Eurostar at St Pancras International—30 April 2016.

On the morning of 30 April 2016, my father and I traveled on the Eurostar from Lille, France through the Channel Tunnel to London’s St Pancras International.

The station’s icon 1860s balloon train shed had set the standard for Victorian-era railway station magnificence. It was copied and emulated across Europe and in the Union States.

In 2007, the classic shed was renovated and adapted for Eurostar services.

Upon arrival, I made these photos of the station shed using my Lumix LX7.

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Mark4—16 years ago with 24mm

Last night Kris and I watched a Sci-Fi film about time travel.

Afterwards, I thought about how each of my slide binders offers a form of time travel.

Lately on Tracking the Light, I’ve been offering windows in time. Each that looks back through my photographs; one week, five years, etc.

I look at this photo and I think how much has changed since I exposed this frame of Fujichrome.

I was standing at ‘the box’ at the St John’s Road in Dublin on the evening of 29 April 2007. I made the image with a Nikon F3 with 24mm Nikkor lens.

Much of these scene has changed in the intervening years. The old baracks behind the train was demolished and replace by an upscale housing complex. The view of the tracks looking west has been obscured by brush and bushes (don’t ask which is which). And, these days I rarely exposed Fujichrome in Dublin with a Nikon F3.

Irish Rail’s Mark4 sets still work the Dublin-Cork run though. So that’s something.

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Full frame scan of a 35mm slide exposed on Fujichrome using a Nikon F3 with 24mm Nikkor lens. 29 April 2007

Traditional View at Goves

Sometimes the traditional three-quarter view of a train is the best way to go.

Add in a little bit of elevation, over the shoulder sun, a ‘tunnel’, plus a favorite locomotive, and you can have a very nice image of a train.

That was my feeling last Friday (April 21, 2023) at Goves, near Bartlett, New Hampshire when I awaited the passage of Conway Scenic’s Sawyer River train.

I thought about making a long telephoto view of the locomotive framed inside the ‘tunnel’ below Route 302. In the end, I opted to make a traditional railroad photo using 3/4 angle and 48mm focal length with over the shoulder sun .

This location was recently cleared of brush by the railroad, which makes for a nice place to picture a train in motion.

My favorite Conway Scenic locomotive is GP38 252. I’ve been making photos of this engine for forty years. But it has special signifcance for me because it is almost exactly the same age as me.

It was delivered to Maine Central at St. Johnsbury, Vermont in early November 1966; I was delivered at the end of October that year. I wonder what day 252 left Electro-Motive’s factory in LaGrange, Illinois?

Nikon Z7-II in-camera Jpg, scaled but otherwise unaltered.

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NEF RAW file adjusted for color saturation and contrast in Adobe Lightroom.

Work Train Working! EIght photos.

Simply catching a work train on the roll is only half the fun.

Seeking out its work area and photographing it in action tells a story.

Last week, I exposed these action photos of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Work Extras at work along the line.

My cameras of choice for these images are my Nikon Z-series mirrorless digital. With a 24-70mm zoom on one, and a 70-200mm zoom on the other I have great flexibilty for making photos of trains and people.

The only problem is the weight! These cameras are fairly heavy.

All the images were processed from Nikon NEF RAW files using Adobe Lightroom.

Using a comapartively slow shutter speed allows the falling ballast stones to blur, which helps convey the sense of motion and working being accomplished.
On my wee Reading Company, I have a 1:87 scale Baltimore & Ohio hopper similar in pattern to this full size B&O hopper at Conway Scenic.

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26 April 2013-Containers Pass Donamon

Ten years ago today, I held my Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 40mm pancake lens and aimed it east toward Irish Rail’s approaching IWT Liner running from Dublin’s North Wall to Ballina.

It was a bright day at Donamon in the west of Ireland, and we could hear the 071 leading the Liner as it accerated away from Roscommon station several minutes before the train came into view.

Locomotive 086 was one of several of the 071 class locomotives painted in black, silver and yellow. This one had a cab door that was still wearing the older 1990s-era orange and white scheme.

Below are two versions of the same image. The top is a camera generated JPG. The bottom was created by making minor adjustments to the Canon RAW file using Adobe Lightroom.

Canon 7D JPG, scaled for internet but otherwise unmodified.
File created from an adjusted Canon CR2 RAW file using Adobe Lightroom.

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Cobblestones, Narrow Gauge Tracks and a Lumix!

On this day seven years ago (25 April 2016), I made a day trip from Brussels to Antwerp, where I spent several hours riding and photographing trams in that city’s narrow cobblestone streets.

My camera of choice was Lumix LX7, which is compact, flexible, and produces extremely sharp RAW files. Perfect for an urban

This image was processed using Adobe Lightroom to make the most of the data captured in the RAW format.

Lumix LX7 ISO 80 f4 1/100th second.

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Work Extra at Willey Siding

Last week Conway Scenic’s Work Extra reached Willey Siding on the climb to New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch. This consisted of GP9 1751 and a laden ballast car.

For the railroad enthusiast this consist represents an unintentional pairing of former Baltimore & Ohio equipment.

The ballast car was a B&O two-bay coal hopper built in 1941, while GP9 1751 was originally Chesapeake & Ohio 6128 (built in 1956) and following the C&O/B&O merger was transferred to Baltimore & Ohio’s roster becoming 6677. It continued to serve Chessie System and later CSXT until the 1980s.

I wonder if they ever worked together on the former B&O?

I made this selection of images using my Nikon Z-series mirrorless digital cameras, which can do an excellent job of replicating the old Kodachrome 25 color palatte.

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Farewell Wee Reading Co.

Over the next couple of months Kris and I will be moving.

Part of the challenge of this relocation exercise will be the disassembly of my scale interpretation of the Reading Company in Pennsylvania coal country.

I began this two and a half years ago and the railroad gradually expanded. While I’d begun to install scenery, only about half the railroad enjoyed scale realism. Once we had decided to move, I stopped adding scenery and instead focused on operating the railroad.

Soon I will begin boxing up the locomotives, rolling stock and buildings. I will lift the track for future use and salvage elements of the electrical system including hundreds of feet of wire, dozens of lights and LEDs, plus numerous toggle switches that I used to control train movements.

Unfortunately, when I began planning the railroad, I failed to anticipate the need to take it apart. So, structure of the railroad consisting of wooden benchwork, as well as the scenery cannot be easily recycled.

I made these photos last night using my Nikon Z7-II to help preserve how the railroad looks.

Someday, the Wee Reading Company will rise again and it will be better than ever!

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135mm and 20mm: Views of Sleek Modern Trams—Valenciennes, France

On 22 April 2016, I spent the day traveling around Valenciennes, France on the city’s modern Alstom trams.

I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 with an XF18-135mm lens.

Both photos were exposed from the same vantage point of the same tram; in the first photo the zoom was set to 135mm (telephoto), in the second I set it to 20mm (super wideangle).

135mm view.
20mm view.

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Reflection at Notchland

Wednesday afternoon I exposed this sequence of photos of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Work Extra passing Notchland, New Hampshire .

This classic location alongo the former Maine Central Mountain DIvision is readily viewed from Route 302 that runs parallel to the tracks.

The Work Extra was reversing down grade with the conductor controlling the move from the back platform of the caboose.

I like the traditional arrangement of a single EMD GP9 with work train and caboose.

Which of these variations do you like best?

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Caboose by the Nose

My Nikon Z7-II has a feature; the rear display screen is touch sensitive and it allows you to make a photo by touching the screen. It has another feature which senses when you are looking through the eyepiece and switches the view from the rear touch screen to the eyepiece.

On occasion, while moving my eye to the eyepiece my nose touches the rear display and releases the shutter resulting in an unintentional image. This usually annoys me, since I don’t like to erase photos and I don’t like to waste space on my memory card.

Yesterday, I scrambled up an embankment to make a photo of a Conway Scenic’s Work Extra that was collecting felled trees and other vegetation west of Notchland, New Hampshire near milepost 77 . I went to frame up a view of the caboose at the back of the train when my nose made a photo.

‘Nose view’—my unintentional shutter release of the caboose at the back of the Work Extra. Not bad considering I wasn’t looking through the viewfinder when my nose tripped the shutter!
I made this photo moments after the ‘Nose View’, this time using the 24-70mm zoom lens to more tightly frame the image. Adequate, but I think I like my ‘Nose View’ better.

Here’s the irony, although unintentional, I like the ‘Nose View’ exposure better than the framed composition I made moments later.

Following this comedy of errors, and before the train moved up the line, I relocated. Once in position, I then made a series of photos of the caboose as it passed me.

Two additional images of the train. These were composed and exposed without my nose interfering.
Short telephoto view from the same location as above.

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Alex near Lindau-Processing Technique

Alex is a passenger train operator in Germany that connects Munich and Lindau among other routes.

Seven years ago (18 April 2016) a group of us had selected an overhead bridge near Lindau to catch an Munich bound train. I exposed this photo using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens set to 18mm.

The lighting was uniform and bright, which illuminate the train nicely, and I liked the subtle Spring colors. However, the unmodified RAF/RAW file tends to display a slightly overexposed white sky.

To correct for the relative over exposure, I imported the camera RAF (Fuji RAW) file into Lightroom and used the ‘select sky’ feature, which automatically identifies the sky areas, and then used the ‘highlights’ slider to lower the sky density relative to the rest of the photo and thus better display detail and make for a more realistic image.

Unmodified Fuji RAF (RAW) file. Note the ‘white’ sky. Compare with the adjusted file below.
This is the same RAF file following adjustments to the sky to improve highlight detail.

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Italian Pendolino Crosses Swiss Alpine Arch

It was a dull day on Switzerland’s Gotthard Pass on 17 April 2016, when my Irish friends and I focused on trains working though the loops at Wassen.

Looking toward the top level the railway’s sinuous ascent of the pass, I had a decent view of this concrete arch.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1, I exposed a telephoto view of an Italian Pendolino working through the Alps toward Milan.

I’ve posted two views. The first is the XT1’s in-camera JPG with Fuji’s Velvia color profile. The second photo is a JPG crafted with Adobe Lightroom from the in-camera Fuji RAW file. I made adjustements to contrast, highlights and color saturation.

FujiFilm XT1 in-camera JPG with Velvia profile.
Adjusted Fuji RAW file with added saturation and changes to shadow and highlights.

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Maine Central 252 at 3rd Iron; Snow and 75F!

Last week, after a season of heavy snow in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, a mid-April heatwave hit the area.

Although it was 75 degrees F, I was standing in about 18 inches of crusty icy snow near the 3rd Iron Truss over the Saco River. I was here that I photographed Conway Scenic’s Work Extra climbing toward Sawyer River behind former Maine Central GP38 252.

The train was hauling felled trees collected along the line up to a location near Rt 302 where they will be recycled.

Bright Spring sun with leafless trees and snow on the ground certainly made for some unusual lighting conditions.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series lens; set at 200mm. f5.6 1/1640, ISO 100.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series lens, set to 24mm, f8 at 1/200th sec, ISO 100.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series lens, set to 24mm, f8 at 1/250th sec, ISO 100.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series lens; set to 24mm, f8 at 1/160th sec, ISO 100.

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Freight over the Gotthard Pass—April 2016

On this day seven years ago—15 April 2016—my Irish friends and I were visiting Switzerland’s famous Gotthard Pass.

This was shortly before opening of SBB’s new 35-mile long Gotthard Base Tunnel, so the old sinuous double-track electrified line was still alive and very busy with freight and passenger traffic.

In the evening near Zgraggen, Switzerland we caught this uphill DB freight winding its way toward the old Gotthard Tunnel.

I exposed this vertically oriented image as part of a sequence of photos with my old FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

FujiFilm XT1 with Fujinon 18-135mm lens set at 25mm and f7.1, 1/500th of second, ISO 400.

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KCS at Ginger Blue, Missouri

In August 2011, I accompanied photographer Chris Guss on a night photo adventure on the Kansas City Southern at Ginger Blue, Missouri.

Chris negotiated with an area farmer to set up strobes in an adjacent field. We anticipated a northward freight. After a few test photos, the headlights of the freight announced its approach.

As it rolled by, I made these synchronized strobe illuminated night photo using my Canon EOS-7D using Chris’s lights.

Canon EOS7D with 24mm lens set at ISO 500, f6.3 1/200th second, illuminated with synchronized strobes.

Key to my composition was the classic searchlight signal at upperleft.

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Four Years Ago-The West Awake!

April 13, 2019: I traveled on Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s The West Awake rail tour that operated on Irish Rail from Dublin to Claremorris, Ballina and Westport, Co Mayo and featured rare multiple-unit operation of 071 class diesels.

I made these views using a FujiFilm XT1 mirrorless digital camera.

The Fuji’s built-in color profiles provided excellent color and contrast for the soft directional lighting characteristic of the West of Ireland. I made minor adjustments to color and contrast in post processing that effectively tweaked the images for improved appearance here.

Claremorris, Co. Mayo. XT1 with Fujinon 18-135mm lens set at 22mm; ISO 400 f9.0 at 1/250th second
Claremorris, Co. Mayo. XT1 with Fujinon 18-135mm lens set at 79mm; ISO 400 f7.1 at 1/250th second
Westport, Co. Mayo. XT1 with Fujinon 18-135mm lens set at 93mm; ISO 400 f6.4 at 1/125th second.
Claremorris, Co. Mayo. XT1 with Fujinon 18-135mm lens set at 93mm; ISO 400 f5.6 at 1/180th second

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Work Extra

Work trains are among my favorite subjects. So, yesterday morning when Conway Scenic Railroad’s Extra 1751 departed North Conway’s North Yard, I zipped over to Intervale a few photos and then followed the train west to Glen, New Hampshire.

The train was sent out to collect recently felled trees along the Mountain Division. Thearrangement of a GP9 hauling flatcars and a caboose at the back makes for some throwback images.

While the train was working at Glen, I arranged to make a few views from the caboose.

Later, to help promote Conway Scenic, I posted some of these images to the railroad’s social media where they caught significant notice: Wwithin 12-hours they had reached more than 16,000 viewers.

Photos exposed with a Nikon Z7-II as NEF RAW files then processed with Adobe Lightroom.

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Lightshow at Viewland

On January 25, 1993, I rolled by Southern Pacific Co. Modoc train (symbol ROEUM-Roper to Eugene, Manifest) climbing the grade at the Rt395 highway crossing near Viewland, California, where I exposed this single frame of Kodachrome of the helper as it trailed away into the desert fog.

Union Pacific abandoned this unusual railroad many years ago.

Between 1992 and 1994, I made at least a half dozen trips to the remote Modoc Line to capture freights on the move.

SP Modoc Line near Viewland, California. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T with 35mm PC lens. Exposure about 30 seconds with camera mounted on a Bogen 3021 tripod.

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Approaching Farranfore 10 April 2016

It was the second day of a two-day Irish Railway Record Society diesel tour on Irish Rail.

After the first day, the train had laid over at Killarney where a bunch of us made the most of this famous tourist town.

On that morning, I arrived back at the station in time to catch the tour for its run to Tralee and back to Killarney (before continuing via Mallow, Limerick Junction and Waterford on its circuitous return trip to Dublin). Some of the tour passengers opted to rest a little longer a Killarney and so skipped the excursion to Tralee. Understandable (After all it was a soft day).

Approaching Farranfore on the return run to Killarney, the rain turned to snow. While waiting for the signal to clear, I made this sequence of photos from the vestibule of the train using my FujiFilm XT-1 digital camera.

10 April 2016
10 April 2016

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Nikon-view: Easter Bunny Express

Saturday and Sunday—April 8th and 9th—Conway Scenic scheduled its Easter Bunny Express. These were the railroad’s first public excursions since Snow Train operations concluded at the end of February. The event was popular with very good attendance and helps instill a love for the railroad in the next generation.

On Saturday, clear blue skys and brilliant bright sun made for excellent photographic conditions, so I dusted off my Nikon Z mirrorless cameras and made a host of photos for the railroad’s social media and other marketing.

I made adjustments to the NEF camera RAW files using Adobe Lightroom to lower contrast and take the edge of the photos, while warming the color temperature and slightly increasing overall saturation.

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Telephoto on the Rhein-8 April 2010

On this day 13 years ago, a group of my Irish friends and I set up in the Rhein Valley at Boppard-Hirzenach.

Working with a Canon EOS-3 with f2.0 100mm lens, I made these Fujichrome slides featuring the trailing views of passenger trains heading toward Köln, Germany.

In these views overhead electrification, a cluster of buildings nestled into a hillside plus tidy fencing and recycling recepticles make for perfectly Continental views of trains on the move.

A DB Class 120 electric works at the back of an IC passenger train.

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Letchworth Gorge-9:25am April 7, 1989

Working with my old Leica M2 loaded with Kodachrome 25 slide film, I made this view of an eastward Delaware & Hudson freight led by New York, Susquehanna & Western SD45s crossing Conrail’s impressive Portage Bridge over New York’s Letchworth Gorge.

This was among my favorite mid-Spring morning locations. Winter run off made the Upper Genesee Falls especially impressive, while the sun illuminated the north side of the bridge.

This bridge was erected by the Erie Railroad in 1875, and was considered the first example of a tower supported viaduct, a type that in the late 19th century became a popular type of construction for long and tall bridges.

Norfolk Southern inherited this section of the former Erie from Conrail. The old bridge was in poor condition and had required a 5 mph slow order. NS finally replaced the aged viaduct in 2017 with a modern arched truss.

An eastward Delaware & Hudson freight carrying loads of rock salt eases across the Portage Bridge at 9:25am on April 7, 1989.

For me April 7, 1989 sticks in my mind as a great day to photograph along the old Erie Railroad. This was just one of many images I made that day.

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Amtrak 915–1981 and 2023

Over the last few months as I’ve continue to organize the tens of thousands of slides that comprise my collection, I been looking for a few specifics.

In January, I paid a visit to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, where Amtrak AEM-7 915 is on display. I made several photos of this classic locomotive.

What I find odd, is that old 915 was nearly brand new when I paid my first visit to the museum back in 1981.

Amtrak AEM-7 915 and Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 number 4800 at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg. January 2023.
Nikon Z7-2 image exposed in January 2023.

This led to a search for 915 when it was in service. Initially, I thought this shouldn’t be too difficult, since I spent a lot of time along the electrified Northeast Corridor during the 1980s and 1990s when the AEM-7s were plentiful and still wore their as-delivered paint scheme.

Yet, as I scoured my countless Amtrak slides, 915 seemed to elude me.

Finally, the other night I found a vintage Kodachrome slide of 915 doubleheaded with its sister 916 on a train at New Haven, Connecticut. I’d made this view from the front of an MTA/CDOT multiple unit.

Amtrak AEM-7s 915 and 916 at New Haven, Connecticut in December 1981. K64 with Leica 3A.

Enlarged version of the same slide.

I scanned this slide using a Nikon LS5000 scanner and adjusted the TIF scan using Adobe Lightroom.

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Modern Italian Trains in Florence

Six years ago—5 April 2017—I spent about an hour photographing modern Italian passenger trains at Firenze Santa Maria Novella.

I captured the impressive parade of sleek looking passenger trains using my Lumix LX7 digital camera. This compact and lightweight camera offers versatility and the ability to produce a very high-quality image.

I like the camera because of its exceptionally sharp Leica Vario Summilux zoom lens, and because it simultaneously outputs in both JPG and RAW with a variety of built in color profiles.

While in some situations, I carry the Lumix as a supplemental digital camera. On my 2017 Italian adventure, it served as my primary digital camera. But I also was working with a Nikon F3 SLR to expose black & white negatives and color slides.

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Sunrise in Milan—3 April 2017

I made the most of my brief visit to Milan six years ago.

In this Lumix LX7 view, I pictured one of the city’s famous Peter Witt trams with the rising sun.

I spent several hours exploring Milan by streetcar before taking the train to Genoa.

Lumix LX7 set at ISO 80, f2.8 1/640 sec. RAW file adjusted in Lightroom. 3 April 2017.

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TGV-Dawn 2 April 2017

On Sunday morning 2 April 2017, I joined the first TGV departure from Brussels Midi to Paris Gare du Nord.

With just a hint of daylight in the sky, I made these photos of the train on the platforms at Midi Station using my Lumix LX7.

By the end of the day, I’d reached Milan, Italy.

Exposed with a Lumix LX7 as a RAW image. File adjusted in Lightroom and scaled as a JPG for internet presentation.
Exposed with a Lumix LX7 as a RAW image at ISO 80, f1.8 1/10th second. File adjusted in Lightroom and scaled as a JPG for internet presentation.
Exposed with a Lumix LX7 as a RAW 12.28MB file. This original image was adjusted in Lightroom and scaled as a JPG for internet presentation. Exposure details: ISO 80, f1.8 1/6th second.

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Fools Day-2011 and 2017

For today’s April 1st post, I’ve selected photos made on this date in 2011 and 2017.

Both were made of modern passenger trains on the move. The top photo from 2011 was exposed of an Up Irish Rail ICR approaching Memorial Road in Dublin. The lower photo features a Siemens electric railcar on SNCB at Scaarbeek in Brussels, Belgium.

Exposed on 1 April 2011 using a Canon 7D fitted with an Canon EF200mm f2.8 USML lens.
Exposed on 1 April 2017 with a Lumix LX7.

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