Parallel Moves: Belmond and Enterprise—Three photos.

On the afternoon of Saturday, 14 September 2019, Belmond’s Grand Hibernian was due at Connolly Station, Dublin .

Earlier I’d caught the train being shunted at Heuston Station, and expected it to make the run with Irish Rail 071 in retro orange paint.

A group of us were in place at Connolly anticipating the navy blue cruise train led by the orange loco.

But which platform would make a better photograph?

At the last minute, photographer Kevin O’Brien suggested platform 3. I owe him one for the idea. As it happened the Belmond and a late running Belfast-Dublin  Enterprise  approached Connolly at the same time.

My friends over on platform 2 didn’t get the view they hoped for since in the final seconds the Enterprise effectively blocked the view of the other train.

Tracking the Light posts every day!

Class on Wheels!

Gliding along the terraced vineyards near Boppard, Germany rolls EC109 running from Hamburg to Interlaken, Switzerland.

Maybe not as fast as the ICE, but probably among the nicest types of day trains in regular service that you can travel upon. This isn’t a cruise train, but simply a scheduled stopping express, and that’s my point.

And, as you can see, it makes for great photos!

Tracking the Light posts daily!

Double Headed Electric Freight-Three views.

Last week, late afternoon sun illuminated terraced vineyards south of Lorch along the Rhein’s Right Bank (east) which I thought made excellent conditions for railway photography.

I pictured double headed DB class 185 electrics leading a chemical train northward using my FujiFIlm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Lidl Tram Prowls Dublin’s LUAS Red Line—3 photos.

In recent weeks, two advertising trams have been working the LUAS Red Line in Dublin. Previously, I featured a view of the white TESCO tram.

In this post, I ofter a few view of the brightly adorned Lidl advertising tram.

This really stands out and distinguishes it from the multitude of LUAS Citidis trams on the Dublin network.

Abbey Street, Dublin.

On Benburb Street at Blackhall.
Smithfield, Dublin

I made these photos with my Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Every day!

Steam and Diesels at Connolly Station Dublin-7 photos!

After photographing Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s private charter crossing the Liffey in Dublin, and catching the train with the TESCO painted Red Line tram at Gardiner Street, I walked briskly to make more photos of the train arriving at Connolly station.

Steam locomotive number 4 was unhooked and sent to Connolly shed, while Irish Rail 082 took its place to bring the RSPI Cravens across to Inchicore Works.

I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1.

Nothing sweeter than a wink of sun. A colourful collection of Irish Rail EMDs at Connolly.
Just a few frames remaining on my card, so make each one count!

The camera battery was flashing red and my storage card was alarmingly low on pixels. Where were my film cameras? Not with me at Connolly.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Castle and Trains.

Crossing from Sankt Goarshausen to Sankt Goar, Germany on a Rhein ferry offered for some stunning views of the river’s left bank (the west side).

Atop the hill overlooking the valley is the impressive Schloss Rheinfels.

DB’s busy double track left bank mainline runs on a shelf along the Cliffside, above street level in Sankt Goar, and well below the castle.

Mittelrheinbahn Siemens-built railcar glides northward along the Rhein.

I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Are they photos of a castle with a train; or are they train photos that feature a castle?

And yes, there’s a view of the tracks from the castle.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Curious Convergence—TESCO Tram and RPSI Cravens In Dublin

Sunday’s Railway Preservation Society of Ireland excursion paused on Dublin’s Loop Line waiting for a clear signal to enter Connolly Station.

I had just exposed views of the train crossing the River Liffey.

(see Monday’s Tracking the Light; http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2019/09/23/sunday-steam-charter-crosses-the-river-liffey/).

Photographer Jay Monaghan and I were walking toward Connolly to meet the train when this over and under scenario unfolded.

LUAS Red Line Tram in the TESCO supermarket wrap came around the bend having just made its stop at Bus Aras to present a rare juxtaposition with RPSI’s Cravens.

I made these photos with my Lumix LX7 before proceeding to Connolly to get steam locomotive number 4 arriving.

The lessons from this exercise:

1) Sometimes the most unusual photographic opportunities unfold when the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

2) Always have a camera ready for those unexpected moments.

3) Keep going, don’t give up, there’s might be another opportunity!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Rail-freight Viewed From the City Wall.

Perched high in a 13thcentury stone tower on the Oberwesel city wall, I made this photograph of a container boat navigating up river on the Rhein as a northward freight of GATX tank cars rolls by behind a Bombardier Traxx electric.

The combination of two very busy railways, a busy water way and a medieval town set in a supremely picturesque setting make Oberwesel, Germany among my favorite places to photograph trains.

On this visit the pesky fluffy clouds tended to stay out of the way of the sun, which had been an annoyance on previous visits.

In the course of just a few hours, I exposed weeks worth of photographs. Although this view minimizes the wall itself, I made plenty of photographs of Oberwesel and its architecture.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Tracking the Light posts Daily!

Sunday Steam Charter Crosses the River Liffey.

Yesterday, Sunday 22 September 2019, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland operated a private charter from Dublin Connolly station to Graystones, County Wicklow and return.

For more on RPSI excursions see: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Photographer Jay Monaghan and I made a run on the LUAS into the Dublin city centre to intercept the return leg, and exposed views of the excursion crossing the Loop Line Bridge.

Congestion at Connolly resulted in the train holding for platform space, giving us time to leg it over to the station for more views. Stay tuned!

Lumix LX7 photo. RAW file adjusted for contrast and localized exposure control, exported as a JPG for internet viewing.
FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm lens. RAW file adjusted for contrast and localized exposure control, exported as a JPG for internet viewing.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

It Looks Like A Model.

The other day I focused my FujiFilm XT1 down on a passing DB Cargo AG Class 187 electric as it rolled south along the Rhein south of Lorch, Germany.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm prime telephoto; ISO 400, f2.2 1/640. Panned with locomotive. Camera JPG file without adjustment or modification.

This soft-lit shallow-focus panned view with a simple background makes the modern Bombardier electric seem like an HO-scale model.

It isn’t. It is a full-size machine and I really was standing there along the Rhein.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Steam and Freight; Side by SIde.

It’s a comparatively unusual occurrence to find an RPSI steam excursion side by side with an Irish Rail freight.

In fact, over the last two decades, I’ve only had a handful of opportunities to photograph steam excursions and freight together.

Last Wednesday September 11, 2019, was one of those opportunities.

Locomotive number 4 on its way from Galway to Dublin with the Steam Dreams trip was paused to take water at Athlone, when the up-IWT liner from Ballina arrived to change crews. In the lead was locomotive 234.

I made a few photographs, then the sun emerged from the clouds, so I made a few more photos!

Here are examples from both my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 digital cameras.

FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.
Lumix LX7 photo at Athlone.

Tracking the Light posts daily!

Steam Dreams behind RPSI number 4 at Portarlington.

Steam on the mainline on 11 Sept 2019.

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland steam engine number 4 leads the Steam Dreams excursion at Portarlington.

To improve the overall appearance of these photos I made minor adjustments to colour temperature and saturation to my FujiFilm XT1 RAW files.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

The Last Wink of Sun at Oberwesel.

Last night (Wednesday, 18 Sept 2019), we waited in anticipation along the Rhein at Oberwesel as the sun was about to disappear from view behind a hillside.

The right bank of the Rhein has a busy double track railway, which all day long had been flowing with freight trains and the occasional Stadler railcar in local passenger service.

At times the freights rolled on each other’s blocks, passing every three to four minutes.

However as the final rays of sun tickled the cliffs and ships glided up and down the river, we wondered if a train might exit the Ross Stein tunnel allowing us to make use of the low and fading sun. We were near nearly ready to depart, when  this freight burst into view.

I had my Lumix LX7 at the ready and exposed these photos.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

ICE at Boppard.

The forecast had been for poor weather.

The forecast was wrong.

Although there were clouds at dawn, by 9am sunlight bathed the bend in the Rhein Valley near Boppard, Germany.

I was here my old pal TSH and I set up to make the most of the morning light.

In our first few minutes the barrier at the near by level crossing dropped, alerting us to an approaching train. Two as it happened.

A southward ICE and a north IC train.

The left bank of the Rhein is known as being a busy place, and this morning it lived up to its reputation.

I made this trailing view of the ICE train using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancak lens; f4.5 1/500 ISO 200.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day! 

Take a Spin on Irish Rail—8 Photos.

Last week I boarded an Irish Rail ICR (InterCity Railcar) at Dublin’s Heuston Station.

Taking the train is more than opportunity to travel, it is a great time to make views of the railway at work and in motion.

I expose these photos on board using my Lumix LX7.

Irish Rail ICR at Heuston Station, Dublin.
Passing an Irish Rail Mark 4 set led by locative 229 as we departed Heuston Station.
It’s a bit strange to make a novel view such as this one, while being only a very short distance from my apartment in Dublin. At left is the Wellington Testimonial in the Phoenix Park, a monument I can see from my window.
Rolling along at speed on the Cork-Dublin main line in quad track territory in suburban Dublin.
Kildare.
Clara.
Paused for a station stop at Clara.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Conversations with Brian Solomon features Scarlet Lamothe.

Steaming Tender general manager Scarlet Lamothe.
Palmer’s Steaming Tender railroad theme restaurant.

My Trains Magazine podcast-series Conversations with Brian Solomon posted its most recent episode, which features Steaming Tender’s general manager Scarlet Lamothe, whom I interviewed in Palmer, Massachusetts last month.

Steaming Tender is the popular railroad themed restaurant located in the old Palmer Union Station near the diamond crossing of CSX’s Boston Line and New England Central.

I speak with Scarlet about the history of the restaurant as a New England Central freight switches nearby.

http://trn.trains.com/photos-videos/2018/09/conversations-with-brian-solomon

Interior view of the Steaming Tender. Lumix LX7 photo.

Steaming Tender at Christmas.

This is my 29thpodcast for Trains Magazine!

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday!

Dublin’s LUAS—Abbey Street in the Afternoon.

A week ago, I had a some spare time in the Dublin city centre and the sun was bright, so working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm prime telephoto, I exposed a series of photos of LUAS trams working the Red Line on Abbey Street.

This is a selection of my results.

Tracking the Light posts every day!

Steam Crew at Mallow

Last Saturday (7 September 2019) I made this classic view of the steam crew with locomotive 85 at Mallow, County Cork.

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s former Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) compound 4-4-0 85 had been assigned to work the annual Steam Dreams tour and was running around its train.

While the locomotive garnered most of the attention, here I focused on the men who operate it.

Classic?

Yes. This photo follows in a long tradition: Since photography was invented we’ve been making images of steam crews with their engines.

Exposed digitally using my Lumix LX7.

Learn more about the RPSI and their excursion operations: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com/whats-on

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Killarney Sunset

Sometimes the best photo opportunities happen when everyone else is at dinner.

Last Friday I had an errand on the station platform at Killarney, County Kerry that kept me there late.

For a few minutes the sun colored the sky in shades of yellow, orange and magenta.

I made these views using my Lumix LX7. They were the best photos of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s train that I got all day!

Tracking the Light Catches the Sunset! (But not every day).

Decades of Difference: A Compound and an ICR.

My first visit to Killarney was in February 1998. It was dark and damp.

It was my among first encounters with a class 201 diesel.

By contrast, Friday, 6 September 2019, Killarney was warm and pleasant.

The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Cravens led by 4-4-0 Compound no. 85 was in the sidings, having arrived earlier from Dublin with annual Steam Dreams excursion. A scheduled Irish Rail train was just arriving.

I like the contrast between the steam locomotive and the ROTEM built InterCity Railcar. There’s more than 70 years between the two train designs , yet they co-exist on the same modern railway.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday.

Merlin Under Steam

Main line steam continues to be a feature of Irish railway operations.

Friday, 6 September 2019, I made photographs of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s compound 4-4-0 under steam on its journey from Dublin Connolly to Killarney, County Kerry with the annual Steam Dreams rail tour.

This selection was exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera. I also made photos with my Lumix LX7 and a Nikon F3HP loaded with Kodak Tri-X.

Thanks to everyone at Irish Rail, RPSI and Steam Dreams for keeping steam alive in Ireland.

See: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Enterprise 201 Leads Cravens at Connolly.

Friday morning, 6 September 2019, I took position at the far end of Dublin Connolly Station platform 4 to photograph RPSI’s Empty Cravens arriving from the Inchicore Work in preparation for boarding and departure of the annual Steam Dreams excursion. (More on that tomorrow!).

I wanted to make both long telephoto and wide angle views of the train. To accomplish this I could use my FujiFilm XT1 with a telephoto and then switch to my Lumix LX7 as the train approached.

However, for the sake of convenience instead I opted to work exclusively with the XT1 for this sequence, and fitted the camera with a 18-135mm zoom lens.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.

There’s no one ‘right’ way to execute an image (or images) but different equipment choices will produce varied results.

One reason for my using the XT1 for the whole sequence was a function of the lighting conditions. My Panasonic Lumix LX7 is an excellent camera in many respects. However, I’ve found that it has a slightly narrower dynamic range, probably owing to smaller file size.

In many situations this subtle difference doesn’t matter, but with Friday’s lighting, I wanted to be able to pull in sky detail in post processing, and from past experience the XT1 RAW files leave more to work with than those from the LX7.

Tracking the Light Focuses on Details Daily!

Irish Rail 222 with Mk4 x 2.

That’s right!

First time I’ve seen something like this.

Just luck, I was on my way to the LUAS.

(Just in case it’s not obvious: Irish Rail’s Mark 4 sets have been typically seen at Islandbridge Junction with more than just 2 carriages.)

Photograph exposed with my Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Tracking the LIght Views Cuauatemoc!

Mexican Sailing Ship Docks in the Liffey.

This was my second encounter with Cuauatemoc.

No, no, not the legendary Aztec Emperor! He’s been gone for centuries. (Although back in ’79 I explored a pyramid near Mexico City. . . .)

Im’ referring to the majestic  Mexican sailing ship that bears his name, which has docked in the River Liffey at Dublin’s Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.

Yesterday I met fellow photographer Mark Healy for a photographic journey in the Dublin Docklands. This tall ship was our focus.

Seven years ago I photographed the ship on a previous visit.

When we arrived the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins was on deck, speechifying (in Irish, I think?). The sailors stood a attention.

It was as close I’ve had to a political encounter in a fair while.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

Tracking the Light Post Every Day!

Charger Night View

Viewers on Facebook might see this photo in an ‘auto crop’ version. That’s a function of the social media platform. Click on Tracking the Light to get the whole photo!

This nocturnal photo dates from my adventure to Los Angeles last year to document the movement of vintage dome Silver Splendor. (Now Conway Scenic Railroad’s Rhonda Lee).

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief was being readied to depart from the Los Angeles Union Passenger Station when I made this view from the dutch-door of the dome using my old Lumix LX7.

The Siemens Charger was the focus of this image; but the ambient artificial light is what makes the photo interesting. Sort of a  Star Wars‘ evil empire glow’.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Conway Scenic on Television!

Last month, one of my assignments at the Conway Scenic Railroad was to assist a television production crew from WCVB in Boston that was filming a segment on the railroad.

This was an interesting experience and I enjoyed speaking with the film crew and showing them around. I made sure they got to see some of the highlights of Conway Scenic’s run over Crawford Notch.

Channel 5 WCVB TV Camera operator Rich Ward.

Conway Scenic Railroad President and General Manager Dave Swirk anticipates the passage of the railroad’s Notch Train at the Gateway in Crawford Notch.

They interviewed Conway’s President and General Manager Dave Swirk, while off-camera I discussed airbrake technique and practices with locomotive engineer Gordon Lang.

I learned yesterday that the program will be broadcast this Thursday evening (September 5, 2019.) at 7:30pm on WCVB Channel 5 in Boston. It is part of the Chronicle show titled High Adventures.

The web address for the Boston WCVB Channel 5 TV is:

https://www.wcvb.com/chronicle

In Ireland I cannot access this website (for reasons beyond my knowledge it appears to be blocked), but perhaps my readers in the USA will be able to tune in.

Lumix LX7 photograph. Dave Swirk with WCVB production crew.

Anyone who knows me must realize the irony of this post.

Although I’ve appeared on television a few times, I’ve never owned a television set and have only watched commercial TV on rare occasions. I’ll be curious as to the feedback on Conway Scenic’s portrayal on High Adventures.

I offered my lesson in the importance of getting lots of exercise when filming a railroad.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

My Worst Railway Photo?

Is this my least successful railway photo?

I exposed it a while back on a visit to Belgium.

Standing on a platform in suburban Brussels, I attempted a 90mm telephoto view of an outbound electric local train.

The weather dull, relatively dark and hazy, in other words the light was about as unappealing as it can get. Also it was early Spring, so the trees were leafless and the landscape bleak.

Suburban Brussels is not Tehachapi, or the Swiss Alps, or the Rhein Valley. If you say ‘so what?’, you misunderstand me.

It was not a great setting to begin with.

As the train approached one of the passengers on the platform drifted into my field of view, obscuring much of the scene as an out of focus blob. This resulted in the further complication of confusing the camera’s autofocus system at the last instant, which instead of honing in on the rapidly approaching train, sharpened a corner of platform instead.

Oh, and the train is adorned with graffiti tags.

So this image was pretty much a ‘fail’ on all counts, except possibly exposure. I seem to have got that about right.

Not every effort results in success. But we should learn from our mistakes, or at least laugh!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Classic chrome: Cumbres & Toltec Mikado.

I count this portrait view (vertically oriented photo) among my classic steam Kodachromes and i’ve published it in several books over the years.

I exposed it at Chama, New Mexico in September 1996 using my old Nikon F3T.

This was among many photos I’d made on a big western trip with my old pal TSH..

Despite its charms, that night we abandoned the Cumbres & Toltec to drive to Tennessee Pass to photograph Southern Pacific heavy freights on America’s highest mainline grade the following morning.

At the time I had my doubts about leaving the narrow gauge steam, but SP’s line was about to become Union Pacific and within a year traffic would be diverted elsewhere. Steam still rules on the narrow gauge but the rails over T-pass have been quiet for more than 20 years.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Belmond at Blackhorse—Lessons in Light

Yesterday, the final day of August 2019, I joined fellow photographer Paul Maguire in photographing Belmond’s  Grand Hibernian on its run from Heuston Station over the Branch to Connolly (before it continued on to Belfast).

We selected a vantage point on Dublin’s Blackhorse Avenue and timed visit to minimize the waiting.

In short order flange-squeal emanating from the Phoenix Park Tunnel announced the approach of Belmond’s train before it came into sight.

I opted to use a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens in order to include the castle-like McKee Barracks on the west side of the line.

Bright sun made for a contrasty scene.

082 leads Belmond’s Grand Hibernian at Blackhorse Ave in Dublin. File adjusted.

I mitigated the visually distracting effects of excessive contrast, I adjusted the camera RAW files using Lightroom. Simply by using the program’s ‘sliders’, I lightened shadows, tempered highlights, and locally adjusted exposure in the sky to allow for better detail in the clouds. I also warmed the colour-balance, while making a slight increases in overall saturation. The adjustments took less than a minute of my time.

The light was rapidly changing and shortly after the train passed a cloud eclipsed the sun. I’ve included an unadjusted image of the clouded scene to show the difference in light levels.

Unadjusted and uncompensated camera JPG file to demonstrate the relative change in lighting as result of a cloud eclipsing the sun. I could have ‘opened up’ (let more light in by adjusting the aperture and/or shutter speed) but I exposed manually for this stark contrasty view instead. Don’t squint, there’s no train in this one!

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!