About briansolomon1

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

Amtrak GG1, Pelham Bay Park.

Kid with a Camera.

My brother would shout, ‘Look! A GG1!’

My grandparents lived in Coop City in The Bronx for a dozen years. Their 19th floor apartment had an open terrace that looked across the Hutchinson River toward Amtrak’s former New Haven Railroad line that ran from New Rochelle over the Hell Gate Bridge toward Penn-Station.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, we’d make regular visits. I was delighted by passing of Amtrak trains, and by the time I was ten, I’d figured out how to interpret the timetable to predict when trains would pass.

Amtrak was still operating a fair few former Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electrics, and these were my favorite. From about mid-1978, I’d keep my Leica 3A poised at the ready and if a GG1 were to appear, I’d make a color slide, or two.

While I made a great many photographs, my photographic efforts were, at best, rudimentary. Complicating matters was my general panic when a GG1 finally appeared.

As the train rolled into view, I’d try to gauge the lighting using an old Weston Master III photo cell and rapidly adjust the aperture on my Summitar lens, but my understanding of exposure was purely conceptual. In other words, I went through the motions, but really didn’t know what I was doing.

Also, I was photographing the scene with a 50mm lens, and the tracks were at least a quarter mile distant. Later, I learned to use my father’s telephoto lenses for some more effective views, but by then new AEM-7s had replaced the GG1s.

Recently, I rediscovered a box of long lost Kodachrome slides, including a bunch of my surviving photos from my grand parent’s terrace. This one is one of the few passable efforts, and will a little cropping, and some post processing in Photoshop, it isn’t too bad.

An Amtrak-painted former Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric works toward Penn-Station in April 1980. Exposed on Kodachrome 64 using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens. The photo has been cropped and contrast and color were adjusted in postprocessing.

An Amtrak-painted former Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric works toward Penn-Station in April 1980. Exposed on Kodachrome 64 using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens. The photo has been cropped and contrast and color were adjusted in postprocessing.

Learning technique is every photographer’s challenge. My learning curve was slow, in part because it was often months between the time of exposure and when I got slides back from Kodak. By the time I reviewed my results, I hadn’t remembered what I’d done, and didn’t know what to do to improve future efforts.

By comparison, kids starting today with digital cameras can see their results immediately and have the opportunity to learn quickly. Perhaps, from one of these same terraces, some kid today has captured  one of the final runs of Amtrak’s HHP8s (recently retired from active work) or the rapidly disappearing AEM-7s!

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A Long Lost Box of Kodachrome, Scanned!

Buffalo, Autumn 1988.

The other day, I was searching for some images for a book project, and I discovered a long lost yellow box of Kodachrome slides.

In the 1980s, normally, I was pretty good about labeling my slides. This box simply read, “Buffalo unlabled”.

I thought, “uh oh, what’s this . . . ”

Like, pirate’s treasure!

I’d managed to stamp my name on each slide. And, back in the day, I removed a couple of choice images to make Cibachrome prints. But other than that this roll was untouched. These haven’t been projected, or printed.

Conrail light engines at CP FW, Buffalo. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt lens using a Visoflex.

Conrail light engines at CP FW, Buffalo. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt lens using a Visoflex.

Conrail light engines at CP FW, Buffalo. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt lens using a Visoflex.

Conrail unit coal train at CP FW, Buffalo. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt lens using a Visoflex.

Conrail light engines at CP FW, Buffalo. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt lens using a Visoflex.

Conrail light engines and a unit coal train CP FW, Buffalo. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt lens using a Visoflex.

Unfortunately, my notes from the day also appear to be absent, so some details on railroad operations and exposure data have been lost to time.

The slide mounts are stamped November 1988, but these may have been exposed on October 28th, as I spent the morning making industrial images around Niagara Falls for a class project at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

I’d walked the old Skyway south of downtown Buffalo to make photos of the steel works. At the time I was impressed by the dramatic lighting on Lake Erie.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M@ looking west over Lake Erie from the Skyway.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M2 looking west over Lake Erie from the Skyway.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M@ looking west over Lake Erie.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Leica M2 looking west over Lake Erie.

Steel_works_Buffalo_NY_Nov_1988©Brian_Solomon_899296

Conrail westward Trailvan (possibly TV79) west of CP 5 on the Waterlevel Route near Lackawanna, New York. Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron on K25.

Conrail westward Trailvan (possibly TV79) west of CP 5 on the Waterlevel Route near Lackawanna, New York. Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron on K25.

Conrail eastward Trailvan stopped outside of Buffalo waiting for a clear signal. Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt lens.

Conrail eastward Trailvan stopped outside of Buffalo waiting for a clear signal. Leica M2 with 200mm Telyt lens.

South Buffalo 36, exposed with Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron, K25 film.

South Buffalo 36, exposed with Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron, K25 film.

An old Whitcomb that had seen better days. I wonder what became of this locomotive?

An old Whitcomb that had seen better days. I wonder what became of this locomotive?

26 years after being misplaced, I’m happy to have these slides back in circulation again!

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Special Post: WGN Radio Interview, Chicago.

This morning at 4:10 am Central Time, I was interviewed live on the Dave Plier show about my new book, Chicago—America’s Railroad Capital, co-authored with Mike, Blaszak, John Gruber and Chris Guss, published by Voyageur Press.

See: http://wgnradio.com/

Here’s the link to the podcast of my interview: http://wgnradio.com/2014/11/16/chicago-americas-railroad-capital/

Metra F40Ms at Roosevelt Road, Chicago on June 22, 2004. Exposed with a Nikon F3 with 24mm Nikkor lens, Fujichrome Velvia 100 slide film.

Metra F40Ms at Roosevelt Road, Chicago on June 22, 2004. Exposed with a Nikon F3 with 24mm Nikkor lens, Fujichrome Velvia 100 slide film.

Tracking the Light posts new material every day!

Warren, Massachusetts, February 25, 1988.

Now and Then.

At 3:35pm on Thursday, February 25, 1988, Conrail C32-8 6617 and C36-7 6622 chugged eastbound upgrade through Warren passing the old Boston & Albany station.

Conrail SEPW at Warren on February 25, 1988. Exposed with a Rolleiflex Model T with a 75mm Carl Zeiss 3.5 Tessar. Kodak Verichrome Pan (VPX) black & white film exposed at ISO 100 f4 1/250th of a second, processed in D76 1:1 with water. Scanned on an Epson V500 flatbed scanner. Image cropped slight from a 645 size 120 negative.

Conrail SEPW at Warren on February 25, 1988. Exposed with a Rolleiflex Model T with a 75mm Carl Zeiss 3.5 Tessar. Kodak Verichrome Pan (VPX) black & white film exposed at ISO 100 f4 1/250th of a second, processed in D76 1:1 with water. Scanned on an Epson V500 flatbed scanner. Image cropped slight from a 645 size 120 negative.

Waiting for trains at Warren, you can hear heavy freight coming for several minutes, as they labor on the grade up the Quaboag River valley. General Electric diesels make a distinctive sound as they gain speed. Usually by the time the train passes downtown Warren, the train is making a pretty good clip.

This freight was Conrail’s SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester), a working through freight that typically dropped cars at West Springfield and Palmer.

I’d been trackside since the morning, but spent several hours following a Central Vermont local freight working to Belchertown, and this was the first eastbound Conrail train I’d photographed, although I put several Amtrak trains on film.

After SEPW went east, I headed over to Tucker’s Hobbies (which was then on Bacon Street, within sight of the old station) to visit with Bob Buck.

I heard chatter on the scanner that hinted at a 4th eastward freight. Not wanting to repeat my efforts at Palmer, I went up the Quaboag Valley to Warren and waited there. I was rewarded by yet another eastward intermodal train. Word to the wise; rarely I have I ever seen four eastward intermodal trains in daylight on the B&A route in modern times. Lumix LX7 photo. (Adjusted for contrast in post processing).

CSXT eastward intermodal freight at Warren on October 20, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo. (Adjusted for contrast in post processing).

Warren Station on Ocotber 20, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.

Warren Station on Ocotber 20, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.

Compare the 1988 view, with these photos I exposed few weeks ago at almost exactly the same location. (I posted a version of the action image in an earlier post, but I thought it made for a nice contrast.)

Since 1988, the old westward main line was lifted (it was out of service since late 1986), the code lines were taken down, the station has fallen into disrepair (it hadn’t served a passenger train since the 1950s) and the line has become rather brushed in. Step back to 1888, and there was grade crossing at this location, but that’s another story altogether.

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Tomorrow: A long lost box of slides; located, opened and scanned!

 

San Francisco Muni in Color.

Endless Opportunities for Photography.

Muni PCC and Boeing LRV at 30th and Church Sts SF CA Jul 16 1995 Brian Solomon 662237

On July 1, 1995, a vintage PCC dressed in Boston’s MTA orange passes one of the Boeing-Vertol LRVs on Church Street. I’m probably in the minority, but I always liked the Boeing cars. This photo is a little ironic, because only Boston and San Francisco bought the Boeings.

Over the years, I’ve made hundreds of images of San Francisco Muni’s streetcars. There’s a great of variety of equipment from the famous cable-cars to historic and colorfully painted PCCs and other vintage equipment, plus modern European designed trams. The setting is stunning and the weather can be cosmic with wafts of Pacific fog coming over Twin Peaks.

Here’s a sample of a few favorite Muni images.

Cable cars ascend Nob Hill at sunset.

Cable cars ascend Nob Hill at sunset.

Interior of an F-line PCC exposed in May 2008.

Interior of an F-line PCC exposed in May 2008.

Cosmic light: an F-line PCC at the foot of Market Street with dense fog flowing over Twin Peaks. Exposed on Fujichrome using a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Cosmic light: an F-line PCC at the foot of Market Street with dense fog flowing over Twin Peaks. Exposed on Fujichrome using a Canon EOS 3 with 200mm lens, September 2009.

Muni tracks at 17th and Church Streets.

Muni tracks at 17th and Church Streets.

Wild fires make for great sunrises! Cable car tracks at sunrise with the Trans America Pyramid. No filters, no photoshop. Canon EOS 7D with 100-400mm lens on Fujichrome slide film.

Wild fires make for great sunrises! Cable car tracks at sunrise with the Trans America Pyramid. No filters, no photoshop. Canon EOS 3 with 100-400mm lens on Fujichrome slide film.

California Street Cable Car at Market Street late on weekday evening. May 2008.

California Street Cable Car at Market Street late on weekday evening. May 2008.

Breda LRVs on Duboce Street, September 2, 2009.

Breda LRVs on Duboce Street, September 2, 2009.

Muni N-line service on the Embarcedero, October 2003.

Muni N-line service on the Embarcedero, October 2003.

San Francisco is among the many cities featured in my new book Streetcars of America, co-authored with John Gruber. The book is now available through Amazon and other retailers. John and I wrote this compact 64-page soft-cover volume in 2013. It is priced at under $10.

This is among the modern images feature in the book. It pictures two eras of Italian cars on the streets of San Francisco. The majority of the images in Streetcars of America are vintage photos from the 1940s to the 1970s.

This is among the modern images featured in the book. It pictures two eras of Italian cars on the streets of San Francisco. The majority of the images in Streetcars of America are vintage photos from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Tracking the Light posts new material every day!

Streetcars of America is available through Amazon.

Irish Rail Sugar Beet near Ballycullane

December 2005.

It was nearing the end of Irish Rail’s final beet season, which ironically turned out to be one of the busiest campaigns.

Toward the end of the day, my friends and I had positioned ourselves near milepost 90 on the South Wexford line at the top of Taylorstown Bank on the climb up from Wellingtonbridge.

Irish class 071 number 073 was lifting an estimated 775 tonnes of sugar beet and had been in run-8 for several minutes; the roar of its 12-645E3 diesel drowning out the sounds of birds and sheep in the surrounding fields.

The train was at a crawl when it reached the top of the grade. I made a sequence of photos using three cameras. This was made with my N90S with a 400mm Tokina lens fitted to a Manfrotto tripod.

  Exposed on Fujichrome, scan adjusted for color, contrast and sharpness in post-processing. My intent was to exaggerate the effect of the gradient on Taylorstown Bank. There aren’t many places on Irish Rail where a 400mm lens is really effective, but this is one of them.


Exposed on Fujichrome, scan adjusted for color, contrast and sharpness in post-processing. My intent was to exaggerate the effect of the gradient on Taylorstown Bank. There aren’t many places on Irish Rail where a 400mm lens is really effective, but this is one of them.

I felt that the 400mm view was the trickiest to pull off, and honestly I considered this among my experimental attempts, as I fired of a whole series of images in rapid succession. I made a more conventional view as the train got closer.

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Carrick-on-Suir, December 23, 2002.

Laden Sugar Beet Waits in the Loop.

Irish Rail’s Sugar Beet season was a busy time for me, photographically. The season began in early September and usually ran through early January, depending on the volume of the harvest. In the early 2000s, I’d typically be in Ireland from late-October through the early weeks of the new year.

Exposed on black & white film using a Rollei Model T mounted on a Manfrotto tripod at Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, Ireland.

Exposed on black & white film using a Rollei Model T mounted on a Manfrotto tripod at Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, Ireland.

While I’d miss the brighter, dryer, warmer days early in the beet season, I’d make up the difference by photographing on the dark, wetter, colder days in November and December.

The atmosphere of the beet season is what I remember. The dampness, the muck, the dirty old four-wheel wagons. The sounds of General Motors diesels accelerating out of passing loops, and working in Run-8 on wet track.

Irish Rail’s staff were always friendly, and between trains there would a welcome cup of tea in a signal cabin or gate keeper’s shack.

Over much of the route traditional mechanical signaling was still the rule. The slap of lever and the thunk of a semaphore blade falling into place was the sign that something was about to happen.

And there was the smell of the beet. Especially in the fields around Wellingtonbridge, County where beet was grown.

The last laden beet train rolled towards Mallow, County Cork in January 2006, a little more than three years after I made this image.

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Amtrak Special at Windsor, Connecticut—Part II

Telephoto View of today’s Amtrak Special crossing the Connecticut River.

See my earlier post on Tracking the Light for a panoramic view of the same train. Half an hour before the special crossed the bridge there was sunlight, but by the time the train arrived the clouds had rolled in.

Amtrak 822 leads an inspection train with one of the Pan Am business cars behind the locomotive. Exposed with a 100mm lens fitted to a Canon EOS7D.

Amtrak 822 leads an inspection train with one of the Pan Am business cars behind the locomotive. Exposed on Wednesday November 12, 2014 using a 100mm lens fitted to a Canon EOS7D.

Amtrak_Special_Windsor_Ct_3_IMG_9693

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Amtrak Special at Windsor, Connecticut—November 12, 2014

Connecticut River Bridge at 3:05pm.

This afternoon Amtrak operated a special train on the New Haven-Springfield line.

Amtrak special at Windsor, Connecticut, exposed at 3:05pm November 12, 2014 using a Lumix LX7. RAW file cropped and converted to a JPG after adjustments for contrast.

Amtrak special at Windsor, Connecticut, exposed at 3:05pm November 12, 2014 using a Lumix LX7. RAW file cropped and converted to a JPG after adjustments for contrast.

It is my understanding that the special began the day at Albany. It was scheduled to operate down the Hudson to Mott Haven, then to New Haven, up to Springfield, then to the Knowledge Corridor and east on Pan Am.

Amtrak’s northward Vermonter (Train 56) was about 18 minutes late, and the special was about ten minutes behind it. One of the Pan Am business cars was located immediately behind the locomotive. This had traveled west to Albany on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited (Train 449) the other day.

This is a cropped version of a photo I made with my Lumix LX7. I also exposed a couple of views with my Canon EOS 7D. I’ll be downloading those shortly!

Tracking the Light Posts New Material Daily.

 

Lowell, Massachusetts, November 3, 2014

Electric Streetcar and Old Mills.

 The National Historic Park at Lowell has transformed 19th century textile mills into interpretive museums. Connecting various museums is a recreated historic streetcar line using electrified former Boston & Maine mill spurs. Most of the time authentic looking replica cars are the order of the day.

A Boston & Maine Alco-built 0-6-0 is also on display.

Lowell's historic trolley gives visitors a feeling for what it was like to ride a streetcar. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Lowell’s historic trolley gives visitors a feeling for what it was like to ride a streetcar. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

The classic looking cars look good among the old brick mill buildings. Canon EOS 7D photo.

The classic looking cars look good among the old brick mill buildings. Canon EOS 7D photo.

I visited briefly on my way through town and exposed a few photos of the streetcar against the urban backdrop. On previous visits I’ve traveled on the trolleys and made more extensive photographic studies.

Boston & Maine 410 is a static display at Lowell. It is one of only a few surviving Boston & Maine steam locomotives. Canon EOS 7D

Boston & Maine 410 is a static display at Lowell. It is one of only a few surviving Boston & Maine steam locomotives. Canon EOS 7D

However, owing to the late season, the trolley was working a very limited schedule, and my time was short, so I didn’t go for a spin this time.

Lowell 4131 is a replica of a Brill streetcar. Lumix LX7 photo.

Lowell 4131 is a replica of a Brill streetcar. Lumix LX7 photo.

The Lowell trolley is among historic operations covered in the final chapter of my latest book, Streetcars of America, co-authored with John Gruber, by Shire Publications. In this compact 64-page soft-cover volume, John and I offer a concise look at streetcars in North America and feature a variety of vintage and contemporary images, including many made by my father, Richard J. Solomon, on Kodachrome film.

It is priced at under $10, and a bargain at that!

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 Related articles

Streetcars of America by Brian Solomon and John Gruber

A New Book

Streetcar book cover©Brian Solomon 899170

Cover photo by Richard J. Solomon. Exposed on Kodachrome film.

Beginning in the mid-1950s my father, along with many of his friends, made a project to document streetcars on film. Since then he has traveled to many cities in the United States and Canada (as well as overseas) and exposed thousands of color slides.

I began traveling with him as soon as I could stand, and some of my earliest recollections involve trips on streetcars and subway trains.

My latest book Streetcars of America, co-authored with John Gruber, is now available through Amazon and other retailers. John and I wrote this compact 64-page soft-cover volume in 2013. It is priced at under $10

This is a Shire Publications production and features a concise look at streetcars in North America. It reproduces a variety of vintage and contemporary images, including many historic views made by Richard J. Solomon on Kodachrome film. Readers will find that John and I have covered a lot of territory in just a few pages.

Although I didn’t select the cover image, I feel it’s fitting since it features a Boston PCC car.  As a child, I lived in Newton Centre, just a few blocks from MBTA’s Riverside Line and here I often watched, traveled on, and photographed Boston PCCs with my father.

This is one of many photos by Richard J. Solomon in my new book, co-authored with John Gruber.

This is one of many photos by Richard J. Solomon in my new book, co-authored with John Gruber.

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MBTA 2001 works west at the Willows

Fall Foliage and an HSP46.

A clear blue dome prevailed on November 3, 2014. Although I was saddled with errands, I took the time to set up a few photos along MBTA’s recently re-doubletracked line at the Willows east of Ayer, Massachusetts.

The schedule shows two trains through this location within a few minutes of each other. My interest was with the bright foliage on the far side of the tracks.

I’ve always preferred late autumn foliage when many of the leaves have fallen, the remaining trees are rusty and almost all the green leaves have turned.

MBTA 2001 works west at the Willows. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with 40mm pancake lens. F5.0 1/1000 at ISO 200.

MBTA 2001 works west at the Willows. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with 40mm pancake lens. F5.0 1/1000 at ISO 200.

I was rewarded with MBTA’s new HSP46 2001 working westward toward Fitchburg. Although some of these new locomotives have been lurking around for about a year, this was my opportunity to photograph one. It was great to get one on the move in bright sun with foliage, I was delighted.

The new design of the HSP46 is unlikely to be confused with anything else. Not, as of yet, anyway. These are being built by Motive Power Inc at Boise, Idaho. Inside are General Electric mechanical and electrical components.

MBTA 2001 works west at the Willows. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with 40mm pancake lens. F5.0 1/1000 at ISO 200.

MBTA 2001 works west at the Willows. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with 40mm pancake lens. F5.0 1/1000 at ISO 200.

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Spirit of the Mississippi—Part 3

Genoa, Wisconsin, October 15, 1995.

 An accomplished railroad photographer once said to me, “to get great railroad photos, the railroad has to be ‘on’, the weather has to be ‘on’ and you have to be ‘on’. You can’t control the first two, but you can control yourself.”

There are those days where everything falls into place. The morning of October 15, 1995 was clear and bright; I had Kodachrome 25 in my cameras; and Dean Sauvola and I were in place at Genoa along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s double track line parallel to the Mississippi.

We’d positioned ourselves high above the town and waited. Between 9:34 am and 10:32 am the railroad performed and we photographed four trains in nice light. A little later we heard of a southward Canadian Pacific freight on the westbank of the river and reposition to Lansing, Iowa for a productive chase to Postville.

Merger between Burlington Northern and Santa Fe was only a month old, yet locomotives from the two fleets were already beginning to get mixed up. Or so it seemed on this eastward freight rolling along the Mississippi at Genoa, Wisconsin on October 15, 1995. Exposed with a Nikon 28mm lens on Kodachrome 25.

Merger between Burlington Northern and Santa Fe was only a month old, yet locomotives from the two fleets were already beginning to get mixed up. Or so it seemed on this eastward freight rolling along the Mississippi at Genoa, Wisconsin on October 15, 1995. Exposed with a Nikon 28mm lens on Kodachrome 25.

Trains pass north of Genoa. There's nothing like a grand vista to alert you of approaching trains on a busy line. I used my Nikkor f4.0 200mm for this image. I don't know if it works as a stand alone photo but it makes for a nice part of this sequence.

Trains pass north of Genoa. There’s nothing like a grand vista to alert you of approaching trains on a busy line. I used my Nikkor f4.0 200mm for this image. I don’t know if it works as a stand alone photo but it makes for a nice part of this sequence.

At 10:12am Canadian National 5600 leads train 348 timetable east along the Mississippi  at Genoa. I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide and the following one using my Nikon F3t with Nikkor f2.8 135mm lens.

At 10:12am Canadian National 5600 leads train 348 timetable east along the Mississippi at Genoa. I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide and the following one using my Nikon F3t with Nikkor f2.8 135mm lens.

CN 348 at Genoa, Wisconsin. My exposure was f3.5 at 1/500th of second. I've used variations of this image in books.

CN 348 at Genoa, Wisconsin. My exposure was f3.5 at 1/500th of second. I’ve used variations of this image in books.

Later in the day we resumed photography on the east bank and photographed another parade of trains along the former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy at Glen Haven, Wisconsis. By the end of the day we’d photographed eleven trains in clear October sunlight. Tick all three boxes for October 15, 1995!

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Spirit of the Mississippi—Part 2

Savanna, Illinois.

On April 2, 1995, I spent the afternoon with Tom and Mike Danneman perched atop a bluff photographing trains along the Mississippi River. With three SD40-2s, you just know that this westbound was making a great sound along the river! Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Nikon F3T.

On April 2, 1995, I spent the afternoon with Tom and Mike Danneman perched atop a bluff photographing trains along the Mississippi River. With three SD40-2s, you just know that this westbound was making a great sound along the river! Exposed on Kodachrome 25 with a Nikon F3T.

A favorite location along the river was the Mississippi Palisades Park a few miles north of Savanna. Back in the mid-1990s, Mike and Tom Danneman and I would park at the public lot near river level and follow a designated hiking trail to one of several overlooks.

There standing on a plateau a top a river bluff made from millions of years of sediment, we command grand views of the river.

At the time, Burlington Northern would run a parade of trains in the afternoon and we’d photograph these roaring up and down the old Chicago, Burlington & Quincy line. This was a versatile location, good for photos at all times of the day. I don’t know that we ever tired of it.

At other times, we’d try angles from river level as well.

I often looked for angles that put the railroad in context with the river. Burlington Northern's well-polished rails glint in the evening sun on April 2, 1995.

I often looked for angles that put the railroad in context with the river. Burlington Northern’s well-polished rails glint in the evening sun on April 2, 1995.

Sunset over the Mississippi on April 21, 1996. Rock climbers make for a curious silhouette. Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100 with a Nikkormatt FTN.

Sunset over the Mississippi on April 21, 1996. Rock climbers make for a curious silhouette. Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100 with a Nikkormatt FTN.

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Spirit of the Mississippi—Part 1

Belleview, Iowa, March 31, 1996.

My old boss at Pentrex Publishing, Don Gulbrandsen, encouraged my photography along the Mississippi by describing the whole experience as the ‘Spirit of the River.’ While for me the main attraction was the railroads; the towns, scenery, boats and barges, locks and wild life (mostly birds of the feathered variety), which made for added interest.

Between 1994 and 1996, I made numerous trips to the Mississippi River Valley, largely working between Savanna, Illinois and La Crosse, Wisconsin and the corresponding towns on the Iowa-side.

I often traveled with Tom and Mike Danneman, Dean Sauvola, Tim Hensch and others, who added their perspective to the Mississippi Valley. While Burlington Northern (BNSF after September 1995) was the busiest line, whenever possible, I focused on the other railroads, namely Canadian Pacific’s Soo Line and Chicago, Central & Pacific.

The vast majority of my photography from these trips has never been seen, save for the occasional slide show in the 1990s. The other day, on request from a regular Tracking the Light reader, I opened a blue Logan Box filled with cardboard-mounted chromes that is labeled ‘Midwest 1990s,’ and contains some of my Mississippi River highlights.

Some of the photos are classic views, others are more interpretive. At the time, I was aiming to expose scenes that captured the railroad in its environment, often with a greater emphasis on the environment than the trains.

CP_freight_Belleview_IA_Mar31_1996_MOD1_Fujichrome©Brian Solomon 899086

A northward Soo Line freight on the former Milwaukee Road negotiates street trackage at Belleview, Iowa on March 31, 1996. Exposed with a Nikkormat FTN with f4.0 200mm Nikkor lens. Here I was working with selective focus to make the most of the scene. If I’m successful, your interest should bounce back and forth between the train and the car parked on the side of the road.

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Conrail Trailvan along the Mass-Pike

December 1987.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25, using a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25, using a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron.

Scenes like this were once common: piggyback trains on their final lap to Boston running along traffic on the adjacent Massachusetts Turnpike. But, not any more.

A few years ago, CSX finally closed its yards at Beacon Park, having expanded its intermodal facilities in Worcester and West Springfield.

I made this view on bright, brisk clear afternoon at Newton, Massachusetts. Polarized sunlight can be typical Boston weather in early winter.

It’s nice to get clear sunny days, yet the area’s low humidity combined with other elements can make the light too contrasty. Not all sunlight has the same qualities, and I’ve found that sunlight can vary greatly from region to region and at different times of the year.

But when autumn fades to winter, more changes than just the leaves. In eastern Massachusetts stark midday wintery lighting presents its own of visual challenges.

The cold razor’s edge Boston’s winter sunlight makes for blinding bright highlights and opaque shadows. But is it too harsh? I’m much fonder of softer mid-autumn sun.

Stark light, not withstanding, I’m happy to have made this view of a Conrail piggyback train on the Boston & Albany. The Conrail Trailvan trailer behind the locomotives makes it a more interesting image.

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Brian’s “black and white challenge”-Part V.

O’Connell Bridge, Dublin on a foggy night.

Exposed on B&W film with a Rollei Model T in January 2000.

Exposed on B&W film with a Rollei Model T in January 2000.

This is my fifth and final of photo presented in response to Otto Vondrak’s ‘black & white challenge’ on Facebook.

However, Tracking the Light will post more traditional black & white images from time to time. Stay tuned!

 

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Brian’s “black and white challenge”-Part IV.

CSX at Sunrise, Palmer, Massachusetts.

A westward freight catches the glint of the morning sun. Would the photo be better if the train was closer? Exposed on October 5, 2011.

A westward freight catches the glint of the morning sun. Would the photo be improved,  if let the train come closer? I like the inky gloom on the right side of the image.

Working with my old Leica 3A—a camera I’ve been using on and off for some thirty-odd years—I made this image of CSX’s westward Q293 at Palmer, Massachusetts on the morning of October 5, 2011.

My lens of choice was a 21mm Super Angulon, which tends to vignette a little in the corners. I processed the film using my customized chemical formula that makes the negatives easy to scan. This image received virtually no post-processing after scanning, except to remove a few dust specs and to scale for internet presentation.

Sometimes the old cameras yield the most satisfying results. Some of my earliest photos were made with this same camera-lens combination.

 

Vermonter at Three Rivers.

Only a Few Months to go.

Soon, Amtrak’s Vermonter will be detoured back to the traditional passenger route north of Springfield, Massachusetts, leaving the New England Central’s former Central Vermont line between Palmer and East Northfield, Massachusetts freight only for the first time in 25 years.

On the afternoon of October 27, 2014, fellow photographer Bob Arnold suggested that we make a photo of the southward Vermonter (train 55) at Three Rivers, where line crosses the Chicopee River on a plate girder bridge.

It was a nice clear sunny day and the foliage was splendid. Somehow the Vermonter managed to lose about 20 minutes in its short run down from Amherst, a station that will cease to serve as a regular stop with the route change.

Distant view at Three Rivers. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.

Distant view at Three Rivers. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.

Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.

Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.

If you are interested in riding or photographing Amtrak’s Vermonter on this route, don’t delay, time is running out.

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Brian’s “black and white challenge”-Part III

Jarwarzyna, Poland, May 2000.

Otto Vondrak encouraged me to post some black & white work as part of the a Black & White Challenge for Facebook, so I’m on my third photo of five, all exhibited through my Tracking the Light photo blog. Normally I post daily, so consider these ‘extra posts’ (with white flags).

Using my Rolleiflex Model T, I made this image on film of a disused steam locomotive on a siding at Jarwarzyna, Poland. I find dead locomotives sad to look at, but they make interesting subjects. The contrast of the Spring flowers with rusting metal offers hope, although not necessarily for the engine.

Exposed with a Rollei Model T on black & white film. This was one of several dozen images I made of steam in Poland in the year 2000.

Exposed with a Rollei Model T on black & white film. This was one of several dozen images I made of steam in Poland in the year 2000.

Canadian National near Stratford, Illinois.

April 21, 1995.

It was a clear Spring day; Mike and Tom Danneman and I had departed Waukesha, Wisconsin before sunrise aiming for Rochelle, Illinois where Chicago & North Western crossed Burlington Northern’s C&I Line.

At 7:46 am we photographed our first train, a C&NW eastbound crossing the diamonds at Rochelle.  By 10 am we’d caught six trains between the two lines and had worked our way east on BN.

At 10:47, we picked up a Canadian National freight working westbound on BN. At the time CN was routing 4-5 trains each way daily over BN between the Twin Cities and Chicago.

We followed this CN freight led by a pair of General Electric cowl type diesels (model DASH8-40CM numbers 2416 and 2440). At 11:57 am it met an eastward CN freight near Stratford, Illinois.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 at f5.6 1/250 with a Nikon F3T fitted with 35mm PC lens.

Exposed on Kodachrome 25 at f5.6 1/250 with a Nikon F3T fitted with 35mm PC lens.

I was working with two cameras. In my Nikormat FTN I had Fuji Provia 100, and in my Nikon F3T Kodachrome 25.

We continued our chase went toward Savanna, catching this train again at 1:36pm near Burke, Illinois. By the end of the day we’d photographed 21 freights. Not bad for a day out.

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Brian’s “Black and White challenge”—Part II

Tracking the Light presents: Palmer, Massachusetts February 24, 1988.

In keeping with the spirit of Otto Vondrak’s Facebook challenge, I’ve dug into my scanned black & white negative file and found this old black & white photograph from the days or yore.

A Conrail crew welds the Palmer, Massachusetts diamond on February 24, 1988. A Central Vermont freight waits in the distance. Photo by Brian Solomon ©1988.

A Conrail crew welds the Palmer, Massachusetts diamond on February 24, 1988. A Central Vermont freight waits in the distance. Photo by Brian Solomon ©1988.

I exposed this using my father’s Rolleiflex Model T that was fitted with a ‘super slide’ 645 insert. I processed the film in Kodak D76 at the Rochester Institute of technology. Back in 1988, I made prints from the negative back, but the full-frame image presented here is from a scan of the negative made in more recent times.

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New England Central 3015, Monson, Massachusetts

Making the Most of Low Autumn Sun.

On Monday, October 27, 2014, I made several photographs of New England Central GP40-2L 3015 on job 610 working south on the former Central Vermont through Monson, Massachusetts.

New England Central’s 610 starts its day at Willimantic, Connecticut and works its way north to Palmer, usually arriving around midday. At Palmer, it collects freight destined for Connecticut and then begins its climb over State Line Hill.

New England Central 3015 leads job 610 across Route 32 at South Monson. Lumix LX7 photo.

New England Central 3015 leads job 610 across Route 32 at South Monson. Lumix LX7 photo.

For me this is a traditional chase. I’ve been making photos on State Line hill since my bicycle riding days, when consists of Central Vermont GP9s in run-8 made for real drama.

Lately, photographing this run has been challenging because 610 often doesn’t begin its ascent of State Line until early evening, by which time the sun no longer reaches the tracks. Complicating matters are trees and undergrowth that even during the day leave relatively few windows of light.

Working with two cameras, I made the most of shafts of afternoon sunlight. The ability to make a burst of exposures with my Canon 7D allowed me to get satisfactory images as the bright orange front of 3015 was briefly flashed by patches of sunlight.

With 21 cars in tow, 610 claws its way upgrade at Smiths Bridge at Stafford Hollow Road on October 27, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

With 21 cars in tow, 610 claws its way upgrade at Smiths Bridge at Stafford Hollow Road on October 27, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

The view from Smiths Bridge was one of an open field; today it's a window into a forested scene. Lumix LX7 photo.

The view from Smiths Bridge was once abutted by open fields; today it’s a window into a forested scene. Lumix LX7 photo.

Near the summit, NECR 610 passes milepost 56. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Near the summit, NECR 610 passes milepost 56. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

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Brian’s “black and white challenge”

Csorna, Hungary, August 2003.

The sun sets over electrified MAV tracks at Csorna, Hungary in August 2003. Photo by Brian Solomon.

The sun sets over electrified MAV tracks at Csorna, Hungary in August 2003. Photo by Brian Solomon.

In response to Otto Vondrak’s “black and white challenge” on Facebook, I decided to post this black & white image via my blog Tracking the Light (http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/). 

I exposed the image on black & white film using my Rolleiflex Model T and processed it chemically in my sink on Synge Street in Dublin.

I admit, I’m neither clear on the details nor the purpose of the Facebook ‘black & white challenge’, but with more than four decades of black & white negatives in my file, I figured ‘why not’. Suggestions are welcome!

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Connecticut Trolley Museum—Autumn Visit.

October 26, 2014

Preserved streetcars  entertaining a new generation.

Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point.

Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point.

An old New Orleans Perley A. Thomas car takes visitors for a spin.

An old New Orleans Perley A. Thomas car takes visitors for a spin.

The 32 volt lamps are of another era.

The 32 volt lamps are of another era.

Cornstalks and a Montreal streetcar. Lumix LX7 photo.

Cornstalks and a Montreal streetcar. Lumix LX7 photo.

The old car hums as its DC motors gain speed. Lumix LX7 photo.

The old car hums as its DC motors gain speed. Lumix LX7 photo.

A skilled hand at the throttle. Lumix LX7 photo.

A skilled hand at the throttle. Lumix LX7 photo.

Do streetcars look better in black & white? I made this monochromatic view with my Lumix LX7.

Do streetcars look better in black & white? I made this monochromatic view with my Lumix LX7.

Yet for me the most intriguing elements of the museum are the cars I once knew from the streets of Boston. These are tucked away toward the back of the collection.

There, awaiting for another day when they may run again, are old PCCs that once worked for Boston’s MBTA. They were among the first vehicles I ever put on film.

I remember when PCCs worked the Riverside Line. I made photos with my dad's Leica at Newton Centre and Eliot. Lumix LX7 photo.

I remember when PCCs worked the Riverside Line. I made photos with my dad’s Leica at Newton Centre and Eliot. Lumix LX7 photo.

MBTA_PCC_rusty_detail_P1100093

Hidden from public view are these old familiar picture window cars. Lumix LX7 photo.

Hidden from public view are these old familiar picture window cars. Lumix LX7 photo.

PCC_B&W_vert_P1100071

MBTA_PCC_rusty_detail_P1100079

These old PCCs are like some post apocalyptic vision of the future. Nature is cruel to paint and old metal. They remind me of rotting pumpkins.

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Departing South Station, Boston.

November 1991.

It was a windy rainy afternoon when Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited departed South Station. I was riding on the rear platform of private car Caritas with Clark Johnson Jr. and my father.

My dad and I were only traveling to Springfield, Clark was going further.

I exposed this on Kodachrome 25 using my Nikon F3T with 35mmPC (perspective control—shift lens). By adjusting the front element, I maintained the verticals on the skyscrapers in the distance. I like the effect of motion; a train traveling through time.

I exposed this on Kodachrome 25 using my Nikon F3T with 35mmPC (perspective control—shift lens). By adjusting the front element, I maintained the verticals on the skyscrapers in the distance. I like the effect of motion; a train traveling through time.

Today, South Station is much different. Not only was a bus station built over the tracks, but the lines have been electrified for North East Corridor services.

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MBTA-Boston: Traction Orange PCCs.

Mattapan-Ashmont Line, October 25, 2014.

It was a clear bright morning and Tim Doherty and I made our annual visit to the Mattapan-Ashmont Red Line extension to photograph the PCC cars. See: MBTA Sunday October 27, 2013—Part 1.

A vintage Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority PCC crosses Central Avenue on October 25, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX7.

A vintage Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority PCC crosses Central Avenue on October 25, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX7.

Some of my earliest photographic efforts focused on MBTA PCCs, albeit on the Riverside Line.

These photographs were exposed digitally. Tim was working with film using a Pentax 6×7 120 roll film camera.

Approaching Cedar Grove inbound. I tried this angle last year but I wasn't 100 percent satisfied with my result, so I tried it again. Exposed using a Canon 7D with 100mm lens.

Approaching Cedar Grove inbound. I tried this angle last year but I wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with my result, so I tried it again. Exposed using a Canon 7D with 100mm lens. I shaded the front lens element using my note book to minimize flare.

Near Cedar Grove, the first stop from the Ashmont terminal. Canon 7D with 200mm lens.

Near Cedar Grove, the first stop from the Ashmont terminal. A Red Line rapid transit car can be seen in the distance. Canon 7D with 200mm lens.

Pausing for a station stop at Cedar Grove. Lumix LX7 photo.

Pausing for a station stop at Cedar Grove. Lumix LX7 photo.

PCC cars benefit from rapid acceleration.

PCC cars benefit from rapid acceleration.

MBTA displays its heritage at Cedar Grove. October 25, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.

MBTA displays its heritage at Cedar Grove. October 25, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.

The Matapan-Ashmont line was one of the earliest examples of a heavy rail to trolley conversion. This had been a New Haven Railroad line and for several years heavy rail freight service lines ran parallel to the trolley line. Today the railroad right of way is a rail trail. The trolley line fly-over crosses the old railroad in the distance. Exposed from the platforms at Butler.

The Matapan-Ashmont line was one of the earliest examples of a heavy rail to trolley conversion. This had been a New Haven Railroad line and for several years heavy rail freight service lines ran parallel to the trolley line. Today the railroad right of way is a rail trail. The trolley line fly-over crosses the old railroad in the distance. Exposed from the platforms at Butler.

Trolley_Map_P1090909

 

Clear blue skies south of Boston. Lumix LX7 photo.

Clear blue skies south of Boston. Lumix LX7 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo. Contrast adjusted in post processing.

Lumix LX7 photo. Contrast adjusted in post processing.

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Midleton, Co. Cork on Film and Digital.

October 7, 2014.

A few years ago, Irish Rail rebuilt its Youghal Branch between Cobh Junction and Midleton. After decades of inactivity, this route now enjoys a regular interval passenger service. I find it fascinating that this long closed railway is again alive with trains.

A year ago, on a previous visit to Cork, I tried some photos at this location near the Midleton Station. However, it was a flat dull morning and my results weren’t up to par.

So a few weeks ago, Irish Rail’s Ken Fox drove me back to this spot, and on this visit it was bright an sunny. Moments before the train arrived, a thin layer of high cloud momentarily diffused the sunlight, which complicated my exposure.

As the 2600-series railcar approached, I made several digital images with my Canon EOS 7D and 200mm lens and a single Fujichrome color slide using my Canon EOS 3 with 40mm pancake lens.

Digital image made with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with 200mm lens.

Digital image made with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with 200mm lens.

Exposed Fujichrome Provia 100F with Canon EOS 3 with 40mm pancake lens.

Exposed Fujichrome Provia 100F with Canon EOS 3 with 40mm pancake lens. This image looks great projected on the screen.

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Kansas City Southern’s Dodger.

McElhany, Missouri

It was the afternoon of August 16, 2011, Chris Guss and I were on a three day visit to Kansas City Southern’s north-south mainline. We were chasing the ‘Dodger’—what I’d call a local freight—led by freshly painted GP38 in the revived ‘Southern Belle’ scheme. This locomotive was originally Penn-Central 7800.

We set up on this grade south of Neosho. I worked with my Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens and Canon EOS 3 with 200mm and Fujichrome. This view was made with the digital camera.

Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens set at 127mm; exposed at ISO 200 f6.3 1/500 second.

Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens set at 127mm; exposed at ISO 200 f6.3 1/500 second.

What impressed me most about the ‘Dodger’ was its crew’s exceptional efficiency. They wasted no time when switching. There are lessons to be learned from these guys!

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New England Central 3850 and Lumix LX7 Color Profiles

Palmer, October 20, 2014.

It’s been nearly 20 years since New England Central assumed operations from Central Vermont.

In that time New England Central has had three owners. Originally a RailTex property, it was owned by RailAmerica for more than a dozen years and now is a Genesee & Wyoming railroad.

Despite that, a few of its original GP38s remain painted in the blue and yellow scheme introduced when the railroad began operations in February 1995.

NECR 3850 was working job 603 in Palmer and paused for a minute on the interchange track. Although I’ve photographed this old goat dozens of times in the last two decades, I opted to make a series of images with my Lumix LX7 to demonstrate the different color profiles (color ‘styles’) built into the camera.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, one of the great compositional tools available with the Lumix LX7 (and other cameras too) is the ability to quickly change from one color profile to another (including black & white modes).

Although, it is easy enough to adjust and alter color in post processing, I find it is useful to be able to compose a scene on-site knowing how the camera will react to color and contrast.

Below are a sequence of similar images of 3850 using different built-in color profiles. I’ve adjusted the B&W ‘monochrome’ profile in-camera to better suit my personal taste.

Image 1—Lumix 'Vivid' color profile.

Image 1—Lumix ‘Vivid’ color profile.

Image 2: Lumix 'Natural' color profile.

Image 2—Lumix ‘Natural’ color profile. Please note that term ‘Natural’ is purely subjective and does not infer any unusual treatment as compared with the other profiles. In other words ‘natural’ is just a name.

Image 3—'Scenery' Lumix color profile.

Image 3—’Scenery’ Lumix color profile.

Image 4—'Monochrome' Lumix color profile.

Image 4—’Monochrome’ Lumix color profile.

Image 5 'High Dynamic Range' setting. (this blends three images exposed automatic in rapid succession).

Image 5 ‘High Dynamic Range’ setting. (this blends three images exposed automatically in rapid succession. Fine for static scenes, but not practical for moving trains).

Which of the photos do you like the best?

Of course every computer display has its own way of interpreting color and contrast. Compare these images on different screens and see how they change.

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Tomorrow: a colorful GP38 in Missouri!

 

Helpers at Gallitzin, Pennsylvania.

July 1, 2010.

Norfolk Southern’s 17G, a very heavy westward manifest freight, has crested the summit of the Allegheny Divide and is beginning its long descent of the ‘West Slope’.

I made this trailing view of the SD40E helpers from the hill above the Gallitzin Tunnels using my Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm zoom set at 85mm.

On July 1, 2010, a pair of recently remanufactured Norfolk Southern ‘SD40Es’ shove on the back of heavy westward freight 17G  at Gallitzin, Pennsylvania. Norfolk Southern has rebuilt a number of 1980s-era SD50s. Work has included downgrading the 3,500 hp 16-645F engine to 3,000 hp 16-645E3C configuration while replacing the electrical system with modern microprocessor controls.

On July 1, 2010, a pair of recently remanufactured Norfolk Southern ‘SD40Es’ shove on the back of heavy westward freight 17G at Gallitzin, Pennsylvania. Norfolk Southern has rebuilt a number of 1980s-era SD50s. Work has included downgrading the 3,500 hp 16-645F engine to 3,000 hp 16-645E3C configuration while replacing the electrical system with modern microprocessor controls.

It had been a beautiful clear summer morning with non-stop action since sun up. A great day on the old Pennsylvania Railroad Mainline!

I featured this photo in my book Modern Diesel Power published by Voyageur Press.

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Busy Autumn Day on the B&A

October 20, 2014.

Three years ago, I’d positioned myself in Palmer, Massachusetts for the annual autumn westward appearance of the Ringling Brothers Circus train. It was a bright clear day and lots of enthusiasts had gathered to see it.

CSX’s normally quiet former Boston & Albany route was alive with traffic that day. I recall four eastward freights meeting the circus train on the controlled siding between CP 83 and CP 79 in Palmer.

Lesson learned.

A long time ago I notice that when special trains operate, there is often lots of other movement as well. Having studied railroad operations for decades, I can offer no conclusive explanation as to why, yet I’ve often found this to be true.

On Monday October 20th, 2014 I went out with hopes of catching the circus train, again expected to make its appearance in Palmer,  but I was prepared for, and expecting other trains. As it happened, CSX ran a fleet of eastward intermodal freights. I heard the first of these roaring up through Palmer about sunrise.

I arrived trackside about 9am, and over the course of the day photographed five eastbound freights, plus Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited and the Palmer local.

Normally, if I saw two eastbound freights in that same time frame, I’d feel I had a successful day. But capturing this parade made Monday October 20th one of the best day’s I’ve spent photographing the B&A East End in about four years!

CSX's local freight was working the Palmer yard when I arrived. This pair of GP40-2s departed with 66 cars for West Springfield yard. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. By carefully controlling flare, I was able to lighten the shadow areas in this backlit image.

CSX’s local freight was working the Palmer yard when I arrived. This pair of GP40-2s departed with 66 cars for West Springfield yard. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. By carefully controlling flare, I was able to lighten the shadow areas in this backlit image. I included brush on the left to add depth and add to the autumnal effect.

CSX's local snakes through CP83 as it stretched its train out of the yard at Palmer. The GP40-2s made a good roar going up the hill out of town. Canon EOS7D with 200mm lens.

CSX’s local snakes through CP83 as it stretched its train out of the yard at Palmer. The GP40-2s made a good roar going up the hill out of town. Canon EOS7D with 200mm lens.

The first of the four eastward intermodal trains I photographed on Monday October 20th. CSX symbol Q020 rolls by the old Palmer Union Station (now Steamling Tender restaurant) at 11:16 am. On a normal day, I'd expect just one late morning intermodal train. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

The first of the four eastward intermodal trains I photographed on Monday October 20th. CSX symbol Q020 rolls by the old Palmer Union Station (now Steamling Tender restaurant) at 11:16 am. On a normal day, I’d expect just one late morning intermodal train. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

New England Central 603 was switching its consist in Palmer.

New England Central 603 was switching its consist in Palmer.

At 12:25pm, CSX Q022 glides through CP 83 on the main track. This is the intermodal train I often see pass Palmer about this time of day. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

At 12:25pm, CSX Q022 glides through CP 83 on the main track. This is the intermodal train I often see pass Palmer about this time of day. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Hot on the heals of the Q022 was CSX symbol Q012, which I photographed crossing the Palmer diamond at 12:40pm. Lumix LX7 photo.

Hot on the heals of the Q022 was CSX symbol Q012, which I photographed crossing the Palmer diamond at 12:40pm. Lumix LX7 photo.

I heard chatter on the scanner that hinted at a 4th eastward freight. Not wanting to repeat my efforts at Palmer, I went up the Quaboag Valley to Warren and waited there. I was rewarded by yet another eastward intermodal train. Word to the wise; rarely I have I ever seen four eastward intermodal trains in daylight on the B&A route in modern times. Lumix LX7 photo. (Adjusted for contrast in post processing).

I heard chatter on the scanner that hinted at a 4th eastward freight. Not wanting to repeat my efforts at Palmer, I went up the Quaboag Valley to Warren and waited there. I was rewarded by yet another eastward intermodal train. Word to the wise; rarely I have I ever seen four eastward intermodal trains in daylight on the B&A route in modern times. Lumix LX7 photo. (Adjusted for contrast in post processing).

This last intermodal train had the added bonus of a Union Pacific GE in the consist. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens at Warren, Massachusetts.

This last intermodal train had the added bonus of a Union Pacific GE in the consist. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens at Warren, Massachusetts.

Warren's common featured a bright orange tree, but including this in my composition was difficult because of the row of dark trees between it and the tracks. I ended up make this split view and using the tree at the right as a frame. Fortunately some high clouds softened the sun to reduce the contrast of the tree's shadow. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Warren’s common featured a bright orange tree, but including this in my composition was difficult because of the row of dark trees between it and the tracks. I ended up using the tree at the right as a frame. Fortunately some high clouds softened the sun to reduce the contrast of the tree’s shadow. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

West Warren was my choice for a setting to capture the Circus Train. I've photographed it a various locations on the Boston & Albany route over the years, but never here. It sure would have  looked nice if it came west at this time. What's that? Do I hear another eastward train climbing up the valley from Palmer? Lumix LX7 Photo.

West Warren was my choice for a setting to capture the Circus Train. I’ve photographed it a various locations on the Boston & Albany route over the years, but never here. It sure would have looked nice if it came west at this time. What’s that? Do I hear another eastward train climbing up the valley from Palmer? Lumix LX7 Photo.

CSX Q264, the loaded eastward autorack train destined for the East Brookfield & Spencer at East Brookfield passes milepost 75 in West Warren. Canon EOS7D with 100mm lens.

CSX Q264, the loaded eastward autorack train destined for the East Brookfield & Spencer at East Brookfield passes milepost 75 in West Warren. Canon EOS7D with 100mm lens. Nice foliage here.

CSX Q264 passes the waterfall at West Warren. Lumix LX7 photo. The clouds were rolling in from the west and soon the light would be flat and dark.

CSX Q264 passes the waterfall at West Warren. Lumix LX7 photo. The clouds were rolling in from the west and soon the light would be flat and dark.

Not only did I make a number of satisfying photographs, but at every location I visited, I met friends and fellow enthusiasts.

On the downside: The circus train encountered a host of delays working its way west. Despite unusual perseverance, by 4pm the light had fade from a clear blue dome to a dark dull evening. At 410pm, I gave up. The circus train passed the bridge at West Warren where I’d been waiting about 40 minutes later.

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Autumnal Massachusetts Saturday.

October 18, 2014.

We had a late start, the weather was a bit iffy, and there wasn’t much running, but my father and I set out anyway to make a few railroad photos in the fall foliage.

Since Amtrak’s Vermonter is in its final months of using the New England Central route between Palmer and East Northfield, Massachusetts, we made a point to intercept it in both directions.

A New England Central local freight was working the interchange track in Palmer. Canon EOS7D with 200mm lens.

A New England Central local freight was working the interchange track in Palmer. Canon EOS7D with 200mm lens.

For more than 19 years, New England Central's blue and yellow GP38s have worked around Palmer. I wonder how much longer they will last? Lumix LX7 photo.

For more than 19 years, New England Central’s blue and yellow GP38s have worked around Palmer. I wonder how much longer they will last? Lumix LX7 photo.

Richard Solomon waves.

Richard Solomon waves.

Amtrak train 57, Saturday's Vermonter works south of Amherst at milepost 82. A hiking trail runs parallel with the line at this location. New welded rail has been laid along the line. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Amtrak train 57, Saturday’s Vermonter works south of Amherst at milepost 82. A hiking trail runs parallel with the line at this location. New welded rail has been laid along the line. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

A stop by Pan Am’s East Deerfield Yard found little moving except the hump engine.

The old Boston & Maine line was pretty quiet. This is the view looking west from East Deerfield where I've made a great many photographs in the last 30 plus years. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

The old Boston & Maine line was pretty quiet. This is the view looking west from East Deerfield where I’ve made a great many photographs in the last 30 plus years. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

A burst of sun at East Deerfield Yard. No less than four sets of road power were idling and the yard was full of cars, but not much was moving.

A burst of sun at East Deerfield Yard. No less than four sets of road power were idling and the yard was full of cars, but not much was moving.

Not everyday is busy in central Massachusetts, but I can always find photographs. Here’s just a few from our afternoon’s exploration.

A spin over to Montague found a GATX  slugset working the East Deerfield hump job. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

A spin over to Montague found a GATX slugset working the East Deerfield hump job. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

I made this panned view of the GATX slug using my Lumix LX7.

I made this panned view of the GATX slug using my Lumix LX7.

Millers Falls, Massachusetts, October 18, 2014.

Millers Falls, Massachusetts, October 18, 2014.

Amtrak train 54 the northward Saturday Vermonter crosses the Millers River at Millers Falls. Canon EOS 7D with 200 mm lens. Image adjusted for contrast and color balance.

Amtrak train 54 the northward Saturday Vermonter crosses the Millers River at Millers Falls. Canon EOS 7D with 100 mm lens. Image adjusted for contrast and color balance.

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Mass-Central 2100, Ware, Massachusetts.

Hello Old Friend.

On, October 15, 2014, I was giving a tour to some visitors from France, and we passed through Ware on our way from the Quabbin Reservoir to West Brookfield’s Salem Cross Inn.

Earlier in the week, I’d noticed that Mass-Central had parked its rare Electro-Motive Division model NW5 2100 in Ware yard near the Route 9/32 overpass. So, we made a quick diversion so that I could make a photograph of the locomotive.

Mass-Central 210 rests at Ware yard on former Boston & Albany trackage on October 15, 2014. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

Mass-Central 210 rests at Ware yard on former Boston & Albany trackage on October 15, 2014. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

I’ve written about this before, but it was about 1981, when I rode my bicycle from Monson to Ware, specifically to photograph this locomotive, which had then just recently been delivered to Mass-Central.

When I think about all the locomotives that have come and gone in that time, I can’t help but smile. Old 2100 has nine lives, and then some! And it’s not that I need another photograph of it, but I make them anyway.

 

Mass-Central NW5 2100 is one of 13 such locomotives built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division between 1946 and 1947. It was originally bought by Southern Railway, but has worked Mass-Central’s Ware River Branch since the early 1980s. Exposed with a Lumix LX7 using the 'Vivid' color profile. Compare with the high dynamic range (HDR image below.

Mass-Central NW5 2100 is one of 13 such locomotives built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division between 1946 and 1947. It was originally bought by Southern Railway, but has worked Mass-Central’s Ware River Branch since the early 1980s. Exposed with a Lumix LX7 using the ‘Vivid’ color profile. Compare with the high dynamic range (HDR image below.)

My Lumix LX7 has a HDR setting that makes three images at different exposure settings in rapid succession and then combines them in-camera to create a single image with greater highlight and shadow detail than possible with a single digital exposure. Notice how this effect mutes the color and lowers contrast. Which image is better? You decide. Lumix LX7 photo.

My Lumix LX7 has a HDR setting that makes three images at different exposure settings in rapid succession and then combines them in-camera to create a single image with greater highlight and shadow detail than possible with a single digital exposure. Notice how this effect mutes the color and lowers contrast. Which image is better? You decide. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Moate Cabin, May 23, 2003.

Open Cabin on a Closed Line.

Exposed on Fujichrom using a Nikon F3.

Exposed on Fujichrom using a Nikon F3.

By the time of my visit in 2003, Irish Rail’s old Midland Great Western line between Mullingar and Athlone had been out of service for several years. In it’s heyday this had been a relatively busy double track mainline.

On this day the weed spraying train was due for its annual visit, so a man was sent to work the cabin. Thus this incongruous scene of a disused and brushed in line with an active signal cabin.

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Hoosac Tunnel March 4, 2007.

An Eastward Pan Am Railways Freight at East Portal.

I was working on my book North American Railroad Bridges for Voyageur Press and I’d been communicating via E-mail with the late William D. Middleton regarding the particulars of certain spans and photographs of same.

Bill asked a favor of me: He was working on article for TRAINS Magazine and hoped that I could travel to the Hoosac Tunnel to make some contemporary images to help illustrate his article.

A few days later, I met Tim Doherty, Pat Yough and Otto Vondrak at East Deerfield for a day’s photography. I needed some images of the former New Haven Railroad Whipple Truss span over the Connecticut River at Montague (now a walking trail).

Later in the day we went west against an eastward freight. This provided me ample opportunity to photograph both east and west portals of Boston & Maine’s famous tunnel under the spine of the Berkshires.

As it turned out, the eastward freight was led by one of only two locomotives painted for Pan Am Railway at the time.

Pan Am Railways freight at East Portal on March 4, 2007.

Pan Am Railways freight at East Portal on March 4, 2007.

As the train approached and exited East Portal, I exposed a series of images. I sent the best of the slides to Bill via the US Postal Service. One of my photos, exposed with a wide-angle of the Pan Am Railway’s GP40-2L emerging from the tunnel wearing the experimental light blue and black paint, appeared in Bill’s TRAINS Magazine article.

I prefer this view, moments before the freight exits the inky black depths of Hoosac Mountain. For me this better conveys the experience of watching a train at Hoosac Tunnel.

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