All posts by brian solomon

Author of more than 50 books on railways, photography, and Ireland. Brian divides his time between the United States and Ireland, and frequently travels across Europe and North America.

Charter Section Glacier Express

The boards at Andermatt indicated that an unscheduled train was due to arrive.

Our curiosity was piqued.

This turned out to be a charter using a Glacier Express train set.

I’ve augmented the views of the train descending to Andermatt with a few images of another Glacier Express set parked in Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn’s sidings at Andermatt.

In mid-April, my friends and I visited Andermatt and were fortunate to catch this charter of Glacier Express equipment descending the rack railway grade toward Andermatt.
In mid-April, my friends and I visited Andermatt and were fortunate to catch this charter of Glacier Express equipment descending the rack railway grade toward Andermatt.
Express is a relative term. The train isn't very fast; but the views  available from its windows are stunning.
Express is a relative term. The train isn’t very fast; but the views available from its windows are stunning.
Looking toward Andermatt, Switzerland in April 2016.
Looking toward Andermatt, Switzerland in April 2016.
I made this view of Glacier Express equipment resting static on sidings in Andermatt. Can equipment stored out of service be called a 'train?'
I made this view of Glacier Express equipment resting static on sidings in Andermatt. Can equipment stored out of service be called a ‘train?’

Tracking the Light is Daily.

Narrow Gauge Rack; Contrast in the Alps.

 

Below are two versions of an image I made of a Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn narrow-gauge train engaging the Abt rack system on its steep ascent from Göschenen to Andermatt.

These were made with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera on my visit to the Alps with Stephen Hirsch, Gerry Conmy and Denis McCabe in mid April 2016.

The first is the unadjusted (except for scaling) Jpg produced in camera. Notice that the sky is washed out and lacking in detail.

Camera produced Jpg exposed at Göschenen, Switzerland where the MGB meets the standard gauge line over the Gotthard Pass.
Camera produced Jpg exposed at Göschenen, Switzerland where the MGB meets the standard gauge line over the Gotthard Pass.

The second image is a Jpg that I produced from the camera RAW file by making nominal contrast and saturation adjustments in Lightroom.

Improved image; this was made from the RAW file by adjusting contrast and saturation .
Improved image; this was made from the RAW file by adjusting contrast and saturation .

The aim of the second image was to hold the sky and highlight detail that was lost by the camera Jpg. This demonstrates the ability of the RAW file to retain greater detail than the Jpg.

 

Instead of using an external graduated neutral density filter, as I had with some previous images displayed on Tracking the Light, I used the equivalent graduated neutral density filter in the Lightroom program.

 

Why not use the external filter in this situation? Two reasons:

  • The external filter is cumbersome and takes time to set up.
  • I wanted to improve the appearance of the sky without darkening the mountains. Using the electronic filter gives me the ability to selectively control highlights and shadows in the graduated area selected by the filter, while the external graduated filter would have covered the top of the image and darkened the mountains as well as the sky.

Both are valuable tools for improving a photograph.

Tracking the Light Posts everyday.

 

Car Train in the Alps; A flash from the past.

I remember seeing open auto racks on American railroads. One of my few pre-Conrail images is of a former Pennsylvania Railroad tri-level.

Open car trains are still common in Europe. I made this view last week of a train load of new cars climbing southward on the Gotthard route heading for Italy.

Its nice to see the cars out in the open instead of sequestered inside full-enclosed multi-levels.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera. Notice the effect of backlighting which adds depth to the image and detail in the grass.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera. Notice the effect of backlighting which adds depth to the image and detail in the grass.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

 

Tracking the Light Extra: Chicago & North Western Farewell-21 years ago today!

On the weekend of April 23, 1995, Howard Ande and I followed Chicago & North Western’s east-west mainline from Chicago to Council Bluffs, Iowa and back making hundreds of images in anticipation of the Union Pacific take over.

I exposed this color slide of a relatively new C&NW GE-built DASH9-44CW near Missouri Valley, Iowa on the evening of April 23, 1995.

Exposed on Fujichrome Provia100 using a Nikormatt FTN with 35mm PC (perspective control—shift lens).
Exposed on Fujichrome Provia100 using a Nikormatt FTN with 35mm PC (perspective control—shift lens).

Tracking the light posts daily.

Springtime in Switzerland! SBB and Dandelions.

Using my FujiFilm X-T1, I exposed this image last week looking across a field of dandelions near Erstfeld, Switzerland.

By using the tilting live-view display screen, I was able to hold the camera very low to the ground which allows for this exaggerated perspective of the foreground greenery and flowers.

Compare this photo to the conceptually similar view of the Italian tilting train I posted a few days ago. See: Italian Tilting Train at Gurtnellen—15 April 2016

The technique for both photos  is essentially the same, however with the photo below of the Swiss ICN passenger train  I used a slight telephoto and opted to crop the sky, rather than use a graduated neutral density filter to balance the contrast/retain detail.

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An SBB ICN train glides along near Erstfeld in April 2016.

Below is another view from the same location near Erstfeld. Same camera, same lens, but I’ve set the zoom to a wide-angle view and I’m not as low to the ground.

The result is that the flowers remain in relative focus to the train and distant scenery. (Also I’m using the graduated neutral density filter to retain highlight detail at the top of the image).

A northward SBB freight approaches Erstfeld on the Gotthard route.
A northward SBB freight approaches Erstfeld on the Gotthard route.

The train is a bit small, but this photograph is more about the whole scene rather than being focused on the train.

Tracking the Light is Daily.

Chicago & North Western Class R-1 1385 viewed through a window.

On October 14, 1995, Dick Gruber and I were visiting the Mid-Continent museum at North Freedom, Wisconsin when I exposed this unusual view of engine 1385.
On October 14, 1995, Dick Gruber and I were visiting the Mid-Continent museum at North Freedom, Wisconsin when I exposed this unusual view of engine 1385.

Instead of focusing on the engine, I set my focus point on the window. Using my Nikon F3T, I exposed this image with an f1.8 105mm lens wide open for minimum depth of field. This is a personal favorite of mine and over the years I’ve reproduced it in various places.

Tracking the Light is on auto pilot while Brian is Traveling!

 

Abandoned Illinois Central Tunnel-Belleville, Wisconsin.

It was 20 years ago that my brother and I explored the setting of the abandoned former Illinois Central tunnel at Belleville, Wisconsin.

WSOR former IC tunnel at Bellville Wis April 1996 abandoned Brian Solomon 661877
I made this image on Fujichrome Provia100 using my Nikon F3T mounted on a Bogen 3021 tripod near the north portal. Outside it was a dull afternoon, which helped provide more even lighting inside the old bore. 

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

The Magnificent Double Helix at Biaschina, Switzerland; 16 April 2016

Does the mist and rain add a sense of mystique to one of the great railway wonders of the world?

At Biaschina, SBB’s route on the south slope of the Gottard Pass navigates a complete double spiral (or double helix).

The line passes through several tunnels and appears the viewer on three distinct levels, each hundreds of feet above each other.

I made these images from the Ticino riverbed using my Lumix LX7 on Saturday 16 April 2016.

Denis McCabe, Gerry Conmy, Stephen Hirsch and I were visiting the line to make photographs before the new base tunnel diverts traffic at the end of the year.

A southward passenger train on the top level of Biaschina loops.
A southward passenger train on the top level of Biaschina loops.
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A few minutes later the same train appears on the middle level. Lumix LX7 photo.
Finally, with little warning, the train emerges from the tunnel on the lowest level of the Double Helix. Lumix LX7 photo.
Finally, with little warning, the train emerges from the tunnel on the lowest level of the Double Helix. Lumix LX7 photo.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

Amtrak on the Shore of San Pablo Bay at Pinole on this day 23 years ago.

On the morning of April 18, 1993, I made this Kodachrome slide of an eastward Amtrak train on the shore of San Pablo Bay at Pinole, California.

Exposed using a Nikon F3T with 35mm PC (Perspective Control lens). Note the level horizon.

Compare my use of foreground of the  image below with that featured in this morning’s post at Gurtnellen, Switzerland. In both situations I’ve held the camera close to the ground, while standing on a hill side above the train.

Amtrak_at_Pinole_Apr18_1993_Brian Solomon 234254Tracking the Light post every day.

Italian Tilting Train at Gurtnellen—15 April 2016

En route to Milan, this Italian State Railway ETR610 high-speed tilting train was ascending the Gotthard Pass just south of Gurtnellen, Switzerland.
En route to Milan, this Italian State Railway ETR610 high-speed tilting train was ascending the Gotthard Pass just south of Gurtnellen, Switzerland.

For this image I blended several techniques.

To emphasize the wild flowers in the foreground, I’ve held the camera low to the ground and used the tilting back screen to compose the angle. (Aiding this approach is the FujiFilm X-T1’s built in line-level which appears as a ‘heads up’ display on the screen.)

By applying a Lee graduated neutral density filter to the front of the lens, I’ve maintained highlight detail in the sky.

My adjustments the RAW file in post processing lightened shadow density and increased color saturation to help make for a lush scene.

Notice the four layers: foreground, middle ground (the train), near background (the village of Gurtnellen), and the far background (snow crested peaks).

Once the new Gotthard Base tunnel is open to traffic at the end of this year, scenes such as this one of the Italian tilting train on the old route may be rare.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Gotthard Pass; Snapshot at Wassen: 14 April 2016

In the last three days, I’ve exposed more than 1000 digital images of the railway over Switzerland’s Gotthard Pass.

Although, I haven’t had time to thoroughly examine all my files, this image struck me as capturing the sprit of Swiss mainline mountain railroading in Spring.

Iridescent green grass  and distant snow crested peaks, with modern electric locomotives humming upgrade with an intermodal train.

Railpool electrics lead an intermodal train upgrade at the middle-level of the Wassen Loops. In a few months time most freight will be diverted from the traditional Gotthard route to a new long tunnel beneath the Alps.
Railpool electrics lead an intermodal train upgrade at the middle-level of the Wassen Loops. In a few months time most freight will be diverted from the traditional Gotthard route to a new long tunnel beneath the Alps.

If you haven’t visited the Gotthard Pass, here’s my advice to you: don’t wait.

At the end of this year the Gotthard base tunnel opens and most of the traffic will be diverted away from this classic Alpine crossing.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

 

Wisconsin & Southern Wig Wag Retrospective

At one time the wig wag signal was the standard grade crossing protection.  Now the type is all but extinct.

I learned a few weeks ago that Wisconsin & Southern had finally removed the last of these classic American signals on its former Chicago & North Western line to Reedsburg, which had survived at Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Over the years, I’d photographed wig wags at various locations in Wisconsin.

I made these photographs at Baraboo with John Gruber in February 2008.

Using a Canon EOS3 with 20mm lens, I used a relatively slow shutter speed to help convey the classic motion of the wig wag signal. Fuji chrome slide film.
Using a Canon EOS3 with 20mm lens, I used a relatively slow shutter speed to help convey the classic motion of the wig wag signal. Fujichrome slide film.
Fujichrome slide film.
Fujichrome slide film.

Brian is Traveling, so Tracking the light is on Autopilot!

Alternate Angle at Islandbridge Junction; Irish Rail’s IWT Liner.

Thursday, 7 April 2016, Irish Rail’s IWT Liner was blocked at Islandbridge Junction. This gave me the opportunity to work some less common angles in addition to my common viewing point (often featured on Tracking the Light).

Irish Rail 219 with Dublin to Ballina IWT liner.
Irish Rail 219 with Dublin to Ballina IWT liner.

By holding my FujiFilm X-T1 above my head at arm’s length and tilting the camera’s live-view panel screen downward, I was able to make this view looking over the wall at the St. John’s Road roundabout in Dublin.

Why not try this more often? Simply because I’m not tall enough to see over the wall, so to make this view I’m actually using the camera to view the scene. It’s tiring work to hold a camera above your head while waiting for trains to appear.

Tracking the Light posts every day.

Irish Rail Passenger Trains; Grab Shot in the Gullet, Dublin.

The other day I was at the St. John’s Road roundabout. A Mark4 set was blocked as an in-bound ICR (intercity railcar) bound for Dublin’s Heuston Station over took it on the middle road.

The Gullet is the three track section in a cutting on approach to Islandbridge Junction in Dublin.
The Gullet is the three track section in a cutting on approach to Islandbridge Junction in Dublin.

Using my Lumix LX-7, I made this photo by holding the camera over the wall and gauging composition from the live-view digital display at the back of the camera.

I lightened the shadows in post-processing to improve contrast.

For the next couple of weeks Tracking the Light will be on auto-pilot while Brian is on the road. Posts should appear daily having been pre-programmed into the holding queue.

New Posts Every Day (hopefully).

 

Irish Rail in the Details; a Dozen Macro views exposed 9-10 April 2016.

Last weekends Irish Railway Record Society 071 trip offered countless opportunities to make detailed views of the trains, stations and other equipment.

When I wasn’t focusing on the people or on scenes with the special train, I looked for iconic images of Irish Rail closeup.

These were exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1.

Signals at Limerick.
Signals at Limerick.
Locomotive 076 cab detail.
Locomotive 076 cab detail.
Irish Rail 076 with 40 year plate.
Irish Rail 076 with 40 year plate.
Signs at Mallow, Co. Cork.
Signs at Mallow, Co. Cork.
Kent Station, Cork with signal cabin.
Kent Station, Cork with signal cabin.
Irish Rail 076 at Kent Station, Cork.
Irish Rail 076 at Kent Station, Cork.
Driver Fox on locomotive 076.
Driver Fox on locomotive 076.
Great Southern & Western Railway chairs at Tralee.
Great Southern & Western Railway chairs at Tralee.
Irish Rail locomotive 077 at Waterford.
Irish Rail locomotive 077 at Waterford.
Irish Rail station sign.
Irish Rail station sign.
Carlow Station.
Carlow Station.

I will be on the road beginning 14 April; Tracking the Light posts should continue to appear daily for the duration of this trip.

Views from the Train: Irish Scenery; trains, tracks, cows and snow . . . no wait, What?

Below are a selection of views I made from last weekend’s Irish Railway Record Society 071 Anniversary tour.

In earlier posts, I’ve covered other elements of this excellent railway trip across Ireland on 9-10 April 2016.

All photos were exposed digitally from the train’s windows.

Enjoy!

Irish Rail's Inchicore works as photographed on Saturday morning. This view offers a great cross section of active and stored General Motors diesel locomotives. Note the old 201s still in orange paint. Will they every run again? FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Irish Rail’s Inchicore works as photographed on Saturday morning. This view offers a great cross section of active and stored General Motors diesel locomotives. Note the old 201s still in orange paint. Will they every run again? FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Cows in rural Co. Tipperary as view along the Nenagh Branch on Saturday.
Cows in rural Co. Tipperary as view along the Nenagh Branch on Saturday.
Approach Cloughjordan on the Nenagh Branch.
Approaching Cloughjordan on the Nenagh Branch.
Stormy weather viewed from the Nenagh Branch.
Stormy weather viewed from the Nenagh Branch.
Fixed semaphore near Birdhill, on the Nenagh Branch.
Fixed semaphore near Birdhill, on the Nenagh Branch.
Irish Rail's Limerick shed.
Irish Rail’s Limerick shed.

Irish_rail_076_Limerick_Shed_DSCF3584

Irish Rail 076 at Limerick. This engine will take our train to Cork and Kerry.
Irish Rail 076 at Limerick. This engine will take our train to Cork and Kerry.
Sunset near Killarney dropping down the Bower.
Sunset near Killarney dropping down the Bower.
Killarney County Kerry.
Killarney, County Kerry.
On the Sunday morning run from Tralee to Killarney, approaching Farranfore. It was cold and beginning to snow.
On the Sunday morning run from Tralee to Killarney, approaching Farranfore. It was cold and beginning to snow.
Climbing the Bower out of Killarney. There was some snow to be seen. And this was April. For real.
Climbing the Bower out of Killarney. There was some snow to be seen. And this was April. For real.

Kerry_Snow_near_Killarney_P1430608

Limerick Junction cross the Cork line at grade. There's a Dublin to Cork Mark4 set heading down road.
Limerick Junction cross the Cork line at grade. Note the  Dublin to Cork Mark4 set heading down road.
Approaching Tipperary town, one of the few places were semaphores survive.
Approaching Tipperary town, one of the few places where semaphores survive.
View near Clonmel, County Tipperary.
View near Clonmel, County Tipperary.
Waterford West on the way toward Kilkenny. Semaphores remain here too! Long may they last.
Waterford West on the way toward Kilkenny. Semaphores remain here too! Long may they last.
Old 2700 railcars stored at Inchicore. Old. Hmm, I seem to recall these cars being delivered 'new'. Hmm.
Old 2700 railcars stored at Inchicore. Old. Hmm, I seem to recall these cars being delivered ‘new’. Hmm.
One of kind livery; Irish Rail 216 in a green primer at Inchicore as seen from the train.
One of kind livery; Irish Rail 216 in a green primer at Inchicore (as seen from the train).
Irish Rail 227 in the new Enterprise at Connolly shed.
Irish Rail 227 in the new Enterprise livery at Connolly shed.

Tracking the Light posts new photos daily.

Portraits: Irish Railway Record Society’s ‘071 class two-day 40th anniversary railtour’

The trains are the excuse to travel, but for me many of the most interesting photos are the portraits.

In the end, it’s the cast of characters that make the trip worthwhile.

Here are just a few from the dozens of images I exposed on Saturday and Sunday 9-10 April 2016.

IRRS tour organizer Shane Roberts at Connolly on the morning of the tour.
IRRS tour organizer Shane Roberts at Connolly on the morning of the tour.
Platform self portraits at Connolly.
Platform self portraits at Connolly.
Fixing a tail lamp.
Fixing a tail lamp.
Green flag to proceed at Connolly.
Green flag to proceed at Connolly.
Discussing logistics in the crew van.
Discussing logistics in the crew van.
On the platform at Kildare.
On the platform at Kildare.
RPSI's bar staff.
RPSI’s bar staff.
At Ballybrophy.
At Ballybrophy.
Ed came all the way from America for this trip.
Ed came all the way from America for this trip.
Sometimes the routine makes for an interesting photograph. Seen at Limerick.
Sometimes the routine makes for an interesting photograph. Seen at Limerick.
Cup of tea in the van.
Cup of tea in the van.
Irish Rail staff are key to operations.
Irish Rail staff are key to operations.
Driver Ken Fox at Charleville.
Driver Ken Fox at Charleville.
Catching up on the platform at Mallow.
Catching up on the platform at Mallow.
Inspection of the equipment.
Inspection of the equipment.
Crossing the viaduct at Mallow.
Crossing the viaduct at Mallow.

S_King_P1430366

John_and_Gerry_P1430371

Noel_and_Jim_P1430373

076_at_Cork_w_guy_in_RR_hat_P1430380

Mr_Grumpy_P1430443

Cast of characters at Rathmore.
Cast of characters at Rathmore.
Going for spin in the snow, like.
Going for spin in the snow, like.
Buffet car staff.
Buffet car staff.

Shane_Tommy_and_Noel_P1430616

Photographers at Rath.more
Photographers at Rathmore.
Photographers vying for position at Waterford.
Photographers vying for position at Waterford.
Reviewing results.
Reviewing results.
Product placement; Noel Enright holds my new book Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals.
Product placement; Noel Enright holds my new book Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals.
Watching the passing greenery.
Watching the passing greenery.
People wave at the train.
People wave at the train.

All of the above were made with my Lumix LX7.

More photos to come soon.

Tracking the Light posts everyday.

Irish Destinations: Stations visited during Irish Railway Record Society’s 071 Tour—20 New Photos.

Irish Railway Record Society’s ‘071 class two-day 40th anniversary railtour‘ covered a lot of ground in just two days.

The trip represented a mastery of coordination; special to thanks to everyone at Irish Railway Record Society, Railway Preservation Society of Ireland, and Irish Rail!

This a selection of 20 new images I made with my Lumix LX7. (I’m still down-loading the photos made with my FujiFilm X-T1).

The train was comprised of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland's Cravens, seen here at Dublin's Connolly Station. Lumix LX7 photo.
The train was comprised of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Cravens, seen here at Dublin’s Connolly Station. Lumix LX7 photo.

We started and finished at Dublin’s Connolly Station, running to Ballybrophy (with train continuing ‘empty carriages’ to Lisduff sidings to change direction, then via the Nenagh Branch to Limerick.

Limerick to Cork, Cork back to Mallow, then to Killarney for an overnight stay. In the morning to Tralee (my visit there since I bought a digital camera!) then back to Kilarney.

Back via Mallow to Limerick Junction, then down my favorite line to Waterford via Carrick-on-Suir. From Waterford to Killkenny and via Cherryville Junction back up to Dublin.

There were lots of intermediate photographic stops along the way.

Engine 083 brought us from Dublin to Limerick via Nenagh. Viewed in a rare moment of sun at Connolly Station in Dublin.
Engine 083 brought us from Dublin to Limerick via Nenagh. Viewed in a rare moment of sun at Connolly Station in Dublin.

Irish_Rail_083_RPSI_train_Connolly_P1430188

In the bay at Ballybrophy.
In the bay at Ballybrophy.
Change of locos at Limerick; here 076 took over.
Change of locos at Limerick; here 076 took over.
083 at Limerick under the train shed.
083 at Limerick under the train shed.

Kent_Station_sign_P1430392

Ken Fox at the throttle after arriving in Cork.
Ken Fox at the throttle after arriving in Cork.

 

Kent Station in Cork features an unusual curved train shed, which I've featured in my recent book Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals (published by Voyageur Press).
Kent Station in Cork features an unusual curved train shed, which I’ve featured in my recent book Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals (published by Voyageur Press).
Amoung our numerous photo stops included a brief visit to Rathmore on the line from Mallow to Killarney.
Amoung our numerous photo stops included a brief visit to Rathmore on the line from Mallow to Killarney.
A wink of sun on arrival in Killarney. It wasn't so nice the following morning.
A wink of sun on arrival in Killarney. It wasn’t so nice the following morning.
Killarney town is a popular tourist destination. I made this view on a wander after checking in to the hotel.
Killarney town is a popular tourist destination. I made this view on a wander after checking in to the hotel.
Sunday morning in Killarney was cold and dark; but atmospheric. I made some of my most memorable images, if not the sunniest.
Sunday morning in Killarney was cold and dark; but atmospheric. I made some of my most memorable images, if not the sunniest.
Cold rain greeted us at Farranfore. It has been 18 years and some months since I first visited this classic Irish station. I wouldn't expect that 076 in gray paint has been here very often. Except for rail tours and the infrequent per way train, the Kerry Road is a locomotive free zone.
Cold rain greeted us at Farranfore. It has been 18 years and some months since I first visited this classic Irish station. I wouldn’t expect that 076 in gray paint has been here very often. Except for rail tours and the infrequent per way train, the Kerry Road is a locomotive free zone.
Is that an authentic Irish spelling for 'Tralee'. I noted no less than three variations on official signage.
Is that an authentic Irish spelling for ‘Tralee’? I noted no less than three variations on official signage.
This was a bit of a shock; tracks lifted in front of the old cabin at Tralee. I remember sitting up in the cabin chatting with the signalman back in the late 1990s.
This was a bit of a shock; tracks lifted in front of the old cabin at Tralee. I remember sitting up in the cabin chatting with the signalman back in the late 1990s.
Palisade fencing in the old good yard complicated photography. Thankfully my Lumix LX7 is very thin.
Palisade fencing in the old goods yard complicated photography at Tralee. Thankfully my Lumix LX7 is very thin.
Another change of engine at Waterford. Here 077 took over from 076. A view across the Suir toward the old Viking town.
Another change of engine at Waterford. Here 077 took over from 076. A view across the Suir toward the old Viking town.
A plaque to William Dargan at Carlow on the Kilkenny to Cherryville line.
A plaque to William Dargan at Carlow on the Kilkenny to Cherryville line.
Local folks were bemused by the disgorging of passengers at Athy and frantic efforts to make photos in the 7 minutes allowed for the stop.
Local folks were bemused by the disgorging of passengers at Athy and frantic efforts to make photos in the 7 minutes allowed for the stop. (engine 079 took over at Kilkenny).

I’ll be posting more photos from the popular trip soon!

Tracking the Light is a Daily Photographic Blog.

Tracking the Light Extra: Irish Railway Record Society Special at Connolly, 9 April 2016.

Yesterday morning, Saturday 9 April 2016, I made this panoramic composite image at Connolly Station featuring the Irish Railway Record Society ‘071 class two-day 40th anniversary railtour.

(If you are not viewing Tracking the Light directly, you may need to click the link to the site to get the full effect of the panorama.)

I traveled on this epic and ambitious diesel-hauled special and I’m presently downloading the hundreds of digital photos I exposed of the trains and the people involved with it.

More soon!

Panoramic composite exposed using a Lumix LX-7 digital camera.
Panoramic composite exposed using a Lumix LX-7 digital camera.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Classic Chrome: Maine Central East Wind follow up view.

A couple of years ago I posted the coming-on view of this train at Northern Maine Junction. (see: Maine Central’s East Wind).

Last December, I located and scanned this trailing view.

Maine Central’s hot intermodal train East Wind blows through Northern Maine Junction in July 1983. Exposed on Ektachrome film with a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens. Although not a great photo, this documented a fleeting period of railroading, and I'm glad to have made it.
Maine Central’s hot intermodal train East Wind blows through Northern Maine Junction in July 1983. Exposed on Ektachrome film with a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens. Although not a great photo, this documented a fleeting period of railroading, and I’m glad to have made it. I think it was the first time I saw a caboose-less freight.

As I mentioned in the earlier post; at the time I photographed a single Maine Central U25B with two flat and four Sealand trailers, I was decidedly unimpressed.

One locomotive, short train, no caboose?

What I was witnessing was the result of transportation deregulation that completely changed the American freight railroads.

Innovation spurred by deregulation that began as short intermodal trains such as this one, gradually evolved into mile-long transcontinental double-stack moves.

Will intermodal someday return to the Maine Central.

Tracking the Light is on the move today

(by rail, of course).

 

Amtrak in the Mist; Suisun Bay Bridge at the Carquinez Straits, Benicia, California.

Amtrak_Capitols_crossing_Suisun Bay Bridge_Martinez_CA_Feb1992_Fujichrome_Brian_Solomon_575116
An Amtrak ‘Capitols’—so named because the trains connect historic and contemporary California capital cities—works timetable east across the Suisun Bay Bridge in February 1992. Exposed on Fujichrome 100 color slide film.

I featured Southern Pacific’s massive Suisun Bay Bridge in my 2008 book North American Railroad BridgesIn this detailed book, I traced the development of bridges on American railroads and featured many of the most noteworthy spans.

Southern Pacific’s Suisun Bay Bridge opened for service on October 151930, allowing the railroad  to discontinue its intensive car ferry operations. It was the largest double track bridge west of the Mississippi.

I made this photograph with Brian Jennison on a foggy morning more than 16 years before the book’s publication. However this was not the image used to illustrate the bridge in the book. Instead, I opted for a broad-side silhouette exposed on Ektachrome in 1993.

Here’s a bridge photograph tip: to make a large span appear enormous crop the ends of the bridge, thus allowing  the mind to expand the bridge to unseen ends.

Tracking the Light will post tomorrow at the usual time.

Tracking the Light posts every day.

 

 

Follow Up: Unusual Semaphore in an Unexpected Place.

In my Tracking the Light post from 23 March 2016, Unusual Semaphore in an Unexpected Place, I displayed photos of an unusual three-position semaphore in The Full Shilling pub in Finglas, Dublin.

Full_Shilling_P1420155

This had puzzled me since it appears to be a mirror image of a once-standard American style of semaphore blade, and is a rather incongruous decoration to find in a suburban Dublin pub.

I’ve had a lot of traffic on this subject.

It was most certainly not a signal employed on an Irish railway.

While the full story has yet to be unraveled, the signal blade appears to be of a type used on railways in New South Wales Australia.

See; http://vrhistory.com/walks/Gunning/Gunning.htm

The other day, I returned to The Full Shilling for another inspection of the signal and a few more photographs (etc).

This is the mirror of a common three-position semaphore used in the United States and seems to have likely come from Australia which used a mix of British and American signaling practices. The specific details remain elusive.
This is the mirror of a common three-position semaphore used in the United States and seems to have likely come from Australia which used a mix of British and American signaling practices. The specific details remain elusive.
A view of the back of the same signal displayed at The Full Shilling in Finglas.
A view of the back of the same signal displayed at The Full Shilling in Finglas.
Also on display is this grade crossing warning.
Also on display is this grade crossing warning.

Special thanks to everyone who made suggestions and provided information and links, including: Donncha Cronin, Ken Fox, and Michael Walsh. See the following link for discussion of my original posting: http://forum.signalbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=7525

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Eight Lumix LX7 Candid views of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Dublin Rivera Excursions.

 

I like to have at least two cameras handy. This especially true when I’m in a situation where photographic opportunities are rapidly unfolding.

These days I usually have both my FujiFilm X-T1 and Lumix LX7 at the ready.

Both are very good image-making machines, yet each has its strengths.

My Lumix is great for candid views and situations where it isn’t necessary or practical to have the camera at eye level. Often I use strictly with the live-view rear screen.

Panoramic view inside one of RPSI's Cravens carriages.
Panoramic composite view inside one of RPSI’s Cravens carriages.

This is a selection of photographs of last Sunday’s (3 April 2016) Dublin Rivera steam excursions operated by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.

Cravens carriage prepped and ready for passengers.
Cravens carriage prepped and ready for passengers.
The day's scheduled running times as per Irish Rail.
The day’s scheduled running times as per Irish Rail.
Footplate crew at Connolly.
Footplate crew at Connolly.
Engine 461 at Connolly Station; camera held high at arm's length to clear the heads of spectators on the platform.
Engine 461 at Connolly Station; camera held high at arm’s length to clear the heads of spectators on the platform.

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Connolly Station.
Connolly Station.

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LUAS before the safety yellow bands.

LUAS trams at Heuston Station on 31 July 2005. Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia 100 with a Nikon F3 with 180mm lens.
LUAS trams at Heuston Station on 31 July 2005. Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia 100 with a Nikon F3 with 180mm lens.

Lately LUAS has made headlines in Ireland as the result of high-profile service disruptions owing to disputes with tram drivers.

Looking back more than ten years; I made this photo at Heuston Station when the LUAS Red Line was still a relatively new service. Back then the 3001-series trams were still in a short configuration.

From a photographic perspective, in their early appearance the trams seemed a bit naked, as the safety-yellow banding hadn’t been applied.

At the time of this image, the use of the center platform at Heuston was a relatively unusual occurrence.

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Steam on the move at Dún Laoghaire.

On Sunday morning (3 April 2016) I took a spin on the down Rosslare Europort train from Tara Street to Dún Laoghaire.

Honestly, conditions were inauspicious for photography, but I persevered none-the-less.

A low ceiling and light rain made for gloomy conditions.

I used a blend of techniques in an effort to make some visually gripping images despite the conditions.

Working with the Lee graduated neutral density filter to maintain detail in the sky, I made a series of pans at 1/60th of second using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

I practiced my technique on passing DART electric trains before the passage of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Dublin Rivera led by locomotive 461.

DART_Dun_Laoghaire_DSCF2865 DART_Dun_Laoghaire_DSCF2857 DART_Dun_Laoghaire_DSCF2845

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RPSI_461_Dun_Laoghaire_pan_DSCF2879

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RPSI_461_Dun_Laoghaire_pan_DSCF2895

All of the images required some contrast and saturation adjustment in post processing.

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RPSI’s The Dublin Rivera—Sunday 3 April 2016.

Yesterday, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) operated a pair of excursions from Dublin’s Connolly Station to Greystones, County Wicklow and return using former Dublin & South Eastern 2-6-0 461.

The trains were well patronized, which demonstrates a continued interest in Irish steam trains.

461 approaches Connolly Station.
461 approaches Connolly Station tender first.

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Driver Ken Fox on the footplate.
Driver Ken Fox on the footplate.

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Dull weather prevailed, while cool temperatures made lots of steam condensation.

Sometimes I find that dull days makes for better steam photos.

Here’s a sample of digital images I made with my FujiFilm X-T1.

Most required contrast and saturation adjustment in post-processing.

Any favorites?

461_Connolly_Station_DSCF2944

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Connolly shed with two locomotives in steam.
Connolly shed with two locomotives in steam.
View from the Loop Line bridge in Dublin.
View from the Loop Line bridge in Dublin.
461 with admirers in the rain at Greystones.
461 with admirers in the rain at Greystones.
After the trip, Irish Rail 075 brought the RPSI carriages back across to Inchicore.
After the trip, Irish Rail 075 brought the RPSI carriages back across to Inchicore. I made this image using an external  graduated neutral density filter to improve detail in the sky.

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Tracking the Light EXTRA: Two Engines in Steam at Dublin’s Connolly Shed.

Today,  Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) operated Dublin Rivera excursions from Dublin Connolly Station to Greystones, County Wicklow.

The trains were hauled by preserved steam locomotive 461, while engine number 4 was kept under steam in reserve.

I made this image of the two historic locomotives at Connolly shed a few hours ago using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera (and snuck a couple of slides too).
I made this image of the two historic locomotives at Connolly shed a few hours ago using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera (and snuck a couple of slides too). Contrast, saturation and level adjusted in post processing using Lightroom. 

Check Tracking the Light tomorrow for more photos of steam locomotive 461!

 

Conrail SD40 at Bullards Road, Washington Summit.

Conrail eastward freight at Bullards Road, Hinsdale, Massachusetts on August 3, 1984. Take notice the former Erie Lackawanna SD45-2, Conrail 6659, second out. Some of those old EMD’s are still on the move too. This day it’s 20-cylinder 645-diesel was adding to atmosphere. (Fear not, I have plenty of photos of the SD45-2s on the B&A and elsewhere on Conrail).
Conrail eastward freight at Bullards Road, Hinsdale, Massachusetts on August 3, 1984. Take notice the former Erie Lackawanna SD45-2, Conrail 6659, second out. Some of those old EMD’s are still on the move. This day it’s 20-cylinder 645-diesel was adding to atmosphere. (Fear not, I have plenty of photos of the SD45-2s on the B&A and elsewhere on Conrail).

Looking back more than three decades; it was a warm August 1984 afternoon when my pal T.S.H. and I sat up on the grassy hill near the popular Bullards Road Bridge to photograph this Conrail eastward freight as it approached Boston & Albany’s summit of the Berkshire grade.

I made this image on 35mm Kodak Tri-X using my Leica 3A with a Canon 50mm lens.

Conrail was divided in Spring 1999, nearly 15 years after this photo was exposed.

In 2003, CSX removed the old Bullards Road bridge (and stone abutments).

I can’t say for certain what happened to the SD40, but a similar former Conrail engine still works for New England Central.

Personally, I’d trade my digital cameras for a fully functioning time machine.

Tracking the Light acknowledges

Conrail’s 40th Anniversary!

 

 

 

Conrail at 10 mph; Arkport, New York on the old Erie Railroad.

It was April 1989 when I exposed this view of Conrail’s BUOI (Frontier Yard Buffalo to Oak Island, New Jersey) bumping along the number 2 track at Arkport, New York.

At that time this portion of the old Erie Railroad line from Hornell to Buffalo as still directional double track (rule 251) with block signals largely in the from of antique Union Switch & Signal Style S semaphores.

A 35mm black & white photograph exposed using a Leica M3 rangefinder.
A 35mm black & white photograph exposed using a Leica M3 rangefinder with 90mm lens. That’s my old (then new) Bogen 3021 tripod that I’d lent to a fellow photographer ( seen at left).

Between Hornell and Hunt, New York, Erie’s old eastward main wasn’t maintained for speeds faster than about 10mph, and when possible Conrail routed traffic against the current of traffic on the westward (number 1 track.) Not on this day though.

I was working with two Leica M rangerfinders that day; I made a similar view on Kodachrome slide film with my M2 that appeared in RailNews for its ‘Farewell to Conrail’ issue back in 1999 (a little more than ten years after I exposed it).

While Conrail was only an extant player in American mainline freight operations for a little more than 23 years, it was my favorite of the big eastern railroads.

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Happy Birthday Conrail!

Today, April 1, 2016, is the 40th birthday American eastern giant, Conrail. Commencement of operations on the Consolidated Rail Corporation began on this day 40 years ago.

Conrail was created by Congress to assume operations of a variety of financially troubled eastern railroads including Penn Central, Erie Lackawanna, Reading Company, Central Railroad of New Jersey and Lehigh Valley.

When I was growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Conrail was the big show. By the time Conrail’s operations were divided by CSX and Norfolk Southern in 1999, I’d exposed tens of thousands of images of its locomotives, trains and people.

Conrail TV10B emerges from the mist enshrouded Quaboag River Valley near CP79 east of Palmer, Massachusetts. It was scenes like this one, exposed on April 30, 1997, that made Conrail a favorite railroad. Nikon N90S with 80-200mm Nikkor AF zoom, Ektachrome film.
Conrail TV10B emerges from the mist-enshrouded Quaboag River Valley near CP79 east of Palmer, Massachusetts. It was scenes like this one, exposed on April 30, 1997, that made Conrail a favorite railroad. Nikon N90S with 80-200mm Nikkor AF zoom, Ektachrome film.

I miss Conrail. It’s blue locomotives photographed well; it ran lots of freight over my favorite Boston & Albany; its employees were friendly to me, and it embodied most of favorite historic railroads. Turn back the clock, let it be Conrail-days all over again!

In 2004, Tim Doherty and I co-authored a book on Conrail, published by MBI. If you have this prized tome, it’s now a collectible item! By the way, if you know a publisher interested in a follow-up title, I have access to virtually limitless material and keen knowledge of the railroad. Just sayin’

Happy Birthday Big Blue!

 

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Tracking the Light EXTRA: New Irish Railway Record Society Display at Heuston Station

 

This morning (31 March 2016), Irish Railway Record Society’s Peter Rigney in cooperation with Irish Rail launched an historical display focused on the role of the railway in the 1916 Easter Rising.

The display is located on platform 1.

Irish Railway Record Society's Peter Rigney at 11:30am on Thursday, 31 March 2016. Platform 1, Heuston Station, Dublin.
Irish Railway Record Society’s Peter Rigney at 11:30am on Thursday, 31 March 2016. Platform 1, Heuston Station, Dublin.
Irish Rail's Barry Kenny and Irish Railway Record Society's Peter Rigney pose with the historical display on Platform 1 at Heuston Station. FujiFilm X-T1 digital photo.
Irish Rail’s Barry Kenny and Irish Railway Record Society’s Peter Rigney pose with the historical display on Platform 1 at Heuston Station. FujiFilm X-T1 digital photo.
Irish Rail ICR viewed from platform 1 at Heuston Station on 31 March 2016.
Irish Rail ICR viewed from platform 1 at Heuston Station on 31 March 2016.

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Dusk on Dublin’s Dart—March 2016.

The other evening some friends and I traveled from the Dublin city centre to Blackrock on the DART-Dublin’s electrified suburban rail-transit service.

The DART branding mimic’s the Bay Area’s third-rail rapid transit brand ‘BART’ (Bay Area Rapid Transit).

While sometimes my rail travel is focused on the making of photos, this trip had another primary purpose; yet with my Lumix LX7 at the ready, I used every opportunity to make photos.

Pearse Station, Dublin (formerly Westland Row).
Pearse Station, Dublin (formerly Westland Row).
Under the shed at Pearse Station, Dublin.
Under the shed at Pearse Station, Dublin.
Dusk at Blackrock.
Dusk at Blackrock.
DART at Blackrock station.
DART at Blackrock station.
Panned DART electric cars at Blackrock.
Panned DART electric cars at Blackrock.
Somehow I think Victorian aesthetic sensibilities would have found this modern footbridge at Blackrock hideous beyond reason.
I think Victorian aesthetic sensibilities would have found this modern footbridge at Blackrock unnecessarily hideous.
DART at Blackrock.
DART at Blackrock.

Significantly, Dublin’s Pearse Station, formerly-known as Westland Row, is credited as the world’s oldest city terminus in continuous use. It was opened in 1834 with the Dublin & Kingstown Railway. Of course, the D&K has the distinction as the world’s earliest operating suburban railway.

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An Irish Story: Sun and Clouds, Anticipating the Up-liner and the Light.

Lately the sun has been an elusive orb in Irish skies. Too often, I awake to find a slate gray dome above me.

Good Friday (25 March 2016) was different. It was bright sunny morning.

Having the sun and making use of it are two different things.

In the early afternoon, Colm O’Callaghan, Ciarán Cooney and I waited at Lucan South, just east of the Adamstown Station on the quad-track in suburban Dublin.

Our quarry was the up-IWT Liner from Ballina, which was operating with Irish Rail 233, the last 201 class diesel in the old Enterprise-livery. We caught this engine before, but it’s unlikely to survive for long in this old paint.

While the day remained bright, puffy clouds were rapidly blowing across the sky, changing and dampening the light when they blocked the sun

Looking south at Lucan South. Puffy white clouds dot the sky. Nice to have for texture, they can make getting a clean photograph difficult when they block the sun.
Looking south at Lucan South. Puffy white clouds dot the sky. Nice to have for texture, they can make getting a clean photograph difficult when they block the sun.
An Irish Rail ICR races along on the down fast; this is a trailing view. You can see how a bit of cloud shadow darkened the mid-portion of the train.
An Irish Rail ICR races along on the down fast; this is a trailing view. You can see how a bit of cloud shadow darkened the mid-portion of the train.
Hmm, will that cloud get out of the way in time? If it doesn't who can we blame for it? I'll be naming names.
Hmm, will that cloud get out of the way in time? If it doesn’t who can we blame for it? I’ll be naming names.

Anxiously, we watched the signals, and the passing InterCity Railcars. The tapestry above was becoming a maddening mixture of fluff and blue.

The IWT Liner approaches. You can see Adamstown Station in the distance in full sun. A muddy black shadow mucks up the foreground.
The IWT Liner approaches. You can see Adamstown Station in the distance in full sun. A muddy black shadow mucks up the foreground.

Would we get the liner in full sun? After all, that’s what we were out for.

With two cameras around my neck, I was prepared for either eventuality; if it was cloudy, I work with the digital camera; but if the sun came out bright, I’d make a slide. To this aim, I’d set my Canon EOS-3 at f4.5 1/1000th of a second—my full-sun setting for Provia 100F.

It was a photo finish. As the liner approached the light changed from dark to light.

I made some telephoto views with the FujiFilm X-T1; but as the IWT liner reached us the clouds began to part and I exposed a single frame of Fujichrome with my Canon. That photo remains latent in the camera. Did I get it right? It will be some weeks before I know the answer; I wont have the film processed until May.

As the freight rolled into view the clouds receded. I made this dappled-light photograph digitally. To retain a bit of detail in the sky, I have a graduated neutral density filter in front of my lens. The winning view will be my colour slide exposed using a 40mm lens. I hope I got the exposure right.
As the freight rolled into view the clouds receded. I made this dappled-light photograph digitally. To retain a bit of detail in the sky, I have a graduated neutral density filter in front of my lens. The winning view will be my colour slide exposed using a 40mm lens. I hope I got the exposure right.

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