Spooky Retro Special.

Tonight is Halloween.

Last night I processed a roll of Rollei 80S Retro that I exposed last summer.

The timing was apropos.

I made these images using my Nikon F3 with f1.8 105mm lens. My cousin Stella was visiting from the West Coast and we were exploring spooky graveyards in Western Massachusetts.

You may wonder why I waited nearly four months to process the film. Was it an infusion of Irish spirits and pucas that lent inspiration?

No, it was actually simpler than that. My preferred developer for Rollei 80S Retro is Rodinal and in Dublin I keep a healthy volume of this antique solution on hand. So I brought the film with me from America for processing in Dublin. However, distractions and writing have kept me occupied for weeks and I just got to souping the film last night!

I have an adjusted recipe for this very unusual film that yields stunning results.

Rollei 80S Retro will provide superb tonality, super fine grain, and a deep rich black when processed properly.

I’ll be posting more view to my Instagram account over the coming hours and days. See my photos on Instagram at: briansolomon.author

Tracking the Light looks to the Dark Side Tonight!

Making the Most of a Magnificent Bridge.

Last week it was dull and cloudy in Dublin. I was on a quest to find a bag for my vacuum cleaner, and was wandering shops and shopping centres on Dublin’s North Side.

During this quest, I called into the Hugh Lane art gallery on Parnell Square.

Now, I had no illusions of finding a bag for a Henry Hoover there. Instead, I wanted to gaze upon the paintings. You know, as you do.

Entering one of the galleries, a painting of a bridge immediately arrested my gaze. However, rather than merely wandering up to it, I first looked at the selection all around it.

This one painting stood tall among the rest. As it turns out it was a Monet of London’s Waterloo Bridge.

According the description, Monet had rented accommodation near the bridge, and painted this one bridge more than 40 times. Now that impressed me.

Also, in this painting, Monet opted to portray a dull, misty morning, when the combined effluence of smoke, steam, and pollution mixed with the mist to diffuse the light adding depth and mystery.

A few days later, I was in Drogheda, County Louth, where I aimed to picture Irish Rail’s immense Boyne Viaduct.

No mist and smog for me this day. But one bridge image tends to inspire another.

So here we have the down Enterprise Dublin to Belfast. (But that’s not the train I aimed to picture in Drogheda).

Next time in London, I’ll endeavor to photograph Waterloo Bridge. Although I doubt I can do it justice.

Oh, just in case your curious, I never found a bag for my Henry Hoover! These seem to be very elusive items in the Irish Republic, apparently.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Great Northern Railway Compound at Laytown Viaduct.

Saturday, 26 October 2019, Railway Preservation Society of Ireland ran a series of trips using Great Northern Railway (Ireland) compound 4-4-0 number 85. on old home rails.

This presented ideal opportunities for photography.

Too often steam locomotives are operated mid-day in high light, which present poor conditions for photography. Saturday’s trips benefitted from low late October sun and cool conditions.

I set up at Laytown where late afternoon sun illuminated the viaduct over an Irish Sea estuary.

The clouds were a nuisance, with dark shadows covering the scene until moments before the locomotive charged northward across the bridge toward Drogheda.

I exposed this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Thanks to everyone at Irish Rail and RPSI for making Saturday’s steam trips a success!

See: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Irish Rail 225 Back On the Roll!

After nearly a decade hiatus from revenue service, Irish Rail class 201 number 225 is again working trains.

Yesterday, Monday 28 October 2019, photographer Jay Monaghan and I walked up to Cabra and patiently waited for 225 that was leading the down IWT Liner (North Wall in Dublin to Ballina, County Mayo.)

Giving the train an extra bit of color were 11 hot-pink ‘ONE’ 40-foot containers, which are relatively new to Irish Rail.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Sunshine at Mount Dillon—Two Views in County Longford.

Here’s two digital photos exposed last week: coming and going: One oriented in the portrait format and one in the landscape.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 90mm prime telephoto, I made this view of an empty Bord na Mona narrow gauge train returning to the bog for reloading.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

This view shows the pair of empty trains at Mount Dillon.

Lucky meet at Lanesborough!

Brilliant sunny skies in County Longford made for an auspicious foray into Bord na Mona country.

Finding narrow gauge trains is part of the challenge.

Last week I was traveling with Mark Healy and Aiden McDonald . I was acting as navigator, and worked with my iPhone and my collection of annotated Ordinance Survey maps as we scoured the bog lands looking for movement.

While the first couple of locations were quiet, when we arrived at this overhead bridge near the Lough Ree Power Station in Lanesborough, I spotted a laden train.

Within a minute, we could hear trains coming from both directions and were afforded a running meet! Neat!

I exposed these views using my Lumix LX7. Working in Lightroom, I adjusted contrast and exposure to compensate for the extremes between light and dark.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Locked in Portabello.

Years ago I lived a few blocks from the Grand Canal in Portabello, Dublin.

In more than five years there, I never once saw a boat traverse the locks.

Last month during a walk along the old canal with some friends, I watched a floating restaurant navigate one of the locks, which made for some 18th century entertainment.

I exposed these views using my Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

CinCinnati Union Station—17 Years ago.

I was driving from Madison, Wisconsin to Roanoke, Virginia on October 25, 2002.

I stopped at Cincinnati to make photographs of Fellheimer & Wagner’s art deco masterpiece: Cincinnati Union Station, a railway station inspired by Helsinki’s Main Station.

This was among the photos I made on Fuji Acros 100 using my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with the super wide-angle flat-field 16mm Hologon. I featured this station in my book Depots, Stations & Terminals, published by Voyageur Press.

Seventeen years ago! Gosh!

Tracking the Light is like the Energizer Bunny!

Dusk on the Corridor—October 25, 1991

Twenty eight years ago on this day, my brother Sean and I made a survey of the former PRR electrified mainline south (timetable west) of Philadelphia.

Rather than literal interpretations, I was aiming for something more interpretive.

I’d bought a roll of Kodak Ektachrome 160 slide film. This featured a ‘tungsten balance’ designed to work with incandescent lamps and so featured a very cool color temperature, which accentuates the effect of dusk.

My notes from the day are nearly 4,000 miles away, so I can’t tell you which suburban platform on which we were standing when I made this time exposure of a rapidly approaching Amtrak train in the blue glow of the evening.

What I remember most from that evening was a sky filled with migratory birds, chirping, singing and squawking as they flew by.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday, sometimes more than once!

Signal Sunset Sunburst—34 Years Ago!

On this day in 1985, I exposed this view at Palmer, Massachusetts using my father’s Rollei Model T.

I silhouetted the setting sun behind the northward home signal at Central Vermont’s diamond crossing with Conrail’s Boston Line.

This old search light was soon replaced with a modern color light. Last year that signal was again replaced by even more modern hardware.

120 Verichrome Pan exposed with a Rolle Model T with Zeiss Tessar. Processed in D76. Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 1985

Tracking the Light Looks Back!

Experimenting with A Lumix LX100.

For me the Lumix100 poses an imaging quandary.

It is an excellent tool. The camera is compact, well-built, packed with features, and has a superb lens that contributes to stunning image quality.

Fota Island, Cork.
Midleton, Co. Cork.

My difficulty with the camera is fitting it into my arsenal of imaging tools.

The LX100 lens range is lacking compared with my other cameras. It is fine for photos exposed in the ‘normal’ range. Its zoom spans the range from 24 to 75mm. In my younger days that range would have been enough to offer me virtually everything I needed for my photographic vision.

I’ve been spoiled by wider and longer lenses. These days, I want to push the range of view just a little further. I often see images that are beyond the range offered by the LX100.

That says more about the way I photograph than about the LX100.

As readers of Tracking the Light are aware, I carry a Lumix LX7 with me just about everywhere. While the LX100 is unquestionably a better camera, the LX7 suits me better for three reasons: 1) it is very compact and light weight, so fits nicely in my jacket pocket 2) it is comparatively inexpensive so when I wear it out or destroy it, I’m not out of pocket for a huge replacement sum. 3) The LX7’s zoom lens covers my vision more closely.

That said, I’m now coveting an LX100 because it is such a fantastic image making tool. Also, because its narrow zoom range limits my comfort zone, it will force me to make better photographs and consider compositions that otherwise I might not see.

But that is just speculation now. Last week, I gave back the borrowed LX100 to Denis McCabe who had lent it to me. I made about 500 photographs with the camera during the week I had it in my camera bag. As I write this Denis and his LX100 camera on are a grand adventure to the far side of the globe.

I’m still sifting through my LX100 images. There’s many more.

Carrigaloe, Cork.
Glounthaune Village, Cork.
Irish Rail Mark4 interior.

Tracking the Light Explores Photography Everyday!

Kanturk Castle.

In the rain we approached the ruins of the 17th century mansion house known as Kanturk Castle in rural north Co. Cork.

This spooky hollow of century old stones hints at ambitions long forgotten, banquets feasted upon, and a way of life long past. In truth, except for the brief description of the structure posted in front of it, I know virtually nothing about it.

Yet the ruins make for compelling photographs. I made these colour photos with my Fujifilm XT1, whie simultaneously working with a Nikon F3 and Tri-X black & white film. When I finish my current book project, I’ll process that film and begin scanning.

What do these photos have to do with railroads? Well, Ken Fox, Donncha Cronin and I came across the castle while we were following the abandoned branch that ran from Banteer via Kanturk to Newmarket. The branch ran nearby the old castle.

Ironically, while the castle ruin is centuries old and the railway was only abandoned in 1963, there’s precious little left of the railway line, and in some places we were unable to find tangible evidence of the line to photograph!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Stop the Car!

Often I have a pretty good idea what’s on the program. Yet, sometimes when traveling, I come across completely unexpected.

So for me this was a surprise: The Linmag Railgrinder at Banteer, County Cork.

So let’s back up: last week it was dull and drizzly. I was traveling by road with Ken Fox in rural north county Cork. As we approached Irish Rail’s Banteer Station, one of the railway’s smaller halts, I spotted this Linmag rail grinder in the sidings east of the station platforms,  I said, ‘whoa! Stop the Car!’

Ken found it amusing, when I leapt out, cameras in hand, to photograph this interesting rail maintenance equipment.

Irish Rail doesn’t own its own modern rail grinder so it contracts Linmag to profile its rails.

I exposed these views using my FujiFilm XT1.

See: https://www.linmag.com

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Leaves at Frankenstein Trestle

Last June, while working with the Conway Scenic Railroad I exposed this view of fresh green foliage at the Frankenstein Trestle on the line over New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch.

I was working with an antique Nikon FTN Nikkormat with a Nikkor f1.8 105mm lens.

I like the ‘fast’ 105 because it allows for very shallow depth of field at its widest aperture, while offering exceptional sharpness on the area of focus.

This effect is especially appealing as a contrast to many modern digital systems that offer razor sharp images with great depth of field in most circumstances. Focus, like other qualities, may be most effective when applied judiciously.

I exposed this image on Ilford HP5 400ISO 35mm black & white film. I hand processed the film. After a presoak with very dilute HC110 for about 5 minutes, I introduced my primary developer, Ilford ID11 developer mixed 1 to 1 with water,  for 6 minutes and 15 seconds at 70F. By raising the temperature slightly and using a relatively dilute solution I controlled contrast while increasing shadow detail.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

CONRAIL EXTRA APRIL 1, 1989

For me Conrail was always interesting to watch; I never knew what might show up next.

On April 1, 1989, Conrail was 13, having begun operations on that date in 1976.

I awoke to find heavy snow blanketing the fields and trees of western New York. I met up with Doug Eisele and we drove out into the late season snow seeking trains.

The coolest thing we photographed that day was this Conrail HAZ extra running east from Niagara Falls over the Southern Tier route.

I was always keen on the former Erie Railroad, so that made this comparatively unusual move of great interest to me.

Today, I’m keeping my mind focused on completing my Conrail book. If it’s not Conrail, I’m not paying attention, which has complicated breakfast options. (That’s a Big Blue joke).

Tracking the Light is Conrail Focused Today.

Conrail Rolling!

At 351pm on September 20, 1989—Just over 30 years ago—I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide using my Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron near Silver Creek, New York.

Although a favorite slide, this is one of thousands of Conrail photos I reviewed for my latest Conrail book that didn’t make the final cut.

This weekend I’ll put the final touches on the manuscript and send my selection of photos to Kalmbach so that the book may enter its next phase of production.

Tracking the Light Rolls with Conrail this weekend!

Cobh Junction‑Glounthaune, Co. Cork—Revisited.

The trackage arrangement at Irish Rail’s Cobh Junction, Glounthaune gives the location great photographic interest.

Here the Cobh Branch and Midleton lines divide.

Historically, the line to Midleton (left) had continued to Youghal and was envisioned as a scheme to continue on to Waterford. Later the Cobh Branch (right) was built to reach the old port at Queenstown (Cobh).

The Cobh Branch developed as double-track suburban route, and ultimately the priority of the lines at the junction was reversed.

By the 1980s route via Midleton to Youghal had languished and allowed to go fallow. Ten years ago, after decades of inactivity, Irish Rail rebuilt and revitalized the route as far as Midleton. Today both lines are busy with passenger trains.

A Cobh Branch train bound for Kent Station, Cork approaches Glounthaune station.

This week, Ken Fox gave me a tour of Cork area railways, including trips along the Cobh and Midleton routes.

I made this view from the station footbridge at Cobh Junction, Glounthaune using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Lumix LX100 at Littleisland, Co. Cork.

Sunday, 13 October 2019, I exposed this view of an Irish Rail 2600-series railcar at Littleisland on the Cobh Branch destined for Kent Station, Cork.

For me this was a test of the Lumix LX100 that Denis McCabe lent me.

The scene is cross-lit; so the sun is off-camera to my left, leaving the railcar on the ‘Dark Side’ while the signal cabin is brightly illuminated. Complicating the contrast are the fluffy white clouds and a polarized sky above.

This image was adjusted from the camera-RAW file using Lightroom. I darkened highlight areas to obtain greater detail, while lightening shadow regions, and used a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter to better hold detail in the sky.

Two points: I find the RAW files from Lumix LX100 exceptionally sharp; and the files have very good dynamic range which gives me plenty of room to make adjustement in situations with extreme contrast.

More Lumix LX100 photos soon!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Cork Talk Tonight!

This evening, Tuesday15 October 2019, I’ll be presenting a slide show and talk featuring my travels in Spain and Portugal to the Munster Branch of the Irish Railway Record Society at the Brú Columbanus Rooms at Cardinal Way, Wilton in Cork City.

The talk begins about 8pm.

This evening it will be Real slides, not imitations!

Tracking the Light Aims to Post Daily

Lumix LX100 Second Test

A few years back I tested a LUMIX LX100 digital camera.

I very much liked the camera, but had just invested in a FujiFilm XT1.

I’ve recommended the LX100 to several photographers.

This week, Denis McCabe, who acted on my advice purchased an LX100 and has been getting very good results with it. He has lent me his camera for further evaluation.

On Friday, 11 October 2019, I traveled by Irish Rail to Portarlington and exposed these photos as a test.

More tests and analysis to follow!

On Friday, 11 October 2019, I traveled by Irish Rail to Portarlington and exposed these photos as a test of an LX100 digital camera.

Tracking the Light aims to post Daily

Through the Mists of Rhein!

One September 2019 morning on Germany’s Rhein, clear skies were obscured by a thick mist hugging the river. As the warm rays of the rising sun graced the tops of the nearby hills, the mist cleared, which made for some cosmic lighting.

I exposed these photographs digitally using my FujFilm XT1. But I also exposed a few colour slides using a Nikon F3 with 105mm lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

St Stephens Green View

The view from Dublin’s St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Plaza  The Food Village  food court is among the best vistas to picture LUAS trams in the city centre.

This offers an elevated view of the St Stephens Green prominently featuring the Fusiliers Arch on the Grafton Street side of the park.

I like the view because it was featured on an early 19th century hand-tinted postcard the also included trams, albeit those of the previous lineage. (The Dublin city centre was without trams from the 1940s until 2004 when LUAS commenced operations).

The S-bend in the tram route seen here was opened as part of the Cross City Green Line extension a couple of years ago.

The other day I met fellow photographer Mark Healy for serious image making discussion over a cup of tea while waiting to photograph some of the LUAS advertising trams that now prowl the Green Line route.

I exposed these photos using my Lumix LX7. The challenge of this location is obtaining a satisfactory image through the window glass. I used a very wide aperture, which offers low depth of field to minimize the effect of the glass.

Tracking the Light is a Daily railway-photography Blog.

Slide Show in CORK This Tuesday!

This coming Tuesday evening, 15 October 2019, I’ll be presenting a slide show and talk featuring my travels in Spain and Portugal to the Munster Branch of the Irish Railway Record Society at the Brú Columbanus Rooms at Cardinal Way, Wilton in Cork City.

The talk begins about 8pm.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

The Cobh Rambler—Crew Portrait at Mallow

Before Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s  The Cobh Rambler  departed Mallow on Saturday evening (5 October 2019) for Dublin, I was given an important task. 

A group portrait was hastily organized for me to expose.

Sometimes gathering railwaymen for a portrait is like herding cats, but there’s a long tradition in posing them in front of locomotives.

Smiling alongside locomotive 232 leading The Cobh Rambler are some the RPSI members and Irish Rail employees that made our excursion a roaring success.

For this photo I used my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Special thanks to everyone that made  The Cobh Rambler  a great day out!

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Faces of The Cobh Rambler—lots of photos!

Saturday wasn’t the brightest or driest day.

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s  The Cobh Rambler departed Dublin Heuston Station as per schedule.

It was raining by the time we passed Lucan South (about 6 miles from Heuston).

By the time we reached Cork it was lashing.

On these excursions I often focus on my friends, many of whom are Irish Rail employees and/or RPSI members.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip a success!

All images were exposed using my Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Limerick Junction—5 October 2019.

Arriving on Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s  Cobh Rambler,  I photographed four trains at Limerick Junction during the train’s brief pause.

The weather was dire, but that’s all part of the challenge.

New footbridge at Limerick Jct.

More photos from the Cobh Rambler soon!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Irish Locomotives Yesterday and Today?

Often I assembled Tracking the Light posts several days in advance of publication (or ‘posting’).

As I write this, rain lashes at my window in Dublin.

If all goes to plan, as you read this my friends and I will be traveling on the RPSI diesel tour to Cork and Kerry, titled the ‘Cobh Rambler.’

Traveling behind diesels, especially the 1970s-vintage 071 class General Motors locomotives, has become a novelty in Ireland since the widespread purchase of Intercity Railcars in the mid-2000s, replaced most diesel hauled trains.

This has made diesel trips, such as that one planned for today, a special treat.

What promises to make this trip especially unusual is the very rare combination of 071 class and 201 class working together. There has been considerable comment and speculation as to which locomotives may work this trip.  Sometimes the locomotive planned for the day is re-assigned, develops a fault, or is replaced for other reasons. 

Over the years I’ve photographed most of the GM diesels in Ireland, and in this post I’ve put up a sampling of the locomotives suggested might work today’s train.

Irish Rail 078 with the Steel Train at Kildare on 7 April 2019.
Irish Rail 225 at Tralee, Co. Kerry in August 1999. Exposed with a Nikon N90S on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO).
Irish Rail 232 with up IWT Liner at Stacumni Bridge near Hazelhatch in March 2017.

Learn more about the RPSI: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday, or at least tries to.

Medieval Window on the Railway—two views.

The old city walls at Oberwesel, Germany feature a 13th century watch tower.

The builders of the tower were clearly railway enthusiasts ahead of their time.

Ok, so you’d have to wait for about 600 years before your first train went by!

I revisited the watch tower last month and made these photos with my FujiFilm XT1.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

The Power of the Dark Side—Sankt Goarshausen.

Sometime, long ago, back in film days someone concluded that three-quarter sun made for the most desirable lighting conditions for locomotive photos.

While its true that in many instances low, three-quarter sun will yield a pleasing result, this is but one lighting solution, and not always the most effective for every setting.

Whoa! WAS that blasphemy?

In September, we hiked into a vineyard south of Sankt Goarshausen, Germany. Blue skies and high thin clouds gave us soft directional lighting with an elevated view of the Right Bank line on the Rhein. In the distance a castle loomed above the river-side Sankt Goarshausen village.

Opting for the dark side presented better contrast that helps visually distinguish the train from the landscape. In this situation because the setting is so visually complex and compelling it helps to make the train stand out, since the train was intended as our subject.

Sure, we could have visited this place earlier in the day, but would that have yielded more effective images?

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday!