Eureka at ZY!

I’ve scoured through hundreds of Conrail slides. Finally, in my Erie box, I had my Eureka! moment when found what I’ve seeking:

Conrail SD50 6753 (now NS 6342) leading a freight in nice light. (See recent posts).

This was exposed at the grade crossing at East Hornell, New York. Conrail 6753 was leading BUOI-4X on January 14, 1989. The train had made a pick-up at M-K in Hornell consisting of recently rebuilt New York City subway cars and was about to make its move to go through the cross-overs and then reverse back onto its train.

Conrail’s BUOI was a daily symbol freight connecting Buffalo’s Frontier Yard with the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Oak Island Yard near Newark, New Jersey. On this day, traffic was sufficient to warrant two sections, thus ‘BUOI-4X’ (X for eXtra).

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with my old Leica M2 and 50mm Summicron.

So why ‘ZY?’ That was the old Erie two-letter telegraph code for CP East Hornell. My friends and I continued to refer to CP East Hornell as ‘ZY’ even though this designation had been discontinued years earlier.

Interestingly, if you locate this place on Google Maps, you’ll find on Magee Road a marker for ‘ZY Crossing Station.’ Someone at Google respects Erie history!

Someday I’ll tell another story about this day, but not today .

My Lumix LX7 photo from Monday September 18, 2023 that spurred the quest to find Conrail 6753.

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24-page Illustrated Feature in the NRHS Bulletin

My detailed article on Conway Scenic Railroad is a 24-page illustrated feature in the latest National Railway Historical Society Bulletin (Volume 86, No. 2). “Day to Day at Conway Scenic Railroad” is written from my perspective as the railroad’s Marketing Manager. This tells behind the scenes stories of the railroad at work that focuses on the people and the various roles they play. 

I worked with Bulletin Editor Jeff Smith on this feature story. The photo reproduction is excellent and I’m delighted with the way the article appears in print.

Information about the NRHS can be found at:

I photographed for this story using my various digital cameras including: Panasonic Lumix LX7, Canon EOS 7D, FujiFilm XT1, and Nikon Z6 and Z7-II.

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Along the old Erie Railroad at Swain, New York.

Between 1986 and 1991, I documented vestiges of the former Erie Railroad using hundreds of rolls of Kodachrome, Ektachrome, and T-Max black & white film.

I made dozens upon dozen of trips along Conrail’s lines, seeking to make images of this fascinating railroad in its environment.

There could be long intervals between trains, and some days were more productive than others.

October 14, 1988 was memorable because it was a perfect day. I had a very early start. The autumn foliage was at its peak. It was clear from dawn to dusk. Conrail and Delaware & Hudson ran a lot of trains, and I had Kodachrome 25 in my Leica.

Among the photos I made that was this view of Conrail SD50 6774 leading OIBU west through Swain, New York at 8:07am.

I like this image because although 6774 is key to the composition, it isn’t the only subject of interest and it captures the essence of rural western New York in autumn.

Soon old 6753 will be featured on TTL. The lure of the quest is about finding treasures along the way. If I found the prize too soon there would be no joy in the path to it.

This is the raw and adjusted scan of my original Kodachrome 25 slide. Exposed at 8:07am on October 14, 1988 using a Leica M2 rangefinder with f2.0 50mm Summicron lens. My old Dodge Dart is parked behind me with the engine running. Soon, I’ll be in pursuit of this train en route to my next desination. Slide scanned with Nikon LS5000 slide scanner powered with VueScan 9.8.04 software.
This the same scan as above, but adjusted using Adobe Lightroom to improve its presentation. I’ve lightened the image, reduced contrast, warmed the color balance, lightened and warmed shadow areas, while slightly increasing overall saturation.

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Main Street Attica—March 23, 1989

March 23, 1989 was a busy day on the old Erie Railroad.

Between Conrail and the Delaware & Hudson, the railroad was alive with trains.

I’d spent much of the day around Attica, New York, where the line snaked around on its climb over Attica Hill.

In the afternoon, I caught Conrail’s BUOI (Buffalo to Oak Island, NJ), the daily mixed freight. This was often a huge train and some days in ran in two sections.

In this view, BUOI has just crossed Main Street in Attica, and has begun to bog down on its eastward climb. In the lead are two Conrail SD50s. These are numbers 6773 and 6763. I found this slide looking for the elusive 6753, which appeared on Tracking the Light a few days ago as Norfolk Southern 6342.

Conrail’s 135 SD50s spanned the number series from 6700 to 6834. Over the course of my years photographing Conrail trains, I’m sure I saw nearly all of them. At the time they seemed so common.

The quest for SD50 6753 continues!

Kodachrome 25 slide exposed with a Leica M2 and 50mm Summicron lens. Image cropped slightly for presentation here.

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Santa Fe at Christie

A few days ago, Wayne Duffett and I had a discussion about a photo that our friend Don Marson made recently of an A-B-B-B-A set of BNSF GP60M-GP60Bs.

I hadn’t realized that such curious locomotives were still owned and operated by BNSF. I thought back to the days when Santa Fe’s GP60M were new and wearing fresh Warbonnet red-yellow-and-silver paint.

Among the ‘seconds’ I’ve been sorting through recently include many of the Kodachrome slides that I made on the Santa Fe between 1989 and 1995.

In October 1990, photographer Brian Jennison and I made a trip to Christie siding on Santa Fe’s extension to Richmond, California that winds its way through Franklin Canyon.

I made this photo of an eastward Santa Fe freight at the west switch of Christie. I’d been very impressed by the rolling terraced hills covered in California golden grass, and wanted to emphasize this unusual scenery.

At the time, I was working with a Nikon F3T (titanium) fitted with an f4.0 200mm lens. My placement of the locomotives in the lower left was designed to accentuate the hills while creating visual tension that forces the eye back to the Warbonnet painted GP60Ms.

This was by no means the last time I photographed Santa Fe’s ‘Hot Rods’ in action. Over the years, this photo has grown on me.

Kodachrome 25 color slide exposed with a Nikon F3T fitted with a Nikkor f4.0 200mm lens.

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Elephant Style at School Road

At 7:11 am on May 4, 1989, I parked my 1981 Toyota Corolla on School Road in Batavia, NY.

I was moments ahead of a Conrail westbound freight symbol SENF-X (Extra section of the Selkirk to Niagara Falls train). I’d heard this on my scanner and knew that the fill on Byron Hill at School Road offered a nice broadside view of the tracks.

With my Leica M2, I made this Kodachrome view of a pair of Conrail SD50s rolling west. I located this image the other night while searching for a suitable photo of Conrail 6753, and thought it was a pretty neat photo.

While the pair of SD50s ‘elephant style’ (tail to trunk) is cool, what catches my eye today is the freshly painted Conrail 50ft box car. I wish that I’d made a photo full frame of that car. Today, any clean railroad-owned boxcar is worthy of attention. Back then, I just wasn’t all that impressed. And there’s a lesson for you!

A year earlier, I photographed the same leading SD50 (6793) on May 1st at CP402 in Batavia. I’ll need to find that photo. In the mean time, stay tuned for a nice view of Conrail SD50 6753 (now Norfolk Southern SD40E 6342-See yesterday’s post).

Kodachrome 25 color slide exposed at f3.5 1/250 second with a Leica M2 and 35mm Summicron lens on May 4, 1989. Scanned with a Nikon LS5000 scanner at 4000 dpi using VueScan software.

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And the Search is on . . .

Following up on yesterday’s post about the former Conrail SD50 working Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch, I’ve started searching my 1980s Conrail files looking for a photo of SD50 6753 at work.

Traditionally my system of organization was not oriented around locomotives, nor set up to find a particular engine by number. Typically, I filed photos by railroad, division, and location, usually grouped by era.

I have countless thousands of slides from the 1980s depicting Conrail all around the system. Some show locomotives, others focus on other elements of the railroad. These were organized by historic routes. I have boxes of Boston & Albany, New York Central Water Level Route, Erie Railroad, PRR, etc.

For the SD50 search, I’ve started with my Conrail-New York (state) box from 1987-1989 that largely covers the Water Level Route from about Utica, NY to roughly Westfield, NY, with various forays elsewhere. Mixed in with the Conrail photos are some of Delaware & Hudson, Norfolk Southern, and New York, Susquehanna & Western.

On March 10, 1989, I visited Dunkirk and photographed a parade of freights rolling along the Waterlevel Route. At 10:39am, I made a sequence of images of a westward mixed freight led by a Conrail SD50 using my Leica M2 loaded with on Kodachrome 25.

This was Conrail 6777, not 6753. But (hopefully) we’ll find the elusive locomotive eventually.

A westward Conrail freight at Dunkirk, New York has SD50 6777 in lead. I made both these images at 10:39am using my Leica M2. Exposure is f4.5 1/250th of a second.
35mm Summicron lens with Leica M2 loaded with Kodachrome 25. Dunkirk, NY. March 10, 1989.

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Lucky Lumix at Jefferson Drive

On Monday, I was running errends. My timing wasn’t coincidental, as the Norfolk Southern New Holland Branch local often passes through my neighborhood around 9am.

The day before it ran a little late, but as previously posted, I managed to catch it anyway.

On my way to the market, I noticed that the local was stopped at Cork interlocking near Greenfield in Lancaster, so I completed shopping quickly. On my way back, I saw the train had moved on.

On spec, I zipped over to Jefferson Drive, where the branch crosses near our apartment. As I approached the crossing, I heard the throb of classic EMD engines.

The train was cautiously approaching the crossing. I stopped, parked, grabbed my Lumix LX7 (which I carry with me for just such occasions) and made this series of photos as it crossed Jefferson Drive.

It was the same pair of NS SD40Es, that I’d seen the day before. These engines had worked out of Cresson, PA as helpers, but have since been bumped to other duties.

I was curious to know more about these locomotive, and looked up their road numbers on-line. According to an SD40E roster maintained by Chris Toth on the site: , I found that NS SD40E 6304 had be rebuilt from NS SD50 6522 in January 2009, and SD40E 6342 was rebuilt in September 2011 from NS SD50 5430, originally Conrail 6753.

Learning that makes me curious. In the 1980s, I made hundreds, perhaps thousands of photos of Conrail SD50s. I’m sure I have an image of that locomotive in blue paint in my Conrail files. I’ll keep my eyes open for it and plan a follow-up post when I do.

Stay tuned.

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Donner Pass- March 22, 1991

Below are two images from my ‘lost’ Kodachrome file.

These were exposed on one of my many trips on California’s Donner Pass to document Southern Pacific in the 1990s.

On this day, SP had called a train with its BIG snow-service Jordan spreaders at each end to help clear the line over the pass.

I was set up at the east end of the snow shed complex at Norden near Donner Summit. While SP’s crew adjusted the wings on the Jordan for an eastward move to clear snow, I made a series of exposures using my Nikon F3 on Kodachrome 25. Back in the 1990s, I had deemed the two images displayed here as less than optimal.Until I scanned them the other night, they had never seen the light of day.

The top exposure was part of a bracket sequence and is a bit ‘hot’ (1/3 stop overexposed). It was challenging to select the correct exposure in bright sunbleached snow , which is why I’d made the bracket to begin with.

The middle image was exposed using a circular polarizing filter in my effort to reduce glare and obtain better highlight detail. Unfortunately, this was a cheap filter and lent a slightly cyan tint to the scene. Also, I didn’t compensate properly for the effect of the filter on my exposure, so the image is about 1/2 stop too dark. The bottom image is an adjusted/color corrected version of the middle image.

Kodachrome 25, exposed using a Nikon F3T with f4.0 200mm lens. Approximate exposure f5.6 1/250th.
Kodachrome 25, exposed using a Nikon F3T with f4.0 200mm lens and circular polarizer. The image below is from the same scan.
Same scan as the middle image: Kodachrome 25, exposed using a Nikon F3T with f4.0 200mm lens and circular polarizer. This image was adjusted in post processing to correct for the cyan color balance and improve overall appearance.

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Late sun at East Strasburg, PA.

Sometimes accidentally trying something different yields a better result.

The other evening, Kris and I went out to watch Strasburg Rail Road’s 6pm train on its return run.

It was a beautiful and clear, and I’d hoped to make a photo from either Carpenters or Paradise Lane. However we were delayed, and the best that I could do was to reach East Strasburg Station.

The railroad had a Thomas-the-Tank event going on earlier in the day. While, normally, I avoid these events, which are geared toward a much younger enthusiast and tend a attract big crowds, in this case the event worked to my advantage.

To make room for the Thomas train, the railroad had cleared out a row of equipment that had been stored on the siding adjacent to the run-around track opening up a classic view of the station. Normally this stored equipment blocked the view (and the evening sun light) from the north side of the tracks of an in-coming train.

So our tardy arrive produced some fortuitous photos.

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More Classic Conrail-‘Look Ma No Ditchlights!’

Recently I retrieved several cartons of slides long stored out of sight.

Most of these were in their original yellow Kodak boxes. By-in-large these are the slides that didn’t meet my exacting standards at the time of exposure.

As I’ve illustrated in previous episodes of Tracking the Light, today these boxes contain lost gems.

A photograph that I rejected 30 years ago for a minor defect may look pretty good today.

This view of Conrail C30-7A No. 6550 eastbound at Palmer, Massachusetts caught my attention. Not only is this the class-leader for one of my favorite Conrail locomotives, but it was exposed in bright October sun in a style much the way I’d like to photograph the train today.

So what was wrong with this photo? Why did this sit in the dark for 33 years? Three points come mind.

One: the photo is ever so slightly off level, probably about 1 degree. Back in the 1990s I was very sensitive about maintaining level. I typically carried a line-level with me at all times and almost always used a tripod to help ensure level. This is less of a problem today because my Nikon Z series and Lumix LX7 both feature a level in the heads up display.

Two: My composition is ever so slightly ‘off’. All things being equal, I should have positioned the camera slightly lower to the ground so that I could see a gap above the top of the rail to more clearly show the wheels better. Also this may have minimized the trees behind the locomotives.

Three: I was a film snob in 1990. Normally, I used Kodachrome 25. But for some season I loaded my camera with Kodachrome 64. I found this film did a poor job of rendering the sky which tended to appear as a greenish blue ‘aqua’ shade rather than the bluer ‘azure’ that was common with K25.

While I can’t do much about problem No. two, fixing the level and adjusting the color profile are easily accomplished in post processing. The top photo is my unaltered original; the bottom is my adjusted version, and I altered the sky to appear more like it would with K25.

Scan from my original Kodachrome 64 slide. This is unaltered (without correction). Exposed using a Nikon F3T with f4.0 Nikkor 200mm lens.
This my corrected version of the orginal scan. My goal was to make it look more like a Kodachrome 25 slide.

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Hint of Autumn at Willow Road

Sunday morning, I went out on spec to see if I could catch Norfolk Southern’s New Holland local working its way out the branch. After a half hour wait and a drive to inspect a few locations, I found nothing moving, so I returned home.

About half an hour after I got back, I was just about to take Boomer-the-dog for his morning walk, when I heard a train sounding for the Greenfield Road crossing.

Without heistation, I grabbed my Nikons and headed back out again to see if I could get ahead of the train.

I drove poste haste to Willow Road and headed east to the grade crossing. I arrived about 3 minutes ahead of the freight and had enough time to set up.

The last time I made photos here, I used my 24-70mm lens, so this time I made some longer views using a 70-200mm lens. I was able to get a little more elevation this time, which allowed for a better composition.

I also made some wideangle photos of the train approaching the crossing, but I’m saving these for a later post.

Oh, and when I got home, I brought the cross-legged Boomer for his walk!

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens.
I like this version. The bird in flight over the train is an added bonus. The train crew waved as they roared up the grade.

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Our First Anniversary!

Today’s post is dedicated to my wife, Kris.

We were married at the Indian Head Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire one year ago—September 18, 2022.

I made the symbolic photo two years earlier while on a caboose ride with Kris on Conway Scenic’s Conway Branch.

Happy Anniversary!

FujiFilm XT1. In camera JPG. September 2020.

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More Golden Glint

Clear sky above, sun low to the horizon, off axis by about 20-25 degrees, and filtered by lots of particulates in the air make for excellent glint light conditions.

Strasburg Rail Road 89 had just arrived back at East Strasburg Station with the 6pm train (which recently replaced the 7pm train on the Friday and Saturday schedule).

I made this digital photo handheld with my Nikon Z6 fitted with a 70-200mm Nikkor Z-series zoom, and with nominal adjustments to the NEF RAW files in post processing to correct color balance and contrast.

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Koblenz Hbf—September 16, 2019.

On this day four years ago, I was on my way from the Bonn/Köln Flughafen to Boppard, Germany, I changed trains at the Koblenz Hbf.

During the interval between trains, I made this series of photographs with my FujiFilm XT1.

To improve upon the flat lighting, using Adobe Lightroom, I made minor adjustments to contrast, color temperature, and color saturation.

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89—a Lesson in Contrast Control

Wednesday, I made this photo of Strasburg Rail Road 2-6-0 No. 89 at the East Strasburg, Pa., station.

I imported the Nikon NEF RAW file into Adobe Lightroom, where I implemented a variety of adjustments aimed at producing a better balanced photo with greater highlight and shadow detail, superior color rendition, and more even overall contrast.

I manually implemented corrections similar to the results created by composite algortihms employed by many contemporary smart phones used as cameras.

So that you can see how I implemented some of the changes, I’ve included screenshots of my Adobe work screen.

This is a JPG made from the NEF RAW file without adjustment. Note the lack of detail in shadow and highlight areas and high contrast.
First round of adjustments in Lightroom. Note the postion of the Highlight and Shadow sliders. Also watch the histogram at the top of the page to see how it changes from window to window.
Second round of adjustments: in this window I’ve manually lowered overall contrast, placed the black in the shadow and whites in the highlights, while increasing saturation and warming the color temperature. Notice how the histogram shows how I’ve moved the pixel distribution toward the center of the graph, which reflects the lower overall constrast.
In this window, I’ve chosen the ‘select sky’ control. All the corrections here were made to the sky to improve the detail in the clouds and the overall contrast of the sky relative to the scene. The intent was to replicate how the sky appeared and not to make an unworldly dramatic sky out of ordinary thermal clouds.
Final adjustment: I used the ‘clarity’ slider to globally improve the contrast by giving the image a little ‘snap’ that doesn’t significantly change the shadow or highlight detail. It might seem counter intuitive to lower the overall contrast and the increase it with the ‘clarity’ control, but this can really work to make for a more natural scene out of a high contrast RAW file.
This was my end result. It’s not perfect, but its looks a lot more realistic and pleasant than the unadjusted high-contrast NEF file.

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Steam, Smoke and Soft Sun

Last week, I made this view of Strasburg 475 at Cherry Hill road in Strasburg, PA.

High thermal clouds softened the midday summer sun.

There was a time in my Kodachrome days that I would have cursed the puffy clouds if they so much filtered the midday sun. However, I’ve found that in several ways slightly filtered sun, especially during the highlight of midday, leads to better photos.

With my digital cameras and post processing, I make the most of shadowed light, while the softened sun offers better contrast on the locomotive.

I made this view using my Nikon Z7-II, and I adjusted my NEF RAW files with Adobe Lightroom.

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Two Main Track

On directional double track, trains proceed on signal indication in the current of traffic. On Two Main track, both tracks are signaled in both directions, which allows trains to proceed on either track in either direction on signal indication.

Last week, I made these views of the westward Amtrak Keystone train 647 on the close track at Leaman Place, PA. From what I could ascertain, it had run around another train on the far track near Parkesburg.

While this move was fully signaled, I thought it was comparatively unusual in that it was the first time I’d seen a regularly scheduled Amtrak westbound using the near track at this location. This made for photo opportunities that I might not have considered if the train was on the far track.

I made this motor drive sequence using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

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Steaming Tender Revisited

On our brief visit to New England over the weekend, Kris and I visited the Steaming Tender restaurant in the old Palmer, Massachusetts Union Station.

This is an old favorite haunt with lots of authentic railroad memorabilia.

We both ordered the broiled haddock. It was excellent!

I made these photos using my Nikon Z7-II.

There was a noticeable abscence of railroad action. Until a few years ago, Palmer was a busy railroad town. But on our recent visits, the rails have been distressingly quiet.

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Mountaineer in the Boston Globe Magazine

An article by By Patricia Harris and David Lyon in the Boston Globe Magazine features one of my photos of Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer ascending Crawford Notch near the Arethusa Falls grade crossing.

This image has been part of my autumn Mountaineer repertoire for a while and is among photos I made of the train in autumn 2021.

I exposed it with my Canon EOS7D with 100mm prime Canon telephoto.

Here’s a wee secret: part of the visual success of this photo is that the nose of the engine is not the focal point. This a counter-intuitive trick I learned many years ago when exposing Kodachrome, and where many photographers miss the mark. By placing the focus on something other than the main subject you can make a more inviting image.

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Bus Tours Cover! (And a hard drive hunt)

My photo of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer graces the cover of September/October 2023 Bus Tours Magazine.

For this post I thought it would be nice to say something useful about the photo.

Finding it proved challenging. It’s not like I have one photo of the Mountaineer on Crawford Notch. More like one-thousand. I’m not bragging. It made finding this one a real challenge.

The image was not in the usual Mountaineer selections. An image from the same location has appeared a number of places in recent months, and that photo was made with my Canon EOS7D. But this photo was a puzzle. It wasn’t made with the Canon, but rather with my Nikon Z6. Once I found the correct day in October 2021, I reviewed several sequences looking for a vertical wide-angle.

I was coming up with a goose-egg. Finally after some searching, I started reviewing my original NEF RAW files and found the image I was looking for. This was exposed as a horizontal and cropped vertical!

Below are three versions. The cover of Bus Tours Magazine; the original un-modified NEF RAW file, and an approximation of the modified and cropped file.

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens; set to 30mm, ISO 200 f8.0 1/320
Cropped and adjusted version of the above file.

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Cobblestones and Trams—Eight Years Ago!

It was on this day eight years ago—September 8, 2015—that my Irish friends and I traveled up the Rhein by train to Mainz, Germany.

In the evening light, I made a few views of the slim-gauge trams navigating narrow streets in the historic city center. And believe me, there was time for a bier in there too.

FujiFilm XT-1 with 27mm f2.8 pancake lens set at f2.8, 1/60th sec, ISO 200.
FujiFilm XT-1 with 27mm f2.8 pancake lens set at f2.8, 1/60th sec, ISO 200.

Here’s a useful photo tip; to allow the LED signs to appear clearly in photos, set the shutter speed to 1/60th or less, and time your shutter release so that the sign is showing just one sequence at time (in a situation where the sign may be scrolling). Note that in the above photo that the sign is mid-scroll, but on the top photos the sign is easy to read.

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Old Pennsylvania Railroad Station at Leola

Just a short distance up line from our new home is this old Pennsylvania Railroad station on the New Holland Branch at Leola.

I made these photos the other evening using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.

It’s been decades since the last passenger train operated over the line and I wonder what this station was like in its heyday.

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Glint Light across the Soyfields

September Sunset at Esbenshade Road in Strasburg. Filtered late summer sun made for classic golden glint light.

Years ago, I made a project of captureing trains in the glint light on Kodachrome. This film had a wonderful ability to render glint that made for many stunning slides.

The other night I used my Nikon Z7-II to capture the fading summer sun.

To make the most of the scene, I set the camera to ‘M’ (manual) and dialed in my shutter speed and aperture by using the in-camera histogram to get the most effective pixel distribution from dark to-light . This resulted in about a stop darker than the in-camera meter was suggesting in ‘A’ mode (automatic).

After exposure, I balanced the image with post processing controls using Adobe Lightroom. In this way I was able to maintain detail in the sky and on the side of the train, while keeping the shadows from becoming opaque.

Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens set to 52mm; ISO 100, f18 at 1/200th of second. File adjusted in Post Processing.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens set to 70mm; ISO 100, f9 at 1/250th of second. Camera set manually. RAW File adjusted in Post Processing.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens set to 70mm; ISO 100, f7.1 at 1/250th of second. Camera set manually. RAW File adjusted in Post Processing.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens set to 24mm; ISO 100, 4.0 at 1/500th of second. Camera set manually. RAW File adjusted in Post Processing.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens set to 70mm; ISO 100, f4.0 at 1/320th of second. Camera set manually. RAW File adjusted in Post Processing.

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Double-headed Ore Train in the Mosel Valley.

On the afternoon of September 4, 2015, I made this photo with my FujiFilm XT1 of double-headed Class 189 electrics leading a loaded iron ore train through a vineyard near Klotten, Germany in the Mosel Valley.

This was on a week long visit to Germany with my Irish friends. We scored numerous excellent locations while exploring the Mosel and Rhein Valleys.

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Stopping 649 with 1/2500th second

Crisp evening light.

Amtrak Keystone 649 was two minutes down from the advertised and cruising to make up time to reach its Lancaster, PA station stop on schedule.

I made this view at Leaman Place using a Nikon Z7II with 24-70mm lens, my shutter was set to 1/2500th of a second.

My drive was set to ‘turbo flutter’. As the train approached, I made this burst of images.

ACS-64 610 leads Amtrak Keystone 649 at Leaman Place, PA.

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4-8-0 Rods Down

Many classic steam photographers aimed to photograph steam locomotive ‘rods down’ as to best portray the equipment.

Part of this visual approach stemmed from the classic builders photos where locomotives were posed for their official portrait.

Catching a moving engine with its rods down is easier said than done. In addition to checking focus, watching foreground and background elements, you need to be thoroughly in-tune with the motion of the reciprocating parts, or simply get lucky.

While working on my latest book on steam locomotives, I’ve been looking at a lot of classic locomotive pictures.

The other day, I made this sequence of photos showing Strasburg Rail Road’s 4-8-0 475 working toward the Esbenshade Road crossing.

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Irish Rail Rail Train at Clondalkin

I’m waiting for someone to call me out on title redundancy.

Actually, according to my notes, this Irish Rail permanent way consist is called the ‘rail trucks.’

It was nine years ago that I joined my friend Colm O’Callaghan on an adventure to the west Dublin suburbs to catch this elusive train on the move.

We set up at near Clondalkin looking east toward the Park West and Cherry Orchard station on the recently opened quad track section of the Dublin-Cork main line.

I made this view using my Canon EOS 7D with an f2.0 EF 100mm USM prime telephoto lens. Exposure was f5.6 1/500 at 200 ISO. I adjusted the file using Adobe Lightroom. Below are three variations, each described in the caption.

Canon CR2 Raw file without adjustment, converted to JPG for internet presentation.
Same CR2 RAW file as above, but with nominal color corrections made in Lightroom.
Cropped and color corrected version of the Canon CR2 RAW file, scaled as JPG for internet presentation.

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