Jim Wrinn

Yesterday I learned the very sad news that my friend and long-time Trains Magazine Editor Jim Wrinn had passed away.

RIP Jim.

Jim in his old office at Trains in 2017.
John Gruber, Jim Wrinn and Brian Schmidt in 2016.
Jim and his wife Cate with Norfolk & Western J-Class 611 at Spencer, North Carolina in 2014.

Tracking the Light looks back.

Porto Metro-March 30, 2019

Three years ago, March 30, 2019, I exposed this view of the Porto Metro at Trindade Station (Portugal).

This modern light rail metro system was built, in part, on the right-of-way of a traditional narrow gauge railway line that served Trindade station as its city center terminus.

Photographer Dennis McCabe and I explored this Metro system on a very wet day in April 2014, and returned in 2019 to much brighter weather.

I exposed this view from the platforms at Trindade Station using my Lumix LX7.

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Extra 255 at Frankenstein

On Monday, March 28, 2022, Conway Scenic began the process of clearing the former Maine Central over Crawford Notch.

Last year, the railroad reached the summit on March 31st, which was something of a early record for Conway Scenic. In a normal year, the line might remain closed through April.

Former Maine Central 255, a GP38 acquired from the Vermont Rail System late last year, was chosen to make the clearing run West.

Where last year I traveled on engine 573, this year I pursued the first train on the road, and departed about two hours after it left the North Conway yard.

The crew on first movement over the line west of Attitash (the limits of Snow Train operation) expects to find obstructions. During the winter fallen trees, rocks and ice accumulation routinely block the line.

I knew Extra 255 was west of Bartlett, so at various places beyond Bartlett, I inspected the track. Near the Arethusa Falls grade crossing, I contacted the engine crew via train radio to find their location.

They had made it as far as the rock cutting west of the Frankenstein Bridge, where the engine was blocked by a significant ice fall.

I hiked up to the bridge and made photos of the engine returning east.

One of the privileges of working for Conway Scenic is the ability to request a lift back down hill. The brief engine ride saved me another half mile hike in freezing temperatures. When I got back to my car it was just 23F.

This was the first rail movement across Frankenstein of 2022.

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Amtrak Train 43—Pennsylvanian at Lewistown.

In mid-March, Kris and I arrived at Lewistown Junction, Pennsyvlania a few minutes before the scheduled arrival of Amtrak’s westward Pennsylvanian (train 43). We had stopped at a nearby Sheetz for burritos to go.

Working with the Amtrak/VIA Real Time App, I learned that train 43 was running about 9 minutes behind the advertised. That allow for more time for lunch.

I made this series of photos with my Nikon Z6 fitted with 70-200mm Z-series zoom and a Panasonic Lumix LX7 as the train approached its Lewistown station stop. Amtrak P42 number 99 was in the lead. At the back were a pair of private cars.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

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Reading 2102 Revisited

In the 1960s my father, Richard Jay Solomon, made numerous photos of Reading Company’s famous Iron Horse Rambles. This included countless photos of Reading T-1 2102.

As I’ve previously recalled on Tracking the Light and in the pages of Trains Magazine, these photos were, in part, my inspiration for the HO-scale Reading Company that I’ve been building in my Finacé’s basement.

Early in the planning for the railroad Kris and I bought an HO model of 2102, and in February last year (2021), I ran one of my father’s famous photos of this engine, a picture that I featued in my book Locomotive, 20 years earlier (see below).

A week ago Friday (March 18, 2022), Kris & I visited Reading & Northern’s Port Clinton, PA offices and obtained permission to visit the 2102 and make photos. This was a privilege and a real thrill. It was the first time I’d seen this engine up close.

Later this year R&N plans to have this magnificent machine operating in excursion service on their railroad.

My father’s image of 2102 on an Iron Horse Ramble in the 1960s.
My HO scale recreation of 2102 seen at speed on our interpretation of the Reading Company.
My recent digital photography of Reading & Northern’s former Reading Company 2102 at Port Clinton, PA.

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In the 1960s my father, Richard Jay Solomon, made numerous photos of Reading Company’s famous Iron Horse Rambles. This included countless photos of Reading T-1 2102.

Three years ago at Luso

On this day three years ago (26 March 2019), Denis McCabe and I photographed CP (Comboios de Portugal) train IC513 crossing the massive valley-spanning viaduct at Luso-Bucaco, Portugal.

I made this pair of coming and going photos using my Fuji XT1 mirror-less digital camera.

The top photo required a bit of contrast adjustement using Adobe Lightroom, while the bottom photo is simply a scaled version of the in-camera JPG.

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Rare Bird on the Reading & Northern

A week ago (March 18, 2022), Kris and I called into the Reading & Northern at Port Clinton, Pennsylvania.

We obtained permission to be on the property and make photos.

Although, I had visions of seeing something older, grander, and of greater personal interest, I was impressed by the vintage EMD diesels sitting outside the company offices.

Reading & Northern 2000 was a classic SD38, a 2,000 hp six-motor EMD, built for the Penn Central in 1970, and later served Conrail.

Where the GP38 was a common type (as were the GP40 and SD40 models), the SD38 was unusual—a real rare bird with just 63 built.

I’ve only photographed a scant few SD38s in all my years wandering North American rails, including those operated by Conrail, the US Steel roads: Bessemer & Lake Erie, Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range, and Elgin, Joliet & Eastern; and at least one Grand Trunk Western unit, that back in 1986 showed up on Central Vermont in Palmer, Massachusetts leading a cable laying train.

So here we find this rare diesel, ripe for a few photos: I made this photo with my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series lens. But, I also exposed a frame or two of HP5 using an antique Nikon F3 with 50mm lens.

Soon we were on the verge of finding something rarer, cooler, and the reason for our visit . . . stay tuned!

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Reading Company 800

A week ago (March 17, 2022), Kris and I visited the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania at Strasburg, where we saw a variety of finely preserved locomotives and rolling stock.

Among the most interesting and unusual pieces on display was Reading Company 800, a perfect example of an overhead electric multiple unit car that once operated on suburban lines in the Philadelphia area.

Of the thousands of locomotives and railcars preserved across the United States, there are relatively few electric multiple units in their as-built condition, which is what makes this display so unusual.

I got a kick out of seeing this car again because it is a Reading Company car and thus relates to our model railroad enterprise in Kris’s basement (although we don’t delve into electrified territory on the wee pike.)

Photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 digital camera.

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Amtrak Train 654 passes Gap

Working with the Amtrak/Via Real Time Live Map ap (https://asm.transitdocs.com), I was able to pinpoint within a few minutes when Amtrak 654 eastbound from Harrisburg would pass Gap, Pennsylvania, where Kris and I were waiting for the train.

This Amtrak train featured a short push-pull consist with a former Budd-Metroliner cab control car at the east end and ACS-64 625 at the back.

Amtrak 654 eastbound on the former Pennsyvlania Railroad at Gap, PA.
Siemens-built ACS-64 number 625 pushes at the rear of the train.

To stop the action, I set my Nikon Z6 at 1/2000th of a second and exposed bursts of photos as the train zipped by us.

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Atmospheric East Broad Top shops

During our tour of the East Broad Top Railroad last week (March 2022), I made a variety of atmospheric interpretive images inside the old shop buildings at Orbisonia, Pennsylvania.

The railroad has done an amazing job of shoring up these 19th century structures, while retaining their rustic character.

I last visited these shops in 1997! A quarter century ago.

These photos were exposed with my Nikon Z6 digital camera.

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Look what we found at the Railroad Museum of PA!

Last week on our visit to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Kris and I called into the gift shop where we discovered that my latest book, How Steam Locomotives Work, is now on sale!

It was a great thrill to see my new book in person.

My late friend Jim Shaughnessy exposed the cover photo.

How Steam Locomotives Work was published by Kalmbach Media. See: https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01317

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The Other ‘Millie’.

These days when I think of ‘The Millie,’ it is Conway Scenic’s RDC 23 that comes to mind.

The other Millie is much older. And that is East Broad Top’s Baldwin 2-8-2 No 12.

Last week Kris and I were given a tour of the East Broad Top facilities at Rock Hill Furnace, Orbisonia, Pennsylvania and I was reacquainted with Millie, a locomotive I hadn’t seen or photographed in nearly 25 years.

I made this view using my Nikon Z6 digital camera.

More on the EBT soon!

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Prague, October 2016

Here’s another view exposed on the Czech Fomapan 100 black & white film at the Praha-Smíchov railway station in the Czech capital.

Nothing fancy for equipment; just my old Nikon F3 with 50mm f1.8 Nikkor prime lens.

Black & white film is well suited to a dull day in Prague. And well worth the price!

The film cost less than $5 for 36 exposures.

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Steam Silhouette

Strasburg Rail Road’s former Canadian National Railway 2-6-0 made for a stunning silhouette against a late winter sky.

Gauging the exposure for these contrasty scenes requires a bit of interpretation.

Since the locomotive is black, I allow it to fall into the shadows, and instead concentrate on retaining detail in the highlight areas of the sky.

This is most effectively accomplished by making test images and studying the histogram that shows pixel distribution across the exposure range. With this tool I aim to avoid excessive over exposure in the highlight areas.

Then in post processing, I work with Lightroom to re-balanace the image by lightening shadow areas and controlling highlight detail.

Below are three examples providing variation on a theme.

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Wine & Cheese bucking Snow at Dusk

Strasburg Rail Road’s evening Wine & Cheese train made for a stunning sunset subject as it climbed the hill toward Esbenshade Road last Saturday evening (March 12, 2022).

Drifting snow had filled the cuttings, which bitterly cold temperatures made for ice crystals in the evening sky that made for colorful lighting effects as the sun reached the horizon.

I braved a steady frosty wind to made these photos with my Nikon Z6 fitted with 70-200mm zoom. These images were edited from the camera NEF (RAW) files using Adobe Lightroom.

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Snow Train at Attitash

On the last weekend of Snow Train, I traveled on the headend of the first Saturday departure with engineer Wayne Duffett.

When we arrived at Attitash, New Hampshire, which is the western terminus of Snow Train, I hopped off Conway Scenic’s GP38 255.

Since Conway Scenic doesn’t normally run west of Attitash until much later in the season, the line was still covered with snow beyond the limits of the railroad’s excursion operation.

I used the opportunity to show the train with the Attitash ski area in the distance to the right.

Exposed Digitally using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Nikkor lens.

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Old 89 at Black Horse Road

Late season snow blanketed the ground and was still falling, when Kris & I caught former Canadian National Railways 2-6-0 number 89 leading the return run from Paradise.

Paradise, Pennsylvania, that is. We were set up near near Black Horse Road in Strasburg.

I made this photo on Saturday (March 12, 2022); but by Monday the grass was green and the birds were chirping.

Exposed digitally using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera with f2.8 70-200mm Z-series Zoom lens, set at f10, 1/1250th of a second, ISO 200. RAW image adjusted for contrast and exposure using Adobe Lightroom.

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Snow and Shadows at Esbenshade

Fresh snow and fierce wind made for challenging conditions on the Strasburg Rail Road at Esbenshade Road.

The subtle texture and stark environment of the windswept cornfields with the a steam locomotive makes for a timeless scene.

I exposed these views on Saturday March 12, 2022 using my Nikon Z6 with Z-series 70-200mm lens.

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Strasburg Rail Road in the Snow.

Yesterday morning (Saturday March 12, 2022), heavy wet snow fell on Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

Kris and I arrived about 11am to travel on the train, and I exposed this sequence of telephoto views using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm.

The combination of wonderfully preserved railroad equipment and windy wet snow made for some excellent conditions to make classic railroad vignettes.

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Overgrown freight wagon—Prague

On a visit to Prague, Czech Republic in October 2016, I bought several rolls of locally produced Fomapan black & white film.

At a suburban station to the east of the city center, I made this view of an old four-wheel freight wagon parked on a siding and consumed by the local vegetation.

This photo is a scaled Jpg from the original scanned negative. I made no adjustment to the scanned file in regards to contrast, exposure or sharpness.

Fomapan 100 black & white film exposed with a Nikon F3 camera.

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Kingsbridge (Sean Heuston Bridge) at Dusk.

In several recent Tracking the Light posts, I displayed photos of Dublin’s LUAS trams crossing the 1820’s era cast iron River Liffey span.

In this March 11, 2014 Lumix LX3 photo, the bridge, rather than the tram crossing it, was the emphasis my photography.

My old LX3 was a wonderful and convenient tool for making urban images. Although more difficult to use, looking back I think it produced better compositions than its LX7 successor. That said, I’m on my 3rd Lumix LX7!

This view is a scaled, but otherwise unaltered version of the LX3 Jpg file made 8 years ago today.

exposed for 1.3 seconds at f2.5.

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Dublin’s LUAS at Heuston-10 March, 2014 & 10 March, 2015

When in Dublin, I’d walk by Irish Rail’s Heuston Station almost daily.

In the evening on 10 March 2014, and again one year later, I captured views of the passing LUAS trams at Heuston.

Where the setting and scenes seem routine, I always try to make a new angle on the subject.

10 March , 2014, tram 3025 glides away from its Heuston Station stop, the 1840s headhouse and offices of the station loom to the left. LX3 photo.
Tram 3021 hums over Sean Heuston Bridge on its way to Heuston Station. Exposed using a Fuji XT1 with zoom lens. 10 March 2015.

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Stacumni Bridge Two photos a year minus a Day.

I visited Stucumni Bridge on the Dublin-Cork line on March 9, 2016 and March 8, 2017.

On both visits I worked with my FujiFilm XT1 to photograph Irish Rail trains on the quad track.

I only noticed the succession of dates when preparing this post. Kris said, ‘That’s really cool, you should include both photos.

I think it’s interesting that I selected a similar focal length and angle for both images.

The1020 down Heuston Station to Portlaoise train passes Stacumni Bridge on March 9, 2016.
Irish Rail’s UP IWT Liner with Container Pocket Wagons on March 8, 2017.

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Eight Years Ago on the Bog!

On March 8, 2014, photographer Dennis McCabe and I followed this Bord na Mona empty train compass west from the Edenderry Power Station to this rural level crossing near the village of Daingean, Co. Offaly.

The train was one of two heading out on the bog to a comparatively remote loading site to collect peat for delivery to the power station.

We had scoped out this location on an earlier trip, and at the time I was delighted to catch a train movement at this obscure location on the Irish Bord na Mona narrow gauge network.

Below are two variations of the same photo.

One was right out of my Lumix LX3, the other involves cropping the foreground and sky.

Uncropped Lumix LX3 photo.
This is my preferred cropping of the image.

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Up IWT Liner-Five Years Ago

It was a typical overcast afternoon in Dublin on March 7, 2017.

I was in position above Irish Rail’s Phoenix Park Tunnel on Conyngham Road, not far from my bus stop.

Not far off camera to the right was the location of the Islandbridge apartment where I resided on/off for 15 years when visiting in Dublin.

Working with my first Lumix LX7, I made this image of Irish Rail’s UP IWT Liner from Ballina.

The RAW file was a little on the dark side, so I adjusted the image using Lightroom. I lightened the shadow areas, while working with the ‘Select Sky’ feature to hold detail in the sky area.

Not long after exposing this photo, I walked down to Ryan’s pub on Park Gate Street to meet some friends for a pint.

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PC Reflections

I was visiting Delaware & Hudson’s Colonie (NY) Shops in June 1989 where I found this old Penn Central E8A.

It appeared to be long out of service and was stored with a variety of other locomotives behind the old backshop.

I made the photo using my Leica M2 on Kodachrome 25 film.

What was the story with this rather tired looking EMD diesel? I wonder why it was at the D&H shops, and what ultimately became of it. Today E8As are very rare. They weren’t exactly common in 1989 either!

By the time of this photograph, Penn Central was 13 years gone.

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GoPro on the Loco

During the last week I was using a GoPro camera to film the view from New Hampshire’s Conway Scenic Railroad Snow Train.

The railroad had fitted a clamp with the GoPro mounting device in order to attach the camera to the locomotive and cars in order to get unusual visual angles of the train in motion.

On one occasion I traveled with the miniature camera to make sure it was filming and didn’t get knocked from the train during the course of its journey.

In another instance, I was satsified with the camera’s position, and let it make the full round trip to Attitash and back. This even caught me in the act of photographing the train from the ground.

Look closely, the GoPro is attached above the lefthand ditchlight on Conway Scenic Railroad 255. (See below).
Extreme enlargement to show the placement of the GoPro on locomotive 255.

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Frozen Saco at Milepost 64

The other day, I exposed this sequence of digital photos while traveling on Conway Scenic’s Snow Train along New Hampshire’s Saco River on the former Maine Central Mountain Division near milepost 64.

Snow Train has only three more days of scheduled operations before it concludes its 2022 season, and I’ve been trying to make the most of the frozen landscapes before the train finishes.

Photos exposed on March 2, 2022 using a Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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Moonscape on the Kanc

A few weeks ago, Kris and I took an evening drive up New Hampshire’s Kancamagus highway.

Near the summit of the pass, we paused so I could expose a few moonlit landscapes.

I made this time exposure looking east with my Nikon Z6 fitted with 24-70mm zoom firmly attached to my Bogen tripod.

f4.0 at 30 seconds, ISO 320 with 24-70 Z-series Nikon zoom set to 25mm

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Sky in the Shadow of Guinness

On March 2, 2015, I walked across the Sean Heuston Bridge (formerly Kingsbridge) toward Heuston Station.

I’ve crossed this 19th century cast iron span over the Liffey perhaps a 1000 times (maybe more) during the many years I spent photographing Dublin.

LUAS tram 3019 decorated to advertise Sky Fibre (cable television) was working westbound toward its station stop at Heuston when I made a snapshot with my old Lumix LX7. The Guinness Brewery at St. James Gate looms to the left.

This is the camera JPG, scaled for internet presentation without modifcation to color balance, color temperature, contrast or sharpness.

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Mount Washington Looms Large.

The other day, I caught a returning Snow Train at Intervale, New Hampshire with the great mass of Mount Washington looming 18 miles to the North.

In the lead was former Maine Central Railroad GP38 252. A locomotive delivered in November 1966.

Fresh snow and bright sun help make the photo. This same location isn’t as impressive on a dull day when clouds obscure the mountain.

Exposed with my Nikon Z6 fitted with a Z-series f2.8 70-200mm zoom.