On my way through Palmer, Massachusetts, I noticed New England Central’s northward 608 blocked at the diamond crossing with CSX’s Boston Line.
That was a good indication that a CSX train might be close.
After a very short wait this eastward CSX intermodal train came into view. It was probably Q012;‑one of several daily trains that runs to Worcester for unloading.
The trees are still bare, but the sun was bright. In just a few more days the trees will begin to leaf, the grass will become green, and Spring will be in the air.
Exposed digitally with my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 90mm Fujinon telephoto. I’ve composed the image to take in the old Union Station, now Palmer’s Steaming Tender restaurant, while positioning the lead locomotive between the control signals at CP83, and keeping the horizon in view.
Next up for my 20 years in Ireland/class 201 numerical retrospective is old 208/8208: to be different, I’m posting views of 8208 (one of two Class 201s owned by NIR for Enterprise service) working a variety of trains but not the Enterprise!
Originally, the locomotive was number 208, and it had been painted in an attractive NIR blue livery, similar to the 111-class diesels.
We were in hot pursuit of Pan Am Southern intermodal freight 22K with three BNSF Railway GE diesels in the lead.
The sun was out.
Rich Reed was driving.
I rolled down the back window, set my Lumix to the smallest aperture (f8) and set the shutter speed dial to ‘A’ mode, which automatically picks the corresponding shutter speed based on the aperture setting.
Since f8 lets the less light to the sensor, the camera program compensated by selecting a slow shutter speed.
I exposed a burst of images as we drove along side the locomotives.
Does it matter that we were in Shirley, Massachusetts?
A week ago, Rich Reed, Paul Goewey and I were making a survey of Pan Am/MBTA operations around Fitchburg, Massachusetts, when we came across intermodal freight 22K stopped east of Fitchburg yard.
Driving up to the head-end, we were surprise to find that the train was led by three BNSF Railway GE diesels, with one of the ‘C4’ (model ES44C4; a six-axle/four-motor riding on a variation of the A1A truck) in the lead.
The train was stopped just west of MBTA’s North Leominster platforms to allow the morning commuter rush to pass unimpeded. This gave us ample opportunity to make photographs.
I was keen to show these BNSF locomotives (nearly 1,000 miles from home rails) operating in Boston suburban territory.
Simply photographing the train/engines really wasn’t good enough, since without some geographically identifying feature, these images could be anywhere.
While I made some close photos of the engines for the record, but I also made a point of exposing images that included station signs and other features to positively identify where we were.
One the commuter rush cleared, 22K got permission to proceed and continued east toward its terminus at Ayer, Massachusetts, leading to more photographic opportunities. Stay tuned!
Here’s an example of when a rainy day allows for a better photograph.
Dublin’s recently extended LUAS Green Line passes the famous Fusilier’s Arch entrance to St. Stephen’s Green.
Two problems with a bright sunny day:
the arch and foliage/trees in the park cast shadows that often make for a less simplified composition
While the popularity of the park on nice days results in a continuous procession of people in and out of the park, making it difficult to frame up a tram beneath the arch. Simply getting an unobstructed view can be problematic.
Certainly you can make some kind of photo here on a bright day, but it will look pretty different than this classical view.
SNCF’s magnificently engineered high-speed railways lines (known as the LGV) permit its TGV high-speed trains to reach speeds of approximately 200 mph on select portions of the network.
On 26 April 2016, I traveled from Brussels to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport where I met my father who was arriving from Iceland, and we continued by train to Bordeaux. This was part of a three-week railway adventure across central Europe.
I made these views with my Lumix LX7.
SNCF’s TGVs are among the high speed trains featured in my new Railway Guide to Europe published by Kalmbach Publishing.
There used to be a philosophy discouraging photographers from shooting into the sun.
Some types of older equipment (without decent flare control systems) tended not to produce appealing photos when looking toward the sun, while many films didn’t have adequate dynamic range for capturing the contrast range from direct sun to inky shadows.
I’ve found that by using a very wide lens, with a tiny aperture setting, I can get some interesting and satisfactory results by looking directly into midday sun.
Years ago, I’d accomplished this with my Leica and a 21mm Super Angulon on black & white negative film (Kodak Panatomic-X ISO 32 was a good choice).
In more recent times, I use my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Tuoit, set at its smallest aperture (f22), which leads to the starburst effect as result of diffraction from the very small polygon opening.
I work in RAW, and then digitally manipulate the files in post processing using Lightroom. Specifically, I uniformly lighten the shadow areas to partially compensate for the extremely contrasty setting.
It helps to partially block the sun, as in this image near Forge Village in Westford, Massachusetts.
One of MBTA’s HSP-46 diesels leads a mid-morning westward commuter train approaching its station stop in Ayer.
Making effective Midday backlit shots requires challenging photographic techniques.
In this instance, I took an elevated view, slightly over exposed Kodak Tri-X to allow for greater shadow detail while completely cropping the sky to avoid the visual distraction from excessive highlight brightness.
Processing the film was my key for achieving better balance and rich tonality.
Working with Ilford ID-11, I used a 1 to 1 mix with water and lowered the recommended process time for Tri-X from 11 minutes to 7 minutes 45 seconds (at 68.5 degrees F). This lowered the contrast and prevented excessive processing in the highlight areas.
After processing, I toned the negatives with a selenium solution, which give the highlights a slight silvery snap, just enough to make for richer tonality without blowing out all the detail.
My goal was to make the most of the reflections off the rails and the top of the train.
I made these views from the station platform at Grindelwald, where the Bernese Oberland Bahn (BOB) meets the Wengernalpbahn. The Wengernalpbahn drops into the valley toward Grindelwald Grund, where the line reverses for the steep rack-aided ascent toward Kleine Scheidegg.
This was among the many lines Denis McCabe and I photographed in Switzerland that week.
In my book, I offer a variety of useful and practical advice for traveling European railways, while highlighting scenic journeys, interesting routes, and some of Europe’s most interesting cities and towns. The book compiles more than 20 years of European travel in to just over 400 pages.
It was two years ago today (22 April, 2018), that I made my second visit to Valenciennes, France.
Although it was dull, I worked with my Lumix to make these views of SNCF’s TGV high-speed sets at the Valenciennes former Nord railway station.
Not every day is bright and sunny; not every city is blessed with world-class wonders; and not every high-speed train is moving fast.
Valenciennes has a nice old station and a showcase small-city modern tram system.
Later in the day, I caught up with my Finnish friend Mauno Pajunen, and toured Belgian railway sites in the region.
Over the next few days , I made a high-speed railway journey to Bordeaux and and then through the Channel Tunnel to London—all part of my exploration that contributed to the content of my latest book; Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.
On Satuday 24 March 2018, I shared Dublin’s Claude Road foot-bridge with Paul Maguire and Ciarán Cooney, as we waited for the RPSI Cravens to run from Inchicore to Connolly for a scheduled inspection of the equipment.
It had been completely sunny, but as the time for the train approached, clouds began to dapple the morning sky.
I exposed this view using a Nikon N90S with 180mm Nikkor telephoto lens on Fujichrome Provia100F slide film.
The light was in flux when I released the shutter. Was the train in sun?
I had to wait more than three weeks to find out, since I’ve just received my slides back from the lab.
I made some nominal adjustments to contrast and colour balance after scanning.
Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.
I feature Irish Rail and the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland in my new Railway Guide to Europe, which is now available from Kalmbach Books.
I was just a kid with a camera. Luckily, the camera was a Leica 3A.
I’d loaded it with Tri-X and exposed a few views around the Rockland, Maine roundhouse during a visit there with my family in August 1980.
Months later I processed the film in Microdol-X (not the best choice of developers, but it’s what I used at the time) and made a few tiny prints. Then I put the negatives in a paper envelope and mostly forgot about them.
Two years ago, when looking for some other photos, I re-discovered the negatives in a big batch of missing photos, and scanned them at high-resolution with an Epson flatbed scanner.
This photo required a little post processing adjustment to improve tonality and even out contrast, while removing a few dust specs.
One locomotive; Three variations on the Enterprise livery.
In the last 20 years, I’ve crossed paths with old 207 on a number of occasions. Often on the Enterprise,but elsewhere across Irish Rail as well.
To my knowledge it was the only Enterprise201 to receive the large bright yellow patch at the ends, similar to the treatment given to orange 201s (201-205 and 210-215) beginning in 2005. [UPDATE: Kieran Marshall has reminded me that 233 was also treated with the large yellow patch at ends.]
Today, it is one of several locomotives painted in the modern Enterprise livery with asymmetrical purple and scarlet swooshes along the sides.
As part of my 20 years in Ireland/201 numerical retrospective, this is my opportunity to present a few views of Irish Rail 206.
When I first arrived in Ireland in 1998, 201-class locomotives numbers 206 to 209 (as they were then identified) were painted for the cross-border Belfast-Dublin Enterprisepassenger service.
It is my understanding that these four numbers were chosen for the Enterprise201s to pay historical tribute to steam locomotives of the same numbers that had worked the service in an earlier era.
In my time these were painted specifically for the re-equipped Enterprise using De Dietrich carriages (derived from the original French TGV single-level carriages)
Of the four, 206 River Liffey has been my favorite, but until relatively recently it is also one of the more elusive 201s in passenger service (in regards to my photography).
Around 2002, it suffered a fire and was out of traffic for about three years. When it returned, it spent months working freights.
Only recently, have I again found it regularly working as intended. It now wears the latest Enterprise livery, which is laterally asymmetrical and features a giant purple swoop across the side of the locomotive.
In July 2016, John Gruber and I photographed Wisconsin & Southern’s Reedsburg job on its run from Madison to Reedsburg.
Although, I made many digital photographs that day, I also exposed a few photos on Ilford Pan F using a vintage Leica IIIA fitted with a Nikkor f3.5 35mm lens.
Notice how the tonality and texture of the image draws your eye in a variety of directions. The effects of tire tracks in the gravel and the pole shadows are enhanced through use of a monochromatic image making medium.
Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light Posts Daily and sometimes twice.
Dublin’s Loop Line is a difficult bridge to picture trains upon owing to a high degree of foreground and background clutter, complex lattice girder construction, and brightly coloured graffiti.
Tank locomotive number 4 is an awkward mass and largely painted black that makes for a hard subject to picture satisfactorily, even on a good bright day.
It wasn’t a bright day; the lighting conditions were flat (low contrast) and bland.
Further complicating matters, there wasn’t more than a few seconds warning before the train entered the scene, so I needed to be poised.
Friends on board assisted my timing by keeping me up to date as to the location of the train.
I made my views from the Rosie Hackett Bridge (opened in 2014) looking down river toward Dublin Port.
Rather than work with a zoom, I opted for my fixed focal length 90mm telephoto on my FujiFilm X-T1. This gave me a wider aperture, allowed for shallow depth of field to help distinguish the train from its background, and is a very sharp lens corner to corner.
As the train clattered across the bridge I made several exposures, trying to minimize the distractions of bridge infrastructure and background clutter.
Although these are nice attempts, I’m not 100 percent satisfied, but without better light and an elevated view, I’m not sure how I could have made substantially better photos.