About 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.

Tunnel Motor in the Town of Seven Railroads!

Sometimes history has conclusions that no one anticipates.

Here we have a former Southern Pacific SD40-T2 passing the abutments of the old Hampden Railroad near Three Rivers, in Palmer Massachusetts. You could write a book about this scene!

Thanks to Paul Goewey for suggesting this location. It had been 30 years since my last visit. Hey where are the Rock Island GP18s??

Thanks to Paul Goewey for suggesting this location. It had been 30 years since my last visit. Hey where are the Rock Island GP18s??

Brian Solomon is traveling in Finland, but Tracking the Light should continue to post photographs daily!

Volcanic Eruption on the Russian Frontier

Petri and Pietu Tuovinen, Markku Pulkkinen and I arrived at the Finnish—Russian border just a minute before a loaded iron ore train crossed with Russian diesels.

I have to admit that 10 days of continuous travel had caught up with me and I’d fallen asleep in the car. “Hey, wake up! The train is over the frontier.”

“What? Where?”

I managed a decent image of the train. But the best was yet to come. An ominous looking sign marked the border area.

We waited for an hour while the Russian diesels were position on an eastward empty train. A thunderstorm rumbled to the south. Finnish custom agents inspect the train. The Russian diesels idled. It began to rain.

Finally, the train began to ease forward. The driver must have liked the attention and once passed the starting signal, he notched up the locomotives. It reminded me of photographing old Alcos!

Russian diesels work east toward at the Finnish-Russian border. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1, modified in post processing for contrast and saturation.

Russian diesels work east toward at the Finnish-Russian border. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1, modified in post processing for contrast and saturation.

It was unwise to consider chasing east.

It was unwise to consider chasing east.

Tracking the Light posts daily.

TRACKING the LIGHT Extra: VR overnight train IC 274 arrives at Oulu at 23:45

Back in olden times overnight sleeping car trains were common. Today, not so much. Yet, I’ve just boarded IC 274 for Helsinki. There was a mob on the platform at Oulu. To quote the old saying, ‘There’s no one riding trains any more, they are too crowded.’

Thankfully, I’m locked away in a berth.

Lumix LX-7 photo exposed at Oulu on 29 July 2015.

Lumix LX-7 photo exposed at Oulu on 29 July 2015.

Lumix LX-7 photo exposed at Oulu on 29 July 2015. 11:45pm.

Lumix LX-7 photo exposed at Oulu on 29 July 2015. 11:45pm.

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Back in olden times overnight sleeping car trains didn’t have WiFi!

Tracking the Light posts every day!

Timber Train at Ammansaari

In railway photography timing is everything. In Finland, some of the mystery of when trains operate has been revealed through the miracle of a public service application for smart phones and mobile devices.

Thanks to the careful attention of my guides. Petri and Pietu Tuovinen, and Markku Pulkinen, we arrived at the timber loading terminal at the end of a lightly used VR branch just in time to catch the arrival of this VR empty timber train.

In the lead were a pair of venerable Dv12 diesel-hydraulic locomotives. These are the GP9s of Finland and have worked all types of traffic.

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The overgrown branch line with very light rail is a total contrast with Finland’s mainlines, which feature excellent track and manicured infrastructure.

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The number 750 represents the distance by rail from Helsinki in kilometers.

The number 750 represents the distance by rail from Helsinki in kilometers.

An old Tk3 2-8-0 is on public display.

An old Tk3 2-8-0 is on public display.

Detail of the cylinder and valves on the Danish built class Tk3.

Detail of the cylinder and valves on the Danish built class Tk3.

An old light 2-8-0 is positioned near the end of track as a display. Finland was still operating wood-fired steam in revenue service into the 1970s.

Tracking the Light posts photographs daily!

Tracking the Light’s Classic Chrome Archive: doubleheaded Amtrak GG1s at Pelham Bay Park.

I exposed this image on Kodachrome from my grandparents balcony in Coop City, The Bronx, New York in August 1979. How I wished I'd been trackside for this move, but at least I saw it, and documented it with my Leica 3A.

I exposed this image on Kodachrome from my grandparents balcony in Coop City, The Bronx, New York in August 1979. How I wished I’d been trackside for this move, but at least I saw it, and documented it with my Leica 3A.

Brian Solomon is traveling in Finland, but Tracking the Light should continue to post photographs daily!

Railway Ruins in the Forest—Evidence of another Era.

I felt like a Victorian explorer being led through forests by expert guides. Petri and Pietu Tuovinen, and Markku Pulkinen led me a long a disused track.

“There is a locomotive turntable here.”

Indeed! Masked by trees, hidden from view, and located off the end of a lightly used branch line at Ammansaari, Finland is the old turntable once used to spin light steam locomotives.

Few visitors are afforded the privilege of seeing this relic. It was like finding a Mayan pyramid in the rain forest.

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I exposed these photos digitally using my FujiFilm X-T1. For effect, I set the camera to the preset that emulates black & white film with a red filter. For posterity, I also exposed a few color slides.

My old Contax with real black & white film would have served me well here.

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Tracking the Light posts photographs daily!

Pan Am Heritage Locomotives Cross the Connecticut—July 9 2015

In the early 1980s, I made trips to Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield Yard to catch the waning days of the old GP7s, GP9s, and GP18s.

More than 30 years later, some of those old goats are still on the move, hauling freight and now in heritage paint!

On the morning of July 9, 2015, photographer Mike Gardner and I stopped into East Deerfield and found the Pan Am Railways GP9s getting ready to work east with a ballast train. I made this view of the colorful old locomotives crossing the Connecticut River east of the yard.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Digital Magic with Oulu Sunset—July 2015.

At Oulu, Finland, the sun hangs in the northwestern sky until after 11pm. For a visitor from more southerly regions this late light is fascinating.

My host Markku Pulkkinen showed me this foot bridge over the main railway yard and I made a series of photographs with my FujiFilm XT-1. This image was tricky.

A Swiss-designed class Sr2 electric was preparing to head south with an overnight freight. I found an alignment to capture this train departing against the backdrop of the low sun. My difficulty was in selecting the right exposure.

If it was light enough to capture the details of the locomotive than the sky would have been blasted (over exposed), yet if I exposed to retain color and detail in the sky, than the railway yard and locomotive would have been virtually opaque.

Ultimately, I made several exposures using my camera’s histogram to guide me. I avoided clipping the highlights, while allowing the shadow regions to slip to the lower end of the graph.

After the fact, I used Lightroom (recently installed on my new MacBook) to adjust the highlight and shadow areas to hold detail, while pumping up the saturation a little.

VR Sr2 at Oulu, Finland after 11 pm on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. File adjusted for exposure, contrast, and saturation.

VR Sr2 at Oulu, Finland after 11 pm on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. File adjusted for exposure, contrast, and saturation.

I’ll admit the end result looks a bit surreal. But then again, I found the whole setting surreal from the get go!

I processed the file and made my adjustments while riding on the upper level of a VR train heading toward Kontiomäki.

Tracking the Light post new material daily!

 

Union Pacific at Palisade Canyon—22 years ago today.

On the afternoon of July 24, 1993, TSH and I  explored Nevada’s Palisade Canyon—a scenic cleft in the desert where the Southern Pacific-Union Pacific (former Western Pacific) east-west ‘Paired Track’ mainlines were in close-proximity to one another.

We made several photographs at this location under brilliant sunny skies. Today, both lines are Union Pacific.

EXTRA POST: VR Pendolino sent from the Pendolino.

22 July 2015, I’m whizzing along in ’tilt mode’ on a VR Pendolino heading from Helsinki to Oulu. We’ve just overtaken a freight with a pair of diesels on the move.

Just like Amtrak and Irish Rail, these modern trains have on-board WiFi. So far so good.

Using my Lumix LX7 and new Apple Mac Book I can make, process and download photos faster than ever. Thanks to the WiFi I can up load them to you quicker.

Done are the times of waiting until after a trip to have slides processed and then waiting days, weeks, months to have a slide show with friends before being able to share photos.

Why then, you might ask, did I bring 5 rolls of slides and my old EOS 3 to Finland! Well, there’s another story.

VR Pendolino under the shed at Helsinki Central Station. Exposed on the morning of 22 July 2015 using my Lumix LX7.

VR Pendolino under the shed at Helsinki Central Station. Exposed on the morning of 22 July 2015 using my Lumix LX7.

That's my car.

That’s my car.

Finland's gone green!

Finland’s gone green!

Tracking the Light posts new material every day!

Helsinki Central Station Revisited.

I’ve featured Helsinki Central in several books. It will be among the stations covered in my next book on railway terminals, stations and depots. This busy city center station was the inspiration for Buffalo Central Terminal and Cincinnati Union Station.

Last night I made these views at dusk using my FujiFilm X-T1 with a 27mm pancake lens.

Exposed 21 June, 2015.

Exposed on 21 June, 2015.

Exposed on 21 June, 2015.

Exposed on 21 June, 2015.

Exposed on 21 June, 2015.

Exposed on 21 June, 2015.

I’ll be traveling in Finland for the next ten days.

Tracking the Light posts new material daily!

Worcester, Massachusetts July 6, 2015

Elevation is often the key to better railway photographs. That was certainly the case on the morning of July 6, 2015, when Paul Goewey and I inspected the view from the parking garage opposite Worcester Union Station.

We were lucky to catch new MBTA HSP46 2027 leading an outbound train from Boston. These locomotives are unique to MBTA, and in long-standing tradition have large road numbers painted on their roofs. (atop the cab in yellow numerals).

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Exposed with my Lumix LX7.

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FujiFilm X-T1 digital photograph.

Tracking the Light posts original content on a daily basis!

20 More Photos from the Irish Railway Record Society July 2015 Mayo Tour

As a follow up to yesterday’s Extra Post Irish Railway Record Society 071 Railtour 18 July 2015, I’ve put together this selection of images that I made on Saturday’s excellent rail tour from Du blin’s Connolly Station to Ballina and Westport. All were exposed with my Lumix LX7.

Under the shed at Connolly.

Under the shed at Connolly.

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Freshly painted 077 at Inchicore.

Freshly painted 077 at Inchicore.

Claremorris cabin.

Claremorris cabin.

Ballina.

Ballina.

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Ballina.

Ballina.

Ballina.

Ballina.

Ballina.

Ballina.

Ballina.

Ballina.

Reviewing results.

Reviewing results.

Reviewing results.

Reviewing results.

Lashing rain at Claremorris.

Lashing rain at Claremorris.

Photo stop at Castlebar.

Photo stop at Castlebar.

In rain at Westport.

In rain at Westport.

Westport.

Westport.

Westport.

Westport.

Westport.

Westport.

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Connolly.

Connolly.

Tracking the Light post photos everyday!

Cranford, New Jersey—first visit!

Last month I visited Cranford, New Jersey to meet Pat Yough on our way to dinner with black & white photo guru Gordon Roth.

I’d seen many photographs made at this former Central Railroad of New Jersey location.

Hey! Where are the camelbacks? The double-ended Baldwins? SD35s with time freights?

I didn’t even see a vendor selling T-shirts that read, ‘I visited Cranford, but all I saw was an NJ Transit Dual-Mode with bi-levels!’

Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1.

Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1.

Tracking the Light posts new and original content daily!

EXTRA POST: Irish Railway Record Society 071 Railtour 18 July 2015

Yesterday, the IRRS in cooperation with the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland and Irish Rail, operated a popular locomotive hauled tour from Dublin Connolly to Ballina and Wesport, County Mayo.

I had the privilege to travel and photograph this trip. For me this was a great opportunity to reacquaint with friends and experience Irish Rail first hand.

Connolly Station Dublin.

Connolly Station Dublin.

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Three class 071 General Motors locomotives were used: freshly painted Irish Rail 087 from Dublin to Ballina, Irish 078 from Ballina to Claremorris and Westport, and 084 on the return leg from Westport to Dublin. The turbocharged sounds of Electro-Motive 12-645E3 diesels prevailed though out the day.

Making the most of the sunlight.

Making the most of the sunlight.

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Tullamore.

Photo stop at Tullamore.

Clear skies in Dublin soon gave way to more typical Irish weather. I was neither deterred by the weather nor a haze of jetleg, and I exposed hundreds of digital photographs using my Lumix LX7. Somehow I also managed to pop off a whole roll of Provia with my EOS 3.

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Staff at Claremorris, Co. Mayo.

Ballina, County Mayo.

Ballina, County Mayo.

I view these trips as great opportunity to capture the railway enthusiast community. After all the train was provided purely for its enjoyment.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible!

I’ll plan to post additional images soon.

Remember former times at Ballina.

Remember former times at Ballina.

Overseeing operations at Claremorris.

Overseeing operations at Claremorris.

Old 078 in the rain at Claremorris.

Old 078 in the rain at Claremorris.

084 with a laden timber train at Westport.

084 with a laden timber train at Westport.

Umbrella photography.

Umbrella photography.

Roscommon on the return trip.

Roscommon on the return trip.

View from the train near Roscommon.

View from the train near Roscommon.

Tea for the driver.

Tea for the driver.

Recalling the days of steam.

Recalling the days of steam.

Tullamore on the return.

Tullamore on the return.

Train timing up-road.

Train timing up-road.

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Kildare.

Pouring_O-Haras_P1280612Tracking the Light posts daily!

More photos from the 071 Tour soon.

Newark Light Rail—June 2015

I was on my way from Gladstone to Cranford, New Jersey. During my change of modes at Newark Broad Street, I made this photo of an in-inbound NJ Transit light rail car.

It was hot, and the light was tinted by the prevailing smaze, a condition often prevalent in this part of New Jersey.

Question: would it be better to filter the light to counter the tint, or run with a ‘daylight’ setting that would show the brownish tinge the way it really is?

Broad Street in Newark, New Jersey. Exposed with a Lumix LX7.

Broad Street in Newark, New Jersey. Exposed with a Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light offers original material daily!

Riding NJ Transit

Taking the train is part of the experience.

Ride a line once, and it’s an adventure! Ride the line every day and it can become drudgery.

In June, I made an adventure of riding NJ Transit.

My trip was thoroughly pleasant and without incident, except for my brief conversation with an unnecessarily surly NJT conductress at Secaucus, “The SIGN is over THERE!” (Gosh! Forgive me for neither knowing the routine nor how to interpret NJT’s train color coding on platform B).

Ok ok, after all there’s a reputation to be maintained here, I understand.

But, perhaps NJ Transit could take a few tips from the Belgian national railways when it comes to employee uniforms, customer service, and timetable planning. (All top marks for the SNCB based on my experiences).

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Hoboken.

Rutherford.

Rutherford.

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Signals at Suffern.

Signals at Suffern.

New York City as viewed from Secaucus.

New York City as viewed from Secaucus.

Meet on the Gladstone Branch.

Meet on the Gladstone Branch.

Probably not the cheapest ticket I ever bought, but an interesting routing none-the-less.

Probably not the cheapest ticket I ever bought, but an interesting routing none-the-less.

Dual mode at Newark Pennsylvania Station.

Dual mode at Newark Pennsylvania Station.

Top level of a bi-level car.

Top level of a bi-level car.

Tracking the Light posts new and original content daily!

Brian’s Boston Blue Line Views

I hadn’t explored Boston’s Blue since 1999, so the other day while waiting for a flight at Logan airport I took a spin over the length of the line.

History lessons are on display at many Blue Line stations.

History lessons are on display at many Blue Line stations.

Blue Line train at Airport Station.

Blue Line train at Airport Station.

The Blue Line has its origins with one of America’s most unusual suburban railways, the narrow gauge Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn. At one time, beyond living memory, this was operated using a fleet of Mason Bogie engines, a peculiar type derived from the English Fairlie.

Later the route was electrified.

Historic views posted in MBTA’s modern station and architectural details hint at this once wonderful railway.

It remains a peculiar operation because of its blend of third rail and electric overhead. At the airport station you can witness the transition between electrical systems.

I found train frequency excellent, with cars passing in both directions about every four minutes.

These photos exposed with my ever versatile Panasonic Lumic LX7.

The connection from Blue Line's Airport Station to Logan involves one of these vehicles.

The connection from Blue Line’s Airport Station to Logan involves one of these vehicles.

A train to Wonderland arrives at the Airport Station drawing current from the overhead lines. I didn't meet Alice at Wonderland. No white rabbit either. However a few passengers could consider hatting as a trade.

A train to Wonderland arrives at the Airport Station drawing current from the overhead lines. I didn’t meet Alice at Wonderland. No white rabbit either. However, a few Blue Line passengers may consider  millinery (hatting) as a trade.

State Street Boston. A good service on the Blue Line. Not so good on the Orange Line, though.

State Street Boston. A good service on the Blue Line. Not so good on the Orange Line, though.

Nice new cars.

Nice new cars.

Beachmont Station incorporates visual elements that hark back to steam days on the BRB&L.

Beachmont Station incorporates visual elements that hark back to steam days on the BRB&L.

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Beachmont.

Beachmont.

Someone somewhere is being cute: the Blue Line cars are in the 0700-series. This one is 0707. I also noted 0727, 0747, and etc. Funny these cars don't run to Riverside!

Someone somewhere is being cute: the Blue Line cars are in the 0700-series. This one is 0707. I also noted 0727, 0747, etc. Funny these cars don’t run to Riverside!

0707 at the Airport Station. I've a nice photo of an old Boeing at Rochester, New York. Perhaps for a future post.

0707 at the Airport Station. I’ve a nice photo of an old Boeing at Rochester, New York. Perhaps for a future post.

SERVICE NOTICE: Brian is presently traveling and Tracking the Light may post at irregular times as a result.

Tracking the Light normally posts original content on a daily basis!

Gladstone Station—Three Photos.

In June, I revisited Gladstone Station. The quaint 1891-built Queen Anne style depot at the end of NJ Transit’s former Lackawanna Branch is a nicely kept station building. Unfortunately the old station structure is hemmed in by a host of modernity, all ugly and out of character with the style.

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Gladstone_Station_w_NJT_Silverliner_DSCF1701

I arrived and departed on the train pictured by the station. Photos exposed with a Fuji X-T1.

Tracking the Light posts daily!

Red Signal at Sunset, Palmer, Massachusetts.

It was a rosy red sunset on Friday July 10th. Jupiter and Venus could be seen in the western sky.

Tracking the Light reader Douglas Moore told me that the signal cleared to green shortly after I headed away and CSX’s Q437 (Framingham, Massachusetts to Selkirk, New York) manifest freight passed in darkness.

I exposed this image using my recently purchased Fujinon Aspherical 27mm pancake lens. This is one compact and very sharp pieces of glass.

I’m hoping the combination of a sharp lightweight lens with relatively fast aperture will serve me well in low light.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera fitted with a 27mm pancake lens. 400 ISO, 1/60th of a second f5.0 white balance set to daylight.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera fitted with a 27mm pancake lens. 400 ISO, 1/60th of a second f5.0 white balance set to daylight.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera fitted with a 27mm pancake lens. 6400 ISO, 1/15th of a second, f2.8. Daylight white balance.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera fitted with a 27mm pancake lens. 6400 ISO, 1/15th of a second, f2.8. Daylight white balance.

Tracking the Light post new photos daily!

 

Tracking the Light Extra Post: Alco Switcher works Scranton

I’ve been scanning a batch of 120 color transparencies.

I exposed this image in May 2007 while I was working on my book Railroads of Pennsylvania that featured the Delaware-Lackawanna among other railroads in the Commonwealth.

Exposed on 120 size Fujichrome using a Rollei Model T with fixed 75mm Zeiss Tessar lens. Scanned using an Epson V600 scanner. Scaled and compressed for internet display.

Exposed on 120 size Fujichrome using a Rollei Model T with fixed 75mm Zeiss Tessar lens. Scanned using an Epson V600 scanner. Scaled and compressed for internet display.

Tracking the Light posts new material every day!

Tracking the Light is presently undergoing a computer transition that is ultimately aimed at improving the quality  of presentation. Like many transitions, there have been unanticipated events and consequences!

In the Shadow of the Lackawanna at Summit.

Fifty Five years have passed since the old Delaware, Lackawanna & Western merged with Erie Railroad to form Erie-Lackawanna. EL was a flawed short-lived creation that disappeared into Conrail in 1976.

Today, the old DL&W electrified main line at Summit, New Jersey is operated by NJ Transit.

DL&W was before my time. But in the early 1980s, I recall visiting Summit with my father on the ride out to Gladstone on former Lackawanna multiple units. Even then, those cars seemed to me to belong to an earlier epoch.

In June, I revisited Summit and made these photographs.

The old DL&W station at Summit has a classic look about it. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

The old DL&W station at Summit has a classic look about it. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

Stainless steel multiple-unit glide into the station at Summit. Today many trains through Summit go to Penn-Station, New York rather than Hoboken.

Stainless steel multiple-units glide into the station at Summit. Today many trains through Summit go to Penn-Station, New York rather than the old DL&W terminal at Hoboken.

Owing to the alignment of the track and depth of the cutting, high noon allows for light on the tracks. While there might nicer sun at other times of the day, it would be of little use here because of the shadows in the cut.

The old DL&W line is a cutting at Summit and the station straddles the line. Owing to the alignment of the track and the cutting, noon time is allows for light on the tracks. While there might nicer sun at other times of the day, it would be of little use because of the shadows.

The old DL&W line is a cutting at Summit and the station straddles the line.

Today those old MUs are just a memory here. No chance either of seeing a DL&W three-cylinder Mountain type on a coal train, or a Hudson leading the Lackawanna Limited on its way to Buffalo. Just shadows, modern electrics and the old station.

Tracking the Light posts new photos every day!

Secaucus Junction—Lots of Pictures!

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light posts new photos daily!

Years ago I noticed there seemed to be a natural law regarding the ratio of traffic to scenery in regards to railroad locations.

Lines blessed with stunning scenery generally suffered from a dearth of traffic, while the busiest places tend to be scenically bereft.

There are, of course, a few notable exceptions. California’s Tehachapi crossing comes to mind, as does New York’s Lower Hudson Valley. Both places are blessed exceptional scenery and frequent railway operations, and this makes them popular places to photograph.

Switzerland must not be considered in this equation as the whole country completely violates the natural law of railway photography.

Yet, many of the world’s most scenic lines—railways legendary for their stunning panoramas—have been abandoned, or lie dormant.

Then at the other end of the scale we have Secaucus Junction. Let’s just say it’s one of the busiest places in the Northeastern United States.

Outbound NJ Transit 4617 approaches platform B at Secaucus Junction.

Outbound NJ Transit 4617 approaches platform B at Secaucus Junction.

Trains come at go at Secaucus Junction every few minutes. FujiFilm X-T1 photograph.

Trains come at go at Secaucus Junction every few minutes. FujiFilm X-T1 photograph.

Secaucus Junction has some very interesting signaling. FujiFilm X-T1 photograph.

Secaucus Junction has some very interesting signaling. FujiFilm X-T1 photograph.

An Amtrak Regional train blitzes the station.

An Amtrak Regional train blitzes the station.

PRR_position_light_at_Secaucus_w_Amtrak_blur_DSCF1614

The station exists on several levels, with the former Pennsylvania Railroad lines crossing over the former Erie. How many tons of concrete? I don't know. And the whole structure is neatly situated in the Jersey Meadows (ie an extensive brackish marsh).

The station exists on several levels, with the former Pennsylvania Railroad lines crossing over the former Erie. How many tons of concrete? I don’t know. And the whole structure is neatly situated in the Jersey Meadows (ie an extensive brackish marsh).

A view of the station from the Erie side. (Lower level). This holds to the formula; it is by far the prettiest part of Secaucus Junction, and the least active. Lumix LX7 photo.

A view of the station from the Erie-Lackawanna side. (Lower level). This holds to the formula; it is by far the prettiest part of Secaucus Junction, and the least active. Lumix LX7 photo.

A train from Suffern, New York to Hoboken accelerates away from Secaucus. Lumix LX7 photo.

A train from Suffern, New York to Hoboken accelerates away from Secaucus. Lumix LX7 photo. Notice the three separate sets of high voltage electrical lines.

Looking west from Secaucus Junction. Fuji X-T1 photo.

Looking west from Secaucus Junction. Fuji X-T1 photo.

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Look trees!

Signals at Secaucus Junction.

Signals at Secaucus Junction.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light posts new photos daily!

Tomorrow the Shadows of DL&W at Summit.

Hoboken!?

When ever I think of Hoboken, New Jersey, I conjure up a vision of that classic Warner Bros., Bugs Bunny cartoon titled: ‘8 Ball Bunny.’

Bugs, upon discovering that the performing Penguin he’s just guided from Brooklyn to the South Pole was born across the Hudson from Manhattan, cries out. . . “HOBOKEN!? Oooo I’m dyin’ . . .”

That classic line, plus a bucket of steamed clams at the now-defunct Clam Broth House, and images of the old copper-clad Lackawanna Terminal represent Hoboken for me. It gets a bit confusing when I visit Antwerp, but that’s a story for another post.

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NJT_4216_Hoboken_P1250831

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Ice follies?

Ice follies?

Hoboken, no Jokin'.

Hoboken, no Jokin’.

Also see: Hoboken in Five Photos posted on January 26, 2015.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light post new photos every day!

Tracking the Light Extra Post: Amtrak’s Vermonter Crossing the Connecticut River at Holyoke

On July 9, 2015, fellow photographer Mike Gardner and I made photographs from the recently reopened Willimansett Bridge between Holyoke and Chicopee, Massachusetts.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a Fujinon Aspherical 27mm Pancake lens.

Train 56, the northward Vermonter crosses the Connecticut River. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a Fujinon Aspherical 27mm Pancake lens. Colors in the image file have been enhanced for internet presentation.

Service advisory! Tracking the Light is undergoing a series of transitions aimed at improving the site.

New Material is posted every day!

Light Rail in a Ghost Shadow of Terminal Trackage.

  • Sometimes I wonder if I’m living in the wrong century.
  • Lumix LX7 photo at Harboside in Jersey, New Jersey.

    Lumix LX7 photo at Harboside in Jersey, New Jersey.

    On June 26, 2015, I exposed this digital image at Harborside of an NJ Transit light rail train destined for Hoboken.

    Although there’s virtually no evidence today, decades ago this was the site of intensive Pennsylvania Railroad waterfront terminal trackage.

    More than a century ago PRR’s vast arched shed was located at Exchange Place (a few blocks to the south) while the entire area was blanketed with tracks.

    See: http://furnesque.tumblr.com/post/34850191832/jersey-city-ferry-terminal-pennsylvania-railroad

    My father photographed PRR MP54 electrics at Exchange Place in the early 1960s, and I recall watching a Conrail NW2 work freight trackage here in the early 1980s.

    Today, the area is covered in towering office blocks.

    It is similar to modern waterfront development at Dublin’s North Wall but on a larger scale. In Dublin, as in Jersey City, light rail crosses the site of heavy rail trackage against the back-drop of geometric office-block architecture.

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Steam and Snow! Mid-Continent Railway Museum—February 18, 1996.

The heat of the summer is a nice time to reflect on a photograph that benefitted from a frosty day.

Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s ‘Snow Train’ was an annual event that made the most of the weather and the equipment.

Back in 1996, Dick Gruber and I spent two very productive days photographing the event.

Saginaw Timber number 2 arrives at  the station in North Freedom, Wisconsin on February 18, 1996.

Saginaw Timber number 2 arrives at the station in North Freedom, Wisconsin on February 18, 1996. Steam locomotives are most dramatic in icy weather.

I exposed this morning arrival of Saginaw Timber number 2 at North Freedom, Wisconsin using my Nikon F3T with 200mm lens and Kodachrome 25 slide film.

By taking the prism off the top of the camera (one of the great features of the Nikon F3 design) I was able to hold the camera close to the ground for a more dramatic angle. The caveat was that I had to compose the image in reverse.

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Tracking the Light looks at The El.

Way back in the day, before third rail electrification was the rule, compact steam locomotives worked trains on New York’s elevated railways.

Most of the original Els are long gone, and many of today’s elevated structures spanning streets in The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens stem from the electrified era.

Nearly forgotten are the Manhattan Els, all of which were torn down decades ago.

Old postcards survive that show the way things were.

Fujifilm X-T1 digital photograph.

Fujifilm X-T1 digital photograph.

Fujifilm X-T1 digital photograph.

Fujifilm X-T1 digital photograph.

In June, I made these photographs of the elevated structure that survives above the streets at Broadway and Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn. I find it astounding that when Els were more common, they were decried as ‘ugly.’ Simply bizarre.

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When I was a kid these turnstiles scared me. I though for sure I’ll be diced to pieces. Fujifilm X-T1 digital photograph.

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New York City Subway Underground!

In most other cities, such a title might seem to be redundant, but not in New York.

Here are a few digital photographs made in late June, designed to capture the atmosphere of the Subway (but not the aroma). All exposed with a Lumix LX7.

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R-train.

R-train.

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Fulton Street.

Fulton Street.

Franklin Avenue.

Franklin Avenue.

Franklin Avenue

Franklin Avenue.

Photographing the J train.

Photographing the J train.

Cortlandt Street.

Cortlandt Street.

Warning!

Warning!

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New York City Subway: Vintage Budd Cars—12 photos.

In the realms of rail-transit, certain vehicles survive in revenue service much longer than others. When I was growing up, antique streetcars on Philadelphia’s Red Arrow Lines, and old Lackawanna multiple units were among the oldest cars around.

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When exploring the New York City Subway at the end of June with Walter Zullig, Jack May and my father, I made point of photographing the Budd-built class R-32 cars, which are now in their 51st year of service.

Marcy Avenue.

Marcy Avenue.

Like most Budd-rail vehicles, the R-32/R-32As (known as ‘Brightliners’) are constructed from shot-welded stainless steel. Undoubtedly this has contributed to their longevity.

Halsey Street.

Halsey Street.

Marcy Avenue looking toward the Williamsburg Bridge. Fuji X-T1 photograph.

Marcy Avenue looking toward the Williamsburg Bridge. Fuji X-T1 photograph.

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R32 silhouette.

R32 silhouette.

R32 pan in the subway.

R32 pan in the subway.

1964 wasn’t yesterday. Think of the countless passengers who have traveled these cars over the last half century!

Nothing lasts forever, so get your photos soon! I photographed the cars working the J-  route in Brooklyn.

R32 close up.

R32 close up.

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New and old trains pass on the elevated.

New and old trains pass on the elevated.

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Broadway Junction—Brooklyn, June 25, 2015.

A confluence of New York City Subway routes above ground at Broadway Junction offered me myriad photographic opportunities.

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Trains above and below. At Broadway Junction the 'L-train' makes its appearance above ground. Confusingly the 'L-train' runs mostly underground, while the New York City Subway system is which runs the 'L' operates many elevated lines. Got that?

Trains above and below. At Broadway Junction the ‘L-train’ makes its appearance above ground. Confusingly the ‘L-train’ runs mostly underground, while the New York City Subway system, which runs the ‘L,’ operates many elevated lines (known as the El’). Got that? Oh yeah, and by the way, the Broadway at Broadway Junction, isn’t the same street with all the theaters. That other Broadway is in Manhattan.

After enduring long waits for trains at the Far Rockaway-end of the A-line, it was a pleasure to have trains rolling in all directions and at various levels at Broadway Junction.

Rather than merely change trains, my father, Jack May, Walter Zullig and I spent a while at this busy station making photographs.

An R32 works a J-train service.

An R32 works a J-train service.

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Looking west on the J-line at Broadway Junction.

Looking west on the J-line at Broadway Junction.

The 'L-Train' emerges from the depths.

The ‘L-Train’ emerges from the depths.

What could be more appropriate than an appearance of this train on Tracking the Light?

What could be more appropriate than an appearance of this train on Tracking the Light?

The highlight of our short visit was the passage of the inspection train, which seemed to be the physical manifestation of Tracking the Light!

Tomorrow at look at the R32s—cousins to the Zephyr!

 

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Tracking the Light on the A Train; A Post Apocalyptic Railway Journey—12 photos.

  • The far-end of this well-known Subway route was among the lines we explored on our epic June 25, 2015 tour of New York City rail-transit.Jack May, Walter Zullig, my father and I, walked from the Long Island Rail Road station at Far Rockaway to the nearby New York City Subway station (located on an elevated structure).
  • At one time this had all been part of the same route, but now there’s several blocks between rail-heads.
    The A Line Deli at Far Rockaway, amidst the sounds of sirens. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    The A Line Deli at Far Rockaway, amidst the sounds of sirens. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    Elaborately decorated glass bricks are a feature of the stations on the A Train route.

    NYCTA Station at Far Rockaway is decorated with colored glass. Panoramic composite exposed with Fujifilm X-T1.

    The NYCTA Station at Far Rockaway is decorated with colored glass. Panoramic composite exposed with Fujifilm X-T1.

    Far Rockaway.  Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    Far Rockaway. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    As we rolled westward, my father recalled visiting Rockaway Beach decades earlier when there were rows of beach-side bungalows and city streets.

    Once west of the Far Rockaway the scene changes.We got off at 44th Street and took a look around.

  • Much of Rockaway beach seems devoid of structures, with old streets vanishing into the encroaching sand. The Bungalows are just a memory. Yet, massive multistory apartments loom in the distance above the railway structure, like something out of a doomsday film.
    A concrete elevated structure keeps the tracks above the sand covered streets.

    A concrete elevated structure keeps the tracks above the sand covered streets.

    An inbound A Train from Far Rockaway. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    An inbound A Train from Far Rockaway. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    This is a strange place, devoid of people with a mixture of urban decay and encroaching beach. Panoramic composite exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1.

    This place, is largely devoid of people (except for visiting photographers) and features a mixture of urban decay and encroaching beach. Panoramic composite exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1.

    An outbound A train rattles along on the elevated. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    An outbound A train rattles along on the elevated. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

     Fujifilm X-T1 photo looking toward Far Rockaway.

    Fujifilm X-T1 photo looking toward Far Rockaway.

    Nice place for a car chase!  Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    Nice place for a car chase! Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    Outbound train as seen from the inbound platform at 44st Street.  Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    Outbound train as seen from the inbound platform at 44th Street. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    Inbound A train at 44st Street.  Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    Inbound A train at 44th Street. Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

    Colored glass at 44th Street.

    Colored glass at 44th Street.

    It’s a strange place to be. And a stranger place to make photos. This is not the New York City visited by most tourists! Yet the A train continues to JFK Airport and beyond to lower Manhattan and ultimately up-town.

    How long, I wonder, would it take to ride from one end to the other?

    Tomorrow: Broadway Junction in East New York.

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Take a Ride on the LIRR!

  • On the side of a LIRR multiple unit.

    On the side of a LIRR multiple unit.

  • The Long Island Rail Road (two words) is one of America’s most intensive heavy-rail commuter operations.My late friend ‘Uncle’ Harry Vallas—a locomotive engineer on the line—affectionately called it the ‘Wrong Island Fail Road.’On the morning of June 25, 2015, my father, Jack May, Walter Zullig and I, took a trip from New York Penn Station to Far Rockaway. We changed at Jamaica (cross platform, no stairs). Our trains were air conditioned. The tracks were smooth and welded. And we arrived on time.
  • I made these photos with my digital cameras.
  • Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1.

    Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1.

    Tickets to ride. Lumix LX7 photo.

    Tickets to ride. Lumix LX7 photo.

    The back of a paper ticked shows a schematic map of the network. Jack May gave me this as a souvenir. LX7 Photo.

    The back of a paper ticked shows a schematic map of the network. Jack May gave me this as a souvenir. LX7 Photo.

    Inside the train on the way to Jamaica. LX7 photo.

    Inside the train on the way to Jamaica. LX7 photo.

    Changing trains at Jamaica didn't allow much time to take in the sights. LX7 grab shot on the platform.

    Changing trains at Jamaica didn’t allow much time to take in the sights. LX7 grab shot on the platform.

    Recalling old times on the LIRR on the way to Far Rockaway. It was really different back in the day (so I learned).

    Recalling old times on the LIRR on the way to Far Rockaway. It was really different back in the day (so I learned).

    Interior panoramic composite of a Long Island Rail Road car. Exposed with a Fuji X-T1.

    Interior panoramic composite of a Long Island Rail Road car. Exposed with a Fuji X-T1.

    Fuji X-T1 view.

    Fuji X-T1 view.

    Far Rockaway is a functional facility. Shortly after our arrive and in-bound train departed. Fuji X-T1 photo.

    Far Rockaway is a functional facility. Shortly after our arrival an in-bound train departed. Fuji X-T1 photo.

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Tomorrow: We Take the A Train