All posts by brian solomon

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View_from_train_near_Glengeary_

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Connolly Station.
Connolly Station.

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LUAS before the safety yellow bands.

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

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

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

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

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

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Steam on the move at Dún Laoghaire.

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

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

A low ceiling and light rain made for gloomy conditions.

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

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

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

DART_Dun_Laoghaire_DSCF2865 DART_Dun_Laoghaire_DSCF2857 DART_Dun_Laoghaire_DSCF2845

RPSI_461_Dun_Laoghaire_DSCF2869

RPSI_461_Dun_Laoghaire_pan_DSCF2879

RPSI_461_Dun_Laoghaire_pan_DSCF2889

RPSI_461_Dun_Laoghaire_pan_DSCF2895

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

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

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

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

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

461_Connolly_Station_DSCF2912

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

461_plate_DSCF3170

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

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

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

Most required contrast and saturation adjustment in post-processing.

Any favorites?

461_Connolly_Station_DSCF2944

Peter_Rigney_w_461_DSCF3171

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

075_w_RPSI_train_DSCF3188

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

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

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

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

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

 

Conrail SD40 at Bullards Road, Washington Summit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracking the Light acknowledges

Conrail’s 40th Anniversary!

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracking the Light posts Daily.

Happy Birthday Conrail!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday Big Blue!

 

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

 

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

The display is located on platform 1.

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

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Dusk on Dublin’s Dart—March 2016.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracking the Light is Daily.

 

 

Dublin’s Liberty Hall Decorated for Easter Rising Centenary.

Ireland has been celebrating the Easter Rising Centenary.

Liberty Hall is an iconic Dublin skyscraper that  makes for a interesting prop when juxtaposed with Irish Rail trains on the Loop Line Bridge over the River Liffey.

I explored this scene on 26 March 2016, when a swollen overcast sky made for typical Dublin lighting.

 Exposed on Saturday 26 March 2016 using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
Exposed on Saturday 26 March 2016 using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
 Exposed on Saturday 26 March 2016 using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
Exposed on Saturday 26 March 2016 using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
 Exposed on Saturday 26 March 2016 using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
Exposed on Saturday 26 March 2016 using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.

On Easter Sunday, I revisited my locations of the previous day. The sun was out, which changed the look of the setting. Perhaps, I’ll try again with film.

Liberty Hall as viewed on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016.
Liberty Hall as viewed on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016.
Irish Rail's DART passing Liberty Hall on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016.
Irish Rail’s DART passing Liberty Hall on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016.
Liberty Hall as viewed on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Liberty Hall as viewed on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Liberty Hall as viewed on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016.
Liberty Hall as viewed on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016.

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2016 Easter Special: LUAS and the Postbox.

As part of the Easter Rising Centenary several Dublin post boxes have been temporarily painted red to mark significant locations of this historic Irish event.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with Zeiss 12mm Tuoit lens; contrast adjusted on site with a Lee graduated neutral density filter.
Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with Zeiss 12mm Tuoit lens; contrast adjusted on site with a Lee graduated neutral density filter.

Mark Healy suggested this location to me as a place to photograph one of the specially painted post boxes with the LUAS. It  is located near the Royal College of Surgeons across from St. Stephens Green.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with Zeiss 12mm Tuoit lens; contrast adjusted on site with a Lee graduated neutral density filter.
Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with Zeiss 12mm Tuoit lens; contrast adjusted on site with a Lee graduated neutral density filter.
Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with Zeiss 12mm Tuoit lens.
Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with Zeiss 12mm Tuoit lens.

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Upper Quadrant Semaphore on the old Erie Railroad.

Not on ‘Tracking the Light’? Click on Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light for the full image and story.

In the 1980s, I made hundreds of images of upper quadrant three-position semaphores along the old Erie Railroad in New York State, a line then part of the Conrail system.

A Union Switch & Signal upper quadrant semaphore blade, exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt lens.
A Union Switch & Signal upper quadrant semaphore blade, exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt lens.

I focused on this semaphore near Tioga Center, New York in August 1988. This is part of a sequence that portrayed the signal in its three position and this image is of the ‘approach aspect’.

Learn more about American semaphore practice in my book, Classic Railroad Signals published by Voyageur Press.

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Monon Semaphores on Fujichrome.

As a follow up to yesterday’s Extra Post, I thought I’d display this image of a similar signal in the USA.

I made this photograph of three-position upper quadrant semaphores on the old Monon on a warm 2004 summer morning near Romney, Indiana.

General Railway Signal upper quadrant semaphores with Model 2A top of mast mechanisms on CSX's former Monon near Romney, Indiana on June 23, 2004. Exposed on Fujicrome with a Nikon F3 and 180mm lens.
General Railway Signal upper quadrant semaphores with Model 2A top of mast mechanisms on CSX’s former Monon near Romney, Indiana on June 23, 2004. Exposed on Fujicrome with a Nikon F3 and 180mm lens.

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Tracking the Light Extra: Unusual Semaphore in an Unexpected Place

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Every so often, I stumble upon something that flummoxes me.

On St. Patrick’s Day, I was enjoying the evening’s celebrations with some friends at The Full Shilling in Finglas (in north suburban Dublin).

This is a large shop (drinking establishment) with lots of décor characteristic of a Dublin Pub.

On the way to the loo, I looked up and was startled to find a three-position upper quadrant semaphore blade.

Three_postion_upper_quadrant_blade_at_Full_Shilling_in_Finglas_P1410933

‘What’s this? And, what’s it doing here?’

As the author of two books on American signaling, I’m reasonably well versed in semaphore practice. (see: Classic Railroad Signaling; Railroad Signaling. Also see: Barnes & Noble.)

On the surface, it looks a like a standard pattern three-position upper-quadrant semaphore blade, commonly used by many American railways beginning about 1908.

The flat-end red blade with white stripe would have been typically used for an absolute signal that display a full stop in its most restrictive position.

There’s one critical difference with this semaphore blade; it’s a mirror of the signals typically used in the USA.

On most American railways, semaphore blades were oriented to the right, while in British practice (which includes Ireland) they are oriented to the left. (New Haven railroad was an exception).

I would guess that this signal is an adaptation of the American pattern for service in Britain or Ireland. But where did come from? And how did this anomalous signal blade find its way to Finglas, which is not even on a railway line.

At the moment, this stands as one of signaling’s great unsolved mysteries.

Do you know the story behind it?

 

Take the Trees Away and Wow!

 

The deep cutting on the north-side of Dublin’s Phoenix Park Tunnel used to be a difficult place to get a good angle on a train. Previously I’d worked it, but it wasn’t easy. There was only a narrow view and the light was almost always problematic.

Some weeks back, Irish Rail cleared brush and trees from the cutting opening up the view as it hasn’t been for in decades.

Saturday, 19 March 2016, Colm O’Callaghan collected me and we met some friends at a high over bridge to make the most of this new opportunity.

Two trains were expected after Irish Rail lifted a permanent way possession (in North America this would be called ‘maintenance window’, which basically means the line was closed for work).

When we arrived maintenance equipment was still on the line.
When we arrived maintenance equipment was still on the line.
The very last locomotive in the old Enterprise livery, class 201 number 233, works the IWT liner. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
The very last locomotive in the old Enterprise livery, class 201 number 233, works the IWT liner. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
The roar of engine 072 is accentuated by the cutting. The new wide open view allows for a great panorama with the Wicklow Mountains in the distance.
The roar of engine 072 is accentuated by the cutting. The new wide open view allows for a great panorama with the Wicklow Mountains in the distance.
Poor old 072 has seen better days. It leads a track panel train toward the North Wall.
Poor old 072 has seen better days. It leads a track panel train toward the North Wall.

Take away the trees! Hurrah!

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More on the New Tracks: Dublin’s Cross City LUAS Progress; South Side.

This is a cursory survey of new trackage now being installed for Dublin’s Cross City extension of the LUAS Green Line tram route. (The first portion of the Green Line had opened in 2004.)

A couple of weeks ago, Mark Healy and I inspected progress on Dublin’s North Side.

We made a follow up trip last week and these photos were made walking the route along Hawkins Street, College Green, Nassau and Dawson Streets to St. Stephen’s Green (present southern terminus).

I made these photos with my Lumix LX7.

Hawkins Street, Dublin. March 2016.
Hawkins Street, Dublin. March 2016.
Looking toward College Green.
Looking toward College Green.
From the foot of Grafton Street looking toward College Green.
From the foot of Grafton Street looking toward College Green. (Trinity College at right).
Dawson Street looking south.
Dawson Street looking south.

LUAS_Works_Dawson_St_P1410560

Map of the new line.
Map of the new line.
Dawson Street looking north.
Dawson Street looking north.

 

Dawson Street looking north.
Dawson Street looking north.
St. Stephens Green.
St. Stephens Green.
St. Stephens Green.
St. Stephens Green.
St. Stephens Green.
St. Stephens Green.
St. Stephens Green.
St. Stephens Green.
St. Stephens Green.
St. Stephens Green.

One downside to the completion of the line will be the necessity to string catenary through the Dublin city centre. This will complicate photography of historic architecture.

Of course this same architecture will make for some nice backdrops.

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Irish Rail: An Early March 2016 View From Stucumny Bridge in Eight Photos!

This quiet overhead crossing of the quad-track is just past the 8 ¾ milepost from Dublin’s Heuston Station.

It offers an open view of the line with a favorable angle for down (traveling away from Dublin) trains mid-morning.

Milepost 8 3/4 as measured from Heuston Station, Dublin. Here an ICR passes en route to Portlaoise. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Milepost 8 3/4 as measured from Heuston Station, Dublin. Here an ICR passes en route to Portlaoise. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
An up ICR is only minutes away from Heuston Station. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
An up ICR is only minutes away from Heuston Station. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Cross lit view of another up ICR. The wire across the line south of bridge can be problematic.
Cross lit view of another up ICR. The wire across the line south of bridge can be problematic.
Always nice to catch an old 071 working the IWT liner. Here 088 does the honors. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Always nice to catch an old 071 working the IWT liner. Here 088 does the honors. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
These days you can often IWT boxes on the liner of the same name.
These days you can often IWT boxes on the liner of the same name.

It takes a tuned interest in Irish Rail’s operations and a bit of luck. to time a visit to coincide with passage of the weekday IWT Liner (International Warehousing & Transport container train between Dublin and Ballina) and the more elusive HOBS (high output ballast system).

Getting the clouds to cooperate is trickier yet again.

Clear blue sky for the down Mark4 to Cork. But in Ireland the clouds cross the sky at an alarming rate. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Clear blue sky for the down Mark4 to Cork. But in Ireland the clouds cross the sky at an alarming rate. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
A mix of sun and cloud greeted the up HOBS. It can drive you batty. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
A mix of sun and cloud greeted the up HOBS. It can drive you batty. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
And there it goes! Soon the HOBS will be stabled in the old Guinness sidings at Heuston. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
And there it goes! Soon the HOBS will be stabled in the old Guinness sidings at Heuston. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

A couple of weeks ago Colm O’Callaghan and I spent a strategic 45 minutes at Stucumny Bridge.

Even if you fail at catching the freight on the move, there’s always a steady parade of passenger trains.

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Stack train with Caboose at Buffalo—January 1989.

This Kodachrome slide has always resonated with me.

In North American practice, cabooses and stack trains were equipment from different eras that just barely overlapped.

During the mid-1980s, most class 1 freight carriers banished cabooses to operational backwaters. True, cabooses held out in rare instances (some can still be found), but they had been made redundant by technological changes and their once-standard operation finally came to an end as a side-effect of deregulation.

Another effect of deregulation was a more progressive environment that favored double-stacked container trains.

So, as cabooses were rapidly sidetracked, stack trains were becoming common on principal trunk lines. Since intermodal operations tended to run from terminal to terminal, these trains were among the first to lose cabooses.

I can count the number of caboose-ended double-stack trains I photographed on one hand.

 Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 90mm Elmarit.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 90mm Elmarit.

I especially like this view in a snow squall of a Norfolk Southern train carrying an Norfolk & Western caboose on the back of a Maersk stack train that had just come east over the old Nickel Plate route.

The background is the colossal and completely abandoned Buffalo Central Terminal, designed by Fellheimer & Wagner, and constructed by the New York Central during the false optimism of the roaring 1920s, only to open on the eve of the Great Depression.

Buy my book Railway Depots, Stations & terminals published by Voyageur Press to learn more about Fellheimer & Wagner’s stations

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Heuston Station with Tri-Colour Lighting: North Side View.

(Hint: if you aren’t on Brian’s site, click on Tracking the Light to get the full view!).

The other day I offered a view of Dublin’s Heuston Station lit for St. Patrick’s Day.

A day or so later, I rode by on the top of a double decker bus, and it occurred to me that I’d missed the image.

By showing the station face-on, I inadvertently minimized the effect of the lit Irish Tricolour.

Heuston_Station_at_Night_mod1_P1410635Here, I show the station at a more oblique angle the I feel does a better job of capturing the effect. I’ve included the LUAS but in a marginal role.

What do you think?

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Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival 17 March 2016—Dozens of New Photos!

It was a virtual sea of humanity; and largely decked out in green naff.

I exposed several hundred photos with my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm X-T1 digital cameras. Below is just a small selection.

Also check out my Dublin Page for more St. Patrick’s Day photos.

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You mean there's a greener Golf? Who knew?
You mean there’s a greener Golf? Who knew?

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Staring contest.

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Happy St Patrick’s Day from Dublin!

My Lumix, always handy, makes a near-perfect tool for capturing the spirit and colour St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin.

Shelbourne Hotel at St. Stephens Green lit for St. Patrick's Day.
Shelbourne Hotel at St. Stephens Green lit for St. Patrick’s Day.
Green light on a Georgian dream. Time exposure with Lumix LX7 mounted on mini Gitzo tripod.
Green light on a Georgian dream. Time exposure with Lumix LX7 mounted on mini Gitzo tripod.
Ample quantities of stout at the ready.
Ample quantities of stout at the ready.
College Green.
College Green.

Click on my Dublin Page for more photos!

College Green.
College Green.
National Library on Kildare Street.
National Library on Kildare Street.
The DART crosses the Loop Line Bridge over the Liffey.
The DART crosses the Loop Line Bridge over the Liffey.
Custom House.
Custom House.
Easons on O'Connell Street where I sometimes find my books on sale.
Easons on O’Connell Street where I sometimes find my books on sale.
New LUAS track on O'Connell Street will soon host French-built trams.
New LUAS track on O’Connell Street will soon host French-built trams.
Irish Tri-Colour superimposed on the Bank of Ireland.
Irish Tri-Colour superimposed on the Bank of Ireland.
Dublin Bus carries fares on O'Connell Street. Check the website for detours on St. Patrick' Day, since this thoroughfare will be closed as part of the parade route.
Dublin Bus carries fares on O’Connell Street. Check the website for detours on St. Patrick’ Day, since this thoroughfare will be closed as part of the parade route.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Check out my Dublin Page for more photos!

Irish Rail’s IWT at Islandbridge Junction; Lee Graduated ND Filter Experiment.

Last Friday, 11 March 2016, I went up to my favored Irish local location; Islandbridge Junction. This is a handy place for me.

This is great place to catch a freight train exiting Dublin’s Phoenix Park Tunnel on a bright clear day, yet can be visually problematic on a dull day.

On this day, I thought it would be a good place to experiment with a Lee graduated neutral density filter as a means of controlling contrast and allowing for a more effective overall exposure.

The filter I use offers subtle 2/3s of a stop gradation. This is adjustable both up/down and rotationally left/right.

I made a few test photos with and without the filter to gauge my exposure before the IWT arrived with Irish Rail 088 in the lead.

A similar effect can be accomplished digitally, yet the digital effect doesn’t add information to the RAW file, but only makes a visual adjustment in the final image.

In other words to apply the filter digital may be viewed as a ‘correction’ rather than an in-camera technique. Yet, it is often easier to apply a filter in post-processing than in the field.

I’ve used both methods depending on the circumstance.

Below are some results.

Test photo to gauge comparative exposure. This was made without the filter. My concern is getting adequate exposure in both the sky and foreground.
Test photo to gauge comparative exposure. This was made without the filter. My concern is getting adequate exposure in both the sky and foreground.
Test exposure with the graduated filter. Here I've been able to lighten the foreground slightly while holding detail in the sky.
Test exposure with the graduated filter. Here I’ve been able to lighten the foreground slightly while holding detail in the sky.
Here's a test view using the filter. I've achieved a good overall balance. (Sorry, the filter won't make the sun come out.)
Here’s a test view using the filter. I’ve achieved a good overall balance. (Sorry, the filter won’t make the sun come out.)
Here we have the ultimate objective. To make a balance image of Irish Rail's IWT Liner. It really about making the most of a gray engine on a gray day.
Here we have the ultimate objective. To make a balance image of Irish Rail’s IWT Liner. It really about making the most of a gray engine on a gray day.

This gives a nice overall of my experiment, but in the middle of all this I got a little greedy. Using my zoom lens on the FujiFilm X-T1, I made a tight view of the IWT (with the filter).

As is often the case with last second changes, I didn’t get my exposure quite right. My feeling was that the RAW file was about 1/3 of a stop too dark.

Nice try, but my exposure was a bit dark.
Nice try, but my exposure was a bit dark.
I imported my RAW file into Lightroom and made a variety of small corrections. First I altered the level. I also lightened up the entire image slightly and warmed up the color temperature. Is this an improvement?
I imported my RAW file into Lightroom and made a variety of small corrections. First I altered the level. I also lightened up the entire image slightly and warmed up the color temperature. Is this an improvement?

As with most of my photography, I consider this a work in progress. In all likelihood, before long I’ll be back at Islandbridge Junction to further refine my experiment.

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Amtrak Montrealer Detours! 30 Years Ago Today—March 15, 1986.

It was a day of big excitement. Up north, Guilford was in a knot as result of a strike action. Bob Buck phoned me early in the morning to say that ‘The Boot’ (the colloquial name for Amtrak’s Montrealer) was detouring to Palmer on the Central Vermont, then west on the Boston & Albany (Conrail).

Using my dad’s Rollei model T loaded with Kodak Tri-X, I made the most of the unusual move.

This was nearly a decade before Amtrak’s Vermonter began to regularly make the jog in Palmer from the CV/New England Central route to the B&A mainline.

And, it was only four months before Conrail ended traditional directional double-track operations between Palmer and Springfield.

Amtrak 61 followed CV’s southward road freight to Palmer arriving at 11 am. Here I pictured it near the old Boston & Albany freight house in Palmer, Massachusetts. Note the all heritage consist (except of course for the F40).
Amtrak 61 followed CV’s southward road freight to Palmer arriving at 11 am with  Canadian National M-420 2557 in the lead.. Here I pictured it near the old Boston & Albany freight house in Palmer, Massachusetts. Note the all heritage consist (except of course for the F40).
An Amtrak CF7 had come out from Springfield to assist with the reverse move necessary to bring the Montrealer westward over the B&A.
An Amtrak CF7 had come out from Springfield to assist with the reverse move necessary to bring the Montrealer westward over the B&A.

I’d met some photographers at the Palmer diamond and encouraged them to take advantage of my favorite vantage point at the rock cutting at milepost 84, just over the Quaboag River from the Palmer Station.

As detouring Amtrak number 61 approached with a former Santa Fe CF7 leading the train to Springfield, we could hear an eastward Conrail freight chugging along with new GE C30-7As.

Moments after I exposed the classic view of this Montrealer working the old number 1 track, TV6 blasted east with intermodal piggybacks for Worcester and Springfield. I was using the Rollei with a 645 'Superslide' insert that allowed me 16 frames per roll.
Moments after I exposed the classic view of this Montrealer working the old number 1 track, TV6 blasted east with intermodal piggybacks for Worcester and Boston. I was using the Rollei with a 645 ‘Superslide’ insert that allowed me 16 frames per roll.
Conrail TV6 passes Amtrak's Montrealer on the double track west of the Palmer diamond. In July 1986, Conrail cut-in CP83 which ended double track operations between Palmer and the new CP92 in Springfield.
Conrail TV6 passes Amtrak’s Montrealer on the double track west of the Palmer diamond. Four months later, in July 1986, Conrail cut-in CP83 which ended double track operations between Palmer and the new CP92 in Springfield.
Sometimes when the action is unfolding its best to just keep exposing pictures. Here I was cranking the Rollie as quickly as I could.
Sometimes when the action is unfolding its best to just keep exposing pictures. Here I was cranking the Rollie as quickly as I could.

This is among my favorite sequences that show the old double track in action.

Some of these photos later appeared in Passenger Train Journal. Long before I was the Associate Editor of that magazine.

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Railway Preservation Society Ireland Number 4 at Claude Road in Dublin, 13 March 2016.

Sunday morning was warm but dull.

Railway Preservation Society Ireland had scheduled a trip to depart Connolly Station Dublin for a run out the Sligo Road to Carrick-on-Shannon and Boyle.

Where to catch it?

There’s a bit of a pull up toward Glasnevin Junction with the stiffest climb as the line passes Croke Park.

At Claude Road a pedestrian bridge over the line offers an excellent view to the east.

On a clear day this isn’t a preferred mid-morning view, because you’d be fighting the sun (to no advantage).

No chance of the sun presenting a problem yesterday morning.

I could hear number 4’s shrill whistle as the engine departed Connolly, followed by more than five minutes of stack talk as the engine worked its consist of Cravens upgrade.

Using my FujiFilm X-T1, I exposed this sequence of digital images as the train worked by me.

The Croke Park stadium looms in the distance as RSPI number 4 barks up grade.
The Croke Park stadium looms in the distance as RSPI number 4 barks up grade.
Using my 18-135mm zoom lens, I pulled back as the locomotive approached.
Using my 18-135mm zoom lens, I pulled back as the locomotive approached.
Old number 4 is working 'bunker first', and that's cool, after all its a tank engine!
Old number 4 is working ‘bunker first’, and that’s cool, after all its a tank engine!
I had my camera in 'turbo flutter' and was exposing pixels at light speed. (Metaphorically speaking).
I had my camera in ‘turbo flutter’ and was exposing pixels at light speed.
Looking toward Phibsborough.
Looking toward Phibsborough.

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I wonder, perhaps I’d have been better off with my old Nikon and 400mm Tokina telephoto to hone in on the working engine? That would be a slide of course. Maybe next time.

 

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Prelude: A shrill whistle, bark of exhaust and a wisp of steam and smoke.

I made this photo a little while ago near Drumcondra in Dublin (just after 11am on 13 March 2016).

Anticipation of the event is half the thrill.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the full story!

A wisp of steam hints at some excitement; I made this view Looking toward Drumcondra Station and Dublin's Croke Park on the morning of 13 March 2016.
A wisp of steam hints at some excitement; I made this view Looking toward Drumcondra Station and Dublin’s Croke Park on the morning of 13 March 2016.

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Dublin’s Heuston Station Lit for St. Patrick’s Day 2016.

It’s become an annual tradition to illuminate notable buildings around Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

I made this image of Heuston Station using my Lumix LX7 mounted on a mini Gitzo tripod.

Heuston is among the stations featured in my book Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals published by Voyageur Press in 2015.

Exposed using a Lumix LX7 at f2.5for  1 second in Vivid Mode at ISO 80. Contrast and saturation adjusted in post processing.
Exposed using a Lumix LX7 at f2.5for  1 second in Vivid Mode at ISO 80. Contrast and saturation adjusted in post processing.

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On a Steam Locomotive Footplate in Poland-May 2000.

On a bright May morning at Wolsztyn, Poland, I organized a footplate trip for myself on a PKP (Polish National Railways) 2-6-2 running to Poznan with a revenue passenger train.

This was among the photos I made of the experience.

A PKP fireman feeds the fire at speed. Exposed with a Rollei Model T on 120 black & white film. Scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner and processed digitally in Lightroom.
A PKP fireman feeds the fire at speed. Exposed with a Rollei Model T on 120 black & white film. Scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner and processed digitally in Lightroom.

Let’s just say I had a nice view on the return trip.

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Success and Follow Up “One Year on Irish Railways; Looking back Ten Years”

Last night, as advertised, I presented my program to the Irish Railway Record Society in Dublin.

I had a large and receptive audience. There were more bodies than seats.

The program was in two parts, divided by a tea break (as per tradition). After a few slides from America, I focused on the main event: Ireland as I saw it 10 years ago.

I apologize: there were no photos of the DART or 29000-series CAF-built railcars, and I probably offered a disproportionate number of views of the last two operational class 121 diesels.

For those curious about my camera equipment: at the time I was in a transition between Nikon and Canon systems, while I was also making good use of a Contax G2 rangefinder. Color slides were exposed with lens ranging from a 16mm Zeiss Hologon to a 400mm Tokina telephoto.

In 2006, I was more than 2 years away from exposing my first digital photo. I was like the Norfolk & Western in 1953, and still firmly committed to the old technology. Most of the slides were exposed using Fujichrome Sensia2 (ISO 100), although I also used some Fujichrome Velvia 100, Provia 100F, and Provia 400F, as well as the occasional roll of Ektachrome.

Norfolk Liner at Bekan. Exposed on Fujichrome 100 with a 180mm Nikkor lens.
Norfolk Liner at Bekan. Exposed on Fujichrome 100 with a 180mm Nikkor lens. Contrast adjusted in post processing.
I had dual tripods and dual Nikons at this location. For this follow-up view of the same Norfolk Liner, I used a 400mm Tokina telephoto that I bought from Doug Moore back in 1992. I still have it with me in Ireland, although there's no many places here to make effective use of such a long lens. Bekan offers ths unusual 'flight of stairs' effect.
I had dual tripods and dual Nikons at this location. For this follow-up view of the same Norfolk Liner, I used a 400mm Tokina telephoto that I bought from Doug Moore back in 1992. I still have it with me in Ireland, although there’s not many places on this island to make effective use of such a long lens. Bekan (east of Claremorris) offers ths unusual ‘flight of stairs’ effect.

Thanks to everyone who attended!

REJECTED! Irish Rail Out-takes.

Tonight, 10 March 2016, I will present an illustrated program “One Year on Irish Railways; Looking back Ten Years” to the Irish Railway Record Society in Dublin.

What will I show?

I sifted through thousands of my Irish Rail slides looking for images that fit my arbitrary qualification; exposed in Ireland during 2006.

After locating more than 500 slides that fit the bill, I then honed the selection to something manageable.

Ultimately, this meant I needed to reject more photos than I included.

Here are five views that I exposed in 2006, that will not be appearing tonight.

I hope no one will be disappointed.

Cherryville Junction. Exposed on Fujichrome.
Cherryville Junction. Exposed on Fujichrome.
Claremorris. Exposed on Fujichrome.
Claremorris. Exposed on Fujichrome.
Manulla Junction. Exposed on Fujichrome.
Manulla Junction. Exposed on Fujichrome.
Steam leaking from a Cravens set at Claremorris. Exposed on Fujichrome.
Steam leaking from a Cravens set at Claremorris. Exposed on Fujichrome.
Mixed pair works the Ballina Branch train at Ballina. Exposed on Fujichrome.
Mixed pair works the Ballina Branch train at Ballina. Exposed on Ektachrome.

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