Slovak Express at Drahotuse, Czech Republic

The busy triple main track line at Drahotuse, Czech Republic made for an interesting place to catch trains on the move.

This was one of many locations that Denis McCabe suggested on our weeklong visit to the Czech Republic and Austria in October 2016.

I made this view of a westward Slovak express under wire using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom. In the distance is a Czech Railways maintenance train led by a diesel.

The mist added depth to my images, while also transmitting the sounds of the passing trains for great distance which aided in set up time.

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Photo Freight Second Edit

During the course of last weekend’s special Railfan Photo Freight hosted by the Conway Scenic Railroad, I made several hundred images of the train and its preparation.

Today, I’m just getting through the editing of these images.

A few days ago I posted:

Today, I offer this selection, all exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens.

Conway, NH.
View from the head end working west near Bartlett, NH.
Run by at Second Iron, west of Bartlett, NH.
Looking west near Cobb Farm Road.

I converted my Fuji RAW files using Iridient X-Transformer and made adjustments to color and contrast using Adobe Lightroom. When I make contrast adjustments, I generally use the ‘highlights’, ‘shadows’, and ‘contrast’ slider controls.

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Wide View at Crawford

Two years ago I made my first trip to Crawford Notch by road in 20 years.

I was on my way to the Conway Scenic Railroad at North Conway to write an article for Trains Magazine.

One thing led to another, and two years later Crawford is now a regular place on my visit list! I was up there again yesterday in HyRail truck TC-205 as part of a bridge inspection with Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates .

This photo was exposed on May 29, 2019 using my FujiFilm XT1 with a Zeiss 12mm Touit. I’ve posted two versions, one more saturated than the other.

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Over and Under Five Years Ago!

Five years ago on this day, May 28, 2016, I paid a visit to the Berkshire Scenic at North Adams, Massachusetts to photograph their historic Budd RDC at work on the old Boston & Albany branch.

In this trailing view, I caught the class self-propelled diesel car passing below the Pan Am’s Boston & Maine Fitchburg mainline. Consider the irony of the CSX auto rack!

Oddly, these days I find myself having to answer the question, ‘What does self-propelled mean?’

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Speeders over Crawford Notch

This is my second installment of photo covering the private speeder trip on Conway Scenic Railroad over Crawford Notch. I acted as pilot on this rare opportunity to travel on the railroad using vintage Fairmont rail motorcars.


I was traveling in the lead car as part of a group of 15 vehicles.

We proceeded from the State Yard at Kearsarge on the Redstone Branch in North Conway, NH to Mountain Junction in Intervale, then continued west on the Mountain Division through Bartlett and up the mountain over Crawford Notch.

I made these images using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens. Camera RAW files converted to DNG format using Iridient X-Transformer and the adjusted for color, contrast, exposure and saturation using Adobe Lightroom.

Bartlett, NH.
Near Frankenstein bridge.
Mp 83 looking west toward Mount Willard.
Site of the Mount Willard Section House.
Site of the Mount Willard Section House.
Milepost 84 at Crawford Notch.

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12mm view at Oberwesel,

Perched high in a medieval watch tower in the old town wall at Oberwesel, Germany, I exposed this view of northward DB (German Railways) Intercity 2026 along the ‘Left Bank’ of the Rhein.

I was traveling with my old pal TSH in September 2019 on a short, but very photographically productive tour of the scenic Middle Rhein.

Look carefully and you’ll spot the tail-end of a northward freight on the opposite side of the river.

I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

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Retro Photo Freight

On Saturday, May 22, 2021, Conway Scenic Railroad operated a retro-photo freight for railfan photographers.

Overseeing operations was the railroad’s Trainmaster Mike Lacey, whose long railroad career gave him decades of experience working with local freights. Adam Bartley was at the throttle of GP7 573.

The train originated at North Conway and proceeded timetable East to Conway to collect ballast hoppers stored in the sidings there. After meeting the regularly scheduled Valley passenger train, the freight ran west, running through North Conway without stopping all the way to Second Iron on the Mountain Division.

I exposed the photo below for the company archives and publicity using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm zoom lens.

Working with the RAW file, I first converted the image to a DNG file, then imported that into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment. Among the changes were local contrast modification, warming overall color temperature, plus desaturation and shadow lightening to emulate a period color slide.

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Four Forty Eight in a Verdant Scene!

The eastward Boston section of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited is train 448. Typically referred to as ‘Four Forty Eight’.

On this day in 2012 (May 24, 2012), I exposed this digital image of the train on the final leg of its journey from Chicago to Boston as it rolled east of Palmer, Massachusetts near CP79. (Control Point 79, as measured in miles from South Station, Boston).

I was working with my Canon EOS 7D and the 28-135mm kit zoom lens that came with camera. I had the lens extended to 50mm, a focal length that with the sensor size equated to a slightly telephoto perspective. Color temperature and saturation were adjusted in post processing.

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Speeder Trip-Part 1

On Friday, May 21, 2021, I served as the pilot for a private speeder trip over the Conway Scenic Railroad.

The speeders were largely from a Pennsylvania-based group that consisted largely of various privately owned Fairmont cars.

I traveled in the lead car and made photographs of the trip as it progressed westward over Crawford Notch. This first batch features Conway Scenic’s Redstone Branch from the State Yard at Kearsarge to Mountain Junction in Intervale.

These photos are scaled JPGs from larger JPG files exposed with my FujiFilm XT1 using the Velvia color profile.

It was a beautiful, if unseasonably warm Spring day for a run over the former Maine Central Mountain Division.

Stay tuned over the coming days for more photos!

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Red Electric

In October 2016, Denis McCabe and I visited the Czech Republic seeking rail freight on the move.

The weather wasn’t brilliant, but we sure saw a lot of trains and a great variety of rail-operators and different types of locomotives.

One morning at Grygov, near Olomouc, we set up on the busy east-west electrified Czech mainline, and caught a procession of trains, including this RM Line Class 121 electric leading an eastward grain train.

Although the day was dull, the bright paint on the locomotive helped make for an interesting and compelling photograph.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1.

Roping Willey Brook Bridge-Some Gravity Defying Photos!

Last week involved high adventure!

The most adventurous was inspection of Conway Scenic’s Willey Brook Bridge in Crawford Notch (NH)—From below track level—by climbing through the girders with ropes, and abseiling the central support.

All activities in accordance with proper procedure.

I’ve accompanied bridge inspector Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates on several of Conway Scenic’s bridge inspections, but this one was by far the most memorable.

I made my photos using a Lumix LX7.

There’s a time an a place for a big camera, and times and places for small ones. A 4×5 studio camera would not have been well suited for this day’s photography.

Supplemental photography was supplied by Wayne’s pocket Nikon AW130 digital camera (a water proof model).

And there I am among the girders.
Not a place to visit if you have a fear of falling.
I don’t fear heights, but that first step is a doozie!

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Assembling Saturday’s Photofreight.

On Saturday, May 22, 2021, Conway Scenic Railroad will operate its annual Railfan’s Photo Freight. This will board its passengers at 9am and wander up and down the line in the tradition of a mixed local freight from the 1950s and 1960s.

Yesterday, May 19, 2021, our train crew assembled the train in the North Yard using locomotive 573.

I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 for use in company publicity and advertising. To obtain superior digital output, I converted the files from Fuji RAW to DNG format using Iridient X-Transformer then made adjustments in Adobe Lightroom.

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Fabyan Truss Inspection

Last week I accompanied Bridge Inspector Wayne Duffett on his inspection of the unusual truss bridge on the former Maine Central Mountain Division at Fabyan, NH.

The bridge dates from the 1890s. It originally served the Boston & Maine’s branch to Mount Washington that had run parallel to Maine Central for a few miles. At some point decades ago Maine Central decided the old B&M span was superior to its own and traded places.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7. Images processed digitally in Adobe Light room to improve contrast, color and color saturation.

Greater bridge inspections were undertaken down the line! Stay tuned . . .

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Vr Pendolino at Tikkurila

In July 2015, I accompanied my friend Markku Pulkkinnen on tour of Finnish railways that included a visit to greater Helsinki.

At Tikkurila in suburban Helsinki, I made this photograph of a VR Group Pendolino on its way north toward Oulu.

Finland is one of my favorite European nations and a wonderful place to watch trains.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1.

It is among the countries that I will feature today at 1pm in my Zoom presentation to the Virginia Rail Policy Institute titled “Optimizing shared-use rail corridors in Europe:  How do rail freight and passenger operations co-exist


Tracking the Light is Brian Solomon’s Daily Blog on railways and photography.

Pendolino at Arth Goldau-prelude to Zoom Program on Tuesday.

It was a bright afternoon at Arth Goldau, Switzerland on April 24, 2017, when I made this photo of an FS (Italian State Railway) Pendolino on its run from Milan to Zürich over the Gotthard Pass.

I was on a week-long tour of Switzerland with fellow photographer Denis McCabe to make images and gather information for my guide book on European railways.

Tomorrow (Tuesday May 18, 2021) at 1pm, I’m giving a Zoom presentation to the Virginia Rail Policy Institute titled “Optimizing shared-use rail corridors in Europe:  How do rail freight and passenger operations co-exist


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Ten Years Ago in Munich.

On this day, May 16, 2011, I exposed this telephoto image of a number 20 tram in Munich, Germany.

I was working with my Canon EOS7D with a fixed 200mm f2.8 telephoto.

Notice the unusual point-work on the tram track in the foreground.

Selective focus made possible by the relatively wide aperture with a long focal length lens helps direct the eye to the primary subject, allowing for other elements of the scene to remain slightly out of focus.

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Stuttgart, Germany June 1999.

I made a brief visit to Stuttgart during a trip to Germany and Switzerland in 1999.

On my first afternoon in Stuttgart, I exposed this Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO 100) color slide of a classic tram ascending away from the city center. Notice the effects of cross lighting. (The sun is to the left of the camera).

At the time I was working with an N90s with 80-200mm zoom lens, my standard camera combination for the period.

I’ve found that different types of equipment lend to different sorts of compositions. I wonder what images I would have made in Stuttgart if I could have carried the Nikon Z6 that I own today?

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HyRail at Hazens Eastbound!

Yesterday I traveled by road to the western reaches of Coway Scenic’s line at Hazens in Whitefield, N.H., with Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates.

At Hazens we set on the railroad to run east over the line to inspect bridges. This was the first leg in our latest adventure as part of the annual Conway Scenic bridge inspection.

I was a perfect day, sunny, warm and very pleasant.

I made these photos using my latest Panasonic Lumix LX7. Files were scaled from the camera-generated JPGs using the V (or Vivid) color profile. I made no alterations to color, contrast, exposure or sharpness.

The bridges got bigger as we worked eastward. More photos to come over the coming days.

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GP35 crossing the Ellis

As a follow up to my post from the other day featuring the old Mountain Division Bridge over the Ellis River at Glen, New Hampshire (ELLIS RIVER TRUSS AND EQUIVALENCE), I thought I’d offer this view of GP35 216 leading Conway Scenic’s Valley train over the same bridge.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens.

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Paulins Kill Revisited

This is a post about a viaduct.

In March 2007, Pat Yough and I made a visit to the abandoned former Lackawanna Paulins Kill Viaduct in western New Jersey.

I was researching a book on railroad bridges, and needed to fill some gaps in my photographic coverage.

This was one of several massive concrete bridges built by the Lackawanna in the early 20th century. It has been disused since Conrail abandoned the Lackawanna Cutoff in the early 1980s.

Since that time the line has been repeatedly studied for reopening.

Previously on Tracking the Light in Jan 2014 I featured color photos of the bridge exposed the same day as these B&W images.

I made these photos on Fuji Neopan 400 black & white film using my Contax G2 rangefinder with 28mm Zeiss Biogon lens. I processed the film in Rodinal Special mixed 1-32 with water at 68F for three minutes and 15 seconds.

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Ellis River Truss and Equivalence.

A few minutes ago, this image came up in rotation on my screen saver.

I exposed it two weeks ago while on a bridge inspection with Wayne Duffett of the Ellis River truss at Glen, New Hampshire.

Reflections of the sun in the Ellis diffused by clouds bisected with the lattice girder bottom lateral brace of the bridge reminded me of a Minor White black & white print.

White, famous for his exquisite black & white technique expanded upon the concept of equivalence as delineated by his teacher Alfred Stieglitz.

In his later year years White taught at the Rochester Institute of Technology. A decade after White’s death, I studied photography at RIT, and among my professors was Owen Butler, himself a student of White’s.

My photo is both a bridge and of a bridge.

Here I offer two interpretations of the same digital image. One features lower contrast and superior highlight detail.

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My Interview on EMD

Yesterday, May 9, 2021, Richard Luckin of Luckin Productions traveled to North Conway, NH., to interview me about General Motors Electro-Motive Division diesels.

I gave him and his production crew a tour of the railroad’s facilities and spoke about our selection of EMD diesels, then answered a variety of questions about the role of EMD, the success of its locomotives, and other historical queries.

During the course of the interview, Conway Scenic’s Valley train was coming and going, led by locomotive 573—an EMD GP7 diesel.

I think it all worked out pretty well!

Photos exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1.

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May 6th Conway Branch Work Extra.

It was a great day for a work train!

We had beautiful clear skies with fluffy fair weather clouds. It was warm with a slight wind, and the trees were just beginning to leaf out.

I traveled on the train, primarily riding in the caboose, and made photographs when it stopped to perform maintenance along the line.

I made these digital photos with my FujiFilm XT-1 with 16-55mm zoom lens. All of the images were processed in Adobe Lightroom, to adjust contrast, color temperature and saturation.

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Helpers at Cape Horn

It was a lazy late-summer evening in September 1990, when I hiked up to the tunnels at Cape Horn, east of Colfax, California on Southern Pacific’s Donner Pass crossing.

East and westward freights were converging upon me, and I wondered which would reach me first. Listening to my scanner, I knew the down hill train was close, when I hear the eastward freight roaring through Colfax below me, on its approach to Long Ravine.

In this telephoto view, I’m focused on the rear-end helper on the uphill eastward freight.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T with f4.0 200mm Nikkor lens.

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Clear Day at Moat Brook

Among the most pictured locations on Conway Scenic’s former Boston & Maine Conway Branch is the wooden pile trestle at Moat Brook.

This stream is named for the Moat Mountains compass west of the railroad.

A few weeks ago during my bridge inspection with Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates, I carefully studied the bridge and its environs, considering how to best find a different angle on the bridge.

It occurred to me: while the bridge is often photographed, the stream itself is not. The reason is simple: much of the year there is very little water in the stream.

Last week Thursday and Friday were very wet. But Saturday was clear and sunny.

I walked the line and secured a new vantage point compass east of the famous bridge and along the swollen stream, where I captured the returning Valley train led by GP35 216 with engineer Tom Carver at the throttle.

These photos were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens,

I posted variations of these images on Conway Scenic’s Facebook page to assist with promotion of the popular Valley train on its Conway run.

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East Branch Bridge

Last week, I accompanied bridge inspector Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates on the second leg of his annual Conway Scenic bridge inspection.

Our first stop was the East Branch truss near Glen, NH.

I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens. Images were converted from camera RAW to DNG format by Iridient X-Transformer then adjusted for internet presentation in Adobe Lightroom.

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Moose on the Kanc

In my life I’ve seen, perhaps, 8 moose in the wild.

Last month, I saw two of those 8 in one evening driving New Hampshire’s Kancamagus highway with Kris Sabbatino.

I made this photo using my Nikon Z6 with f4.0 24-70mm lens with the camera sensitivity set to ISO 40,000. Shutter speed set to 1/30th of a second.

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MBTA at Shirley

I’ve been photographing trains at Shirley for nearly 37 years.

Gosh that’s quite a while.

Kris Sabbatino and I paused at Shirley on the way back from Cape Cod last week.

We rolled by MBTA trains under clear Spring skies.

This gave me the opportunity to try out my third Lumix LX7 on moving trains.

I’d fitted the wee digital camera with an external viewfinder, a small electronic attachment that makes it much easier to photograph moving trains in bright sunshine with the mirrorless Lumix.

Working from the Lumix RAW file, I made this interpretation in Adobe Lightroom.

MBTA GP40MC_1133_works at the back of train 1406 running eastbound at Shirley, Massachusetts.

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Amtrak at Prospect Park

In December 2014, Pat Yough lent me his FujiFilm XT1. At the time I was seriously considering this camera system.

We drove to Prospect Park near Philadelphia, Pa., where I put the camera through its paces. I wanted to see how it handled sunset situations.

Among the test photos I made was of this northward Amtrak train on the Northeast Corridor led by then-new Siemens ACS-64 Number 607.

Ultimately, I bought an XT-1, and I’ve been using one for more than 6 years.

This photo was adjusted from the camera RAW using Adobe Lightroom to manipulate shadow and highlight settings as well as fine adjustment to color temperature.

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Amtrak’s Empire Builder on the Milwaukee Road

Historically, the Seattle-Chicago Empire Builder traveled on Burlington’s rails east of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Amtrak’s modern incarnation of the Empire Builder uses CP Rail’s former Milwaukee Road east of St Paul, following a route across central Wisconsin.

Today, the Empire Builder is among the oldest names still used by an Amtrak train.

I made this photo near Reeseville, Wisconsin on a photographic adventure with John Gruber back on August 22, 2011.

Exposed using my Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Tracking the Light is a daily rail-photo blog by Brian Solomon

Amtrak is 50 Today!

May 1, 1971, Amtrak was born—Fifty years ago today.

I wrote about Amtrak’s 50th anniversary in my May 2021 Trains column.

To commemorate this half-century mark on Tracking the Light, I’m posting this scan of a color slide I that I exposed back in October 2000 of Amtrak P42 No. 1 crossing the Quaboag River at West Warren, Massachusetts.

At the time, I was working to fulfill a assignment for Mark Hemphill, then editor of Trains. Ultimately, Trains used a similar view of this same locomotive on this same bridge that I made a few days later. That photo showed P42 No. 1 panned using a slow shutter speed to convey speed.

Exposed on Fujichrome using a Nikon N90S. Amtrak train No. 449 the Lake Shore Limited, westbound at West Warren, MA.

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