Mainline now Branchline—Wisconsin & Southern to Reedsburg, Wisconsin.

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled with Rich and John Gruber to photograph Wisconsin & Southern’s Reedsburg to Madison freight.

This plies a former Chicago & North Western route that in its heyday a century ago was a double-track mainline running from Chicago to the Twin Cities via Elroy.

Today, it is a ambling branch line with lots of 10 mph running: No directional double track, no signals, no fast passenger trains, and the line is truncated at Reedsburg.

On this day a matched set of back to back SD40-2s was an added attraction. We decided on Hatchery Road in Baraboo as our first photo location. I opted to feature the skewed rural grade crossing.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with an 18-135mm zoom lens. File manipulated in post processing to balance exposure and improve color balance. Compare the contrast and color balance between this image and the others. Notice subtle differences and see how the alter the appearance of the locomotives in their environment.
This view features a cooler color-balance (tends more toward the blue).
Adjustments to contrast of the middle tones using the ‘clarity slider’ in Lightroom resulted in greater separation between the red and silver on the locomotive stripes.

To balance the exposure, I manipulated the camera RAW files in Lightroom using digitally applied graduated neutral density filter to better hold sky detail, while lightening shadow areas and making slight adjustments to overall contrast and color balance.

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Day and Night at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts.

All to often I find myself in Palmer, Massachusetts.

It’s probably not what you think though.

Yes, I make railway photos there.

By often I arrive at CP83 only because I’m passing through. I might be on the way to the bank, or to get a haircut, or maybe do a bit of shopping.

In the daylight instance pictured I was about to cross the South Main Street Bridge with a financial transaction in mind, when I spotted a railway enthusiast poised with camera in hand.

I had my Lumix LX7 with me, so made a quick diversion. It was nearly 11am, and about the time that CSX’s Q022 often rolls east. Stepping out of the car, I immediately sensed that my guess was correct. I could hear the freight approaching the home signal for the Palmer diamond at CP83. Need I describe what happened next?

Lumix LX7 view of CSX’s Q022 passing CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts. (CP83 is the railroad location-name  for the interlocking in Palmer, which is just over 83 miles west of Boston South Station.)
Less than 12 hours after the daylight view I made this photo of the signals at CP83 illuminated by the headlight of westward intermodal freight Q007.
It helps to have a tripod.
CSX Q007 rolls westward at CP83 in Palmer; at the right is the popular Steaming Tender restaurant.

Some hours later, I’d met Rich and Joyce Reed for dinner in Palmer, and as per a long standing Friday night tradition we reconvened after the meal at CP83. How different this place looks at night!

After a little while the signals cleared and CSX’s Q007 came into view. I made these time exposures of the westward Q007 passing the signals at CP83.

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Whoops! The Unfortunate Effects of Shutter Lag.

Timing is crucial in making successful images of moving trains.

Even a few tenths of second can make the difference between a stunning photograph and a throwaway.

After years of photographing trains on the move, I’ve developed techniques for releasing the shutter at precisely the right moment.

When I examine different types of cameras for their suitability as picture making machines, one thing I always look for is shutter delay. Many inexpensive cameras fail in this regard. When you press the button if the camera hesitates it will routinely make railway action photography more difficult.

Many inexpensive cameras suffer from inadequate computer processors that can contribute to a delay. Another difficulty are the autofocus systems that impose a delay between the time you press the shutter and when the shutter opens.

Some cameras, such as my Lumix LX7 and Fuji X-T1 allow for various adjustments to autofocus and exposure settings than can help minimize the effects of ‘shutter lag’. But you have to play with the settings to get just the right combination.

Having the camera ‘on’ and queued up (poised and ready) helps.

High speed trains are difficult to capture full frame.
This was a late frame in a sequence but demonstrates what can happen if your camera hesitates at the decisive moment.
If you miss an ordinary train, well you can try again. Miss a rare special move, you might feel like giving up and taking up something passive, like bus spotting. Don’t blame yourself, get a better camera!
If when you press the shutter button your camera doesn’t instantly expose a photo, your results may look something like this image. While in some circles it’s considered trendy to chop the subject, for the most part this isn’t the desired result for most railway photographers.

If you find that too often your photos look like these, you may wish to consider acquiring a picture-making device that has better reaction time. What use is a camera that forces you to miss photos? Why suffer the repeated frustrations and disappointments associated with ‘shutter lag?’

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Night and No Tripod, Improvise!

-There’s a long history among my friends to meet in Palmer, Massachusetts on Friday nights; first some dinner and then over to CP83 to watch trains.

A few weeks ago some of the gang met, and CSX rolled through a few long freights.

I had a Nikon F3 with 24mm lens loaded with Kodak Tri-X, so despite my lack of a tripod, I exposed a few photos.

My exposures ranged between 2 and 8 seconds at f2.8 hand-held.

I rested the camera on the short disconnected section of track used to display a Porter 0-6-0 steam locomotive by the Steaming Tender; thus my camera support became part of the photos.

Long exposures hand-held are not easy.

I processed the Tri-X in Ilford Perceptol 1:1 at 69F for 8 minutes 30 seconds, and following stop, first fix, second fix, extended rinse cycles, I then toned the negatives in a selenium solution for 8 minutes and repeated the wash sequence.

Negatives were scanned using an Epson V750 Pro flatbed scanner.

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SEPTA Trolleys on 38th Street—Acting on Opportunity.

Two weeks ago on my visit to Philadelphia, I was on my way to the University of Pennsylvania for a brief tour before heading to Amtrak’s 30th Street Station to board the Vermonter for Connecticut, on the way there in an ‘Uber’ (taxi) I notice the trolleys on the street.

Apparently SEPTA had its Center City trolley subway closed (for maintenance?) and so the trolleys that normally went below ground were working rarely utilized street trackage on 38th street instead.

How long this diversion as to be employed was beyond my knowledge at the time, but since I knew that I won’t be back in Philadelphia for many months, I only had this brief window to photograph this unusual operation.

I had just a few minutes to make images as I need to accomplish my tour and reach the station in little over an hour.

View from an Uber on 38th Street Philadelphia.
Leaning out of the window of the Uber taxi, I made this improvised view on 38th street.
A SEPTA trolley pauses at a traffic light waiting to turn on to 38th street. I manually adjusted the Lumix to compensate for the white trolley to avoid overexposure.
View from the Locust bridge over 38th Street that connects portions of the University of Pennsylvania campus.
Light and shadow on 38th Street.
On my walk over to 30th Street, I followed 38th Street to make some views from the sidewalk.

These photos were exposed using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.

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Follow That BUDD!

Not to be confused with: “Follow THAT! Bud.”

Earlier this month, in the high-summer light, while traveling from Reading & Northern’s Reading Outer Station on its former Reading Company Budd Cars (Budd Company Rail Diesel Cars otherwise known as RDCs), I wondered about photo locations along Reading & Northern’s lines.

Back in the day (lets call it the early 1960s) my father, Richard Jay Solomon, photographed Reading Rambles along these same Reading Company routes (and also occasional put the company’s regularly scheduled passenger trains on film).

For years, I’d looked at these slides without fully grasping where they were taken.

One trip over the old Reading answered many questions. Around each bend, I recognized locations, thinking ‘Ah Ha! So that’s where Pop made THAT photo’ and so on. (I’m still waiting for Pop to finish labeling his slides; he’s got about as far as 1960 thus far. HINT: Don’t wait 57 years to label your photos).

In the Lehigh Gorge, Pat Yough and I chatted with our friend Scott Snell—an accomplished member of the railway photo fraternity. Scott offered us the opportunity to ride with him as he chased the Budd cars back toward Reading.

Having traveled up by rail, we jumped at the opportunity to make photos of our train in late afternoon summer sun. So we traveled with Scott by road from Jim Thorpe to Reading, by way of Tamaqua, Port Clinton and Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

Here are some of my results thanks to Scott and Pat’s knowledge of the line.

Not on the old Reading Company, but in fact on the former Central Railroad of Jersey line at Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania.
New Ringgold, Pennsylvania on the old Reading Company line between Port Clinton and Tamaqua. This was a definite, “Ah Ha” location. (And I don’t mean the Norwegian pop band.)
Pop bagged a Reading double-header crossing this field. That photo has appeared in books.
Not far from the former Reading Company station at Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

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Views From the Cab—where vantage point matters.

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to make some views from a diesel locomotive cab.

I’m no stranger to cab-rides, but this recent trip allows me to illustrate a few ways of illustrating this great vantage point.

I’ve made no effort to hide where these photos were made from; so by including the locomotive nose or framing the tracks in the locomotive’s front windows I’ve made my vantage point obvious. I was on the engine as it rolled along.

All three views were made with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens.

Exposed a 1/60th of a second which allowed a slight blurring of the scenery and tracks to help convey motion with rendering the whole seen as a sea of blur.
Exposed a 1/60th of a second which allowed a slight bluring of the scenery and tracks. Framing is a great way to infer a vantage point while making for a more interesting image by adding depth.
So, do you prefer one window, or two?

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DASH-9 on the PRR.


Mifflin, Pennsylvania is a classic location on the old Pennsylvania Railroad.

I’ve visited here intermittently since Conrail days.

A couple of weeks ago, Pat Yough and I made these photos of Norfolk Southern trains passing Mifflin. I exposed these using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 lens of westward symbol freight 21T.

FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm fixed telephoto lens set at f5.0 1/500, ISO 640.
FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm fixed telephoto lens set at f5.0 1/500, ISO 640.

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Norfolk Southern at Mexico, Pennsylvania.

No, we are not ‘south of the border.’

This is a location along Norfolk Southern’s old Pennsylvania Railroad Middle Division west of Harrisburg between Thompsontown and Mifflin.

A couple of weeks ago, Pat Yough and I were re-exploring this busy route and these images were among my views from that effort.

Here are three photos from a sequence that I made of Norfolk Southern symbol freight 21A as it approached the grade crossing at Mexico.

Image 1: Norfolk Southern 21A roars west at Mexico, Pennsylvania. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.
Image 2: A slightly closer view of Norfolk Southern 21A  at Mexico, Pennsylvania. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.
Image 3: Closest of three views of Norfolk Southern 21A  at Mexico, Pennsylvania. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.

Which of these do you like best?

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RDC’s at Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania—lessons in high light.

Shiny stainless steel trains in high summer light. Another photography challenge.

Earlier this month during my explorations of eastern Pennsylvania with Pat Yough, we traveled on the Reading & Northern from Reading Outer Station to Jim Thorpe, aboard a restored pair of RDCs.

The train arrived at Jim Thorpe in the highlight, in other words when the sun is nearly overhead.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1, I made a variety of images, then imported the RAW files into Lightroom for post processing.

As previously described in Tracking the Light, among the tools available with post processing software are various exposure and contrast controls that make it possible to adjust the RAW file to produce a more pleasing final image.

By lowering highlights, and raising the shadows, while adjusting color temperature, I can maximize the information captured by the camera sensor to produce a more pleasing image that more closely resembles what I saw at the time of exposure.

Below are a few of my processed images.

Shortly after arrival from Reading, Reading & Northern’s RDCs have paused in front of the historic former Central Railroad of New Jersey station at Jim Thorpe. I’ve attempted to make a more pleasing image by lightening shadows and controlling highlights while slightly warming the color temperature to compensate for the proliferation of blue light.
This is a similar image but taken from an in-camera Jpg with pre-selected Fuji Velvia digital color profile.
Back lit in the gorge near Jim Thorpe. Here a silver train has a contrast advantage over a darkly painted engine.
Later in the afternoon the lighting wasn’t as harsh, yet this image still required improvements in post processing to compensate for excessive contrast.

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Take A Ride on SEPTA—July 2017.

This is my variation of the old ‘Take a Ride on the Reading’, since SEPTA is part Reading. (That’s the old Reading Company.)

SEPTA’s also part Pennsy—the late great Pennsylvania Railroad.

Buy Independence Pass on the train, and ride transit all day to your heart’s content.

Most of these photos (but not all, see captions) were made using my Lumix LX-7 compact digital camera over the course of a few days wandering around Philadelphia last week.

I’ve found that this low-key image-making device is great for urban environments. It’s small & light, easy to use, flexible & versatile, features a very sharp Leica lens, makes a nice RAW file and a color profiled JPG at the same time, and, best of all: it’s reasonably inconspicuous and non-threatening.

Lumix LX7 photo at SEPTA’s Philadelphia Airport station. The train goes directly to the terminals, no mussing about with people movers or bus connections. Hooray for SEPTA!
Exposed at West Trenton with my Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Suburban Station Center City Philadelphia. Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Chestnut Hill West, Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo at Chestnut Hill East.
Buses work the 23 route, which at one time was America’s longest City Street Car line.
Lumix LX7 photo
Market-Frankford Subway. Lumix LX7 photo
Broad Street Subway at City Hall. Lumix LX7 photo

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Tracking the Light reaches Milepost 5!

Today, July 19th is the fifth anniversary of Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light.

On this day in 2012 Tracking the light made its debut. Since then it has become a daily Blog.


See; Installment 1: Central Vermont Railway at Windsor, Vermont

Kodachrome slide of a Central Vermont freight train at Windsor, Vermont.
Central Vermont Railway at Windsor, Vermont. Originally posted on July 19, 2012.

Tracking the Light focuses on more than just displaying pictures of railways, trains and locomotives, but aims at disseminating information on the techniques applied to railway photography.

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SEPTA’s Rare Birds Under Wire.

Amtrak has retired all of its once-common AEM-7 electrics.

SEPTA’s small fleet of AEM-7s remain on the roll, but replacements have been ordered. Soon the sun will set on America’s adaptation of the Swedish Rc-series electrics.

A couple of weeks ago, Pat Yough and I focused on SEPTA’s rare birds that typically only work rush hour push-pull services.

It was a fine bright evening to make commuter rail images and I used my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 27mm pancake lens to expose these photographs.

SEPTA AEM-7 2305 leads train 9745 on the old Pennsylvania Railroad.
SEPTA 2303 at West Trenton, New Jersey.

Today’s relatively ordinary images of SEPTA AEM7 electrics under wire will soon be rare. Why wait to the last minute to make photographs of equipment soon to be extinct?


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SEPTA Silverliner IVs  on the Northeast Corridor—July 2017.

A half-century ago Pennsylvania Railroad’s common MP54 ‘owl-eyed’ electric multiple units plied its electrified lines largely unnoticed despite most serving for 40-50 years in daily traffic

Today’s equivalent are SEPTA’s Silverliner IVs that were built between 1974 and 1976 for Philadelphia-area electric suburban operation on former Pennsylvania Railroad and Reading Company lines.

Considering that these workhorses are now more than 40 years old, they are well worthy of attention from photographers. Many similar cars employed by NJ Transit have already been retired and scrapped.

I photographed this two-car SEPTA set at Levittown, Pennsylvania on July 7, 2017 using my FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera.

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Old Reading RDCs at Reading & Northern’s Reading Outer Station, Reading Pennsylvania.

Just checking to see if you are reading this correctly.

Last weekend, July 8 and9, 2017, Patrick Yough and I made trips to Reading, Pennsylvania to photograph and travel on Reading & Northern’s former Reading Company Budd RDCs.

I grew up with the old ‘Budd cars’ and it was neat to see these machines on the roll again.

Budd introduced it’s self-propelled ‘Rail Diesel Car’ in 1949, and sold them to many railroads across North America. These cars were most common in the Northeast, and the Reading Company was among the lines that made good use of them in passenger service.

I exposed these views using my FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Tuoit lens.

Reading & Northern operates these RDCs in periodic excursion service on its lines in eastern Pennsylvania.
A new tower, and a really antique signal made for nice props for the RDCs at Reading Outer Station.
Reading & Northern operates these RDCs in periodic excursion service on its lines in eastern Pennsylvania.


Tracking the Light is on Auto Pilot while Brian is Traveling.

CSX on the Move at West Trenton, New Jersey.

A week ago, July 7, 2017, Pat Yough and I were photographing at West Trenton, New Jersey. I made this view with my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 27mm Pancake lens.

This is compact, lightweight lens designed for the Fuji X-series mirror-less digital cameras. With the sensor on my X-T1 the 27mm lens has the equivalent field of view offered by a 41mm lens on a traditional 35mm film camera.

In other words it offers a slightly wide-angle perspective that is comparable to the natural field of view of the human eye.

Here I’ve carefully positioned the cab of the leading locomotive between the gap in the trees to make for a clearer composition. Classic three-quarter lighting and camera angle combine for a traditional view with a nearly traditional angle of view.

I caught CSX symbol freight Q-301 rolling toward Philadelphia on the old Reading Company. My exposure was f4 1/1000th of a second at ISO200.


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TrenItalia ETR600 panned with my Lumix.

A TrenItalia ETR600 high-speed pendolino arrives at Florence, Italy in April 2017.
Trailing view of the same train.

I exposed these views using my Lumix LX7 digital camera. By working with a slower shutter speed and panning the train as it passed, I was able to convey a sensation of motion.

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How About a View of the Bridge?

New England Central 608 approaches Smith’s Bridge in Monson, Massachusetts on a warm morning in mid-June 2017. FujiFilm X-T1 digital photo.

If you are viewing this Tracking the Light post on Facebook, you’ll really need to click on the post in order to get the full effect of this portrait-oriented image. (Not my fault, Facebook crops!)

Often I photograph from road bridges, yet some bridges make for interesting photos. I hadn’t made a photo from the ground of the Stafford Hollow Road bridge in Monson since the 1980s.

Last month a late running northward freight gave me the opportunity to photograph this unusual old bridge from the northside.

I exposed this view with my FujiFilm XT1 using a Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter to hold detail in the sky.

Tracking the Light is on Auto Pilot while Brian is Traveling.

Geneva Tram in Traffic.

A Geneva tram near Cornavin Station. FujiFilm X-T1 Photo.

I made this view in Geneva, Switzerland in April 2017. A tram waits in morning traffic. By using a telephoto perspective, I’ve compressed the scene and exaggerated the effect of the traffic jam.

Tracking the Light is on AutoPilot while Brian is traveling.

Irish Rail DART crosses at level crossing in Bray.

A northward DART suburban train clears the crossing at Bray, County Wicklow. Lumix LX7 photo.

I exposed this view of a DART train at the level crossing near the station in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland. Notice the Irish Sea in the background.

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Trenton, New Jersey at Dusk—July 6, 2017; digital photography in low-light.

The other evening I arrived at Trenton, New Jersey on board Amtrak train 55 the Vermonter.


Lumix LX7 photo at Trenton, New Jersey, July 6, 2017.

The blue glow of dusk prevailed. That moment between daylight and evening when the hue of the light adds a extra atmosphere to photographs.

That is of course, unless your camera has its ‘auto white balance’ set, which will neutralize the color and make for blander, duller images.

To avoid this problem, I set my white balance to ‘daylight’, which forces the camera to interpret the bluer light more or less as I see it.

These images were exposed using my Panasonic Lumix LX7 in ‘Vivid’ mode at ISO 200.

SEPTA at Trenton, New Jersey, July 6, 2017. Lumix LX7 photo


A SEPTA train enters the station bound for Philadelphia.

Other than scaling the in-camera Jpgs for internet presentation, I’ve not made changes to the appearance of these photos in Post Processing; color balance, color temperature, contrast, exposure and sharpness were not altered during post processing.

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Amtrak’s battle-worn Amfleet, now 4 decades on the roll.
Amtrak 55, the Vermonter has the signal at Trenton. The diagonal arrangement of amber lights indicates ‘approach’.

Volcano at Keets Road—Pan Am Railway’s Connecticut River Freight.

Last week, Mike Gardner and I positioned ourselves at Keets Road south of Greenfield, Massachusetts on the old Boston & Maine Connecticut River Line.

Pan Am Railway’s symbol freight EDPL (East Deerfield Yard to Plainville, Connecticut) had departed East Deerfield and was idling on the Deerfield Loop track waiting to head south.

Finally, the train received the signal to proceed and began its southward trek. In the lead was GP40 352, one of several Pan Am diesels equipped with cab-signal equipment for operation over Amtrak south of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Once on the Connecticut River mainline the engineer opened the throttle to accelerate and his locomotives erupted with an dramatic display of noise and effluence.

Here are two of the views I exposed; a color view made digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 fixed telephoto lens, and a black & white view exposed with a Leica on Kodak Tri-X.

Pan Am Railways symbol freight EDPL approaches Keets Road crossing on the Connecticut River Line south of Greenfield, Massachusetts.
A closer view that I exposed using a Leica IIIa fitted with a 21mm Super Angulon wide angle lens. Kodak Tri-X black & white negative film, processed by hand in a special mix of Ilford Perceptol developer (mixed 1 to 1 with water) for 8 minutes at 68F, and then following stop, fix and rinse,  the negative was toned with a selenium solution (1 part to 9 with water) for 7 minutes, rewash, dried and scanned on a Epson V750Pro flatbed electronic scanner.

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Tracking the Light EXTRA: Three Photos Live from Amtrak 55 The Vermonter

I’m posting live from Amtrak 55, the southward Vermonter south of Berlin, Connecticut on July 6th, 2017.

Below are three views from the Lumix LX7, processed from RAW files using Lightroom while traveling on the train.

Amtrak train 55, the southward Vermonter arrives at Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Lumix LX7 photo adjusted from a camera RAW file in Lightroom to improve sky detail, lighten shadows and increase saturation.
Inside Amtrak number 55 near Windsor, Connecticut.
Windsor station; not a stop for the Vermonter. Lumix LX7 photo.

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(Sometimes TWICE!)

August 2017 TRAINS Magazine features my latest Opinion Column

Check out pages 16-17 of the August 2017 Trains Magazine. I take a look at Italian Railways. Notice that the Italian State Railways ridership is nearly 20 times that of Amtrak! And they are aiming to grow their business and market share through massive investment.

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Overcast Afternoon at East Deerfield—June 29, 2017.

This is the third in my series of farewell posts on the famed East Deerfield ‘Railfan’s Bridge.’

The McClelland Farm Road bridge over the Boston & Maine tracks at the west end of East Deerfield Yard (near Greenfield, Massachusetts) has been a popular place to photograph trains since the steam era. Work has begun to replace this old span with a new bridge to be located about 40 feet further west.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve exposed a disproportionate number of photos here. Yet, it has remained a good place for railroad photography for several logical reasons:

It’s at a hub; because of the bridge’s location at the west-end of Pan Am Railway’s East Deerfield yard, there tends to be a lot of action and opportunities to witness trains here. While waiting along the line can become tiresome, if not tedious, but there’s often something about to happen at East Deerfield.

The location above crossovers at the throat to the yard, this combined with yard leads and engine house tracks, plus the junction with the Deerfield Loop (that connects with the Connecticut River Line) west of the bridge make for some fascinating track work.

Elevation is always a plus.

There’s ample parking nearby.

The light in early morning and late evening here can be excellent. I’ve made some wonderful fog photos here, as well countless morning and evening glint shots. How about blazing foggy glint? Yep done that here too. And about ten days ago I got a rainbow.

The afternoon of June 29, 2017 was dull and overcast. Mike Gardner and I had arrived in pursuit of Pan Am Southern’s symbol freight 28N (carrying autoracks and JB Hunt containers). We’d also heard that its counterpart 287 (empty autoracks from Ayer, Massachusetts) was on its way west.

As it happened the two trains met just east of the bridge.

I exposed a series of black & white photos on Kodak Tri-X using a Leica IIIa with 21mm Super Angulon lens, while simultaneously working in digitally color with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm lens.

Photographer Mike Gardner on the famed ‘Railfans Bridge’ at East Deerfield.
Pan Am Southern’s symbol freight 28N with a Crescent Cab approaches East Deerfield Yard.
Auto racks roll under McClelland Farm Road at East Deerfield West.
Pan Am Southern 28N (left) meets its counterpart, symbol freight 287 at East Deerfield yard.
One of the attractions of the East Deerfield bridge is the action.

Too many photos here? Undoubtedly. But I bet they age well. Especially when the old vantage point has finally been demolished.

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Tracking the Light Extra! July 4, 1998

On this day in 1998, I photographed a Railway Preservation Society of Ireland excursion rounding  Bray Head, County Wicklow.

4 July 1998 engine 461 leads an RPSI excursion at Bray Head. Exposed with a Nikon F3T on Fujichrome Sensia (ISO 100).

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Oh no! NOT these again.

Pure evil so far as I’m concerned.

And more and more common in Europe.

I’m told its the law.

What are these you ask?

Sound barriers.

New sound barriers along SBB’s mainline over the Gotthard Pass at Fluellen, Switzerland. These barriers don’t add anything  positive to the scene: they block the view of the train, and they make for a renegade’s canvas. Photographed in April 2017.

A poor trade off in my opinion; instead of a bit of occasional noise you face an ugly wall. And it won’t get any prettier when the vandals show up can in hand.

They are photographer’s nightmare.

What to do?

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Old Tracks Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

Tracking the Light is Brian Solomon’s daily blog focused on the nuts and bolts of Railway Photography.

Today’s post explores the former Boston & Maine yard at Shelburne Falls (technically Buckland, but I’ll let the pundits argue that privately), now home to the modest Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum. See:

Last week Mike Gardner visited the site to make photographs of Pan Am Railway’s eastward autorack train symbol 28N. While waiting, I exposed a few views of the disused yard tracks parallel to the old Boston & Maine, now Pan Am, mainline.

Kodak Tri-X processed in Ilford Perceptol 1-1 with water for 8 minutes at 70F, then toned in Selenium for 7 minutes. Negatives rinsed, washed, dried and scanned in color using an Epson V750 Pro.

Pan Am Southern symbol freight 28N at Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

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A Crescent at Wisdom Way—Something different.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light posts new railway photography every day.

Working with the Leica IIIa fitted with a 21mm Super Angulon and loaded with Kodak Tri-X, I exposed this vertical grab shot of Pan Am Southern’s eastward loaded autorack train 28N at Wisdom Way in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

I often work with two or more cameras, typically one is a film body and the other digital.

On this June 2017 afternoon, fellow photographer Mike Gardner and I arrived a few minutes earlier, and my primary image from the Wisdom Way bridge was a color view with my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 90mm lens.

Kodak Tri-X processed in Ilford Perceptol 1-1 with water for 8 minutes at 70F, then toned in Selenium for 7 minutes. Negatives rinsed, washed, dry and scanned in color with an Epson V750 Pro.

The 21mm Super Angulon is a very unusual lens, but one I’ve been working with since the 1970s. Looking back over my early work, I often achieved more satisfying results with this lens than my other tools.

For this view I wanted a dynamic angle that was more than simple documentation so I chose to skew the horizon. I also slightly panned the moving locomotive, which has the affect of softening the background while keeping the numbers on the locomotive cab sharp.

Norfolk Southern 6991 is fitted with the ‘Crescent cab,’ a design unique to Norfolk Southern, thus making it comparatively unusual in New England.

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Here’s a tiny thumbnail view of the digital photo I made moments before the black & white view.



Close and Closer—Compositional Considerations: New England Central at Vernon, Vermont.

Mike Gardner and I had driven up from Palmer, Massachusetts with a plan to intercept New England Central’s morning freight 611 that runs south weekdays from Brattleboro, Vermont to Palmer and back.

As we crossed the Massachusetts-Vermont state line at East Northfield, we heard 611 approaching.

Having photographed trains here before, we opted to make our first set in a farmer’s field right off the road.

I exposed these two views with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm adjustable zoom lens.

On this morning I was delighted to find a unified orange locomotive consist.

Of these two images, one closer than the other, I’ve strategically positioned the orange locomotives in the frame.

Almost a ‘stardard view’. Compare the relative size of the barn with the train.
This wide-angle view alters the perspective on the locomotives a bit.

Considering the various elements—locomotives, barn, fields left and right and a pastel sky above—Which of these photos do you prefer?

Tracking the Light posts daily