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.

View from King John’s Castle, Limerick—I photographed a train by accident.

Standing upon the wall of King John’s Castle in Limerick, I made this photograph looking in a northerly direction.

I found that I could just see the top of Irish Rail’s bridge on the Limerick-Ennis Line (top right). (Not to be confused with the prominent non-rail spans over the River Shannon at the top left).

I was about to consult my phone to see when the next train was scheduled, when I noticed a Ennis-Limerick railcar rolling toward Colbert Station. ‘Poor timing’ I thought, ‘I’ve just missed a train.’

No, actually the timing was perfect. So perfect in fact I didn’t even know I’d caught the train until I inspected my results later in the day.

The old castle walls offer a commanding view of the Shannon. If you look carefully immediately to the left of  church, you might just notice a two-piece Irish Rail silver and green railcar crossing a green bridge.
Here’s an enlargement of the image.

Wait! You don’t believe me do you? Admit it, you think I sat upon that wall in anticipation, all the while poised waiting for the train to appear!

As they say in Philadelphia, ‘Uh uh.’

Next time, I’ll bring a big telephoto lens.

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Irish Rail Limerick Colbert Station Revisited

It was here at Colbert Station Limerick that I boarded my first Irish Rail train, a two piece push-pull led by a 121 Class General Motors diesel. That was just about 19 years ago (February 1998).

The other day, I decided to travel by train to Limerick. Unfortunately on the way out I discovered that my ‘connection’ at Limerick Junction was a bus. Poor show Irish Rail. (Can I blame them for the rain too?)

On the return, my train operated (hooray!). Waiting to board, I made a few photos of the old station, which uses of the traditional terminal head-house and iron train shed arrangement.

Out front it has been cleaned up a bit, but for the most part the station looks much the way it did on my first visit all those years ago. No 121 though.

New paving stones, benches and decorative trees have improved the approach to Irish Rail’s Limerick Station. Note the big sign advertising trains.
Colbert station uses a traditional arrangement with concourse and train shed.

All photos were exposed using my Lumix LX7 in February 2017.

The outward Limerick-Limerick Junction train consisted of a 3-piece Intercity Railcar. This was very well patronized.
Trains operate from Limerick to several destinations, including Dublin and Galway.

Looking toward Colbert Station from a nearby road bridge.

 

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Tomorrow: how I photographed a train by accident.

Winter Light on an old Midland & Great Western Railway Station

I exposed these photos of Irish Rail’s former Midland & Great Western Railway station at Ballinsloe in January 2000. At the time, Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO) was my standard colour slide film.

Crisp winter sun made for excellent lighting to feature this stone building.

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East Troy Electric Railroad.

A low angle can make for a more dramatic image.

Maybe this is why that at an early age some of us were so impressed by trains to begin with?

I made this view at East Troy, Wisconsin on September 3, 1994 using my Nikon F3T with an AF f2.8 28mm Nikkor lens. Kodachrome 25 was my preferred emulsion at that time.

This view is full-fram and un-cropped. I made a few color correction and contrast adjustments in Lightroom to improve presentation here.

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Irish Rail Container Pocket Wagons pass Islandbridge Junction.

So do you go out in poor light to catch something unusual? That’s your choice.

Sometimes I hold off for fine weather or good light to make images. Other times I’m faced with catching something in prevailing conditions. The railway doesn’t run for sunshine.

Once a week Irish schedules an extra IWT Liner (International Warehousing & Transport—Dublin North Wall to Ballina, Co. Mayo). In recent months, this has operated with the elusive container pocket wagons (CPWs). But it doesn’t necessarily run every week.

I have plenty of photos from Islandbridge Junction, and no shortage of images depicting the IWT Liner, and while I’ve photographed the CPWs over the years, last week I knew for certain (that’s railway certain, which is at best uncertain) that the CPWs were on due to pass.

So despite flat light, I made the effort.

Irish Rail 075 leads the IWT Liner at Island Bridge Junction, Dublin. Lumix LX7 photo.
Exposed on Tri-X using a Leica IIIA with 50mm Summitar. Processed with two stage developer plus selenium toner.

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View from the Gutter.

Literally.

Hooray for puddles and dusk. (I’ve put all the useful information in the caption).

LUAS Citadis tram exposed on Benburb Street in Dublin using a Lumix LX7. ISO 80 1/4 second at f1.7—handheld. By keeping the camera very close to the surface of the water, I was able to make the most of the reflection.

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“Night Trains, Pendolinos, Iron ore, Timber and Trams” — A Look at Finnish Railways to be presented in Dublin by Brian Solomon on 9 March 2017.

 

I’ll be giving my Illustrated Lecture called Night Trains, Pendolinos, Iron ore, Timber and Trams to the Irish Railway Record Society in Dublin to be presented on Thursday 9 March , 2017.

This will be delivered at the IRRS premises near Heuston Station in Dublin (opposite the entrance to the car park). I will begin at 7:30pm (1930).

Helsinki main station is the design of Eliel Saarinen—one of Finland’s greatest and best known architects. Inspired by the Vienna Secession movement, Saarinen blended elements of the Arts & Crafts movement with traditional Finnish rural architectural themes.

 

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

Berlin, Connecticut Revisited.

This is a follow up to my Tracking the Light post of December 23, 2016, where I explained that on Wednesday December 21, 2016, Otto Vondrak sent me the sad news that the old station at Berlin, Connecticut had been gutted by fire.

This was reported as a ‘total loss.’

I generally avoid accidents, derailment sites, and fires. However, a few weeks ago, I decided I should take a look at the remains of the Berlin station before the scene was made unrecognizable.

This was not an easy photo to make. I have a lot of happy memories of this place. Exposed in January 2017 on film using my Nikon F3.
Here’s the Berlin Station’s arched window as it appeared in September 2004.

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Railway Station Chernivsti, Ukraine.

In July 2007, I was about to board a long distance train for L’viv, when I exposed this photo at Chernivsti, Ukraine on Fujichrome with my Canon EOS 3 with 100mm lens.

The main railway station at Chernivsti, Ukraine in July 2007.

Ukraine was a great place to watch and ride trains, except for the business of buying tickets, which I found unusually challenging, especially without the ability to speak Ukrainian!

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Whose Railroad is this?

An old favorite photo location is the Connecticut River bridge at East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Earlier this month, photographer Mike Gardner and I caught two freights crossing this traditional span within just a few minutes of each other.

The first was eastward autorack train symbol 28T operating to Ayer, Massachusetts with Norfolk Southern locomotives. A few minutes later, Pan Am freight POED (Portland to East Deerfield) worked west with recently acquired former CSX General Electric DASH8-40Cs.

Autorack (Norfolk Southern symbol 28T) works east across the Connecticut River. Exposed using a Lumix LX-7. RAW file modified for contrast and color using Lightroom.
Pan Am’s POED with former CSX DASH8-40C diesels. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Pan Am’s POED with former CSX DASH8-40C diesels. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Historically this was the Boston & Maine’s Fitchburg line; B&M was melded into the Guilford system in the 1980s and in the mid-2000s . Today, Pan Am and Norfolk Southern are partners in operating Boston & Maine lines west of Ayer as Pan Am Southern.

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611 on the Fly.

Sorry, not the N&W J.

The other day when photographer Mike Gardner and I were in hot pursuit of New England Central freight 611, and we saw this scene unfolding as we approached the Vermont-Massachusetts state line.

The locomotives were catching the light against a dramatic sky in a wide-open landscape.

Wonderful, but we were sorely out of position.

This 112-car freight had been making better progress than I anticipated.

Rather than bemoan the loss of a cosmic shot, I rolled down window and popped off a few frames with my old Leica IIIA.

Running and gunning old school: multitasking, I guessed the exposure (f11 1/500 with HP5 rated at 320) and fixed the rangefinder to infinity. Click.

 

When you see a true photograph, act decisively—no regrets.

I wish I this clever in other areas.

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Brattleboro in the Snow: Documenting the Documenting.

Last week I traveled with fellow photographer Mike Gardner to Brattleboro, Vermont to make images of the New England Central Railroad.

In this view, I photographed Mike photographing the train as it works the south end of Brattleboro yard.

Filtered morning sun, snow and hoar frost all added to the atmosphere.

This was exposed on Ilford HP5 using a Leica IIIA with 50mm Summitar lens—the camera & lens combination with which I made thousands of photos between 1977 and 1986.

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Amtrak’s Acela Express train 2252 catches the glint at Branford, Connecticut.

I said. “Give it five minutes, that Acela ought to be along. The light’s nice, it would be a shame to waste it.”

Exposed manually using a Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera. 1/1000th of a second at f7.1 ISO 400.

Amtrak’s High Speed Trains in Acela service make for nice evening subjects since their stainless-steel bodies reflect the light well.

Exposure can be a bit tricky. If you don’t compensate for the flash of glint, you might end up with a washed out photo (over exposed).

Here’s a secret; anticipate the flash as being about 1.5 stops brighter than the ambient lighting and set your exposure manually rather than using one of the camera’s automatic settings.

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Shore Line East at Clinton, Connecticut.

Last summer, fellow photographer Pat Yough and I made a project of exploring the old New Haven Shoreline route between New Haven and Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

We decided that some of the locations we investigated on summer evenings, would have better lighting on a winter afternoon.

So on January 29, 2017, we re-visited the Shore Line East station at Clinton, Connecticut and photographed a processions of trains.

Here’s a view of Shore Line East train number 3645 working west with a locomotive painted for the old New Haven Railroad.

This colorful engine was a bonus since many Shore Line East trains run with old Amtrak Genesis P40 diesels in faded Amtrak colors.

Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.

Amtrak 163 at Old Saybrook, Connecticut—January 29, 2017.

For a change, I thought I’d present a three-quarter lit view of a nice clean train on a clear sunny January afternoon. (If you are viewing on Facebook, be sure to click the link to Tracking the Light to see the un-cropped image).

Often on Tracking the Light I detail unusual or uncommon photographic techniques. I’ve discussed how to make pan photographs, how to work with graduated neutral density filters, how to expose at night or in very low light.

I made this at Old Saybrook. Pat Yough and I were wandering around Connecticut after the BIG Railroad Hobby Show, and we paused here to catch Amtrak 163 led by clean ACS-64 635.

Nothing fancy about this photo, although I’ve include the relevant details in the caption, just in case you are curious.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens; set at 43.9mm (equivalent to a 66m focal length in 35mm SLR terms). ISO 200, f7.1 at 1/500th of a second. Metered manually using the center weighted camera meter. Both shutter speed and aperture were set manually. Color profile is Fuji’s Velvia (a built-in camera preset). Other than scaling for internet presentation, I made no color correction, contrast, exposure or gamma adjustments to the camera-output JPG file.

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Sunrise at Spuyten Duyvil, The Bronx, New York—lessons in graduated filtration.

A couple of weeks ago, I made these views from a public overlook of the Palisades Parkway that show the former New York Central electrified Hudson Division at Spuyten Duyvil.

The sun was rising through a thick layer of urban pollution with made for a stunning red-orange glow.

My challenge was balancing the light so that the train running along the river wouldn’t completely disappear into the background.

Below are four variations. I’m displaying two photo files, one made with an external Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter. The others were made without the external filter, with one of the two images adjusted digitally using Lightroom with a simulated graduated filter.

This is my Lightroom work window. In the big window is the camera JPG of the view exposed without an external filter.

I’ll explain each in the captions, but let you draw your own conclusions.

Image 1: This in-camera JPG shows a view made without an external graduated filter. Except for necessary scaling for internet presentation, I have made no changes to the appearance of the image. This shows the challenging lighting; if I exposed for the sky, the train would be lost in an inky blackness, if I exposed for the train and city scape, the sky gets washed out and loses the effect of a dramatic sunrise. Yet since this image didn’t use a filter, and required no post processing, it was by far the easiest to make.
Image 2: This was image was made from RAW file exposed at the same time as the above JPG (Image 1). No external filter was applied. Using Lightroom, I’ve digitally applied a graduated filter to the sky and manually adjusted the file by lowering highlight and over all density while increasing the highlight contrast and saturation. (By the way, the clouds were naturally terraced, all I’ve done is manipulate the RAW image to allow this effect to be be more apparent in the final image.)
Image 3: In this photo, I’ve applied the external Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter to the front of the lens and adjusted it to cover the sky. This tapered filter allowed me to capture more highlight detail in the sky while leaving the bottom portion of the image unfiltered. This is the in-camera JPG, and other than scale the image for internet presentation, I made no further alterations to it in post processing.
Image 4: Working with the RAW file exposed at the same time as image 3, I’ve implemented a variety of small contrast, exposure and saturation adjustments aimed at producing a more pleasing image. Obviously, further adjustment is possible. I could for example lighten the trees behind the train. So this image features both the Lee graduated filter and post processing. To my eye it looks the most like the scene at the time of exposure.

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Drop Under Light—CSX Q424 at Mitteneague (West Springfield).

A dreary evening at Mitteneague in West Springfield, Massachusetts was briefly brightened by a wink of drop under sun.

Luckily for me, at the very moment the trees in the distance were illuminated by this unexpected golden glow, I heard CSX’s Selkirk to West Springfield manifest freight Q424 approaching.

I exposed these trailing views with my 90mm f2.0 Fujinon lens.

Below are two variations of each image; one is a JPG made from the RAW without interpretation, the other is an adjusted file to represent what I saw at the time of exposure.

This is a scaled JPG made from the Camera RAW file without interpretation. Compare this with the adjust file below.
Image 2: To make for a more realistic and pleasing image, I adjusted the RAW file in Lightroom. Specifically I lightened the shadows while adjusting the blacks, alter the overall gamma (using the Clarity slider), and made a nominal increase in saturation. All changes were made globally (to the entire file).
Scaled, but otherwise un-adjusted JPG made from camera RAW.
Image 4: File adjusted in post processing using the same settings as the earlier image in the sequence (image 2).

Camera RAW files only represent the information (data) collected by the camera sensor, and rarely display an image as the scene actually appeared, thus the need for interpretation/adjustment during post processing.

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Rare Bird on SEPTA—University City.

It was a rainy Tuesday last week when I made these photos near University City in Philadelphia.

Regional passenger operator SEPTA has two unusual road-switchers (nos. 60 and 61), model RL-1, built by Republic Locomotive.

As locomotives go, these are real rare-birds. Although I’ve seen these from the window of the train, I’d never before caught one on the line.

On this day, I saw engine 60 working SEPTA’s wire train.

I made several photos using my Lumix LX7, plus a film photo exposed on Foma Retropan 320 using a Nikon F3 with 50mm lens.

SEPTA 60 with a wire train.
Exposed with a Lumix LX7.
Here’s a similar view exposed on Foma Retropan 320 black & white film.
This Lumix LX7 view shows a Silverliner bound for Philadelphia 30th Street Station.

Needless to say it wasn’t a very bright day. But it always pays to capture unusual equipment regardless of atmospheric conditions.

 

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Snow in the Hudson Valley—January 2017.

Last week, I made another visit to the scenic Lower Hudson Valley.

At first I was delighted by about 6 inches of freshly fallen snow.

Then I began to discover a new challenge. One by one, I found that all my usual parking spots were essentially inaccessible because of the snow.

Despite this difficulty, I secured a spot near Breakneck Ridge, and made the difficult climb on foot to this vista. While not a bad hike on a dry day, this was tricky with snow on top of mud.

My reward was a clean Amtrak dual mode Genesis running south on the normal northward track to go around a HyRail truck.

Amtrak train 280 passing Bannermans Castle in January 2017.
The nice thing about a zoom lens is the ability to rapidly adjust the focal length.

Photos exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens.

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Amtrak Keystone—Retro Style.

More experiments with Foma (Czech film producer) so-called  Retropan ISO 320 black & white film. See previous posts:

Retropan 320—First Experiment.

Retropan on the Rails; Experiments with My second Roll of Foma’s 320 ISO Black & White film.

Unexpected Results: My Third Experiment with Retropan.

Working with my Nikon F3 fitted with a vintage Nikkor f1.4 50mm lens, I made these views at Strafford, Pennsylvania along the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line west of Philadelphia.

It was a dull Sunday afternoon in January and my hope was to make iconic views using traditional materials that might work more effectively than modern digital color photographs (although I exposed some digital images as well.)

For this batch of Foma Retropan, I returned to hand processing in Paterson tanks. I used Retro Special Developer stock solution (diluted 1:1 with water) with a 4 minutes development time. Prior to introducing the primary developer, I pre-soaked in a water bath with a drop of Retro Special Developer stock for 1 minute.

My aim was to retain the broad tonality achieved with earlier experiments while keeping the grain size relatively fine.

Shallow depth of field and classic graininess make for a photo that looks like film. Because it was made with film. I like that concept. Not sure about the results however. I think this one needs refinement.
Amtrak train number 670, a Keystone service from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania blitzes Strafford on the old Main Line. Exposed using a Nikon F3 with 50mm lens; f2.2 1/250th of a second.
You know it’s not very bright when the streetlights are lit. This was a pretty low contrast scene. I scanned the negatives but did not manipulate the end result.

Honestly, I’m not sure that these photographs work for me. But the lighting was pretty tough. (Flat, dull, and lacking in character and direction).

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Retro Pan—Viola Street, Philadelphia.

My brother Sean is restoring a Victorian row house on Viola Street in Philadelphia.

It is only a few blocks from SEPTA’s route 15 Streetcar on Girard Avenue, and within ear shot of old Reading Company and Pennsylvania Railroad routes.

I’ve been documenting his house for more than 15 years. Last week I exposed these views of Foma Retropan 320 in his kitchen using a Nikon F3 with f1.4 50mm lens.

This soft emulsion with its broad tonality works well with the subject matter.

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Long Lens, Small Trains; Another Take on last weekend’s Railroad Hobby Show

I used my Lumix LX7 for my earlier post of photos at the Amherst Railway Society’s BIG Railroad Hobby Show (held last weekend at the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield, Massachusetts).

Ah, my old Lumix. Yes indeed. But, I was also carrying a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a ‘fast’ (wide aperture) 90mm lens.

Using a 90mm lens at f2  allowed me to make telephoto views with very shallow depth of field.

I think selective focus is a neat technique for capturing model railways. It’s a great tool for making portraits too.

Below is a selection of views exposed at last weekend’s show made with my fast 90mm.

Any favorites?

Lego my caboose!

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Tracking the Light Extra: Amherst Railway Society’s Railroad Hobby Show at West Springfield—27 January 2017.

Yesterday I spent the day visiting friends and trying to take in the enormity of the annual Railroad Hobby Show at West Springfield, Massachusetts.

This is a selection of views from my Lumix LX7. More photos tomorrow!

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SEPTA No.10 Trolley Emerges from the Subway.

Working with my Panasonic Lumix LX-7, the other night I made these handheld views of SEPTA’s number 10 Trolley at the subway entrance off 36th Street in West Philadelphia.

To keep the trolley sharp, I panned the final image is this sequence. Thus, I moved the camera to keep pace with the streetcar.

Exposed with the Lumix LX7 in ‘A’ mode; f1.9 at 1/13th of a second. ISO 200.

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Boston & Maine GP18 at White River Junction, January 25, 1986.

I exposed this view of Boston & Maine GP18 1753 using my Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar on Kodachrome 64.

The  light was diffused by a thin layer of high cloud, which made for a relatively low-contrast scene.

This batch of K64 had a magenta bias resulting in a pinkish hue to the snow and sky.

This is a scaled JPG from my hi-res scan of the original Kodachrome slide. I did not make changes to alter the appearance of the scan. Compare this image with the variation below.

Using Lightroom, I made several adjustments to scan. By altering the contrast, color temperature and color balance, I produced a JPG file that I feel has a more natural looking image—at least as it appears on my computer screen.

This screen shot of the Lightroom work-window shows the positions of the various sliders that I used to adjust image contrast, exposure, color temperature and color balance.
Here’s the improved image, which reflects the adjusts implemented in Lightroom.

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Brian’s Exhibit Reception Tonight at the Valley Photo Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Tonight, Friday January 27, 2017, the Valley Photo Center in Springfield is hosting a reception for my Silver & Steel exhibit between 5:30 and 8:00pm. I plan to present a live slide show (with real 35mm color slides!).

The gallery is in the Tower Square mall at 1500 Main St. in Springfield.

In addition to large framed prints and canvas renditions, I also have a selection silver gelatin black and white prints, as well as giclee prints available for purchase. In addition, I plan to have examples of my books for sale.

Among my photos on exhibit is a large print of this image showing an Irish Rail passenger train near Athenry, County Galway. I exposed this on Fujichrome Sensia II with a Nikon N90S and a 24mm Nikkor lens.

For more information: valleyphotocenterma@gmail.com

Palmer Journal Article from January 12, 2017.

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Tracking the Light Extra! March 2017 Trains Magazine

I just received my author’s advanced copy of the March 2017 Trains Magazine that features my latest column: ‘Striving for speed in the real world’.

This issue should hit the stands in the coming weeks! I look forward to your feedback and comments.

See page 18 of the March 2017 issue of Trains Magazine for my full article.

Dusk at the Hoosac Tunnel

It was a damp and foggy evening at East Portal. Mike Gardner and I arrived as the final glow of daylight was beginning to fade. The rich blue glow of dusk lasts but a few minutes.

A Pan Am train was working its way west. I had visions of capturing the old searchlight signals lit after the train passed. But this was not to be.

I made this sequence of images with my FujiFilm X-T1 mounted on a tripod. The Hoosac Tunnel is behind me.

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High-Hoods on the Move.

A short visit to Norfolk Southern’s Abrams Yard near Norristown, Pennsylvania a few weeks back made for an opportunity to see a pair of high-hood GP38-2s on the move.

Once a common and standard type, the high-hood road switcher has been on the wane for decades and they are now rare on class-1 railroads.

I made these pan shots using my FujiFilm X-T1.

By employing a relatively slow shutter speed and moving my camera in unison with the locomotives, I can convey the sense of speed and motion while setting the subject apart from the background.

Exposed at 1/60th of a second handheld.
Exposed at 1/60th of a second handheld.
Exposed at 1/60th of a second handheld.

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Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

The former Reading Company station at Pottstown, Pennsylvania features some impressive code line poles in front of the building.

In these views of Norfolk Southern symbol freight 38G, I like the way the horizontal lines on the NS logo on the front of the locomotive mimics the lateral braces on the poles.

To minimize foreground distractions, I exposed the photos near ground level by using the adjustable rear display on my FujiFilm X-T1.

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Brian’s Silver & Steel Exhibit at Valley Photographer’s Gallery, Springfield MA–Reception Friday January 27th.

 My photographic exhibition at Valley Photo Center in Springfield, Massachusetts is on-going through January 28th. The gallery is in the Tower Square mall at 1500 Main St. in Springfield.

This Friday (January 27, 2017) I’ll be at the gallery for a reception between 5:30 and 8:00pm. I plan to present a live slide show (with real 35mm color slides!). This event is scheduled to coincide with the Railroad Hobby Show in West Springfield (just across the Connecticut River).

My exhibit features photographs spanning two decades from the late 1980s to 2008, and depicts trains in a variety of settings including the American West, Pennsylvania, New England and Europe.

In addition to large framed prints and canvas renditions, I also have a selection silver gelatin black and white prints, as well as giclee prints available for purchase. In addition, I plan to have examples of my books for sale.

I exposed this view of a westward Conrail double stack train crossing the former Erie Railroad Starrucca Viaduct in May 1989 using a Leica M2 with 35mm Sumicron lens. This is one of several dozen images on display at the Valley Photo Center in Springfield.
Autumnal image at East Deerfield, Massachusetts. This is one of several dozen images on display at the Valley Photo Center in Springfield.
Not all photographs are made on bright sunny days. I exposed this view in Scranton, Pennsylvania on a wet October evening in 2005. I was working with the Delaware Lackawanna Railroad on my ‘Working on the Railroad’ book—published by MBI/Voyageur Press. This is one of several dozen images on display at the Valley Photo Center in Springfield.

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Palmer Journal Article from January 12, 2017.

 

Erie Heritage—Port Jervis, New York.

As a fan of the Erie, I’m drawn to Port Jervis out of curiosity.

Historically this was an important place on the old Erie Railroad. The Erie passed into history years ago, and now Port Jervis is little more than a minor commuter train terminal.

Today, it’s Erie heritage is honored at several locations in the town.

The old turntable west of the Metro-North station was restored in the 1990s. Former Erie E8A locomotive 833 is displayed in Erie paint on the table, with a former Delaware & Hudson RS-3 in a near-Erie livery (lettered for owner New York & Greenwood Lakes) rests nearby.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7. Not the nicest morning, but the wet dreary condition seem to suit the old Erie.
Photo exposed using a Lumix LX7 as a RAW file. I made several adjustments to exposure, contrast and color temperature to improve the overall appearance of the photo.
Not an Erie locomotive, although the Erie had plenty of similar Alco road switcher and these would have been common at Port Jervis in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Several blocks away is the restored Erie Depot and a nearby business styled as the Erie Hotel [http://theeriehotel.com/hotel] that boasts historic links with to Erie passenger travel.

I visited Port Jervis the other day and made these digital photos with my Lumix LX7.

I also a exposed a few color slides and some black & white film (pending processing).

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Unexpected Results: My Third Experiment with Retropan.

It was a misty January day. I thought, what better time to expose another roll of Foma Retropan 320 black & white film!

I was working with four cameras that day, so these images were just a small portion of my day’s results, but for me by far the most interesting. I was feeling nostalgic and the atmosphere of the moment seemed to lend itself to classic black & white.

The day after I exposed my film, I processed it. Where previously, I’d hand processed Retropan in Paterson tanks, for this roll I used the Jobo (a semi-automatic processing machine).

The Jobo eases processing by keeping all chemistry at a consistent temperature, taking care of agitation by continuously rotating the processing-drum, while simplifying pouring the chemicals in and out of the drum. Also, it makes more efficient use of the chemistry.

With the hand-processed rolls, I had used Retro Special Developer straight (undiluted stock solution) with a 3 minutes 30 second development time. Prior to introducing the primary developer, I pre-soaked in a water bath with a drop of HC110.

For the Jobo-processed roll, I diluted Retro Special Developer 1:1 with water and increased the time to 4 minutes. I also had a pre-bath with a drop of HC110, but like the main developer, this was agitated continuously.

My results were not as I expected.

Misty tracks on the old Rutland near Arlington, Vermont. Exposed on Retropan 320 using a Nikon F3 with f1.8 105mm lens.

My earlier experiments with Retropan demonstrated a fine grain film with broad tonality. But this roll had much coarser grain, and yet even smoother tones. At first, I was shocked by the more intensive grain, but in retrospect I’ve decided it adds a quality to the photos that I may not have obtained through other media.

Exposed on Retropan 320 using a Nikon F3 with f1.4 50mm lens.
Exposed on Retropan 320 using a Nikon F3 with f1.4 50mm lens.
Exposed on Retropan 320 using a Nikon F3 with f1.4 50mm lens.
Exposed on Retropan 320 using a Nikon F3 with f1.4 50mm lens.

For my next experiments, I’ll return to hand-processing and I may skip the presoak bath with HC110.

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Irish Rail’s Friday Glint.

Sometimes I take a haphazard approach to photography; I explore and see what I find, then run with what is handed to me. This works well some of the time.

However, I often take a more calculated approach, paying careful advanced attention to weather, lighting and train schedules/operating patterns. Obviously, this works best on railways that make an effort to operate to the schedule.

Back in autumn 2006, fellow photographer David Hegarty and I made several focused trips to Co. Mayo to photograph the Westport Line and Ballina Branch.

On Friday’s the once per week Dublin Heuston to Ballina direct passenger train was scheduled to cross the evening Westport-Dublin daily passenger at Ballyhaunis (one station east of Claremorris.) This meant that the cabin had to be staffed to work signals, points, Electric Train Staff instruments, etc.

I think we made three Friday evening visits before getting it right.

Exposed on Fujichrome Velvia 100 using a Canon EOS 3 with 200mm lens. To minimize flare, I used my handheld notebook to shade the front element of the lens. If there was  one practical lesson from this exercise, that’s it!

On September 15, 2006, I exposed this trailing glint view of the down Friday Ballina train with a class 071 diesel and Mark 2 carriages meeting a class 201 locomotive leading Mark 3s on the up train to Dublin.

Soon all was to change. The signals were replaced with mini-CTC, the Mark 2s were retired, soon followed by the Mark 3s, and as a result the 071s relegated to freight/per way work.

Yet at the time the most difficult part of this photograph was the lighting! Finding a clear afternoon in Mayo isn’t an easy task.

Special thanks to Noel Enright for arranging for the sun to come out at the right moment.

Tracking the Light posts every day!

Battenkill Railroad Vignettes.

New York State’s Battenkill Railroad is a throwback to another time. It is best known for its ancient Alco RS-3 diesels, a once common model, now virtually extinct.

However, the railway’s rustic charm comes from its old stations, rolling jointed rail, and old-school agricultural landscapes.

Last week, Mike Gardner and I explored the line, working north from the interchange at Eagle Bridge.

In the foreground are Battenkill’s tracks at Eagle Bridge, New York, while Pan Am Southern’s Boston & Maine tracks and signals are at the next crossing.
Shushan, New York.
Beaded grade crossing signs, once standard, are now relics.
Lonely tracks that only see one or two trains a week.
This old Alco is still lettered fro Battenkill’s predecessor, Greenwich & Johnsonville.
I’ve panned this Alco RS-3 to convey a sense of motion.

I made these views with my Nikon F3 on Ilford HP5 black & white film. Railroads like this are rare in 2017. I wonder how much longer it will survive in its present condition?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!