Waiting for the DART on Platform 5

Last Monday (25 April 2022) , we arrived at Dublin’s Connolly Station by LUAS tram and made our way to Platform 5 to catch the DART to Blackrock.

The sun was high in the sky as I focused on a northward DART while waiting for our train south.

All photos were exposed digitally using my Panasonic Lumix LX7.

Bridges at Safe Harbor-Three Views

The two magnificent bridges at Safe Harbor, Pennsylvania are vestiges of the Pennsylvania Railroad from its days in the early 20th century as the busiest freight railroad in North America.

The line on top bridge was abandoned by Conrail c1990 no longer carries track. It is now used a by a trail system. This bridge originally carried PRR’s low-grade freight cutoff from Parkesburg via Shocks Mills to Marysville, PA. The bottom bridge is part of the Port Deposit route and still used by Norfolk Southern. The electrification was discontinued early in the Conrail era.

I made these images in March using my Nikon Z6.

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Diesel Railcars Under the Roof at Connolly Station—25 April , 2022.

I first visited Irish Rail’s Connolly Station in February 1998.

That seems like a lifetime ago and the station facilities have been greatly altered since my early visits.

On Monday, 25 April , 2022, we transfered from the LUAS to Irish Rail’s DART at Dublin’s Connolly Station and on the way between the tram and the train, I exposed this Lumix LX7 photo 29000 and 22K series railcars under the old roof.

Although these are common varieties of trains in Ireland, there’s a certain thril of seeing them again in an historic setting, which reminds me that the common today will someday seem captivating. Everything changes and it helps to have been away for spell to better appreciate the effects of change.

An open eye can produce creative vision and a record for history.

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Looking Back Six Years

On April 27, 2016, I was visiting Bordeaux, France with my father Richard Jay Solomon. I made this view using my Lumix LX7 of a Bordeaux Tram crossing the river Garonne.

The Bordeaux tram system makes extensive use of a ground based electrical power distribution system to avoid the necessity for overhead wires. To minimize the danger of electrocution this system is designed so the positive feed is only activated when the tram is over the individual hot feeds.

Irish Rail at Islandbridge Junction—25 April 2022

Yesterday, I returned to my old location at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin for the first time since November 2019.

Although I’d made countless photos here over the years, it was nice to be back at this once familiar place again.

The procession of passenger trains was certainly down from pre-Covid times, but in the course of about half an hour I photographed five trains passing through the junction.

I made these views using my Lumix LX7 and processed the Lumix RAW files using Adobe Lightroom.

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Boston & Maine F7s on the Plow Track

Today (Sunday April 24, 2022), the 470 Club had arranged for a special surprise consist to work Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley trains.

I helped organize the details of the trip and last Friday morning (April 22), I made photos of the Club’s popular F7A diesels positioned on the Plow Track at North Conway, New Hampshire.

I produced this Tracking the Light post in advance, as I’m now in Dublin many miles from New Hampshire.

The bottom line is that I won’t be around see the special suprise consist on Conway Scenic this morning but I was glad to catch these F7s back to back the other day.

Photos exposed using my Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light aims to post every day, even when Brian Solomon is on the road.

Dublin’s LUAS 24 April 2022

This morning we arrived in Dublin on an Aer Lingus A330-300.

I made a walk around my old haunts near Heuston Station. Sunday is quiet in Dublin, but I made some photos with my Lumix LX7 of the LUAS Citadis trams coming and going.

Working with the Ashling Hotel WIFI, I’ve decided to post a few of these images right away.

As I write this, a fog of jetlag is beginning to set upon me and soon I may drift into a deep sleep.

Sunday, 24 April 2022. Lumix LX7 photo.

Sunday, 24 April 2022. Lumix LX7 photo.
Sunday, 24 April 2022. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Work Extra at Puddin’ Pond

Another in my ballast train series.

Yesterday, April 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad operated a Work Extra on the Redstone Line to Pudding Pond to dump ballast.

I traveled with the train and used my Panasonice Lumix LX7 to document the work.

This was the first time since the railroad acquired former Maine Central GP38 255 that it worked out the Redstone Branch as far east as Pudding Pond.

The significance of this foray east was that old 255 would have routinely worked Maine Central freights on this same section of track between the late 1960s and the early 1980s.

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Ballast Crossing the Liffey a Dozen Years Ago.

I was still new to the concept of digital imagery on 22 April 2010 when I made these views with my old Lumix LX3 of an Irish Rail ballast train running around at Platform 10 at Dublin’s Heuston Station.

This view from the top of the Phoenix Park Tunnel was just a short walk from my old apartment at Islandbridge. The dust in the air was the result of a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

The old four-wheel ballast wagons were nearing the end of their days in permanent-way traffic.

In just a few days, I hope to be able to make a modern day view from this Irish vantage point. Fingers crossed.

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April 21, 2013—Overground Interior

Nine years ago I made a counter-clockwise journey around London on the then-new Overground network.

During the course of this trip, I made this image of the interior of a nearly empty Overground train using my Lumix LX3

Panasonic Lumix LX3 set at f2.4 1/160th of a second, focal lenght = 7.9mm

Fuji’s colors at Freiburg

Among the qualities of my FujiFilm XT1 was that the camera’s built in JPG preset color profiles are tailored to emulate traditional Fujifilms.

My two favorites were ‘Provia’ and ‘Velvia’.

I was using the latter color profile in this April 20, 2016 view of a tram on the outskirts of Frieburg, Germany.

Exposed with a Fujinon 18-135mm zoom at its widest focal length, camera set at ISO 200, f7.1 at 1/500th of a second. Photo scaled for internet without changes to exposure, contrast, color or sharpness.

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When the News Reminds me of a Warm Day in 2007.

Add this to the list of, ‘You just couldn’t make this stuff up’:

Yesterday, on my drive to work in rural New Hampshire, a radio broadcast reminded of a blistering hot day in July 2007 when photographer Denis McCabe and I explored L’viv making photos of trains. This broadcast described a garage reportedly destroyed by a Russian missile-strike in L’viv earlier in the morning.

Yesterday afternoon, Denis pinpointed for me the location of the bombed garage as a building that he and I would have walked by not long after I’d exposed this July 2007 photograph of a UZ 2M62 diesel. (The building stood about about 700 feet behind me in this photo.)

This isn’t the sort of story I’d ever imagine featuring on Tracking the Light.

Exposed on Fujichrome in July 2007 using a Nikon F3 with 24mm Nikon lens.

Tracking the Light is a daily blog on railway imaging.

Thalys at Gare du Nord—1999.

In the Spring of 1999, I traveled on the Thalys highspeed service from Brussels Midi to Paris Gare du Nord.

Shortly after my arrival in Paris, I made this view of Thalys trainsets on the platform of the station using my Nikon fitted with a 24mm lens.

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

I had the film processed by A&I lab in California.

This was one of many illustrations that appeared in my book Bullet Trains published by MBI in the year 2000.

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Metro North Diesels at Port Jervis, NY.

On our drive back from Pennsylvania last month we stopped in to Port Jervis, New York.

This town was once synonymous with the Erie Railroad which maintained significant facilities and yards here.

Today, little is left of the sprawling freight yards, and relatively little freight passes over the former Erie route, but Port Jervis is the western extent of NJ Transit/Metro North commuter service from Hoboken, NJ.

On this dull Saturday morning, Metro North’s weekday commuter fleet was tied up in the small yard west of the present passenger station, near the site of the old Erie engine facilities.

I thought that this collection of diesels made for interesting subjects.
Photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.

If had been clear and bright, I’d have been looking directly into the mid-morning sun.

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Strasburg Rail Road Ballast Train

Upon leaving the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Kris and I heard a distant locomotive horn.

Although, there were no trains scheduled, I surmised there was an extra on the line, so we drove to the first grade crossing west of the yard and waited.

After just a few minutes, Strasburg Rail Road’s former New York Central SW8 ambled westbound towing a lone three-bay hopper carrying ballast.

That was a lucky catch!

We then drove to the parking lot opposite the shop where I made a few more photos.

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Conway Branch Bridge Inspection—April 2022

The other day, I accompanied Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates on his annual inspection of the bridges on Conway Scenic’s Conway Branch.

This railroad was built in the early 1870s, by Boston & Maine constituent railroad, the Portsmouth, Great Falls & Conway. The last B&M train operated over the branch in 1972, nearly 50 years ago.

The bridges on the line have long and varied histories.

I made several hundred photographs as Wayne tapped, rapped, poked, measured and visually inspected each and every span. 

The Conway Branch has wooden, stone, iron, steel and conctrete bridges.

I learn a lot when scrutinizing a railroad at this level.

All the photos were exposed using my Nikon Z6.

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Rare Diesels at Middletown, PA.

In March, Kris and I stopped by the Middletown & Hummelstown railroad yard in its namesake town.

My last visit here was in 2009.

I made a few photos of M&H’s rare diesel locomotives, which includes an Alco S-6 switcher, an Alco T-6 switcher (that was one of last diesels built by Alco before it exited the domestic locomotive market) and a GE 65-ton center cab.

While I exposed a handful of black & white photos on film, I also made these digital images with my Nikon Z6.

Middletown & Hummelstown Alco S-6 diesel switcher is painted for Western Maryland, the locomotive’s original owner.

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Rock train at Frankenstein

Yesterday, April 12, 2022, Conway Scenic operated a loaded ballast train on the former Maine Central Mountain Division.

Leading the train was former Maine Central GP38 255 acquired by CSRR last October.

I arranged to be in position at the west end of the Frankenstein Bridge to catch the up-hill move, and exposed this sequence of digital photographs using my Nikon Z6 mirror-less camera with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.

Although overcast, the lighting was well suited to a red locomotive with black ballast cars.

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A Day Late: my double save from 11 April 2012.

My old Lumix LX3 had the ability to save a handful of photos in the camera’s built in memory (without an SD card).

This was a great benefit, especially in those moments where suddenly I realized that, “Oh Sh!#! I left the SD card on my desk!”

Not a problem, the camera would store the image internally for downloading later.

On 11 April 2012, I had one of those unforgettable “Oh Sh!#!” moments when I’d spotted a colorfully painted LUAS tram on Abbey Street in Dublin and when I went to photograph it the camera advised me I was saving to the internal memory.


That was ten years, and three Lumixes ago.

However, not only did the camera save the photo, but it was able to save both as a JPG and as RAW. And this was lucky, because a pesky afternoon cloud had just drifted in front of the sun, so my photo was very constrasty and slightly underexposed. Working with Lightroom I was able to lighten the original photo, correct the color temperature, and level the image.

My scaled but otherwise un-adjusted Lumix LX3 RAW photo.
This image was created by working with the RAW file in Adobe Lightroom to bring up detail in shadow areas, correct the color balance and level, and lighten the overall exposure while retaining desired color saturation.

No hope with getting that kind of double save if you forgot to put film in camera! (Been there, done that!).

In two weeks time, I hope to be making use of my latest Lumix on the streets of Dublin!

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Classic Conrail Kodachrome

This was among the many slides that I scanned yesterday.

In my ongoing effort to scan, archive, and organize my slide collection, I’ve been scanning slides, and reorganizing the original chromes so that they are placed together by similar subject.

Conrail is just one of dozens of my subject categories . Ultimately, I hope to subdivide the Conrail slides in to smaller categories largely based on precursor railroad routes.

This Kodachrome 25 image of a westward Conrail unit coal train was exposed in September 1988 at School Road in Batavia, New York, near milepost 399 on the former New York Central ‘Water Level Route’ main line using my old Leica M2 with 50mm f2.0 Summicron lens.

It is one of hundreds of Conrail photos I exposed between 1985 and 1999 of Conrail trains working the old Water Level Route.

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Treasures in the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania at Strasburg is among America’s finest railway museums. Not only does the museum have one of the best collections of significant locomotives, rolling stock and artifacts, but their indoor display offers superb interpretation in a railroad themed environment.

During our visit on St. Patrick’s Day, I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series lens.

Adobe Lightroom is an excellent tool for processing museum photos because it easily enables lightening of shadow, controlling highlights and contrast, while adjusting color temperature and color balance. This allows for significantly more pleasing images.

Statue of Pennsylvania Railroad’s Alexander Cassatt.
Pennsylvania Railroad baggage car.
Kris poses in front of Pennsylvania Railroad class D16sb 4-4-0. In 1981, I traveled behind this antique on the Strasburg Rail Road.
Pennsylvania Railroad 5901, the only surviving Electro-Motive Division E7A.
Detail of a statue of Baldwin Locomotive Works founder, Matthias Baldwin (1795-1866).
Pennsylvania Railroad class B1 electric 5690.
On January 1, 1980, I photographed this former PRR GG1 electric at New Haven, Connecticut. Today, it is one many locomotives displayed at the railroad museum of Pennsylvania.
This Union Switch & Signal color light once authorized train movements on the Reading Company.

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SNCF Gare de Lille—Flanders

Three years ago—April 9, 2019—I visited SNCF’s Gare_de_Lille-Flanders (France).

It was a damp day with dark leaden skies and well suited for photography beneath a train shed.

I made this view using my old Fuji XT1 fitted with a 28mm Fujinon pancake lens.

Below are two interpretations. One is derived from the Fuji Raw by Lightroom, the other was first converted using Iridient and then adjusted (using the same color profile settings) in Lightroom. Compare the roof of the train shed in the two versions.

Converted from Fuji Raw using Lightroom.
Converted to DNG format using Iridient then adjusted in Lightroom.

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Opening the Line to Conway

On Wednesday April 6, 2022, I traveled with Train Master Lacey and Conductor Weimer on GP38 255 from North Conway to Conway, New Hampshire and back.

This was the first locomotive over Conway Scenic Railroad’s Conway Branch since the end of the 2021 Holiday season. My last trip over the line was a test run with steam locomotive 7470, where I used the opportunity to videotape the engine crossing the Moat Brook Bridge.

On our April 6th trip, we collected Easter decorations stored in the Conway freight house for distribution along the line as part of the annual Easter Egg hunt for the benefit of children traveling on the Easter Bunny Express.

I assisted with the collection and positioning of the eggs along the line, while documenting the opening move. Rusted rail conditions meant that we approached each highway crossing ‘prepared to stop and flag’.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and well suited to photography with my Nikon Z6 fitted with 24-70mm Z-series zoom!

Conway Scenic Railroad GP38 255 positioned at the old Boston & Maine freight house in Conway, NH. The Easter Eggs have been hung from the handrails in prepartion for distribution along the line.
Conductor Weimer with locomotive 255.
Passing my billboard photo at Conway. I made the image of Conway Scenic’s 573 at Milepost 64 back in the Spring of 2019.
Conductor Weimer flags Highway 16 in Conway village.
The view at Moat Brook.

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Rockville Bridge

I wrote about Pennsylvania Railroad’s Rockville Bridge in my book Railway Masterpieces published in 2002.

“The third bridge at Rockville was started in 1900, and opened to traffic in 1902. It is listed in the Guinness Book of Rail Facts and Figures, as ‘the world’s largest stone arch railway bridge over a river’. It consists of 48 stone arch spans.”

Last month Kris and I paid a visit to the Rockville Bridge. As we approached this magnificent viaduct a westward Norfolk Southern freight was crawling across, yet we had arrived too late to catch the head end of the train on the bridge.

We decided to wait a little while to see if another freight would come along.

Finally after about 45 minutes, I could hear a GE diesel chugging away on the far side of the Susquehanna. As the train started across the bridge, the evening sun emerged from the clouds, producing some very fine light to photograph the train.

I exposed these photos with my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens firmly mounted on my mid-1990s vintage Bogen tripod.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens set at 170mm, f5.0 1/500th of a second, ISO 200.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens set at 76mm, f5.0 1/500th of a second, ISO 200.

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FS-Leonardo Express at Trastervere

When in Rome on this day in 2017 (April 5th), I photographed a Leonardo Express airport train gliding through the platforms at Trastervere station.

I was traveling light on this expoloratory trip to Italy and only carrying my Nikon F3 film camera and Lumix LX7 compact digital camera.

I returned six months later with my Fuji XT1 among other equipment. At the time I was researching and photographing for my book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

Click to see this review: https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/reviews/book-review-brian-solomons-railway-guide-to-europe/

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Norfolk Southern works West at Lewistown

Last month during our brief visit to Lewistown, PA, we caught two trains, one right after the other. Just a few minutes after the westward Pennsylvanian made its station stop, this Norfolk Southern intermodal freight worked west through the interlocking.

In the lead was 4092, one of Norfolk Southern’s AC44C6M rebuilds. These were converted from traditional DC traction Dash9-40CW locomotives into poly-phase AC traction diesels.

Photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens and Lumix LX7.

NS 4092 west at Lewistown, PA. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom. Note the UPS truck on the road in the distance.
Panned photo with Lumix LX7, f8 at 1/80th of a second.
Trailing view with Lumix LX7

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Sharp old Lens

Englarge section of the main photos to demonstrate relative sharpness.

As a follow up to Saturday’s post, I am posting this sunny morning photo of Conway Scenic Railroad’s GP35 216 the I exposed using the Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera fitted with a vintage manual-focus Nikkor f2.5 105mm lens.

Here I’ve opened the aperture to its widest setting and manually focused on the front of the locomotive.

To demonstrate the exceptional sharpness of this lens with the digital camera I’ve also included a much enlarged portion of the image focused on the number boards.

This telephoto view with shallow focus helps set off the front of the locomotive from the rest of the scene which adds both drama and intrigue.

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Nikon f2.5

Among the features of the Nikon Z6 kit that I bought in 2020 is an adapter to fit older Nikon lenses directly to this modern digital body.

Although I briefly experimented with this adapter when the camera was new, by in large, I’ve made my photos using Nikon Z-series zoom lens specifically designed for the camera.

The other day on a whim, I decided to fit my old Nikkor F2.5 AI 105mm to the Z6 and make some photos of the chickens in the back yard and of Boomer the dog. I was amazed at the exceptional sharpness of this lens when used wide open (f2.5). This allows for razor sharp selective focus.

Selective focus on Joy-the-Rooster Chicken (center).

Since the lens is fully manual, I had to set aperture and focus the old fashioned way (with some help from a focusing aid in the camera).

My success with 105mm making the chicken and dog photos led me to take a few images with this lens around the North Conway, NH railroad yard where I work. During the last week the lads have been cleaning the trains in preparation for Conway Scenic Railroad’s Spring operating season and they made for good subjects to test the selective focus technique.

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Lisbon-1 April 2019

On this day three years ago, photographer Denis McCabe and I wandered the narrow streets of Lisbon, Portugal.

I used my Fuji XT1 to make this portrait oriented view of a classic tram navigating a steep narrow street.

Iridient software does a more effective job of interpreting the data from the Fuji camera RAW files than Lightroom.

Last night I imported the Fuji camera RAW file into Iridient for conversion to DNG format and then imported the DNG file into Adobe Lightroom for minor adjustments tothe color, constrast and exposure in order to make the most of the camera sensor.

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