In my archive of Kodachrome slides, I found this view from October 1982.
I’d been traveling on a Mystic Valley excursion that was returning from a run through the Hoosac Tunnel.
At Greenfield, Massachusetts we overtook an eastward Boston & Maine freight led by Maine Central run-through power.
In the lead was GP38 255.
At the time, locomotive 255 was just one of 13 Maine Central GP38s.
Today 255 is Conway Scenic’s latest purchase.
Interestingly, in October 1982, Maine Central’s Mountain Division was still open as a through freight route.
My 39 year slide is a difficult image. Hard backlighting, combined with suboptimal exposure on my part led to a pretty dark slide. Worse, in processing Kodak didn’t produce the best result, which suffers from a heavy magenta color bias.
I scanned the image and then made a series of adjustments to make it better. I’ve also included a recent photo of former Maine Central 255 on Conway Scenic.
The other day on a brief visit to Palmer, Massachusetts,Kris and I paused for a minute to make a photo of this Buffalo & Pittsburgh GP38-2 at the New England Central’s former Central Vermont yard. (Both NECR and B&P are part of the Genessee & Wyoming family.)
I thought of the countless photos that I’ve made of locomotives here over the last 45 years. Yet, I had never seen this locomotive here before. (Or certainly not in its current guise anyway.)
I made the image toward the end of daylight. Rich winter light graced the late afternoon sky, while the locomotive was largely bathed in shadow.
To make for a more pleasing image, I balanced the highlights and shadows and made adjustments to color temperature and contrast using Adobe Lightroom. The Sky Mask tool sampled this work. I felt my initial edit was a bit heavy handed so I toned it down a bit for presentation here.
It was a pleasant June evening in June 2001 when I made the short walk from the bed & breakfast where I was staying to this bridge at Copyhold Junction, north of Haywards Heath, England.
Although the railway line was in shadow, I exposed a few black & white photos with my Rolleiflex Model T.
This image interests me because it features a two-piece diesel-electric multiple unit of the now obsolete ‘slam door’ type. The ‘slam door’ cars featured multiple doors to allow for rapid boarding and unload and were a characteristic type of train on the old Southern Region.
While in 2001, these cars were still relatively plentiful, they were soon to be phased out in favor of more modern equipment.
Consider this: my primary goal of my 2001 visit to this area was to photograph the nearby Bluebell Railway, a well-known preserved line famous for its steam power. Twenty years later, the Bluebell Railway remains as one of Briain’s most popular heritage railways and hasn’t changed radically in its overall appearance. By comparison, the era of ‘Slam Door’ trains (such as that pictured) working regular revenue mainline services are largely a memory. (A few have been preserved)
The lessons: an ordinary train may make for a more significant historical photo than an image of preserved train. Yet, I’d be willing to bet that the photos I made of Bluebell’s steam will still draw greater interest than the Slam Door DEMU on the move!
In this November 2021 view at the World Famous Horse Shoe Curve west of Altoona, Pennsylvania, I pictured in classic fashion, a westward hopper train (empty coal train) climbing the Main Line toward Gallitzin.
Eighty-one years ago, we might have seen an equivalent scene with a pair of PRR L1s Mikados. Where Norfolk Southern has hundreds of GE Dash 9s, PRR had more than 500 2-8-2s.
I wonder what will be leading freights on the Curve in 2102?
Must every interesting photo feature stunning scenery?
On my visit to Leizig, Germany in 2001, I traveled on a local passenger train to the out-lying station at Rackwitz, where I spent an hour making photos of passing trains.
This was one ugly place. Low level platforms on tangent track with scruffy weeds and brush mixed in with uninspired industrial what not.
This northward freight paused for a few minutes on the mainline waiting for a signal to clear. For me this a photograph that works with texture, including the platform. But what makes it work for me are the flock of birds that filled the sky above the locomotive.
Exposed with a Rollei Model T on Fuji Neopan400 120 size film. Two versions of the same RAW scan below.
Two months ago, on our way back from Lincoln, New Hampshire, Kris and I paused near the enterance to the Loon Mountain resort so I could photograph the preserved locomotive on display.
This Porter 0-4-0T is a vestige of the old East Branch & Lincoln logging railway that once operated an extensive network of lightly build lines to tap timber traffic along what is now the Kancamgus Highway.
It was a crisp warm autumn afternoon when I focused my Nikon Z6 on this relic of the steam age. There’s a quality to this photo that just says: Nikon to my eye. That’s neither good nor bad, but it will deserve greater investigation in the coming months.
Among the desirable qualities of the Rolleiflex Model T was its square format.
While in my early years of using a Rollei I tended toward overuse of the 645 Superslide insert which provided a rectangular negative. I later decided that I preferred the basic square.
In June 2001, I traveled to Germany with a Rollei T, and exposed numerous 120 rolls of black & white film.
In Leipzig, I made this image of a tram on Fuji Neopan 400. I processed this roll using a mix of Agfa Rodinal Special. Unfortunately, I slightly overprocessed the negatives, a problem easily corrected after scanning, using Adobe Lightroom to adjust contrast and shadow density. The end result offers broad tonality.
Much has changed at the summit of the Allegheny Divide in 22 years.
In the 1990s Conrail enlarged the tunnel clearances on one tunnel and added a second track while abandoning an adjacent bore. Conrail operations were conveyed to Norfolk Southern in 1999, and a new bridge was built over the tracks.
Last month on our visit to the Tunnel Inn at Gallitzin, Pennsylvania, I made a variety of photos of Norfolk Southern trains passing through the tunnel.
I thought it would be neat to pair these helper images with vintage photos of Conrail trains from approximately the same location that I made on Kodachrome 25 back in July 1989.
My first visit to Horseshoe Curve, Pennsylvania was memorable. It was summer 1981; we arrived in our Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, and as we got out of the car, I could hear a westward train in the distance with the unmistakeable sound of an SD45 in the lead.
Without wasting a moment, I ran the 200 plus steps from the parking lot to the park in time to catch a Conrail 6100-series SD45 leading a freight passing the former Pennsylvania Railroad K4s Pacific that was then on display at the Curve.
Fast forward forty years. This November, Kris and visited the famous Curve on an unseasonably pleasant morning. Not long after we arrived, we heard the thunder of a climbing westward freight, and together we enjoyed its circumfrential passage up the valley.
I made these photos as the Norfolk Southern freight squeeled around the famous Horseshoe Curve.
Last month Kris and I booked two nights at the Tunnel Inn in Gallitzin, PA, located at milepost 248, immediately west of the tunnels below the Allegheny Divide at the summit of the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line.
I love Pennsylvania.
I’d made my first visit to Gallitzin on a family holiday back in the summer of 1981—40 years ago. There was no Tunnel Inn back then.
In the 1980s, my old pal TSH and I would make photos from the bridge over the line adjacent to the building that would later become the Tunnel Inn.
On arrival last month, Bob, the proprietor of the Tunnel Inn offered Kris and me a room overlooking the tracks named for the old Pennsylvania Railroad MO Tower. (The tower had controlled movements through the interlocking at Cresson, several miles to the west of Gallitzin.)
The Inn is nicely furnished and decorated inside, and there’s a nice tavern just a short walk down the road. Across the tracks is a preserved Pennsylvania Railroad N8 caboose.
Minutes after we checked in to the Tunnel Inn, the first of many Norfolk Southern trains rolled by.
In August 2003, I was traveling on the Steam Enterprise, Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Dublin-Belfast express led by compound 4-4-0 number 85—Merlin .
On board the train, this once-timeless scene caught my eye. Today, I wonder how much longer might passengers afford of the luxury of perusing the Sunday newspaper while traveling by rail? Or has this activity already become completely obsolete?
Less than 20 years ago, the smart phone had yet to grip the population and emerge as the chief vehicle for media and entertainment on board trains.
I scanned this black & white negative yesterday morning for presentation here. Ironically, when I exposed the photo, I expected to make prints from it, not scans.
Way back in the days of Blue, Mike Gardner and I paid a visit to Cassandra, Pennsylvania. We called into the Railfan’s Welcome Center and were given a memorable tour by the mayor of the borough, and then spent the afternoon photographing Conrail trains from the famous Overlook Bridge.
That was November 1998, and only a few months before Conrail’s class 1 operations there were to become part of Norfolk Southern.
Some 23 years later (has it really been THAT long?), Kris and I paid a visit to the same bridge.
The paint has changed. The old PRR position-light signals are gone. The trains are longer. But Cassandra is much the way I remember it back in 1998.
In 1998, I was photographing on Fujichrome with a Nikon N90S with an 80-200mm f2.8 Nikkor zoom. Last month, it was a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm f2.8 zoom. (But many other cameras in between.)
In July 2003, I exposed a single frame of 120 size Tri-X looking toward the old Duncormick Station on Irish Rail’s lightly used South Wexford line.
I’d processed the film in Ilfotec HC shortly after the time of exposure. The other day I scanned this photo along with other images on the roll.
Working with Adobe Lightroom 5.0, I made use of the ‘select sky’ feature under the ‘New Mask’ option (located at the righthand side of the control panel and indicated with a pixilated circle icon) to make the sunset sky more dramatic.
Previously, I would have achieved a similar effect by creating a linear gradiation mask to make my adjustments.
The advantage of the ‘select sky’ mask is that it neatly segregates the sky area from the rest of the image and allows for a cleaner adjustment while requiring less work on my part.
In this case, to make the sky appear more dramatic, I used the ‘clarity’ slider, moving to the right (+) which increases the constrast without a substantial loss of detail.
Below are both the unaltered scan of the original black & white negative, and my adjusted version. In addition, I’ve included a screenshot of hte Adobe Lightroom control panel.
Standing at the Railfan’s Overlook at Cassandra, Pennsylvania we could hear a heavy eastward train climbing the West Slope on Norfolk Southern’s former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line.
Kris and I had arrived at this famous photo location on our drive east from Illinois last month. It was Kris’s first time at Cassandra, and my first visit here in more than a decade.
Finally after several minutes a headlight appeared on the long tangent looking west toward Johnstown. A slow-moving loaded unit coal train was clawing up grade towards us.
As the train approached and passed us, I made this series of photos using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera fitted with a Z-series f2.8 70-200mm zoom lens. A pair of NS SD70ACUs were working at the back of the train.
The wee village of Steward, Illinois is located amongst a glade of trees where the old Burlington makes a sharp bend on its westward run between Aurora and Savanna—where the line reaches the Mississippi River.
Steward is just a few miles from the busy crossing at Rochelle, where the old Burlington crosses the very busy Union Pacific former Chicago & North Western east-west line between Chicago and the Omaha/Council Bluffs gateway.
Twenty-five years ago, I’d occasionally frequent Steward to photograph trains on Burlington Northern/BNSF.
A few weeks ago on our way east, Kris and I stopped briefly in the village of Steward to photograph the preserved former Burlington station there.
This was one of the railroad’s standard pattern stations, in other words a building using a standardized floor plan that was applied to many similar structures along the company’s lines.
It appears that the building was moved both across and away from the tracks since it last had served as the company’s station building at Steward. Notice the position of the bay window on the ‘wrong’ side of the building. As built, the bay window would have been on the track-side of most station buildings.
I made these images using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.
In July 2002, my Irish friends and I paid a visit to Cornwall in the west of England, to photograph long distance passenger trains on the old Great Western Railway main line.
To make a long story short; the car we were traveling in developed a ‘fault’ at Par, which invovled a delay to our travels, and resulted in a trip on a stink buggy ( a common bus) in order to reach the railway station.
Ultimately the automobile was repaired and so we visited myriad other destinations and locations in the south western regions of England, but in the meantine we made the best of being at the station at Par.
Using my Contax G2 rangefinder, I made this view of an approaching Virgin Cross Country ‘HST’ passenger train operating approaching Par on a bright overcast morning.
I was working with Fuji Neopan 400 black & white film that I later processed using my custom tailored recipe using Agfa Rodinal Special mixed about 1 to 60 with water. If anything, these negatives are too constrasty and required some post processing adjustment using Adobe Lightroom
At the train watching platform in Rochelle, Illinois, a scanner is perpetually broadcasting railroad radio chatter.
On our brief visit there a couple of weeks back, Kris and I overheard BNSF’s dispatcher discussing with unknown parties the status of an eastward unit tank train tied down near Steward.
Armed with this knowledge we drove railroad east through the sprawing industry and cornfields toward Steward, where we found the afforementioned freight. It was crew-less and its headlight extinguished.
I made these photos with my Nikon Z6 and 70-200mm Nikkor zoom lens.