I’m not suggesting a fix for Conrail or its aftermath, just a few adjustments to a 24-year old Kodachrome slide.
Two weeks ago, I located this slide in my collection and scanned with with an Epson V750 flatbed scanner driven by Epson Scan 2 software.
This portrays an eastward Conrail freight on the Boston & Albany near West Warren, Massachusetts, where the railroad crosses the Quaboag River. I’d exposed it on May 5, 1997.
In my view the photo is imperfect: The level is seveal degrees off, I’d missed the reflection in the river, the lighting is a bit high and harsh, my exposure was about one half stop too dark, and the processing left the image with a red-magenta tint.
I can’t fix the lack of reflection, but I addressed most of the other imperfections using Adobe Lightroom. In less than ten minutes, I was able to import, correct and export the improved image.
For comparison, I’ve included both the uncorrected scan (scaled for internet) and my corrected photograph.
Here’s another frame from a roll of 35mm Plus X exposed on a summer 1989 trip to the old Pennsylvania Railroad with my old pal TSH.
Until today, this picture has not seen the light of day.
I processed the film 32 years ago in Kodak D76, sleeved the negatives, and made a select few prints, of which this image was not one of them.
It was a dull day, and I was working with a tight budget, where I saved my Kodachrome for the best shots. What seemed a bit pedestrian in 1989, really captures my attention now.
I like the photo today because it frames the desceding train in the steam-era PRR signal bridges, features the famous MG Tower (recently demolished by Norfolk Southern), and captures the drama of a heavy train bathed in brake shoe smoke. It is an image from another era, now gone.
Working with a Leica M3 fitted with a 50mm Summicron, I exposed this photo of Conrail SD45-2 6666 on the wye at Cresson, Pennsylvania in July 1989.
I loaded the camera with Kodak Plus-X (ISO 125). Interestingly, back then I rarely used this once-popular film in the 35mm format as instead I tended to prefer either Kodak’s Tri-X (ISO 400) or Ilford FP4 (ISO 125).
I don’t recall why I opted for Plus-X on this day at Cresson, but reviewing my negatives, I now find that this fllm offered pleasing tonality and I wish I’d tried it more often!
There was a thrill of listening to an eastward freight ascending the Boston & Albany grade on approach to Warren, Massachusetts and wondering what locomotives would round the corner.
In February 1984, I was in my final term of high school. It was a warm weekend morning when I visited Bob Buck’s Tucker’s Hobbies. Bob advised me of an approaching Conrail freight and I walked briskly to the Route 67 bridge east of the old passenger station, where I made this photo.
The freight was led by an eclectic collection of EMD and GE diesels. It was one of only a very few times that I caught a GP35 leading a freight on the Boston & Albany.
Under normal circumstances, Irish Rail operates its class 201 General Motors diesel locomotives singly.
Such was not the case three years ago, when on 23 September 2018, photographer Jay Monaghan and I had the rare privilage of picturing a pair of 201s together at Dublin’s Heuston Staton on a train that had just arrived uproad from Cork.
Immediately south of the old Central Vermont Railway yard at Brattleboro, Vermont is a causeway across the Vernon Backwater of the Connecticut River.
This is another old favorite place of mine to picture trains on the move.
Today, brush growing on the causeway poses a visual challenge. Where years ago the causeway offered an unobstructed view of a train, today, careful positioning is necessary to avoid cropping the front of the locomotive as it works its way south over the man-made fill.
The other day Kris and I visited this location, arriving just a few minutes before Amtrak’s southward Vermonter was expected.
I made this photo using my Nikon Z6.
I scaled the in-camera JPG using Lightroom, without making modifications to density, color temperature, contrast, or color balance.
Friday, September 17, 2021, Kris and I photographed a southward New England Central freight at State Line Crossing on the boundary between Monson, Massachusetts and Stafford, Connecticut.
Later the same day, I located a print of a black & white negative of a southward Central Vermont Railway freight at the same location exposed c1984.
Since I located the black & white photo after making the contemporary view, the modern photos do not represent an effort to recreat the earlier image. Instead they show how my views of trains at this location have evolved over the last 37 years, and how the trees have grown!
Five years ago, I was poised at the army bridge near Mosney over the old Great Northern line to photograph the, then new, Belmond Grand Hibernian on its run from Dublin to Belfast.
This luxury tour train made weekly tours of the Irish network in season.
Irish Rail class 201 number 216 was painted to match Belmond’s train set, and was routinely assigned to the train.
Belmond’s choice of a dark navy blue made for challenging photos in conditions other than bright sun. In photos, this shade of blue often appeared almost black, and when lightened using post processing software tended to shift green.
In this view, I selectively lightened the front of the locomotive, and applied minimal lightening to the shadow areas of the entire scene. I’ve attempted to retain the true color of the train as best I can.
Over the years, I have often featured New England Central GP38 3850 on Tracking the Light. I was reminded of this on Tuesday with the spectacular photos of its failure on State Line Hill that appeared on social media, Tuesday.
Yesterday, I featured a night photo this locomotive
Yesterday I learned through social media that New England Central 3850 suffered a main generator fire while climbing State Line Hill (located in my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts.)
Over the last 26 years, I’ve made countless photos of this antique EMD diesel-electric at work and at rest.
While I cannot predict the future, I know that often with older diesels, a main generator failure may represent the kiss of the scrapper.
When it came to New England Central in 1995, 3850 carried the number 9531, which is how I picture it in the December 1996 view below.
I made this photo at Palmer, Massachusetts using a mix of artificial lighting, including electronic strobe for fill flash, and my original Fujichrome slide is strongly tinted.
I scanned this slide using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner driven by Epson Scan 2 software. Working from a high-resolution TIF file, I initially scaled the photo without corrections.
Then, working with slider controls in Adobe Lightroom, I implemented a variety of color corrections, plus contrast and exposure adjustements to overcome flaws with color balance and exposure. Below are both results for point of comparison.
Tracking the Light is a Daily Photoblog focused on railroads.
NI Railways had a minimalist presence in Derry, Northern Ireland when I visited there on 5 April 2002.
The railway station consisted of a 1960s-era bus shelter style building and a single platform serving two tracks, situated flush with the River Foyle.
I made these photos while boarding an NIR 80-class railcar bound for Belfast.
My camera was a rugged Contax G2 Rangefinder fitted with 45mm Zeiss Planar lens and loaded with Kodak Tri-X black & white film. I used a red filter to alter the black & white tonality and boost contrast.
For me the film’s contrast and stark spring lighting was well-suited to the minimalist railway infrastructure.
Working with my Contax G2 Rangefinder fitted with a Zeiss 28mm Biogon, I made thisa color slide at Zoar, Massachusetts on the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg Line.
Photographer Pat Yough and I had started the day(February 13, 2005) at Guilford’s East Deerfield Yard, where at daybreak symbol freight EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction) was being readied for its westward journey.
We followed the freight west, using the lightly traveled road to the Hoosac Tunnel to reach Zoar.
A few days ago, I’d posted a view of this same train on its approach to the East Portal. See:
I made this Fujichrome slide of the New England Central yard at Palmer, Massachusetts in January 1998—just a few weeks before embarking on my first trip to Ireland
The subtle duo-chromic hues and stark winter landscape make for a simple frame for what I find a visually complicated image.
Carefully observe the unorthodox use of selective focus.
Where a common solution for a focus point might have been on the nose of the locomotive, instead I aimed at the distant truss bridge at the south-end of the yard, while leaving the tracks in the foreground slightly blurred.
The use of lighting selective provides silhouettes.
Texture in the tracks, trees and sky, add complexity.
In 1997, I still kept one camera loaded with Kodachrome 25.
At the end the day on August 6th during a visit to Vermont, Mike Gardner and I paused at the Bellows Falls station for a few photos.
Working with a Nikon F3T, a 24mm Nikkor wideangle lens, I made this Kodachrome slide of the setting sun reflecting off the rails of the diamond where Green Mountain Railroad crossed New England Central.
There are certain types of lighting siutation where Kodachrome really shined! And this is one of the them.