On our way back from Tokyo in April 1997, my dad and I stopped over in Seattle, Washington.
Although I was in a haze of Jet lag from the long flight, we rented a car and drove around . Near the downtown, we set up to make photos of the waterfront trolley line, which at that time served Seattle. The trolley tracks were parallel to BNSF tracks. While waiting for the trolley, this BNSF switcher and caboose came by.
The switcher, according to published rosters, was a former Great Northern EMD SW1200 built in Spring 1957. So at the time of the photo, the locomotive was 40 years old. I wonder what became of it?
The slides sat in the little green Fujichrome box until this morning, when I opened it up and scanned this image.
After scanning a hi-res TIF image, I imported the file into Adobe Lightroom and made some adjustements to improve color balance, exposure and contrast.
The top image is my scaled by unadjusted scan, the bottom image reflects my adjustments.
I was looking for something else and I found a box of Fujichrome slides: on it was written ‘VRS’. Nothing more.
Inside are a bunch of gems from early 1998. Photographer Mike Gardner and I had made a trip to Rutland, Vermont where we photographed a Vermont Rail System local freight that worked a Clarendon & Pittsford job to a quarry.
This was just a few weeks before I made my first trip to England and Ireland. Months later when I returned from across the Atlantic, this box of slides sat on my desk. I don’t think I ever look at it. None of the slides are labled and they are all in numerical order.
Today, it has special significance to me. Leading the train is Clarendon & Pittsford GP38 number 203.
That’s former Maine Central 255, now Conway Scenic 255. It is the locomotive I see almost every day! Back then it was just another red VRS EMD diesel.
I scanned the slide using a Nikon LS5000 scanner driven by VueScan software. I scanned as a high-res TIF file then imported into Adobe Lightroom for some minor adjustments.
Wednesday (August 24, 2022) I was running errands around North Conway-Conway, New Hampshire. Between stops, I paused for a few minutes at West Side Road to catch the 9:30am Conway train on its return to North Conway.
This featured former Maine Central GP38 252, a locomotive that isn’t often assigned to the Conway run.
Working with my Lumix LX7, I exposed this view as a RAW digital file, then processed the data using Adbe Lightroom to make the most of the image.
I made this photo of the old Union Pacific station at Caliente, Nevada in March 1997. Photographer Mel Patrick and I had been following the Los Angeles & Salt Lake route west from Utah.
Not far from Caliente we’d discovered one of the tires had developed a serious defect. It wasn’t flat, but it was about to be!
We arrived in town too late to visit the local mechanic, so stayed overnight across from the station. Before sunrise, I went over to the railroad and exposed a series of Fujichrome slides of the UP station using my Nikon F3T that I’d fitted with Mel’s 16mm full-frame fisheye.
This unusual lens lent itself to photos like this one.
Almost every train on Conway Scenic Railroad stops at the North Conway Station.
It is extremely unusual train that passes the station without stopping
Yesterday, while serving in the capacity as ‘Manager on Duty,’ I cleared Work Extra 252 into North Conway from Conway, and granted it permission to drop its caboose at the North Yard before continuing West.
I made this selection of photos as vintage GP38 252 worked passed the 1874 station.
Among the challenges of summer photography on a tourist railroad is that train operations tend to be focused during the middle of the day when the light is comparatively harsh.
Generally speaking, the passengers appear to be more focused on eating breakfast during the early morning, so we schedule the trains for later in the morning. The first train boards at 9:15 am.
The other day, we sent out a work Extra more than an hour ahead of the scheduled Conway train in order for the work crew to get ballast and ties loaded onto the train at Conway before the first passenger train arrived. This made good use of time, and provided me with some photographic opportunities.
I made these photos of the Work Extra at Conway before 9am using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
Occasionally I’m asked about the schedules for the work trains. Unfortunately my answers aren’t very helpful. By definition, a ‘Work Extra’ doesn’t have a schedule. These trains typically have to stay out of the way of the regular passenger excursions. They are called ‘as-required’, and move about the railroad as it suits the crews to get their work done. Plans change quickly and so it can be difficult to know when and where the trains will be more than a few hours or minutes in advance.
Standing at the south end of the platform at White River Junction, Vermont, I envisioned a panoramic image that would show the station and the locomotives parked to either side of the station.
I wanted to convey the sense of Junction, while making use of the nice afternoon sunlight.
Working with my Lumix LX7, I used the ‘panoramic’ function in ‘scene mode’, which allowed me to make a panoramic composite. Moving the camera from right to left while holding the shutter down makes for a sequence of image that are then sewed together in-camera using a preprogramed algorithm .
Then I set the camera with a 16:9 aspect ratio and made a single frame, which I then cropped manually to give it a panoramic look.
This second method provided better compositional control and is free from the computer generated artifacts associated with composite images, but isn’t as sharp as the composite.
Over the last 45 years, I’ve made countless visits to the Connecticut Trolley Museum at East Windsor.
Last Saturday, Kris and I paid a visit to the museum, in part to experience this classic interpretation of a early twentieth century New England electric railways, and to meet with Daryl Mundis of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society (as described in Sunday’s post).
I made the photos below working with my Lumix LX7.
Lumix RAW files were adjusted in Adobe Lightroom to correct for exposure, contrast, and color temperature.
Yesterday, Kris and I traveled to the Connecticut Trolley Museum at East Windsor, where we met Daryl Mundis who presented me with the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society’s Fred A. and Jane R. Stindt Photography Award for 2020. This is one of five prestiguous Railroad History Awards they are presenting in various categories of achievement.
On October 13, 2003, I exposed this color slide of Canadian Pacific SD40-2 at Binghamton, NY using my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 16mm Zeiss Hologon.
This was a flat field super wideangle lens that corrected for barrel distortion and other lens artifacts typically associated with very wide lenses. However, it was important to kept the film plane level or other types of distortion would alter the shapes of the subjects photographed.
In 1991, Southern Pacific was still routing through freight over its West Valley route between Tehama and Davis, California.
Photographer Brian Jennison and I were on our way to photograph streamlined steam locomotive 4449 at Redding on August 31, 1991 (featured yesterday on TTL), when we intercepted a westward SP freight working its way along the West Valley route.
Although we were a little tight on time for the steam locomotive, we decided to make the most of this fortuitous find, and photographed the freight twice, once just south (timetable west) of Willows, California and again 15 minutes later near Delavan.
This was one of just a few SP trains that I photographed on the West Valley route that was sold off a couple of years later to a short line start-up called California Northern. I revisited this territory in 2003 and again in 2005, to photograph and travel on California Northern’s local freight.
Photos were exposed on black & white film with a Leica M2 fitted with 50mm Summicron, and cropped slightly for effect.
In August 1991, I made this image on Southern Pacific’s dime.
For three days I was commissioned by Southern Pacific to photograph the famous 4449 with Daylight train working excursions between Redding and Mount Shasta.
Fellow photographer Brian Jennison and I had traveled up from the Bay Area and had three days of glorious California sun.
Most of my photos of 4449 were exposed on Kodachrome 25 using my Nikon F3T, and these have been published in magazines, books, postcards and calendars over years. However, I was also working with black & white film, probably Ilford FP4, which I exposed using my old Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron.
My notes from the day show that I’d set the camera at f4.5 1/250. I’d used a yellow filter and processed the film in Edwall FG7 to give the photo a period appearance. My intent was to replicate the look of 1940s-era publicity of photos of SP’s Daylight.
The few B&W photos I made that day have never been published.
Six years ago, I made this trailing view of an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner bound for Los Angeles Union Station at Simi Valley, California.
The on-platform infomational signs were scrolling an ominous message about a Metrolink train that had been cancelled because of a mechanical issue. That’s a modern way of saying; ‘the train failed enroute and your going to be late’.
When I started producing Tracking the Light a decade ago, my thought was to offer very detailed essays focused on photographic technique, processes, and how to make the most of specific pieces of equipment.
My format has since morphed into something less detailed and more visual.
I often carry my Lumix LX7 digital camera because it is compact, lightweight and yet has the ability to make exceptionally sharp photos that I can use in books and magazines.
Yesterday, I made these images with the LX7 of Conway Scenic steam locomotive 7470. I used some photos for the company Facebook page and hope to use them in advertising.
Although these photos were scaled, what you see here are the in-Camera JPGs without significant alteration to color, contrast, exposure or sharpness.
If I were working with a different digital camera system, how might that have changed my results?
Yesterday, I also exposed some Ektachrome of 7470 using my 30-year old Nikon F3 with f1.8 105mm lens.