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.

METRA at Harvard—Tracking the Light Daily Post.

Metra F40PHs catch the afternoon sun at Harvard, Illinois.

I'd only had my Canon EOS 7D for a few weeks when I made this study of geometric shapes. Metra F40PHs at Harvard made for a colorful subject. Exposed with my Canon 200mm lens handheld at f13 1/250th of a second.

I’d only had my Canon EOS 7D for a few weeks when I made this study of geometric shapes on June 19, 2010. Metra F40PHs at Harvard, Illinois made for a colorful subject. Exposed with my Canon 200mm lens handheld at f13 1/250th of a second. I made a very minor crop to improve the level and remove an obnoxious orange highway cone at the left of the frame.

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Special Post: Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, 2014.

History on the Streets of Dublin!

I made my annual pilgrimage to view and photograph Dublin’s famed St Patrick’s Day Parade. The theme was history! Yea!

Below are a sample of the hundreds of photos that I exposed with my Canon EOS 7D.

The parade is an opportunity to work with colour and motion to capture moments in history and burst of emotion.

Click here to see my Dublin Page for more photos and check my Ebook: Dublin Unconquered custom designed for Apple iPad available from Apple iTunes.

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St_Patricks_Day_Parade_bus_IMG_0273St_Patricks_Day_Parade_Irish_ferries_IMG_0363

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St_Patricks_Day_Parade_green_kid__IMG_0517St_Patricks_Day_Parade_hat_IMG_0251St_Patricks_Day_Parade_IMG_0205

Click here to see my Dublin Page for more photos.StPatricks_Parade_book_signing_IMG_0688

St_Patricks_Day_Parade_screaming_Celt_IMG_0327

St_Patricks_Day_Parade_top_hat_IMG_0214

Click here to see my Dublin Page for more photos.

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Dublin Lit for St. Patrick’s Day.

Special Post.

See my Dublin Page for more photos.

Bank of Ireland on College Green, Dublin.

Bank of Ireland on College Green, Dublin.

Irish Four Courts along the River Liffey.

Irish Four Courts along the River Liffey.

General Post Office on O'Connell Street with Spire.

General Post Office on O’Connell Street with Spire.

Sin é.

Sin é.

LUAS at Heuston Station.

LUAS at Heuston Station.

 

Learn more about Dublin:

check my Ebook: Dublin Unconquered specially designed for Apple iPad.

This unique collection of images is available from Apple iTunes.

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Heuston Station Lit For St Patrick’s Day Part 3—Daily Post


Attempt Number 4.

Sometimes Hollywood film makers have this trick where after rolling the credits they save one last scene that ties the whole picture together.

Ok, so after four tries to make a satisfactory photo of Dublin’s Heuston Station lit in the Spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve finally achieved a more acceptable result.

On the previous two evenings, I’d walked to Heuston with intent of catching the station lit in green with a hit of dusk in the sky. I’d come prepared with my tripod, and stood around in the chill of evening waiting in vain for the lights to come on.

No joy there, I’m afraid. In both instances, while I made fine images of the station in the evening light, I wasn’t rewarded with the seasonal lighting.

I'd arrived from County Mayo on this Irish Rail Intercity Rail Car (ICR), seen on the platforms at Heuston Station Station on the evening of March 13, 2014. Exposed with my Lumix LX3.

I’d arrived from County Mayo on this Irish Rail Intercity Rail Car (ICR), seen on the platforms at Heuston Station Station on the evening of March 13, 2014. Exposed with my Lumix LX3.

On Thursday March 13, 2014, I arrived at Heuston by train having traveled by train from County Mayo. My train arrived after 9:30 pm and a wafting fog had settled over the city.

On exiting the station I noticed that it was bathed in green light. Finally!

I set about making photos, although I was hampered by the lack of a tripod. To brace the camera, I used various existing structures, propping it up with coins to get the desired angle.

Having previously found that automatic settings, even when adjusted for nominal over exposure, tended to result in an unacceptably dark image, I opted to set the camera manually. I made a series of images, of which this one offered the best exposure and the greatest sharpness.

All things being equal, I’d preferred to have had the camera on a tripod and a twilight quality in the western sky, but I was happy with my Paddy’s Day Heuston.

This is the un-modified camera produced Jpeg exposed on the evening of March 13, 2014.

This is the un-modified camera produced Jpeg exposed on the evening of March 13, 2014. Exposed using a Panasonic Lumix LX3; ISO 80 f2.0 shutter open for 1 and 1/6th seconds. Image stabilizer was set to ‘Auto’.

 

Exposed using a Panasonic Lumix LX3; ISO 80 f2.0 shutter open for 1 and 1/6th seconds. Image stabilizer was set to ‘Auto’. File nominally adjusted in post processing to lighten shadow areas while controlling highlight contrast, and removing undesired flare from the sky.

Working with the camera RAW File,  in post processing I manually lightened shadow areas, controlled highlight contrast, and removed undesired flare from the sky, in a effort to replicate the scene as I remember it.

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but. . . . wait . . . 

You see, I’m not so easily satisfied. Sure after four tries at this photo you’d think I’d be happy with what I just got. However, on March 15th I returned to Heuston Station one more time. I timed my arrived to allow for a hint of dusk in the western sky. And, I brought my tripod.

Saturday evening is a better time to make photos at Heuston. There’s less highway traffic and fewer people to get in the way.

I had my spots all picked out by now. I just had to go and execute the photos with the station bathed in green light. Significantly these photos are unmodified camera Jpgs. All I’ve done is scale them for presentation. It helps to have the light just right.

Heuston Station on March 15, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 at f 2.8 for 2 seconds. Daylight white balance. Camera mounted on mini Gitzo tripod. Unmodified file.

Heuston Station on March 15, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 at f 2.8 for 2 seconds ISO 80. Daylight white balance. Camera mounted on mini Gitzo tripod. Unmodified file.

 

Heuston Station on March 15, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 at f 2.8 for 1.6 seconds. Daylight white balance. Camera mounted on mini Gitzo tripod. Unmodified file.

Heuston Station on March 15, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 at f 2.8 for 1.6 seconds, ISO 80. Daylight white balance. Camera mounted on mini Gitzo tripod. Unmodified file.

—The End—

(of Part 3).

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Heuston Station Lit For St Patrick’s Day—Part2—Tracking the Light Daily Post

 . . . Camera, Action! Sorry, there, isn’t something missing? Really, you just couldn’t make this up!

On the evening of March 12, 2014, I was in position at Heuston Station just after sunset: my Lumix LX3 was positioned on a mini Gitzo tripod. I selected a nice view of the station headhouse and made test photos to gauge the lighting. And I waited. And waited. And it got colder, and darker. And after about an hour I gave up? Did you see yesterday's post?

On the evening of March 12, 2014, I was in position at Heuston Station just after sunset: my Lumix LX3 was positioned on a mini Gitzo tripod. I selected a nice view of the station headhouse and made test photos to gauge the lighting. And I waited. And waited. And it got colder, and darker. And after about an hour I gave up? Did you see yesterday’s post?

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Tomorrow: To green or not to green? That is the question!

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Heuston Station Lit For St Patrick’s Day—Tracking the Light Daily Post


Night Photo Challenge.

The other evening I made this opportunistic photo of Dublin’s Heuston Station. I was on my way to meet a friend for coffee, when I noticed that the station was seasonally bathed in coloured light.  I made a couple of quick photos with my Lumix.

Using my night photography technique (see: Lumix LX-3—part 2:  Existing Light Digital Night Shots) I tried to balance the exposure in order to compensate for the very contrasty scene.

I set the over-exposure for +1/3 and allowed the camera to set the exposure using  the ‘A’ (aperture-priority) setting (set for f2.0).

This is the in-Camera Jpg file. While the lights on the station are properly exposed, the over-all image appears too dark. The exposure was f2.0 a 1/6th of second at 200 ISO.

This is the in-Camera Jpg file. While the lights on the station are properly exposed, the over-all image appears too dark. The exposure was f2.0 a 1/6th of second at 200 ISO.

Unfortunately, the exposure was still too dark for my liking. While the front of the station is properly exposed, the rest of the scene was unacceptably dark.

I compensated with some post-processing contrast/exposure adjustment. Yet, I still feel this photo is too dark. But, since I’m walking distance from Heuston, I can return and try this again! As they say on the radio, ‘stay tuned!’

Working with the camera RAW file, I lightened the image using Photoshop while selectively controlling contrast and saturation. While much better than the camera produced Jpeg, I still feel this image is too dark.

Working with the camera RAW file, I lightened the image using Photoshop while selectively controlling contrast and saturation. While much better than the camera produced Jpeg, I still feel this image is too dark. This however demonstrates the advantage of working with a RAW file, which has considerably more information than a comparable Jpeg.

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Victoria Station Jul 2000—Tracking the Light Daily Post

Capturing a bit of History.

London’s termini are fascinating places to make photographs. A constant parade of trains and continual bustle of urban activity combined with a blend of classic and modern architecture allow for endless visual opportunity and juxtapositions.

In July 2000, I was photographing at Victoria while waiting for a friend to arrive. I made this view from the steps that lead to an elevated shopping area above the platforms.

London stations.

A view of Victoria Station in July 2000, preserved on Fujichrome Sensia using a Nikon N90S with 24mm AF lens.

What caught my eye were the antique slam door carriages that were slated to soon be withdrawn. These commuter cars had doors for each set of seats that allowed for rapid loading and unloading at busy stations, yet required passengers to open and close doors using an outside handle reached through a window.

While the essential door design had been a standard feature for generations of British trains, the modern health and safety regime in the United Kingdom frowned upon such primitive appliances and discouraged their continued use. It was only a matter of time before scenes like this one would be history.

As it turned out, the classic “slam door” BR era electric multiple units out-lasted ill fated train operator Connex South Eastern. In 2003, Connex lost the South Eastern Passenger Rail Franchise (that served some routes to Victoria among other London termini).

The revolving door of British railway franchises makes for a seemingly unending tapestry of modern railway names. The days of Connex’s London operations have been largely forgotten, yet some of the old BR slam door EMUs have been preserved. I saw some at Clapham Junction on a visit in July 2013.

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Tomorrow: Dublin station lit for Paddy’s Day.

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Daily Post: Deutsche Bahn Rainbow at Koln in August 1998


Class 110 Electric in Blue.

Today, Deutsche Bahn’s locomotive fleet is largely dressed in red paint with very light gray lettering, while Intercity carriages and ICE train sets wear an inverse arrangement. (Admittedly, the light gray looks nearly white.)

I exposed this photograph on Fujichrome Sensia with my Nikon F3T with a Nikkor f2.8 135mm lens.

In August 1998, I exposed this photograph on Fujichrome Sensia with my Nikon F3T with a Nikkor f2.8 135mm lens.

During a visit to the Köln Hauptbahnhof (Cologne Main Station) in August 1998, I counted no less than eight different DB locomotive liveries. Passenger carriages were equally colorful.

I made this slide at the west side of the Hauptbahnhof of an inbound regional express. One of the common class 110 electrics leads this train. Back then, this was the normal arrangement. By contrast, recent trips to Germany’s Rhein has found that regional express and local trains tend to be operated by local operators using modern electric multiple units/railcars. So much for traditional locomotive hauled stopping passenger trains.

Scenes like this one are now largely in the realm of slide collections.

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Tomorrow: History at Victoria Station!

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Several Shades of Grey In Colour—Tracking the Light Daily Post.

Experiment in Post Processing.

On March 6, 2014, I was poised to make an image of Irish Rail 085 (in relatively fresh grey paint) using my Canon EOS 7D with 40mm lens. Before the train arrived, I made my requisite test exposure.

I always do this. A test exposure insures the camera is working and is set properly. It also allows me to fine tune my settings to optimize the amount of  information captured.

In this case, I realized that to obtain the best exposure and retain sky detail, I would necessarily need to allow the ground and primary subject to be bit dark. However, since I can adjust this in post processing, I opted for the darker exposure.

I could have simply used the ‘levels’ or ‘curves’ feature in Photoshop to lighten the image. This is my normal quick adjustment. However, I thought I’d experiment. So I made series of localize contrast adjustments using the ‘Magnetic Lasso’ tool.

My aim was to even out the relative exposure of various areas, and specifically to reduce the extreme contrast between the sky and the train’s shadow areas, with an ultimate goal of presenting the scene in the final image as it appeared to me at the time of exposure.

I had no intention of exaggerating or distorting the effect of the overcast morning, but rather to correct for some of the inherent limitations of the camera system.

Below are a series of images that illustrate the steps of my contrast adjustment. I’ve intentionally grossly exaggerated adjusted areas as to make the process more obvious. My actual adjustments were relatively subtle. It is my feeling that if the process becomes obvious, the end result will seem artificial.

1Irish_Rail_085_w_Panel_tra

This is a JPG from the camera RAW file. I made no adjustments to the picture other than convert and scale the file for internet presentation). I intentionally exposed the scene to retain detail in the sky, recognizing that with a digital image detail is lost when an area is over exposed, while it is easy to adjust contrast and brightness after the fact in darker areas.

2Irish_Rail_085_w_Panel_tra

Using the ‘magnetic lasso’ tool I selected the lower area of the photo and adjusted contrast and exposure using the ‘curves’ tool. Please note, I’ve exaggerated the selected area; my actual adjustments were subtle.

3Irish_Rail_085_w_Panel_tra

For the next step, I again used the magnetic lasso to select the darkest shadow areas of the locomotive and wagons, then lightened this selection using the ‘curves’ feature.

4Irish_Rail_085_w_Panel_tra

Although the sky had sufficient detail, I felt that it would be best to make this area slightly darker as a interim step in preparation for an overall lightening of the image. To avoid an unnatural darkening of the Wellington Testimonial, I carefully excluded this from the sky area. I then lowered the contrast and darkened the sky using the ‘curves’ feature.

5Irish_Rail_085_w_Panel_tra

This is the image following the global lightening. While this is very close to how I saw the scene, I felt it still required nominal contrast adjustment as it appears slightly ‘flat’ (contrast levels too low).

6Irish_Rail_085_w_Panel_tra

This is my final image following my multi-step contrast adjustment experiment. Notice, that while the sky is relatively bright, I’ve retained detail in the clouds.

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Daily Post: Recent Photos of Dublin, Ireland

 

Photos from February and March.

Walking Dublin’s streets always presents opportunities to make photographs.

Below are a few images exposed with my Lumix LX3 since late February 2014.

Check out my Dublin Page for more photos of the Irish capital.

A rainbow graces Dublin's Phoenix Park. On the right is the Wellington Testimonial. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.

A rainbow graces Dublin’s Phoenix Park. On the right is the Wellington Testimonial. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.

A LUAS tram makes a stop at Heuston Station, Dublin. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.

A LUAS tram makes a stop at Heuston Station, Dublin. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.

The Market Arcade on South Great Georges Street catches the afternoon sun. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.

The Market Arcade on South Great Georges Street catches the afternoon sun. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.

Sunset on Stoneybatter in Dublin's north inner city. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.

Sunset on Stoneybatter in Dublin’s north inner city. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.

Bord na Mona peat briquettes make for an inviting domestic hearth.Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.

Bord na Mona peat briquettes make for an inviting domestic hearth.Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.

Irish Central Bank on Dame Street. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.

Irish Central Bank on Dame Street. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 in February 2014.

Wall of Fame in Temple Bar.

Wall of Fame in Temple Bar. Photographed in March 2014.

The ever going bustle on Temple Bar, March 2014.

The ever going bustle on Temple Bar, March 2014.

Northside Map on Liffey Street.

Northside Map on Liffey Street.

Click here for my  Dublin Page for more photos of the Irish capital.

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Daily Post: Aerial View of Pan Am

Fitchburg, Massachusetts, February 22, 2014.

We could hear a freight dropping downgrade toward Fitchburg on the old Boston & Maine mainline. I was traveling with Rich Reed and Paul Goewey. We had limited time to select a photo location.

Complicating matters, Pan Am’s dispatcher came on the radio and told the train it would be working at Fitchburg Yard.

The implication to this seemingly innocuous instruction was that it might be hours before we saw the train east of the yard. We needed to pick a location west of the yard as it might be our only chance to catch this train.

We drove into Fitchburg, and overtook the slow moving freight. After inspection of a few ground level locations, we decided to try the top of the parking garage near the MBTA station.

This offered a superb elevated view. And we arrived in time to check out several angles, before settling on the southeast corner.

Pan Am Railway's EDPO (East Deerfield to Portland) eases downgrade in downtown Fitchburg. Our vantage point from the top of the parking garage at the railway station offered a superb place to make photos. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Pan Am Railway’s EDPO (East Deerfield to Portland) eases downgrade in downtown Fitchburg. Our vantage point from the top of the parking garage at the railway station offered a superb place to make photos. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

I made a series of photos using my Canon EOS 7D with 100mm telephoto and Lumix LX3. One of my favorite images is the unconventional down-on view of the old SD45-2 (now effectively converted to an SD40-2, having had its 3,600 hp 20-cylinder 645E3 replaced with the 3,000 hp 16 cylinder version of this engine). This angle shows the great length of the locomotive.

Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

A view made with my Lumix LX3 takes in the panorama of downtown Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

A view made with my Lumix LX3 takes in the panorama of downtown Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

I turned the Lumix vertically to make this photo. I didn't get the level perfect, so I made a minor adjustment in post processing (in other words: I cropped the photo.).

I turned the Lumix vertically to make this photo. I didn’t get the level perfect, so I made a minor adjustment in post processing (in other words: I cropped the photo.).

Tight view of Maine Central 507 (a former Canadian National GP40-2L) exposed with my Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Tight view of Maine Central 507 (a former Canadian National GP40-2L) exposed with my Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

My favorite of the sequence: an unconventional view of Maine Central 614, a locomotive built as an SD45-2, which featured  an unusually long frame. Lumix LX3 photo.

My favorite of the sequence: an unconventional view of Maine Central 614, a locomotive built as an SD45-2, which featured an unusually long frame. Lumix LX3 photo.

From the stairwell in the parking garage looking down on the MBTA station as Pan Am Railway's EDPO trails away. Lumix LX3 photo.

From the stairwell in the parking garage looking down on the MBTA station as Pan Am Railway’s EDPO trails away. Lumix LX3 photo.

We made a wise choice. Not only did Pan Am Railway’s eastward EDPO pick up at Fitchburg yard take more than two hours, but the crew finished before the train could continue east. At 1pm, it was still sitting in the yard.

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Daily Post: Union Pacific Feather River Canyon

Rich Bar, California on May 23, 1993.

A Union Pacific westward freight growls downgrade on the former Western Pacific near Rich Bar, California on May 23, 1993. Exposures in the Feather River can be deceiving. Shafts of sun can make the scenes appear brighter  to the eye than they really are. A careful use of a handheld meter allowed for exposure of this Kodachrome slide.

A Union Pacific westward freight growls downgrade on the former Western Pacific near Rich Bar, California on May 23, 1993. Exposures in the Feather River can be deceiving. Shafts of sun can make the scenes appear brighter to the eye than they really are. The careful use of a handheld meter allowed for ideal exposure of this Kodachrome slide.

There’s a certain thrill to photographing in California’s Feather River Canyon. This massive cleft in the Sierra offers numerous vistas with ever changing light around each bend in the river.

It’s easy to follow the railroad west from Keddie (location of the famous Keddie Wye) to beyond Pulga (in the deep lower reaches of the canyon.

The morning of May 23, 1993 was clear and bright; a radiant blue dome capped the canyon walls as the occasional ray of sun penetrated the shadows.

I’d picked up a Union Pacific westbound and followed it on Highway 70. There’s a pull off near Rich Bar where the sun had illuminated a retaining wall, where I made this broadside view with my Nikon F3T on Kodachrome film.

 

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Tomorrow: Pan Am from above.

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Daily Post: Arnold Loop, Silver Zone Pass, Nevada.


Westward Train in a Broad Landscape. 

The afternoon of July 26, 1993 was one of those lucky times when everything falls into place.

Fellow photographer TSH and I had hired a Chevy van at the San Francisco airport and drove to the shore of the Great Salt Lake, then worked our way back following Union Pacific’s Western Pacific route across Nevada.

Near Wendover (on the Utah-Nevada line) we came across a struggling westward coal train. One of its locomotives had failed, and it was making poor progress. It had three manifest trains stacked up behind it.

Armed with this knowledge, and having the best light of the day ahead of us, we drove west to the famed Arnold Loop, where Western Pacific’s engineers had designed a sweeping curve to maintain steady elevation. (Running west from  the Nevada-Utah line the railroad ascends a continuous 35-mile 1 percent grade, and crests at 5,907 feet above sea level, 15 miles beyond Silver Zone Pass.)

Union Pacific westward freight at the Arnold Loop, July 26, 1993. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T with 28mm lens.

Union Pacific westward freight at the Arnold Loop, July 26, 1993. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T with 28mm lens.

While not a complete circle, such as that used further west at the Williams Loop near Blairsden, California, this loop arrangement is an excellent place to photograph trains.

To the east is the wide expanse of desert punctuated by Pilot Peak some ten miles distant.

We got ourselves in position; cameras loaded with Kodachrome 25 and planted on tripods, and a clear blue dome above us. To the east we could make out the four trains in the distance, seeming to crawl over the landscape like tiny worms. Soon the first of the trains was upon us. These followed every ten minutes or so for the next 45 minutes.

I’ve used my images from this day in several books and calendars. This one slide is well published.

We were spoiled by the experience. The next day on the Western Pacific wasn’t as productive. Such is the luck of desert railroading!

Tomorrow: A Feather River Vista.

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Today’s Post: Another Day, Another Bridge

Sculpting with Light: CSXT Eastbound Freight Emerges from the Cut at Charlton, Massachusetts.

 

I thought I’d follow up on theme of yesterday’s post: sometimes the infrastructure is more interesting than the train.

On the morning of February 22, 2014, I met Paul Goewey in Palmer, Massachusetts. We were on our way to Fitchburg. He tells me; “An eastbound train came through about ten minutes ago.”

“We’ll get that. Hop in.”

I know that from many years of photographing on the Boston & Albany route, it is easy enough to catch an eastbound after it’s passed Palmer. The railroad loops north through the Quaboag Valley to Warren. And after passing the Brookfields, it climbs over Charlton Hill.

By contrast, the Mass-Turnpike and Route 20 offer a much faster and more direct route. So we drove to Charlton posthaste.

Old milepost 57 (as measured from Boston, Massachusetts), located at the east end of the cut in Charlton. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Old milepost 57 (as measured from Boston, Massachusetts), located at the east end of the cut in Charlton. Canon EOS 7D photo.

I have a long favored location east of CP57 at milepost 57 (pardon any sense of gratuitous redundancy) where the line exits the rock cut constructed in the 1830s. In 2011, a new road bridge was built here to improve clearances on the railroad to allow for operation of taller double-stacked container trains.

A window of morning sun on the tracks was nicely illuminating the new bridge while leaving a good spot to feature the leading locomotive.

We could hear CSXT’s Q436 (Selkirk, New York to Framingham, Massachusetts) climbing Charlton Hill when we arrived. For ten minutes we listened to modern General Electric Evolution-Series diesels chug up the old railroad grade.

Then a headlight came into view. As the train exited the cut, I used my pair of digital cameras to expose a sequence of images featuring the new bridge.

A view with my Lumix: CSXT's Q436 exits the cut at Charlton, Massachusetts. Which is the subject: the freight or the bridge?

A view with my Lumix: CSXT’s Q436 exits the cut at Charlton, Massachusetts. Which is the subject: the freight or the bridge?

I made this closer view with my Canon EOS 7D. The Evolution-Serie locomotive has entered a nice patch of morning sun. A moment later the nose of the locomotive hit a series of obtrusive shadows that disrupted my intended composition.

I made this closer view with my Canon EOS 7D. The Evolution-Series locomotive has entered a nice patch of morning sun. A moment later the nose of the locomotive hit a series of obtrusive shadows that disrupted my intended composition.

Trailing view of CSXT's modern GE diesels as the descend the old grade toward Worcester. Lumix LX3 photo.

Trailing view of CSXT’s modern GE diesels as they descend the old grade toward Worcester. Lumix LX3 photo.

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Daily Post: Dusk at West Warren, September 1984.

Twilight, Change, and a Long Lost Negative.

 This was among the negatives lost for most of the last 30 years. Today, it interests me for several reasons.

Boston & Albany at West Warren

Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited passes West Warren, Massachusetts in early evening in September 1984. At that time train 449 operated with a much later departure from Boston than it does today. Time exposure using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens, mounted on a Linhof tripod with ball head. Approximate exposure time: 8 seconds. Film: Kodak Tri-X. (Process information un-recorded)

In 1984-1985, I went through a phase where I made a lot of night photos. I employed a variety of techniques, and made hundreds of black & white images (and a few color slides too).

This image depicts Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited (train 449) passing beneath the bridge at West Warren, Massachusetts on the Boston & Albany route.

I only vaguely recall making the photograph above. Today, it is more like looking at someone else’s work than my own. I like it because it features the highway bridge over the tracks while allowing the train to be just an incidental streak of light. The famous mill dam water fall (featured in many West Warren photos) is clearly evident at the right.

It is one of the few photos I have at West Warren that shows the double-track. Conrail discontinued the directional double track arrangement between Palmer and East Brookfield in 1986, two years after I exposed this photo.

Over the years I’ve made many photos at West Warren, and regular viewers of Tracking the Light should find the name familiar. Yet, this view is the only one I’ve come across from this angle. It puts a new perspective on the place. Would this viewpoint be conducive to a modern daylight image?

Compare with the photo I made in January 2014 from the bridge (and featured in an earlier post).

Amtrak heritage locomotive

Amtrak 449 at West Warren, Massachusetts, 2:03pm January 24, 2014. Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 40mm pancake lens exposed at ISO 200 f5.6 1/1000th of a second. Camera RAW file converted to a Jpeg in Adobe Photoshop.

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Tomorrow: 30 years later; Another Day, Another Bridge

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Daily Post: CSXT at Stateline.

Sunday Empties Kicking Snow.

On the morning of February 16, 2014, I anticipated a photo of a westward CSXT empty intermodal train on the former Boston & Albany at the Massachusetts-New York State Line.

Where B&A’s Lima 2-8-4 Berkshires once hauled freight, now CSXT’s modern GE Evolution-Series diesels do the job.

Today Stateline is just a wide spot on a curve, but there’s a lot of history here.

Lumix LX3 photo.

Lumix LX3 photo. Looking east at Stateline.

A trackside concrete marker identifies the border. B&A’s one-time multiple track mainline is now a single main track. A vestige of the old eastward main is buried beneath the snow.

New Haven had maintained an interchange with New York Central here; this was a carryover from the early years, when no less than four railroads operated to Stateline to interchange traffic. Their convergence on this spot was no coincidence as the state border defined original operating charters.

Waiting in my car near the grade crossing on this cold windy morning, I knew this train was close, so when the warning lights began to flash, I jumped into position.

CSXT Evolution-series locomotives.

To capture the effect of the locomotive enveloped in swirling snow, I used my Canon EOS 7D with a 200mm telephoto. Exposure: f5.6 1/800 ISO 200. (I’ve allowed the blowing snow to lose detail, while retaining detail in the crusted snow on the ground).

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Daily Post: Visions of Omaha

October 2002.

During a visit with John Gruber at the old Omaha Union Station, where we met with the late-Bill Kratville, I made a series of photographs with my Contax G2 on Fuji 100 Acros black & white film.

The station is an art deco gem and well suited to the tonality of black & white photography.

I worked with my 16mm Hologon and 45mm Zeiss Planar and processed the film in Dublin using my customized formula for Agfa Rodinal Special developer (not to be confused for the more common Agfa Rodinal).

Omaha, Nebraska.

Omaha Union Station, exposed with a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 45mm Zeiss Planar lens. Fuji 100 Acros black & white negative film.

Omaha, Nebraska.

Exposed in October 2002 using a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 16mm Hologon lens. Fuji 100 Acros black & white.

John Gruber and Bill Kratville inside the old Omaha Union Station.  Exposed with a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 45mm Zeiss Planar lens. Fuji 100 Acros black & white.

John Gruber and Bill Kratville inside the old Omaha Union Station. Exposed with a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 16mm Hologon lens. Fuji 100 Acros black & white.

Recently, I scanned these negatives using my Epson V600 flatbed scanner, then scaled the image-files for presentation here.

Omaha Union Station, exposed using a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 16mm Hologon lens. Fuji 100 Acros black & white.

Omaha Union Station, exposed using a Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 16mm Hologon lens. Fuji 100 Acros black & white.

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Tomorrow: snow and history at ‘Stateline’.

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Daily Post: Snow Exposure Quandry

Pan Am 310 East of Shelburne Falls

I exposed this image of Pan Am Railways GP40 310 leading MOED on the afternoon of February 17, 2014. By any measure this scene posed a difficult exposure.

Canon 7D in-camera Jpg of Pan Am Railways 310 east of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. To my eye, this image appears too bright. Had it been a color slide I'd say it was about a half stop 'over exposed.' This Jpg was created using the Canon's picture style profile called 'landscape' (one of several built in Jpg picture styles).

Canon 7D in-camera Jpg of Pan Am Railways 310 east of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. To my eye, this image appears too bright. Had it been a color slide I’d say it was about a half stop ‘over exposed.’ This Jpg was created using the Canon’s picture style profile called ‘landscape’ (one of several built in Jpg picture styles).

The locomotive is a dark blue, while the scene posed a full range of tones from bright white snow to deep shadows. The train was moving, and there was little time for exposure bracketing.

Using the camera’s histogram, I’d made a test exposure before the train came into the scene, and then made a series of images focused on the composition.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D, I always expose simultaneous Jps and Camera RAW files. Most of the time the in Camera hi-res Jpg proves acceptable, and simply archive the RAW files for the future.

However, in this instance when I got home, I found that the in-camera Jpg appears to bright to my eye. I re-checked the camera’s histogram for that file and confirmed that the image was exposed correctly.

Histogram.

This is the information displayed at the back of the camera. The histogram is just about ideal. The bulk of the exposure is at the center of the graph and there is virtually no clipping of shadow or highlight areas. (See my earlier post on snow exposure for graph interpretation.)

In previous posts I’ve explained that with modern digital imaging old-school film-based assessments of ‘under’ (too dark) and ‘over’ (too light) exposure do not allow for the most accurate way of selecting exposure. (see: Snow Exposure—Part 1)

Instead of using the image at the back of the camera, or even the photo on my home computer screen, to judge exposure, I use the histogram. This graph allows me to select an exposure that maximizes the amount of information captured by the camera on-site.

In this case, although the Camera processed Jpeg seemed too bright (over exposed), the camera RAW file was perfect.  Since the problem was in the camera’s translation of the RAW to Jpeg, the solution was simple:

I converted the RAW to a Jpeg manually, which produced a result that matched the scene. This retained excellent highlight detail in the snow, produced a pleasing exposure for the side of the locomotive and hills beyond, while retaining good shadow detail in the tree at the left.

Here's the camera RAW file. This has not been interpreted by in-camera processing to conform to a pre-established 'picture style'. The result is perfectly exposed. I simply converted the file to a Jpg manually and scaled it for display here. I did not adjust exposure, contrast, or color. In other words its was an easy fix: there was never really a problem with the file, on with my perception of how the 'landscape' style Jpg had interpreted the image.

Here’s the camera RAW file. This has not been interpreted by in-camera processing to conform to a pre-established ‘picture style’. The result is perfectly exposed. I simply converted the file to a Jpg manually and scaled it for display here. I did not adjust exposure, contrast, or color. In other words it was an easy fix: there was never really a problem with the file, only with my perception of how the ‘landscape’ style Jpg had interpreted the image.

I did not manipulate or adjust the file except to scale the image and convert it to a Jpg for presentation. (the RAW file is far too large to up-load effectively).

For more on snow exposure see:

Photo Tips: Snow Exposure—Part 1

Photo Tips: Snow Exposure–Part 2 Histograms

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Daily Post: Old Type 5 on both Film and Digital

On October 20, 2013, I stopped by the Connecticut Trolley Museum near East Windsor and made a variety of photos. The day was perfect; warm and sunny with a cloudless clear sky. A bit of autumn color clung to the trees.

This was an opportunity to experiment with my cameras and I’ve displayed here three images of former a Boston Type 5 streetcar that was working the line.

I exposed the top image on Fuji Velvia 50 color slide film with my father’s Leica M4 fitted with a 35mm Summicron. The bottom images were simultaneous files made with my Lumix LX3 (which features a Leica Vario-Summicron lens).

Connecticut Trolley Museum

MTA type 5 streetcar photographed at East Windsor, Connecticut on October 20, 2013 using a Leica M4 with 35mm Summicron and Fuji Velvia 50 slide film.

Lumix photograph; Camera RAW converted to a scaled JPG in two step post processing for internet display.

Lumix photograph; Camera RAW converted to a scaled JPG in two step post processing for internet display.

In-camera Lumix JPG exposed using the 'Standard' color profile. File scaled for internet display.

In-camera Lumix JPG exposed using the ‘Standard’ color profile. File scaled for internet display.

The Lumix allows me to make both a camera RAW file and a JPG at the same time. The Lumix software has a variety of color profiles for the JPG files that alter the appearance of the image. Typically, I use the “Standard” profile such as displayed here.

Although I’ve scaled all of the files and processed them for internet display, I’ve not made major changes to contrast, exposure or content. The color slide required a nominal color balance adjustment to remove the inherent bias associated with this film.

I scanned the slide using my Epson V600 scanner.

My father has some nice views of Boston’s Type 5s in revenue service exposed on Kodachrome in the 1950s.

All things being equal, I wonder which photographs will survive the longest? The 50+ year old Kodachromes? My Velvia slides exposed in October? Or the digital files exposed the same day? All the digital files (including scans) are preserved on at least three hard drives. While the slides are stored in a dark, cool dry place.

Any bets?

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Tomorrow: refining snow exposure.

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Daily Post: If you Say Something, See Something.

San Francisco, August 2009.

5 SF-Muni-N-Judah-line-AugScaled1

4 SF-Muni-N-Judah-line-AugScaled1

2 SF-Muni-N-Judah-line-AugScaled1

3 SF-Muni-N-Judah-line-AugScaled1

6 SF-Muni-N-Judah-line-AugScaled1

4 SF-Muni-N-Judah-line-AugScaled1

1Scaled1

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A SF-Muni-N-Judah-line-AugScaled1

 

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Daily Post: Erie Signals at Rock Glen

Making Meaningful Signal Photos.

 As a photographer working from the ground (as opposed from the locomotive cab), finding situations that illustrate some of the less common aspects in the rule book can take lots patience.

Looking railroad timetable east at Rock Glen, New York. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Canon EOS 3 with 100-400mm lens.

Looking railroad timetable east at Rock Glen, New York. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Canon EOS 3 with 100-400mm lens.

Study this image, there’s a lot going on here: Norfolk Southern’s westward symbol freight 23K holds the mainline at Rock Glen, New York where it will meet the eastward 38T. The dispatcher has lined 38T through the siding, and as a result the home signal displays a red-over-yellow-over-green aspect—‘Medium Approach Medium’ (rule 283a).

The ‘Medium Approach Medium’ aspect effectively tells the engineer  of train 38T, that the train is lined and has a favorable signal (clear) for both this crossover as well as the next crossover, and that both are ‘medium speed’ (not exceeding 30mph) crossovers.

At the far left is the old Erie milepost that tells use we are 371 miles from Jersey City (the traditional eastern end of the line). The named location on the timetable conveniently coincides with the map and so the western end of the siding is called ‘Rock Glen’ for the western New York town of the same name. On many modern railroads, the timetable might simply refer to this control point as ‘CP371’.

At one time this was a traditional double track mainline with directional running in the current of traffic. Erie converted the route to single track with passing sidings and centralized traffic control-style signaling.

I don’t know for certain, but based on the current siding arrangement that is slewed around the home signal, I would guess that at some point after the time of original installation the siding was lengthened. Take note of the siding signal.

Among the peculiarities of Erie’s CTC style signaling was the use of home signals at sidings with the lower head located much lower than the top head. In effect this is an exaggerated arrangement that omits the center light featured on signals with three lights, such as on the signal on the right.

Erie wasn’t alone in this style of signaling, Southern Pacific also used low signals like this, although unlike the Erie, SP didn’t assign speed aspects.

In modern times, re-signaling by Conrail and Norfolk Southern has resulted in changes to traditional signaling practices. In some locations the lower light was raised to a point just below the main light. While more recent re-signaling has resulted in the outright replacement of searchlight hardware with modern color lights.

When I made this view, Rock Glen was among last places on the west end of the old Erie route that still featured this classic signaling arrangement. I was eager to make an image that featured the signals set up for a meet.

Presently I’m working on a book called ‘Classic Railroad Signaling’ (to be published by Voyageur Press) that will focus on traditional hardware including semaphores, searchlights, position lights & etc. This is a work in progress and comments are welcome!

Click below to see previous signaling posts including:

New Book, Classic Signaling;

Searchlight Signal near Pownal, Vermont;

Susquehanna SD45 and an Erie Semaphore, Canaseraga, New York;

and Curiously Seeking Erie Semaphores.

 

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Tomorrow: Deconstructionist exercise.

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Daily Post: Eastward Canadian National Ethanol Extra Crosses the Fox River

 Color Slide Exposed on November 7, 2013.

Canadian National unit ethanol symbol U70491-06 crosses the former Illinois Central Fox River Bridge at South Elgin on November 7, 2013. Exposed on Provia 100F with a Leica M4 and 35mm Summicron lens. Exposure calculated with a Minolta IV handheld light meter. Slide scanned with an Epson V600 scanner. This is a low-res conversion from the large Tiff scan.

Canadian National unit ethanol symbol U70491-06 crosses the former Illinois Central Fox River Bridge at South Elgin on November 7, 2013. Exposed on Provia 100F with a Leica M4 and 35mm Summicron lens. Exposure calculated with a Minolta IV handheld light meter. Slide scanned with an Epson V600 scanner. This is a low-res conversion from the large Tiff scan.

During my visit with Chris Guss in November we explored Chicago area railroads. This was both a means of making photos while proving needed opportunity to discuss the text for book on Chicago’s railroads that we were authoring (along with Mike Blaszak and John Gruber).

On the morning of November 7th, we drove to South Elgin to intercept an eastward Canadian National ethanol train working the old Illinois Central Iowa Division. Back in the mid-1990s, I knew this route as the Chicago Central & Pacific.

As it turned out the CC&P was just a short-lived regional, perhaps now almost forgotten, swept up in the wave of mergers and acquisitions that characterized the railroad dynamic of the 1990s.

Chris favored this location off a bicycle trail below a massive highway bridge. On the opposite side of the river are the tracks of the Fox River Trolley Museum.

Although we missed an earlier eastward freight, we arrived in ample time to set up for this train. I exposed several photos using my Canon EOS 7D, and made this color slide using my dad’s Leica M4 that I’d borrowed for the trip.

Making a slide with this Leica allowed me to maintain interesting continuity, since my father made many slides around Chicago with his Leica cameras in the early 1960s. (Incidentally, some of him images will appear in the book, to be published by Voyageur Press later this year).

These days while I largely work with my digital cameras, I still expose a fair bit of film (usually color slides, but sometimes black & white). I have plenty of old film cameras to choose from, and I often carry an EOS 3 loaded with Provia 100F.

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DAILY POST: Maine Central Alco in the Rain at North Walpole, New Hampshire

Taking in the Whole Scene.

My father taught me to make railway scenes, and not merely images of equipment. I did just that on this cold, wet, rainy day, when I photographed Maine Central Alco RS-11 crossing Route 12 in North Walpole, New Hampshire.

Mountain Railroad on November 25, 1983. It was raining hard when I exposed this view of it crossing Route 12 in North Walpole, New Hampshire using my Leica 3A loaded with Kodak Tri-X. For me, the rain, the locomotive and the highway were all part of the scene. I’ve framed the locomotive in the grade crossing signals. To the right is theMountain Railroad on November 25, 1983. It was raining hard when I exposed this view of it crossing Route 12 in North Walpole, New Hampshire using my Leica 3A loaded with Kodak Tri-X. For me, the rain, the locomotive and the highway were all part of the scene. I’ve framed the locomotive in the grade crossing signals. To the right is Green Mountain's former Boston & Maine roundhouse

Maine Central 802, one of the railroad’s two Alco RS-11’s was on loan to Green Mountain Railroad on November 25, 1983. It was raining hard when I exposed this view of it crossing Route 12 in North Walpole, New Hampshire using my Leica 3A loaded with Kodak Tri-X. For me, the rain, the locomotive and the highway were all part of the scene. I’ve framed the locomotive in the grade crossing signals. To the left is Green Mountain’s former Boston & Maine roundhouse.

I’d traveled with Paul Goewey to Bellows Falls on the morning of November 25, 1983, specifically to photograph this locomotive. For reasons I can’t recall (if I ever knew), Green Mountain had borrowed Maine Central 802 to work its daily freight XR-1, that ran to Rutland over the former Rutland Railroad.

Despite the gloomy conditions this was something of an event, and I recall that several photographers had convened at Bellows Falls to document 802’s travels.

Green Mountain’s roundhouse is in North Walpole, just across the Connecticut River from Bellows Falls, and I made this image from the east bank as the engine switched cars.

With this image I was trying to convey that this locomotive was in an unusual place by putting it in a distinctive scene.

Once XR-1 was underway, Paul and I followed it toward Rutland. The weather deteriorated and rain turned to snow. By the time we reached Ludlow, the snow had become heavy; we were cold, wet, and tired, having been up since 4:30 am, and so ended the day’s photography.

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Tomorrow:

Discussion of a contemporary color slide featuring a Canadian National ethanol extra!

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Daily Post: North Shore’s Electroliner

Two Views

Electroliner

Lumix LX3 close up of the classic North Shore Electroliner displayed at the Illinois Railway Museum

I grew up seeing the Electroliner projected on our slide screen;  my father had photographed these classic trains on several occasions between 1958 and 1963 on the North Shore, and later on Philadelphia’s Red Arrow Lines.

Many years ago, I saw an advertisement on the back cover of Trains Magazine asking for donations to help save one of the trains. I sent $15, which wasn’t much money, but it was every penny I had. I was only about 13 or 14 at the time.

Happily both streamlined sets have been preserved: one is at the Illinois Railway Museum at Union; the other at the Rockhilll Trolley Museum in Pennsylvania.

On June 19, 2010, Hank Koshollek, John Gruber and I traveled from Madison, Wisconsin to the Illinois Railway Museum. Among the trains on display was the Electroliner.

It was the first time I’d seen the train outdoors since catching a fleeting glimpse of it at SEPTA’s 69th street shops in the late 1970s.

I wanted to make a distinctive image of the train, so I used my Lumix LX3 to make a dramatic close up. I also made several more conventional views.

Posed in the sun at IRM. Lumix LX3 digital photograph.

Posed in the sun at IRM. Lumix LX3 digital photograph.

This is relevant because IRM is now hoping to restore the train to service. IRM’s Tom Sharratt contacted me via Tracking the Light, and detailed their plan along with a plea to get the word out:

IRM is pleased that we are finally working on completing the restoration of our [Electroliner] set (801-802), hopefully in time for its 75th Anniversary (Jan 2016.) All eight motors need to be removed and inspected and repaired as necessary, the air conditioning needs to be replaced, and the interior worked on (we have the fabric and a volunteer who is working on that now.) We only (!) need to raise $500K. We have right around $100K now, and need $150K before we drop the motors and take them to a contract shop. We have a Facebook page– http://www.facebook.com/Electroliner

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DAILY POST: Magnum LUAS

Saved by the in-Camera Memory!

Back in the old days, if I went out and forgot to load my camera it was tough luck. No film, no photo. And, yes, there were several occasions where I suffered this humility.

Today, with my Lumix LX3, there’s a feature that gets me out of the occasional jam. The camera has a built-in memory that allows me to make several photographs when there is no memory card inserted (or if the memory card has an error/failure).

This means that in those rare situations where I have the camera, but have forgotten the card, I can still make a few photos.

Case in point. On April 11, 2012, I’d grabbed the camera and walked into the Dublin city center to run some errands. At the time, the LUAS tram network had a specially painted tram advertising Magnum ice cream bars. I’d seen this several times, but not managed to get a photo of it.

In fact, this tram had proved unusually elusive, and previous efforts to find it in sunlight failed. But on this day, as I wandered through Smithfield, the purple Magnum tram glided along side of me and came to a stop at an intersection in full sun. Perfect!

Except, when I went to make a photo, I got an error message telling me there was no card! I’d taken it out to download it and left it at home! OH NO! But the camera gave me the option of saving the file to the camera memory! Yea!

Dublin tram.


Specially adorned LUAS tram advertising Magnum ice cream bars pauses at an intersection near Smithfield in Dublin on April 12, 2012. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 and saved to the internal camera memory.

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Tomorrow: The Electroliner

Click to view related posts:

Dublin’s LUAS at Heuston Station, October 14, 2013;

LUAS McDonalds Tram at Heuston Station

White Tram Prowls Dublin’s LUAS 

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Daily Post: Power Shot, Wisconsin Central SD45s


Byron, Wisconsin, March 23, 1996.

It had been a busy morning at Byron. This southward freight had made a meet and was just coming out of the siding, so I had ample time to make images of these SD45s.

Wisconsin Central SD45 loom large as the lead a southward freight out of the siding at Byron, Wisconsin on March 23, 1996.

Wisconsin Central SD45 loom large as the lead a southward freight out of the siding at Byron, Wisconsin on March 23, 1996.

As the train grew close, I made a couple of final images on Kodachrome with my Nikormat FT3 and 28mm Nikkor Lens. I took this low view with a wide-angle to get a dynamic photograph.

I was Editor of Pacific RailNews, and we often had a need for photographs with lots of sky to use as opening spreads. It was a style of times to run headlines, credits and sometimes text across the top of the image. I had that thought in my mind when I made this particular angle.

I was also trying to minimize the ballast and drainage ditch that I found visually unappealing, while making the most of the clear blue dome and allowing for a dramatic position for the locomotives relative to the horizon.

Variations of this image have appeared in print over the years.

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Tomorrow: ‘Oh No! I left the SD recording card in my Computer!’

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DAILY POST: Along the Pennsylvania Railroad

The Main Line at Night.

Here’s a pair of opportunistic images. I’d not gone out to make photographs, but while at dinner near Ardmore, Pennsylvania, I noted that Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad four-track Main Line ran adjacent to the car park.

After dinner, I wandered up to the tracks to investigate the potential for photography. At the edge of the car park was a sign post that I co-opted to use an impromptu camera support (I’d call this a ‘tripod’ but in fact it really was just a post), and placed my Lumix LX3 on the post.

Railroad at night

Looking east on the Main Line. Exposed with a Lumix LX3. I used the manual ‘m’ setting and gauged my exposure based upon my test-photo histogram.

Looking railroad-west on the Main Line toward Ardmore, PA. Exposed with a Lumix LX3. I used the manual 'm' setting and gauged my exposure based upon my test-photo histogram.

Looking railroad-west on the Main Line toward Ardmore, PA. Exposed with a Lumix LX3. I used the manual ‘m’ setting and gauged my exposure based upon my test-photo histogram.

The prevailing darkness and extreme contrast combined made for a tricky exposure. Instead of relying on the camera’s internal meter. I first made a test photo, then using that as a gauging point, set the camera to ‘over expose’ by about a full stop for each angle.

To avoid camera shake, I set the self-timer for 2 seconds, pressed the shutter button and stepped back. These are my results. It was cold, and I didn’t believe that any train movements were very close, so I didn’t opt to wait for a train.

Would have a train improved the scene?

 

See my earlier posts on night photography for suggestions and guidelines:

Lumix LX-3—part 2:  Existing Light Digital Night Shots;

New England Central at Night;

Palmer, Massachusetts 11:01pm November 30, 2012.

 Also, click to see related posts:

Vestiges of the Pennsylvania Railroad;

SEPTA in the Snow

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Railroad at night

Looking east on the Main Line. Exposed with a Lumix LX3. I used the manual ‘m’ setting and gauged my exposure based upon my test-photo histogram.

Tomorrow: Story behind a dramatic view of Wisconsin Central.

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Daily Post: Claremorris, County Mayo, February 1998.

General Motors Diesel in Ireland.

Irish Rail class 181 General Motors diesel number 185 catches the afternoon sun at Claremorris, County Mayo in February 1998. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3T fitted with 24mm lens, exposure calculated with a handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell.

Irish Rail class 181 General Motors diesel number 185 catches the sun at Claremorris, County Mayo in February 1998. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3T fitted with 24mm lens, exposure calculated with a handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell.

This was among my first Irish Railway photographs. I’d hired a car in Limerick and was exploring. At the time I knew very little about Irish Rail, but I was fascinated by the Ballina branch passenger train.

What caught my interest here was the juxtaposition of the General Motors diesel with the Claremorris station sign. It was the name of the town in Irish that fascinated me. I also liked the old Irish Rail logo, which seemed to represent the double junction at Claremorrris.

I’d never have imagined then, that this would just one of the thousands of Irish railway photographs I’d expose over the next 16 years!

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Daily Post: Snow Along The Canal, Birds in Flight, A Tram

A Moment in Time, November 28, 2010.

This was my Christmas card for 2010.

This was my Christmas card for 2010.

It doesn’t snow in Dublin very often, and when it snows it rarely stays on the ground for long. It had started snowing heavily overnight on November 28, 2010 and when I awoke, there was a fresh blanket of snow all over everything.

I made the most of morning. Among the locations I selected was along the LUAS tram line that follows the Grand Canal.

A man was feeding the birds and these were circling. Using my Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens, I made a series of photos of an inbound LUAS Citadis tram heading toward the city center from Tallagh.

The birds in flight make an already unusual situation even more interesting. They add depth and life to a cold and frosty scene. The tram itself is almost incidental. Yet we can follow its progress along the canal, its tracks gradually descending in the distance.

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Tomorrow: A visit to County Mayo!

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20th Anniversary Post

Amtrak’s California Zephyr on Donner Pass on this Day 1994.

Just a few minutes ago I was scanning some slides when I noticed that this image was exposed exactly 20 years ago—February 19, 1994.

Amtrak's California Zephyr ascends Donner Pass near shed 47 on February 19, 1994. Exposed on Fujichrome, scanned with a Epson V600 scanner on February 19, 2014.

Amtrak’s California Zephyr ascends Donner Pass near shed 47 on February 19, 1994. Exposed on Fujichrome, scanned with a Epson V600 scanner on February 19, 2014.

I was driving west on I-80, and pulled into the rest area west of Truckee, California opposite Shed 47 on Donner’s east slope.

I made this photograph on Fujichrome using my Nikormatt FT3 with a Tokina 400mm lens. While not my typical camera and lens combination, it did the job for this photo. This image appeared in TRAINS Magazine a while back.

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DAILY POST: Maine Central at East Deerfield Yard, September 1984.

An Unconventional View of the Ready Tracks.

I was interested to find this collection of Maine Central locomotives at Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield Yard in September 1984. At the time, Guilford’s gray and orange livery was still a novelty.

Using my father’s 21mm Super Angulon on my Leica 3A, I composed this somewhat unconventional view of the ready tracks. This lens was a favorite of mine at the time. I still use it occasionally.

Boston & Maine's East Deerfield Yard

Maine central GP38 260 and a pair of U18Bs were the subjects of interest in my September 1984 black & white photograph. Today, the contrast of the steam-era infrastructure with the diesels makes for an unusual compelling railroad photo. Exposed on black & white film with a Leica 3A fitted with a 21mm Super Angulon lens.

The composition works despite being foreground heavy and exposed on the ‘dark side’ of the locomotives. The image nicely integrates the infrastructure around the locomotives while offering a period look.

At the time I was studying photography at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and made regular visits to photograph the Boston & Maine.

See my earlier post: Johnsonville, New York, November 4, 1984.  

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Tomorrow: A Bird, a Tram, A Canal!

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DAILY POST: BNSF SD70ACE at Enola, Pennsylvania.

 Location and Locomotive.

Tight view of BNSF Railway SD70MAC 9261 at Norfolk Southern's Enola Yard. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.

Tight view of BNSF Railway SD70MAC 9261 at Norfolk Southern’s Enola Yard. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.

Fifty years ago, it would have been pretty neat to see a Burlington GP30 at Pennsylvania Railroad’s Enola Yard. Yet for the context of that photo to be fully appreciated, it would help to have the location of the locomotive implied in the image.

A few weeks ago, Pat Yough and I were driving by Norfolk Southern’s Enola Yard and spotted this SD70ACE. These days, BNSF locomotives on Norfolk Southern and CSX are not unusual occurrences. Not in Pennsylvania anyway.

After a tight image of the locomotive, I stood back and made a few views intended to convey location.

It’s not what you see, but the images made of what you see.

The sign at the left conveys location and provides a bit of information about safety conditions at Enola. Canon EOS 7D.

The sign at the left conveys location and provides a bit of information about safety conditions at Enola. Canon EOS 7D.

In this view the sign is the subject, and the locomotive just a decorative background. Canon EOS 7D.

In this view the sign is the subject, and the locomotive just a decorative background. Canon EOS 7D.

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Daily Post: Brussels August 2013

Old World Charm and Modern Trams.

Tram in Brussels.

Flexity tram at Place Royale. Exposed with my Lumix LX3 in August 2013.

The Belgian cities have admirable tram networks. By far the most extensive is that in Brussels. Here tram routes crisscross the city. While long sections of tram subway now serve central Brussels, there’s still lots of street running.

Modern Bombardier-built ‘Flexity’ articulated trams dominate the fleet. Yet there’s still some variety of older cars, including articulated PCCs.

For this segment, I’ve largely focused on the more modern cars as they offer the greatest contrast with Brussels’ eclectic old world architecture.

I have mixed feelings about the gold and silver livery. While more subdued than the gaudy colors used in some cities, it tends to look a bit grimy, especially in dull light.

I explored a theme of  contrasting Brussels' old architecture with its modern trams. Lumix LX3 photo.

I explored a theme of contrasting Brussels’ old architecture with its modern trams. Lumix LX3 photo.

One of Brussels' older trams lurks beyond the fountain. Lumix LX3 photo.

A tram lurks beyond the fountain. Lumix LX3 photo.

Brussels.

This tram was wrapped in an advertising livery. It offered a change from the gold and silver that dominates the modern fleet. Exposed with my Canon EOS 7D.

Twilight glow near Place Royale, Brussels.  Canon EOS 7D.

Twilight glow near Place Royale, Brussels. Canon EOS 7D.

This number 94 car is headed for the Tram Museum (in service, not preservation—not just yet, anyway!). Canon EOS 7D.

This number 94 car is headed for the Tram Museum (in service, not for preservation—not just yet, anyway!). Canon EOS 7D.

Sunset in Brussels. Reminds me of a scene from the cover of a fantasy novel . . .

Sunset in Brussels. Reminds me of a scene from the cover of a fantasy novel . . .

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Daily Post; Washington Summit‑30 years After Exposure.

 Modern Technological Miracle: Post Processing.

In mid-July 1984, I heard the distinctive roar of EMD 20-cylinder engines working an eastward train on the west slope of Washngton Hill. My friends and I were positioned at the summit of the Boston & Albany route, as marked by a sign.

We often spent Sunday afternoons here. Rather than work the more conventional location on the south (west) side of the tracks, I opted to cross the mainline and feature the summit sign.

As the freight came into view, I was delighted to see that it was led by a set of Conrail’s former Erie Lackawanna SD45-2s! While these locomotives were more commonly assigned to helper duties at Cresson, Pennsylvania on the former PRR, during the Summer of 1984, all 13 of the monsters worked the Boston & Albany.

Conrail

In July 1984, Conrail 6666 leads an eastward freight on the Boston & Albany at Washington Summit, Hinsdale, Massachusetts. This photograph is unpublished and previously unprinted. It was exposed on 35mm Tri-X using a 1930s-vintage Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens. Post processing allowed for localized contrast control to maximize the detail in the original negative.

I have a number of photos of these machines, both on the B&A and PRR routes. However this image of engine 6666 never made my cut. Back lighting and hazy afternoon light had resulted in a difficult negative. My preferred processing techniques of the period didn’t aid the end result, and at the time I dismissed the photograph as ‘unsuitable’.

The other day I rediscovered this unprinted view and decided to make a project of it. Now, 30 years later, I felt it was worth the effort. I scanned the negative and after about 30 minutes of manipulation using Adobe Photoshop, I produced a satisfactory image.

I made a variety of small and subtle changes by locally adjusting contrast and sharpness. These adjustments would have been difficult and time consuming to implement using conventional printing techniques, but are relatively painless to make digitally. I’m really pretty happy with the end result.

For details on this technique, click to see: Kodachrome Afternoon at West Springfield, February 1986.

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Tomorrow: Something completely different!

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Daily Post; New York Central in 1984

 Photographing a bit of History.

New York Central 50-foot boxcar at West Springfield, Massachusetts, July 1984. Exposed with a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.

New York Central 50-foot boxcar at West Springfield, Massachusetts, July 1984. Exposed with a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.

My friend Bob Buck of Warren had advised me to photograph old freight cars, especially those from the ‘fallen flags’ (railroads that had merged or were otherwise lost).

I kept a keen eye out for the cars of Conrail’s predecessors, which were a special interest to me.

In July 1984, I was passing Conrail’s sprawling West Springfield Yards on my way to the Boston & Albany ‘West End,’ when I saw this old New York Central ‘Early Bird’ 50ft double door car.

By that time, New York Central had been gone 16 years, and I was only 17, so the time seemed like a lifetime to me. Following Bob’s advice, I dutifully exposed a three-quarter view of the car. One frame. That is all.

In retrospect, I wish that I’d taken a few more images of the car. Today, I’d focus on the car and make some detailed views. Looking back on this car today, what I find noteworthy was that it still had its catwalks, an accessory that had been out of favor for years by the time I’d exposed this image.

New York Central 50-foot boxcar at West Springfield, Massachusetts, July 1984. Exposed with a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.

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Daily Post: Westward Freight in Wink of Sun

CSX Q427 Claws Upgrade at Chester, Massachusetts.

For me the old Boston & Albany West end is hallowed ground. This was the first true mountain mainline in the modern sense. The line was surveyed in the mid 1830s and by 1839 trains were working over Washington Summit.

Over the last 30 years I’ve made countless trips to photograph this line and it remains one of my favorites. Yet, I rarely come up here in the winter.

On Friday, February 7, 2014, my father and I went up to Huntington to catch Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited, train 449. Not far behind was CSX’s Q427.

This freight runs daily between Portland, Maine and Selkirk, New York via Ayer and Worcester, Massachusetts. This day it had a pair of General Electric Evolution-Series diesels of the type that have come to characterize modern freight operations on the Boston & Albany route.

Since the train wasn’t making great speed, we pursued it on Route 20, stopping to make photos at opportune locations. At CP 123 (where the line goes from single track to two-main track) Q427 met an eastward freight holding at the signal. We continued upgrade ahead of the train.

I remembered that there’s a gap in the hills at Chester which allows for a window of sun on the line that lasts late in the day. So we zipped ahead of the train.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D and 200mm lens, I exposed a series of vertical images of CSX Q427 (Portland to Selkirk) as it passed through a window of afternoon sun.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D and 200mm lens, I exposed a series of vertical images of CSX Q427 (Portland to Selkirk) as it passed through a window of afternoon sun.

The dappled light on the trees and the dark shadowed hillside beyond made for a dramatic painterly back drop, while tree shadows on the foreground snow minimized the effects of glare and provided texture.

The dappled light on the trees and the dark shadowed hillside beyond made for a dramatic painterly back drop, while tree shadows on the foreground snow minimized the effects of glare and provided texture.

At Chester, Pop set up his tripod to make a hi-resolution video of the train climbing. I positioned myself with my Canon EOS 7D with a telephoto lens to make use of the window of sun against a dark background.

As the train grew closer I also exposed more conventional views with my Lumix LX3. The heavy train took more than two minutes to pass.

Lumix LX3 photo showing the whole scene.

Lumix LX3 photo showing the whole scene.

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 Tomorrow: step back 30 years with a visit to West Springfield.

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