttle’.

Twenty Five minutes later we emerged again and were soon sailing across southern England toward London. My dad’s phone calculated our speed at 181 mph.

Soon the buildings began to look familiar. I recognized the M25 bridge.

English countryside blurring by at more than 180mph.
English countryside blurring by at more than 180mph.
Approaching London; there's the M25 bridge.
Approaching London; there’s the M25 bridge.

And before we knew it we’d arrived at St. Pancras, London’s most elegant 19th century railway terminal. Last time I’d taken the Eurostar I’d come into Waterloo, and that wasn’t yesterday!

This is a selection of Lumix LX7 photos from the recent trip.

St. Pancras International.
St. Pancras International.

Would you like to read more about St. Pancras? I’ve written about this station in my new book Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals published by Voyageur Press.

The famous ballon-style train-shed at St. Pancras was the first of its kind in the world.
The famous balloon-style train-shed at St. Pancras was the first of its kind in the world.
Morning sun filters through the skylights.
Morning sun filters through the skylights.
Panoramic composite of our Eurostar set under the famous shed.
Panoramic composite of our Eurostar set under the famous shed.
There's an hour time difference between Lille and London.
There’s an hour time difference between Lille and London.
In 2007, St Pancras was re-opened following a compressive upgrading of facilities. Do you remember the dark dingy hole of the mid-1990s?
In 2007, St Pancras was re-opened following a compressive upgrading of facilities. Do you remember the dark dingy hole of the mid-1990s?

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Irish Rail ICR’s with a pastel sky at Kildare.

Irish Rail Intercity Railcars work downroad (away from Dublin) at Kildare.
Irish Rail Intercity Railcars work downroad (away from Dublin) at Kildare.

To make the most of this scene I needed to make some global (overall) and localized contrast adjustments in Lightroom. This was necessary to compensate for the contrast characteristics inherent to the digital file produced by my FujiFilm X-T1.

I worked with the RAW file which has substantially more data than the in-camera JPG (which is compressed and thus offers very little information above what is immediately visible to the eye).

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Illustration in Bordeaux-Four New Images.

Illustration versus documentation: Often I set out to document a scene. My process and techniques are focused toward making images that preserve the way a scene or equipment appear. Often, but not today.

Creation of an illustration may not be intended as documentation. An illustration is created to convey a message; perhaps that needed for advertising, art, or publicity.

While photographing in Bordeaux, I found that the juxtaposition of the modern trams against both modern and historic architectural backdrops looked remarkably like artist’s/architect’s impressional drawings.

So, as an exercise in illustration, I’ve intentionally manipulated the camera RAW files to make them appear more like the artist’s impressional drawings, such as those often displayed as visions of the future.

Bordeaux_tram_DSCF6360

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Specifically, I altered the contrast and de-saturated the color palate to mimic a water-color tinted image. I did not destroy the original files, and so I have the benefit of documentation and illustration with the same photos.

Bordeaux_tram_DSCF6444

Bordeaux_tram_DSCF6463

Questions:

Have I done anything fundamentally different here than with images created (augmented) by the manipulation of digital files to produce super-saturated colors, plus intensely contrast adjusted effects that result in dream-like sky-scapes?

Is a posed railway publicity photo that was heavily re-touched by air-brushing or similar alteration to be considered documentation?

In a later post, I’ll explore Bordeaux’s tram network in fully saturated color.

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Tracking the Light Visualizes Speed: Traveling by SNCF’s TGV—a dozen new photos.

Société National de Chemin de Fer’s Trains à Grande Vitesse is 35 years old.

Last month (April 2016) I made a series of trips across France on SNCF’s TGV, a means of flying by rail.

And, yes the speed is impressive: it makes the Acela Express seem like it’s coasting.

Here are just a sampling of my Lumix LX7 images from and of SNCF’s TGV and its stations.

TGV arriving at Brussels Midi. Today, TGV operated to a variety of countries across Europe including Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain.
TGV arriving at Brussels Midi. Today, TGV operates to a variety of countries across Europe including Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain.
Room with a view.
Room with a view.
TGV map.
TGV map.

I wrote about the TGV in my book Bullet Trains published by MBI in 2001.

Here’s an excerpt of the text on TGV:

In conjunction with the construction of the new high speed railway called the Lignes à Grande Vitesse (LGV), SNCF developed of the Trains à Grande Vitesse (TGV), an entirely new high speed train. When discussing the French system the LGV refers to the new high speed infrastructure, including the tracks, while TGV refers to the high speed railway technology, including the trains themselves.

Lounge on a TGV Duplex set (a double-deck TGV train).
Lounge on a TGV Duplex set (a double-deck TGV train).
Upstairs/Downstairs at 186 mph.
Upstairs/Downstairs at 186 mph. (And no one to yap at you about moving between cars at speed, let alone descending stairs).
View from the train.
View from the train.
TGV Lyria at the Charles de Gaulle airport station.
TGV Lyria at the Charles de Gaulle airport station.
TGV pauses at Charles de Gaulle airport. Take the plane to the train! It works, just ask Pop.
TGV pauses at Charles de Gaulle airport. Take the plane to the train! It works, just ask Pop.
TGV Duplex after arrival at Bordeaux in southern France.
TGV Duplex after arrival at Bordeaux in southern France.
Typical Frist class seating on the TGV Duplex.
Typical Frist class seating on the TGV Duplex.
Lille Europe, TGV/Eurostar Station.
Lille Europe, TGV/Eurostar Station.

Tracking the Light posts every day.

 

 

 

Antwerp in the Rain; Trams and Bountiful opportunities for Eclectic City Scapes—16 new Photos.

It was a rainy Monday when I arrived in Antwerp. Working with my Lumix LX7, I spent several hours riding the Lijn trams and making photos.

Does the rain and gloom ad atmosphere to this eclectic Flemish port city? There’s a lot of history here.

Lijn has been buying new low-floor articulated Flexity-2 trams to replace its antique fleet of four-axle PCCs, so I was keen to catch the older cars at work while I still can.

(See related posts: Gent Revisited—Trams, Castles and Cobble StonesGent in Six PhotosTrams of Gent Part 2Trams in Basel, Switzerland; 21 April 2016).

A modern Flexity2 tram glides through the rain in Antwerp. Lumix LX7 photo.
A modern Flexity2 tram glides through the rain in Antwerp. Lumix LX7 photo.
Complicated track work makes for a more interesting urban image.
Complicated track work makes for a more interesting urban image. The PCC is almost incidental to the scene.
There are plenty of eclectic establishments in Antwerp where you can grab a bite to eat an enjoy a glass of beer while watching the tram cars grind along cobblestone streets.
There are plenty of eclectic establishments in Antwerp where you can grab a bite to eat an enjoy a glass of beer while watching the tram cars grind along cobblestone streets.
Antwerp enjoys a complex transport system with tram lines on many streets. However, expansion of the tram subway may soon reduce the number of surface services in some parts of the city center.
Antwerp enjoys a complex transport system with tram lines on many streets. However, expansion of the tram subway may soon reduce the number of surface services in some parts of the city center.

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Could a bus be as photogenic in such a setting?
Could a bus be as photogenic in such a setting?

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Among the advantages of photographing on a cold wet day is that there tend to be few people on the streets to get in your way. Not to be antisocial, but masses of urban humility can be a problem when composing tram photos.
Among the advantages of photographing on a cold wet day is that there tends to be few people on the streets to get in your way. Not to sound  antisocial, but masses of urban humility can be a hindrence  when composing tram photos.

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Near the main railway station there's a tram loop.
Near the main railway station there’s a tram loop used by route 11 cars.
This level crossing is a great place to catch the action.
This level crossing is a great place to catch the action.
I don't think everyone was quite as enthusiastic about tram tracks and cobblestones as I was.
I don’t think everyone was quite as enthusiastic about tram tracks and cobblestones as I was.

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Curbside running makes it easier to board the cars.
Curbside running makes it easier to board the cars.
Here's my car now!
Here’s my car now!

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White trams navigating narrow dark cobble-stone streets makes for some interesting contrast. So, would shafts of sun have improved these images?

Tracking the Light posts every day.

 

 

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Train on Washington Hill—May 16, 2016.

It was very windy, and I spent the whole morning standing around along the old Boston & Albany mainline reading about 19th century industrial practice while waiting for trains to pass.

I posted the photos I made of an eastward Norfolk Southern detour train near Middlefield, Massachusetts yesterday evening.

My goal was to catch the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Train, that was rumored to be on the move.

But, after 8 hours standing in the cold, I decided to head downgrade.

Nearing Westfield, the scanner came to life, ‘clear signal CP109’.

Time for a U-turn.

I’d scoped a location near Huntington.

Unfortunately this neatly coincided with a fast moving cloud. Bad luck.

A dark dirty cloud covered the sun at precisely the wrong moment. (It lifted in time for me to grab a wide-angle view on Fujichrome.)
A dark dirty cloud covered the sun at precisely the wrong moment. (It lifted in time for me to grab a wide-angle view on Fujichrome.)

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A bit of hard driving got me to Washington Summit ahead of the train. The clouds stayed at bay.

All of these images were exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera.

Slides from the event remain latent.

Near Washington Summit at the location known as 'Muddy Pond'.
Near Washington Summit at the location known as ‘Muddy Pond’.
The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Train is a long consist.
The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Train is a long consist.
Containers and trailers were at the back.
Containers and trailers were at the back.

Tracking the Light is Daily!

Tracking the Light NEWS EXTRA! NS/Pan Am Southern Detour on CSX Boston Line.

This morning (May 16, 2016), I was out on the Boston & Albany (CSX Boston Line) for the Ringling Bros circus extra. While waiting word came over the wire that a Norfolk Southern intermodal train for Ayer, Massachusetts was detouring on CSX.

A derailment near Charlemont, Massachusetts (on NS/Pan Am Southern’s Boston & Maine route) on Saturday resulted in a traffic disruption and thus this very unusual move.

A CSXT SD40-2 led the Norfolk Southern consist, presumably because of the cab signaling requirements on the Boston Line .

All photos exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 near milepost 129 east of Middlefield, Massachusetts.

CSX_X800_Middlefield_NS_detour_DSCF7527CSX_X800_Middlefield_NS_detour_DSCF7529CSX_X800_Middlefield_NS_detour_DSCF7530Tracking the Light posts Daily!

Circus Train photos tomorrow!

Hidden Treasures: Preserved Locomotives at Saint Ghislain, Belgium; Don’t miss Brian’s Exposure Guide for old Locomotive sheds.

Locked away in an old locomotive shed at Saint Ghislain, Belgium are a wonderful collection of historic SNCB locomotives maintained by Patrimoine Ferroviare et Tourisme. See: http://www.pfttsp.be/index.php/fr/

Mauno Pajunen organized a visit to this collection and provided translation while Rousman Phillippe offered a guided tour.

I was most impressed by the semi-streamlined stainless-steel clad electric (SNCB 1805) that formerly worked TEE international services and by the Baldwin diesel locomotive built under license.

Until my visit the to the shed at Saint Guislain, I'd only seen this class of locomotive in old photos. The pitched cab profile and stainless-steel side panels are very pleasing. They just don't style locomotives like this anymore!
Until my visit the to the shed at Saint Guislain, I’d only seen this class of locomotive in old photos. The pitched cab profile and stainless-steel side panels are very pleasing. They just don’t style locomotives like this anymore!

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Photographing in a locomotive shed such as this one requires special technique.

If you just let the in-camera meter do the work you will get under-exposed (dark) images such as this. Why? Because the camera meter is trying to balance the scene for the window which leads to overall under-exposure. Action on the photographer is necessary on-site to avoid this problem.
If you just let the in-camera meter do the work you will get under-exposed (dark) images such as this. Why? Because the camera meter is trying to balance the scene for the window which leads to overall under-exposure. Action on the photographer is necessary on-site to avoid this problem.

Direct and indirect lighting from skylights in the roof and large side windows results in extreme contrast with lower regions of the locomotives bathed in darkness that tends to confuse the in-camera light meter. (A meter doesn’t know what your subject is and only provides a balanced reading and doesn’t work in this situation.)

If you are not careful you may end up with an unacceptably dark result. (see above).

By manually controlling the exposure you can compensate for the effect of windows and skylights, thus creating a more pleasing exposure inside the shed.
By manually controlling the exposure you can compensate for the effect of windows and skylights, thus creating a more pleasing exposure inside the shed.

My solution is relatively simple: manually over-expose in range of 2/3s of a stop to 1 stop, and then control highlight detail in post processing.

The easiest way to do this with a digital camera is used a manual mode and then watch the suggested exposure settings offered by the built in meter and then add 2/3s to 1 stop to the recommended value. Thus if the meter suggests exposing a f2.8 at 1/60th of second, open up the aperture to nearly f2.0 without changing the shutter speed.

Another way of doing this is by adjusting the meter to over expose by 2/3 or 1 full stop. Each camera has its own means of doing this.

In my case, I set the ISO to 400, so my average exposure was f4.5 1/60 of a second (camera meter was recommending f5.6 to f6.3, which would have resulted in an unacceptably dark image).

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I adjusted my exposure from scene to scene, while tending toward overexposure based on the meter setting and carefully gauging the histogram to avoid loosing data in the shadow areas.

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Since the highlights of the outside windows and skylights are not important to the overall scene, it isn’t a problem to allow for a loss of detail in these areas.

After exposure, I adjusted the files in post-processing to bring the mid-tones and shadow areas to an expected level.

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This was one of my favorites: a Baldwin diesel built under license. Careful exposure allowed for adequate detail of the trucks and underbody.
This was one of my favorites: a Baldwin diesel built under license. Careful exposure allowed for adequate detail of the trucks and underbody.

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The boiler was outside.
The boiler was outside.
Wide angle close up of Walschearts valve gear. Old Egide was a Belgian after all!
Wide angle close up of Walschearts valve gear. Old Egide was a Belgian after all!

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