Westport, Co. Mayo-Then and Now.

Westport, Co. Mayo is at the western periphery of the Irish Rail network. I made my first visit to Westport station in February 1998. Over the years, I’ve called in to make photographs on many occasions.

On our visit to Westport earlier this month, we made a brief visit to the old station where I found an Irish Rail ICR waiting to head up to Dublin.

I’ve included a couple vintage photos of Westport station along with views from 14 March 2024.

Irish Rail class 201 number 216 at Westport, Co. Mayo on 23 February 1998. Exposed on Fuji Provia100 (RDP II) using a Nikon F3T with 50mm lens.
Irish Rail empty timber arriving at Westport on 10 June 2006. In 2024, Irish Rail still loads a weekly timber train at Westport.
Lumix LX7 photo at Westport on 14 March 2024.
The antique post box at Westport is a functional relic from another era. 14 March 2024, exposed with a Lumix LX7.
Lumix LX7 photo at Westport on 14 March 2024.

View from Dreamliner’s Tinted Window

Yesterday, I made this view from the window on an American Airlines’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The window was given an artificial bluish hue after takeoff. This served to reduce the light in the cabin-area of the plane while flying between Dublin and Philadelphia.

The mechanism for achieving this effect is beyond my knowledge-base, but it contributed to an interesting photograph.

I made this image over the North Atlantic using my Lumix LX7.

Heavy Surf on the North Atlantic.

I’m making this post out of sequence as a symbolic allusion to the journey that Kris and I are making today.

Last week, we spent several days making photos along the North Antrim Coast at a time when high tides and heavy surf made for spectacular conditions.

I’m happy that we are flying across the big blue Atlantic and not spending weeks sailing across it.

Photos exposed using a Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm lens. The camera was set using the ‘carbon’ capture profile, which allows me to compose in a monochromatic mode. Images are saved as monochrome JPGs and as full colour NEF RAW files.

Tomorrow, I plan to resume with railway images from our trip across Ireland.

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Greenfields, an Old Castle and a Passenger Train.

I could have titled this post as “Railcar passes Milepost 47 1/4”.

Years ago, when Irish Rail was rebuilding its line between Athenry and Ennis, I’d scoped this location in County Galway south of Ardrahan, near Labane. At the time antique General Motors diesels (classes 141/181) were being used for per-way trains carrying rail, sleepers and ballast.

During our explorations in the west of Ireland earlier this month, Kris and I re-visted the bridge at MP 47 1/4 in order to photograph a revenue train passing the old castle. We were pleased to find that the hedgerows had been recently trimmed.

I made this sequence using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom. In post processing, I made some minor adjustments to enhance sky detail and provide more pleasing contrast.

West Clare Railway

On our drive around the West of Ireland in early March, we visited a variety of railway sites.

Following a trip across the Shannon Estuary on the Tarbert ferry, we paused for a few minutes at Moyasta, County Clare, which is home to the preserved West Clare Railway.

Although the site was a ghost town, there were a variety of railway relics on display, including former Bord na Mona three-foot gauge locomotives and some former Irish Rail five foot three inch-gauge locomotives and railway carriages.

I made these photos with my Nikon Z7-II, but also exposed some Ektachrome colour slides that I’ll have processed upon our return to the USA.

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Irish Rail to Mallow-Nine New Photos.

Earlier this month we traveled by train from Killarney to Mallow.

While I’ve made many rail journeys through Mallow over the years, more often than not this was just a place to change trains.

This trip we traveled specifically to Mallow. Kris wanted to visit Crystal Earth in the village, where she bought some decorative stones. We also enjoyed lunch and a coffee and caught up with friends at Irish Rail who gave us a driving tour of the town and of the railway station.

An unseasonable snowfall in the Dublin area had resulted in delays to InterCity trains to Cork and Kerry. As as result there was a parade of trains in the evening. While we waited for our return to Killarney to depart, I made a variety of photos of the passing trains.

Kris enjoyed the lush views of County Kerry as we traveled from Killarney toward Mallow aboard an Irish Rail ICR.
Mural at the Irish Rail station in Mallow, Co. Cork.
Irish Rail InterCity Railcar at Mallow.
Kent Station to Mallow suburban train arriving at Mallow. The 2600-series railcars are 30 years old this year.
Late-running Dublin-Cork train arriving at Mallow.
A second Dublin-Cork train approaching Mallow just a few minutes later.
Locomotive 234 is the highest numbered of the 201-class General Motors diesels.

Great Southern Killarney

Historically, the Great Southern Hotel in Killarney was owned and operated by the railway.

Although the Great Southern Killarney has not been affiliated with the railway for many years this classic hotel remains across the road from Irish Rail’s Killarney Station and retains its traditional name and charm.

Kris and I stayed at the Great Southern for several nights during our visit to Co. Kerry earlier this month. We availed of the proximity of the railway station to take a few short train journeys and enjoyed the hotel’s classic style.

I am hoping to feature the Great Southern at some point in an article, and made a number of photos aimed to convey the stately elegance of the hotel and its convenient location in Killarney town.

Irish Rail’s Killarney Station is just a short walk from the Great Southern Hotel.
Irish Rail provides service from Killarney to Cork, Dublin and Tralee (and intermediate points).

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A Short Trip on a ‘Really Old Train’

Earlier this month, while visiting Killarney, Co. Kerry, we stayed at the Great Southern Hotel, a grand old railway hotel across from Irish Rail’s station.

Years ago, I traveled from Killarney aboard Irish Rail’s Cravens carriages. These rolling antiques were heated with steam that wafted alongside the train as it sat in the station.

On our recent visit, Kris and I decided to take a short spin out the line to Tralee and bought day return tickets, which we used to travel on the evening train. As the train approached Killarney, a young man on the platform, who was speaking with a friend on his mobile phone, exclaimed ‘Like, there’s this really old train. One of the square ones.’

With visions of the Cravens in my head, initially I had difficulty understanding what this fellow was describing. As the 2600-series railcars rolled into Killarney, it occured to me that these were now antiques that had been on the move for thirty years!

In 1982, I would have viewed sets of Budd-RDCs built in the early 1950s as ‘old trains,’ and those cars were just as old to me, as Irish Rail’s 2600s were to the young man at Killarney.

So Kris and I Traveled out and back on the old 2600s. Not quite the experience of traveling on Cravens, but we still enjoyed our trip!

Old 2600s at Killarney.

Photos exposed using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series Zoom.

Timoleague and Courtmacsherry

Among Ireland’s legendary wild & wonderful railways was the Timoleague and Courtmacsherry portion of the West Cork Railway.

This is believed to be Ireland’s last road side railway and served an exceptionally scenic and charming part of the country.

Alas, it’s charms aside, the Timoleague and Courtmacsherry ceased operations about 1960.

Kris and I explored vestiges of this line on our travels in County Cork earlier this month.

I made these images with my Nikon Z7-II near Timoleague.

The semaphore is a prop, installed long after the old railway was lifted. Yet, it offers a hint of the right-of-way’s railway heritage.

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200mm View Departing Cork

We had several excellent tours of Kent Station Cork, thanks to our friends at Irish Rail.

Working with my Nikon mirrorless Z7-II, I made this 200mm telephoto view of a two-piece Irish Rail 2600-series Railcar departing platform 1 at Kent Station.

The telephoto lens compressed the perspective which helps to bring in the station facilities behind the train, while effectively squashing the view of the already short train set.

I’m glad to have towed my heavy 70-200mm Z-series zoom all the way to Ireland as I’ve made a few very satisfying photos with this lens.

Cork, Bandon & South Coast’s Chetwynd, Viaduct.

It has been more than six decades since the last train crossed the old Chetwynd, Viaduct in County Cork.

On our way toward Timoleague, Kris and I paused in the car park of the Viaduct Restaurant & Cafe, to make photos of this unusual former railway bridge that spans the N71 highway.

It was a bright morning and the lighting suited photography. I made photos using both black & white and color modes. In addition to these digital images, I also exposed a few Ektachrome colour slides using my Nikon F3T.

One of my tricks for photographing bridges is to crop out the ends of the span which has the visual effect of making the bridge seem longer.

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Night photography in Cork City.

Working with my Nikon NZ-II mounted on a compact Gitzo tripod, I made a variety of photos around Cork City.

The tripod allowed me use a lower ISO, which required a slower shutter speed but captures a greater amount of data with minimal loss.

Working with Lightroom, I adjusted shadows and highlights to reduce contrast and make for better balanced images despite the prevailing darkness punctuated by harsh artificial light.

Bridge over the River Lee.
Kent Station, Cork.

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Boston’s North Station—March 1982.

Forty-two years ago, I accompanied my father to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he worked, and spend the day photographing railways in greater Boston using my 1930s-era Leica 3A with 50mm Leitz Summitar loaded with black & white film.

I made this pair of photographs at MBTA’s North Station—the old Boston & Maine terminal that served trains to Fitchburg, Lowell, Haverhill, Ipswitch and Rockport.

After so many years, the ordinary now seems exotic.

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Cork-Fota-Cobh & Back!

Among the many short railway trips Kris and I have experienced over the last month was a journey on Irish Rail’s Cork Suburban service from Kent Station in Cork to Fota Island, and then to the port town of Cobh on 29 February 2024. (Cobh, pronounced ‘Cove’ was at one time known as Queenstown.)

We have traveled this route before, but on this visit we got off at Fota to visit the Fota Wildlife Park. This spacious zoo features dozens of exotic animals and made for a wonder rail-based adventure.

In the afternoon, we visited Cobh for a late lunch and a walk around the waterfront to make photos.

I’ve included a selection of images made with my Lumix LX7 and Nikon Z7-II digital cameras.

Cobh train on Platform 2 at Kent Station, Cork.
View from the Fota footbridge of a Cork bound train from Cobh.
View from the Fota footbridge of a Cork bound train from Cobh.
Cork-Cobh train arriving at Fota. Lumix LX7 photo.
Cobh station.
Cobh. Photographed with N7-II with 70-200mm lens using the ‘Carbon’ color profile.
Departure board at Cobh.
The 1600 Cobh-Cork train on the platform at Cobh.
Interior view of Irish Rail 2605.
Suburban trains at Ken Station, Cork.

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Happy St Patrick’s Day from Ireland!

Over the last few weeks, Kris and I have made thousands of images of Ireland. Below are just a few of my general interest photographs.

There will be more Irish railway photos posted to Tracking the Light over the coming days!

Then and Now: Changes at Islandbridge Junction!

Over the years I’ve made countless photos at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin.

Last month, Kris and I revisited my old spot at ‘the box’ over looking the Junction, just west of Heuston Station.

I found this place much changed from my earlier views. Not only have modern buildings sprouted up but so has the lineside vegetation.

Compare these photos from 17 May 2005 and 18 February 2024. In both views, I show Irish Rail 201-class General Motors diesels leading Dublin-Cork passenger trains.

Victorian Train Shed

The magnificent curved train shed at Cork’s Kent Station makes for a classic environment to photograph modern trains.

Irish Rail runs frequent services from Kent Station, with an hourly scheduled service to/from Dublin, most of which serve platform 4 below the train shed.

During our recent travels around Cork, Kris and I paid several visits to Kent Station and were offered tours by our friends at Irish Rail.

Working with my Nikon Z7-II, I made these photos at the station aiming to make the most of the curved Victorian train shed, both as subject and setting.

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Cobh Junction—Glounthaune, Cork.

Over the years I’ve made numerous visits to Irish Rail’s Glounthaune station in County Cork. But only rarely, I have I made night photos here.

This was one of several photos exposed on the down platform using my Nikon Z7-II mounted on my old mini-Gitzo tripod during our brief visit to Glounthaune a couple of weeks ago.

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Little Island, Revisited

On our nocturnal tour of Irish Rail’s Cobh Branch with our friend Will, Kris and I paused at the station at Little Island, where we photographed the 2100 (9pm) Cork to Cobh train making its scheduled station stop.

Since my last vist to this suburban railway station, Irish Rail has erected a huge modern footbridge over the tracks. This was not yet open to the public, so we made our photographs from the old iron footbridge.

I had my Nikon Z7-II mounted on a mini-Gitzo tripod to allow for a slower shutter speed with relatively low ISO.

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High ISO at Woodhill, Cork.

During our week-long visit to County Cork, we took many photos and became re-acquainted with the area’s railways.

I made these views at Woodhill on the Cobh Branch of Irish Rail’s 830pm train from Cobh to Kent Station. To minimize the motion of the passing train, I set the ISO on my Nikon Z7-II to 25600.

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Dublin Heuston to Kent Station, Cork

After a week in London, Kris and I returned to Dublin. Upon arrival at Dublin Airport we took the 782 bus directly to Heuston Station and bought tickets for the first available through train to Cork.

Although, Irish Rail wasn’t having the best day, and our train was a Hyundai-Rotem built Intercity Railcar (Known as an ICR) instead of one of the locomotive hauled CAF-built Mark 4 train sets, we had a good train ride.

As soon as the train was anounced we proceeded directly to the boarding platform and secured places for our luggage and ourselves on-board the train. Irish rail’s InterCity trains are very well patronized, and our train, which had just five cars, was essentially full departing Dublin.

The train departed within 30 seconds of the advertised and ran express to Portloaise under sunny skies. We arrived in Cork ahead of schedule!

I made all of these photos using my Lumix LX7. The images were recorded as RAW (RW2) files and then adjusted in post processing using Lightroom.

Night Photography at Trafalgar Square

We traveled on the Bakerloo Line from Paddington to Charing Cross. Upon arrival we exited the Underground via the Subway (foot passage) to Trafalgar Square, which is among London’s iconic public spaces.

I made these views of the famous square using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom. I set the ISO to 5000, the aperture to f4.0, and allowed the camera to select the shutter speed. I adjusted the highlights and shadows in post processing to improve detail and reduce contrast.

Although the shutter speed was about 1/13th of a second, all the photos in this sequence were made hand-held with the aid of in-camera image stabilization.

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District Line at South Kensington

South Kensington is a busy station on the District and Circle Lines of the London Underground. These are among the oldest routes of the Underground network and were built using cut and cover construction.

The platforms on the District/Circle Lines at South Kensington are largely open air with tunnel entrances at both ends and classic canopies covering the platforms which makes for a classic railway environment.

At rush hours train enter and leave the station about once a minute.

In the maelstrom of acitivity and the roar of passing trains I made these photos with my Lumix LX7.

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Railway Gems of the London Science Museum

Enter the exhibit ‘Making the Modern World’ and you will find some gems of 19th century railway technology.

This includes Puffing Billy—the oldest preserved locomotive, and a variety of other full-size equipment and vintage scale models.

One of my favorites is the 1870s model of a broad gauge Erie Railroad 4-4-0, which has been in the science museum’s collection since 1880.

Photos expose in February 2024 using my Lumix LX7.

Puffing Billy
This period model of a 6-foot gauge Erie Railroad 4-4-0 has been at the London Science Museum since 1880.
Model of a Norris locomotive built in Philadelphia.
Model of the famous Rocket of 1829. The real Rocket is presently on tour elsewhere in the UK.

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Steam over Groombridge—Token Exchange on the Fly

On our visit to Britain’s Spa Valley Railway last month, we laid over at the intermediate station of Groombridge, and made photos of the excursion train returning from Eridge.

Part of this exercise was to document the token exchange as the locomotive passed the platform.

In traditional fashion, the Spa Valley Railway is divided into manual block sections. Permission to pass each section is authorized by a specific token that is released from the electrically interlocked token-aperatus and passed by an authorized member of station staff to the locomotive crew. I detailed the concept of a token exchange in my first book on railroad signaling.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm lens.

Spa Valley Railway—Tunbridge Wells West

Our friend Hassard Stacpoole met us in London and escorted Kris and I for the day on a tour of the Spa Valley Railway.

This charming preserved railway operates a short branch on the old Southern Railway network that connects Tunbridge Wells West with Eridge.

We took a Southeastern Trains electric multiple unit from Charing Cross to the Network Rail station at Tunbridge Wells, then walked for about 15 minutes to Tunbridge Wells West, where the Spa Valley has a small station, gift shop and locomotive shed (shop). Several fine looking locomotives were being maintained at the shed.

Although it was overcast, the cool weather made for some effluent displays of steam locomotive exhaust. The operational steam locomotive du jour was a handsome BR standard 2 type 2-6-0.

I made this selection of photo at Tunbridge Wells West using my Nikon Z7-II (with 70-200mm lens). I was just getting warmed up! We bought day passes and went for a spin to Eridge.

More Spa Valley posts to follow!

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Charing Cross Vignettes

We spent nearly a week at the Clermont Hotel that is physically part of London’s historic Charing Cross Station.

In our wanders around the neighborhood, I made these photos of the railway station and its environs.

Photos were exposed digitally using my Nikon and Lumix cameras.

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Paddington Station at Dusk

London’s Paddington Station offers the extreme contrast of very modern trains in a Victorian setting.

I highlighted Paddington Station in my book Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, published by Kalmbach Media in 2018:

Kris and I paid several visits to this grand theatre of British Railways during our February 2024 trip. The most visually impressive was on the return from Oxford on a Saturday evening, when the blue glow of dusk fascilitated added charm. Recent restorations of the train shed included some stunning lighting of the iron work, which is made most impressive during the transition from day to night.

I made these photos with my Nikon Z7-II.