Freight Pan Silo

Last Friday evening (April 23, 2021), Kris Sabbatino & I made sunset photos at the Cape Cod Canal lift bridge.

Mass-Coastal’s freight was assembling its train at Canal Junction in Bourne, Massachusetts, giving us several opportunities for silhouettes of the train moving across the bridge.

Clear skies made for ideal sunset silhouette conditions.

Working with my Nikon Z6 digital camera with 24-70mm f4.0 lens I panned the train as it pulled north across the bridge. For this image, I had the ISO set to 100, aperture set to f4.0 (it’s widest setting), and the shutter at 3/5ths of a second to capture the motion.

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Bordeaux—Five Years Ago.

It was a clear pleasant afternoon in Bordeaux, France on April 29, 2016, when I made this photo of a wireless Alstom tram using my first Lumix LX7 digital camera.

I was visiting this elegant French city on business with my father.

Bordeaux opted for a ground-based power supply for its modern tram system in historic areas of its city center.

Below are two variations of the same photo. The top is the camera produced JPG (scaled for internet without adjustment), the bottom is my interpretation of the camera RAW file with adjustments made using Adobe Lightroom.

Lumix LX7 camera generated JPG with the VIVID color profile, scaled fro internet presentation.
Lumix LX7 RAW file interpreted using Adobe Lightroom; shadows lightened, level improved, and color balance adjusted. Note the hue of the tram.

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GP28 Details

Model GP28 with just over two-dozen domestic examples built may be considered one of General Motors Electro-Motive Division more obscure diesel-electrics.

It was contemporary with the relatively popular GP35 with which it shares a similar external appearance.

Where EMD’s GP35 was a high-horsepower model using a turbocharged variation of the 16-567 diesel to deliver 2,500 hp, the GP28 used a 16-567D1 aspirated with a Roots blower and delivered just 1,800 hp.

The GP28 was only in production for a few months during 1964 and 1965, and may be viewed as a transitional model between the GP18 and GP38.

I don’t recall having ever photographed a GP28 in action until last Friday.

Kris Sabbatino and I were fortunate to capture Mass Coastal GP28 2009 during the course of its daily duties on Cape Cod.

Working with my Nikon Z6, I made these photos as it worked near the Cape Cod Canal lift bridge at Bourne, Massachusetts and nearby at Monument Beach on the Falmouth Branch.

Monument Beach, Massachusetts.

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Impressive New Grade Crossing at Hyannis

Recently, Mass Coastal/Cape Cod Central has installed an expanded and impressive new grade crossing where Route 28 intersects the north end of the Hyannis, Massachusetts yard.

Check out the row of crossing flashers!

Work was still on going last week when I made this image at dusk.

Exposed using a Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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Ballast Train at West Barnstable, Massachusetts

Kris Sabbatino and I were very lucky to catch a relative unusual move on Cape Cod last Friday (April 23, 2021).

Mass Coastal’s rare EMD GP28 (road number 2009) led a train of MassDOT ballast cars eastward on the former New Haven Railroad at West Barnstable, Massachusetts.

I was delighted to catch this unusual locomotive (one of less than three dozen built) in good sunlight. In addition to this digital photo exposed using my Nikon Z6, I also made a sequence of color slides with my Canon EOS 3 with 100-400mm lens.

Mass Coastal at West Barnstable, Mass. April 23, 2021.

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Frankenstein on the Billboard

As part of my responsibilities as Manager of Marketing and Events at Conway Scenic Railroad, I organize the creation of our billboards in the Conway-area.

For this season’s billboard, I opted to feature our Mountaineer crossing the Frankenstein trestle on the former Maine Central Mountain Division. The Billboard design was the work of Silverline Graphics; printing and installation was performed by Gemini Sign and Design.

I exposed the billboard photo last autumn using my FujiFilm XT1. And using the same camera, I photographed the billboard itself where our Conway Branch crosses Rt302/Rt16 near White Mountain Oil in North Conway.

Also, I adjusted the photo file that appears on the billboard using Adobe Lightroom using the same MacBook Pro that I use to prepare Tracking the Light.

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Energy Train Crosses the Canal

We saw buzzards in the sky.

Hmm, so that’s why its called Buzzards Bay!

On Thursday afternoon, Kris Sabbatino and I arrived on the Bourne, Massachusetts side of the enormous Cape Cod Canal lift bridge just as the Massachusetts Coastal Energy train was approaching to cross.

Fortuitous timing considering we had left Center Conway, New Hampshire after 930am.

I exposed these photos using my Nikon Z6 digital camera and modified the color, contrast, and level using Adobe Lightroom.

April 22, 2021, Cape Cod Canal.

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Bridge Inspection

Bridges fascinate me.

I wrote about them in a book in 2007.

Kris Sabbatino has called me a ‘Bridge Goob’ (which translates to ‘rabid bridge enthusiast’.)

Trusses are my favorite.

Of all the trusses, I think I like the Whipple Truss the best. But these have become exceedingly rare.

Earlier this week, I joined Conway Scenic’s bridge inspector Wayne Duffett on the annual inspection of the bridges on our Conway Branch.

We traveled in a company HyRail truck from Conway to North Conway and Wayne inspected all the bridges and culverts on the line.

I made several hundred photos to document the event.

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April 22, 2016.

Five years ago I spent the day exploring the modern tram system centered on Valenciennes, France.

This is a model system that was built and equipped by Alstom.

FujiFIlm XT1 photo.

This was my second visit to this moderately sized French town and its immediate suburbs.

Lumix LX7 photo.

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On April 21, 2016, I made a rail trip across north eastern France. Among the places I changes trains was at Metz on the edge of a formerly heavily industrialized coal region.

I made photographs of the enormous and elegant 19th century station here using both my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 digital cameras.

This was my only visit to Metz, and I look forward to returning some day.

Until 2020, April was always a big travel month for me.

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Irish Rail Glounthaune—April 20, 2015

Six years ago on this day I was visiting Cobh Junction at Glounththaune, Co. Cork.

The Irish Rail station at this suburban Cork village continues to make good use of its classic footbridge, of the sort once common to stations across Ireland.

In recent years many of the old lattice-construction foot-bridges have been supplanted by massive modern structures that lack the simple elegance and basic utility of the old bridges—many of which remain in place as unused relics.

Working with my first Lumix LX7, I made these photos of the footbridge and Irish Rail 2600-series railcars that work suburban services that pause at Glounthaune on their way to and from Cork to outlying stations at Cobh and Midleton.

The Lumix LX7 with its Leica lens and cleverly designed imaging system produces extremely sharp photos with great depth of field.

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Railfreight RastatT

On this day (April 19) five years ago my Irish friends and I visited Rastatt, Germany, a known rail-freight choke-point on the DB rail network.

I made this photo using my FujiFilm XT1 showing freight wagons on southward freights queued up while waiting for signals at the Rastatt station .

Rastatt, Germany on April 19, 2016.

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Summer Evening at Silver Creek—July 24, 1987.

Working west of Buffalo, New York, my old pal TSH and I paused at Silver Creek between the parallel mainlines operated by Conrail and Norfolk Southern. We were on one of our epic Summer photo journeys.

I made this photo on Professional Kodachrome 25 (PKM) using my recently-purchased Leica M2 rangefinder fitted with f2.0 50mm Summicron lens.

A Conrail freight was rolling eastward along the old New York Central Waterlevel Route.

I was standing under the awning of the disused former Nickel Plate Road freight station that was situated between the two highly polished mains.

Silver Creek, NY on July 24, 1987.

Recently, I rediscovered this 33-year old slide in a collection of other photos from the same trip.

Notice how the missing floor boards mimic the pattern of the code line poles partially obscured by the bushes, and also the window pattern on the freight station.

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Conrail Stacks in the Canisteo—Running Against the CUrrent.

The 316 signals were situated immediately east of milepost 317 (as measured from Jersey City).

These twin semaphores were located near milepost 317 on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad in the Canisteo River Valley east of Hornell, New York. 

Although visible from the Canisteo River Road, to reach them required a short walk across a farmer’s field.

The difficulty of capturing this pair of signals with a train was the tight angle on a tangent during normal operations.

My solution to this visual problem was to photograph the signals with a train moving against the current of traffic.

The challenge was finding a train running ‘wrong main’ at the right time of day.

In January 1988, I had my opportunity. A Conrail double-stack had been given a Form-D to run against the current of traffic on the No. 1 track from Hornell to Gang Mills. I raced ahead in time to jog through the field and set up east of the signals.

Working with my Leica M2 and my dad’s 135mm Elmarit lens, I made a series of Kodachrome slides. This image was first the in the sequence and nicely shows the signals and stacks in the scenic valley.

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Amtrak at Middlefield

Here’s an old slide from my Fujichrome archive.

This shows Amtrak P42 number 57 leading train 448 (Lake Shore Limited) eastbound on the old Boston & Albany at Middlefield, Massachusetts—more specifically the site of the old B&A Middlefield Station.

I made this slide nearly 20 years ago using my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 28mm Biogon wide-angle. It is part of multiple frame sequence show the passing train.

I scanned it using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner and adjusted the TIF file in Adobe Lightroom.

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SBB Freight—Five years ago.

A venerable SBB electric in classic red paint glides along leading freight on super-elevated track through Wangen bei Olten, Switzerland on April 14, 2016.

Earlier in the day I’d flown with my Irish friends from Dublin to Basel.

I made this view with my FujiFilm XT1. This photo is scaled directly from the camera created JPG with Velvia color profile.

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Not Every Picture is a Pretty Scene.

Documenting the railway scene is more than just making pretty photos of trains passing bucolic countryside.

April 13, 2011, ten years ago today, having spent a weekend on England’s North Yorkshire Moors Railway (making pretty photos of steam locomotives in the moors), I took the Thameslink electric suburban train from Harpenden to London.

I alighted at Blackfriars, where I found the station under construction.

I made this single photo using my Lumix LX3.

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My HO-scale Reading Company—April 2021 Update.

Working with my Nikon Z6 set to ISO 8000, I made these photos yesterday afternoon to document the progress on the HO-scale interpretation that I’m building with Kris Sabbatino in New Hampshire.

Since my last update several weeks ago, I’ve put down a lot more track, wired up significant portions of the railroad, and begun the task of fixing the track in place which includes laying down ballast.

Also, we have continued to acquire freight cars, mostly Reading Company hoppers. Construction is still very much in the railroad structural phase, the task of building mountains and towns is in the future!

Rather than work with a tripod, and make slow-ISO photos with very long shutter speeds and small aperture (for greater depth of field), I took the easier approach by simply boosting the ISO on the Z6.

Perhaps on my next round of photos I’ll dig out a tripod!

Thanks to Matthew Betzner for the 2021 calendar!

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Friday, April 9, 2021, Conway Scenic Railroad operated a Work Extra on its Conway Branch. The sky was clear and blue and the sun bright. This was a perfect opportunity to experiment with my Nikon Z6 digital camera.

Although I purchased this image making machine six months ago, I haven’t come close to mastering it.

The Z6 has an amazing ability to capture and store visual information.

However, to best translate the Nikon RAW (NEF) file requires a bit of study and interpretation, and it is in the interpretation that I am still learning.

Below are two images of the Work Extra, and two interpretations of each. The top in each sequence represents the camera-JPG output with built-in Vivid color profile (scaled but otherwise unadjusted in post processing). The bottom of each sequence is my interpretation of the NEF file using Lightroom, where I’ve made nominal changes to color temperature, shadow and highlights, and overall contrast.

Camera JPEG with built in Vivid color profile. No changes to exposure, color temperature or contrast in post processing.
NEF (Camera RAW) file adjusted using Adobe Lightroom to correct for color temperature, contrast, and shadow/highlight exposure.
Camera JPEG with built in Vivid color profile. No changes to exposure, color temperature or contrast in post processing.
NEF (Camera RAW) file adjusted using Adobe Lightroom to correct for color temperature, contrast, and shadow/highlight exposure.

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Views from the Train—April 10th, 2016.

Five years ago, I traveled on the second leg of a two-day Irish Railway Record Society diesel rail tour. We had laid over at Killarney, and in the morning a select portion of the group made a round trip to Tralee and back, before heading eastward for a circuitous trip back to Dublin.

It was a gray Irish day, raining and spitting snow.

Ken Fox was our driver from Killarney in the morning, and Class 076 was our locomotive.

Traveling on the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland Cravens carriages afforded me some great views from the train as we made our way through the lush Spring countryside.

These digital images were exposed using my Fujifilm XT1.

Departing Tralee, Co. Kerry for Killarney.
Approaching Farranfore, Co. Kerry it began to snow . . .
Looking west at Limerick Junction. This scene is much changed today, as a second mainline platform has been added along with a massive modern overhead bridge.
Approaching the home signal for Tipperary on the way to Waterford.
View from the the train near Clonmel, County Tipperary.

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Snow at the Gateway—March 31, 2021

It was the earliest that Conway Scenic had cleared the line over Crawford Notch in a number of years. I couldn’t tell you how many.

The rock cutting a the Gateway on the final approach to the summit still had a good amount of snow.

However, considering that trains have been snow-bound at this rugged location, the mounds of soft and partially melted snow, represented only a nominal impediment to our westward progress.

I made still and video images of Conway Scenic GP7 573 breaking through the snow filled cut.

This photo was exposed digitally using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

The Gateway at Crawford Notch on March 31, 2021. File adjusted for exposure and color temperature using Adobe Lightroom.

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This Day EIght Years Ago!

It’s hard to believe that eight years have passed since I made the sprint from my old apartment at Islandbridge in Dublin to the top of the Phoenix Park Tunnel on the Conyngham Road to catch the elusive HOBS on its run toward Dublin’s North Wall yards.

As previously covered in Tracking the Light, Irish Rail’s modern ballast train is known by its initials HOBS, which stands for High Output Ballast System.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D digital camera, I exposed this sequence of images as the train accelerated around the bend at Islandbridge Junction. Old Irish Rail 074 was in the comparatively short-lived silver, black & yellow freight livery.

April 8, 2013. Islandbridge, Dublin.
April 8, 2013. Islandbridge, Dublin.

April 8, 2013. Islandbridge, Dublin.

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Ice on the Mountain.

Last week on our ascent of New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch with Conway Scenic Railroad’s Work Extra 573, we encountered several minor obstacles.

Near milepost 84, about a mile from the summit, an ice fall had blocked the line.

Our crew set out to quickly remove it and then we were on our way again.

The lighting was flat and cold when I exposed these photos with my Nikon Z6. Keep in mind that if the sky had been clear, this portion of the railroad would have been in deep shadow, conditions that may have made for more contrast and thus more difficult lighting conditions.

I adjusted the camera NEF (RAW) files using Lightroom to improve the overall appearance of the photographs.

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Lisbon Metro Seven Years Ago

On this day (April 6th) 2014 I exposed a sequence of digital images of the Lisbon Metro (no, not Lisbon, New Hampshire) using my Lumix LX3.

Although I was soon to replace my trusty Panasonic Lumix LX3 with the more advanced and flexible LX7 model, I feel that in many ways the end-picture quality of the LX3 was preferable over the that from the LX7.

Recently, through the kindness of Tracking the Light reader Wm Keay, I now have in my possession my third LX7, which makes it my forth Lumix digital camera.

I’m looking forward to the next round of photos from the ‘wee Lumix’—long may it serve me!

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Hall Disc Signal at Port Clinton.

Reading Company was among the most prolific users of the Hall Disc signal, one of the earliest forms of an electrically actuated signal.

Curiously, Reading continued to install new Hall Discs years after perfection of the electric three-position semaphore.

A few of Reading’s Halls survived into the diesel era.

Reading & Northern, which operates significant sections of the old Reading Company, installed this recreated Hall Disc near its Port Clinton, Pennsylvania offices in homage to Reading’s classic signaling.

In December 2014, I made this sequence of photos using Pat Yough’s FujiFilm XT1, on a trip to photograph R&N’s 4-6-2 Pacific number 425 that was running Christmas trips to Schuylkill Haven and Minersville.

Now that I’ve endeavored to recreate the Reading Company in HO Scale, I’ve stumbled upon a quandary: How to make operating scale models of the antique Hall Disc signal? 

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Easter Bunny Express

Conway Scenic Railroad opened its Spring 2021 Season with three days of Easter Bunny Express trains.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1, I made these photos of our train and the Easter Bunny for use in publicity and advertising.

On Saturday April 3rd, the Conway Daily Sun reproduced one of my images on page 12A of its newspaper.

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LUAS Over the LIffey—3 April 2011.

It was ten years ago today that I exposed this digital image of a Dublin LUAS tram gliding over the River Liffey on the Sean Heuston Bridge (formerly Kings Bridge).

At the time, I was working with my first, and only, digital camera, a Panasonic LX3 that I purchased primarily to use as a light meter to aid my film photography and to make social photos of my friends.

I soon learned that the Lumix was an exceptional image making machine and came to use it on almost a daily basis.

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Clearing the Mountain

On March 31, 2021, I joined Conway Scenic’s ‘Work Extra 573’ that departed North Conway, NH in the morning to open the Mountain Division over Crawford Notch.

This was the first train over Crawford Notch since last November.

In this view west of the siding at Sawyers, the train has stopped for the crew to remove fallen branches that had fouled the gauge.

I exposed the above photo using my FujiFilm XT-1 with 16-55mm Fujinon zoom, and converted the RAW file to DNG format using Iridient X-transformer. I then adjusted this file with Adobe Lightroom to bring in sky detail, lighten shadows, reduce contrast, and improve color saturation.

Over the course of the day-long trip, I exposed more than 300 individual photos using two cameras, while recording more than an hour of video for the company archives.

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Tracking the All-Retro

I’ll be introducing a new format for Tracking the Light. This will be an ALL-RETRO format. Only black & white film photos will be displayed. These will only be exposed with traditional cameras using hand-ground glass and mechanical shutters.

Instead of scanning, latent (exposed and unprocessed negatives) will be sent directly to subscribers along with the correct chemistry for processing on-site. I will supply detailed instructions on how to process the film and make your own prints.

Instead of the post office, I will use the Railway Express Agency, so you will need to collect your ‘Tracking the Light’ post at your nearest REA office. I will supply a list of offices via telegram.

Owing to the added complexity of distributing Tracking the Light using all-retro means, I will only post annually with shipments carefully timed to arrive on April 1st!

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light is a rail-photo blog.