At Conway Scenic Railroad, we call the stretch of line on the Conway Branch running up to our yard at North Conway, ‘the Hill’. This uses a prolonged man-made fill to lift the railroad to its necessary elevation to serve the town. It is the steepest grade on the railroad.
Yesterday, July 30, 2020, I opted to work with my Canon EOS 7D with 100-400 lens to catch former Maine Central 252 on its northward run with the second Conway Valley train. This engine will soon be reassigned.
I hadn’t used this camera in almost a year. When I went to download the files to my laptop, I realized—to my disgust—that I’d left all the cables and card readers specific to the 7D, elsewhere!
The Canon 7D uses the larger ‘CF Card’ (compact flash card) rather than the now standard smaller size ‘SD Card’. I went to Staples hoping to buy another card reader. But when I asked if the carried a ‘CF Card reader’ all I got was a blank stare and ‘A what?’ After five minutes of explaining and describing the device I concluded I was wasting my time and theirs.
While I’ve ordered a card reader from B&H Photo in New York, that won’t arrive until next week. In the meantime Kris Sabbatino came to my rescue. Among her collection of card readers and accessories, she found an old USB2 ‘All-in-1 Card Reader’ and this did the trick!
On this day four years ago, I re-visited the former Southern Pacific crossing the Tehachapi mountains.
At Walong, popularly described as the ‘Tehachapi Loop’—where in the 1870s SP’s chief engineer William Hood applied this spiral arrangement to gain elevation while maintaining a steady gradient—I photographed this BNSF eastward intermodal train. (train direction is by timetable, not the compass.)
Working with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with an 18-135mm Fujinon zoom, I made this photograph with the lens set to 21.6mm in order to take in most of the helical track arrangement. Exposure was f8 at 1/500 of a second at 200 ISO.
The other evening, Kris Sabbatino and I stopped at the old Maine Central station at Crawford, New Hampshire shortly after moonrise to make night photos of the station.
I mounted my Lumix LX7 on a heavy Bogan tripod and set the ISO to 200. Working in manual mode, I set the camera to between 40 and 80 seconds and tripped the shutter manually (without using the self timer).
Working with the RAW files in Lightroom, I made slight adjustments to highlights and shadows.
Catching the stars in the night sky has always been a favorite effect of mine. I first tried this back in 1977 in my back yard in Monson, Massachusetts.
On July 3, 2020, Conway Scenic sent engine 216 out on the Redstone Branch to collect a Boston & Maine boxcar I’d been using for advertising.
I documented the move with digital photos, as previously presented, and also on film.
For these images, I worked with a Nikon F3 with f2.5 Nikkor 105mm lens and Fomapan Classic 100 black & white film. I first sampled Fomapan on a trip to the Czech Republic in 2016.
Operating 216 was Adam, a Conway Scenic engineer trainee.
I processed the film using customized split-development that begins with a very dilute solution of HC110 with PhotoFlo as a presoak followed by primary development with Ilford ID11. After processing, I scanned the negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner then imported the scans into Lightroom for final adjustment and scaling for presentation.
On September 10, 1996, I was driving east from Denver to Council Bluffs. Near Kearney, Nebraska, I was following the Union Pacific main line on a secondary road, where I made this panned photo of a westward UP freight train led by SD40-2 1996 specially painted for the 1996 Olympic games.
Working with my Nikon F2 fitted with a 200mm lens and loaded with Kodachrome 200, I panned the unusually painted locomotive to capture the sense of motion.
I’ve always found this photograph unfortunate because: 1) the doors were open on the side of the engine thus spoiling my view of the special paint livery. 2) the distant hill makes for a visually disruptive intersection near the front of the engine just over the top of the short hood.
In retrospect, I’m happy to have the photo, I just wish my execution had been better.
On the afternoon of July 24, 2015, my Finnish friends, Markku, Petri, Pietu and I waited at this rural grade crossing east of Kontiomaki, Finland for a diesel powered long distance local freight.
It was warm and quiet. For me it had an edge of the world quality.
Finally after a while we could hear the diesel approaching.
This was a VR Class Dr16 leading symbol freight T4077 from Joensuu in south eastern Finland.
I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera. I had been playing with the camera’s presets, and made an image of the grade crossing using a monochrome setting. Although I was exposing some Fuji Provia 100F, I didn’t use any black & white film at this location.
The other day I was scanning some vintage Guilford photos from my 1980s and 1990s file.
This photo came up in the rotation.
Photographer Mike Gardner and I had spent a productive May 1997 day photographing Guilford trains on former Boston & Maine lines.
Toward the end of the day, we caught EDLA (East Deerfield to Lawrence, Massachusetts) working eastbound upgrade near Farley, Massachusetts (east of Millers Falls).
I was working with my N90S fitted with an 80-200 Nikon zoom.
I remember the day well! But when I scanned the slide, I had an unexpected surprise.
Initially, when I saw the lead locomotive, I thought it was Guilford’s 352, a GP40 that has often worked out of East Deerfield Yard. It was only on second inspection that I notice what this engine’s true identity . . .
It was 252! Former Maine Central 252. In other words, Conway Scenic’s locomotive which I see everyday and have hundreds of photos working in New Hampshire.
Wow, that’s kind of cool, to suddenly find a vintage photo I made of this now familiar GP38, back when it was a common freight hauler and not a darling of the tourist trade.
Back on April 3, 2020, I exposed a handful of photographs on Kodak Tri-X (ISO 400) at the old Grand Trunk Railway station in Gorham, New Hampshire.
This was on a photo adventure in the White Mountains with Kris Sabbatino.
Last month I processed the film using specially tailored split development by first soaking the film in a very dilute HC110 solution, then using a more active solution of ID11. After stop, and dual fixing baths, I washed the film, rinsed in permawash, and washed for a full ten minutes before toning the still wet negatives in a selenium solution for 7 minutes. After rewashing, and drying, I cut the negatives and stored them in archival polypropylene sleeves.
Yesterday, I scanned them using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner powered by Epson software.
During the last week, Maine Central GP38 252 has been working Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley trains that run daily from North Conway railroad east to Conway and North Conway railroad west to Bartlett.
While 252 is more than capable of working these trains, it is typically been assigned to the run to Crawford Notch.
I took the opportunity to make photos of 252 working the 1910-1920s-era heavy steel cars that comprise our Valley train set.
These photos were made using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.
I’ve always found railway maintenance equipment interesting: often functional antiques, no longer suitable for revenue work get cascaded into maintenance duties.
As a kid, I was fascinated by the Boston’s bright orange Type 3 streetcars that had been converted into snow plows. For me these were the relics of an earlier era.
So, I was delighted when on a visit to Poznan, Poland in 2000, I found a vintage four-wheel tram in maintenance service,. I made a few photos using my Nikon F3 loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO).
This fortuitous encounter was the only time I caught a four-wheel tram in Poznan.
The other day, positioned in the South Tower of the North Conway, New Hampshire Station, I caught former Maine Central GP38 252 leading Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley train on its return run from Conway.
Although backlit, the contrast nicely separates the train from its setting.
Soon this scene will change: the old Fire Station to the left of the railroad is going to be demolished and a new, larger station will be built to replace it.
Yesterday, July 3, 2020, Conway Scenic Railroad operated an Extra out the Redstone Branch as a training exercise.
This gave engineer trainee Adam some throttle-time working with freight cars, and two trainmen experience switching and flagging.
I used the opportunity to make photos of our crews at work.
This was the first time I’d seen GP35 216 out on the branch.
The Redstone Branch is the route of the former Maine Central Mountain Division east of Mountain Junction in North Conway, NH running toward the border with Maine. Portions of the line along the North-South Road in North Conway were relocated when this bypass highway was built a few years ago. It is some of the finest track on the railroad.
I adjusted camera RAW files exported from my FujiFIlm XT-1 into Lightroom for final adjustment for presentation here. This included minor changes to contrast, localized exposure, saturation and color balance.
On the morning of 23 November 2004, I exposed this photo of a pair of Irish Rail bo-bos (class 141/181 General Motors diesels) shunting sugar beet wagons at Wellingtonbridge, Co. Wexford, Ireland.
This was a typical scene made a bit mystical by a thick layer of fog.
To accentuate the effect of the fog and compress the elements in the scene, I worked with a 180mm Nikkor prime telephoto lens fitted to a Nikon F3 camera.
My film choice of the day was Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO 100).
I scanned this slide yesterday using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 digital scanner and processed the hi-res scan with Lightroom to scale the image for internet presentation and make minor adjustments in the color balance and contrast.