In January 1991, I traveled with Southern Pacific Dispatcher JDS to the Tehachapis in Southern California.
Working with my Leica M2 loaded with Kodak 5063 (35mm Tri-X) black & white film, I made this photo of the helpers on the back of loaded unit coal train SNTA-C (Skyline Mine to Trona, California Coal) passing the signals at Bealville.
At the time, I was experimenting with Edwal FG7, a liquid developer that yielded high-contrast and fine grain while producing a deep black.
The other day, I scanned several rolls from this trip and others to Southern California and then processed the scans with Adobe Lightroom.
Below are two versions of the same image. The top is the unadjusted scan, the bottom reflects changes to contrast and exposure aimed a producing a more pleasing image.
Kris and I visited Rochelle, Illinois two weeks ago and found this clean pair of BNSF SD40-2s in the siding east of the Union Pacific crossing. I made a few photos with my Lumix LX7 and Nikon Z6 digital cameras.
The light was dull, the landscape uninspiring, but the bright orange paint on the old diesels made for a photogenic subject.
I wonder if in my travels I had ever previously crossed paths with either of these two antique Electro-Motive diesels.
Since my first visits to the Highway F bridge over the Wisconsin Central tracks at Byron, Wisconsin in 1994, the railroad here had been functionally transformed.
In the late 1990s, two main track (both lines signalled for bi-directional operation) replaced single main track, the old signal code lines were removed, while a modern highway bridge was installed in the place of the old span.
Canadian National acquired Wisconsin Central two decades ago, and today the freight trains are significantly longer than they were 25 years ago.
It was snowing hard when Kris and I paused to watch this southward CN double stack train ascending toward the summit of Byron. I thought back to Wisconsin Central days, and scanned the comparison view from 1994 made from a similar vantage point on the old bridge.
Often I’ve described the details of my black & white film techniques on Tracking the Light.
Today’s post features a digital photograph converted to monochrome in post processing using Adobe Lightroom.
This was a comparatively simple task. Working with the Lumix RAW file, I used the ‘Saturation’ slider control to eliminate all color from the image. Then, to increase drama and contrast, I implemened some dramatic changes using the ‘Clarity’ slider that intoduced a stark contrast curve before converting the image into the final JPG file displayed here.
Why not make this photo on film? All things being equal, I wish I had exposed a black & white negative, but in this instance I was traveling light: I kept my repitoire of cameras flexble and was working with just two digital bodies, and no film at all.
Perhaps next time, I’ll bring a single film camera with lens.
Kris and I arrived at Duplainville, Wisconsin where the Canadian National’s former Wisconsin Central crosses Canadian Pacific’s former Milwaukee Road. We were there just in time to see that the signals were cleared for an eastward train.
We got into position, post haste, to roll by Amtrak’s eastward Empire Builder—train No. 8.
As No. 8 blitzed by, I made these images working with my Nikon Z6 mirror-less digital camera. I processed the images in Lightroom to make the most of the NEF files recorded by the camera.
I was enjoying a prime rib sandwich at the Tamaqua Station Restaurant, taking in the well-preserved Victorian atmosphere with Kris, and marveling at the details, when I hear the unmistable sounds of an approaching train.
Lumix LX7 in hand, I headed for the door and arrived at the platform in time to make a sequence of photos of a Reading & Northern ‘hospital’ move of passenger equipment heading north on the old Reading Company.
I wasn’t expecting this unusual train, but delighted with the fortuity to catch it, and with nice autumn light and brilliant autumn foliage in the distance.
I work in the classic railroad station in North Conway, NH built in 1874 , and as it turns out the old Reading Company station at Tamaqua, Pennsylvania was built the same year!
On Thursday November 10, 2021, while on our way to Wisconsin, Kris and I stopped in at Tamaqua Station for lunch. My friend and fellow photographer Pat Yough recommended this station restaurant to us.
Several years ago Pat & I had visited Tamaqua but the station restaurant was closed for an event. At that time, I made seasonal Christmas photos of the station lit up for the season, and later used one in my book Railroad Depots, Stations & Terminals. I’ve been eager to return.
I exposed these most recent Lumix LX7 photos during our visit last Thursday.
While enjoying lunch we heard the rumble of EMD diesels . . .
September 30, 2016, on the advice of Ken Fox, I traveled to Killarney for an unusual convergence.
Rail Tours Ireland’s Emerald Isle Explorer and the Belmond Grand Hibernian—Ireland’s only two high-end tour trains were both scheduled to arrive at Irish Rail’s Killarney on the same afternoon.
I made my photos and then returned to Dublin on-board Irish Rail’s regularly scheduled train that was worked with one of the common Hyundai-ROTEM Intercity Rail Cars (ICRs).
I made this view on board the ICR using my Canon EOS 3 with 40mm pancake lens loaded with Ilford HP5 processed.
I processed the film in Kodak HC110 mixed 1-64 with water at 68f for 4 mins. Later I toned the processed negatives in a Selenium solution mixed 1-9 for 9 minutes. This last step boosted the highlight detail to give a silvery glisten.
Negatives scanned with an Epson Perfection V600 flatbed scanner.
The other morning I was up early to make daylight of photos of Conway Scenic Railroad’s latest arrival: former Vermont Railway System’s Clarendon & Pittsford GP38 203, originally Maine Central 255.
This heritage locomotive was deemed ideal for Conway Scenic because mechanically and electrically it perfectly matches the railroad’s GP38 number 252 . The two locomotive were part of the same order of GP38s from Electro-Motive Division back in autumn 1966.
CSRR will shortly renumber 203 back to 255. Initially it will operate in a modified version of the red and white livery pictured here.
As soon as it is practical to do so, the railroad will plan on applying green and gold paint to the locomotive to match 252.
I exposed these photos using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.
Recently I bought a Nikkor f2.8 70-200mm Z-series lens for my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.
After more than a year of experiementing with the Z6 by putting the camera through its paces, I decided I really needed a longer zoom to compliment the 24-70mm lens that I’d been using on the Z6.
The other day, I made this view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley Train arriving at North Conway from Conway, New Hampshire using the new lens.
The lighting was strongly backlit, which helped illuminate the late-season autumn foliage, but made for some harsh shadows.
To compensate in the photo displayed here, I worked with the Nikon NEF RAW file in Adobe Light room to lighten the shadow areas and darken the highlights to help reduce the contrast in the over all image.
I also warmed the color balance and slightly increased the saturation, and made a very slight crop at the lower lef to remove a visual distraction.
Compare the modified photo above with the version below. The lower photo is from the same file but without modification (except for scaling necessary for internet presentation) so that you can see effect of my changes.
When I was in high-school, the Monson (Mass) Summer Theater group rehearsed and performed the play Brigadoon that is based on a mythical Scottish village that only comes to life once a century.
Near the western extremities of Conway Scenic’s former Maine Central Mountain Division route is a junction in the forest where the line running northward via Beecher Falls, Vermont to the Province of Quebec had deviated from the main stem to St Johnsbury.
A century ago Quebec Junction was a pretty important place on the Mountain Division.
This year some of our employees took it upon themselves to clear the undergrowth around Quebec Junction, New Hampshire, while the railroad’s Master Carpenter George Small restored the original shanty that had traditional stood here. The shanty had been privately owned and stored off railroad property for many years.
I worked with George and other members of the 470 Club to plan their annual outing over the Conway Scenic, and Quebec Junction was to be one of the highlights of the trip.
Working from photos that George had sent me and carefully gauging sun angles, I helped arrange for the train to arrive when the locomotives at the east end of the consist would be well lit by the sun. I also hoped to amply illuminate the long-disused diverging line to the left of the engines where speeder car TC 470, painted for Maine Central, was carefully positioned.
So for a few minutes, Quebec Junction was like Brigadoon.