Brian Solomon sits down with Trains’ passenger columnist Bob Johnston and retired Amtrak engineer Craig Willett to talk about the national passenger carrier. This is the second in a multi-part conversation that began in Episode 2.
I’d reported that my Lumix LX7 coiled up (failed) during the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s fall tour earlier this month.
Excessive dampness contributed to the camera’s lifeless qualities.
For several days it was unresponsive.
On the advice of Eric Rosenthal, I placed the camera in a Ziplock back filled with rice and left it there for more than 72 hours. Then I gave it another couple of days.
Finally, with a freshly charged battery I turned it on. The lens hesitated, attempted to extend from the camera body, and then retracted, leading to an error message in the display.
I repeated this action, but on the second attempted, grabbed the front element of the lens and coaxed to the normal extended position. In so doing I freed it from some grit that had been impeding its progress.
I then turned the camera on-off several times to ensure that it was working.
Since that time it seems to have been performing as expected.
My zombie Lumix can’t be trusted though. Once a camera demonstrates failure, I never assume that it will perform flawlessly. So, I’ll still be seeking the LX7s inevitable replacement.
Below are some of the photos from the Zombie Lumix.
I was trolling through the archives searching for views of Irish Rail’s Mark 2 airbrake carriages and came across this view of class 071 locomotive 088 at Portarlington in summer 1998.
It makes for a fascinating comparison with a similar photo I made of the same locomotive hauling the recent Railway Preservation Society of Ireland autumn tour arriving at the modern Portarlington station.
In retrospect, I wish I’d located the vintage photograph prior to the tour so I could more closely match the angle.
The 1998 view is made from the old footbridge which is now out of service. The October 2018 photo was exposed from the modern footbridge, which is situated further east and slightly higher.
Yesterday, I had one frame of film left in my Nikon F3.
I’d been exposing photos of Dublin’s North Side and I wanted to process the film before dinner.
I exposed this view of Heuston Station and the old Kingsbridge (now Sean Heuston Bridge) on frame 37.
The sky was impressive; dark blue with textured clouds rolling across it like a flowing tapestry.
To make the most of the usual light, I did a few tricky things.
I exposed the film for the sky and clouds with the intention of some non-standard chemical processing.
To make the most of the shadows with out roasting the highlights, I presoaked the film in a very dilute bath of Kodak HC110 at 75F for 6 minutes with very little agitation. Then, I drained the presoak solution and processed the film in Ilford ID11 mixed 1-1 with water at 68F for 7 minutes (considerably less than the recommended time).
As the sunset on Dublin, Monday a week ago (15 October 2018), I used my FujiFilm X-T1 to expose several series of silhouettes as LUAS trams crossed the old Kingsbridge (now formally Sean Heuston Bridge) over the River Liffey.
My goal was to capture the rays of sun bursting through the windows of the tram cars.
I only had a few minutes where the sun was in the optimal position, and luckily LUAS was operating trams on short headways, so I had several opportunities.
My camera was set for ‘turbo flutter’ (continuous high or ‘ch’ on the left-hand dial) which exposes a rapid burst of images when pressing the shutter button.
By exposing for the sky and sun, I allowed the shadows to become an inky black. Using the smallest aperture (f22 on my 90mm lens) creates the sunburst effect while also allowing for better definition of the sun in the sky.
Yesterday was a bright sunny morning in Dublin. I coordinated my walk to SuperValu at Heuston South Quarter to neatly coincide with the passage of Irish Rail’s IWT Liner.
I timed this well and only waited a few minutes at Islandbridge Junction. Rather than my normal angle from ‘the box’, I opted for an over the wall view a little further up.
Continuing along St. John’s Road toward Dublin Heuston Station, I was surprised to hear another 071. I peered over the wall to discover that Irish Rail 073 (in heritage orange paint) had come down to shunt Belmond’s Grand Hibernian.
Dashing to SuperValu, accomplished my shopping in record time, and returned trackside to catch 073 bringing the Grand Hibernianthrough the wash, and then stopped in front of me at Islandbridge Junction. As this was happening Paul Maguire sent me text to alert me that the elusive Sperry train was on its way over to me.
Minutes later, Irish Rail 076 with Sperry came across to Platform 10 where it was scheduled to run around before heading to Bray.
I walked around to Conyngham Road to catch the Sperry train on its way into the Phoenix Park Tunnel.
This day last week (13 October 2018), I traveled on and photographed Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s autumn diesel tour called The Southwestern.
Damp dark weather may make it difficult to expose over the shoulder lit three quarter views, and it may ruin Lumixes (See: Final Frame? Lumix LX7 Coils Up), but it’s ideal for making black & white photos on film.
Working with my battle-worn Canon EOS-3 with a 40mm pancake lens, I exposed this view of the train at Cork’s Kent Station using Kodak Tri-X.
On Monday, I processed the film using Ilford ID11 mixed 1-1 with water. Following a presoak with exceptionally dilute HC110 to initiate development, I gave the film 7 minutes and 30 seconds in the ID11 at 68F (20C) with intermittent agitation.
I scanned the negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner and made nominal contrast adjustments using Lightroom.
Last week on a visit to Cork, I made these views of Irish Rail’s 2600 railcars working Cork-Cobh and Cork-Midleton services from Glounthaune village looking across the water toward Glounthaune/Cobh Junction station.
I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 and Canon EOS-3 cameras. The Canon was loaded with Provia 100F, and we’ll have to wait for the slides to be processed.
Regular Tracking the Light readers know that I often favor low-light ‘glint’.
This is tricky light to expose satisfactorily. It is a matter of getting the balance between highlights and shadows right, which is a subjective decision on the part of the photographer.
Yesterday, 13 October 2018, I exposed these views of an LED (light emitting diode) signal on Irish Rail at Limerick Junction.
Take a careful look at the yellow aspects in the respective images.
In the top photo, the yellow LEDs appear relatively dim (and much dimmer than they seemed in person). On the bottom photo these are brighter.
Many LEDs do not produce constant light output and flicker many times a second. Although you cannot see this with your naked eye and the light output appears constant, in fact the light is blinking. When you use a fast shutter speed the camera only captures a portion of the light emitted and so the signal lights seem too dim.
The key when photographing LED signals is to use a relatively low shutter speed. In this case 1/60thof second is much better than 1/400th.
Another tip when making effective LED signal photos is to make the most of subdued lighting which can make the signals seem brighter than the light around them.
Over the weekend, Ken Fox, Donncha Cronin and I made an exploration of abandoned Irish railways in counties Carlow and Wexford.
We began at Bagenalstown and worked our toward Wexford.
I find long abandoned railways inherently compelling, but sometimes difficult to convey in pictures.
This is a selection of images from my FujiFilm XT1 on the Bagenalstown to Palace East route, a line shut to traffic in the 1960s. In some places structures, bridges and rights-of-way remain, in others the line has been reclaimed and there’s virtually nothing left to see.
These photos are to convey the aura of the closed line, I’ve made no effort to place them in geographical order.
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll cover the visual highlight of the line.
John E. Gruber, photographer, editor, author and friend—passed away October 9, 2018, aged 82.
John was a generous man with a keen eye who selflessly promoted railroad photography, history, art and preservation. He was visionary, multi-talented and prolific.
While early on he made a name through his clever insightful lens-work, John’s greatest contributions to railroad image making were through his promotion of other image makers and his abilities to connect people.
His legacy will be the many friendships he made, the ideas he fostered, and setting the bar ever higher for railroad image making.
Among the dozens of images I made of John over the last 25 years are these black & white photos from a trip we made together in 2016.
I always enjoyed John’s company; and his work inspired me in more ways than I can articulate. He and I collaborated on many projects, including no less than five books. He will be missed.
Rest in Peace John.
Here’s a link to a Trains podcast interview I conducted with John back in August.
As I got off the down Waterford train from Dublin at Bagenalstown, County Carlow, I immediately began considering photo options. I didn’t have much time, because the train was only in the station for a couple of minutes.
I took a position at the back of the Irish Rail ICR adjacent to the old station building, and made a series of digital photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fuji zoom lens.
I’ve selected two of the sequence here: One wide angle, one telephoto; same camera, same location, same vantage point, same railcar, but different focal lengths.