About briansolomon1

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.

Hudson River Freight at Ft. Montgomery.

It helps to have good timing.On the afternoon of January 20, 2015, I arrived at the Mine Dock Road grade crossing on CSX’s former New York Central West Shore Route (now called ‘CSX’s River Line’)  This was at just the right time.

I found a location, and as I took my camera out the bag, I could hear a train approaching. This turned out to be a southward crude oil extra led by BNSF Railway 7500 in the lead. I had just enough time to change lenses, make a test exposure, before it got close enough to properly photograph.

When this train passed, the home signal located beyond the rock cut cleared to ‘approach’ (yellow-over-red-over-red), telling me there was a northward train lined, but that this would need to stop at the next signal. This was a pretty good sign that there might be a meet.

Over the next hour, I photographed three more freight trains on the old West Shore, two northbound CSX freights, followed by a southward ethanol extra led by a pair of Canadian Pacific General Electric diesels.

In addition, I made use of my telephoto lenses to photograph passenger trains working the old New York Central Hudson Division on the east bank of the river.

Just lucky! I hadn't been out the car five minutes when this train came into view. Exposed using my Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens. FIle adjusted in post processing to compensate for contrast and exposure.

Just lucky! I hadn’t been out the car five minutes when this train came into view. Exposed using my Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens. FIle adjusted in post processing to compensate for contrast and exposure.

While waiting for more freights on the West Shore, I made this view of a Metro-North commuter train on the old Hudson Division which hugs the east shore of the river.

While waiting for more freights on the West Shore, I made this view of a Metro-North commuter train on the old Hudson Division which hugs the east shore of the river.

CSX's CTC style signaling alerted me to this northward freight. I had ample time to select a location and get into position before I heard it roaring northward passed Iona Island. The famous Bear Mountain Bridge makes for a nice prop. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

CSX’s CTC style signaling alerted me to this northward freight. I had ample time to select a location and get into position before I heard it roaring northward past Iona Island. The famous Bear Mountain Bridge makes for a nice prop. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Not far behind the first northward freight was this train, seen about to exit the Fort Montgomery Tunnel. I'm standing in the same place as I had been for the last photo but opted for a longer lens. Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Not far behind the first northward freight was this train, seen about to exit the Fort Montgomery Tunnel. I’m standing in the same place as I had been for the last photo but opted for a longer lens. Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

CSX 7537 leads a northward mixed freight. The older cab style on this DASH-40C makes for a nice variation on the more modern 'Safety Cab' style that has come to dominate North American freight railroading.  Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

CSX 7537 leads a northward mixed freight. The older cab style on this DASH-40C makes for a nice variation on the more modern ‘Safety Cab’ style that has come to dominate North American freight railroading. Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Not long after CSX 7537's train went north, I could hear this southward train accelerate. I was surprised, but delighted to catch a pair of CP Rail locomotives leading a loaded ethanol train. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Not long after CSX 7537’s train went north, I could hear this southward train accelerate. I was surprised, but delighted to catch a pair of CP Rail locomotives leading a loaded ethanol train. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

All red. The signal now indicates that nothing else was lined in the northward direction. After photographing four freights in an hour on the West Shore, I opted to make a move and cross the Bear Mountain Bridge and try the other side of the river for a while.

All red. The signal now indicates that nothing else was lined in the northward direction. After photographing four freights in an hour on the West Shore, I opted to make a move and cross the Bear Mountain Bridge and try the other side of the river for a while.

While I was just lucky, it helps to be able to interpret the signals and have a keen ear for trains. My scanner might have helped me too, if I’d plugged in the correct frequencies. Or it might have distracted me. As it was I did well by sitting tight and waiting out the parade.

Tomorrow: more luck on the Hudson . . .

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Lots of Locomotives at East Brookfield Four Years Ago Today.

On this day in 2011 (January 31), I exposed this view of a CSX light-power move rolling westward through East Brookfield, Massachusetts on the former Boston & Albany mainline.

I used my trusty Lumix LX3, a camera with which I exposed many thousands of railway photos before it finally gave up the ghost.

ISO 200, f5.6 1/800th of a second.

ISO 200, f5.6 1/800th of a second. Notice that I’ve included the shadow of the lead locomotive at the far left of the frame. If cropped, this image would have less impact. 

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January Sunset at Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania

Back in 1991, my brother Sean and I explored the former Pennsylvania Railroad electrified mainline between Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia. I recalled from that visit that the long tangent at Marcus Hook offered some interesting views and the potential for evening glint.

Earlier this month (January 2015) we returned to this location. SEPTA maintains a ground level station that provides easy access.

I like the location for several reasons: it is open, which allows late sun to reach rail level; there’s a long tangent and signals, that provide advance warning for trains; Amtrak’s trains can travel at top speeds; and it is relatively easy to get around obstructions such as poles and wires than might interfere with photography.

Amtrak AEM-7 919 leads a late-running train 93 at Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Amtrak AEM-7 919 leads a late-running train 93 at Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Trailing view of Amtrak AEM-7 train 93 at Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Trailing view of Amtrak AEM-7 train 93 at Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

A minute after train 93 passed, this eastward Acela Express was caught burning up the rail, you can still see 95 in the distance. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

A minute after train 93 passed, this eastward Acela Express was caught burning up the rail; you can still see train 93 in the distance. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Soft, rosy evening glint is an effect caused in part by pollution in the air resulting from large amounts of automotive emissions in the Northeast and filtration  from thin low clouds.

Soft, rosy evening glint is an effect caused in part by pollution in the air resulting from large amounts of automotive emissions and dust in the Northeast plus filtration from thin low clouds.

We arrived in time for a flurry of activity just as the sun was setting. These images were exposed using my Canon EOS 7D, but I also made a few images on Fuji Provia 100F using my old Canon EOS 3.

A new ACS-64 electric leads train 85 toward the setting sun at Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. Except for scaling, there was no post-processing adjustment to this image. However, to retain the golden glint effect, I used the 'daylight' white balance setting on my camera instead of the 'auto white balance'.

A new ACS-64 electric leads train 85 toward the setting sun at Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. Except for scaling, there was no post-processing adjustment to this image. However, to retain the golden glint effect, I used the ‘daylight’ white balance setting on my camera instead of the ‘auto white balance’.

A SEPTA Silverliner V accelerates away from the station at Marcus Hook on its way toward Wilmington, Delaware.

A SEPTA Silverliner V accelerates away from the station at Marcus Hook on its way toward Wilmington, Delaware. Except for scaling (necessary for internet presentation), there was no post-processing manipulation to this image.

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Furness and a Diesel; Wilmington, Delaware.

Finding a surprise in a sea of wires.

On January 16, 2015, my brother and I risked the perils of Interstate-95 and drove to Wilmington, Delaware so that I could make a few photos of the former Pennsylvania Railroad station.

I’d been working on a book on railway station architecture, and I wanted to make a few views of this iconic building credited to Frank Furness. Somewhere I’d seen a photo from the parking garage across the street that made me curious.

Completed in 1908, the former Pennsylvania Railroad station at Wilmington, Delaware was designed by Furness, Evans and Company, and is one of many railroad stations in the region attributed to the brilliance of architect Frank Furness. Exposed with a Canon EOS7D with 20mm lens.

Completed in 1908, the former Pennsylvania Railroad station at Wilmington, Delaware was designed by Furness, Evans and Company, and is one of many railroad stations in the region attributed to the brilliance of architect Frank Furness. Exposed with a Canon EOS7D with 20mm lens.

Close up of the Wilmington Station clock tower. This is a bit of Victorian elegance in a setting characterized by modern infrastructure consisting of steel and reinforced concrete. Canon EOS 7D.

Close up of the Wilmington Station clock tower. This is a bit of Victorian elegance in a setting characterized by modern infrastructure consisting of steel and reinforced concrete. Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens; ISO 200 f5.0 1/500th of a second. Cross lighting helps show the detail in the clock tower brickwork.

Thanks to Sean’s navigation, we easily found the station and the parking garage. I drove to the top level and made my photos. As is often the situation on exploratory trips, I decided this might make a better image at another time of day. At some point, perhaps I’ll return on an August evening and try again.

While on the top of the garage, I photographed a northbound train. This was led by a General Electric P42 diesel-electric, which is not the Amtrak motive power I’d expect to see here in electrified territory!

Amtrak P42 number 60 leads an unknown train northward (eastward) on the North East Corridor. Using my 200mm lens, I focused on the gap in the wires and poles to frame up the locomotive. I rarely make photos along the NEC in Delaware, but I wasn't expecting a diesel powered Amtrak train. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Amtrak P42 number 60 leads an unknown train northward (eastward) on the North East Corridor. Using my 200mm lens, I focused on the gap in the wires and poles to frame up the locomotive. I rarely make photos along the NEC in Delaware, but I wasn’t expecting a diesel powered Amtrak train. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

It was a brief visit to Delaware. Getting back to I-95 proved more difficult than finding the station, but in the end we were on our way. The light was getting good and I had visions of a sunset glint location . . .

 

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Tomorrow: glint on the North East Corridor

 

 

 

Northern Pacific 328 at Dawn.

It’s hard to beat steam in the glint light! Dick Gruber and I spent the weekend of August 17, 1996, photographing Northern Pacific 4-6-0 328 working Wisconsin Central trackage in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.

While we made many fine images on that trip, for me the money-shot was this one I exposed of the locomotive steaming up at Dresser, Wisconsin as the sun rose.

Exposed on Fuji Provia 100F with a Nikon F3T.

Exposed on Fuji Provia 100F with a Nikon F3T.

There’s an old adage among photographers: ‘f5.6 and be there!’

I’ve said before, and it’s true. The best way to get great photos is to be there when it happens. And that’s the real secret.

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Hudson-Bergen Light Rail.

Seven photos of a reincarnated railway.

NJ Transit’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail has been on my photo list for more than a decade. It’s one of those things that is close enough to be just out of reach.

When an operation is under threat, time is made—found—to photograph it. You know, before its gone. But when something isn’t going anywhere, its often easy to ignore.

Such was my failings in photographing the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. Thanks to a detailed tour with Jack May on January 15, 2015, I’ve finally explored of this interesting operation.

Canon EOS 7D photo.

Canon EOS 7D photo.

This simplified map of the system is posted in all of the cars. Canon EOS 7D photo.

This simplified map of the system is posted in all of the cars. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Hoboken terminal, which the light rail serves via  stub-end spur.

Hoboken terminal, which the light rail serves via stub-end spur.

This compact modern passenger railway operates on a selection of former heavy-rail railroad rights of way, including through the old New York, West Shore & Buffalo tunnel at Weekhawken.

The day was ideal; sunny and bright with clear skies. We first rode north from Hoboken to Tonnelle Avenue, then worked our way back south through Jersey City to Bayonne visiting a variety of stations along the way.

All along the line are modern buildings. I was pleased to find that ridership was very good, even during midday. This follows the idiom of: 'Build and they will come.'

All along the line are modern buildings. I was pleased to find that ridership was very good, even during midday. This follows the maxim of: ‘Build and they will come.’

A view looking back toward Weekhawken. As a kid I was fascinated by the Palisades.

A view looking back toward Weekhawken. As a kid I was fascinated by the Palisades.

Much of the route passed through places that I recalled from adventures with my father in the 1970s and early 1980s. The Jersey waterfront was different place back then.

What had been rotting wharves, badly maintained freight trackage, and post-industrial squalor is now all up-scale housing, modern office towers, and otherwise new construction. It was familiar, yet different—like some weird vision of the future.

The 8th Street Station is located at the south end of the system in Bayonne. Canon EOS 7D photo.

The 8th Street Station is located at the south end of the system in Bayonne. Canon EOS 7D photo.

A portion of the line running toward 8th Street runs along the right of way of the old Central Railroad of New Jersey  four track mainline—once the route of the Queen of the Valley, Reading's Crusader, and Baltimore & Ohio's Royal Blue and Capitol Limited. I may have missed all of that, but my father has a few choice photos from those days. Canon EOS 7D photo.

A portion of the line running toward 8th Street usesgthe right of way of the old Central Railroad of New Jersey four track mainline—once the route of the Queen of the Valley, Reading’s Crusader, and Baltimore & Ohio’s Royal Blue and Capitol Limited. I may have missed all of that, but my father has a few choice photos from those days. Canon EOS 7D photo.

In addition to these digital photos made with my Canon EOS 7D, I also exposed many color slides on Provia 100F with my EOS 3 for review at later date.

The Katyn massacre memorial is located near Exchange Place across from lower Manhattan. Many years ago, Pennsylvania Railroad operated an extensive terminal near this very location with a cavernous balloon style shed patterned after London St. Pancras.

The Katyn massacre memorial is located near Exchange Place across from lower Manhattan and a short walk from the light rail line. Many years ago, Pennsylvania Railroad operated an extensive terminal near this location that featured a cavernous balloon style shed patterned after London St. Pancras. My father brought us to the site of the old terminal in the early 1980s-even then there wasn’t much to remind us of the glory days.

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Hoboken Terminal in Five Photos.

My new book Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals will feature New Jersey’s Hoboken Terminal. This will be published by Voyageur Press in a few months time. Below is an excerpt of my text along with a few photos I exposed with Jack May on January 15, 2015.

William H. Truesdale assumed control of the anthracite hauling Delaware, Lackawanna & Western in 1899. During the early twentieth century he transformed DL&W into a modern railroad with state of the art infrastructure. His skillful management and massive capital improvements were designed to lower the railroad’s costs and make it more competitive. During this Lackawanna renaissance Kenneth M. Murchison was hired to design the railroad’s finest passenger facilities. Murchison, was a respected New York architect who earned several important commissions for railroad stations in the early twentieth century. Murchison had studied in Paris and made prominent use of the Beaux-Arts style in his railway architecture. Among his significant early projects was Delaware, Lackawanna & Western’s new Hoboken Terminal on the west shore of the Hudson River across from New York City.

Hoboken_Terminal_IMG_0113

Hoboken_Terminal_IMG_0129

Hoboken_Terminal_IMG_0117

Bush style sheds were first developed for Hoboken and survive to the present day.

Bush style sheds were first developed for Hoboken and survive to the present day.

Main waiting room at Hoboken.

Main waiting room at Hoboken.

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Tracking the Light Extra Post: February Railfan & Railroad feature Brian Solomon’s B&A article.

If you haven’t seen it, check it out! My eight-page exclusive Boston & Albany photo feature graces the pages of February 2015 Railfan & Railroad magazine.

B&A Solomon_col_899818

Special thanks to Otto Vondrak for facilitating this article which features some of personal favorite photographs!

See: http://railfan.com/

and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/railfanmag?fref=nf

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Newark Broad Street

Five photos of an Architectural Gem on the old Lackawanna.

On January 15, 2015, Jack May and I visited this grand old railroad station on our exploration of NJ Transit lines in the area.

The station building was designed by DL&W’s Frank J. Niles and completed in 1903.

Newark Broad Street Station on January 15, 2015. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Newark Broad Street Station on January 15, 2015. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Newark Broad Street Station on January 15, 2015. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

The Italianate style clock tower is a classic element of Newark’s Broad Street Station on January 15, 2015. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Although the days when long distance trains paused here on their way to and from Buffalo have long since past, the triple track former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western mainline was alive with suburban traffic.

On going maintenance on track 1 improved our photographs of inbound trains, but confused passengers as to which platform to stand on.

An informative plaque at Broad Street makes for its own caption.

An informative plaque at Broad Street makes for its own caption.

An NJT ALP46 shoves at the back of an inbound train: next stop, Hoboken. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

An NJT ALP46 shoves at the back of an inbound train: next stop, Hoboken. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

An outbound NJ Transit commuter train approaches Broad Street. On the left you can see the Empire State Building. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

An outbound NJ Transit commuter train approaches Broad Street. On the left you can see the Empire State Building. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

I’ve just completed text for a book on railroad stations to be published by Voyageur Press. This among the many stations that I may choose to illustrate.

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Tracking the Light: Extra Post—Big Train Show photos.

Today, January 24, 2015 was the first day of the annual Amherst Railway Society Big Railroad Hobby Show, or as Mike Gardner likes to call it, ‘The Big Shoe.’

Snow in the morning resulted in a quieter that usual day. I arrived about noon and had ample opportunity to breeze through all four buildings and meet with friends.

Below is a sampling of images. Were you at The Big Shoe? Maybe you are in one of the photos!

Amherst_Show_B&M_GP40_317_P1130639

The Big Railroad Hobby Show fills four buildings at the Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Big Railroad Hobby Show fills four buildings at the Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

Lots of locomotives to look at.

Lots of locomotives to look at.

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Amherst_Show_Oxford_Junction_Press_P1130583

Amherst_Show_PRR_Great_Northern_E7_P1130574

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Amherst_Show_VRS_P1130645Amherst_Show_The_General_P1130573

Amherst_Show_GE_Hybrid_P1130571Amherst_Show_Kevin_Ed_Doug_P1130622Amherst_Show_Dan_P1130588Amherst_Show_Dave_C_P1130593Amherst_Show_PRR_SD45_P1130568

Slice of Light Photography.

Slice of Light Photography.

Otto Vondrak.

Otto Vondrak.

Springfield Union Station.

Springfield Union Station.

Amherst_Show_B&M_GP40_317_P1130642

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Newark City Subway.

Among the least photographed urban railways in the New York City metro area is the old Newark City Subway.

On January 15, 2015, I met Jack May at Newark Penn Station and we began our tour of area railways.

A 1930s era mural depicts the old canal. Jack May explained to me that part of the City Subway was built in the old canal bed. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.

A 1930s era mural depicts the old canal. Jack May explained to me that part of the City Subway was built in the old canal bed. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.

The last time I rode the Newark City Subway it still featured PCC cars. Since then it has been extended and is now part of NJ Transit’s Newark Light Rail.

Images of the subway from my Kodachrome days really weren’t so good. However, with my Canon EOS 7D I was able to make remarkably pleasing photos.

The cars are lettered for the Newark Light Rail.

The cars are lettered for the Newark Light Rail.

An inbound light rail car arrives at the Newark Penn Station terminus. Twin turn back loops are in operation here. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

An inbound light rail car arrives at the Newark Penn Station terminus. Twin turn back loops are in operation here. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Newark City Subway at Penn Station. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Newark City Subway at Penn Station. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

An inbound car departs from Broad Street. The old DL&W station on the right has been restored. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

An inbound car departs from Broad Street. The old DL&W station on the right has been restored. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

The platforms on the DL&W station offered this view of the new light rail. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

The platforms on the DL&W station offered this view of the new light rail. An outbound light rail car crosses Lackawanna Avenue. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

We rode from Newark Penn Station (not to be confused for New York Penn Station) on the new Broad Street Extension to the finely restored old Lackawanna Station. Here we began the next leg of our tour.

Stay tuned tomorrow!

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Lost Treasure of the Golden Swoosh.

I’ve been prevailed upon to tell this tale:

Was it January 11th 2015, when word came over the wire?

Fellow photographer Pat Yough said to me, and I repeat, ‘the Golden Swoosh has been sighted at Buffalo and is heading this way.’

‘The what?’ said I.

‘The Golden Swoosh! It’s all the rage. Something about the black swoosh is yellow on one of the BNSF GE’s.’

‘Whoa. Back the trolley up. What’s all this about?’

So far as I can determine, sometime ago a four-lettered shoe company produced a special runner (that’s an ‘athletic shoe’ in American parlence). And, this deluxe edition shoe carried a yellow tinted zinger on the side and was known as ‘the Golden Swoosh’.

This curious term, it seems, was then transferred to a BNSF Railway General Electric Evolution-Series locomotive painted in a one of a kind variation of the company’s livery.

Instead of black lettering with angled underline (a ‘swoosh’ as it were), the ‘BNSF’ lettering and corporate underline logo was painted yellow thus creating a unique adaptation of the BNSF image on locomotive 7695.

And this curious painted variation was eastbound on CSX leading a laden oil train destined for Philadelphia.

The wire was live with reports. It was seen south of Selkirk and rolling down along the Hudson on CSX’s River Line.

But then, just as it seemed that this locomotive note-worthy for its yellow underline, was nearly upon us, word came in that it was at Kearny Yard where it was tied down and without a crew.

And so, another day passed, swooshless.

Finally, after long last, on the evening of January 13th the famed ‘golden swoosh’ was again on the move.

The weather was cold and the sky was dark. Pat and I visited Neshaminy Falls on the old Reading Company. No swoosh. Then to Langhorne where CSX’s Q417 passed in the gloom (144 axles led by engines CSX 8768 and 8836). This was followed by CSX’s Q191 led by 5359 and 509 followed by containers.

CSX Q191 rolls though Langhorne, Pennsylvania on the old Reading Company Trenton Line on January 13, 2015. Canon EOS 7D photo.

CSX Q191 rolls though Langhorne, Pennsylvania on the old Reading Company Trenton Line on January 13, 2015. Canon EOS 7D photo.

In the end we went to Woodbourne: finally a headlight appeared on the horizon. The catenary glistened. and the low chug of a GE engine shook the ground.

And there, leading a mighty train of oil, was the ‘Golden Swoosh.’

I racked up the ISO to make some effort to mark its passing.

‘There it is!’

My Canon captured this view of the famed 'Golden"Swoosh.'

My Canon captured this view of the famed ‘Golden”Swoosh.’

BNSF_golden_swoosh_IMG_9954BNSF_golden_swoosh_IMG_9955

And there it goes.

Sort of reminded me of the time Britain’s Queen Elizabeth waved to me on one of her trips through Dublin in 2011.

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CSX Noir.

It was a dark and rainy night on January 2015. Pat Yough and I were watching the railroad roll. I made these views of CSX freights moving along the Trenton Line (former Reading) at Neshaminy Falls, Pennsylvania.

CSX crude oil train K138 glides through Neshaminy Falls, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. ISO 4000 f2.8 1/10th of second.

CSX crude oil train K138 glides through Neshaminy Falls, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. ISO 4000 f2.8 1/10th of second.

CSX Q438-10 approaches Neshaminy Falls, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens. ISO 4000 f2.8 1/10th of second.

CSX Q438-10 approaches Neshaminy Falls, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens. ISO 4000 f2.8 1/10th of second.

CSX Q438-10 approaches Neshaminy Falls, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens. ISO 4000 f2.8 1/10th of second.

CSX Q438-10 approaches Neshaminy Falls, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens. ISO 3200 f2.8 1/60th of second.

CSX Q438-10 passes Neshaminy Falls, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens. ISO 3200 f2.8 1//25th of second.

CSX Q438-10 passes Neshaminy Falls, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens. ISO 3200 f2.8 1//25th of second.

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I exposed these images handheld using my Canon EOS 7D set at high ISO for greater sensitivity in low light. The images have a gritty high-noise look to them. Let’s just say, it wasn’t Kodachrome weather. But then, there isn’t any Kodachrome anymore.

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Prospect Park, Pennsylvania.

Along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor south (west) of Philadelphia, SEPTA’s Prospect Park station features a classic former Pennsylvania Railroad passenger station building complete with landscaped grounds on its south east side.

Its canopies and low level platforms are a throwback to another era.

Prospect Park, Pennsylvania, looking north (east). Canon EOS 7D

Prospect Park, Pennsylvania, looking north (east). Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

An outbound SEPTA train pauses at Prospect Park. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

An outbound SEPTA train pauses at Prospect Park. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Inbound SEPTA Silverliners IVs approaching Prospect Park.

Inbound SEPTA Silverliners IVs approaching Prospect Park.

I made this Lumix LX7 view of Prospect Park from the outbound platform in December 2014.

I made this Lumix LX7 view of Prospect Park from the outbound platform in December 2014.

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Amtrak’s Acela Express catches the glint at Eddystone.

The late Baldwin Locomotive Works was famous for its factory in this Philadelphia suburb.

What may seem hard to believe is that it’s been nearly six decades since Baldwin’s last new locomotive.

On January 11, 2015, Pat Yough and I set up here for a sunset photograph of Amtrak’s Acela Express.

SEPTA Eddystone station sign. January 11, 2015.

SEPTA Eddystone station sign. January 11, 2015.

Amtrak's Acela Express catches the glint at Eddystone, Pennsylvania.

Amtrak’s Acela Express catches the glint at Eddystone, Pennsylvania.

The local fire department had been tending to an incident nearby.

The local fire department had been tending to an incident nearby.

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Amtrak Silver Meteor at Torresdale.

A well-timed visit trackside to the SEPTA station at Torresdale, Pennsylvania allowed for photography of several Amtrak trains on the North East Corridor in rapid succession.

The new ACS-64 ‘City Sprinter’ electrics are become more common and its nice to get them while they are still clean.

Mural on the bridge depicting more pastoral times.

Mural on the bridge depicting more pastoral times.

Clean Amtrak ACS-64 leads train 91, the Silver Meteor at Torresdale, PA. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Clean Amtrak ACS-64 leads train 91, the Silver Meteor at Torresdale, PA. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Heritage dinner and Viewliners glide along on the Corridor; how much longer will the old cars linger?

Heritage diner and Viewliners glide along on the Corridor; how much longer will the old cars linger?

Amtrak ACS-64 with the Crescent, train 20 blitzes Torresdale, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS7D with 200mm lens.

Amtrak ACS-64 with the Crescent, train 20 blitzes Torresdale, Pennsylvania. Canon EOS7D with 200mm lens. I like the contrast between the new locomotive and the old cars; Amtrak in transition.

I was especially pleased to catch Amtrak’s Silver Meteor with one of the new electrics.

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Westport Sunset.

Five images of Metro-North on January 10, 2015.

Long ago I noticed that the curve of the line and angle of the winter setting sun at Westport, Connecticut can make for some nice glint light.

It helps to have a very cold day with a clear sky above. New York City produces ample pollution to give the evening light a rosy tint.

Although I’ve found that glint photos tend to look more effective on slide film, I made these digitally. I also exposed a few slides, but we’ll need to wait to see the results.

Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.5 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.5 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight. This front lit exposure made for my gauging point for the back lit ‘glint’ photo of the train departing the station. (Below).

Here I need to stop down about a full stop from the head on view. The metallic sides of the Metro-North multiple unit reflected more light than initially anticipated and I needed to compensate on the spot by using my in camera meter to gauge the lighting. The trick is not to over do it. If I stopped down too much, I'll lose shadow detail and the image will appear too dark. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f5.6 at 1//1000th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

Here I need to stop down about a full stop from the head on view (above). The metallic sides of the Metro-North multiple unit reflected more light than I initially anticipated and I needed to compensate on the spot by using my in camera meter to gauge the lighting. The trick is not to over do it. If I stopped down too much, I’ll lose shadow detail and the image will appear too dark. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f5.6 at 1//1000th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

The front lit sign at Westport made for a good place to make a test exposure. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.0 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

The front lit sign at Westport made for a good place to make a test exposure. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.0 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f3.5 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f3.5 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight. Here I’ve opened up about a third of a stop compared with the original test photo (Westport sign). I changed the aperture setting manually from f4.0 to f3.5 let more light reach the sensor; I was using the camera in ‘M’ mode, which allowed me to set both aperture and shutter speed manually, without the camera making any adjustments. This is important for getting well exposed glint photos.

The glinting sides of the old grime coated multiple unit are slightly less reflective than the newer cleaner train. Also the angle of the sun is lower. By fixing the white balance at the daylight setting, I can retain the rosy sunset coloration. If I'd used the auto setting, this would have canceled some of the effect of sunset, and I don't really want to do that.

The glinting sides of the old grime coated multiple unit are slightly less reflective than the newer cleaner train. Also the angle of the sun is lower. By fixing the white balance at the daylight setting, I can retain the rosy sunset coloration. If I’d used the auto setting, this would have canceled some of the effect of sunset, and I don’t really want to do that. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.0 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

Exposing for glint takes a bit of practice. My general rule of thumb is that the exposure for a front lit photo is approximately the same as glint at the same location. However, if a a reflective surface kicks back the sun, it will be necessary to stop down a little (probably a half to a full stop).

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Visions of the old New Haven Railroad; Connecticut’s Shore Line East.

On the afternoon of January 10, 2015, Pat Yough and I set up east of Branford, Connecticut to photograph Shore Line East passenger train 3637 working west toward New Haven on its namesake route.

It was clear and sunny, but exceptionally brisk (it was all of about 15 degrees F) . We braved the temperatures and after a while could hear the characteristic sounds of an EMD 645 diesel. I exposed a series of digital and film images. My favorite is the trailing view passing the old Atlantic Wire Company.

Success! And now time for a bowl of hot chili and an extra large cup of hot tea.

Exposed near Branford, Connecticut on the old New Haven Railroad Shore Line route using a Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens set at f5.6 1/1000th of a second.

Exposed near Branford, Connecticut on the old New Haven Railroad Shore Line route using a Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens set at f5.6 1/1000th of a second. 

Exposed near Branford, Connecticut on the old New Haven Railroad Shore Line route using a Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens set at f5.6 1/1000th of a second.

Exposed near Branford, Connecticut on the old New Haven Railroad Shore Line route using a Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens set at f5.6 1/1000th of a second.

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Electric 611, Branford, Connecticut.

There’s something catchy about certain engine numbers. Norfolk & Western’s streamlined J-Class 4-8-4 611 is world famous.

A few months back I featured Chicago Metra’s 611, which is an EMD F40C diesel-electric.

So how about an electric with the number 611. Here’s one of Amtrak’s shiny new Siemens-built ACS-64 electrics, number 611, with train 161 at Branford, Connecticut.

It was noon at the Shore Line East station on January 10, 2015 when I exposed a rapid sequence of this modern locomotive.

Amtrak 611 leads train 161 westbound at Branford, Connecticut on January 10, 2015.

Amtrak 611 leads train 161 westbound at Branford, Connecticut on January 10, 2015.

The tricky part of making the photo was selecting the correct exposure for the window of sun between the overhead bridge and the platform. The sun was bright, but lighting from the side. I made several test photos before the train burst into the scene.

Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens; f4.5 1/1000th of a second, ISO 200.

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Tomorrow: New Haven Railroad reincarnated.

Trailing view of 161 at Branford, CT. 200mm lens.

Trailing view of 161 at Branford, CT. 200mm lens.

West Haven, Amtrak Acela Express

On January 10, 2015, it was a roasting 15 degrees F when I exposed an image burst with my Canon EOS 7D of the passing Acela Express train 2251 (Boston-Washington DC).

West Haven is a relatively new station on Metro-North. It features easy access from Interstate I-95 (Exit 42) and on weekends offers free parking.

Was able to drive right up to the east end of the station platform.

Amtrak's Acela Express train 2251 at West Haven. It was cold but clear. Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Part of a burst of exposures made with the camera's motordrive.

Amtrak’s Acela Express train 2251 at West Haven. It was cold but clear. Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Part of a burst of exposures made with the camera’s motor-drive.

Trailing view at West Haven.

Trailing view at West Haven.

Metro-North's West Haven station opened in 2013.

Metro-North’s West Haven station opened in 2013.

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Looking Back along the Rhein.

April 10, 2010.

Germany’s Rhein valley is one of my favorite places to make railway photographs. The combination of great scenery, a fantastic variety of locations, the historic architecture, and a continuous parade of freight and passenger trains on both sides of the river make it hard to beat.

And, at the end of the day (in the most literal use of the cliché), the beer is great!

A southward DB freight rumbles along the Rhein. Exposed near Braubach on April 10, 2010 using my Lumix LX3. This photograph require a nominal walk from road level up the footpath seen in the foreground. Somewhere down there is the hired car and some friends from Ireland.

A southward DB freight rumbles along the Rhein. Exposed near Braubach on April 10, 2010 using my Lumix LX3. This photograph require a nominal walk from road level up the footpath seen in the foreground. Somewhere down there is the hired car and some friends from Ireland.

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Former PRR Four Track Line at Work.

It helps to be at the right place at the right time. Even on the busy Philadelphia-Washington D.C. Northeast Corridor there can be long gaps between trains..

After 20 minutes or half and hour between trains, you might wonder why the line even has four tracks!

And then ever thing seems converge upon you at once.

Pat Yough and I were at Crum Lynne, Pennsylvania on the evening of January 11, 2015. We didn’t spend much time trackside before we had two running meets a few minutes apart.

SEPTA Silverliner Vs pass near Crum Lynne, Pennsylvania. The train on the left is approaching its station stop, while the train on right accelerates toward 30th Street Philadelphia. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 400.

SEPTA Silverliner Vs pass near Crum Lynne, Pennsylvania. The train on the left is approaching its station stop, while the train on right accelerates toward 30th Street Philadelphia. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 400.

The same two trains a few moments later. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 400.

The same two trains a few moments later. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 400.

Just three minutes after the rolling meet between SEPTA trains on the outside tracks, we witnessed this high-speed meet between Amtrak trains on the inside tracks. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 400.

Just three minutes after the rolling meet between SEPTA trains on the outside tracks, we witnessed this high-speed meet between Amtrak trains on the inside tracks. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 400.

Was this synchronicity? Or just luck? I don’t know. In the case of the two Amtrak trains both were running a few minutes late, so that was luck. It would have been cool to see all four pass at the same time, but unless we were phenomenally lucky, it is doubtful that such an event would have produced good photos.

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Kodachrome File: Crazy Weather in Warsaw . . .

New York.

On the old Erie Railroad.

On May 7, 1989, I awoke to find more than 6 inches of snow on the ground at Scottsville, New York. The previous day, people had been mowing lawns.

By 11:42 am, I’d caught up with Delaware & Hudson’s DHT-4, a double stack train that was working its way east from Buffalo on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad mainline

At the time New York, Susquehanna & Western was D&H’s designated operator.

 NYS&W SD45 3614 (former Burlington Northern) leads Delaware & Hudson DHT-4 on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad mainline to Buffalo near milepost 374 (measured from Jersey City).


NYS&W SD45 3614 (former Burlington Northern) leads Delaware & Hudson DHT-4 on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad mainline to Buffalo near milepost 374 (measured from Jersey City).

More to the point, the late season snow had contributed to a signal failure, and the freight was stopped at red signal near Warsaw, and awaiting instructions from the dispatcher. I made this photograph using my Leica M2 loaded with Kodachrome 25. I had the camera fitted with a Visoflex and 200mm Telyt (which was a combination I was using a lot back then).

Since DHT-4 wasn’t moving, I opted to play around with some non-standard compositions. This slide was in my ‘Seconds box’ (not to be projected to an audience) for 25 years. I also have some more conventional views as well.

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An Amazing Railway Station.

I made this selection of images with my old Panasonic Lumix LX3 at the Sao Bento Station in Porto, Portugal on April 5, 2014.

To the untrained eye, the railway station seems to be located in an improbable place in the center of Porto. Tracks arrived via a very old, but highly engineered line, that passes through cuttings, over a shelf along a cliff-side and finally a through long tunnel which opens directly into a classic Victorian-era train shed.

Sao Bento Station in the rain on April 5, 2014.

Sao Bento Station in the rain on April 5, 2014.

This terminal station sits right at the mouth of a multiple track tunnel. Lumix LX3 photo.

This terminal station sits right at the mouth of a multiple track tunnel. Lumix LX3 photo. Notice the signal tower to the right of the portal.

Cast iron columns support a Victorian-era train shed at Sao Bento. Lumix LX3 photo.

Cast iron columns support a Victorian-era train shed at Sao Bento. Lumix LX3 photo.

Inside Sao Bento are elaborate murals that make it among one of Europe's most intensely decorated stations.

Inside Sao Bento are elaborate murals that make it among one of Europe’s most intensely decorated stations.

Mural detail.

Mural detail.

Sao Bento Station, Porto. Lumix LX3 photo.

Sao Bento Station, Porto. Lumix LX3 photo.

Most intriguing is the highly decorated entrance way and waiting rooms where detailed murals made from painted blue tiles make for pictorial allegories.

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Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania.

Conrail westbound freight on September 23, 1997.

Looking back, I’ve found that 1997 was an extraordinarily busy year for me photographically. I spent a lot of time traveling and exposed more than 500 rolls of slide film. That’s a lot of slides

This image was made on one of several of my week-long trips to Pennsylvania. On this day I’d followed the old Pennsylvania Railroad Middle Division. The railroad was busy and there were lots of opportunity to make photos.

I exposed this vertical view of a westward Conrail freight near the Spruce Creek tunnels using my N90S with an f1.8 105mm lens.

Exposed at 9:42am on September 23, 1997 on Fujichrome Provia 100F color slide film using an Nikon N90S fitted with a manual focus Nikkon f1.8 105mm lens set at f2 at 1/250th of a second. Scanned with a Epson 600 scanner with contrast and color balance adjusted in post processing.

Exposed at 9:42am on September 23, 1997 on Fujichrome Provia 100F color slide film using an Nikon N90S fitted with a manual focus Nikkor f1.8 105mm lens set at f2 at 1/250th of a second. Scanned with a Epson 600 scanner with contrast and color balance adjusted in post processing.

Here’s some suggestions for better photos on dull days: try to work from locations with elevation and crop the sky (as much as possible). Also, if you pan a little, it helps to set the train/locomotive apart from the background and has the effect of improving depth and minimizing the effect of low contrast lighting.

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Savanna, Illinois Revisited—June 24, 2010.

On a blustery winter morning I find it nice to look through photos made on warm summer afternoons.

In June 2010, I had just bought my Canon EOS 7D DSLR (digital single lens reflex) and made an extended drive around the Midwest to visit friends, gather materials for a book, and test the camera. This went on for several weeks.

On the afternoon of June 24th, I revisited familiar territory along the Mississippi River at Savanna. Not yet fully trusting the digital camera, I exposed a number of slides from the top of the bluff.

A BNSF double stack container train works along the former Burlington main line near Savanna, Illinois. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100-400mm lens set at 150mm. ISO 200.

A BNSF double stack container train works along the former Burlington main line near Savanna, Illinois. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100-400mm lens set at 150mm. ISO 200.

Trailing view of the same stack train; exposed my new EOS 7D with 400mm lens set at 235mm. ISO 200.

Trailing view of the same stack train; exposed my new EOS 7D with 400mm lens set at 235mm. ISO 200.

I made this pair of images from river level of an eastward BNSF double stack was headed toward Chicago.

Of the two, I much prefer the second photo. For me this better portrays the railroad in its environment with a variety of secondary subjects to add interest.

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Boston & Maine GP9, Puddle and a Yellow Filter.

And, just in case you’re wondering: no I did not drop the filter in the puddle.

Early Spring can be an interesting time to make photos in New England. Warmer days and melting snow can result in a muddy sloppy mess, especially around railroad yards. However, the days are longer and the trees are still without leaves, so it can be a good time to explore.

On March 8, 1987, my friends and I visited Boston & Maine’s Lawrence Yard in the northeast corner of Massachusetts. Honestly, this can be an ugly place even on the nicest days.

I found this Boston & Maine GP9 and made several images. At the time, a blue and white B&M GP9 seemed like a fairly prosaic piece of equipment. Yet, I decided to make the most what I had to work with.

Using my father’s Rollei Model T with super-slide (645 size) insert, I exposed this view by holding the camera sideways. The puddle in the yard allowed for a nice reflection. To compensate for the inaccurate tonal rendition of blue by my choice of black & white film, I used an yellow filter. This allowed for superior tonality in the sky and placed the B&M shade of blue more in line with its expected black & white tonality. Without the filter B&M blue tended to appear too light.

 Exposed on 120 black & white film using a Rolleiflex Model T with 75mm Zeiss Tessar lens.


Exposed on 120 black & white film using a Rolleiflex Model T with 75mm Zeiss Tessar lens. To compensate for the light absorbed by the filter I increased my exposure by about 1 and 1/3 stops (in other words let more light reach the film). If I didn’t manually compensate for the filter, the negative would have been ‘under exposed’ in other words too light, and thus the print (or in this case the scanned positive) would appear too dark. More specifically there would be an unacceptable loss of shadow detail.

Now, nearly 28 years later, a few old B&M GP9s are still working for Pan Am Railways. I saw one the other day dressed in Maine Central green and gold as the ‘Maine Central heritage locomotive.’

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Kodachrome Classic: Amador Central March 1997

After WinterRail 1997, Mel Patrick, John Gruber and I spent a day photographing the Amador Central, a short line that was rumored to be making one of its final revenue runs.

Amador Central number 11 works a short freight in March 1997.

Amador Central number 11 works a short freight in March 1997.

I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide using my Nikon F3T. It was a clear Spring day in the Sierra foothills and a nice time to be outside making photographs. For me K25 and California sun were always a winning combination.

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Tomorrow: ten years earlier with another EMD locomotive!

Conrail from the Archives: Along the Erie Railroad November 1988.

From Common to Classic.

I made this square-format black & white photograph on the morning of November 6, 1988 using my father’s old Rollei Model T.

Conrail C30-7A 6595 leads ELOI eastbound along the Allegheny River west of Allegany, New York at 11:58am on November 6, 1988. Exposed on ISO 400 Kodak Tri-X with a Rollei Model T with 75mm Zeiss Tessar, f5.6 1/250th of a second.

Conrail C30-7A 6595 leads ELOI eastbound along the Allegheny River west of Allegany, New York at 11:58am on November 6, 1988. Exposed on ISO 400 Kodak Tri-X with a Rollei Model T with 75mm Zeiss Tessar, f5.6 1/250th of a second.

At the time, I was traveling with Pete Swanson in his 1980s-era Renault Encore. We’d driven down from the Rochester area, and at 11:11 am we intercepted Conrail’s ELOI (Elkhart, Indiana to Oak Island freight) working east on the former Erie Railroad mainline west of Salamanca.

Track conditions made this a fairly easy chase, and we made several images around Salamanca, New York.

A few weeks earlier, I’d made some photo copies of USGS topo maps for the Salamanca area, and on a previous trip scoped out this location, located between Carrollton and Allegany, New York.

Although only a short distance from old highway 17 (at that time I don’t think the grade separate Route 17 had been completed), this location require a little fore-knowledge as it wasn’t obvious from the road.

Conrail had recently performed some work along this section of old Erie route which opened up photo locations such as this one. Today, the line is operated by the Western New York & Pennsylvania.

A tightly cropped portion of the above photo. I scanned my old negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

A tightly cropped portion of the above photo. I scanned my old negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

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Norfolk Southern on the old Erie Railroad in August

I thought it would be nice to take a look back at summer; warm, green and sunny!

Norfolk Southern M3T plies the old Erie Railroad near Portageville, New York on August 20, 2010. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens at ISO 200, f6.3 1/800th of a second. Auto white balance.

Norfolk Southern M3T plies the old Erie Railroad near Portageville, New York on August 20, 2010. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens at ISO 200, f6.3 1/800th of a second. Auto white balance.

I exposed this photograph near Portageville, New York on August 20, 2010. A Norfolk Southern SD60M was working an extra eastward freight symbol M3T on the former Erie Railroad.

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Tomorrow, a look back along the Erie route to 1988.

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Pan Am and the Hawk.

Compositional challenges in four photos.

The other day I was at the old ‘waste too much film’ bridge at Pan Am’s East Deerfield Yard near Greenfield, Massachusetts. An eastward freight was about to proceed into the yard when a hawk landed atop the code lines.

This tightly cropped image was made from the in-camera jpg. If nothing else, I know that my 200mm lens is sharp at f11! That's something, anyway.

This tightly cropped image was made from the in-camera jpg. If nothing else, I know that my 200mm lens is sharp at f11! That’s something, anyway.

Here was an opportunity for an interesting image of the bird and a train in the distance. My intention was make a visual juxtaposition between the two subjects. An interesting concept, but one fraught with technical difficulties.

I faced several problems. The bird was too distant to make for a substantial subject using my longest lens. Furthermore there was too great a distance between the bird and the train to allow both to be in relative focus when using my 200mm telephoto lens. (An even longer lens would have acerbated this problem).

To allow for greater depth of field (relative focus) I upped the ISO on my Canon 7D to 800, which allowed me to set a smaller aperture (f11).

This doesn't really work, does it? It's neither a great shot of the hawk nor an acceptable image of the train.  Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 800 f11 at 1/250th of a second handheld.

This doesn’t really work, does it? It’s neither a great shot of the hawk nor an acceptable image of the train. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 800 f11 at 1/250th of a second handheld.

The larger f-number indicates a smaller aperture opening, while this lets in less light to sensor, it increases the depth of field (thus my need to increase the ISO to allow using a relative quick shutter speed to minimize camera shake). Often when photographing trains I want to use a smaller f-number to help offset the train from the background, but not in this case.

Also, some clouds obscured the sun. This had the dual unfortunate effects of flattening the light and allowing the bird blend into its background, while reducing the amount light on the scene to make an already difficult exposure more problematic.

There were several other problems. Most notably was the effect of the under-growth along the code lines that visually obscured the locomotives in the distance. If I moved to the left to get around the brush, the bird and train no longer had a workable juxtaposition.

Ideally, If I could have been about 10-15 feet higher, I might have been able to make this concept work, but there was no way to gain elevation. In this case I simply exposed the photo with the brush and hoped for the best.

Another difficulty was getting the bird to cooperate. I’m not fluent in Hawkese. But I wanted the bird to turn its head, otherwise it might just seem like a feathered blob, so I made some ‘tsking’ sounds to attract its attention.

Then the locomotive engineer throttled up and the dull roar of dual EMD 16-645E3 diesels startled the bird (or otherwise annoyed it) and it flew away. In the meantime I repositioned to make a series of more conventional photos of the freight train.

On the plus side, as the freight approached, the sun came out making for some photographic possibilities. The train was moving slowly, allowing me to change lenses and exposed a sequence of both digital and film photographs.

Pam Am 352 acclerates toward East Deerfield Yard with a heavy freight. As the train approached the sun came out. Yea! Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Pam Am 352 acclerates toward East Deerfield Yard with a heavy freight. As the train approached the sun came out. Yea! Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

I made this tighter view, while intentionally offsetting the freight to feature the old searchlight style signal on the left. These old signals are rapidly being replaced with modern hardware. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

I made this tighter view, while intentionally offsetting the freight to feature the old searchlight style signal on the left. These old signals are rapidly being replaced with modern hardware. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

As the train got closer, I swapped lenses between my EOS 3 (loaded with Provia 100F) and my EOS 7D digital camera. I made this view digitally with the 7D and 100mm lens. Where's the bird now?

As the train got closer, I swapped lenses between my EOS 3 (loaded with Provia 100F) and my EOS 7D digital camera. I made this view digitally with the 7D and 100mm lens. Where’s the bird now?

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The Least Photographed High Speed Train in Europe

Spain’s Elusive Broad Gauge TGV.

We’ve all seen photos of the French TGV, and the German ICE. Yet, Spain also operates a high-speed railway network. While it’s AVE system uses the European gauge, its rarely photographed Euromed rolls along on Iberian broad gauge tracks.

Back in September 2001, I was traveling in eastern Spain with Denis McCabe and we made a project of seeking out this curious and elusive speedster.

Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia 100 using  a Nikon F3T with 180mm lens.

Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia 100 using a Nikon F3T with 180mm lens.

I made this image of the Euromed westbound at Sagunt, where it was overtaking a local all-stops train. Before I made photographs of the EuroMed, I’d never before seen an image of the train in print. Even today I’d argue it is Europe’s least photographed high-speed train! Any wagers?

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Pennsylvania Railroad Signals on the Main Line.

A descriptive sequence of photos at Bryn Mawr.

Pennsylvania Railroad’s chief signal engineer A.H. Rudd developed the position light signal during the World War I years and the railroad refined the type into its classic form in the 1920s. There after, the railroad installed large numbers of this unusual type of signal along its lines.

While in recent years this type of hardware has fallen out of favor, or been adapted into a form of colored position light, there are a few places where classic PRR-style position lights survive.

The former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line west of Philadelphia is one of the last bastions for these traditional signals.

In December, Pat Yough and I spent several evenings photographing the old PRR position lights at work.

Pennsylvania Railroad Position Light signal at Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Time exposure made with a Canon EOS 7D 100mm lens mounted firmly on a Bogen tripod. ISO400 f4 at 3.2 seconds.

Pennsylvania Railroad Position Light signal at Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Time exposure made with a Canon EOS 7D 100mm lens mounted firmly on a Bogen tripod. ISO400 f4 at 3.2 seconds.

Bryn_Mawr_Rule_291_Restricted_Proceed_with_train_IMG_8679

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Approach.

Approach.

Proceed.

Proceed.

I made this sequence of images near the now-closed tower at Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Interested in learning more about signals? My book, Railroad Signaling is available from Voyageur Press. My new book, Classic Railroad Signals is anticipated for publication later this year.

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35 Years for the AEM-7

In January 1980, I made my first photographs of Amtrak AEM-7s. They were then brand new. I didn’t much care for them then because the represented the end for my favorite GG1s. Nothing lasts forever, and now Amtrak AEM-7s are rolling off their final miles.

I made this photo of Amtrak 945 at South Station last year on the day before the first official run of Amtrak ACS-64 number 600. The new ACS-64 are locomotives that will ultimately supplant the AEM-7s on the North East Corridor.

Amtrak AEM-7 945 at South Station, Boston. Exposed on Fuji Acros 100 black & white film using a Leica M3 with 21mm Super Angulon. Processed in Kodak HC100.

Amtrak AEM-7 945 at South Station, Boston. Exposed on Fuji Acros 100 black & white film using a Leica M3 with 21mm Super Angulon. Processed in Kodak HC110.

And what of my first AEM-7 photos? I processed my film using oxidized Microdol-X and the negatives were exceptionally thin. (under processed). Perhaps, if I can locate them, I can fix them in post-processing, but that’s a project for another day.

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Tracking the Light Wishes You a Happy New Year!

A Chicago, South Shore & South Bend electric races east away from the setting sun in October 1994. Exposed on Fujichrome using a Nikkormat FTN with 28mm lens.

A Chicago, South Shore & South Bend electric races east away from the setting sun in October 1994. Exposed on Fujichrome using a Nikkormat FTN with 28mm lens.

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