CSX Q300 on the Reading

Ten years ago today (February 28, 2012), I made this photo of CSX Q300 on the old Reading Company at West Trenton, New Jersey.

My old Lumix LX3 was a little tricky to use when making action photos of trains. If the camera was in full ‘auto’ mode and I pressed on the shutter release the camera would hesitate for a moment.

The trick was to use the manual setting and then ‘queue-up’ the camera by presssing the shutter release halfway in preparation for making a photo. In this way the camera shutter would release almost instantaneously when pressed the remainder of the way, thus allowing for a composition with full-frame view of a moving train, such as this one.

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When it Snows it Pours!

Friday, February 25, 2022, it snowed all day.

Yesterday, Saturday Feburary 26, I set up for the first Snow Train of the morning near the Ellis River Bridge in Glen, New Hampshire.

A massive mound of freshly plowed snow made for a elevated platform for which to stand upon.

As the train roared west over the Ellis, it set free a cascade of fresh show that showered down upon the train.

I made this telephoto view with my Nikon Z6 digital camera.

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Reflections at Raritan—10 years ago.

Sometimes the last photo of the day, is the best photo of the day.

Photographer Pat Yough and I were on our way back from the Philadelphia area on February 26, 2012. We stopped briefly at Raritan, New Jersey along NJ Transit’s former Central Railroad of New Jersey main line.

I made this reflection of an Alstom-built PL42AC with my old Lumix LX3.

This photo is scaled directly from the camera-RAW file using Lightroom.

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Nine Years Ago-Irish Rail Pan in Blue Light

On the evening of February 25, 2013, I was walking along the wall on the St. Johns Road in Dublin. There’s a low spot where a few stones have been dislodged, and it was here I peered over the wall.

A Cork train was heading down road behind 201-class 219. Working with my old Lumix LX3, I exposed this pan photo.

Irish Rail 219 departs Dublin Heuston Station on February 25, 2013.

The original file was a bit dark, so I lightened the camera-RAW file using Lightroom and scaled it for presentation here.

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Will We Ever See This Again?

In May 2000, an Irish Rail train consisting of six 2700-series railcars approaches Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

The 2700s were only about a year old at the time.

Today, Irish Rail’s 2700s are long-stored out-of-service, ticking away the clock until they are sold, scrapped, or maybe, just maybe, returned to traffic. . . .

Exposed on Kodak 120-size Tri-X film.

Tonight, Thursday, February 24, 2022, I’ll be presenting a Zoom slide show on Conway Scenic Railroad to the members of the Irish Railway Record Society.

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HST at Newport- A Scanning Lesson.

A few weeks ago I scanned a strip of 120-size Fuji Neopan 100 using my Epson V600 Scanner.

This featured some coming and going views of First Great Western HST in Newport, Wales, UK that I exposed using my Rolleiflex Model T.

One of the features of Epson Scan 2 software is the ability to apply an ‘unsharp mask’ at the time of scanning. Despite its confusing name, the unsharp mask is a digital sharpening tool. The software allows for three degrees of sharpening with the mask, ‘low,’ ‘medium’ and ‘high’.

Normally, I select ‘low,’ which I find makes for a better looking scan.

Another option is to scan without the unsharp mask, and apply sharpening in post processing.

The unsharp mask adds an edge effect that makes the photo appear sharper. It doesn’t actually add detail.

Below are three sequences of images showing the image without unsharp mask; with the ‘low’ unsharp mask, and an image created in post processing by applying sharpening after scanning. Each of the three sequences shows first the full frame scan followed by a greatly enlarged portion to allow for a detailed inspection and comparison. Each is captioned for clarity.

Full-size scan without mask or modification.
Detail of the above scan without mask or modification.
Full-size scan of scan with the ‘unsharp mask’ applied at the ‘low’ setting at the time of scanning.
Detail of the above scan, made with the ‘unsharp mask’ applied at the ‘low’ setting at the time of scanning.
Scan made without mask at the time of scanning; sharpening applied manually in post processing.
Detail of the above scan; no mask at the time of scanning; sharpening applied manually in post processing.

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Great Northern Railway Station—Lisburn, Spring 2001

NI Railways’ former Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) station at Lisburn is a classic that retains its traditional appearance including platform canopies and footbridge.

I made this view on a visit in Spring 2001. Working with my Rollei Model T, I exposed a geometerically balanced composition, where I’ve used the canopy supports as a visual partition that divides the photo evenly at the center.

Perfectly centered compositions are frowned upon in some circles, but I’ve occasionally executed successful and visually dynamic photos using this technique. In this instance I don’t think my photo could have been improved by off-center placement of the column.

Kodak 120 Tri-X procecessed in Ilfotec HC.

Since background elements vary considerably on the right and left sides, the centered composition helps weigh the intrigue of one side versus the other.

Do you think this image would be improved if I had included a train?

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Mount Washington from North Conway

It is rarely recognized, however on a clear winter day you can see Mount Washington from the platform of the North Conway Station.

Yesterday, I made these photos of the arriving Snow Train as I perched atop a snow mound adjacent to the platform.

I lined up the mountain, station and train using my Nikon Z6 with Z-series 70-200mm zoom.

To soften contrast, I lightened the shadows in post processing, while slighly boosting the color saturation.

I imagine that back in 1874, when the station opened, there was an unobstructed view of Mount Washington. Today, trees, buildings, and wires make for a cluttered scene.

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February Thaw.

This past Thursday the temperature at North Conway, New Hampshire was 51 F, the highest its been in many weeks. The mountains of snow began to melt. Then Thursday night the rain set in. It poured all night.

By Friday morning (February 18, 2022), puddles covered the yard.

I made these images with my Lumix LX7 of the yard and station facilities saturated with water.

By Friday evening the temperture had dropped in the mid teens. Snow is again on the horizon.

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Blue Sky and Blue Diesels at North Adams Six Years Ago

On this day six years ago—February 18, 2016— Mike Gardner and I photographed a westward Pan Am Railways freight that was tied down at North Adams, Massachusetts awaiting a re-crew.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

The Pan Am blue SD40-2s made for interesting subjects. I felt that this shade of blue looked good in the winter sunlight.

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Classic Conrail at CP79

After a light snowfall in December 1993, I set up at CP79 east of Palmer, Massachusetts, where an eastward Conrail freight led by DASH-8-40C 6069 was holding on the Controlled Siding to meet a set of light engines rolling west behind B23-7 1992.

I was working with my Nikon F3T fitted with an Nikkor AF28MM lens. Since the F3T wasn’t equipped with autofocus, I set the focus manually.

This lens offered a wide perspective and tended to vignette the corners of the photo. Also because it was relatively wide, the relative motion of the leading locomotive to the film plane was greater than with a longer focal length lens, and resulted in a slight blurring, despite a 1/250th of second shutter speed.

My film choice was Kodachrome 25.

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Irish Rail 201 framed.

In May 2001, I stood on the old footbridge at Irish Rail’s Kildare Station and framed an up-road train using the bridge’s lattice iron-work .

Irish Rail locomotive 213 (of the 201 class EMD diesels) led Mark III carriages. At the time this was about as common as one could expect for an Intercity passenger run.

Now, the Intercity MarkIII carriages are long gone, and old 213 is among the 201-class diesels stored at Inchicore.

I made the square image with my Rolleiflex Model T. Kodak 120-size Tri-X film processed in a customized mix of Ilfotec HC developer.

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Oulu Roundhouse—Summer 2001.

On a visit to Oulu, Finland in Summer 2001, my friend Markku Pulkkinen arranged a visit the VR Group roundhouse.

At that time this was still the primary facility for locomotive storage and repair in Oulu.

In modern times, a big modern train care center has supplanted the old roundhouse, which on my visit in 2015 was largely used to house historic railroad equipment.

I made this photo on 120-size Kodak Tri-X using my Rollei Model T. In addition to a handful of black & white photos, I also made some color slides with my then-new Contax G2 rangefinder.

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2001 Sunset at Heuston Station

On an evening in Spring 2001, I made this monochrome silhouette at Dublin’s Heuston Station using my Rollei Model T. The photo brings back memories of another time.

The place has much changed in the intervening 21 years since the click of the shutter.

This shows Irish Rail class 141/181s working as shunters, a practice that ended about a dozen years ago when locomotive hauled consists were phased out in favor of modern self propelled Intercity Railcars (ICRs). Among the other changes: the platform arrangement was altered and extended, while the trainshed roof restored.

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Plowing Snow!

Friday, February 11, 2022, New Hampshire’s Conway Scenic operated its vintage Russell snow plow with former Maine Central Railroad GP38 255 pushing it west toward Attitash.

I followed the plow by road and made a few select digital photos with my Nikon Z6 fitted with 70-200mm lens.

To get a good snow exposure I dialed in ‘+3’ to the expose compensation, which helps keep the snow white. I metered manually with the in-camera ‘matrix meter’, then set both shutter speed and aperture manually.

Although I set the camera’s focas point, I let the Nikon’s autofocus system work as intended.

In a few instances, I hiked into locations to get the best angle where the snow was the deepest. On more than one occasion I found myself up to my hips in snow.

It was a good day out with the plow!

A couple of weeks ago, I put together a video for Conway Scenic on the operation of the plow. This was mostly filmed in 2021. It is available on You Tube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp5Qg-5_B6M

Intervale, NH.
Intervale, NH looking west toward Mount Washington.
Clearing the line at Glen, NH.
Glen, NH.
Working upgrade along Route 302 west of Glen, NH.

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April 2001—CSX at Guilderland, NY.

Way back in April 2001, photographer Mike Gardner and I paid a visit to the closed Old State Road bridge over the former West Shore route at Guilderland, New York.

This was only a couple of years after CSX assumed operation of Conrail’s former New York Central Waterlevel Route across New York State. At that time this was an exceptionally busy line with a non-stop parade of freights.

Eastward CSX freight at Guilderland, New

I made this coming and going pair of photos using my Rollei Model T. This featured a very sharp f3.5 Zeiss Tessar lens.

My choice of film was Kodak Tri-X processed in Ifotec HC developer. I scanned the negatives yesterday using my Epson V600 flatbed scanner, then made minor adjustements to the TIF scans using Adobe Light room to improve constrast and exposure.

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South Monson in the Snow!

A few weeks ago, I posted comparative views of southward trains at the South Monson crossing between Route 32 and the former Central Vermont Railway, now New England Central. See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2022/01/25/south-monson-1983-2018/

One view dated from 1983, the other from 2018.

This snow photo was exposed from the same vantage point exactly nine years ago today—February 10, 2013.

Exposed on February 10, 2013 using a Canon EOS 7D.

For comparison, I’ve included scaled versions of the other South Monson photos.

I suppose you could call call these ‘Then, then, and When.’



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Snow Train at the Ellis River Bridge

On occasion I make a photograph for one of my friends.

Saturday, February 5, 2022, I traveled on Conway Scenic’s 1130 Snow Train (a train for which I drafted the schedule). Upon crossing the Ellis River bridge in Glen, New Hampshire, I though this would be an ideal place to photograph the train with heavily snow covered trees.

I returned later, and wading through deep snow I put myself in position on the west bank of the Ellis to capture the the return run of the 1330 Snow Train.

Wayne Duffett was the locomotive engineer, as seen in the cab of former Maine Central 255. Wayne is also the railroad’s bridge engineer with whom I traveled last year on his detailed structural inspection of this span and others along the line. Further, it was Wayne who first recommended to me a vantage point on the banks of Ellis. 

COlorful Snow Train-Three Views

Saturday at North Conway, NH the combination fresh snow, a clear cold sky, and brightly painted EMD diesels in a quaint setting made for some great photo opportunities.

Although compact and lightweight, my Lumix LX7 is a handy tool for capturing railroad photos. I carry it with me often, even when I have bigger cameras at hand.

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On this Day 2014—Acela at West Haven

Eight Years ago—February 7, 2014—I made this trailing view of Amtrak’s Acela Express racing eastward at West Haven, Connecticut.

My father and I spent the morning along the former New Haven Railroad electrified mainline photographing Amtrak and Metro-North trains in action.

f7.1 at 1/1000 of a second, ISO 200.

Exposed digitally using my Canon EOS-7D with a prime 200mm lens.

Yesterday, I made some snowy photos with this same old Canon, which after a dozen years still makes excellent images.

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Lakes Media Live Radio Broadcast!

Yesterday, I hosted a live radio broadcast at Conway Scenic Railroad’s North Conway Station to promote the railroad’s Snow Train excursions.

Dirk Nadon of Lakes Media arrived in the morning and set up a mini-broadcasting studio in the station lobby. We broadcast live and recorded sound bites and interviews on Lakes FM 101.5 and 104.9 The Hawk FM.

I participated in the organization of the event, spoke on the radio to convey the excitement of Snow Train, and made these photographs using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.

We also took the 1130am Snow Train to Attitash and traveled in vintage Pullman diner Hattie Evans.

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Conrail SD45-2s at Bullards Road.

You know this must have sounded good! Former Erie Lackawanna SD45-2s lead a loaded ballast extra westbound at the summit of the Boston & Albany at Bullards Road near Hinsdale, Massachusetts.

I made this photo on the evening of August 23, 1984 using a Leica 3A loaded Kodak Tri-X.

In retrospect, I wish I had a slightly longer lens here and better exposure and processing skills. With in a few years, I had better cameras and my photography had improved dramatically, but catching scenes like this one of SD45-2s on the B&A route were a thing of the past.

And, I really wish I’d recorded the sound of this train. All those 20-cylinder 645 diesels in Run-8, wow!

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Gorham Station

Driving around a few weeks ago, Kris and I paused at Gorham, New Hampshire, where I made these views of the old Grand Trunk Railway station

I wanted to feature broadside photographs that show the profile of the station perpendicular to the railroad rather than more common three-quarter views nearer to the tracks.

For these photos I was working with my Nikon Z6 fitted with my 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens. I made mild adjustment to constrast and saturation in post processing.

Do the modern highway vehicles improve or detract from the photos of the station?

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Group Portrait with 461—April 2001

On 13 April, 2001, I traveled with the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland to Mullingar, where I exposed a roll of Kodak 120 Tri-X using a Rolleiflex Model T.

Among the photos I made was this group portrait featuring RPSI’s steam locomotive 461 on the Mullingar turntable with an array of Irish Rail and RPSI crew and members.

If I recall correctly, RPSI’s Kevin Walker and Denis McCabe assisted with arranging the group portrait.

Many years earlier, I learned a trick for getting large numbers of people to all look at the camera at the moment of exposure.

I think I was pretty successful here.

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Lads with the HST

I titled this photo, ‘The Usual Suspects.’ This made it a bit harder to locate in my files.

In May 2003, I was traveling with the lads from Dublin to Crewe (England) by way of the ferry to Holyhead in Wales.

Along the journey, I exposed this group portrait in front of Virgin Cross Country HST.

Saturday evening (January 29, 2022), I was saddened to learn of the passing of my friend and fellow photographer Aiden McDonnell, who is pictured here second from the left.

I’ve often made it point to photograph my friends when on excursions to document the passing railroad scene. I’m really glad that I did.

RIP Aiden.

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Orange Railcars at Connolly Station

In May 1998, I stood at the south end of platform 5 of Dublin’s Connolly Station where I made this view of 2600-series diesel multiple units as they accelerated away from the platforms toward Tara Street on the Loop Line.

I was working with my Nikon F3T loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO 100).

At the time the 2600s were a common sight in Dublin.

This photo reminds me of my first impressions of Dublin and how much has changed since 1998.

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