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.

New England Central at Stafford Springs—August 23, 2016.

The familiar sound of 645 thunder down in the valley spurred me into action.

A southward New England Central freight was climbing Stateline Hill in Monson, Massachusetts. This is an old routine (and yes, I’ve written about this before.)

When I hear a train coming through Monson, I have a few minutes to get organized. In this instance, a brilliant clear blue dome with nice morning light was the deciding consideration.

En route, I heard the southward train get its ‘paper’ (radio–issued track authority) to proceed toward Willimantic, Connecticut. In this instance, I was alerted to the location of the train; south of milepost 55 (near the Massachusetts-Connecticut state line).

I headed for my preferred spot in downtown Stafford Springs, Connecticut south of milepost 49.

FujiFilm XT1 digital photo.
FujiFilm XT1 digital photo.

One advantage of Stafford Springs is that the railroad makes an east-west twist through the village on its otherwise north-south run. This favors the morning light for a southward train.

The other advantage is Stafford’s quaint and distinctive New England setting.

Here's the trailing view that shows the village.
Here’s the trailing view that shows the village.

Photos exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1

Tracking the Light posts everyday!

Palmer, Massachusetts—The Visual Quandary of the North Side of the Tracks.

In the longer months, there’s nice morning sun on the north side of the tracks at Palmer, Massachusetts and this seems to offer a potentially good vantage point.

There are several interesting structures here: including the former Union Station (now the Steaming Tender restaurant) and the old Flynt building (painted grey and lavender with fluorescent pink trim).

Yet I’ve found that placing a train in this setting rarely yields a satisfactory composition.

Here’s the on-going compromise; using a wide-angle perspective if I place the train far away, it tends to get lost in the scene. And, yet when it’s too close it obscures the old station building. The Flynt building either dominates on the right, or ends up cropped altogether. A telephoto view here presents its own share of complications.

The other day, I turned on to South Main Street in time to see the CSX local freight (symbol B740) west of the New England Central diamond (crossing). This gave me just enough time to park the car, walk briskly across the street, set my exposure and use my FujiFilm XT1 to make this sequence of photos.

CSX local freight B740 has a pair of vintage GP40-2 diesels. To the left of the train is the old Palmer Union Station.
CSX local freight B740 has a pair of vintage GP40-2 diesels. To the left of the train is the old Palmer Union Station.
This closer view obscures the station.
This closer view obscures the station.
The trailing view lack a sense of place. I know this CP83 in Palmer, but really it could be anywhere. It does offer a good view of the antique diesels and the signals, so that's something.
The trailing view lacks a satisfactory sense of place. It is  CP83 in Palmer, but it could be anywhere. Yet, it does offer a good view of the antique diesels and the signals, so that’s something.

Not bad for grab shots, but they still suffer from my visual quandary as described.

Puzzling through these sorts of vexations is part of my process for making better photos. Sometimes there’s no simple answer, but then again, occasionally I find a solution.

In the meantime I present my photos as work in progress.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light is a Daily Blog.

Ghost of the New England States; Budd-built Babbling Brook Blitzes Warren.

 

Yesterday’s (August 25, 2016) Boston section of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited carried an American classic: the streamlined Budd-built observation car Babbling Brook, a former New York Central car of the type that operated on the New England States (Boston-Chicago).

My dad and I made photos of Amtrak’s eastward Lake Shore Limited (train 448) by the recently restored Warren, Massachusetts railroad station.

New York Central Babbling Brook passes the old Warren, Massachusetts station on August 25, 2016. The New York Central System leased the Boston & Albany in 1900. Central’s Budd-built New England States Limited was B&A’s premier post-war passenger train and passed Warren daily. There were fewer line-side trees back then. This image was adjusted in post-processing using Light Room. I’ve tried to emulate the contrast and color palate of a late 1940s image.
New York Central Babbling Brook passes the old Warren, Massachusetts station on August 25, 2016. The New York Central System leased the Boston & Albany in 1900. Central’s Budd-built New England States was B&A’s premier post-war passenger train and passed Warren daily. There were fewer line-side trees back then. This image was adjusted in post-processing using Light Room. I’ve tried to emulate the contrast and color palate of a late 1940s image.
Telephoto view at Warren, Massachusetts.
Telephoto view at Warren, Massachusetts.

I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1. Pop exposed a Fujichrome color slide with his Leica M.

Brian Solomon’s

Tracking the Light posts every day.

 

 

Palmer, Massachusetts Then and Now; 1984-2016.

Conrail SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester at Worcester, Massachusetts) makes a drop at Palmer, Massachusetts on Ma7 6, 1984.
Conrail SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester at Worcester, Massachusetts) makes a drop at Palmer, Massachusetts on May 6, 1984.

I exposed these two views from almost the same angle on the South Main Street Bridge in Palmer, Massachusetts.

In 1984, Conrail operated the old Boston & Albany, and the main line was then a directional double track route under rule 251 (which allows trains to proceed in the current of traffic on signal indication).

SEPW has stopped on the mainline, while the headend has negotiated a set of crossovers to access the yard and interchange. That’s the head end off in the distance.

I made this 1984 view on Plus-X using a Leica fitted with a f2.8 90mm Elmarit lens.

The comparison view was exposed on July 25, 2016 using  a Lumix LX7 set at approximately the same focal length. Although similar, I wasn’t trying to precisely imitate the earlier view and was working from memory rather than having a print with me on site.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7. I used the ‘A’ mode and dialed in -1/3 to compensate for the bright sunlight and the dark side of the train. This image was extracted from the in-camera Jpeg and compressed for internet viewing, but I also made a RAW file of the same image. Both are to be archived on multiple hard drives.
Exposed using my Lumix LX7. I used the ‘A’ mode and dialed in -1/3 to compensate for the bright sunlight and the dark side of the train. This image was extracted from the in-camera Jpeg and compressed for internet viewing, but I also made a RAW file of the same image. Both are to be archived on multiple hard drives.

Tracking the Light posts Every Day!

Brian’s photos of Pan Am Railway’s Office Cars; Resurrected from Beyond.

Yesterday’s Tracking the Light featured the gripping headline:

“OH NO! I JUST WIPED MY CARD . . .”

And there I’ve told the story of how I accidentally erased my day’s finest efforts (and brought them back again.)

It’s bad enough to accidentally destroy your own work, but it’s especially galling to ruin the photos from such a great day. Bright sun, clear blue skies and a polished executive train moving a moderate speeds.

Simply we’d nailed the Pan Am train at multiple locations in great light, and there were several sets (groups of photos) that I was really happy about.

Followed by the sickening feeling of loss.

The day's finest photos: GONE!
The day’s finest photos: GONE!

The film equivalent of this sort of disaster is the accidental opening the camera-back before rewinding, where-in you lose a half dozen photos or so, but if you close it up quickly you can usually save most of the roll.

The worse film-related catastrophe was when your box of film came back from the lab with a little green slip; ‘Owing to a unique laboratory occurrence, we are sorry to report . . .’

By contrast, my digital disaster was an easy fix (Click the link to read Monday’s post for details: http://wp.me/p2BVuC-4ih).

As I mentioned yesterday, when this sort of thing happens: avoid making it worse by continuing to use the card.

Although I’d ‘erased’ (wiped, zapped, cleaned) the camera’s memory card. In truth, all I’d done was erase the catalog. All of my photos remained on the card. Yet, resurrecting them was a slow painstaking process.

Here are some of my favorite photos that’d I never thought I’d have opportunity to post on Tracking the Light

Working west at Buckland. Exposed on a SanDisk Extreme PRO 32 GB memory car using my FujiFilm XT1. Erased accidentally and retrieved using RescuePRO Deluxe. For details see Monday's Tracking the Light.
Working west at Buckland. Exposed on a SanDisk Extreme PRO 32 GB memory car using my FujiFilm XT1. Erased accidentally and retrieved using RescuePRO Deluxe. For details see Monday’s Tracking the Light.
My friend Tim D. was behind the wheel, and driving well-known back roads along the Deerfield River scored us this view near Charlemont, Massachusetts.
My friend Tim D. was behind the wheel, and driving well-known back roads along the Deerfield River scored us this view near Charlemont, Massachusetts.
This was a grab-shot near Zoar. I have to admit, it was this view I was most disgusted having lost.
This was a grab-shot near Zoar. I have to admit, it was this view that I was most disgusted having lost.
Pan Am's office cars disappear into Hoosac Mountain.
Pan Am’s office cars disappear into Hoosac Mountain.
A friendly wave near Eaglebridge, New York.
A friendly wave near Eaglebridge, New York.
Lots of folks were out for this view at Fisherman's Lane in Schagticoke, New York.
Lots of folks were out for this view at Fisherman’s Lane in Schagticoke, New York.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

HARD LESSON. “Oh No! I just Wiped my Card . . .”

 

The day's finest photos: GONE!
The day’s finest photos: GONE!

I had that sinking feeling—like I just crashed into the county sheriff—Knowing I’d done a bad thing and that it was irreversible.

Or was it?

Here’s my lesson for you:

Saturday August 20, 2016, had been an exceptional day. Tim Doherty and I had followed the Pan Am Railway office car train with simonized F-units and a former Wabash dome along the old Boston & Maine.

From East Deerfield west we’d enjoyed a clear blue dome and made dozens of great shots.

Afterwards we stopped for lunch, and got news of a westward empty coal train.

There I was at Buskirk, New York. I knew the coal empties were getting close. I was reviewing the digital photos on the back of my Fuji XT1, watching for a headlight, and trying to dial the phone, when all of a sudden I noticed the back of the camera read, ‘no image’.

It was like a door slammed.

Off in the distance a coyote howled and the sky went dim.

What have I done!”

Rather than completely panic I did two smart things:

  • I immediately shut the camera off.
  • I took the card out of the camera.

I always carry a spare card in my wallet; so I replaced my now unhappily blank card (formerly holding the day’s take) with my spare.

In this way I could carry on making photos without risking further loss. (That empty coal train was just minutes away).

Tim offered me some advice on retrieving my lost photos.

When I got home before I did anything else, I backed up what I could to hard drive on the computer; then I began the slow process of trying to rescue my lost files.

Luckily I’d been using a SanDisk ExtremePRO card. This had come with a link to SanDisk’s RescuePRO Deluxe software. I followed the instructions and over the next 9 hours my laptop was gradually able to retrieve the erased files.

Saturday’s photos were renumbered and mixed in with images from last April of trams in Bordeaux, France, but in the end all of my Pan Am OCS photos were safely recovered.

So more than 28 hours after my near-fatal mistake, I was finally able to view my photos of the Pan Am OCS in brilliant living color. Happy days!

Here’s the link: PHOTOS OF PAN AM RAILWAY’S OFFICE CARS; RESURRECTED FROM BEYOND.

Tracking the Light posts daily!

 

Kenosha, Wisconsin on film—July 2016. Click on Tracking the Light for details.

PCC car at Kenosha, Wisconsin. Detailed view exposed on Ilford FP4 using a Leica 3A with 35mm Nikkor lens.
PCC car at Kenosha, Wisconsin in July 2016. Detailed view exposed on Ilford FP4 using a Leica 3A with 35mm Nikkor lens. Kenosha, Wisconsin operates a short streetcar circuit between the Metra station and Lake Michigan. This car was originally from Toronto, Ontario.

Tracking the Light is Daily!

The Railway Scene; Some Elements, Operations and Technology to Consider.

Quantification isn’t the best approach. Yet, I like to consider various elements of the railway scene when reviewing my photography.

I realize that many photographers focus their work on those elements that grip their interest.

In my travels, I like to keep my spectrum as broad as possible. I’m always seeking to capture different scenes that relate to the railway as a whole.

Below are some of the many categories covered in my photography and in the posts on Tracking the Light. Undoubtedly some topics are more popular than others.

North American Class 1 lines.
North American Class 1 lines.
Freight cars.
Freight cars.
Suburban railways.
Suburban railways.
Mainline steam trips.
Mainline steam trips.
Signals.
Signals.
Railway maintenance equipment.
Railway maintenance equipment.
Railway precursors.
Railway precursors.
Subways and rapid transit.
Subways and rapid transit.
Train crews.
Train crews.
Light rail and streetcar systems.
Light rail and streetcar systems.
North American short lines.
North American short lines.
Railway tracks.
Railway tracks.
Preserved railways.
Preserved railways.
Abandoned railways.
Abandoned railways.
Heritage streetcar lines.
Heritage streetcar lines.
Maintenance trains.
Maintenance trains.
Amtrak.
Amtrak.
Railway bridges.
Railway bridges.
Railway stations.
Railway stations.
Trolley museums.
Trolley museums.
Disused lines.
Disused lines.
Advertising liveries.
Advertising liveries.
Industrial railways.
Industrial railways.
Tourist trains.
Tourist trains.

Tracking the Light posts Every Day!

 

Santa Ana, California—Ten Photos in 45 Minutes—August 2016.

During one of my recent Metrolink blitzes, I rode from Los Angeles Union Station to Santa Ana where I changed for an Inland Empire-Orange County Line train running from Oceanside to San Bernardino.

I timed this brief visit to coincide with a flurry of Amtrak and Metrolink trains. I had just 45 minutes to make images of this classic Santa Fe station having never previously explored here.

I found Santa Ana to be an excellent mid-morning location.

The footbridge is photographer friendly and the old Santa Fe building makes for a suitably California setting. The height of the bridge allows for both distant telephoto views as well as wide-angle down-on photos.

I exposed these views digitally using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1.

I arrived on Metrolink train 600 from Los Angeles Union Station. I had enough time to walk to the headend and expose this view with my Lumix LX7 before the train departed.
I arrived on Metrolink train 600 from Los Angeles Union Station. I had enough time to walk to the headend and expose this view with my Lumix LX7 before the train departed.
Metrolink 687 arrives behind a borrow BNSF AC4400CW. This framed view was exposed using my Lumix LX7.
Metrolink 687 arrives behind a borrow BNSF AC4400CW. This framed view was exposed using my Lumix LX7.
A Metrolink F59PHI works at the back of Los Angeles bound train number 687. Here my Fujinon 18-135mm lens gave me a nice view of the train and station from the footbridge.
A Metrolink F59PHI works at the back of Los Angeles bound train number 687. Here my Fujinon 18-135mm lens gave me a nice view of the train and station from the footbridge.
Metrolink 633 is among Metrolink's services that doesn't serve Los Angeles Union Station. This is a short-turn that runs from Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo to Fullerton.
Metrolink 633 is among Metrolink’s services that doesn’t serve Los Angeles Union Station. This is a short-turn that runs from Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo to Fullerton.
By using my 18-135 zoom on my Fuji XT1 I was able to exposed a series of trailing photos of Metrolink 633 as it accelerated away from Santa Ana.
By using my 18-135 zoom on my Fuji XT1 I was able to exposed a series of trailing photos of Metrolink 633 as it accelerated away from Santa Ana.
This is a telephoto view of train 633 from the same vantage point as the photo above.
This is a telephoto view of train 633 from the same vantage point as the photo above.
Metrolink's timetable shows both of its services to Santa Ana as well as Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner.
Metrolink’s timetable shows both of its services to Santa Ana as well as Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner.
A detailed view of the Santa Ana station exposed using my FujiFilm XT1.
A detailed view of the Santa Ana station exposed using my FujiFilm XT1.
Amtrak 566 Pacific Surfliner slows for its station stop.
Amtrak 566 Pacific Surfliner slows for its station stop.
Metrolink 802 will take me to San Bernardino. I arrived under partly cloudy skies and departed under a California blue dome. Happy days!
Metrolink 802 will take me to San Bernardino. I arrived under partly cloudy skies and departed under a California blue dome. Happy days!

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday.

California Freight Cars—18 New Photos.

Too often railway photography focuses on the head-end.

When traveling, I tend to take a greater interest in what’s behind the locomotive(s).

I made these views of freight cars while exploring Union Pacific and BNSF in California.

Chip_car_Bealeville_DSCF2267

JB_Hunt_stacks_Woodford_DSCF2249

BNSF_3_bay_hopper_DSCF2266

Tank_car_DSCF2265

It’s interesting to see the mix of modern and antique cars on the roll. Some of these are more than four decades old, others are nearly new.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1, I exposed photos in a variety of lighting situations.

Articulated_autoracks_DSCF2685

Articulated_autoracks_DSCF2687

BNSF_ATSF_grain_car_at_Bealeville_sunset_DSCF1366

BNSF_ATSF_grain_car_at_Bealeville_sunset_DSCF1368

BNCoil_train_cars-DSCF2203

BN_Coil_train_cars-DSCF2204

BNSF_Coil_train_cars-DSCF2207

BN_chip_car_DSCF2211

BNSF_grain_hopper_DSCF2085

P&W_autorack_Bealeville_DSCF2347

BNSF_JB_Hunt_stacks_trailing_Caliente_DSCF2816

Coil_car_DSCF1324

BNSF_earthworm_grain_cars_at_Bealeville_sunset_DSCF1364

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Rails along the Los Angeles River—August 2016.

Yesterday on Tracking the Light I displayed views of Metro Rail from the First Street Bridge in Los Angeles.

Here are few views of trains from the bridge.

This scene reminded me of Germany’s Rhein Valley with busy lines on opposite sides of a river; except cast in concrete, without much water or unspoiled scenery, hemmed in by urban growth and decorated with graffiti. Oh, and the trains are diesel-powered rather than electric.

A BNSF AC4400CW works toward Los Angeles Union Station with Metrolink train 607.
A BNSF AC4400CW works toward Los Angeles Union Station with Metrolink train 607.
At the back of 607 is a Metrolink MP36PH diesel.
At the back of 607 is a Metrolink MP36PH-3C diesel.
Union Pacific light engines on the east bank of the LA River.
Union Pacific light engines on the east bank of the LA River.
Railways in stereo. An outbound Amtrak Pacific Surfliner can be seen on the west bank, with Union Pacific GE diesels on the east side.
Railways in stereo. An outbound Amtrak Pacific Surfliner can be seen on the west bank, with Union Pacific diesels on the east side.
On its way to San Diego, Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner against the LA skyline.
On its way to San Diego, Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner against the LA skyline.

The broad, largely dry concrete channel is symbolic of the chronic drought in Southern California.

Although unworldly, the environment around the Los Angeles River is undoubtedly familiar to many people because of its prominent role in Hollywood Films and popular television.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Gold Line with Skyline—Los Angeles Metro Rail.

Metrolink runs the Los Angeles-area heavy rail commuter/suburban services. Metro Rail runs LA’s subway and light rail lines.

Earlier this month (August 2016), I made some views of the Gold Line extension to Atlantic from First Street. This offers some nice views of the cars with downtown Los Angeles skyline.

Looking east toward Atlantic. Gold Line's Pico/Aliso stop can be seen in the distance. (Not to be confused with Pico on the Blue Line/Expo Line that is located southwest of downtown. Just in case you were confused).
Looking east toward Atlantic. Gold Line’s Pico/Aliso stop can be seen in the distance. (Not to be confused with Pico on the Blue Line/Expo Line that is located southwest of downtown. Just in case you were confused).
This trailing view of an in bound Gold Line set was made with a slightly wide-angle focal length using my FujiFilm X-T1.
This trailing view of an in bound Gold Line set was made with a slightly wide-angle focal length using my FujiFilm X-T1.
Here's the same light rail train exposed from the same vantage point, but using a telephoto focal length, which compresses the distance and allows for the skyscrapers to visually loom above the road.
Here’s the same light rail train exposed from the same vantage point, but using a telephoto focal length, which compresses the distance and allows for the skyscrapers to visually loom above the road. A secondary benefit from this perspective is that it crops out the high-voltage wires that featured prominently in the earlier view. (Not so good, of course, if  you are a wire enthusiast!)

To pull in the skyline, I used a telephoto lens, which makes the buildings seem larger when compared to the light rail cars. When taken to extremes this effect can make the skyscrapers appear surreal.

Tracking the Light posts every day.

Metro Rail Expo Line; Light Rail under Sunny Skies—Los Angeles, August 2016.

I was keen to explore one of the Los Angeles-area’s most recent light rail extensions:  Metro Rail’s so-called Expo Line that runs west from a connection with the Blue Line (near downtown) and roughly follows the alignment of an old Pacific Electric route along Exposition Boulevard to Santa Monica.

The portion of the line from Culver City to Santa Monica was opened in May this year, and so still has that newly-built appearance.

LA Metro Rail pays tribute to the old Pacific Electric at its stations with artwork and historical interludes.

Attention to the platform art will yield the viewer bits of history and PE Heritage.
Attention to the platform art will yield the viewer bits of history and PE heritage.

Using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm X-T1 I made these images under bright sunny skies. Yet, I wonder about the opportunities for evening and twilight images on this line?

The Expo Line’s largely east-west alignment combined with LA’s propensity for air-pollution should present some impressive lighting conditions.

PE_heritage_Expo_Line_Santa_Monica_DSCF1594
I’m not the first observer to embrace the pictorial effects of Los Angeles air quality.

Perhaps a visit with a very long lens during a smog alert could yield some colorful results?

A telephoto view exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 of a modern light rail car approaching Santa Monica.
A telephoto view exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 of a modern light rail car approaching Santa Monica.
The Expo Line features a variety of light rail equipment, which is an uncommon feature for such a new line. Exposed at Santa Monica with my FujiFilm X-T1
The Expo Line features a variety of light rail equipment, which is an uncommon feature for such a new line. Exposed at Santa Monica with my FujiFilm X-T1
Many stations are decorated with artwork and embellished with historical tidbits. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1
Many stations are decorated with artwork and embellished with historical tidbits. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1
Expo Line station at Santa Monica.
Expo Line station at Santa Monica.
A Lumix LX7 view of an LA-bound car departing Santa Monica.
A Lumix LX7 view of an LA-bound car departing Santa Monica.
Trailing view of the same cars.
Trailing view of the same cars. Metro Rail is advertising the Expo Line on the side of this car.
An old car in new paint graces the streets of Santa Monica. LX7 photo.
An old car in new paint graces the streets of Santa Monica. LX7 photo.
Clean new signs are a feature of the Expo Line extension.
Clean new signs are a feature of the Expo Line extension.
Outbound cars at Jefferson. Lumix LX7 photo.
Outbound cars at Jefferson. Lumix LX7 photo.
Jefferson; cars stop just long enough to make a photo before boarding.
Jefferson; cars stop just long enough to make a photo before boarding. This one is 1027; do YOU remember the significance of that number?

PE_heritage_Expo_Line_Santa_Monica_DSCF1593

At Pico, the Expo Line shares platforms with the Blue Line (that runs to Long Beach). Careful, you might board the wrong car!
At Pico, the Expo Line shares platforms with the Blue Line (that runs to Long Beach). Careful, you might board the wrong car outbound!
Pico looking toward downtown LA. Lumix LX7 view.
Pico looking toward downtown LA. Lumix LX7 view.

For more on the Expo Line see this article in the LA Times:

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-expo-line-speed-snap-story.html

Also see: https://www.metro.net/riding/maps/

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

(Sometimes more than once).

Southern Pacific Tracks at Sunset—May 17, 1991.

It was more than 25 years ago that I made this evening view at Pinole, California using my Leica looking west across San Pablo Bay toward Mt. Tamalpias.

Fog rolls in from the Pacific; and the SP was still the SP.

Exposed with a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron on Kodak Tri-X processed in Agfa Rodinal.
Exposed with a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron on Kodak Tri-X processed in Agfa Rodinal.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

 

Norfolk Southern helpers at Latrobe, Pennsylvania on August 11, 2011.

Norfolk Southern helpers at Latrobe, Pennsylvania on August 11, 2011.
Norfolk Southern helpers work east on the  back of a heavy carload freight at Latrobe, Pennsylvania on August 11, 2011.

I made this view with my Canon 7D just over five years ago. I’d arrived on Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian and was met by Pat Yough and Mark Leppert.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Photographing Passenger Trains on California’s Santa Susana Pass.

Back in the day, Southern Pacific’s famed Daylight was often pictured crossing Santa Susana Pass—a scenic cleft in the rocks between Simi Valley and Chatsworth, California.

Once a remote area, this is now hemmed in by suburban development, freeways and public parks.

Riding Metrolink, I’d noted several potentially interesting locations on the west side of the pass (SP timetable west, today Union Pacific timetable north).

Reviewing Google Maps, I found that views of the line should be accessible from Corriganville Park, located a little ways to the east of Simi Valley. So one afternoon last week, David Hegarty and I made an exploration of the area.

There’s a flurry of Metrolink and Amtrak trains in the evening. We found some locations near CP Davis (location of a passing siding) with an aim to make images of BNSF GE-built AC4400CWs that have been working many Metrolink trains.

A BNSF General Electric-built AC4400CW leads Metrolink 118 near CP Davis on the west (north) side of Santa Susana Pass.
A BNSF General Electric-built AC4400CW works Metrolink 118 near CP Davis on the west (north) side of Santa Susana Pass.
A few of Metrolink's F59PHI diesels have the full paint treatment completed with blue and aqua ribbons. It was nice to get this one working with a bit of scenery on train 117 from Los Angeles.
A few of Metrolink’s F59PHI diesels have the full paint treatment completed with blue and aqua ribbons. It was nice to get this one working with a bit of scenery on train 117 from Los Angeles.
Metrolink_119_at_tunnel_near_CP_Davis_DSCF1748
Although not the prettiest locomotives, Metrolink’s boxy model F59PH diesels make for a bit of variety. Here train 119 is seen near tunnel 26.
Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, train 790, featured a GE Genesis P42 instead of the  Amtrak F59PH's more commonly assigned to California services. The engine is at the back of the consist working in push-pull mode.
Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, train 790, featured a GE Genesis P42 instead of the Amtrak F59PH’s more commonly assigned to California services. The engine is at the back of the consist working in push-pull mode.

I exposed these images with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera, but I also made a few color slides that will be processed at a later date.

Tracking the Light posts every day.

 

 

 

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight along the Pacific Coast—August 2016.

Back in 1994, I’d made a project of Southern Pacific’s famous Coast Line focusing on the line between Watsonville Junction and Santa Barbara, California.

Traffic was sparse compared with other SP mainlines. Yet there were 2-3 through freights in each direction daily, plus Amtrak numbers 11 and 14—the Coast Starlight.

 Last week, I decided to revisit Gaviota, California to make photos of the Coast Starlight. I often require images of this popular train as illustrations in books and magazines, and my 1994 Kodachrome slides are now a bit dated.

However sparse through freight was on the Coast in 1994, it was busier then than now. I neither saw nor heard of any Union Pacific trains on the move during my exploration, and the only active UP presence I noted was that of a passing HyRail truck and a track gang.

Looking Southern Pacific timetable east (Union Pacific direction south—and never you mind the compass) Amtrak's Seattle-bound
Looking Southern Pacific timetable east (Union Pacific direction south—and never you mind the compass) Amtrak’s Seattle-bound Coast Starlight works along the Pacific Coast on the bluffs above Gaviota. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera in August 2016. SP’s Daylight look especially fine here. 

Amtrak 14 was on time and the pleasant mix of sun and coastal mist made for a nicely lit scene that captures the spirit of this supremely scenic run.

Tracking the Light posts Daily.

High-hood on the overpass-This Day Five Years Back.

Wheeling & Lake Erie high-hood GP35 crosses the road on August 11, 2011.
Wheeling & Lake Erie high-hood GP35 crosses the road on August 11, 2011.

It was exactly five years ago (August 11, 2011) that Pat Yough and I were chasing a westward freight on the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

Among the unusual locomotives operated by this line are some former Southern Railway high-hood GP35s riding on Alco trade-in trucks.

The attraction of this bridge was that it was still lettered for the old Pittsburgh & West Virginia.

Tracking the Light continues to Post Daily while Brian is traveling.

Tracking the Light Looks At Air Force One.

Perched atop a high hill in a purpose-built building in Simi Valley is Boeing 707 27000 that served for nearly three decades as Air Force One.

Boeing’s 707 is unquestionably one of the most beautiful commercial aircraft.

This 707 was styled by pioneer industrial designer Raymond Loewy for its role as Air Force One.

Loewy is well known in railroad circles for his locomotive and train designs. This included Pennsylvania’s GG1 electric and S1 Duplex steam locomotive, and Northern Pacific’s post-war North Coast Limited streamliner.

Panoramic composite exposed with a Lumix LX7.
Panoramic composite exposed with a Lumix LX7.
Working in silhouette, I made this low angle view to show the lines of the 707.
Working in silhouette, I made this low angle view to show the lines of the 707.

Air_Force_One_P1500763

Air_Force_One_P1500764

Under the belly of the plane.
Under the belly of the plane.
Classic Loewy styling.
Classic Loewy styling.

Air_Force_One_P1500786

Air Force One is a key display at Simi Valley’s Ronald Reagan and Air Force One Museum. I exposed these photographs using my Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light posts daily!

Taking a Spin on Los Angeles-area Metrolink.

Metrolink is nearly a quarter century old, having commenced operations in 1992.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed traveling and photographing the Los Angeles-area Metrolink. The comfortable coaches, variety of locomotives, and interesting route structure makes it one of the more interesting suburban railways in the United States.

Interior view of a Rotem double deck
Interior view of a Rotem double deck

In addition to lines focused on Los Angeles Union Station are several non-radial routes/services, which makes Metrolink unusual among American commuter lines.

All trains are diesel powered with double-deck cars. The newer Rotem-built cars are my favorite to travel in.

Detail of a Rotem-built double deck.
Detail of a Rotem-built double deck.

Using my Lumix LX7 (and other cameras), I’ve made dozens of images from the train, as well as interior views of the equipment, and of course views of the trains and stations.

One of the older cars.
One of the older cars.
Rotem double-deck detail.
Rotem double-deck detail.
Rolling along through suburban LA.
Rolling along through suburban LA.
Passengers board a morning train.
Passengers board a morning train.
Rolling toward Los Angeles Union Station behind a BNSF AC4400CW.
Rolling toward Los Angeles Union Station behind a BNSF AC4400CW.
Paused at Riverside.
Paused at Riverside.
BNSF local freight at San Bernardino.
BNSF local freight at San Bernardino.

Metrolink_view_from_the_train_San_Bernardino_P1500667

Metrolink_View_from_train_P1500705

Metrolink_View_from_train_P1500699Metrolink_View_from_train_P1500710

Metrolink_view_from_train_Burbank_Airport_P1500730

Ticket to ride.
Ticket to ride.

Metrolink_View_from_train_P1500700

Tracking the Light posts Daily.

 

 

 

 

Bord na Mona freight three years ago this day!

A pair of Bord na Mona loaded trains work west toward Lanesborough, County Longford on August 9, 2013.
A pair of Bord na Mona loaded trains work west toward Lanesborough, County Longford on August 9, 2013.

I made this image on Ireland’s three-foot gauge Bord na Mona (Peat Bord) near Lanesborough on this day three years ago.

To compress the space and make the most of the two trains following one another in close succession, I used my Canon 7D fitted with a 200m telephoto lens.

Tracking the Light is on Autopilot while Brian is Traveling!

Bealeville Sunset—golden lining to the cloud of pollution.

Dark clouds with silver linings? Not at sunset.

Combine agricultural dust from the San Joaquin Valley with Los Angeles-area air pollution and you get some wonderful golden light. Throw in a few wild fires and it gets even better!

All that pollution acts as a huge red-orange filter.

On this evening in late July 2016, fellow photographer David Hegarty and I were fortunate to be in place in the California Tehachapis to make good use of the golden light.

As previously featured on Tracking the Light, the railroad was a bit backed up. This enabled us to find a train at the moment of sunset.

A timetable-southward BNSF freight gets a green signal at Belleville, California. FujiFilm X-T1 photo. Image was not altered in post processing except to scale for internet presentation.
A timetable-southward BNSF freight gets a green signal at Belleville, California. FujiFilm X-T1 photo. Image was not altered in post processing except to scale for internet presentation.
California golden glint; exposed digitally using a Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens.
California golden glint; exposed digitally using a Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens. Sorry about the wires. I’d crop them, but then the photo would have been ‘altered’. Right?
Here I've included the setting sun. This shows the angle of the light relative to the train necessary to produce the glint effect. I'm standing at the Bealeville grade crossing.
Here I’ve included the setting sun. This shows the angle of the light relative to the train necessary to produce the glint effect. I’m standing at the Bealeville grade crossing.

These images have not been altered digitally in post processing, except for scaling necessary for digital presentation. To maintain the rich rosy glow, I selected a daylight white balance, and was very careful with my exposure, which I selected manually to maintain texture in the sky.

And yes, I also exposed a slide using Fujichrome Provia 100F.

Tracking the Light posts daily.

 

 

Locomotive Geometry—Metrolink F59PHI.

I made these views at Los Angeles Union Station the other morning featuring some of Metrolink’s Electro Motive Division-built F59PHIs.

These locomotives were styled in accordance with mid-1990s General Motors automobile aesthetical considerations.

Today, with two decades of hard service behind them they look like battle worn machines and reminded me of the Penn-Central E-units I used to see as a kid.

Using my FujiFilm XT1, I made some detailed studies of several of these old machines.

For this view I wanted to include the tower to the left of the station. To make the composition work, I used my Zeiss 12mm Tuoit, which had secondary effect of providing a suitable color palate for the scene.
For this view I wanted to include the tower to the left of the station. To make the composition work, I used my Zeiss 12mm Tuoit, which had secondary effect of providing a suitable color palate for the scene. Notice the optical illusion at the very top of the frame that makes the edge of the photo seem skewed. 
Still using the Zeiss 12mm, I walked up close to the old F59PHI and made this slightly unusual perspective. A little bit of contrast control was needed in post processing.
Still using the Zeiss 12mm, I walked up close to the old F59PHI and made this slightly unusual perspective. A little bit of contrast control was needed in post processing.
Metrolink 880 has evidence of a collision. The nose section is made of of fiberglass and designed to help protect the crew.
Metrolink 880 has evidence of a collision. The nose section is made of of fiberglass and designed to help protect the crew. Exposed with my Fujinon 18-135mm lens.

 

Here's a vertical format view made from the same angle. Which do you prefer?
Here’s a vertical format view made from the same angle. Which do you prefer?
Nose comparison. I've always liked this sort of image where a locomotive's shape is echoed. In the old days I'd do this sort of thing with E and F units.
Nose comparison. I’ve always liked this sort of image where a locomotive’s shape is echoed. In the old days I’d do this sort of thing with E and F units.

My new book Field Guide to Trains, Locomotives and Rolling Stock (published by Voyageur Press in 2016) features the F59PHI with an image of a Metrolink locomotive at Los Angeles Union Station in 2009.

Tracking the Light Runs Daily!

Caliente Traffic Jam—Traffic in the Tehachapis.

Having been stuck in a few Los Angeles area-tailbacks lately, I’ll say, it’s no fun. However, when the railroad gets jammed, it can make for some bountiful photographic opportunities.

Union Pacific owns and dispatches the old Southern Pacific route over the Tehachapis, yet BNSF (operating on a trackage rights arrangement inherited from the Santa Fe ) runs the lion’s share of the traffic. The mix of UP and BNSF plus outstanding scenery and blazing sun have the stage set.

To adapt a hackneyed Hollywood phrase; ‘Light, cameras, action . . .’

On this late July afternoon UP wasn’t having a good day. One of its northward trains developed braking problems descending near Cable and northward trains began to stack up behind it, including the BNSF ‘Earthworm’ unit grain train that we’d photographed earlier in the day (see: The Earthworm and a Joshua Tree)

UP’s southward trains hadn’t faired much better; as a very heavy manifest had struggled upgrade at a walking pace adding to more congestion.

By evening, UP’s northward train had reached Caliente, where it held the mainline short of the first intermediate signal (as instructed by the dispatcher),while a BNSF southward manifest was in the siding.

More southward trains were coming behind this train, as the loaded northward earthworm crawled downgrade and stopped at the pit of the Caliente horseshoe, short of the grade crossing.

Gridlock!

Three trains at Caliente and nothing moving. Furthermore, a pair of UP Z-trains were making a meet at Cliff.

At this point it was like shooting fish in a barrel, to use another handy cliché, and the evening light was only getting better.

Stay tooned! 😉

Trains on all tracks and nothing moving; UP DPUs on the back of a northward freight on the mainline, a BNSF northward train in the siding, while on the upper level of the horseshoe is the BNSF 'Earthworm' grain train, with its headend holding on the opposite side of the grade crossing 180 degrees behind me.
Trains on all tracks and nothing moving; UP DPUs on the back of a northward freight holding  the mainline, a BNSF northward train in the siding, while on the upper level of the horseshoe is the BNSF ‘Earthworm’ grain train, with its headend holding on the opposite side of the grade crossing  behind me.
Head-end of the Earthworm grain train. Just standing there in warm California sun. I think Kodak exited the Kodachrome business too soon!
Head-end of the Earthworm grain train. Just standing there in warm California sun. I think Kodak exited the Kodachrome business too soon!
Finally, the BNSF Earthworm gets a signal. Here's today's photo lesson. By shifting the focus from the locomotives to the ballast in the foreground I've altered the natural perspective. Essentially, I'm tricking the eye into looking down and this makes the scene seem more like a diorama. Of course you may need to view this image larger than 3x5 inches to get the full effect.
Finally, the BNSF Earthworm gets a signal. Here’s today’s photo lesson: By shifting the focus from the locomotives to the ballast in the foreground I’ve altered the natural perspective. Essentially, I’m tricking the eye into looking down and this focus combined with the pastel lighting makes the scene seem more like a diorama. Of course you may need to view this image larger than 3×5 inches to get the full effect.
Ok, enough playing around, here I've focused on the main event and the rails have been to squeal.
Ok, enough playing around, here I’ve focused on the main event as the rails have begun to squeal.
Looking railroad timetable north (formerly  this was west under the old SP timetable); The earthworm descends toward Bakersfield.
Looking railroad timetable north (formerly this was west under the old SP timetable)  the earthworm descends toward Bakersfield.
First set of DPUs (distributed power units—railroad speak for un-manned radio-controlled remotely-placed locomotives.)
Here we have the first set of DPUs (distributed power units—railroad speak for un-manned radio-controlled remotely-placed locomotives.)
And a new BNSF GE-built Tier IV works as a second set of DPUs at the back of the grain train.
And a new BNSF GE-built Tier IV works as a second set of DPUs at the back of the grain train.
Some quick driving to a pre-selected overlook granted me a final view of the Earthworm as it rolls along Caliente Creek. Who said, 'you can't have your cake and eat it'?
Some quick driving to a pre-selected overlook granted me a final view of the Earthworm as it rolls along Caliente Creek. Who said, ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it’?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

 

Union Pacific Z-Train; Sinuosity at Tunnel 2 in Four Photos.

The magnificence of the former Southern Pacific crossing of California’s Tehachapi Range is the antique sinuosity of the line combined with the bucolic nature of the terrain and unusually heavy freight traffic.

Last weekend, I made these views near Tunnel 2 between Bealeville and Caliente using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

On the SP this would have been an eastward train, today on Union Pacific it is considered southward. In both situations movement directions are by the timetable and have little relationship to the compass.
On the SP this would have been an eastward train, today on Union Pacific it is considered southward. In both situations movement directions are by the timetable and have little relationship to the compass.

UP_Z-Train_at_Tunnel_2_DSCF1078

Like a long snake, the train winds its way uphill toward Tehachapi Summit.
Like a long snake, the train winds its way uphill toward Tehachapi Summit.
At the back of the train is another GE Tier 4 (ES45AH) working as a 'Distributed Power Unit'—a radio controlled engine.
At the back of the train is another GE Tier 4 (ES45AH) working as a ‘Distributed Power Unit’—a radio controlled engine.

A nearly new Union Pacific GE tier 4 in fresh paint was an added attraction to the uphill Z-train (UP’s term for a priority intermodal run).

I worked my angles to make the most of curvature.

Tracking the Light posts Daily.

Tehachapi Revisited—Just like I remembered, but different.

Last weekend, I gazed down upon that famous spiral officially known on the late Southern Pacific as Walong, but to the rest of the world as the ‘Tehachapi Loop’.

It was, and still is, one of the great places to watch trains; and on this day it didn’t disappoint. I’d been away a long time and now I was back.

The last time I was here, I’d stayed with my friends Dave and Helen Burton, who lived just over the hill on the north side of the spiral. Back then, Southern Pacific still owned the line, and the merger that was to consume the Santa Fe Railway was still more than a year away.

Now, SP, Santa Fe, and Dave and Helen are all just memories.

It was strange to watch a train traverse the loop. I was delighted to see it, but sad. It was like seeing some weird vision of the future.

So, I made these images—my first digital photos of this often-photographed landmark—while thinking back to earlier times.

BNSF_stack_train_Walong_CA_Tehachapi_Loop_DSCF0845

BNSF_stack_train_Walong_CA_Tehachapi_Loop_DSCF0851

BNSF_stack_train_Walong_CA_Tehachapi_Loop_DSCF0854

BNSF_6936_stack_train_near_Walong_CA_DSCF0861

BNSF_6936_stack_train_near_Walong_CA_DSCF0864

BNSF_6936_stack_train_near_Walong_CA_DSCF0866

I dedicated books to both of my friends: to Dave, I dedicated my BNSF book of 2005.

Tracking the Light is Daily.

 

 

 

New Kinkisharyo Cars on the Los Angeles Gold Line.

Last week (July 2016) I went for a spin on some brand new Kinkisharyo model P3010 light rail cars on the Los Angeles Gold Line extension to East LA.

Although the cars read ‘Test Train’ in the destination board, they were in fact running in revenue service. The automated station announcements hadn’t been activated, so instead a real live employee was calling out the stops.

The cars were shiny and still had that ‘new car’ aroma.

Pretty neat.

I made these photographs with my Lumix LX7

A pair of new Kinkisharyo cars approach the Gold Line station at Little Tokyo.
A pair of new Kinkisharyo cars approach the Gold Line station at Little Tokyo. Although it reads ‘Test Train’ in the destination board, I was still able to board the cars and take a spin.
For interior views such as this one, I use the '+1/3' exposure override feature in combination with the 'A' setting on my Lumix LX7. This helps compensate for the outside light streaming through the windows.
For interior views such as this one, I use the ‘+1/3’ exposure override feature in combination with the ‘A’ setting on my Lumix LX7. This helps compensate for the outside light streaming through the windows. In post processing, I made adjustments for contrast that help even the scene.
Clean and shiny.
Clean and shiny.
Test train at Atlantic, the new terminal for the Gold Line in East LA.
Test train at Atlantic, the new terminal for the Gold Line in East LA.
LA Metro Rail advertisement on the side of the car.
LA Metro Rail advertisement on the side of the car.
New cars accelerate away from the platform at LA Union Station.
New cars accelerate away from the platform at LA Union Station.

See the Business Wire for more about the cars.

[http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160305005014/en/Kinkisharyo-Light-Rail-Vehicles-Roll-Revenue-Service]

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

The Earthworm and a Joshua Tree—Mojave, California; a Lesson in Composition and Subject.

Forty years ago in Mrs. LaFond’s Fifth Grade class (Main Street School room 22) we were tasked to research a National Park. I think the big name parks were more popular, the likes of Yellowstone and whatnot.

I asked if I could research and write about the Joshua Tree National Monument. At the time this wasn’t a full National Park, but Mrs. LaFond agreed, and so I wrote to the Park Service and they sent me some literature about the odd ‘trees’ and the National Monument.

So why was a ten year old living in Monson, Massachusetts interested in Joshua Trees?

At that time, I’d taken a interest in the Santa Fe Railway, stemming in part from some Lionel F3s that my dad had bought us a few years earlier. This manifested into a desire to make an HO scale model of the desert. I’d read about Barstow, California, and the nearest relevant Park to this Santa Fe hub was the Joshua Tree National Monument.

Fast forward to the early 1990s. My friends and I made regular trips to the southern California desert to photograph trains, and finally had the opportunity to see a real live Joshua Tree.

Last weekend, I was exploring the Mojave Desert with fellow photographer David Hegarty, with an eye on photographing Union Pacific and BNSF trains. Again I had the opportunity to place a Joshua Tree in some photographs.

Here are several views of a heavy BNSF ‘earthworm’ grain train crawling upgrade across the desert floor. (The nickname stems from the prominently brown color of the grain cars, their curved body shape and the crawling effect of the long slow moving consist across the landscape). I’ve juxtaposed the freight with a scruffy Joshua Tree. Knowing what you do now, which do you think is the main focus of my photographs?

A southward (old Southern Pacific timetable direction west) BNSF 'earthworm' unit grain train climbs across the desert floor near Mojave, California—July2016.
A southward (old Southern Pacific timetable direction west) BNSF ‘earthworm’ unit grain train climbs across the desert floor near Mojave, California—July2016.

BNSF_earthworm_grain_train_Mojave_w_Joshua_Tree_DSCF0987

BNSF_earthworm_grain_train_Mojave_w_Joshua_Tree_DSCF0989

BNSF_earthworm_grain_train_Mojave_w_Joshua_Tree_DSCF0992

Here’s an irony: after all these years I’ve never been to the Joshua Tree National Park [https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm ] (upgraded in 1994). I have visited Barstow on several occasions. This features a massive yard and a fascinating old Harvey House and railway station, but is a shocking bland town; ugly, sprawling and commercial.

Tracking the Light Post Daily!

Metrolink 115 at Simi Valley, California; a difficult exposure.

Here’s an exposure quandary. A bright white Metrolink F59PHI in blazing California afternoon sun against a varied background of trees and mountains..

Metrolink's scheduled train 115 accelerates away from its Simi Valley station stop in July 2016.
Metrolink’s scheduled train 115 accelerates away from its Simi Valley station stop in July 2016.

Without careful metering and a bit prior experience It would be easy enough to underexpose a photo like this one. (Producing a result that is too dark)

Why? Because the camera meter doesn’t know the locomotive is white, and if relying on many auto exposure settings, metering tends to over compensate as the white engine reached the center of the frame.

On the flipside, the row of trees at the left could fool also the meter into compensating for the relative darkness and thus producing an image that is too light overall with the front of the engine grossly over exposed.

What’s the solution?

Before the train comes into view, make a series of test meter readings while aiming a sunlit neutral portion of the scene such as the ballast. Then observe the relative difference in exposure between lighter and darker areas, make a test photo or two, and if your camera has a histogram check to ensure that the bulk of the exposure is in the center of the graph. Then set the camera manually based on this information.

In my situation, I made a slight adjustment as the locomotive came into view to compensate for the bright white nose section. This meant I needed to stop down (see the aperture to let less light in) by about 1/3 of a stop.

Here's the Jpg of the train along site the camera's EXIF data. The relevant fields show that the camera was set at  ISO 200; shutter speed 1/500th of a second, and the lens was at f7.1.  So why not f8? That would cause the trees to become too dark and the engine appear more gray than white.
Here’s the Jpg of the train along side the camera’s EXIF data. The relevant fields show that the camera was set at ISO 200; shutter speed 1/500th of a second, and the lens was at f7.1. So why not f8? That would cause the trees to become too dark and the engine appear more gray than white.
Here's my closer view. I retained the same exposure setting.
Here’s my closer view. I retained the same exposure setting.

In both photos, other than scaling for internet presentation, I did not alter the files in regards to exposure, contrast, color or sharpness. These images represent reduced versions of the in camera JPGs (althouth I simultaneously exposed RAW files as well.)

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

 

 

 

 

Five Years Ago Today—CSX works at West Warren.

A CSX ballast regulator works the old Boston & Albany main line at West Warren, Massachusetts on the evening of July 31, 2011. Canon 7D photo.
A CSX ballast regulator works the old Boston & Albany main line at West Warren, Massachusetts on the evening of July 31, 2011. Canon 7D photo.

I made this view on  July 31, 2011.

If you are viewing today’s post on Facebook or other 3rd party sites you my need to click on Tracking the Light to see the full image.

Tracking the Light is on Autopilot while Brian is Traveling.

New Material EVERY DAY!

Amtrak 768 at Fullerton—Two Perspectives.

On my theme of ‘getting the angle right’; or rather how slight adjustments in elevation can alter perspective, compare these two recent views of Amtrak 768 Pacific Surfliner at Fullerton, California.

Both were made with my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera and a telephoto zoom lens.

The top view was made from my standing height and aims to include the footbridge.

With the bottom view, I’ve taken a more extreme telephoto focal length while placed the camera very near to platform level. Composition was aided through use of the fold-out rear display. This allows me to hold the camera near to the ground while being able to look down to see the image. (A handy feature of the XT1).

The low angle telephoto is a good means for making a more dramatic view.

A photograph made from my normal standing height. Here I've aimed to include the footbridge.
A photograph made from my normal standing height. Here I’ve aimed to include the footbridge.
For this more dramatic perspective I've held the camera very close to the platform level for a sort of cat's eye view. The combination of a long telephoto lens and this abnormally low angle makes for a dramatic photo. Back in the 1990s, I made many of these views on film using my Nikon F3T by removing the prism and looking straight down into the viewfinder.
For this more dramatic perspective I’ve held the camera very close to the platform-level for a sort of cat’s eye view. The combination of a long telephoto lens and this abnormally low angle makes for a dramatic photo. Back in the 1990s, I made many of these views on film using my Nikon F3T by removing the prism and looking straight down into the viewfinder.

Tracking the Light posts Every Day!

For more about Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner see: amtrak.com/pacific-surfliner-train

Pan Am catches the Glint at East Deerfield Yard on July 30, 2013.

Pan Am 603 catches the glint at East Deerfield, Massachusetts on this day (July 30) three years ago (2013). Canon 7D image adjusted in Lightroom to reduce contrast.
Pan Am 603 catches the glint at East Deerfield, Massachusetts on this day (July 30) three years ago (2013). Canon 7D image adjusted in Lightroom to reduce contrast.

Notice that by working with low sun and cropping the sky, I’ve  made an early evening image seem almost like a night time view.

Hint: it really helps to view this post on Tracking the Light to avoid cropping and get the details.

Tracking the Light is on auto pilot while Brian is traveling.

New posts every day!

LAUS not to be confused with LUAS—Los Angeles Union Revisited

Dublin’s LUAS (not an acronym) is the name for the city’s modern light rail system.

By contrast, the Los Angeles Union Station is now known by its initials LAUS.

Historically, it was called the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, and called LAUPT.

I featured this great terminal in my recent book: Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals, published in 2015 by Voyageur Press.

The other day I revisited the station and made my first digital photographs of the buildings and trains there. (A station is more than just a building or buildings).

Here’s an excerpt of my text:

Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT) was completed in May 1939. It is a rare example of an Art Deco era railway station and one of the few stations that opened during the streamlined era. It’s modern interpretation of the Spanish Mission style design is largely attributed to the LA-based architectural team of John and Donald Parkinson.

LA_Union_Station_P1500195LA_Union_Station_P1500228LA_Union_Station_P1500236LA_Union_Station_P1500089LA_Union_Station_P1500106LA_Union_Station_P1500090Metro_Link_Union_Station_P1500137LA_Union_Station_P1500107BNSF_Panoramic_P1500186BNSF_LA_Union_Station_P1500170Tracking the Light is Daily.