FL9 2011—Variations on a Theme

Friday, November 24, 2023, marked the beginning of the Polar Express season on Mass Coastal Railroad/Cape Cod Central Railroad.

Since we were in the neighborhood, Kris and I checked in on Cape Cod Central and located the excursion train-set that was being prepared for the day’s “Polar Expressing” near Mass Coastal Railroad’s HQ in East Wareham, Massachusetts.

Low November sun made for some nice light to photograph the static set. Working with my various cameras, I made a series of photos.

I’ve presented several variations of the same basic image. I have my favorite, which I’ve indicated in the caption below.

This is my favorite. I feel that this best puts the train in its setting, while balancing a variety of compositional elements. I’ve used selective focus with a shallow depth of field to focus interest on the the front of FL9 2011. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z series zoom; ISO 100, 125mm, f4 1/1250 sec.
This version is from a slightly lower angle. I’ve cropped extraneous elements to the left and right of the train set. While this version is more dramatic and focused on the train, I don’t find its as interesting as the top image. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z series zoom; ISO 100, 130mm, f4 1/1250 sec.
In this version, I’ve taken a more traditional angle and used greater depth of field. Also, the railroad has positioned its festive wreath on the front of the engine. Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z series zoom; ISO 80, 58mm, f9 1/160th sec.
I took a more broadside angle for this photo. Exposed using my ‘Wee Lumix’ (Panasonic Lumix LX7). I made this before the wreath was hung on the front of the engine. Notice that the Lumix has a different color palate and this handles the red-orange differently than my Nikons.

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Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian Crosses the Conestoga

Not far from our Lancaster apartment, Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line to Harrisburg crosses the Conestoga River on an impressive multiple-span stone arch bridge.

Fellow author and photographer, Dan Cupper had shown me how to reach this bridge before Kris and I relocated. Since our move last Spring I’ve paid several visits to the western bank of the river, but I hadn’t caught Amtrak’s diesel-hauled Pennsylvanian here until the afternoon of Halloween Day.

The combination of late-season foliage, polarized sun and relatively clear autumn air, made this an ideal time to picture the train on the bridge. I checked various angles along the riverbank before deciding upon this place to make my images.

Amtrak train 42, the eastward Pennsylvania crosses the Conestoga on October 31, 2023.

Photos exposed using a Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

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20 Years ago: Sugarbeet at Cherryville

Twenty years ago, during November and December I would focus my photography on Irish Rail’s Sugar Beet campaign.

This was an intensive and fascinating operation that focused on the movement of sugar beet from the loading point at Wellingtonbridge, Co. Wexford to the sugar processing factory in Mallow, Co. Cork. The trains were typically hauled by a variety of Irish Rail’s 1960s and 1970s-era General Motors diesels and used a fleet of antique vacuum-braked four wheel beet wagons.

Over the years, my friends and I got to know many of the players in this magnificent stage show, which often added a personal element to watching and photographing the trains in action.

Ireland in November: chilly with low midday sun, the ground perpetually damp and an agircultural scent in the air.

The 2003 beet campaign had an unusual twist. Earlier in the year, an accident at Cahir, Co. Tipperary on the Waterford-Limerick Junction line had damaged a key bridge, as a result the sugar beet trains were diverted northward to Cherryville Junction (on the Dublin-Cork line) and to Kildare where the locomotive would run around, and then toward Cork via Limerick Junction.

On November 27, 2003, my friends and I were set up at Cherryville Junction. Irish Rail class 071 No. 081 had been holding at the signal as trains passed on the main route. Then when traffic cleared, the 081 with 750 tonnes of sugar beet got the signal to crossover and head ‘up-road toward’ Kildare. The locomotive was roaring away as it snaked through the Cherryville crossover.

I exposed this view on Provia 100F (RPD-III) using a Nikon F3 with 180mm Nikkor telephoto.

Much has changed in the intervening years, but I still carry the 180mm lens and Irish Rail 081 is still on the roster. The sugar beet trains are but a memory.

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Tracing Vestiges of the Old Colony Railroad on Cape Cod.

On our November visit to Cape Cod this year, Kris and I spent a day photographing beaches and tracing the route of the Old Colony Railroad line that once ran all the way to the pier at Provincetown, Massachusetts.

The railroad was abandoned decades ago and most of the infrastructure was scrapped or recycled. However, in places it’s possible to see evidence of the old right-of-way, or at least conceptualize where the tracks once were.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z-series mirrorless digital cameras.

A view looking across Pamet Harbor; the former Old Colony right-of-way is visable near the the center right of the photo. The railroad once crossed the water here on it its way to the station at Truro, Massachusetts.
Near Pilgrim Beach, looking compass north (railroad east) on Highway 6A toward Provincetown, the railroad once ran parallel to the road, possibly along the right-of-way now occupied by the electric lines to the right of the road.
Historically the railroad ran on to the pier at Provincetown. I don’t know if the pier pictured is the same pier that actually carried the railroad, or a later structure. Those are questions for a deeper investigation.

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Late Season Foliage at Black Horse Road

I found that the colorful autumn leaf season lasted weeks longer in Pennsylvania Dutch Country than it does in New Hampshire’s White Mountains and other areas of New England.

On November 11, 2023, I made these photos at Black Horse Road of Strasburg Rail Road’s 2-10-0 number 90 working midday excursions. Several beautiful trees were displaying their late season colors.

Clear autumn air and bright sun made it possible to get some more distant views of the train.

I’ve always preferred the late season foliage, when the green leaves have largely changed, some trees are bare, but a few radiant trees of red and yellow remain and the sun is low and bright.

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Images of an Autumn Evening at West Barnstable, Mass.

Although there were no trains expected, Kris and I called into the old New Haven Railroad station at West Barnstable, Massachusetts. Late November foliage and fading sun made for some wonderful atmospheric conditions.

I like the signs from various eras that identify this place. The Conrail blue sign is especially cool.

In earlier posts (from 2018, 2021 and 2022) I’ve featured the decaying Delaware & Hudson cabooses that reside here and passing Mass-Coastal/Cape Cod Central trains.

[See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/ballast-train-at-west-barnstable-massachusetts/ and http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/dh-caboose-in-the-rain/ ]

All photos presented here were made with my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series lens; NEF RAW files were adjusted with Adobe Lightroom to make the most of the scene.

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Plimouth-Patuxet Museum—Plymouth, Mass.

It seems seasonally apropos to feature the Plimouth-Patuxet Museum for Thanksgiving.

See: https://plimoth.org

On Tuesday, Kris, her mom Sharon, and I visited this popular museum (formerly known as the Plimouth Plantation) which is focused on recreating and interpreting the early English settlement at Plymouth and their interactions with the people that had been there for generations before the Europeans arrived.

I made a selection of photos with my Lumix LX7 to capture the essence of the place. I liked the musket demonstation the best, but the herd of goats were also pretty neat.

Afterwards, we sussed out MBTA’s disused Plymouth station. Apparently, commuter rail service to Plymouth had been suspended some time ago and as of Tuesday it had not been restored. The rail was rusty, but the electric sign was still welcoming us.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

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Reading & Northern SD50M working at Tamaqua.

I was always impressed by the length of Electro-Motive Division’s SD50 diesels. I first saw these on Conrail in 1983-1984.

Although more powerful than the common SD40-2, the SD50 was a troubled locomotive design and wasn’t as well regarded as the earlier EMD road diesels.

Despite this, many of the old SD50s are still at work in secondary services. In recent weeks, I’ve been featuring Norfolk Southern’s SD40Es, many of which were rebuilt from old Conrail SD50s.

Reading & Northern has a small fleet of SD50s, including several former Missouri Pacific units built in 1984. Back in October, Dan Cupper and I caught up with Reading & Northern SD50E 5049 (originally Missouri Pacific SD50 5049) working the old Reading Company yard at Tamaqua, Pennsylvania.

R&N 5049 was putting together a train of empty coal cars to head out to a loading point on a vestige of the old Lehigh & New England, known as the Arlington Branch. I’ll feature photos from that adventure in a later episode of Tracking the Light.

Photographing with my Nikon Z7-II and Z6 cameras, I varied my exposure in a effort to best capture the locomotive it its environment, then working with the NEF RAW files, I made nominal adjustements to exposure, contrast and color using Adobe Lightroom for the photos displayed here.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens. I like the way the paint on the locomotive mimicked the foliage.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom lens.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.

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Alco on Brown Street, Middletown, PA.

Street trackage offers great opportunities for placing the railroad in a cool setting.

Kris and I had just finished our lunch with Wayne Duffett, who was in Middletown to inspect bridges for the Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad.

While Wayne was making his arrangements, we watched as former Western Maryland Alco S-6 151 was fired up. This was going to make a run down Brown Street to collect a car from the Norfolk Southern interchange.

We set up about midway down the street. The Alco was preceded by a trainman with a flag as I exposed this group of digital photos using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

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Looking back at Chicago Union Station—Five Years Ago.

On the evening of November 20, 2018, I stood at the back of the former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Budd Vista Silver Buckle—then named Silver Splendor–which was positioned at the rear of Amtrak train 48 the eastward Lake Shore Limited. As we glided away from Chicago Union Station, I made a series of digital photos using my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit.

There’s something magical about rolling along at speed through complex urbanity under the veil of darkness, pierced by electric lights and a prevailing sodium vapor glow.

Silver Splendor was on its way east to Conway Scenic where it would be renamed Rhonda Lee. I became very familiar with this Budd dome when I joined the ranks of Conway Scenic full time in 2019. Hard to believe these photos were made just five years ago!

FujiFilm XT-1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit; ISO 2500, f2.8 1/9 sec.

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Visit to the Middletown & Hummelstown with Wayne.

Several weeks back, our friend Wayne Duffett had business on Pennsylvania’s Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad, a short line that operates a short segment of the former Reading Company. Wayne posed with the railroad’s vintage GE 65 ton diesel number 2. Later, we drove to Middletown, where we had lunch in the classic Brownstone Cafe on Union Street.

After lunch the railroad fired up its antque former Western Maryland Alco S6 switcher to do a little work. Stay tuned for views of the grand old Alco at work . . .

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Classic Chrome-Modoc Beet

Among my thousands of ‘lost’ Kodachromes is this view from 32 years ago on Southern Pacific’s Modoc Line.

‘Lost’ is a relative term. In the 1990s, I was exceptionally prolific. I spent lots of time making photos: Not just of railways but of just about everything. If you were standing next to me in the 1990s, I probably made a photo of you too.

Anyway, while I made a great many photos, I was especially picky in my editing and rejected thousands of images. Today, many of the ‘rejects’ look pretty good. In some instances, I was diligent and labeled even my substandard slides. In other circumstances, I never got to the yellow boxes and they went straight into a carton full of more slides.

These ended up packed away in my parents’ attic for more than 25 years. Gradually, I’ve been retrieving the cartons, going through the ‘lost’ slides, and pairing them up with my notebooks.

So! This box was labeled ‘Modoc Beet’. Luckily, I took pretty good notes on the trip, and I have a good memory of making the photos.

On November 18, 1991, Brian Jennison, J.D. Schmid, and I chased the ‘Beet Hauler’ compass east on SP’s Modoc Line from Texum near Klamath Falls, Oregon to Stronghold, California and back. This was led by three 1950s-era SP SD9s (rebuilt as SD9Es).

I noted that we photographed the outward (empty train) at Texum, Malone, Oregon, and Stronghold, California, paying special attention to the locations of wigwag grade crossing signals, and the semaphores at Stronghold, where SP crossing BN’s former Great Northern.

This particular image didn’t make my cut in 1991. It sat in the box for 32 years until Monday, when I scanned it.

Unfortunately, I cannot specifically identify the location, although I suspect it is near Malone.

So what’s wrong with this photo? To my 1991-eye, I would have rejected it because: 1) the sun was obscured by a cloud; 2) It didn’t feature a wigwag signal, 3) the SD9 had its ‘Mars Light [oscilating headlight] removed, and 4) I had better photos of the same train from the same day. Despite all that , this image looks pretty good to me now! Kodachrome slide exposed with a Nikon F3T with 35mm PC lens.

There’s enough unlabeled slides in my lost Kodachrome files to fill years’ worth of posts on Tracking the Light.

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New Holland Local at New Holland

It was a bright day in mid-October. Not wanting to squander the sunshine, I set out toward New Holland, PA hoping to catch the daily Norfolk Southern local freight that works the branch.

I set up at the New Holland, Post Office at Diller Avenue, and after a short wait the local ambled along on its westward run toward Lancaster.

To make the most of the passing train, I made my initial images from a low angle for dramatic effect.

Exposed using a Z7-II with 24-70mm zoom lens.
Exposed using a Z7-II with 24-70mm zoom lens.
Exposed using a Z7-II with 24-70mm zoom lens.

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Sunset on the Susquehanna—a few views of the old PRR bridge at Havre de Grace, Maryland.

On our brief visit to Havre de Grace, Maryland in mid-October, I made these views of Amtrak’s late-running train No., 120 gliding across its early Twentieth Century bridge over the Susquehanna River. Leading the train was ACS-64 No. 633.

This antique bridge fascinates me. It’s an old-school pin-connected deck truss. And it’s an impressive imposing structure for its size and length. Word to the wise: get your photos because it is soon to be replaced!

While nothing lasts forever, I’ll miss this old bridge when its gone.

I aimed to get the Amtrak electric passing the rising moon.
Adobe Lightroom work window showis the details of this image.
I like this telephoto view, which best captures the immense size of the old bridge.

I made these photos with my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom.

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Local on the old Mine Hill & Schuylkill Haven

Here is another photo from the real-life setting for my one-time Wee Reading Company HO model railroad.

A few weeks back on my birthday, Dan Cupper and I made a productive exploration of old Reading Company lines operated by Reading & Northern.

This included following the PNPV local freight led by a pair of former Lehigh Valley SW8 switchers up the old Mine Hill & Schuylkill Haven Railroad—one of the oldest surviving railroad routes in the United States, now in operation for more than 190 years.

At Becks this train stopped to switch out the far end of West Cressona Yard.

I admit that this looks very different in real life than on my former model railroad, but it was still neat to be standing there admidst rusty autumn leaves and two 70 plus year-old diesels.

Below are two versions of the same image. The top is the Nikon NEF RAW file, scaled as a JPG for internet but otherwise unaltered.

The next down is the same file adjusted to improve appearance.

I’ve also included a screen shot of the Adobe Lightroom work window that shows how I used the slider controls to obtain my results.

There are my photo secrets revealed!

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Two Years Ago: Soo Mikado Photo Freight

On November 14, 2021, Kris and I were invited to participate in a Trains Magazine-sponsored photo freight with Soo Line 2-8-2 Mikado No. 1003.

The trip was organized by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak and hosted by Wisconsin & Southern.

Although we only joined the trip for a few of the scheduled run-bys, we had a wonderful time and made dozens of satisfying photos.

The trip was very special for me because it was the last time I saw Jim Wrinn—late Editor of Trains Magazine.

Burnett, Wisconsin. Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
Burnett, Wisconsin. Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
Red Cedar Road, near Burnett, Wisconsin. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens.
Red Cedar Road, near Burnett, Wisconsin. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens.
Red Cedar Road, near Burnett, Wisconsin. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens. 400 ISO
Screen shot of the Lightroom work window.

Also see: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/digital-monochrome-soo-1003/

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Lens Test-Fujinon XF f2.8 50-140mm

I’ve been testing the quality of a Fujinon XF f2.8 50-140mm zoom lens using Kris’s Fujifilm XT4 digital camera.

This is an extremely sharp and versatile piece of glass. I like the Fuji X series cameras because they are relatively easy to use and produce excellent color right out of the camera that require relatively little adjustment.

A couple of weeks ago, I put a Fujinon XF f2.8 50-140mm lens through its paces at Christiana, Pa. These photos were made with the camera set to RAW, with the files processed using Iridient X Transformer to take maximum of the Fuji RAW format by converting them to DNG format

I then used Adobe Lightroom to output files as scaled JPGs for presentation here.

A greatly enlarged portion of the above image to demonstrate the exceptional sharpness of the this lens-camera-software compbination.
Enlarged portion of the above image.
Station platform at Christiana, PA.
Low Grade trail near Christiana, PA. This was once a Pennsylvania Railroad electrified double track freight-only cut-off.
This extremely enlarged cropped version of the above image reveals some of the post-processing artifacts of the Iridient X Transformer converted Fuji RAW file.

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Reading & Northern SD38 2004

On October 21st, Kris and I paused at Reading & Northern’s Tamaqua (Pa.) Yard, where I photographed the railroad’s No. 2004.

Initially, I was interested in making photos of the locomotives resting here in an autumnal scene. When I recognized 2004 as one of the railroad’s ‘rare’ SD38s, I decided to make the most of this find.

Previously on Tracking the Light I featured Reading & Northern SD38 number 2000—a former Penn Central locomotive. (See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/rare-bird-on-the-reading-northern/).

Any locomotive more than a half-century old is undoubtedly worthy of attention. However, where the four-motor GP38 was among the most common EMD diesel-electrics of the late 1960s and early 1970s, with a great many still at work on American rails, its six-motor cousin was never common. Among the 53 SD38s built, Detroit, Toledo & Ironton bought five. Similar in appearance to the SD38, was the six-motor SD40 numbered more than 850 built. Even more common was the seemly ubiquitous SD40-2, which numbered in the thousands.

When Grand Trunk Western acquired DT&I in 1983, these rare birds joined the GTW roster. In 1986, I was surprised to find a freshly painted GTW SD38 working a cable laying train on the Central Vermont Railway in Palmer, Massachusetts. It was the first time, I’d ever seen a six-motor diesel on CV’s Palmer Subdivision. In researching the history of the 2004—pictured here—I found that R&N’s 2003 (GTW 6253) was the locomotive I’d photographed all those years ago.

Hopefully, during our wanderings in coal country over the coming weeks and months, I’ll come across R&N 2003, which will bring me full circle with this rolling antique and help complete my SD38 photo story.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom.

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Nice Light on Amtrak 642 in Veteran’s Paint.

Of Amtrak’s 70 Siemans ACS-64 electrics, only No. 642 wears the special paint scheme that honors American veterans.

Thanks to Dan Cupper for alerting me that Amtrak 642 was working Keystone train 652, which I caught passing Gap, Pennsylvania.

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Special Sunset

A week ago, Kris and I had to make the extremely difficult decision to put our dog Boomer to sleep. This was a complicated problem with only one possible outcome.

When I face trying times, I often turn to the railroad as means of getting through. Instead of dwelling on the immediate pain of the uncontrollable, or inevitable, I can focus on rails to the horizon, passing machines and changing light.

On the evening after Boomer’s passing, we drove to Esbenshade Road, where over the summer and autumn, we’d often watched the Strasburg Rail Road. On some of these occasions Boomer had accompanied us and watched with awe as the steam locomotive rolled by with train in tow.

This evening a blood red sunset colored the sky. I made photos with both my Lumix LX7 and Kris’s Fuji XT4 fitted with a new 50-140mm lens. For a few moments, I poured all of my energy into making images of old No. 90 working west in the fading light of an autumn evening.

Bye bye Boomer!

Fuji XT4 with Fujinon 50-140mm.
Fuji XT4 with Fujinon 50-140mm.
Lumix LX7.
Fuji XT4 with Fujinon 50-140mm.

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Stack Train at Tyrone

It had been about 20 years since my last visit to the Main Line at Tyrone, Pennsylvania, where Norfolk Southern’s former Pennsylvania Railroad tracks make a sharp curve through the narrow valley along the Little Juniata River the south end of town.

Last month, Kris and I pulled up to theTyrone Amtrak station, and when I stepped out of the car I could hear the distant sounds of General Electric diesels chugging east.

We didn’t have long to wait and soon a headlight appeared.

Working with my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm zoom, I made this series of photos. Telephoto compression in the tight curve at the station makes it look like I was much closer to the tracks that I really was.

Auto focus made it much easier to keep the locomotives looking sharp.

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Photos of a Postage Stamp Station!

In March 2023, the United States Postal Service issued a plate of five railroad station stamps. Among these is the former Reading Company station at Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. This hasn’t served as a Reading passenger station since 1963, but is now a railroad themed restaurant.

In October, I paid two visits to the Tamaqua Station Restaurant; first with Kris, to meet up with Pat Yough, Scott Snell and Brian Plant, during our fall foliage photography of Reading & Northern’s 2102 under steam; second, about a week later with Dan Cupper.

During the course of these visits I made more than a dozen photos of the classic building—inside and out.

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Amtrak’s Crescent Under Wire

The Crescent is Amtrak’s daily long-distance train that connects New York City with Atlanta and New Orleans.

Nearly five years ago, my father and I traveled overnight on the Crescent between Wilmington, Delaware and New Orleans as part of a three-day Amtrak epic that began at Windsor Locks, Connecticut and concluded at Houston, Texas.

During mid-October, Kris and I spent the afternoon following the Susquehanna River down to Perryville, Maryland. I navigated our way to the MARC commuter rail station from memory. (I’d last stopped there in 1992). This is situated along Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad’s Northeast Corridor. Upon arrival, I saw there was a train coming, alerted Kris and grabbed my Nikon Z6 to make telephoto views.

As the train approached, I made this sequence of digital images, while Kris filmed its passing with her phone. It was the southward Crescent with Viewliner sleepers and diner at the back.

Crosslit late autumn sun made for dramatic images as the train braked for the slow order over the Susquehanna River bridge. The challenge was capturing the light on the train between shadows from the electrification supports. (Tip: It helps to have a rapid release setting to take bursts of images.)

Another train was approaching from the far side of the river. But I’ll save that for a later post.

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2102 with October Foliage at Zehners

October is my favorite month for making railroad photos. Low sun and rich autumnal foliage can make for stunning settings. Yet, finding brilliant colored trees lineside isn’t always so easy.

Driving along on the highways in Anthracite country of eastern Pennsylvania in October you’ll see plenty of beautifully colored trees, but often, when you find your way to the tracks the leaves there are still green, or brown, or gone.

A few weeks back, Kris and I were following Reading & Northern’s 2102 as it led an Iron Horse Ramble toward Jim Thorpe.

Back in 2015, Pat Yough and I made a similar trip to photograph the railroad’s colorfully painted Pacific type, engine 425 on a foliage trip. Among my favorite photos from that day were those made at Zehners, near South Tamaqua, and so that’s where Kris and I stopped to catch 2102.

Kris and I arrived well ahead of the train. Folks had begun to gather. I was impressed by the trees. Bright sun illuminated the mid-morning sky and we made some satisfying images of the train as it passed.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

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Wee Lumix Score at Greenfield Road

I was on my way back from the grocery. I’d spotted Norfolk Southern’s outbound New Holland Branch local paused on the running track near the junction with Amtrak’s Harrisburg Line east of the Conestoga River bridge in Harrisburg.

On the hope of finally scoring a photo of a train at the Greenfield Road grade crossing near our apartment, I drove there without delay.

Since we moved to Lancaster last Spring, I’ve been over this grade crossing dozens of times. Only once had I a seen the train here. Kris had made a video, but I hadn’t time to get the photo I want. Most mornings, I hear the New Holland branch train whistling for the crossing, and on several occasions I’ve waited on spec. On this day, all the pieces fell into place.

While the big gun (Nikon Z6) was equipped with an impressive telephoto zoom, what I needed was a wide angle. Luckily, I had my ‘Wee Lumix’ (Lumix LX7) in my pocket at the ready.

This convenient small camera has a great sensor and an extremely sharp lens. The challenge using it in bright sun is seeing the image in the rear screen. Despite this handicap, I made the most of the situation and exposed two images as the local freight crossed Greenfield Road on its way to New Holland.

I have my LX7 set up to simultaneously save exposed photos as RAW and JPG files. In this situation, the JPG’s were profiled using the camera’s color preset mode: ‘Standard’. (Other choices include: ‘Vivid,’ ‘Natural’ and ‘Portrait’). Below I’ve displayed both the in-camera Jpg and a scaled version of the RAW file for comparison. There’s no right and wrong, which is why I always save the files in both formats.

Scaled RAW file, no profile or adjustments.
In-camera JPG with ‘Standard’ color profile. FIle scaled without adjustment to color, exposure or contrast.
Scaled RAW file, adjusted for level, but not color, contrast or exposure.
In-camera JPG with ‘Standard’ color profile. FIle scaled without adjustment to color, exposure or contrast.

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Susquehanna Bridges viewed from Port Deposit

In late October, Kris & I drove down the east bank of the Susquehanna to Port Deposit, Maryland. This historic town offers some magnificent views of the river.

The four bridges in the picture from closest to furthest are: Interstate 95, CSX’s former Baltimore & Ohio, US Highway 40, and Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad bridge that runs between Perryville on the east bank to Havre de Grace on the west bank.

I made this photo with my Nikon Z6 and 70-200mm Z-series zoom set at 200mm. I wonder what I could do here with an even longer telephoto lens?

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Standing on the Inspiration for my old Model Railroad

On my birthday I went to visit the railroad that had inspired my HO-scale Wee Reading Company.

In May, Kris and I had traded the joy of the Wee Reading Company—a microcosm that I created of Pennsylvania anthracite country railroading—in order to move to and live in Pennsylvania.

Fellow photographer Dan Cupper joined me on a day-long exploration of Reading & Northern operations. We began the day at Port Clinton, and followed the PNPV (Port Clinton to Pottsville) freight to West Cressona on the old Mine Hill Railroad—one of the component lines of the Reading system.

I made photos at the old yard, along the street and houses that I’d conceptually recreated as the center-piece of my HO-scale fantasy—itself now a memory.

This seemed completely surreal, but resulted in some interesting photos.

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Four-eight-four and Autumn Foliage—Molino, Pa.

October 21, 2023, Kris and I were poised and ready at Molino to photograph Reading & Northern’s former Reading Company class T-1 4-8-4 No. 2102.

Although he photographed from a different angle back in October 1963, my father caught a Reading Iron Horse Ramble at Molino, which was part of the reason I wanted to photograph 2102 here.

On this day, we were among dozens of other photographers at this location. Everyone was respectful of each other and did a remarkably good job of trying to stay out of each other’s photographs.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Nikon Z-series zoom.
Light cloud and cross lit sun made for excellent conditions to photograph autumn foliage. Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Nikon Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Nikon Z-series zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Nikon Z-series zoom.

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Branch with a View-November 1, 1996.

On this day in 1996, I was driving from Wisconsin to Massachusetts in a U-Haul truck with most of my worldly belongings (including the majority of my photographs).

Would you believe me if I told you that I took a detour to follow the old Erie Railroad main line across New York’s Southern Tier, and when I heard on the scanner that an eastward coal train was through Hornell, I drove the U-Haul into a grave yard on the banks of the Canisteo River, climbed a tree and exposed this series of color slides?

Would you?

Nikon F3T with 28mm lens, Fujichrome slide film.

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