Milk Tram at St Stephens Green—LUAS Avonmore Ad Tram Round 2!

Two weeks ago, I was traveling south on the LUAS Green Line from Marlborough Street to Harcourt Street, when I spotted the one-of-a-kind LUAS Avonmore advertising tram taking the bend around Dublin’s St. Stephens Green.

My Lumix is always at the ready, so I made a few grab shots from the windows of the tram, which was bound for Broombridge.

I’d worked out in my head roughly how long it would take for it to make a return trip, and did some shopping to kill time.

An hour later I returned to the curve and made a few more photos of the same tram going the other way.

Dawson Street.
Trams crossing at Dawson Street.
Trailing view.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

Class 201 Retrospective: Irish Rail 205 on the Move.

To mark my twenty years photographing Irish Railways, I’m posting images of each of Irish Rail’s 201-class General Motors diesels in numerical order.

A dozen years ago, I wouldn’t have found anything noteworthy in my photos of Irish Rail 205 at work. But that’s part of the point of this exercise.

You never know which photos will become interesting over time. The common becomes unusual; the normal become curious; the routine will seem exciting.

Irish Rail’s signalman at Castlerea hands the staff to the driver of engine 205 as it passes the cabin on its way up to Dublin on 9 April 2005.
Irish Rail 205 crests Ballybrophy bank on 3 June 2006 on its way to Cork from Dublin. Exposed on Fujichrome using a Contax G2 rangefinder with Zeiss 28mm Biogon lens.

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Location Location Location: Making Claude Road Work.

I was trying think of a title that would get you to read this!

The Claude Road footbridge in Dublin offers an interesting vantage point for Irish Rail, but comes with its fair share of challenges.

It’s a location on an S-bend, which is a good thing, but also a visual puzzle, calling for the optimal lens-camera combination to yield satisfactory results.

I like the location because of the old mill in the distance to the west, and the views of Croke Park stadium to the east that offer distinctive location identification.

An Irish Rail ICR heading east for Connolly Station approaches Claude Road.
A slightly wider view of the same train.
An inbound 29000 series railcar heads toward Drumcondra Station, Croke Park looms in the distance.
An outbound 29000 series railcar some a similar vantage point.
To make the most of this image, I adjusted contrast and exposure in post processing.
Irish Rail 077 works ‘light engine’ toward Inchicore. This is a trailing view to make the most of the morning sunlight.

High railings at the center part of the footbridge can make it difficult for me to obtain the perfect angle, without aid of a footstool or tilting rear camera display.

I made these views on a sunny morning with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens. The Fuji’s adjustable rear display allows me to hold the camera at arm’s length over the bridge railing..

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Working With Glint: Cherry Orchard and a Late Running Liner.

Last week, Irish Rail operated a late IWT liner that departed Dublin in the evening, instead on its normal mid-morning path.

A group of my friends went to Cherry Orchard in the west Dublin suburbs to capture this relatively unusual move. While waiting for the freight, I made views of the evening passenger parade.

The sky was clear of clouds and sun was aligned with the Cork line making some interesting possibilities of glint and silhouette photographs.

In the 1990s, I exposed hundreds of images in this type of dramatic lighting conditions. The characteristics of Kodachrome 25 slide film made it well suited to glint photographs and I had my K25 exposures refined to a high art.

Glint photographs are more difficult to capture digitally, and I find that I have to control contrast and use digital masks/digital applied graduated neutral density filters in post processing to obtain the results that I expect.

An up-cork with a Mark 4 push-pull set catches the evening glint at Cherry Orchard.
I made this view of a down road Intercity Railcar from the north side of the line.

 

Irish Rail’s IWT liner roars toward the setting sun.
Glint light is an excellent means of capturing the drama of railways in motion.

Key to this exercise is underexposing a raw file sufficiently to retain detail in the sky and glinty areas of the image, than lighten shadows while making localized highlight adjustments in post processing.

These photos were made using my FujiFilm X-T1.

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Dublin by Night: 1000 shades of Dark.

I’d use ‘gray’ in place of ‘dark’, but apparently the phraseology has assumed new meanings.

I could just say ‘Dublin in Black & White’, but that isn’t really correct either.

Working with my Nikon F3 loaded with Foma Classic 100 black & white film, I made these photos during March 2018 wintery weather in Dublin.

To keep my camera steady for long exposures, I used various tripods, depending on the surface and circumstance.

Irish Rail’s Loop Line bridge over the River Liffey.

My exposures varied, but most were between 1 and 8 seconds. I calculated exposure manually using a Minolta IV Flash meter (in reflective mode).

I processed the Fomapan 100 film in Ilford ID-11 stock mixed 1-1 with water at 68F for 7 minutes 15 seconds, plus pre-soak with a token amount of Kodak HC110, then scanned negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Class 201 Retrospective: Irish Rail 204 in four photos.

The unremarkable 204.

Not as rare to my lens as 202, but not as common as say 201, 205, or the seeming omnipresent 215. Today, views of 204 on the move are still pretty neat since it’s been more than eight years since it turned a wheel.

These are all Fujichrome photos, since I never photographed 204 at work using a digital camera. Maybe someday it will return to service. But even then I might take it on slide film for old time sake.

Can you spot the ‘bad’ photo? (read the captions)

Irish Rail 204 races down road at Ballybrophy on 7 April 2007.
Nearly 12 years ago, freshly paint Irish Rail 204 passes Cherryville Junction.
One for the bin? Here we have a fascinating photo of Irish Rail in transition; I exposed this view almost ten years ago to the day: March 2008. Locomotive 204 leads Mark 3s west at Islandbridge Junction as a new Mark 4 set rolls up-road; at left is a four-wheel ballast train led by a pair of Bo-Bos (class 141/181 General Motors diesels), with another Bo-Bo at right working as a station pilot. Look to the upper right in the yard and you’ll see a set of new Rotem ICRs. But this was bad photo: never mind all the railway action, I committed a compositional faux pas; I chopped the top of the Wellington Testimonial in the Phoenix Park! That’s it, pitch the photo! Nothing to see here!
On another day, Irish Rail 204 leads the Platin-Tullamore cement. I was disappointed that an 071 didn’t work the train, but I’m sure glad I made this photo anyway!

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My Photo of Kent Station Appears in Michael B. Barry’s New Book.

Michael B. Barry’s beautiful new book on Málaga makes the connection between two Kent Stations, one in Cork the other in Málaga. Both were named for politically active Kents who were related.

Michael’s book is available from Andulas Press.

My photo is at the bottom of page 80, and depicts Cork’s Kent Station. The top photo is of Victoria Kent Station in Málaga.
This is the cover of Michael B. Barry’s new book

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RPSI’s The Midlander in Colour.

As a follow-up to my black & white posts: On Sunday, 18 March 2018, I also worked with my two digital cameras to expose a few choice photographs of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s The Midlander on its run from Connolly Station Dublin to Maynooth.

Also see: https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5nz

Telephoto view at Connolly. This is a colour photograph, but has the contrast and texture of a black & white image. Are the red signals an improvement or a distraction?
Looking back at the train from tank engine number 4.
Irish Rail 073 in heritage paint brought the RPSI train over from Inchicore Works to Connolly Station.
Engine No. 4 hauled the excursion.

An NI Railways CAF train arrives at Connolly substituting for the normal Enterprise set.
Approaching Glasnevin Junction in Dublin.
Working the Midland route toward Maynooth.
Running around at Maynooth.
Number 4 with its admirers at Maynooth.

My new book ‘Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe features RPSI trains in its section on Ireland.

This is due out in May 2018 and may be pre-ordered from Kalmbach Books: https://kalmbachhobbystore.com

For details on  RPSI and passenger excursions see: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

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Steam on Retropan.

On one level, it seems appropriate to make images of steam locomotives and their environment with Retropan. ‘Retro on Retro’ right?

Yet, I know many old-school black & white photographers would object to the essential qualities of Retropan black & white film, which by design is comparatively soft and grainy.

Yes, there are sharper films; and of course there’s colour, not to mention digital, but the reason I chose Foma Retropan for these photos was because of the gritty quality it offers.

Someone might ask why does the RPSI run a steam locomotive, when there are more efficient diesel railcars available?

Connolly Station, exposed on Retropan 18 March 2018.
Connolly Station, exposed on Retropan 18 March 2018.

Ooo! Look an efficient diesel railcar. And it’s on Retropan too! Drumcondra, Dublin.
Approaching Glasnevin Junction, Dublin.
Maynooth.
Locomotive number 4 at Maynooth. Notice the modern signal in the distance and the bright lamps on the locomotive.

 

Psssst! I also made some colour slides, and a whole bunch of colour digital image on the same day.

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My new book ‘Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe features RPSI trains in its section on Ireland.

It is due out in May 2018 and may pre-order the book from Kalmbach Books: https://kalmbachhobbystore.com

For details on  RPSI and passenger excursions see: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Atmosphere under the old Roof.

A couple more Tri-X views from Connolly Station of last Sunday’s RPSI steam trip to Maynooth.

See my earlier post: Snow! Steam! Action!

https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5nz

Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using a Nikon F3 with 35mm lens.
Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using a Nikon F3 with 35mm lens.

For details on RPSI steam and diesel excursions see: Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

 

Snow! Steam! Action!

It was cold and snowy at Dublin’s Connolly Station last Sunday.

While snow complicated Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s planned trips to Maynooth, it made for ideal conditions to expose black & white photos.

Using my Nikon F3 with 35mm and 135mm lens, I made these images on platform 3.

My new book ‘Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe features RPSI trains in its section on Ireland.

It is due out in May 2018 and may pre-order the book from Kalmbach Books: https://kalmbachhobbystore.com

For details on  RPSI and passenger excursions see: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

RPSI No 4.

All were exposed using Kodak Tri-X black & white film, which I processed in Ilford ID-11 (1-1 at 68 degrees F for 7 minutes 45 seconds, plus extended presoak with very dilute HC110 to pre-activate development.)

I scanned the negatives  using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.

RPSI No 4.

More snowy steam images images to follow!

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I stood here for what? Fool in the Rain: Irish Weather Part 2.

Having a little information can be a dangerous thing.

Irish Rail’s 073 in heritage paint was working the IWT  liner.

It’s just a short walk to Islandbridge Junction.

In theory, if I timed my walk right I wouldn’t have to wait more than a couple of minutes.

And then for reasons unknown, Irish Rail held the IWT Liner in the Phoenix Park tunnel for 20 minutes. Twenty minutes seems like eternity when some fool is waiting in the rain.

Was it worth it?

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with f2.0 90mm lens. (f2.5 1/500 second at ISO 400)
Screen shot showing camera EXIF data.

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Irish Rail 073 in Heritage Paint at Dublin’s North Wall.

Irish Rail 073 was repainted in 2017 into heritage orange paint.

When I arrived in Ireland 20 years ago, most locomotives were in some variation of this orange-livery. Today, 073 is a novelty.

The bright orange with white trimming makes for a great subject, even on cloudy days since its stands out well from the background.

I made these views last week at Dublin’s North Wall of the arriving IWT Liner.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday.

Fool in the Rain, Irish Weather Part 1.

On the way to Belfast from Dublin a couple of weeks ago, the rain lashed down. Instead of changing trains at Portadown, I opted to remain dry a little long and remained on the Enterprise all the way to Belfast Central.

It was still cloudy in Belfast, but the rain had stopped.

I traveled to Great Victoria Street, then changed for an all stops NI Railways train and alighted at Adelaide just as the clouds receded and bright evening light prevailed.

An express to Lisburn passes Adelaide. You’d hardly know that an hour earlier it was lashing rain.
A few minutes later, a 4001-series CAF passes on an all stops service. This pair of photos offers a good comparison between the 3001 and 4001 series CAF railcars employed by NIR.
NIR 4010 slows for its station stop at Adelaide.

I exposed these views with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Fujinon 18-135mm zoom lens.

So I wasn’t a fool in the end; or was I?

If I’d changed at Portadown, I would have arrived at Adelaide sooner and I may have photographed a train with a rainbow.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Looking Down on Great Victoria Street, Belfast.

Plans are afoot to redevelop Belfast’s Great Victoria Street Station.

Although NI Railway’s platforms are not an architectural wonder, I’ve been making photos of the present arrangement before it changes.

Belfast Great Victoria Street Station from Durham Street.
Great Victoria Street at dusk 1/5 second at f1.8 ISO250 with Lumix LX7.
Inbound NIR train arriving Great Victoria Street at dusk 1/5 second at f2.0 ISO250 with Lumix LX7.
Great Victoria Street at dusk 1/5 second at f1.7 ISO250 with Lumix LX7.

I made these views with my Lumic LX-7 from the Durham Street bridge which crosses above the platforms.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Tracking the Light Extra! Dublin Greened for St Patrick’s Day 2018! Five NEW photos!

Lumix photos by Brian Solomon.

Dusk is a great time to capture the light. Once the blue in the sky has faded, the photos just are not as interesting.

O’Connell Street at dusk.
Grand Central at Abbey and O’Connell Street.
Irish Rail’s Loop Line Bridge with the Custom House.
Irish Rail’s Loop Line Bridge with the Custom House.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Dublin’s Elusive Super Milk Tram.

Well it’s the only time I’ve seen it .(so far)

I was on Abbey Street, when I heard the familiar Dong-Dong warning of a LUAS tram . . .

this wasn’t a red line tram, but rather a car working the new Green Line Cross City route on Marlborough Street.

So there it was in all its creamy-whiteness; the red-white-blue Avonmore Super Milk Tram!

LUAS Tram 5010 painted for Avonmore Super Milk passes the Abbey Theatre.
Avonmore Milk Tram in the Dublin City centre.

Lucky for me I had my Lumix LX7 at the ready.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

 

 

Class 201 Retrospective: Old reliable, 203.

As part of my 20 years in Ireland/201 numerical retrospective, I’ll offer just a couple views of Irish Rail 203.

My memories of this engine are largely the blast a horn and the rush of air as it passed with Mark 3 carriages in tow on the Dublin-Cork line.

My first summer photographing trains in Ireland was characterised by gray days and dirty 201s. I don’t recall why, but Irish Rail had let its fleet become manky at that stage. Irish Rail 203 blasts through Hazel Hatch mid summer 1998. Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia 100 with a Nikon F3 and 135mm lens.
On 23 Jan 2005, Irish Rail 203 approaches Cherryville Junction with a down train from Dublin. Exposed on Fujichrome Velvia with a Contax G2 with 28mm Biogon lens.

One instance stands out about the others though: I was showing some American friends around the island; we’d borded the Cu na Mara Mark3 international set at Heuston behind locomotive 215 destined for Galway. We got as far as Hazel Hatch, when 215 coiled up and we were sent into the loop to await a rescue loco from Inchicore.

Guess which engine was sent to bring us to Galway? (This is not a trick question).

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Photography: room for subtlety?

I made this view of disused narrow-gauge industrial tracks imbedded between the cobbles on Rainsford Street near Dublin’s Guinness Brewery to demonstrate the effects of shallow depth of field.

Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using my battle-worn Nikon F3 with Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Cover Considerations:  Out-takes from my Railway Guide to Europe.

What makes a good cover photo?

The short answer is the image that the publisher hopes will best sell the product.

When I was asked to supply potential cover images for Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, I searched through hundreds of photos that I thought might work.

I exposed the cover photo in Germany’s Rhein Valley using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

My book should be available at the end of May.

You may pre-order it from Kalmbach Books: https://kalmbachhobbystore.com

It is aimed at people looking to travel around Europe by train.

I hoped for a cover image that showed a modern passenger train in a classic setting. Also, while the book covers a wide geographical span, I thought it would be best for the cover to focus on central Europe.

Kalmbach books narrowed my selection about 8 photos; while the choice was ultimately theirs, the image of a DB Regional Express passing a medieval tower at Oberwesel made my final cut.

This photo was exposed in nice soft sunlight; it offers a pleasant scenic summer setting with a simple, yet striking composition showing a river, a castle and a decidedly modern European passenger train. The train’s paint scheme makes it easy to distinguished it from the surrounding landscape and it appears relatively high in the image area (if it appeared too low, it might not work well to sell the book). Also, there’s ample space for the book title and other writing.

I made the cover image while on a visit to the Rhein valley with Gerry Conmy, Stephen Hirsch and Denis McCabe. We spent the afternoon of 8 September 2015 photographing a parade of trains on the Rhein’s ‘left bank’ line.

The cover image was selected from a burst of 4 photos. I’ve included a variety of the other photos I made during the same afternoon.

This photo was made slightly later in the sequence of photos from which the cover image was selected.

 

This Mittelrheinbahn local train was exposed a few minutes after the cover image. The lighting isn’t as nice as the cover image.
A DB class 101 electric leads an IC train at Oberwesel. Although a dramatic image, the train is lower in the image area, the catenary masts present greater visual clutter and the train is a generation older, thus will tend to date the book more quickly.
DB auto train. Admittedly, while I like the views of freight trains, these are are unlikely to sell the book to passenger train riders. I did include a handful of freight photos inside the book. Including a vintage image my father made on an SNCF freight in 1960.
A Swiss Cargo intermodal freight at Oberwesel. This was one of many freights that I photographed that afternoon.
An Austrian EC train with leased Taurus electric and ÖBB carriages, makes for a nice international image. The colors of the locomotive don’t work as well as the DB Regional Express ultimately selected.

 

Crossrail is one of many private operators running freight on German rails.
A DB class 101 leads an EC train with SBB carriages. Now who left his camera bag in the photo?
Catching this vintage class 225 ‘Rabbit’ with a maintenance train was a real coup. Yet, hardly cover material for a book aimed at riding trains.
Here’s a slightly different angle at the same location. This features a castle perched atop the hill, but is a more cluttered view.

All of these images were exposed over the course of less than an hour using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe should be available at the end of May.

You may pre-order it from Kalmbach Books: https://kalmbachhobbystore.com

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Mechanicville, New York; Then and Now Part 2: Boston & Maine east of Reynolds.

At the end of December 2017, I revisited Mechanicville, New York with an aim of making some contemporary photos at the same angles as images I’d made back in November 1984.

Then and Now comparisons are common enough, but what makes these photos significant is that I’ve exposed both the historic photos as well as the modern images  using the same type of film and equipment (a Leica IIIA with 50mm Sumitar loaded with Kodak 35mm Tri-X).

I describe my technique in the earlier post:

See: Mechanicville, New York; Then and Now Part 1. [https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5ha].

These pairs of photos show the Hansen Road Bridge east of Reynolds, New York, which is just a couple of miles from XO Tower at Mechanicville. In the 1984 views, my friends and I were following an eastward Boston & Maine train.

Back then the B&M route was much busier than it is today, although the line still carries a good share of freight.

Double track from Mechanicville extended east to an interlocking (which I believe was called ‘Schneiders’) east of Reynolds and near Schaghticoke. The main tracks were grade separated on approach to the interlocking, which made this a distinctive location.

Maine Central 252 leads an eastward Boston & Maine freight at Hansen Road east of Reynolds, New York. Exposed on Kodak Tri-X with a Leica IIIA with 50mm Sumitar. November 1984.
Comparison view on  December 29,  2017 also with a Leica IIIA, 50mm Sumitar and exposed on Tri-X. Sorry there’s no MEC GP38 in this view! (You’ll need to visit the Conway Scenic to see that). The other main track was lifted in the early 1990s after a decline in freight traffic on the B&M route.
Trailing view from Hansen Road, November 1984. The open top auto racks really date the photo.
Comparison view from Hansen Road on December 29, 2017. The trees have really grown up in the last three decades.

In the 33 year interval between photos, the Hansen Road bridge was replaced, which slightly alters the angle for photography.

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Class 201 Retrospective: The Elusive 202

Also See: Irish Rail 202! Hooray!

Here’s the backstory: In the dozen or so years between 1998 and when Irish Rail withdrew and stored a portion of its relatively modern EMD-built 201-class locomotives (numbers 201-205, 210-214), I spent a lot of time wandering the system making photos.

Some locomotives were common; I must have a hundred photos of class leader 201 on the roll (featured in the first 201 Retrospective installment). And every time I turned around, I seem to find 215 leading a train.

Of the 35 201s, I found that engine 202 was by far the most elusive.

Several years ago, I scoured my files and located just 3 colour slides of 202.

A subsequent review of black & white negatives turned up another image (displayed in my October 2017 post, linked above).

I knew there must be more. Irish Rail 202 was among the 201s to receive the improved orange and black livery with bright yellow ends. I simply had to have made photos of it in that livery!

So, as I was trolling through hundreds of boxes of slides over the last few months, I kept an eye open and lo and behold! I found several more images of the elusive locomotive.

My questions are: why was 202 so elusive? Was it simply luck of the draw that I rarely saw it on the move? Was 202 hiding somewhere? Was it especially unreliable and spent most of the time at Inchicore awaiting repair?

You might wonder why I didn’t find these photos sooner. The answer has several considerations; at the time of exposure the photos didn’t make my final cut. While there’s nothing horribly wrong with these photos, there’s minor technical flaws that resulted in me discounting them.

Also, the significance of these images wasn’t evident to me at the time of exposure and so remained in the little green boxes and hadn’t been transferred to my preferred files. Lastly, I don’t organize my slides by locomotive number, so finding a specific engine photo can be challenging.

On 5 May 2006, I made this view of Irish Rail 202 at Portarlington. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the photo isn’t level. That was the initial reason I rejected it. Easy enough to fix digitally now, but a no-go for the slide show!

The point of this exercise is that sometimes the content of a photo becomes more interesting as time passes. The photo of a fairly ordinary locomotive at work has greater interest after that engine is withdrawn from traffic.

So what’s wrong with this photo. A 201 with Mark3s at Cherryville, at the time it couldn’t get any more common than that! As a result this slide stayed in the box for almost 12 years. Now, I’m really glad I made the picture!

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Irish Rail ICR and Sperry Train at Mallow, County Cork.

For me, sometimes black & white film provides the best medium for capturing a scene.

Working with my Nikon N90S loaded with Ilford FP4 black & white film, I exposed this sequence of photographs at Mallow, County Cork.

Soft afternoon sun provided some nice light; just the sort of low sun that allows for tonality and texture to be interpreted on black & white film.

Irish Rail 075 rests in the Mallow yard with the Sperry rail defect detection train.
The addition of a spoil wagon at the back of the Sperry consist was unusual and worth of a few photographs.
Filtered sun makes for contrast and tonality well suited to black & white film. I exposed these views using my Nikon N90S with 35mm f2.0 Nikkor AF Lens.

 

 

An Irish Rail ICR (InterCity Railcar) arrives at Mallow from Cork on its way to Dublin.
Here’s a contrast between the antique looking Sperry train and the sleek ICR.

Previously, I’d struggled with FP4 to get a range of tones that satisfy me. With this roll of film, I used Ilford ID11 stock solution without dilution at 68 degrees F (20C) for 5 minutes, with only a short water bath prior to develoment.

Although, my negatives still required a touch of contrast adjustment in post processing, I’m very happy with the way they turned out.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

 

 

 

Holywood Sunset?—Febraury 2018.

At Holywood, NI Railways skirts the Lagan estuary on its way from Belfast to Bangor.

Although a mostly overcast afternoon,  hints of colour and the occasional shaft of light appeared in the evening sky.

I’d been trying to put the pieces of a lighting puzzle together where I could feature an NIR train with the dramatic sky, but I didn’t manage to get what I envisioned.

By the time I found the optimal location for a photo with a train, the really dramatic light had faded.

I exposed these views with my Lumix LX7.

Sunset over the Lagan looking toward Belfast. Exposed with m Lumix LX7.
Train on the left; dramatic light on the right. (And no suitable location on the far side of the tracks.)
This location would have made for a perfect angle of a train with the dramatic sky, but by the time I reached this spot the light had faded. You can’t win all the prizes.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Class 201 Retrospective: Irish Rail Class Leader Locomotive 201

To mark my twenty years photographing Irish Railways, I thought it would be a neat exercise to display images of each of the 201-class General Motors diesels in numerical order. I’ll intersperse these posts with other Tracking the Light features.

Today, I’m beginning with the class leader. This engine famously arrived in Ireland in a Russian-built cargo plane.

That event was before my time in Ireland, but I made hundreds of photos of engine 201 around Ireland before it was withdrawn from traffic and stored at Inchicore.

On 23 May, 2003, Irish Rail 201 leads a Dublin-Galway train at Athenry. Exposed with a Contax G2 with 28mm lens on Fujichrome Sensia.
It was on 6 April 2005, that I framed Irish Rail 201 in the bridge arch at Thurles, County Tipperary. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3 with 180mm Nikkor lens.
Begin in 2005, Irish Rail began applying a variation of its orange and black livery to the 201s that featured largely yellow ends to make the locomotives more visible. Class 201 works a Rugby special at Cherryville Junction in 2006. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3 with 180mm lens.

Next in this series, I’ll feature never before published photos of Irish Rail’s very elusive 202.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

 

Retropan Test—Further Experiments with a New Emulsion.

Tracking the Light focus on creating photos and this post is about the nuts and bolts of working with black & white film, and pursuing means to refine the process.

What better way to spend a damp, windy snowy day, then to expose and process black & white film in new ways?

I’d read about ‘stand processing,’ but I’d never tried it.

Stand processing uses developer at very low-concentration with virtually no agitation for very long process times.

Among the potential advantages of stand processing is greater tonality with exceptional highlight and shadow detail. A secondary benefit is that it requires much less developer. Also, I wondered if I could better control granularity by eliminating the effects of agitation (the answer from this test was: no).

I’d previously experimented with Foma Retropan, a modern film rated at 320 that emulates the effects of traditional emulsions. For those photos I processed the film in Foma’s specially formulated Retro developer. I found the negatives to be grainy, but offering a distinctive tonality with soft highlights.

See: Retropan on the Rails; Experiments with My second Roll of Foma’s 320 ISO Black & White film. [https://wp.me/p2BVuC-4Bj] and

Unexpected Results: My Third Experiment with Retropan. [https://wp.me/p2BVuC-4BP]

Below are some examples of Retropan using stand development in Agfa Rodinal (mixed 1:100 with water) for 40 minutes, 10 seconds agitation at beginning of development, and again at the end. Development temp 74 F.

Retropan stand process for 40 minutes in Rodinal mixed 1 to 100 with water. 135mm lens.
Retropan stand process for 40 minutes in Rodinal mixed 1 to 100 with water. 24mm lens.

For comparison, a couple of hours later  I also exposed more Retropan and processed this in Agfa Rodinal Special (as distinct from ordinary Rodinal) but with agitation and short process times; one batch (mixed at 1:32) at 68F for 4 minutes;

Retropan 4 minutes Agfa Rodinal Special with 10 second agitation every 30 seconds, plus 9 minutes selenium toner. 24mm lens.

A second batch (mixed at 1:32) at 70F for 70 minutes. I then toned these negatives for 9 minutes in a selenium solution to boost highlight detail.

Retropan 7 minutes (70F) Agfa Rodinal Special with 10 second agitation every 30 seconds, plus 9 minutes selenium toner. 50mm lens

This is a work in progress and I have no formal conclusions, but makes for some interesting images.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily 

20 Years In Ireland: Irish Rail class 201 Retrospective—Introduction

I’ve been exploring and photographing Irish railways since 1998. To mark my twenty years photography, I thought it would be a neat exercise to display images of each of the 201-class General Motors diesels in numerical order.

Irish Rail and NIR together have 34 class 201 diesels. This series of posts will feature the locomotives in numerical order, while imaging them in various ways. Here were have two of the liveries applied to the 201s by Irish Rail.

I realise this is a specialised exercise (Americans may substitute ‘ize’ of ‘ise’ as required), but I though it would fun.

Originally I was going to do this in 2014, which marked the 20th anniversary of the 201-class locomotive in Ireland, but I was foiled by my inability to locate suitable images of locomotive 202! (I went over the derail before leaving the yard, as it were.)

So after some serious closet scouring and sifting though other arrays of old photos resulted my locating of various images of the every elusive Irish Rail 202 (presently stored out of service at Inchicore in Dublin).

Now over the coming weeks, I’ll be making EXTRA posts with images of the 201 in order.

 

Tracking the Light EXTRA Post.

Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

Yesterday I was thrilled to receive my Author’s advance copy of my Railway Guide to Europe.

This represents a culmination of more than 20 years of wandering around exploring Europe by rail, while seeking places to make photographs.

I exposed the cover photo in Germany’s Rhein Valley using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

This is aimed at helping you plan your trips around Europe by offering experience, suggestions and thoughts on where to go, how to get there, how to buy the best tickets, while hinting at what to avoid.

This is illustrated with hundreds of my best European photographs.

It goes beyond the railways and suggests myriad interesting places to visit with detailed sections on London, Paris, Vienna and Rome among other European cities.

This should be available at the end of May.

You may pre-order it from Kalmbach Books: https://kalmbachhobbystore.com

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

Sunset at Craigmore Viaduct.

A few weeks ago I posted a shadow silhouette made from the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise crossing the old Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) Craigmore Viaduct.

LX7 photo from the train.

Last week I had the opportunity to make a photo of the same bridge from the ground, thus making use of the shadow from a completely different angle.

Exposure was the tricky part, since the sun was low on the horizon, but partially blocked by the passing train. I made these photos with my Lumix LX7 without use of filters or post-processing adjustment.

Lumix LX7 ISO80, f8 at 1/1000th second, 60mm setting on the zoom.
Lumix LX7 ISO80, f8 at 1/1000th second, 60mm setting on the zoom.

Thanks to Honer Travers and William Malone with whom I was traveling.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

 

RPSI Driver Training Special at Laytown.

A rare sunny Sunday in Ireland. It was clear from dawn to dusk.

Making it extra special was Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s driver training special using tank engine No. 4 and the preserved Cravens carriages.

This worked the Northern line between Connolly Station in Dublin and Drogheda.

I was traveling with William Malone and Honer Travers.

We decided to visit the viaduct at Laytown, which offers a good place to catch a steam locomotive at work.

I made this view using my Lumix LX7, but also exposed a sequence of Fujichrome colour slides with my Nikon N90S and 35mm lens. We’ll have to wait to see those.

My Lumix LX7 is a nifty tool for making action photos of train. Although a small camera, it has the ability to produce both RAW and JPG files and features a remarkably sharp lens.

I find that engine number 4 photographs best from a broadside angle. It looks awkward viewed head-on.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Sun on the Bog; Nice Light on Bord na Mona—February 2018.

This is a follow-up to Friday’s post:

February 2018 Foray into the Irish Bog in search of Narrow Gauge freight. [https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5jR]

The Irish Midlands are famously cloudy.

However, when the evening sun shines it makes for some wonderful photographic opportunities.

In February, Denis McCabe and I waited out the clouds, and caught two pairs of laden Bord na Mona trains in bright sun.

These images were exposed near Rathangan, Co. Kildare.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Tracking the Light posts daily.

Tracking the Light Extra: Views from today’s 1320 Enterprise to Belfast.

I’d booked on the 1120 to Belfast, but the first Dublin-Belfast Enterprise to depart Dublin Connolly since Thursday was today’s 1320 (that’s 1:20 pm)

Ground transport was still non-functional when I left Islandbridge, so I made my way through the slush to Connolly on foot, mostly following the rusted over LUAS tracks.

There was a big crowd for the train at Connolly. We were slow on the DART route to Malahide, then nominally delayed at Drogheda when a disruptive passenger fought with Irish Rail staff.

All and all it was an interesting trip! I’m posting from an NI Railways CAF on its way to Great Victoria Street.

I made these views using Lumix LX7.

On my walk to Connolly I passed this scene on Abbey Street.
Connolly was frosty.
I was happy to see the Enterprise ready on Platform 2.
It was nice to be welcomed, but a little information would have been nice. Reminds me of a story my late friend Bob Buck used to tell about a woman passenger inquiring of the Boston & Albany Station agent at Framingham. ‘I asked you for information but all you give me is bullshit!’
Passengers were anxious to get on the train.
Finally a friendly member of staff came along and opened the doors.

Hmm, snow on the platforms!
I’m checking the level of snow on the DART and lines from the North Wall.
NI Railways CAF Railcars at Portadown a few minutes ago. LX7 photo.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday.

Irish Rail Sperry Train at Kent Station Cork.

A couple of weeks ago Irish Rail’s Sperry train made a visit to Cork.

This train is essentially comprised of the weed-spraying consist with the addition of a container that carries the Sperry ultrasonic rail-defect detection equipment.

I made these views of the unusual train under the train shed at Cork’s Kent Station. The spoil wagon in the consist was a novelty.

I’ve often photographed trains under Kent Station’s curved train-shed, which is one of the most distinctive locations on Irish Rail.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Tracking the Light EXTRA! A Dozen photos: Irish Transport at a Standstill.

Heavy Snow Shuts Irish Rail, LUAS and Bus Services.

Today, 2 March 2018, public transport was suspended across the Republic of Ireland. Irish Rail stopped operating trains yesterday afternoon.

Earlier today I made a cursory inspection of Dublin’s Heuston Station.

Drifts covered the line at Islandbridge Junction; trains were idle at the Heuston yards; the LUAS tram tracks were completely covered, and buses were idle at the Conyngham Road bus garage.

Snow covers Irish Rail tracks at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin. 2 March 2018.
Irish Rail’s Liffey Bridge at Islandbridge, Dublin on 2 March 2018.
Irish Rail trains idled at the Heuston Station yards. 2 March 2018.
Irish Rail trains idled at the Heuston Station yards. 2 March 2018.
Irish Rail trains idled at the Heuston Station yards. 2 March 2018.
Snow covers the normally busy LUAS tram tracks at Heuston Station. Irish Rail’s terminal is shut.
LUAS display at Heuston.