Yesterday, I received back our Nikon Super Cool Scan 5000 slide scanner from CTS Services which had performed necessary servicing.
Among the first slides I scanned after taking the scanner out of the box was this June 30, 1994 view of Union Pacific’s Bend Turn on the Oregon Trunk near Gateway, Oregon.
I’d been following the freight on its northward run and this slide was among the final images of made of the train that day, exposed on Kodachrome 25 slide film using my Nikon F3T with 35mm PC (perspective control) lens.
I’ve been scouring my Union Pacific photos for consideration as illustrations for a book that I’m writing on Union Pacific and its Predecessors (CNW, DRGW, MP, SP, WP etc) for Kalmbach.
I made this view from Glounthuane village of Irish Rail 2600-series railcars near Cobh Junction , Cork on 15 October 2019.
Working with an old Nikon F3 loaded with Kodak Tri-X, I was focused on the train and its reflection in the water.
I processed the film using the following split process formula: Kodak HC110 mixed 1-100 with water for 6 minutes at 73F, followed by a bath of Ilford ID11 1-1 for 6 minutes and 45 sec at 68F; then stop bath; fixer bath 1; fixer bath 2, first rinse, hypo clear, second rinse, and wetting agent with final rinse.
For today’s Tracking the Light, I was looking for a photo I made on June 27, 1983 at Secaucus.
Instead, I found this photo at Secaucus, exposed nearly 32 years later.
In the interval, Secaucus had been completely transformed.
It was a hazy summer morning on June 26, 2015, when I exposed this view of a New Jersey Transit train on the former Erie using my first Lumix LX7. I had traveled on this train from Suffern. The engine is at the back of a push-pull set.
The photo I was looking for was of a former PRR GG1 crossing over the Erie. This one is more technically competent, if not as interesting. I’ll need to find my old Kodachrome slide.
I made this view in the blue light of dusk on an April evening in April 1997 at Tokyo’s busy Shinjuku Station.
At the time it was the busiest railway junction station in the world, handling more daily passengers that even London’s famous Clapham Junction.
I have used this photograph and others from my 1997 visit in a variety of publications over the last 25 years.
I exposed the photo on Fujichrome with my Nikon N90S mounted on a tripod. I was emulating a style of railway photography popular in the the Japanese magazines at the time which used the extreme blurring of a train through a scene to infer motion.
In July 1984, I made a few black & white photos of the Canadian Pacific station at Jackman, Maine using my old Leica 3A with 50mm Canon lens. At that time, Jackman still hosted VIA Rail’s Atlantic and was an open train order station. I had a conversation with the operator before I made my photos.
On my recent visits Jackman earlier this month, I tried to recreat the angle of my earlier eastbound view.
In both photos, I am standing at the Route 201 grade crossing.
The purpose of this comparison is to demonstrate the degree of change at Jackman in the 38-year interval between them. Notice that the 1984 view is far more interesting to look at despite being a technically inferior photograph.
Eleven years ago, I made this end of daylight view on the longest day of the year at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts.
CSX’s westward freight Q423 had stopped to change crews. In those days, Q423 ran from Worcester, Mass., to Selkirk, NY. I cannot recall why the crew was on short time.
I made the exposure using my Canon EOS-7D at 6400 ISO at 1/3 second, f3.5 using a prime 28mm lens.
The Canon 7D is an excellent camera. I’ve had mine for a dozen years and exposed thousands of digital photos with it. It’s higher ISO settings are weak compared with modern cameras. Here the 6400 ISO setting appears relatively pixelated. Yet at the time I was delighted to the ability to use such a fast ISO setting at the twist of a dial.
On this day nine years ago, I was traveling east from Chicago to Worcester, Massachusetts on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited (Train 48/448) and made these photos of the journey with my Lumix LX3 digital camera.
At the time I was working on a book about Chicago’s railroads with Mike Blaszak, Chris Guss and John Gruber.
On June 18, 2010, I was traveling with John Gruber on the way back to Madison, Wisconsin from Minneapolis, where John had collected Wallace Abbey’s photographs recently donated to the Center for Photography & Art.
John wanted to take a look at a surviving portion of the old Green Bay & Western at Hixton Wisconsin. And I made this evening view of grain elevators catching the glinting sun with my Lumix LX3.
Years earlier, John had made a project of photographing GB&W and its people. This was among the smaller railroads melded into Wisconsin Central in the 1990s.
A week ago Kris and I visited the crossing at Tarratine, west of Rockwood, Maine where we waited for the eastward Canadian Pacific freight number 132.
This remote crossing bisects the track in a sweeping curve in the forest. We waited here for quite some time. Finally, I heard the distant sound of laboring General Electric diesels. And then, finally, a distant whistle.
I set up with my Nikon Z6 fitted with a f2.8 70-200mm Z-series zoom. When the train came into view, I exposed a series of digital images and made a pair of color slides on Ektachrome.
The slides remain latent (unprocessed), but here are a few of my digital images.
Some my regular viewers on Tracking the Light have expressed interest in seeing more photos of the freight cars behind the locomotives. So I’ve included a few of those images too.
Later that night, Kris and I returned to this same crossing where we made a series of night photographs of the westward freight. Those will be featured in another posting.
Until Kris and I visited last week during our survey of Canadian Pacific’s Moosehead Sub, I had last made photos at Brownville Junction, Maine in 1997.
We arrived just in time to see a set of three nicely painted leased GATX Locomotive Group GP40s getting ready to depart the east end of the yard. These were operated by Irving Transportation’s NBM Railways, which runs the former Canadian Pacific east from Brownville Junction toward St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.
When I spotted these engines departing the yard, I acted quickly and pulled off to the side of the road, and framed up a view of the engines crossing a deck bridge.
Interestingly, it seems that GATX 3050 was originally Baltimore & Ohio GP40 3717. In 1984, on a visit to Brownville Junction with my late friend Robert A. Buck, we photographed a B&O GP40 in a consist on an eastward CP Rail freight at time the railroad had leased locomotives from Chessie System. Wouldn’t that be cool if this was the very same GP40! (I’ll need to find my photos from 1984 and check it out).
Canadian Pacific’s Moosehead Subdivision is arguably one of the most scenic railways lines in New England. But this lives up to inverse ratio of trains to scenery; more trains = less scenery; awesome scenery = fewer trains.
As discussed previously, on most days CP operates just one train east and one west, with only the eastbound passing in daylight.
In the long gaps between between trains, Kris and I found plenty of subjects to photograph, including the tracks winding through the trees, the scenery around the beautiful lake, and the wildlife.
Last week, after another wait in the rain near the East Outlet Bridge on Canadian Pacific’s Moosehead Sub, I decided to forego the bridge, and try a different location nearer to Greenville Junction, Maine. So, Kris and I drove toward Harford Point, where there is a nice sweeping curve east of a shallow rock cut.
We had inspected this spot last year, and had waited there about an hour for the eastward train before giving up. (That was in June 2021, and ultimately on that day we saw the train and photographed it further west).
On this year’s visit to Harford Point, the lighting was soft owing to cloudy conditions. Light rain had put a gloss all over the foliage and tracks.
While waiting, I had a brief chat with one of the locals near the grade crossing, who reassured me that we had not missed the train. And not long after we set up, we could here CP’s eastward 132 whistling for a crossing to the west.
As the freight came into view, I made this sequence using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens. In post processng, I made some minor adjustments to contrast, shadow density, sky detail, color temperature and saturation.
Tracking the Light Explores Photography Every Day!
The former Canadian Pacific Railway station building at Greenville Junction, Maine is a distinctive wooden structure dating to 1889. A local preservation group has embarked on a mission to preserve and restore the structure.
Since Kris and I visited Greenville Junction a year ago (June 2021), considerable work has been done to the station and it looks much improved!
During Conway Scenic Railroad’s special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer, I traveled on the head end to help position the train, while making photos for the company archive.
While the train was discharging passengers at the site of the Mount Willard section house near Crawford Notch, NH, I was across the ravine to the east, set up to photograph the special crossing the famous Willey Brook Bridge (also known as the Willey Brook Trestle).
I made several dozen photos over the course of several minutes, trying to make the most of this photo opportunity. Below is a selection of similar compositions. Why so many? It is impossible to know exactly how a photo may be considered for publication in the future and I’ve learned from experience that it helps to position the subject in a variety of ways within the frame of the viewfinder.
On Wednesday (June 7, 2022), I walked from our lake-side cabin at Moosehead, Maine to Canadian Pacific’s East Outlet Bridge with the hope of catching the eastward 132 freight.
Not long after I arrived, the skies opened to a light drizzle. Gradually drizzle turned to a steady rain. The rain stirred up Maine’s famous mosquitoes. So after more than an hour of waiting under a tree, I was beginning to question my intentions. Yet having stood out in the elements, I decided to wait a while longer.
Finally, off to the west, I heard a distant train whistle! Hooray, it had to be CP’s 132! (Normally the railroad only operates one train east and one west every 24 hours.)
After another seven minutes, the sky brightened and a headlight came into view. By the time the train reached the East Outlet Bridge at Moosehead, the sun was out and shining brightly!
My perseverance was rewarded! Walking back to the cabin, I claimed this effort as a success.
In the woods of Maine, along the river that flows south from the Rockwood Dam at the West Outlet of Moosehead Lake is the site of a remote railway junction where the old Maine Central line to Kineo Dock crossed beneath Canadian Pacific’s Moosehead Subdivision.
Tracking the Light reader Wayne Duffett recommended that I inspect and photograph this virtually unvisited railroad confluence. Maine Central’s line has been abandoned for decades and now serves as a well maintained gravel road.
So feeling a little adventurous, the other morning Kris and I made the pilgrimage to see the unusual and rarely photographed bridges at the old Somerset Junction.
All photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
On Monday (June 6, 2022), driving west on Maine Route 6, we had just passed Greenville Junction, Maine on our way to Moosehead.
Kris said, ‘hey, I hear a train!’
I suspected the eastward 132 might be close, so I quickly turned around and drove east on Rt 6 back to the bridge at Kellys Landing, immediately east of the old CP station at Greenville Junction. At one time Bangor & Aroostook lines connected with CP here, while a spur went below CP to serve docks on Moosehead Lake.
We had just a few moments to get ready. I grabbed my Lumix LX7 and framed up the eastward freight on the bridge and exposed a series of digital photos. My first CP Moosehead Subdivision photos since June 2021!
Five years ago, on June 7, 2017, I was traveling with my long-time friend and photographer Paul Goewey. We were photographing Vermont Rail System’s Green Mountain Railroad freight 264, and caught this train passing the former Rutland Railroad passenger station at Chester, Vermont.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, I recall watching Steamtown run around their excursion train at this location, although I don’t think I made any photos at that time.
On this day, I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera, which allows me to simultaneously save a photo file as both a JPG and as a camera RAW (RAF). At the time of exposure, I profiled the JPG in-camera using Fuji’s built in Velvia color slide film profile setting. . While in post processing, I custom profiled the RAF image by making minor adjustments to contrast, color temperture and saturation using Adobe Lightroom, and then created a JPG for internet presentation.
Below, I offer both the in-camera JPG with Velvia color and my own adjusted file. Both images were created digitally. I did not crop the image area or make changes to sharpness.
One notable exception was during the Winter-Spring 1978, when I exposed two rolls of Kodacolor II that had been given to me during the previous winter holidays as a gift.
On a bright April day, my father brought me along the Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor to photograph the passing trains, where I made the most of the second of two 36-exposure rolls.
Working with a Leica fitted with 200mm Telyt lens using a Visoflex (reflex attachment), I made this view at New Brunswick, New Jersey of a southward Amtrak train led by a relatively new General Electric E60CH crossing the Raritan River.
In 2016, I scanned my old negatives, which despite being stored in glassine envelopes had withstood the passage of time reasonably well.
Kodacolor film had a distinctive color palate.
All things being equal, I wish I’d made the photo on Kodachrome slide film, but considering I was only 11 years old, I did pretty well!
Working at Conway Scenic Railroad, I see former Maine Central GP38 252 almost every day.
My familiarity with 252, makes this image of sister locomotive 262 interesting to me today.
I exposed this on February 17, 1985 with with my father’s Leica M3 loaded Kodak Plus X. My friends and I had been following an eastward Boston & Maine freight symbol EDAY that was led by a GP18-GP9- GP18 combination.
Along the way, we found this eastward freight tied down without a crew. It was led by MEC 262. I don’t really remember that part of the day, and I can’t place this location. Somewhere I took notes, but most of my notes from January to October of 1985 are missing.
My guess is that this west of the passenger station in Ayer, Massachusetts, as I made a variety of photos in Ayer that day.
Back in 1985, a backlit Maine Central GP38 with its headlight off wasn’t worth a lot of my attention, but at least I made this image.
East of the station and yard at Palmer, Massachusetts, Conrail’s former Boston & Albany passed the abutments of the Southern New England—a pre-World War I railroad scheme aimed at connecting Palmer with Providence.
Bob Buck referred to this location (milepost 81.81/81.82) as Electric Light Hill. It was near a electric substation, and not far from where the old interurban electric line crossed the Quaboag River.
I made these photos on a Spring 1982 evening. Conrail freights had backed up at the block signals, likely because the Central Vermont was occupying the Palmer diamond to the west..
While I recall relatively little about the events, I do remember the excitement of seeing a second headlight to the east after the first westbound had passed me.
I made these photos with my Leica 3A on black & white film, probably Kodak Tri-X, which I would have processed in Kodak Microdol-X. In those days, I had a tendency to over process the film which made for some pretty dense highlights and relatively grainy photos.
I made a series of exposures of Conway Scenic’s May 22nd special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer at Crawford, NH.
In these views the locomotives were fighting the light with the sun nearly behind the subject at a relatively high angle in the sky.
For this discussion, I underexposed the scene, which allowed me to retain detail in the sky and other highlight areas.
By importing the camera NEF RAW file into Lightroom I was able to make adjustments to the shadows and highlight areas to compensate for the undesirable effects of underexposure while retaining adequate detail across the exposure range.
This is in part possible because of Nikon Z6’s full-frame sensor with an enormous dynamic range.
Of the three views: The top is the uncorrected NEF file scaled for internet. The bottom two are screen shots of the Lightroom work window to show how I implemented changes to the NEF file before scaling for internet presentation.
On Monday, May 30, 2022, I photographed the company ballast train at almost precisely the same place. In these views Conway Scenic GP35 216 works upgrade with three loaded ballast cars plus rider coach 6743.
I made these recent photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens. Working with the camera RAW files, I made adjustments to color and contrast using Adobe Lightroom.