11 Photos of the Emerald Isle Express at Connolly Station, Dublin.

Monday, 25 September 2017 saw the launch of this year’s week-long Emerald Isle Express sponsored by Railtours Ireland.

 The train consisted of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s preserved Cravens carriages hauled by Irish Rail class 071 locomotive number 073 recently repainted in a heritage orange livery.

It was a fine bright morning and I made these photos from Platform 5 at Connolly Station using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm digital cameras.

Irish Rail 073 arrives on platform 5 with the train for the Emerald Isle Express.
Railtours Ireland greeted its passengers in style. Photo exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera fitted with a 90mm f2.0 lens.
Photo exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera fitted with a 27mm f2.8 lens.
Photo exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera fitted with a 90mm f2.0 lens.
Detailed view of Irish Rail 073 in retro paint. Photo exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera fitted with a 90mm f2.0 lens.
Lumix LX7 photo, colour and contrast adjusted in post-processing.
Photo exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera fitted with a 90mm f2.0 lens.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Photo exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera fitted with a 90mm f2.0 lens.

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LUAS Trial on Culture Night—22 September 2017.

It was the annual Dublin Culture Night Event when dozens of establishments open their doors and/or host special events free for the public.

I was making my rounds, and I happened upon a LUAS 4000-series tram making trials of the new Cross City trackage.

I believe in taking advantage of photographic opportunity when presented, and I made these views using my Lumix LX7.

LUAS trial on Parnell Street, Dublin. Regular service is still months away.
Trams on Marlborough and Abbey Streets. The distant tram is on a Cross City trackage trial. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Sunset at Yuba Pass—Frame 37.

On the evening of February 9, 1994, I exposed the final frame on 36 exposure roll of a Southern Pacific eastward freight ascending Donner Pass at Yuba Pass, California near where I-80 crosses the railroad.

I used an old Nikkormat FTN for this view and exposed the film with the aid of a Sekonic Studio Deluxe handheld photocell light meter.

This photo demonstrates two things. Firstly the enormous dynamic range of Fujichrome slide film. Secondly, my ability to get the most out of each roll.

At the time I had very little money and yet spent what little I had on film and fuel for my car. I would routinely save the final frame of a roll for something special.

Frame 37 of a 36 exposure roll of Fujichrome 100.

About this time I submitted a page of 20 35mm color slides to the well-known editor of a major railroad magazine, all frame number 37 and 38. I did this to check his attention to detail to see what he’d say.

Years later when I met him face to face, I’d mentioned this effort to him, and he admitted that he’d never even noticed.

You do know that I like to hide things in plain sight? Right? It always astounds me when no one seems to notice. (Rest easy, there’s nothing to see here except a California sunset.)

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New Diesel Railcar at New Haven and a Surprise.

Back in the summer of 1981, I was changing trains at New Haven, Connecticut and made this photograph of a new Budd-SPV2000 assigned to the New Haven-Springfield shuttle.

Until I scanned this photo, I didn’t realize I’d made a photo of Amtrak’s short-lived LRC tilting train. Look in the distance to the right of the SPV-2000 and you’ll see the Canadian-built tilting train.

Exposed on black & white film using a Leica IIIa rangefinder camera.
Enlarged view of my original 35mm negative. Exposed on black & white film using a Leica IIIa rangefinder camera.
Do you recall the 1966 film ‘Blow Up’?

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Erie Railroad Semaphore—Canisteo River Valley at Cameron, New York.

Erie Railroad Semaphore—Canisteo River Valley at Cameron, New York.

I made this view during a snow squall at Cameron, New York in 1987.

This wasn’t yesterday. Exposed on black & white film using a Rolleiflex model T.

This shows the old Erie Railroad mainline at the Canisteo River Road grade crossing near milepost 314, a line then operated by Conrail.

That’s my old 1973 Plymouth Scamp parked by the side of the road.

The subject of the photo is the vintage Union Switch & Signal Style-S three-position upper quadrant semaphore.

I was on an exploratory trip of the Canisteo River Valley that contributed to many photographs of trains in this supremely scenic area.

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NI Railway’s Lisburn Station at Dawn.

The early hours are often a cosmic time for photography.

Last week I visited NI Railway’s Lisburn Station with Honer Travers to catch a morning train into Belfast.

There was just a hint of colour in the sky and mist covered the ground. A wisp of smoke from the station chimney makes for a classic touch.

I exposed these views with my Lumix LX7 handheld.

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Irish Rail 221 in Fresh Paint—21 September 2017

Warning Facebook viewers: Facebook crops! (Click on the post that link with Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light for the full view).

Irish Rail 201 class diesel-electric number 221 has been recently painted.

On Thursday 21 September 2017, I exposed this view of the locomotive working the down IWT Liner at Islandbridge Junction near Heuston Station, Dublin.

There was a mix of sun and clouds that produced soft dappled lighting.

Photo exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera fitted with an f2.0 90mm lens.

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HDR versus Manipulated RAW; or Flowers with NI Railways.

My Lumix LX7 has an ‘high-dynamic range’ feature. Otherwise known by its initials ‘HDR’, high-dynamic range is a technique for digital imaging that allows greater detail in highlights and shadows by combining several images of the same subject that were exposed at different values.

The LX7 includes the HDR setting as one of the options in ‘scene mode’ (SCN on the selection dial). This rapidly exposes a sequence of images and combines them in-camera to produce a single HDR JPG. Obviously you need to hold still when you make the photo.

Also it helps to photograph a static scene or the result my get a bit weird.

In this instance, I photographed some flowers on the platform of NI Railway’s station at Whitehead, Co. Antrim (Northern Ireland).

This is my HDR composite photograph. The camera automatically exposes a burst of images at various exposure settings and combines them in-camera to produce a single image with greater shadow and highlight detail than is normally possible with a single frame.

There are other ways of accomplishing a similar result.

So I decided to compare the HDR with some manipulated versions of a camera RAW file that I exposed of the same scene. With the RAW images, I’d adjusted the file with Lightroom post processing software, selectively altering contrast, gamma, and colour saturation and colour temperature to make for a more pleasing photograph.

Specifically I applied a digital graduated neutral density filter, while making global changes to highlights and saturation.

The output of the RAW is also as a JPG, which I scaled for presentation here.

This view is from a single RAW file exposed with the Lumix LX7 and manipulated digitally to maximize highlight and shadow detail. This is my first of two manipulations.
This is a more intensively manipulated file than the image immediately above. Again this image was from a single camera RAW file. This one features slightly darker highlight values.

I made two versions of the RAW interpretation.

In both sets of images I’ve intentionally focused on the flowers and not the NIR train.

Which do you prefer?

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Views of a Level Crossing and Some Sheep; Moira—Part 2 (four new photos)

This is a follow up to yesterday’s post on NI Railway’s Moira Station.

I’m always looking for a different angle, and I found a variety of ways to photograph Moira last Sunday.

The vantage points for these photos were all within a one-minute walk of each other.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
Lumix LX7 digital photograph.
A view from the road near the station. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Sunday at Moira

Last Sunday, I spent several hours photographing NI Railways and Enterprise trains at Moira, a station on the old Great Northern Railway’s Belfast-Dublin route.

The attractions of this location include a preserved signal cabin and a footbridge at the Dublin-end. Another benefit is the level crossing with a local road at the Dublin end. The barriers protecting the road drop 3-4 minutes before trains pass, which provides ample warning to prepare for photography.

This is especially helpful if you are sitting in a car nearby trying to edit texts and photos for a book on deadline.

Moira cabin is preserved. I made several views of the old box including this one with a crow in flight.
A NI Railways 3000-series CAF set approaches its station stop at Moira on its way from Belfast to Portadown, Northern Ireland.
Soft sun accentuates the front of the train and the signal cabin at Moira.

I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.

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Virgin HST at London Kings Cross.

This is among the hundreds photos I chose for final consideration for my book on European Railway Travel. It is not an outtake. Instead this is among my selections for the section on railways of Great Britain.

Exposed on 3 May 2016 using my Lumix LX7. This image was adapted from the camera RAW image for maximum dynamic range.

In the text I discuss the great London terminals, and I use this photo to illustrate Kings Cross. I like it because it features a vintage HST in nice light with a dynamic view of the classic train shed beyond.

The HST (High Speed Train) was introduced by the then nationalised British Railways (BR) in the mid-1970s as the Intercity 125.

As a 125 mph train capable of operating on many existing lines with minimal changes to infrastructure and signaling this represented a significant improvement over older trains that allowed BR to speed schedules and more effectively compete with other modes.

More than 40 years later, many of the old HSTs are still on the move.

Exposed on 3 May 2016 using my Lumix LX7. This image was adapted from the camera RAW image for maximum dynamic range.

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Czech Outtakes Part 1

On my  more than a half dozen trips to the Czech Republic I’ve made hundreds of photos of Czech Railways in action.

Here are a couple of outtakes from the selection of Czech photos considered for my book on European Railway Travel.

Both were exposed digitally in October 2016.

Czech class 380 electric in a nostalgic livery at Breclav, Czech Republic.
CD trains on the move at Grygov, Czech Republic.

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Finland Outtakes-1

This morning I’m posting from a NI Railways train en route Bangor, County Down.

I’m reviewing Scandinavian photos for my book on European Railway Travels.

This view of a Finnish intermodal train near Oulu didn’t make the cut.

I exposed it on Fujichrome slide film using my Nikon N90S with 135mm lens.

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Great Southern & Western Station at Portlaoise.

I could have titled this ‘Dusk in the Rain’.

As it happens I was at Irish Rail’s Portlaoise Station on my way up to Dublin and I needed a few potential illustrations of the 1840s buildings for my book on European railway travel. I thought, ‘what better time than now to make some up to the minute photos?’

Working with my Lumix LX7 I made these views that I feel capture the atmosphere of the station.

Looking down road toward Cork.
An Irish Rail Portlaoise commuter train arrives during light rain.

Any favorites?


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Swiss Outtakes Part 3; Rhätische Bahn on a dull day

I’m still editing photos for my European Railway Journeys book.

There were more tough choices and this one had to go!

This photo has drama but the light is flat.

Flat light and dead snow just don’t make the cut.

This photo was exposed the narrow gauge Swiss Rhätische Bahn at Küblis .

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Hanging Viaduct-German Outtakes Part-3

I’ve been reviewing hundreds upon hundreds of photos for my book on European Railway Travel.

Here’s a view I  like but it didn’t make the cut because I’m using a similar angle that works better. It was one of several views that I made on film, although was also working with my digital cameras that day.

This pictures the famous ‘Hanging Viaduct’ in the Mosel Valley near Bullay.

Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100F using a Canon EOS3 with 100mm lens.

Two years ago I visited this unusual railway construction with my friends Gerry Conmy, Stephen Hirsch and Denis McCabe.

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Train with Castle Rejected! German Outtakes Part 2.

Another example of some photos that didn’t make the final cut for my book on European Railway Travel.

You might think that catching a train with medieval castles in the background is pretty neat.

It is.

But I have many photos at this curve at Oberwesel on the busy Rhein left bank route. I’ve selected several potential candidates from this excellent German location and these two just didn’t seem book worthy.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1.

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French Outtakes—Part 1

Perusing my photos of France and French railways for my up-coming book on European Railway Travel, I was surprised  to find how many excellent images I had in my collection.

I’ve made about a half dozen trips through France over the years, and I’ve generally had good weather.

In reviewing my selection I’ve decided to cull these two images from consideration for the book.

This train photo is of an SNCF train but it’s not in France, and rather in Basel, Switzerland. More to the point, the lighting isn’t wonderful, and the setting is awkward.

I chose it because it’s a contemporary photo of an SNCF locomotive-hauled passenger train (which are becoming increasingly rare in France.) I have better SNCF photos than this one for the book.

Exposed on Fujichrome using a Canon EOS3.

I liked this Eiffel Tower image because it shows the scale of the structure. However, I have some really stunning views of this Parisian icon that better capture its majesty. This one gets the axe.

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German Outtakes-1

As mentioned last week, I’m in the final lap of assembling a book on European Railway travel.

This image is among my ‘outtakes’ from the section on Germany.

I have hundreds of photos along the Rhein. I like this one because it shows the twin tunnels on the right bank opposite Oberwesel, but the wires in the sky annoy me, as does the clutter in the river at right and shrub on the left.

There’s better photos to select from for my book.

A Swiss Cargo freight works forward along the Rhein in September 2015. Really? That was two years ago? Gosh, where does the time go? Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1.

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Steam and Rain—shallow focus and black & white.

It’s undoubtedly all wrong. It was nearly dark and raining steadily when I exposed these photos of former Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) V-Class 4-4-0 number 85 Merlin at Lisburn.

This is a follow up post from my digital views of the same evening titled Steam in the Rain: RPSI Steam & Jazz at Lisburn—25 August, 2017 that appeared on Tracking the Light a couple of weeks ago. Honer Travers had brought me down to Lisburn to watch 85 arrive and introduce me to the crew.

Working in low light, exposed these photos on Fomapan 100 Classic using my battle worn Nikon F3 with an old non-AI f1.4 50mm lens.

My exposure times ranged from 1/30th to 1/8th of a second, and all photos were made handheld. I processed the film in Ilford Perceptol stock solution for 5 minutes 45 seconds at 71 degrees F.

By panning vertically I aimed to convey a sense of motion. Notice that the buffer beam on 85 is sharp.
Trailing view at the footbridge in Lisburn.

1/8th of second at f2.

By using the lens wide open, I was working with shallow depth of field and a comparatively soft overall view. While the slow shutter speed allowed for motion blur. These are not conditions conductive to making razor sharp images. So I had no intentions of doing so.

Sometimes making softer, more interpretive images better conveys the spirit of the scene than clinically sharp images with over the shoulder light.

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In the Rain at the Famous Biaschina Loops—Swiss Outtakes Part 2

Here’s another view that won’t appear in my book on European Railway travel. (Are you missing the mist? Facebook viewers will need to click on the post to get the whole picture).

I’m just days away from submitting my final chapters.

Believe it or not, I substituted a film photo from this same location for consideration in the book instead of this digital photo.


I felt the film image captured the scene more effectively.

This is a digital photo at the three-level Biaschina Loops; for the book I went with a film photo of an SBB Re4-4 at the same spot.

I like the way the mist and rain add depth to this famous location at the Biaschina Loops on the south slope of Switzerland’s Gottard Pass.

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Wassen Curves on a Dull Day— Swiss Outtakes Part 1

An outtake (spelled with two ‘t’s) is a portion of a work removed during editing.

I’m in the final lap of assembling a book on European Railway travel.

Among my ‘outtakes’ from the section on Switzerland is this digital image that I made last year at the famous Wassen curves on the Gotthard Route.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

I was traveling with my friends Gerry Conmy, Denis McCabe and Stephen Hirsch.

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How Many Lighting Conditions Do You Work With?

Think about it? How many different type of light will you work with?

I know a fair few sunny-day photographers. No sun, no photo.

I know others who only come out at night.

I have my favorite types of light and preferred angles, but I’ll photograph in a variety of situations.

There’s your old standby; ‘over the shoulder three-quarter sun’.

But there’s lots of types of sun and angles; clear cloudless mid-morning sun is nice; how about side-lit midday sun? Or hazy backlit sun?

Hazy cross-lit sun with white sky.

Then there’s; low sun, glint, and the full back-lit sunset silhouette.

Of course with glint, you can subdivide it any number of ways; hard glint (silver glint), soft glint, golden glint, etc.

Likewise with overcast lighting. Not all cloudy days cast the same light.

Perhaps the most difficult is when the darkest cloud is above you and the rails glisten silver and the sky is white (but bright) off in the distance.

Then there’s rain; light rain, hard rain, driving rain, and ‘#@*#@@!!!! what am I doing out in this?!’ rain. Then there’s; sun and rain, and rainbow with dark sky.

Also; light falling snow, falling powdery snow, heavy falling snow, and one of my favorites; heavy falling snow with cross-lit sun’.

Then the next day: light snow on ground, heavy snow on ground, VERY heavy snow on ground. Then after it warms up; dead dirty snow.

Evening dusk with a hint of blue; evening dusk with stars twinkling. Evening dusk with comet (I’ve got it!), and even better, morning twilight with comet (got that too).

Then you have your mists and fogs; light fog, heavy fog, and mist clinging to top of hill in distance with full morning sun in foreground (another old favorite).

Night with stars; night with half moon, night with full moon; sodium vapor light, mercury vapor light; florescent light; incandescent light; and mixed electric light.

I like some of the specialized lighting effects such as ‘cathedral light’ where daylight is allowed to pierce shadows indirectly from the side, with no direct daylight in the scene. (Best accomplished in a snow shed, under a highway bridge, or in a train shed.)

There’s; train lost in shadow of its own exhaust backlit by rising sun.

And; everything in scene covered in hoar frost, backlit by rising run.

Not to mention; train in silhouette against fog bank in front of hill backlit by rising sun.

There’s more, but I bet I’ve lost some readers already.

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Glint, Flare and Clouds; Evening in the Gullet.

I realize that today’s title might not catch everyone’s eye.

How about: ‘Clean GM Diesel on a Freight’?

Or, ‘Irish Rail at Rush Hour’ ?

‘Gullet Glint’?

Anyway, this post is about light.

I was waiting on the Up IWT liner (International Warehousing & Transport Ballina, County Mayo to Dublin Northwall container train)with recently painted Irish Rail 071 class diesel number 082.

Just ahead of this Dublin-bound freight was the Up-Galway passenger train with a common set of ICRs (InterCity Railcars).

I was photographing into the sun. My intent was to work the glint effect. (That’s when the sun reflects off the side of the train).

Usually, I find this is most effective when you shade the front element of the lens to minimize flare. Notice the two variations with the ICR.

By shading the front element I’ve prevented the rays of the sun from directly hitting the front element of my lens, thus minimizing the effects of flare.
In this view, exposed moments after the photo above, I’ve allowed the sun to hit the front element to show the effects of flare. This small adjustment can produce very different results. Often I aim to control the amount of flare; a little bit lightens shadows and adds some colour to the scene but too much can result in unpleasant and unnatural looking light streaks or light fog.

By the time the freight reached me clouds had partly shaded the sun leaving only a hint of back-lighting.

All the photos were made using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 lens. The camera RAW Files were all adjusted for colour balance, colour saturation and contrast using the same ratio of change. (In other words, although I’ve manipulated the final result, all the photos have received the same degree of alteration).

The clouds shaded the sun for me here.
In this image, I adjust the exposure on site to compensate for the clouds blocking the sun.

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Lumix LX7 at Belfast Central.

I had a few minutes between trains at Belfast Central, so in the interval I made a few photos with my Lumix LX7.

To compensate for less than ideal lighting I made nominal adjustments to the RAW files in post processing using Light room.

Essentially I lightened the shadows, brought down the highlights in the sky, and boosted colour saturation while slightly increasing overall contrast.

Douglas Adams once wrote something to the effect: ‘There’s no language that has a word that means “as pretty as an airport”‘.
An inbound NI Railways train.
Red ‘tail lamps’ indicate that this is a trailing view.
NI Railways 8209 on the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise.
No flash was used in the exposing of this photo.

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Irish Rail Class 071 Works the IWT Liner.

Last week Irish Rail class 071 worked the IWT Liner.

Dressed in the 1970s-era heritage livery, this locomotive has been a popular topic with local photographers.

The bright orange locomotive glistens even on a dull day.

Digital photograph exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm lens.

I exposed this view on Friday (1September 2017) from Conyngham Road in Dublin (at the entrance to the Phoenix Park Tunnel) using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

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Telephoto versus Wide angle: Picturing Irish Rail’s Tara Mines Run at Drogheda.

A few days ago, my daily Tracking the Light post featured a long distance telephoto view of Irish Rail’s Tara Mines zinc ore train crossing the Malahide causeway.

See: Long View: Tara Mines Zinc Ore Train at Malahide. 

In that photo the train is relatively small in a big scene.

Three days later, David Hegarty and I were again out along the old Great Northern line, this time at Drogheda, to photograph the Tara Mines on the move.

In contrast to the distant view in the earlier posting, the photographs displayed here  focus tightly on the locomotive and train using more classic three-quarter angle.

In the top photograph, I used my FujiFilm XT1 with a 90mm fixed telephoto for a tight compressed view (what some photographers might term a ‘telewedgie’).

While in bottom photograph I used my Lumix LX7 with zoom lens set with a wide-angle perspective that approximates the angle of view offered by a 35mm focal length lens on a traditional 35mm film camera.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm fixed telephoto lens. Notice the crossovers located on  curved track.
Lumix LX7 wide view.

I prefer the telephoto view for overall appeal; this handles the soft lighting conditions more satisfactorily, focuses more closely on the locomotive and train, minimizes bland elements of the scene such as the ballast and white sky, and offers a high impact image of the train in motion. Also it helps emphasize the trackage arrangement with crossovers between the up and down lines.

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Think Fast at Hazlehatch! Action on the Quad Track.

Irish Rail’s quad-track line southwest of Dublin is a popular place for photos.

Last week, Colm O’Callaghan and I made a trip down to Hazlehatch to make photos of trains on the move in the afternoon.

Belmond’s Grand Hibernian was passing down road when Colm said to me, ‘Quick, it’s the inspection car’. I had only a few seconds. I turned around and with little time to compose I fired off a few frames.

Both the train and the inspection car were in motion.

FujiFilm XT1 photograph at Hazlehatch. The fifth line in the center serves a stub-end track to a bay platform at Hazlehatch station.

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Tracking the Light features Irish Rail 29000s at Drogheda in five photos.

Only see one photo? That’s because you are not viewing this post on Tracking the Light (Hint: click the link).

Irish Rail maintains its 29000-series diesel railcars (built by CAF) at its Drogheda Depot.

Back in Janaury 2003 I photographed the very first of these trains being lifted out of the boat at Dublin port. (Thanks to the late Norman McAdams who had encouraged me to  be dockside to make photos for the Irish Railway Record Society Journal).

I was reminded of that event while crossing the now disused trackage (half paved over) by the old Point Depot along the north Liffey Quays near where I made my photos.

These images were exposed last week at Drogheda using my digital cameras.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7. Notice Irish Rail’s Tara Mines train at the upper left.
Irish Rail 29000s by the dozen! FujiFilm XT1 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo looking toward Dublin.
Lumix LX7 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.

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Coming and Going: The Belfast-Dublin Enterprise on the old Great Northern Line near Mosney

There’s a lightly used road bridge over Irish Rail’s old Great Northern line south of the former station at Mosney that offers a clean view in both directions.

The Irish Sea is in the distance to the east.

A week ago David Hegarty and I spent a few hours here making photos of passing trains.

The Enterprise is a cross-border service connecting Belfast and Dublin. Trains are arranged in a push-pull configuration with the locomotive at the Belfast-end. Exposed at 1/1000th of a second to minimize motion blur.
Trailing view: Exposed at 1/1000th of a second to minimize motion blur.

I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a fixed focal length 27mm pancake lens, which offers an angle of view rough equivalent to a 41mm lens on a traditional 35mm film camera. In other words it is a slightly wide-angle perspective.

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