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.

RPSI Train with Irish Rail 081 at Enfield.

It was nearly 20 years ago that I traveled on this Irish Railway Preservation Society special from Connolly Station Dublin to Mullingar.

The train paused for a crossing with an up-passenger at Enfield, and I made this view from the main road bridge.

It was my first trip to Enfield, and I returned many more times over the years. The signal cabin and mechanical signaling were the big attraction for me.

Exposed on Ilford HP5 using a Nikon F2 with 24mm lens. Processed in ID11 and scanned using an Epson V750 flatbed scanner.


Tracking the Light Posts Every day.

Empty Coal Train Hatzenport, Germany.

The Mosel Valley is a wonderfully scenic setting to picture trains on the move.

In September 2015, my friends and I hired a car at the Köln airport and drove to the Mosel for several days of photography.

We selected this vantage point high above the railway line in Hatzenport and photographed a procession of freight and passenger trains.

I exposed this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens; ISO 640 f7.1 at 1/250th sec. White balance was set manually to ‘shade’ to warm up the scene. RAW file converted to a Jpg for presentation.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Changing Trains.

Changing Trains.

As a railway photographer, I’ve often used changing trains as an opportunity to make photos.

Years ago I made photos at New Haven, Connecticut on the way to and from New York City.

Last week I changed from the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise to an NI Railways local train at Portadown, Co. Armagh.

In the ten minutes at Portadown, I made these views with my Lumix LX7. Locomotive 8208 in the siding was an added bonus.

Normally this end of the Enterprise painted 201 diesels are facing the Enterprise train sets.

Seven Enterprising Views.

Or rather, a few views of and from (and otherwise relating to) the Dublin-Belfast 0735 Enterprise service.

All exposed using my Lumix LX7 on 8 February 2018.

Departure board Connolly Station.
Push-pull driving trailer on the Enterprise.
View crossing the River Boyne at Drogheda.
Near the border.
Electronic visual artifact on the interior sign.

Enterprise at Portadown.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Heuston Station Pictured at Night using my Lumix.

I often walk by Heuston Station in all hours of day and night. I’ve been photographing this station for almost 20 years.

Despite this, I never let this pioneering railway terminal building escape notice. Just because something is familiar doesn’t mean I’ll ignore it.

Quite the opposite; I’m always looking for a new angle, different light, or some way of capturing this building.

This recent selection of photos was made using my Lumix LX7.

Lumix LX7 in scene mode ‘Night Mode’ allowed for this handheld early morning view with the moon.
LX7 photo.
Heuston Station with a bus.
Vertical view at dusk.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

NI Railways—Lisburn Sunset: Variations on a theme.

Here are colour and black & white views at NI Railway’s Lisburn station exposed at sunset in late January 2018. Both original images were exposed within a few moments of each other.

The colour photo was exposed in RAW format using my Lumix LX7 digital camera, while the black & white image was made on Kodak Tri-X exposed using a Nikon F3 with 24mm Nikkor lens. (Film processed in ID11 1-1 for 8 minutes at 20C (68 F).

I imported the files into Lightroom and made a series of contrast adjustments to better balance the sky with the train, station and platforms.

I made my changes to compensate for limitations of the recording media while aiming for greater dynamic presentation.

Below are both the unaltered files, Lightroom work windows, and my penultimate variations, which are aimed to demonstrate the changes, the means of alteration, and my results.

Unaltered RAW file (except for scaling necessary for internet presentation). Exposed with a Lumix LX7. I have not yet interpreted the data captured by the camera.
Lightroom work window showing some of the corrections and adjustments that I’ve made to the camera RAW file. I’ve also manually leveled my image.
My final output from the altered RAW file. This shows my adjustments to contrast and exposure.
Unmodified scan of my original black & white negative (reversed to make a positive image). I have not yet made corrections to the file. Note the muddy shadows and overall flat contrast.
Lightroom work window showing level correction.
Lightroom work window showing various global contrast controls and changes. I’ve also made localized changes to the sky using a digitally applied graduated filter (shown with lateral lines across the sky) and a radial filter (not shown)  to the front of the train. Notice the relative position of central sliders at right.
Final black & white output—original image exposed on Kodak Tri-X. Notice how the film image does a better job of rendering detail in the sky.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday.

Tracking the Light Special: Irish Rail 071 in Heritage Paint—Now.

At 1007 (10:07 am) this morning (8 February 2018), Irish Rail’s 071 (class leader of the popular 071 class of General Motors-built diesel locomotives) passed Islandbridge Junction with the down IWT Liner.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1with 90mm Fujinon lens. It’s a bit misty in Dublin. Image scaled from in-camera Jpeg without post processing contrast or exposure adjustment.

This locomotive was repainted in 2016 into the attractive 1970s-era livery.

Although, I’ve made a number of photographs of this locomotive in heritage paint before, it’s always nice to see it on the move. I’m told it had been laid up for the last few months and it’s only back on the road this week.

Tracking the Light is Daily.


You Won’t Believe Me—26 January 2018.

Ok here’s the story: so as part of Dublin’s Cross City Extension, new extra long Citadis 502 trams were ordered from Alstom. These have nine-sections and are claimed to be among the longest trams in the world to date.

I knew that.

Mark Healy and I had discussed this on the day the photo was made.

We were out to photograph the new LUAS Cross City line.

Then I needed to visit the Bank of Ireland, and run a few errands. It had clouded over the light was flat and dull.

On the way back into the Dublin City center I saw an out of service tram on Parnell Street so, having the Lumix handy I made a few photos as it passed.

26 January 2018 I stumbled into photographing a trial run of one of Dublin’s new extra long trams.

Not being up on the new tram numbering, or paying that close attention to it, I though very little of this photo.

It didn’t even make my initial cut.

I wasn’t going to show it on Tracking the Light.

A couple of days later Mark phone to let me know that somehow we’d missed one of the pioneer trials with the new longer trams.

‘Oh?’ I said. ‘What’s the number of the tram in question?’


‘You know, I think I have that.’

Afterwards I looked back through my photos from the day, and here it is! (I blame jet lag).

Now, I warned you that you weren’t going to believe me!


Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

Winter at Bridge Street, Monson.

Over the years I’ve made many photos of southward trains ascending State Line Hill from Bridge Street in Monson, Massachusetts.

This one was exposed in January 2018, shortly before I left for Dublin.

Lightly falling snow and a red GP40-2L made for a Christmas card scene. This is New England Central job 608 on its return run on the old Central Vermont Railway line to Willimantic, Connecticut.

Compare this winter view with those made in Spring 2017, See: Bridge Street Monson—Two Takes, Four Views.

Exposed digitally using a Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

March 2018 Trains Magazine Features My Photo of Amtrak 611.

I was pleased to learn the my wintery photo of Amtrak ACS-64 611 was selected for the cover of the March 2018 issue of Trains Magazine.

Using my Canon EOS 7D and a telephoto lens, I exposed this view on a visit to Branford, Connecticut with Patrick Yough just over three years ago.

On January 10, 2015, Amtrak ACS-64 No. 611 leads train 161 westward at Branford, Connecticut.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Islandbridge Junction: Dark and Darker.

Not all photos are made on bright sunny days.

Here are two views of Irish Rail class 207 in the Enterprise livery working the back of the Cork-Dublin Mark4 push-pull approaching Heuston Station in Dublin.

One was made on a dull afternoon. The other on a frosty evening a day later.

In both instances I exposed photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with a Fujinon Aspherical ‘Super EBC XF’ 27mm ‘pancake’ lens.

Exposed at f3.2 1/500th second at ISO 500.
Exposed at f2.8 1/30th second at ISO 6400 panned.

I have a number of photos of this locomotive, but in my 20 years photographing the 201 class at work in Ireland, it remains among the most elusive of the fleet.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Central Vermont Railway Ended 23 Years Ago Today (February 3, 2018)

On February 3, 1995, Canadian National Railway’s American affiliate Central Vermont Railway ended operations.


Shortly thereafter, the newly created RailTex short line called New England Central assumed operation of the former CV route. Since that time, New England Central became part of Rail America, which was then acquired by Genesee & Wyoming.


Despite these changes, a few of New England Central’s start-up era GP38s are still on the move in the classy blue and yellow livery.

Central Vermont GP9 4442 leads freight 562B upgrade at Maple Street in Monson, Massachusetts on December 23, 1986.
New England Central approaches its 23 anniversary. Another view at Maple Street in Monson.

Although exposed more than 30 years apart. This pair of ‘then and now’ photos at Maple Street in Monson, Massachusetts, helps delineate my appreciation for New England Central and Central Vermont.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily



Dublin LUAS Cross City First Service Views—26 January 2018.

Over the last few years I’ve posted a variety of photos showing Dublin’s LUAS Cross City tram line under construction and trial/training runs.

In December 2017, this new LUAS service commenced from St. Stephens Green (at the north end of the original Green Line service) to Broombridge on Dublin’s Northside. But, at that time, I was elsewhere.

So last Friday (26 January 2018), Mark Healy and I went for a spin out to Broombridge and back. I made digital photos with my Lumix LX7 and colour slides with my Nikon N90S.

These are a few of my digital views.

Northward tram at O’Connell and Parnell Streets.
Broombridge terminus.
Broombridge terminus. Note the new footbridge construction over Irish Rail’s Sligo line. Broombridge is intended as an intermodal interface between Irish Rail and LUAS.
View from the tram at Broombridge.
Map of the new service on board tram 5020.
In bound tram at Grangegorman.
Out of service 4000-series tram at Grangegorman.
Dawson Street on Dublin’s Southside.
Dawson Street on Dublin’s Southside.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Looking Like a Scene from Kubrick’s 2001: A Stereo Space Odyssey.

A lesson in Night-photography.

It was an arctic evening at East Brookfield when we crossed the bridge over the tracks near CP64.

There it was, making an alien roar: the Loram rail-grinder in the old sidings.

Hard snow on the ground and the moon rising.

‘This will just take a couple of minutes’.

We were on our way to a gig at Dunny’s Tavern, but I wanted to make a few photos of this machine. Interestingly, it was my old friend Dennis LeBeau that both invited us to the gig and alerted me to the Loram grinder.

I tried a few photos using my Lumix LX7 in ‘night mode’. But the extremely low light levels didn’t make for great results.

Handheld ‘Night Mode’ has its limitations. This isn’t the sharpest photo and the shadow areas are muddy and lacking detail.
Another view in ‘Nightmode’. Compare this view with the photos below.

So then I balanced my LX7 in the chain-link fence, dialed in 2/3s of a stop over exposure, set the self-timer to 2 seconds, pressed the shutter and stood back.

I did this several times until I made an acceptably sharp photo.

I exposed a RAW file using A-mode with 2/3s of a stop over exposure. By using the self-timer I minimized vibration. In lieu of a tripod, I positioned my Lumix LX7 in the chainlink fence. (Special secret technique!). This is the unmodified RAW file in the Lightroom work window.


I manipulated the RAW files in Lightroom to better balance the information captured during exposure.

Using contrast and exposure controls in Lightroom, and gauging my efforts using the Histogram (top right) I adjusted my photo to look like this.
The improved image from the RAW file.

I know someone will moan about the tree at left. There’s nothing I can do about that, it’s part of the scene. Sorry 2001-fans, no black slab! So far as I can tell, anyway.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

NI Railways—Lisburn Station Details in Color.

Last week, using my Lumix LX7 I exposed these detailed views of the old Great Northern Railways (of Ireland) station at Lisburn, County Down.

I also made a few photos with a Nikon F3 with 24mm lens on Kodak Tri-X. I’ll need to process those and scan them before I can present those here.

Sunset over the station’s chimneys. Lumix LX7 photo.
Schedule alteration notice. Don’t be waiting for that last train!
Evidence of the old order.
Belfast-bound CAF railcar departing Lisburn.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Gladstone Branch—Bernardsville, New Jersey, January 2018.

Here’s a classic station on a traditional branch line. Back in the early 1980s, my father and I photographed the old Lackawanna Edison cars on the Gladstone Branch. I was just a kid and those cars seemed like rolling antiques from another era.

I made this modern view a couple of weeks ago.

NJ Transit Arrows at Bernardsville, New Jersey. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens. Notice the quaint siding arrangement.

Here’s a scary comparison: these NJ Transit Arrows are nearly as old today as those Edison cars were back then.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.



CSX Stack Train at Mine Dock Park—January 13, 2018.

On this visit to Mine Dock Park along New York’s Hudson River, I focused on a southward CSX doublestack container train. In the wide-angle view I made use of ice floes in the river as a compositional aid.

Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 fitted with an 18-135mm lens.
Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 fitted with an 18-135mm lens.

Compare these frosty views with the autumnal images made from atop the nearby rock cutting in my earlier post: CSX on the Hudson at Mine Dock Park—November 18, 2016.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Jim Shaughnessy with his latest book: Essential Witness.

Last month I visited with Jim Shaughnessy, who shared with me his latest book Essential Witness that features some of his finest vintage black & white photographs.

I’ve enjoyed this wonderful book, not only for the exceptionally well composed images of railroading, and its beautiful black & white reproduction but because Jim has photographed in many of the same places that I often make my own images.

This gives me a greater perspective and appreciation for both railroading and railroad photography.

I made these portraits of Jim using my Nikon F3 with 50mm lens. Keeping with tradition, I exposed Kodak Tri-X processed in Ilford Perceptol stock.

Jim is selling signed copies of his book. You may contact Jim via email at:

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Mechanicville, New York; Then and Now Part 1.

Back in the mid-1980s, my friends and I made trips to Mechanicville, New York where the adjacent Boston & Maine and Delaware & Hudson yards lent to lots of action and a great variety of diesel locomotives.

The yard was an early casualty of Guilford’s short lived consolidation of B&M and D&H operations. By 1986 the yard was a ghost town.

In more recent times a small portion of the yards were redeveloped for intermodal and auto-rack facilities, but very little of the sprawling trackage remains

In December, I returned to Mechanicville with a Leica IIIA and Sumitar loaded with Kodak Tri-X in an effort to recreate the angles of photos I exposed in November 1984 using the same camera/film combination.

To aid this exercise, I scanned my old negatives and uploaded these to my iPhone. The viewfinder of the Leica IIIA presents difficulties as this is just a tiny window and not well suited to precision composition. (Topic for another day).

Also complicating my comparisons was the fresh layer of snow in the 2017 views.

In some places the only points of reference between ‘then’ and ‘now’ views are the electrical lines crossing the yard.

Horizontal view from November 24, 1984. An eastward B&M freight is about to cross the diamond with Maine Central 252 in the lead.
Nearly the same angle in December 29, 2017.
November 24, 1984.
December 29, 2017 at the same location.
Delaware & Hudson C-420 406 crossed Viall Avenue in Mechanicville, New York on November 24, 1984.
Looking east at Viall Avenue on December 29, 2017. Note the change of grade crossing signals.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Train to Wonderland; Auto Balance.

For real.

I was going to call this Boston Blue Line. But the “Train to Wonderland” sounded more evocative.

Boston’s Blue Line subway offers a great example of when to make good use of a digital camera’s ‘auto white balance’ feature. This is in contrast to yesterday’s post describing when to avoid ‘auto white balance’.

Lumix LX7 set in ‘A’ mode with ISO200 and auto white balance.

Auto white balance is a good tool when exposing photos under fluorescent lighting, where the color balance varies with the color temperature of the bulbs. With this setting the camera will automatically select a neutral white that avoids unnatural tints caused by color-spikes in the bulb’s spectrum. These artificial bias-tints are typically invisible to the eye but produce a strong color cast in photos.

Lumix LX7 set in ‘A’ mode with ISO200 and auto white balance.
Lumix LX7 set in ‘A’ mode with ISO200 and auto white balance.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Frosty Morning Stafford Springs; White Balance.

I made these views of New England Central job 608 working timetable northward at Stafford Spring, Connecticut.

It was about 7:30am, and the sun was just tinting the eastern sky.

Rather than set my camera with ‘auto white balance’ (a typical default setting), I opted to fix the white balance with the ‘daylight’ setting.

Auto white balance arbitrarily selects a neutral color balance and adjusts the balance based on the conditions at hand. This is a useful feature in some situations, such as photography under incandescent lighting, or in situations with mixed lighting, such as in a museum or subway.

However, auto white balance settings have the unfortunate effect of minimizing the colorful effects of sunset and sunrise and so using the ‘daylight’ setting is in my opinion a better alternative.

But there’s really much a more complex problem; the way that digital cameras capture images is completely different to the ways the human eye and brain work in fixing visual stimuli. You could write a book on that!

Downtown Stafford Springs, Connecticut.


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Is the closer view better?

Tracking the Light Posts Different Photos Every Day!

West Chester Raiway C-424 Upclose

I made this study of  West Chester Railway C-424 using my Panasonic Lumix LX7. Soft afternoon sun allowed for superb tonality and color.

This is a former Canadian Pacific locomotive. I wonder if I’d crossed paths with it  in years gone by on forays to Vermont, Quebec or Ontario?

It’s entirely possible.

Lumix LX7 photograph.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Functional Antiques

One of the fun things about exploring old railway lines is discovering old hardware still in use.

When you look in out of the way places you can find some really antique signs, signals, and other equipment that date from decades past.

Never assume, though, that just because its there today, it will still be there next time you visit.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.


In my puzzle from last week see:

This is the un-edited JPG.

I asked viewers three questions, below are the questions and my ‘correct’ answers:


  1. There’s no train, but can you spot  three distinct rail elements featured in this image.

ANSWERS: The three elements are: 1) the streetcar infrastructure: tracks and wires. 2) SEPTA’s former Pennsylvania Railroad Chestnut Hill Railroad Station (behind the bus). 3) The advertisement on the bus that reads ‘Respect the Train.’

  1. Do you see what’sWRONG with this photo?

The silver Nissan automobile  in the foreground has been double exposed.

  1. How did I do it?

I was using the Lumix LX7’s HDR (high dynamic range) mode that combines several images in-camera, which exposed differently. Although these exposures are made in rapid succession, the moving car confused the camera’s combination software and resulted in a double exposure.

Thanks to all the viewers who submitted guesses! And congratulations to everyone that guessed correctly!

Sorry if the streetcar wires and tracks are counted as one answer. 🙂

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!


Difference of Seasons: July versus January—Two Views.

Here are two views of the same train: led by the same locomotive, at the same location, more or less at the same time of day, exposed using the same camera with the same lens.

Both photos show New Engand Central job 608 led by GP38 3845 working northward in the morning along Plains Road in Willington, Connecticut (south of Stafford Springs).

Photos were exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. The slight difference in angle may be attributed to the inconvenience of a mushy snow bank along the road in winter view that was not a problem in the summer.

New England Central 3845 north on July 28, 2017.
New England Central 3845 north on January 9, 2018.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!




Tracking the Light Photo Challenge Part 1.

Make it hard on yourself. Give yourself a handicap, but make it work.


Try this example: Limit yourself to one fixed lens.

Back story: Most camera systems these days give you a wide-range zoom that allows you to easily adjust the focal length from wide-angle to telephoto. This is convenient, too convenient. So how about forcing yourself to use just one fixed focal length lens, regardless of the circumstance.

Back in the day, many beginning photographers started with a camera and just one lens. Some photographers were happy to use one focal length for all their photos.

What do I mean by fixed lens? I mean a prime lens; in other words a lens with non-adjustable focal length, so not a ‘zoom lens’. Fill the frame as you see fit; you might need to walk around a bit to make your composition work.

So why not give it a try. Pick a lens, maybe a 50mm, but make it work.

In my examples, I was using a prime 90mm lens with my FujiFilm XT1.

90mm Fujinon prime lens.
90mm Fujinon prime lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Brian’s Impossible Three-Way Puzzle Photo.

I say impossible because I’ve previously posted photo puzzles that I thought were pretty easy, and no one came up with the right answer (although there were some really creative attempts).

In other situations I’ve posted puzzles that sharp-eyed viewers nailed in the matter of minutes.

So! This is a three part puzzle.

Take a close look. And then look again.
  1. There’s no train, but can you spot  three distinct rail elements featured in this image?
  2. Do you see what’s WRONG with this photo.
  3. How did I do it?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Four Angles on the Same Freight—L427.

Mike Gardner and I stopped in at Hinsdale, Massachusetts and found CSX L427 (Portland, Maine via Pan Am to Selkirk< New York) stopped on the old Boston & Albany mainline waiting for a crew change.

This had a cool all-EMD locomotive consist; SD60M, SD40-2, SD60M. On a line that tends to be dominated by GE diesels, this symmetrical EMD arrangement is unusual.

We took the time to make photos from a variety of angles.

From the gazebo in Hinsdale, Massachusetts.
It brightened up briefly for this classic three quarter angle.
I actually exposed more than a dozen photos, but I like these the best.

Why settle for one view when you can have many?

Icy Morning with CSX Q022—Variations on a Location

It was a bitterly cold morning just after sunrise when I made these views looking across a field off Route 67 east of Palmer, Massachusetts (near CP79, the control point 79 miles west of South Station, Boston, that controls the switch at the east-end of the control siding at Palmer.)

All were made from the same vantage point.

I was working with two cameras. My FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto, and my Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake.

The exposure, color profiles and color temperature of the cameras were set up differently, which explains the slight difference in overall density and tint.

Do you have a favorite? And why?

Digitally exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a 90mm telephoto.
Digitally exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.
Digitally exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

On This Very Day 65 Years Ago!

On January 15, 1953, Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric number 4876 leading the Federal Express from Boston lost its airbrake and careened out of control on approach to Washington Union Station.

The train crashed most spectacularly and old 4876 sunk through the floor of the station concourse. It made national news and photos of the GG1 in the debris of the station was seen on most major papers across the country.

That wasn’t the end of 4876. The locomotive’s remains were remanufactured by the Pennsylvania Railroad and 4876 was restored to traffic. It operated for another 30 years.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, my family and I made a project of photographing 4876. At that time it was operated by NJDOT the precursor to today’s NJ Transit.

April 1979, Sunnyside Yard, Queens, New York.
June 1983, more than 30 years after its famous incident, 4876 catches the sun at South Amboy, New Jersey.

Last April (2017) in Basel, Switzerland, I saw a model of the famous GG1 in a shop window.

GG1 in Basel, Switzerland. Lumix LX7 photo.

Less than a month later (May 2017), I photographed New England Central 608 at State Line crossing in Monson, Massachusetts; and this photo’s camera’s pre-assigned sequential file number was . . . (oh just take a wild guess—first four digit number that comes to mind).

NECR_3809_w_608_State_Line_Monson_DSCF4876.jpg. Oh look, calendar light! Hmmm.

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BNSF’s Four Fours. (It’s about a number).

Just luck. Last summer John Gruber and I were along the mighty Mississippi at Savanna, Illinois and photographed a westward BNSF freight with DASH9-44CW 4444.

That’s a lot of four.

Low afternoon sun made for some nice light at Savanna. BNSF 4444 works west. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

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Mass-Central at Thorndike, January 3, 2018—See Tracking the Light for Six Snowy Views.

On the previous day, CSX B740 had interchanged a healthy cut of cars for Mass-Central at Palmer, Massachusetts. So I surmised that this would be a good time to catch Mass-Central working both of its GP38-2s together.

Paul Goewey and I arrived in Palmer early, and once we were sure Mass-Central was ready to head north up their line toward Ware (old Boston & Albany Ware River Branch), we began scoping photo locations.

Although brisk and cold, the sun was clear and bright and there was a good amount of snow on the ground.

We set up at the Main Street Crossing along the valley’s namesake river. We didn’t have to wait long before we heard the train coming up the line.

Into the sun. Post processing adjustment was necessary to maximize the detail captured in the Fuji RAW file.
A telephoto view at the same location looking timetable north.
An exposure adjustment gave me this photo.
Mass-Central’s northward train approaches Main Street in Thorndike. Camera JPG.
Adjusted file with wide-angle view point at Main Street Thorndike, Massachusetts.
Post processing adjusted RAW of the train trailing on the crossing.

These views were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.


Palmer— Then (again) and Now.

I’d mentioned that among the top ten reasons that I wanted to make photographs in 2018 was to revisit old places to make dramatic then and now comparisons.

This is a work in progress. And I’ve published similar comparisons for Palmer previously.

Below are several views looking west from the Palmer station toward the diamond crossing.

Over the decades I’ve made hundreds of photos here.

The vintage photo dates from Spring 1984. This view works well for modern companions because I conveniently left lots of room to the right of the locomotive while including details such as the code lines.

The color New England Central views were exposed on January 3, 2018.

These are imperfect comparisons because I’m not working from precisely the same angle, nor am I using equivalent lenses.

1984 view exposed with a Leica IIIA with 50mm Summitar. Central Vermont northward local freight crossing Conrail’s former Boston & Albany line.
For point of reference the old eastward Boston & Albany mainline is in the same place, as are the rails used to hold the old Palmer sign in the black & white photo that is now a white box with a yellow stripe near the second locomotive in the color view.
Compare the track arrangements between the 1984 and 2018 views.
Enlarged version of the 1984 view. The old westward main was removed from service in summer 1986, and later lifted.

The 1984 views were made with a 50mm Leica Summitar, while the more recent views were exposed digitally using a Fujinon 90mm lens. However, I also made a few color slides using a 40mm Canon lens. But those are pending processing.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Advance Copy of Trains’ Hot Spots features my signals article.

The other day I got a nice surprise. My author’s Advance Copy of Trains’ Hot Spots arrived in the post box. (mail box).

I like advance sections of Trains. Something special. Something  Extra. Just like in olden times with timetable and train order rules. Gotta love that!

Check out my article on page 11, ‘Reading the Lights,’ about railroad signals.

See: Kalmbach Publishing.

Look for this cover at media outlets near you!
Tag line on the cover! That’s cool! Page 11, that’s me.
Signaling enthusiasts will get the subtle humor in this photo.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light Posts

Every Day.

Style-S Semaphore Where You Wouldn’t Expect to Find One.

In my books on railroad signaling I’ve chronicled the history of Union Switch & Signal’s Style S semaphores.

See: Classic Railroad Signals

In the 1980s and 1990s, I made a project of photographing these three-position semaphores on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad route.

Recently a Style S signal has appeared in Palmer, Massachusetts in front of the railroad-themed ‘Train Masters Inn’.

A recent photo of the preserved US&S Style S semaphore in front of the Train Masters Inn on South Main Street in Palmer, Massachusetts. Can you spot the erroneous installation?

I asked the owner where he got it, and he indicated from a dealer in Ohio.

For point of comparison, I’ve included a few of my photos of semaphores along the old Erie.

This was a signal near Erie’s 242 milepost. The style of blade is a bit more modern than the signal in Palmer as it uses a different counterweight arrangement. However careful comparison between this blade and the preserved blade should lead to a conclusion.

Certainly, the signal in Palmer has similarities with the Erie’s; same type of blade as used on older installations, same type of finial.

Careful observers will notice the operating mistake in the way this preserved signal was installed; something that could be easily rectified.

A Susquehanna SD45 roars west at Canaseraga, New York on the old Erie Railroad mainline. Exposed on Kodachrome in May 1988.
Conrail’s BUOI is running on track 1 against the current of traffic so the semaphore is displaying ‘stop and proceed’ as this is automatic block signal territory. Believe it or not, this was exposed on May 7th, 1989 following a freak late season snow storm.
So I ask, where did this signal come from? Is it from the old Erie? And if so, where .I’d like to know.

The Train Masters Inn is a B&B located near the old Palmer Union Station. See: train masters inn.

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