Vintage Chromes: Amtrak at Meriden, CT.

I made photographs of Amtrak at Meriden, Connecticut on two occasions.

The first was in February 1979. My father brought my brother and me out for the afternoon and we stopped at Meriden’s Amtrak station to watch the arrival of a New Haven-Springfield shuttle operating with a pair of Budd RDC’s. I exposed these coming and going Kodachrome photos with my old Leica 3A. (previously featured on Tracking the Light in 2015. See:

My second visit was on January 2, 1988, when I stopped at a grade crossing just north of the station to catch a southward holiday extra that was running with F40PH 205 and borrowed MARC passenger cars.

Last night, I was able to place the location 1988 photo by carefully scrutinizing the older slides. The distinctive profiles of the buildings to the left of F40PH 205 also appear in the distance of the trailing view of the RDCs, which is how I know that the 1988 photo shows the train approaching Amtrak’s Meriden station stop.

If you look carefully at the 1988 photo, you can see the conductor standing in a vestibule door. The platforms were at the east side of the tracks for trains in both directions, as evident in the first view of the RDC at the station.

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Freeze Frame at Cape Cod Bay

During a visit to Cape Cod the other day, Kris and I made photographs at Corn Hill Beach in Truro, Massachusetts.

Using my Nikon Z6 with f2.8 70-200mm Nikkor Z-series zoom, I made a series of the surf. To ‘freeze’ the water I used a very fast shutter speed (typically 1/8000th of a second) while back lighting the bay and using shalow focus for a diorama effect.

Below are six examples of the water frozen in time.

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Christmas Decorations on the Conway Branch

Before Thanksgiving, Conway Scenic operated a Work Extra to Conway and back to help decorate for Christmas.

This included placing Christmas decorations along the line for the treasure hunt in Santa’s Holiday Express.

In addition to helping select locations for the decorations, and assisting with placement, I also photographed the Work Extra along the course of its season journey.

All photos were exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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D&H Caboose in the Rain

In summer 2018, I paid a visit to West Barnstable, Massachusetts where there were several antique railcars on display. The photos I made of a decayed former Delaware & Hudson caboose garnered interest.


Yesterday, Kris and I revisited West Barnstable. It was raining and dark. I made a few photos of the station, Mass-Coastal track and the old D&H caboose. It’s condition hasn’t improved over the last four and half years.

This wooden bodied relic of former times makes for a fascinating study in decay that seems symbolic of the fading status of the D&H itself.

I featured this style of D&H caboose in a book on cabooses that I authored with John Gruber in 2000.

West Barnstable, Massachusetts. Exposed using a Nikon Z6 digital camera with a Nikkor Z-series f2.8 70-200mm zoom.
West Barnstable, Massachusetts. Exposed using a Nikon Z6 digital camera with a Nikkor Z-series f2.8 70-200mm zoom.
West Barnstable, Massachusetts. Exposed using a Nikon Z6 digital camera with a Nikkor Z-series f2.8 70-200mm zoom.
West Barnstable, Massachusetts. Exposed using a Nikon Z6 digital camera with a Nikkor Z-series f2.8 70-200mm zoom.
West Barnstable, Massachusetts. Exposed using a Nikon Z6 digital camera with a Nikkor Z-series f2.8 70-200mm zoom.

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Kenosha—First Digital Photos

Some of my earliest digital photographs were exposed in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In Novemeber 2008, I’d traveled to Chicago to visit with photographer Chris Guss and attend the annual Beecherfest railroad slide program.

At the time I was exclusively using film to make photos. Chris lent me his Canon EOS 50D and we spent several days in northern Illinois and Wisconsin making photos.

We stopped in to Kenosha, where we traveled on the streetcar loop and made photos of the vintage PCCs.

I exposed this view using my 100-400mm Canon zoom fixed to Chris Guss’s Canon 50D.

It was almost a year before I bought my own digital camera, and 18 months before I invested in a Canon EOS-7D.

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Lost Slides from Halloween 1997

The other day I was going through a carton of slide boxes from the mid-1990s. I found a roll from a day out with photographer Mike Gardner to capture New England Central in Connecticut.

On Halloween day 1997, we followed southward freight 608 to New London, photographed a few Amtrak trains on the Shore Line, then followed 608 on its northward return trip to Palmer, Massachusetts.

At South Windham, Connecticut, I made a view on the old Fuji Provia 100 (RDP) using my first Nikon N90S with f2.8 80-200mm Nikon zoom lens.

The soft afternoon sun resulted in a somewhat under exposed slide that never made my final cut, and so remained in the green Fuji box for more than 25 years.

I scanned it with a Nikon LS-5000 slide scanner powered by VueScan 9.7.95 (recently updated from the earlier version of VueScan that I’d been using for a few years), and then imported the high-res TIF file (scanned at 4000 dpi in ‘Fine’ mode) into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment and scaling.

Below are JPGs from the unaltered scan and from my adjusted scan to improve the overall visual appeal of the time. Adjustments included warming the color temperature, adjusting sky denisty, lightening the overall exposure, and contrast control.

I’ve also included a photo of Mike, who is a regular Tracking the Light reader.

Scan of my Fujichrome Provia 100 slide without adjustments. The slide is darker and cooler than I’d like, but captures the train in late autumn foliage.
This is the same scan following myriad adjustements to improve the appearance of the image.
Adobe Lightroom work window showing the relative positions of slider controls that implemented adjustments to my original scan.
Mike Gardner catches the action on Halloween day 1997.

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Misty Morning at Ballycullane

On the morning of 23 November 2004 a thin mist covered the ground near Ballycullane, County Wexford. A laden Irish Rail sugarbeet freight had just passed and I could still hear the drumming of the Class 071 diesel at it worked Taylorstown Bank.

I made this trailing view of Irish Rail’s per way gang using a Nikon F3 with Nikkor f2.8 180mm lens. The camera was loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO slide film). Note the lamps at the back of the freight.

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Snow and my Billboard

On Friday, November 18, 2022, I traveled on Conway Scenic’s work extra to Conway to assist with decorating for the holidays.

Our train had to clear to allow for the arrival of the regularly scheduled morning Conway run, which was handled by Budd RDC Millie.

I opted to make a sequence of photos of Millie arriving in Conway where it passes the company billboard, which I recently arranged to display the railroad’s Winter ad. This ad features a photo that I made a couple of years ago of locomotive 573 in morning light paused in front of the North Conway Station.

Below is a selection of the photos that made with my Nikon Z6, including the image that I ultimately selected for display on the railroad’s Facebook page. I modified this image by cropping it and adjusting the color temperature, color saturation, exposure and contrast to make it more appealing in the social media venue.

I selected this photo for Facebook. This has been cropped and modified using the original Nikon NEF RAW file. The billboard design was performed by Erin Bott of Silverline graphics; it was printed and installed by Gemini Signs of Conway.
Nikon NEF RAW file presented without adjustments or alterations except for scaling for internet. Notice the relative darkness of the shadow areas. This frame was the next one in the sequence from the photo selected for Facebook (above).
Nikon NEF RAW file presented without adjustments or alterations except for scaling for internet. In this view the RDC is pictured closer to the billboard.

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The Lads at Maam Cross on Film.

I exposed a variety of slides during our visit to Maam Cross in October.

Jim Deegan and company were hard at work on the on their Midland Great Western restoration project when Kris and I arrived by coach.

Working with a 30-year old Nikon F3 loaded with Fujichrome Provia 100F, I made these slides of the lads.

The film was processed and mounted by AgX Imaging in Sault Saint Marie, Michigan. I scanned the slides with a Nikon LS5000 slide scanner powered by VueScan 9.7.08 software and processed the TIF files in Adobe Lightroom for presentation here.

For my digital photos at Maam Cross see:

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Burlington’s Zephyr

On November 20, 2018, I visited Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry with Dave & Rhonda Swirk. Among the exhibits we viewed was the famous Burlington Zephyr of 1934.

This was significant for me because we were in the process of bringing former Burlington Budd Vista Dome Silver Splendor (originally Silver Buckle) from Los Angeles to North Conway, NH. We had traveled on the car from Los Angeles on Amtrak No.4, the Southwest Chief, and were laying over while the car was switched onto train 48 the Lake Shore Limited .

The 1934 Zephyr was the direct ancestor of this car.

Today, the Budd Vista dome works for the Conway Scenic in New Hampshire and is named Rhonda Lee after Rhonda Swirk—following in the railroad’s car naming tradition.

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LUAS on Provia—18 Oct 2022

A month ago—LUAS on Provia—18 Oct 2022—I made these photos of LUAS trams working the Green Line in the Dublin City Centre using a Nikon F3 with Provia 100F (RDPIII) color slide film.

During our trip to Ireland I exposed 7 rolls of film along with hundreds of digital photos. This is just a sampling of a few photos from our last day in Dublin.

Last night, I scanned the slides using a Nikon LS 5000 (Super Coolscan5000) slide scanner powered by VueScan software and then imported the scanner’s hi-res TIF files into Adobe Lightroom for minor color and exposure corrections.

I find that film offers a different quality of image, which is part of the attraction. But, I also find that working with my old Nikon F3s produces different compositions than I get when making photos digitally. So despite the inconvenience of carrying both film and digital cameras and the comparatively high cost of exposing color film, I continue to work with both film and digital media.

Fuji Provia 100F slide exposed using a Nikon F3 with f2.5 105mm telephoto lens.
Fuji Provia 100F slide exposed using a Nikon F3 with f2.5 105mm telephoto lens.
Fuji Provia 100F slide exposed using a Nikon F3 with f2.8 24mm wideangle lens.

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Color Slides of Our Special

Yesterday, I received back 14 rolls of color slides spanning six months of photography.

Among these were photos I made of our Wedding Special, operated on September 17, 2022 courtesy of Conway Scenic Railroad on the Conway Branch using RDC Millie. I was the engineer that day and at several locations I spotted the train for photos.

It was a perfect day. I made several Fujichrome Provia 100F slides to preserve the event.

Both of these slides were exposed using a Nikon F3 with 50mm Nikkor lens and scanned with a Nikon LS5000 slide scanner powered by VueScan software. The film was processed by AgX Lab in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Of the thousands of trains I’ve photographed over the years, none could compare to this one. Many of our friends and family joined us on the run to Conway. Kris and I were married the next day—September 18th (two months ago).

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Washing the Trains.

It was unseasonably warm in the White Mountains last week, so Conway Scenic’s crew took the opportunity to wash the trains.

I made these photos for the company’s Facebook page using my Nikon Z6.

To get the sunburst effect, I set the aperture to f22 on my 24-70mm zoom.

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Shore Line East at Sunset

Reviewing my slides from the mid-2000s, I find that 2006 was an unusually productive year for me. My techniques and equipment had reached a peak, while my varied subjects resulted a wealth of interesting images.

Consider this Fujichrome slide exposed near Branford, Connecticut in February 2006.

A westward Shore Line East commuter train caught the glint of the sun a few minutes before sunset. The low winter evening sun tinted with particulates from pollution along I-95 combined with crisp winter air to create a rich quality of light.

I scanned the slide last night at high resolution and made a few minor adjustment using Adobe Lightroom to improve the dynamic range of the scan.

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Dublin & Kingstown Revisited

In mid-October, I traveled the length of the old Dublin and Kingstown route to meet with my friends in Dun Laoghaire.

The Dublin and Kingstown Railway was opened in 1834 between Westland Row (today Pearse Station) and the harbour in Kingstown (now called Dun Laoghaire).

It was the first railway in Ireland and often claimed as the world’s first suburban railway.

Today, this route is operated as a portion of Irish Rail’s Dublin Area Rapid Transit electric service and hosts InterCity services to/from Rosslare Europort.

I had excellent autumn sun for my spin to Dun Laoghaire and stopped off at a couple of stations to make photos using my Nikon Z6 digital camera.

Approaching Seapoint.
Seapoint station stop.
DART interior.
Dun Laoghaire .
Dun Laoghaire .

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Blue SD60—Palmer, Mass.

Seven years ago—November 14, 2015—I made these photos of a colorfully decorated SD60 spotted at the New England Central yard at Palmer, Massachusetts.

Back in Central Vermont days, six-motor diesels were a very rarely operated to the Palmer yard. These days they are common.

Photos exposed using my first Fuji XT1 with an 18-135mm kit lens set to 18.5mm.

GMTX 9000 is an unusual example of EMD’s SD60 that features the 1990s-era Radial Truck.

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Czech it Out!

It was a glorious clear September day when Denis Mc Cabe and I paid a brief visit to Ceske Budejovice on a rail trip around the Czech Republic in 2008.

We changed trains at the main railway station. I spent a couple of hours photographing the historic city, which is famous for its architecture and beer.

At the time I was entertaining a publisher with the idea of writing a book on the cities of the Hapsburg Empire. Although the book never came to pass, I accumulated hundreds of photos of cities from Innsbruck, Austria to Chernivtsi, Ukraine.

I made these photos on Fujichrome using a Canon EOS 3.

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Photographing Crossing Repair

Among the myriad aspects of Conway Scenic Railroad that I photograph as part of my job are various maintenance and repair projects.

On Thursday, Novemeber 10, 2022, I traveled in HyRail TC207 to the site of crossing repair at Intervale Lane (east of milepost 63).

This cooperative effort between the town of Bartlett, NH DOT and the railroad were aimed to repair and improve the grade crossing and to allow a smoother ride for highway traffic, improve running time for Conway Scenic and ease future repair to the track.

It was necessary to coordinate the repair effort to allow trains to safely pass over the crossing between elements of the repair and repaving activity.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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Blue Sky Glass LUAS Duck Under the Loop Line.

In mid-October, I was on my way over to Connolly Station, when I noticed the Ad-wrapped Sky LUAS tram gliding west on the Red Line near the Loop Line Bridge.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I made this view as the tram passed below the bridge.

The unusually decorated tram looked good in the rich morning sun.

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Millie and the Sun

A few days ago, I exposed this high contrast view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Budd RDC ‘Millie’ at Conway, New Hampshire using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.

The camera simultaneously saves each exposure as a RAW and JPG file. I’ve set the camera to profile the JPG with the in-camera ‘Vivid’ color setting.

In this sequence, I compare the un-altered camera RAW (RW2) file with the un-altered in-camera JPG file and my altered (adjusted) Jpg image that I manipulated in Adobe Lightroom to make the most of the camera RAW data. Notice the differences to shadow and highlight detail.

I’ve also included a screen shot of the Lightroom work window to reveal the changes that I made.

Un-adjusted RW2 (scaled without color or contrast corrections)

Un-adjusted in-camera JPG with ‘Vivid’ color profile.
Adjusted RW2 (RAW) file with changes made using Adobe Lightroom.

Screenshot of the Adobe Lightroom work window showing the position of sliders to adjusted RW2 file.

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Sugarbeet on the Roll—November 8, 2005.

It was Irish Rail’s final sugarbeet season, although no one knew it at the time.

We set up at Charleville Junction on the Dublin-Cork line on the Cork-side of Limerick Junction to catch V250, a laden train led by locomotive 081.

I made this view on Fujichrome. It sat in a closet in Dublin for nearly 15 years and I only recently retrieved it from storage.

Last night I scanned the slide using a Nikon LS-5000 slide scanner and then adjusted the hi-res TIF file using Adobe Lightroom to correct color temperature and color balance while making minor contrast and exposure corrections.

Below is the file before adjustment and after. In both images presented here, I scaled the files as JPGs.

Scan prior to color and exposure adjustment.
Scan after the first round of corrections.

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Frankenstein Van Wrap

To help promote Conway Scenic Railroad’s culinary services, I arranged to have the company culinary van wrapped with photos of the railroad.

For the sides of the van, I opted for a photo of the Mountaineer at Frankenstein Bridge that I exposed in September 2020. This image appears in many of the railroad’s billboard, print and digital ads and has become a marketing icon.

JPG of the original photo used in the van wrap and other Conway Scenic Railroad advertising.

The back of the van is decorated with a classic view of the North Conway, New Hampshire railroad station that also appears in print ads.

Silverline Graphics assisted with the basic design concept, and SignSmith LLC of Gorham, Maine performed final design and applied the wrap to the van.

I made these photos of the van in the railroad’s North Conway yard.

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LUAS crossing O’Connell Bridge

During our October visit to Dublin, I made this trailing panned photo of LUAS Citadis tram 5040 crossing the famed O’Connell Bridge.

I was working with my Lumix LX7 set at ISO 80, shutter speed 1/100th of a second, and f6.3. The key was maintaining a steady pan motion as the tail-end of the tram passed me.

O’Connell bridge is noteworthy for being wider than it is long.

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Polish Glint

In August 2006, Denis McCabe and I made an epic tour of Poland by road. Over the course of about two weeks we drove across the country in a rented Opel Astra.

On the evening of 22 August, we photographed this PKP (Polish Railways) SU45 diesel accelerating away from the station at Zwierzyn.

I made this view on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3 with 180mm f2.8 lens.

The glint of the evening sun illuminated the train and the sunflowers in the foreground.

This was among hundreds of my Polish slides that had been stored in Ireland.

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DB at Bad Grönenbach, Bavaria

Among the thousands of slides that I recently retrieved from storage in Ireland, was this image that I’d exposed on Fujichrome in Bavaria, Germany on January 20, 2008.

Denis McCabe and I were on a week-long photographic exploration of southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

This location on a Deutsche Bahn (DB) single track line at Bad Grönenbach featured traditional German mechanical signaling.

This slide was in a box labled ‘Bavaria, Extras’. (My code to indicate that I’d already culled the preferred images and filed them elsewhere.)

Last night, I scanned the slide using a Nikon LS-5000 Super CoolScan slide scanner powered by VueScan 9.7.08 software.

I selected ‘Ektachrome’ with a ‘White Balance’ color profile and scanned as a TIF at 4000 dpi. Then I imported the scan to Adobe Lightroom and made several JPG variation. The first is scaled without correction. The others display various minor adjustments aimed at improving the image.

Scaled scan, but otherwise unmodified.
Scaled with first round of color and contrast corrections
Scaled with second round of color corrections, contrast adjustment and minor sharpening.
Image with final crop to minimize sky and foreground.

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Materials Train at Drumcondra

In mid-October, I made a brief stop at Irish Rail’s Drumcondra station on Dublin’s North Side to photograph locomotive 074 leading a laden materials train toward the North Wall.

The sun and clouds cooperated nicely, and I made these digital photos using my Nikon Z6.

This was a fortuitous catch for me as I only had a few minutes to invest before moving on to my next objective. There were times in years past that I may have invested hours to catch an obscure railroad movement, so it was satisfying for me to see this relatively elusive train without much of a wait.

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Magic 105 at Frankenstein

I’m speaking about my Nikkor f2.5 105mm and the famous trestle, and not about a radio station and a monster.

After returning from Ireland, I made a trip to inspect the former Maine Central Mountain Division to check out photo locations for the 470 Club Trip.

Here, I’d hiked into the Frankenstein bridge to see when the sun dipped behind the ridge shadowing the tracks. Owing to the high ridge line the bridge will shadow very quickly on a late fall afternoon.

The eastward Mountaineer was just minutes away when I arrived.

I fitted my old AI Nikkor 105mm to my Nikon Z6 digital camera. This is a magic combination for railroad photography which produced exceptionally sharp photos.

Yesterday, I posted a modified version of this image to Conway Scenic Railroad’s Facebook page and assigned it as the cover photo. It will also be used in late season advertising for the Mountaineer.

Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer is eastbound on Frakenstein Bridge. New Hampshire’s famed Mount Washington is seen in the distance to the right of bridge.
This is a cropped and much enlarged section of the above image to demonstrate the sharpness of my old 105mm.

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Athenry at Dusk

It’s been more than 23 years since my first visit to Athenry, County Galway.

On that day, my objective was to see an Irish Rail cement train (traffic long gone), and visit the signal cabin (which was then an active block post and interlocking. I was there the day it closed in May 2003.)

Last month, on our way back from Maam Cross, Kris and I were delivered by road to Irish Rail’s Athenry station. It was wet and windy. We had a half hour to wait for the evening Galway-Dublin train to arrive.

During the interval, an Irish Rail 2800-series railcar on its way from Galway to Limerick arrived to make its station stop before changing directions to head down the Western Rail Corridor.

I made this selection of action photos using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera set at high ISO (between 8000 and 12000).

This two-piece 2800-series railcar had just arrived from Galway.
The Galway-Limerick railcar has the ‘feather’ to take the switch for the Western Rail Corridor toward Ennis and Limerick.
The evening Galway-Dublin train approaches Athenry.

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