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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).