Bitterly cold with a clear sky; that was Toronto on the evening of February 8, 2010.
I exposed this photo of a GO Transit train using my Lumix LX3. While this was a great little camera, it suffered from poor battery life. On this cold day, I rapidly worked my way through all three of my rechargeable batteries and had to take time midday to recharge one.
By the time I made this frame, the last battery was flashing red, yet I had enough juice left for a few more photos.
My LX7 is a better camera and the batteries are much improved. Word to the wise: always carry a spare battery.
In October 2014, I photographed this old MBTA (Boston) PCC car at the Connecticut Trolley Museum at East Windsor, Connecticut.
Just a rusty old ruin; but the car and its Kenmore destination board, brought me back to the early 1970s when my family lived a few blocks from MBTA’s Riverside Line at Newton Centre.
This route had been the Boston & Albany Highlands Branch, and was converted to a trolley line in 1960.
As young child, I was permitted freedom to wander around the neighborhood. My fascination with railways naturally brought me to the trolley line.
One afternoon, I’d been watching the PCC’s coming and going in front of the old B&A station. I’d often traveled on the cars with my parents, and I understood how the system worked.
Taking a chance, I quietly boarded one of the cars through the back door. I rode to Kenmore Square, where I boarded another car and returned to Newton Centre. I might have been five at the time. More than 40 years passed before I told anyone of this adventure. 🙂
One of the first standard types of automated visual grade crossing warning was the automatic flagman, a signal commonly known as a ‘wig wag’. [This was] adopted as a standard crossing device by the American Railway Association in 1923. A standard wig wag is actuated by a track circuit and consists of a paddle with a red lamp that gracefully swings back and forth in a horizontal pattern when a train approaches [and] usually accompanied by a bell . . . [at one time] the wig wag was the preferred type of grade crossing protection in the Midwest and far west. [They were] largely supplanted by modern flashing signals and crossing gates.
I was traveling with Marshall Beecher on the morning of August 3, 1996, when I exposed this view of Wisconsin Central’s southward freight ANPR-A approaching a grade crossing on the former Chicago & North Western line in Fond du Lac. This line saw less traffic than WC’s near by former Soo Line mainline over Byron Hill, but the attraction was these antique signals. Notice my use of selective depth of field.
I find one of the great benefits of digital photography is the ability to carry a high-quality imaging machine with me at all times. Also, other than the initial investment, the relative cost of individual photos is inconsequential.
As result, I’m unhindered by weight or cost in the seeing and making of photos.
Does this make for better images? Not necessarily, but it facilitates me to make a more complete record of my travels and capture ordinary scenes such as this view of the Mass-Central at Gilbertville, Massachusetts on a brilliant October 2014 afternoon.
It was a pleasant surprise for me this morning when I checked Facebook and learned that Trains Magazine’s Brian Schmidt has nominated me as Mr. Railroad in the magazine’s on-line blog Train of Thought.
It was here at Colbert Station Limerick that I boarded my first Irish Rail train, a two piece push-pull led by a 121 Class General Motors diesel. That was just about 19 years ago (February 1998).
The other day, I decided to travel by train to Limerick. Unfortunately on the way out I discovered that my ‘connection’ at Limerick Junction was a bus. Poor show Irish Rail. (Can I blame them for the rain too?)
On the return, my train operated (hooray!). Waiting to board, I made a few photos of the old station, which uses of the traditional terminal head-house and iron train shed arrangement.
Out front it has been cleaned up a bit, but for the most part the station looks much the way it did on my first visit all those years ago. No 121 though.
All photos were exposed using my Lumix LX7 in February 2017.
So do you go out in poor light to catch something unusual? That’s your choice.
Sometimes I hold off for fine weather or good light to make images. Other times I’m faced with catching something in prevailing conditions. The railway doesn’t run for sunshine.
Once a week Irish schedules an extra IWT Liner (International Warehousing & Transport—Dublin North Wall to Ballina, Co. Mayo). In recent months, this has operated with the elusive container pocket wagons (CPWs). But it doesn’t necessarily run every week.
I have plenty of photos from Islandbridge Junction, and no shortage of images depicting the IWT Liner, and while I’ve photographed the CPWs over the years, last week I knew for certain (that’s railway certain, which is at best uncertain) that the CPWs were on due to pass.
This is a follow up to my Tracking the Light post of December 23, 2016, where I explained that on Wednesday December 21, 2016, Otto Vondrak sent me the sad news that the old station at Berlin, Connecticut had been gutted by fire.
This was reported as a ‘total loss.’
I generally avoid accidents, derailment sites, and fires. However, a few weeks ago, I decided I should take a look at the remains of the Berlin station before the scene was made unrecognizable.
An old favorite photo location is the Connecticut River bridge at East Deerfield, Massachusetts.
Earlier this month, photographer Mike Gardner and I caught two freights crossing this traditional span within just a few minutes of each other.
The first was eastward autorack train symbol 28T operating to Ayer, Massachusetts with Norfolk Southern locomotives. A few minutes later, Pan Am freight POED (Portland to East Deerfield) worked west with recently acquired former CSX General Electric DASH8-40Cs.
Historically this was the Boston & Maine’s Fitchburg line; B&M was melded into the Guilford system in the 1980s and in the mid-2000s . Today, Pan Am and Norfolk Southern are partners in operating Boston & Maine lines west of Ayer as Pan Am Southern.
For a change, I thought I’d present a three-quarter lit view of a nice clean train on a clear sunny January afternoon. (If you are viewing on Facebook, be sure to click the link to Tracking the Light to see the un-cropped image).
Often on Tracking the Light I detail unusual or uncommon photographic techniques. I’ve discussed how to make pan photographs, how to work with graduated neutral density filters, how to expose at night or in very low light.
I made this at Old Saybrook. Pat Yough and I were wandering around Connecticut after the BIG Railroad Hobby Show, and we paused here to catch Amtrak 163 led by clean ACS-64 635.
Nothing fancy about this photo, although I’ve include the relevant details in the caption, just in case you are curious.
A couple of weeks ago, I made these views from a public overlook of the Palisades Parkway that show the former New York Central electrified Hudson Division at Spuyten Duyvil.
The sun was rising through a thick layer of urban pollution with made for a stunning red-orange glow.
My challenge was balancing the light so that the train running along the river wouldn’t completely disappear into the background.
Below are four variations. I’m displaying two photo files, one made with an external Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter. The others were made without the external filter, with one of the two images adjusted digitally using Lightroom with a simulated graduated filter.
I’ll explain each in the captions, but let you draw your own conclusions.
A dreary evening at Mitteneague in West Springfield, Massachusetts was briefly brightened by a wink of drop under sun.
Luckily for me, at the very moment the trees in the distance were illuminated by this unexpected golden glow, I heard CSX’s Selkirk to West Springfield manifest freight Q424 approaching.
I exposed these trailing views with my 90mm f2.0 Fujinon lens.
Below are two variations of each image; one is a JPG made from the RAW without interpretation, the other is an adjusted file to represent what I saw at the time of exposure.
Camera RAW files only represent the information (data) collected by the camera sensor, and rarely display an image as the scene actually appeared, thus the need for interpretation/adjustment during post processing.
Working with my Nikon F3 fitted with a vintage Nikkor f1.4 50mm lens, I made these views at Strafford, Pennsylvania along the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line west of Philadelphia.
It was a dull Sunday afternoon in January and my hope was to make iconic views using traditional materials that might work more effectively than modern digital color photographs (although I exposed some digital images as well.)
For this batch of Foma Retropan, I returned to hand processing in Paterson tanks. I used Retro Special Developer stock solution (diluted 1:1 with water) with a 4 minutes development time. Prior to introducing the primary developer, I pre-soaked in a water bath with a drop of Retro Special Developer stock for 1 minute.
My aim was to retain the broad tonality achieved with earlier experiments while keeping the grain size relatively fine.
Honestly, I’m not sure that these photographs work for me. But the lighting was pretty tough. (Flat, dull, and lacking in character and direction).