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.

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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Union Pacific in the Smoke Creek Desert—Sand Pass, Nevada.

On the edge of dry sea.

 Exposed on Fujichrome slide film using a Canon EOS 3 fitted with an f 1.4 50mm lens, set at  f8 1/500th of  second.


Exposed on Fujichrome slide film using a Canon EOS 3 fitted with an f 1.4 50mm lens, set at f8 1/500th of second.

At 9:49am on July 29, 2009, I exposed this image of Union Pacific 5526 leading an eastward double stack train on the former Western Pacific at Sand Pass, Nevada. At the back of the train, another General Electric diesel is working as a ‘distributed power unit’ (a radio controlled remotely operated locomotive).

Phil Brahms and I were exploring the former Western Pacific route across one of the most remote and lightly inhabited regions of the continental United States. This is lonely, barren, wind-swept and wide-open country where you can see for great distances.

Rail traffic was sparse, but we found about four to five freights per day in daylight.

The desert gets much bigger after sunset; the haunting sounds of the wind blowing across the desert floor in the dead of night and the radiant sky with stars blazing above cannot be captured on film. Yet these things stay with you.

That morning, I wrote in my notebook, ‘at dawn, before sunrise, I climbed a hill—coyotes were howling to the east (of me).’

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Chicago: The Other 611

February 2003.

For many railway enthusiasts, the number 611 immediately conveys mental images of Norfolk & Western’s magnificent streamlined 4-8-4 steam locomotive. But the number is shared with another interesting engine.

On clear morning in February 2003, I arrived in Chicago on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited. Marshall W. Beecher met me at Union Station and we set out to explore Chicago’s railroads.

We stopped in at A2 tower, a busy place where the former Chicago & North Western crosses the former Milwaukee Road lines from Union Station. In addition to mainline suburban trains, a yard between the two mainlines west of the tower produces a host of light engine and equipment moves.

Metra 611 at A2 Tower Chicago in February 2003. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3.

Metra 611 at A2 Tower Chicago in February 2003. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3.

Metra 611, one of only a few remain F40Cs, was on its way to the yard. The light was perfect and I made this portrait of the unusual locomotive. The F40C was built in 1974 for Milwaukee Road’s Chicago suburban service and the near cousin to Amtrak’s unsuccessful SDP40F. By 2003 only a few remained in service.

My most recent book Chicago: America’s Railroad Capital is a collaborative project with Michael Blaszak, John Gruber and Chris Guss, and features many one of a kind photographs. It is available now through Voyageur Press. This illustrated volume illustrates the history of Chicago’s railroad from the steam era through the present.

Take a look! Keen observers will find yet another 611 displayed in the book’s pages.

http://www.qbookshop.com/products/213674/9780760346037/Chicago-America-s-Railroad-Capital.html

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Irish Rail’s Cobh Branch.

My Whirlwind Tour—October 2014.

I made this photo of an inbound 2600 series railcar on the afternoon of October 6, 2014 near the church at Glounthaune, Co. Cork. Exposed with a Lumix LX7 and modified in post-processing.

I made this photo of an inbound 2600 series railcar on the afternoon of October 6, 2014 near the church at Glounthaune, Co. Cork. Exposed with a Lumix LX7 and modified in post-processing.

A similar view of another 2600, this one exposed using my Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. This photo is unadjusted, except for scaling.

A similar view of another 2600, this one exposed using my Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. This photo is unadjusted, except for scaling. I use different camera/lens combinations to alter my perspective. Compare these two images at Glounthaune, exposed only minutes apart, but with different cameras and slightly different angles.

Irish Rail operates an excellent and well-patronized service on its Kent Station to Cobh line. In conjunction with this service are trains running on the recently reopened line to Midleton. Yesterday’s post focused on Cobh Junction, Glounthaune, where the lines divide.

In yesterday's post, I focused on a series of sunrise images exposed overlooking Cobh Junction. For this view, made minutes before sunrise, I used my Canon EOS 7D with 100mm telephoto. By raising the ISO and using the lens nearly wideopen (f2.0) I was able to stop the action despite relatively low light. For the sunrise, I used by Fujichrome slide film and digital photography.

In yesterday’s post, I focused on a series of sunrise images exposed overlooking Cobh Junction. For this view, made minutes before sunrise, I used my Canon EOS 7D with 100mm telephoto. By raising the ISO and using the lens nearly wideopen (f2.0) I was able to stop the action despite relatively low light. For the sunrise, I used both Fujichrome slide film and digital photography.

Glounthaune Station at Cobh Junction was just a short walk away. I made this image from the footbridge at the station to show the yellow signal with a feather (indicating a diverging route with the next signal at 'danger' [red]). A Midleton-bound railcar was signaled to depart the station, but needed to wait for an inbound train before it could proceed to Midleton.

Glounthaune Station at Cobh Junction was just a short walk away. I made this image from the footbridge at the station to show the yellow signal with a feather (indicating a diverging route with the next signal at ‘danger’ [red], seen in the distance). A Midleton-bound railcar was signaled to depart the station, but needed to wait for an inbound train before it could proceed to Midleton.

Here's my view with the Lumix LX7 of the Midleton railcar departing Glounthaune. There was excellent ridership from this station in the morning.

Here’s my view with the Lumix LX7 of the Midleton railcar departing Glounthaune. There was excellent ridership from this station in the morning.

Irish Rail’s Ken Fox gave me a personal tour of the line, driving me by road to best spots and advising me on train times, the history of the railway, and his personal experiences with the line.

While the equipment on the line consists largely of the 1990s-built 2600-series diesel railcars, the frequency of trains and the great scenery along the line, make for ample photographic opportunities.

I’m always looking for a new angle, but also to recreate the angle I used in older photos. I’d made my first images on the Cobh branch back in 1999, and since then the line had been re-signaled among other changes.

Irish Rail 2612 approaches its station stop at Carrigaloe, County Cork. Exposed with Canon EOS 7D.

Irish Rail 2612 approaches its station stop at Carrigaloe, County Cork. Exposed with my Canon EOS 7D.

Looking across Cork harbour toward Passage West, which was served by a narrow gauge suburban line until the 1930s. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Looking across Cork harbour toward Passage West, which was served by a narrow gauge suburban line until the 1930s. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Lumix LX7 view of a 2600 along Cork harbour at Carrigaloe.

Lumix LX7 view of a 2600 along Cork harbour at Carrigaloe.

Trailing view from a hillside at Carrigaloe.

Trailing view from a hillside at Carrigaloe.

Irish Rail 2612 makes its station stop at Rushbrook, County Cork on its way to Cobh. I had time to swap lenses and make a few colour slides while the train dropped off its passengers. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Irish Rail 2612 makes its station stop at Rushbrook, County Cork on its way to Cobh. I had time to swap lenses and make a few colour slides while the train dropped off its passengers. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Same train and location as above, but using my 40mm pancake lens.

Same train and location as above, but using my 40mm pancake lens.

Cobh Station.

Cobh Station.

Irish Rail display at Cobh Station. Lumix LX7.

Irish Rail display at Cobh Station. Lumix LX7.

A railfan dog gazes with enthusiasm as a 2600 series railcar roars out of Cobh on its way back to Kent Station, Cork. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

A railfan dog gazes with enthusiasm as a 2600 series railcar roars out of Cobh on its way back to Kent Station, Cork. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Afternoon view looking compass west at Cobh Junction toward Glounthaune Station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Afternoon view looking compass west at Cobh Junction toward Glounthaune Station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Having bright sun for the duration of our photography on October 7th was a great benefit.

Thanks Ken!

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Sunrise at Cobh Junction, Glounthaune, Cork.

Being There.

Last week on my visit to Cork, I met with Ken Fox and Donncha Cronin, who are helping me with a book project on overseas rail travel.

During discussions about travel to wild and exotic places, Donncha says, “you might like my view. I don’t know, maybe you can do something with it?”

I’ve said this before, but you have to be there to get the photo.

It helps to have the right tools. In my case, I’d brought a full range of lenses to Cork, and based on my experience last year, I was prepared to make a long telephoto view at Glounthaune.

I wasn’t, however, expecting to make this elevated photograph of the rising sun. That was a bit of luck. Having inspected Donncha’s view, I decided, that ‘yes’, I might be able to work with that.

A few minutes before sunrise, Irish Rail 2600-series railcars pass at Glounthaune, Cork. At this hour the light changes quickly. Thankfully with modern digital cameras it is easy to adjust the ISO setting.

A few minutes before sunrise, Irish Rail 2600-series railcars pass at Glounthaune, Cork. At this hour the light changes quickly. Thankfully with modern digital cameras it is easy to adjust the ISO setting.

Fortunately, the next morning was mostly clear, and Irish Rail runs an intensive morning service with trains every half hour from Cobh and Midleton to Kent Station, Cork. (Cobh Junction is where the two lines join.)

With a copy of a working timetable in hand, and my Canon EOS 7D at the ready, I exposed this series of photos as the sun brightened the day.

One trick: I manually set the camera’s white balance to ‘daylight’ to avoid the camera trying to balance out the effect of the colored sunrise.

In addition to these digital photos, I made a couple of color slides.

Looking into the rising sun at Glounthaune, Cork. A layer of low cloud and mist help control the contrast while adding a bit of color to the scene. I had only a few minutes when the light was at its optimum to make a dramatic image. Thankfully, Irish Rail runs lots of trains at this hour. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Looking into the rising sun at Glounthaune, Cork. A layer of low cloud and mist help control the contrast while adding a bit of color to the scene. I had only a few minutes when the light was at its optimum to make a dramatic image. Thankfully, Irish Rail runs lots of trains at this hour. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

An Irish Rail 2600 pauses at Glounthaune. The car catches the glint of the sun. In a moment it will depart the station and head out onto the causeway that connects Fota Island. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

An Irish Rail 2600 pauses at Glounthaune. The car catches the glint of the sun. In a moment it will depart the station and head out onto the causeway that connects Fota Island. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Here the 2600 railcar is on causeway to Fota Island. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. The difficulty is selecting the best exposure. This image like the others presented here is unmodified, except for necessary scaling for internet presentation.

Here the 2600 railcar is on causeway to Fota Island. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. The difficulty is selecting the best exposure. This image like the others presented here is unmodified, except for necessary scaling for internet presentation.

Morning_glint_at_Glounthaune_2600_outbound_silo_with_birds_IMG_9028

This was only the auspicious beginning to another very productive day documenting railways around Cork. More to come in tomorrow’s post!

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Kent Station, Cork—September 25, 2013 and October 6, 2014.

Now and Then: How Changes to Infrastructure Affect Composition.

Photographic pairs showing locations that have been changed by time are nothing new. Yet, usually there are decades between photo pairs, not just one year.

In the interval between my September 2013 visit to Kent Station, Cork and my subsequent visit in the first week of October this year, the station suffered damage during a fierce storm.

On December 18, 2013, high winds caused the collapse of the historic canopy that had protected the platform serving tracks 1 and 2. In the wind, the old cast iron columns supporting the canopy snapped like toothpicks, and wooden sheathed canopy turned to splinters.

Kent Station, Cork on September 25, 2013. The old canopy is a central element to this image, exposed with my Lumix LX3. I've used the canopy in several ways, including  to block out much of the textureless white sky, and to divide the frame in a meaningful way.

Kent Station, Cork on September 25, 2013. The old canopy is a central element to this image, exposed with my Lumix LX3. I’ve used the canopy in several ways, including to block out much of the textureless white sky, and to divide the frame in a meaningful way.

The canopy is now gone, but that makes it more of story than in the earlier element. Here the ominous sky on October 6, 2014, alludes to the storm some 10 months earlier, while the boxed vestiges on the platform hint at the old cast iron columns. I've made no effort to precisely duplicate my earlier photograph. That would only result in an awkwardly composed contemporary image. Lumix LX7 photo.

The canopy is now gone, but that makes it more of story than in the earlier image. Here, on October 6, 2014, the ominous sky alludes to the storm some 10 months earlier, while the boxed vestiges on the platform hint at the old cast iron columns. I’ve made no effort to precisely duplicate my earlier photograph. That would only result in an awkwardly composed contemporary image. Lumix LX7 photo.

When I arrived off the train from Dublin in the afternoon of October 6, 2014, I was well aware of the change to the canopy, having read about it on RTE’s internet news  and again some months later in the Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society.

However, a change such as this cannot really be fully appreciated until witnessed in person. The old canopy was an important fixture of Kent Station and it altered the quality of light on the platforms, as well as protecting passengers from the elements.

In this September 25, 2013 image the black mass of the canopy helps balance the shapes of the rail cars while shadowing the platform and ground making for a more contrasty image. Lumix LX3 photo.

In this September 25, 2013 image, I’m looking away from Kent Station toward Cobh and Midlton. Here the black mass of the canopy helps balance the shapes of the rail cars while shadowing the platform and ground making for a more contrasty image. Lumix LX3 photo.

I'm nearly in the same place for this photo as I was in the 2013 image above. Without the canopy to add a balancing element, I focused more intently on the 2600-series diesel railcars. The lighting in both photographs is similar.

I’m nearly in the same place for this photo as I was in the 2013 image above. But without the canopy to add a balancing element, I focused more intently on the 2600-series diesel railcars. The lighting in both photographs is similar. Which do you prefer? Lumix LX7 photo exposed on October 6, 2014.

In these photo pairings, my goal wasn’t to make precise comparisons to show the exact nature of the changed scene, but rather to show how the canopy, and the lack there of, affected the way I composed my images. I was keen to show the broken cast iron columns because they now tell the story.

Likewise, someday the semaphores will go. And when they are gone, I’ll no longer be intent to frame trains with them. Some other element of the scene will take their place.

In this September 25,  2013 view I've carefully used the old canopy as a frame for the 2600 railcar departing Kent Station. Notice the relative location of semaphores, lighting masts, and cast iron canopy supports. Lumix LX3 photo.

In this September 25, 2013 view I’ve carefully used the old canopy as a frame for the 2600 railcar departing Kent Station. Notice the relative location of semaphores, lighting masts and cast iron canopy supports. Lumix LX3 photo.

In the above photo, the canopy serves more as a frame than as subject. While in this October 6, 2014 image, the broken cast iron column is an element of interest, especially after you know the story. Imaging the sound it made when it broke! Here an arriving 2600 railcar passes the old semaphores, long may they last! Lumix LX7 photo.

In the above photo, the canopy serves more as a frame than as subject. While in this October 6, 2014 image, the broken cast iron column is an element of interest, especially after you know the story. Imagine the sound it made when it broke! Here an arriving 2600 railcar passes the old semaphores, long may they last! Notice how I’ve included more platform is this more recent image. Lumix LX7 photo.

When you make photos, how do you balance the elements in the scene? Do you focus on just the primary subject or do you adjust your composition to take in secondary elements, such as that offered by the platform canopy and semaphores in these images? Think about it.

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Irish Rail ICR Dublin to Cork.

ROTEM Diesel Rail Car.

Irish Rail's 1200 (noon) departure from Dublin Heuston Station to Cork consisted of a now standard Rotem-built Intercity Railcar. I made this photo on platform 7 before boarding the train. Lumix LX7 photo.

Irish Rail’s 1200 (noon) departure from Dublin Heuston Station to Cork consisted of a now standard Rotem-built Intercity Railcar. I made this photo on platform 7 before boarding my train, which was actually just ahead of this train set on the same platform.  Lumix LX7 photo.

Close up view of Irish Rail's ICR on platform 7 on October 6, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.

Close up view of Irish Rail’s ICR on platform 7 on October 6, 2014. Lumix LX7 photo.

On October 6, 2014, I took a spin from Dublin to Cork. Irish Rail has been offering low fares online, and I booked a one-way ticket in advance for just 14.90 Euro. Word to the wise, walk up fares are much more expensive.

Sitting across from me was an American engineer who had just arrived in Ireland on business. He was impressed by the fast, smooth riding Intercity Railcar and its relatively full load. Sadly, he didn’t book online and so paid more than 85 Euro for a round trip fare.

I opted for the 1200 departure from Heuston Station and made some photos of the train using my Lumix LX7.

The interior of my train. Leaving Dublin it was nearly full, however large numbers of passengers disembarked at Limerick Junction to take a connecting train to Limerick, and at Mallow for the connecting train to points in county Kerry.

The interior of my train. Leaving Dublin it was nearly full, however large numbers of passengers disembarked at Limerick Junction to take a connecting train to Limerick, and at Mallow for the connecting train to points in county Kerry.

Kent Station Cork features a distinctive curved train shed. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.

Kent Station Cork features a distinctive curved train shed. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.

 

Upon arrival in Cork, my more serious photography began, and I made good use of the next 24 hours to make lots of photos of Irish Rail’s operations around Cork . . .Stay tuned for more images!

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Tomorrow: Kent Station—Now and Then

Golden LUAS on Abbey Street, Dublin

October Glint Light

Dublin’s LUAS Red Line tram route follows an east-west alignment on Abbey Street.

This one of the older streets on Dublin’s North Side. Technically the thoroughfare is comprised of St. Mary’s Abbey Street, Abbey Street Upper, Abbey Street Middle, and Abbey Street Lower.

I’ve often walked this route, which has given me a good idea where the light falls during different times of day and over the course of the year.

On the evening of October 4, 2014, I aimed to make a few glint photos of the trams gliding through the city center.

The silver-sided LUAS Citadis trams reflect the setting sun nicely.

On October 4, 2014, an inbound LUAS tram approaches the intersection with Capel Street. I like the sunset  reflections on the tram and the sides of the buildings. By staying in the shadows, I minimize the effect of flare caused by bright light hitting the front lens element. Lumix LX7.

On October 4, 2014, an inbound LUAS tram approaches the intersection with Capel Street. I like the sunset reflections on the tram and the sides of the buildings. By staying in the shadows, I minimize the effect of flare caused by bright light hitting the front lens element. Lumix LX7.

Using my Lumix LX7, I exposed a series of photos with the sun near the horizon. I used the same exposure technique that I wrote about in my post Sunset Under the Shed at Heuston Station, Dublin [http://wp.me/p2BVuC-2by].

To make a dramatic glint light image, it’s important to retain highlight detail, even if this results in opaque shadows. With the Lumix, I use the ‘A’ mode (aperture priority) and then manually stop down ‘underexpose’ the image in order to keep the highlight density where I want it.

If I didn’t override the camera meter, the Lumix would attempt to balance the lighting by brightening the shadow areas and the result would cause the glinting tram to be overexposed (too bright).

Alternatively, I could set the camera manually, but I find in a rapidly changing setting of a city street, I can get a more effective exposure by letting the camera do some of the work.

An outbound tram catches the sun on St. Mary's Abbey Street. I've used the same exposure technique described above to hold highlight detail on the front of the tram. Lumix LX7 photo.

An outbound tram catches the sun on St. Mary’s Abbey Street. I’ve used the same exposure technique described above to hold highlight detail on the front of the tram. Lumix LX7 photo.

I've chosen a low angle to add a bit of drama. Also, I've allowed the sun in the image which has caused a little bit of flare. In this situation, I feel that the flare works well, and makes for a distinctive image. Lumix LX7 photo.

I’ve chosen a low angle to add a bit of drama. Also, I’ve allowed the sun in the image which has caused a little bit of flare. In this situation, I feel that the flare works well, and makes for a distinctive image. Lumix LX7 photo.

Back in the old days, I’d have used Kodachrome 25 slide film, which had an excellent ability to retain highlight and shadow detail. To calculate my exposure I use my hand held light meter.

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Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited—Sunday October 12, 2014.

Classic Location: West Warren, Massachusetts.

Waterfall_West_Warren_vert_IMG_9194

Sometimes familiar locations work best. In the past, I’ve made many photographs along the Boston & Albany at West Warren, the combination of easy of access, scenic environment, identifiable scene, and excellent afternoon lighting continue to make it one of my favorite places to photograph Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited, train 449.

The afternoon of October 12th was clear and bright with hints of autumn color tinged in the trees. My father and I opted to intercept 449—one of the few trains running at that time of the day on a Sunday—and so we put ourselves in position on the road bridge near the old mill race. After a short wait the train came into view.

Richard J. Solomon at West Warren, Massachusetts on October 12, 2014. Richard has a mix of modern digital cameras and a traditional Rolleiflex loaded with color negative film.

Richard J. Solomon at West Warren, Massachusetts on October 12, 2014. Richard has a mix of modern digital cameras and a traditional Rolleiflex loaded with color negative film.

I worked with my Canon EOS 7D and Lumix LX7, my father exposed a photo using his vintage Rolleiflex Model T on a Gitzo tripod, and used his Lumix LX7, plus Minolta Mark IV light meter and various other bits and pieces.

Amtrak 449 The Lake Shore Limited rolls west along the Quaboag River at West Warren, Massachusetts on the afternoon of October 12, 2014. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Amtrak 449 The Lake Shore Limited rolls west along the Quaboag River at West Warren, Massachusetts on the afternoon of October 12, 2014. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Amtrak 449 The Lake Shore Limited rolls west along the Quaboag River at West Warren, Massachusetts on the afternoon of October 12, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX7.

Amtrak 449 The Lake Shore Limited rolls west along the Quaboag River at West Warren, Massachusetts on the afternoon of October 12, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX7.

Trailing view of Amtrak 449 passing milepost 75 at West Warren, Massachusetts, the site of the old station.

Trailing view of Amtrak 449 passing milepost 75 at West Warren, Massachusetts, the site of the old station. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

This maintained our long tradition of going out to photograph the Lake Shore Limited that dates back to the 1970s.

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Danbury Connecticut, May 6, 2007.

General Electric Dual Mode in New Haven Railroad Paint.

It was a bright Spring morning, when Pat Yough, Otto Vondrak & I made some photos along the former New Haven Railroad Danbury branch. We photographed this dual-mode at the old Danbury station.

Bright sun and fair-weather clouds make for a pleasant day. New Haven Railroad introduced this livery in the mid-1950s. The Connecticut Department of Transportation revived it in the mid-1980s when four former FL9s were rebuilt and repainted in their as-delivered scheme.

Bright sun and fair-weather clouds make for a pleasant day. New Haven Railroad introduced this livery in the mid-1950s. The Connecticut Department of Transportation revived it in the mid-1980s when four former FL9s were rebuilt and repainted in their as-delivered scheme. Here we have a dual mode General Electric Genesis in an adaptation of the classic paint.

It was about 30 years earlier, when my father, my brother Sean, and I boarded a wheezing Budd RDC at this very spot on a dull December day. The poor old car wasn’t working well and it coiled up when we reached Branchville, Connecticut. A substitute bus brought us to the mainline.

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SPECIAL POST: New Milestone for Tracking the Light

Yesterday, October 11, 2014, Tracking the Light received its 100,000th view!

100000 views at 6.29.47 AM

Since I began Tracking the Light in July 2012, this site has developed a regular and loyal audience.

Thank you for tuning in! I hope everyone out there continues to enjoy the mix of photography!

I have many new posts planned and will continue to publish new material daily! Please feel free to share Tracking the Light.

Brian Solomon

On the morning of October 11, 2014, a LUAS tram pauses at Heuston Station, Dublin. Exposed using a Lumix LX7 in 'Creative Control Dynamic Monochrome Mode'.

On the morning of October 11, 2014, a LUAS tram pauses at Heuston Station, Dublin. Exposed using a Lumix LX7 in ‘Creative Control Dynamic Monochrome Mode’.

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Autumnal Scene at Proctorville, Vermont.

Old Rutland Railroad Bridge.

I exposed this slide about ten years ago. Although lattice truss bridge has its date stamped on it, for me the photo conveys the timeless quality of rural Vermont railroading. Yet, the bridge cannot last here forever. It’s a relic of another age and its time may soon come due.

Looking toward Rutland. Exposed with a Nikon F3 with 105mm lens on Fujichrome.

Looking toward Rutland. Exposed with a Nikon F3 with 105mm lens on Fujichrome.

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Further Adventures with Irish Narrow Gauge.

Bord na Mona, September 2014.

Bord na Mona loads near Blackwater, September 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.

Bord na Mona loads near Blackwater, September 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.

I’ve received great interest in my various previous posts on Ireland’s Bord na Mona narrow gauge turf railways. [See: Irish Narrow Gauge: Bord na Mona Approaching SunsetBord na Mona, Lanesborough, August 10, 2013Irish Bog Railways—Part 4, August, 2013.]

In summary: After a decade of my relative neglect, in the last two years I’ve made a dozen or so excursions to explore and photograph Ireland’s Bord na Mona railways.

These consists of several rather extensive three-foot gauge networks largely focused on the delivery of milled peat to electrical generating stations in Ireland’s midlands counties.

The largest and busiest network is that focused on the Shannonbridge power plant along the River Shannon. Although this network demands the most amount of turf and in theory runs the most number of trains, it is one the more difficult systems to photograph.

This is partly a function of the bogs served by the railway, which are largely inaccessible by road. Also, some of the trains cross the Shannon by a bridge, and there is no comparable road bridge, so it makes following these trains very difficult.

However, I’ve found that using good maps and remaining patient pays off. On this September afternoon about a month ago, Denis McCabe, Colm O’Callaghan and I visited several locations on the Shannonbridge system.

Based on previous experiences, we aimed for known good locations. While we only found a few trains moving, the photography was successful. This a sampling of my recent results.

Hunslet builders plate on a old Bord na Mona locomotive. Lumix LX7 photo.

Hunslet builders plate on a old Bord na Mona locomotive. Lumix LX7 photo.

Bord na Mona locomotives at Shannonbridge. Lumix LX7 photo.

Bord na Mona locomotives at Shannonbridge. Lumix LX7 photo.

panel track trucks. Lumix LX7 photo.

panel track trucks. Lumix LX7 photo.

Bord na Mona empties approach a grade crossing near the Blackwater depot. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Bord na Mona empties approach a grade crossing near the Blackwater depot. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Bord na Mona loads catch the evening sun near Blackwater, September 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Bord na Mona loads catch the evening sun near Blackwater, September 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

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Canadian Pacific 40-foot Boxcars on the Roll.

A Fading Glimpse at an Old Standard.

For decades the 40-foot box car was the standard North American freight vehicle. These ubiquitous cars were part of the railway furniture, and largely ignored by photographers.

Yet, by the mid-1980s the old 40-foot car was rapidly disappearing. I’d been alerted to this change by my late friend Bob Buck, who urged me to make photograph them.

Canadian Pacific 40-ft boxcars roll through Rochester, New York in November 1986. Exposed on black & white film using a Canon A1 with 50mm lens.

Canadian Pacific 40-ft boxcars roll through Rochester, New York in November 1986. Exposed on black & white film using a Canon A1 with 50mm lens.

When I spotted this matched set of Canadian Pacific 40-foot cars on the move in a Conrail freight at Rochester, I exposed a few 35mm black & white photos, documenting their passage through the scene.

Today, keep your eye out for change. The 50-foot boxcar is now in the same position as the 40-foot car was in the 1980s, and are rapidly meeting dates with scrappers.

Of course, the amazing thing about reviewing my photos of 1980s freight trains is the complete lack of graffiti, save for the occasional traditional chalk tagging.

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Classic Conrail: Altoona, Pennsylvania

Light! Leica! Action!

July 28, 1987, TSH and I were poised on the footbridge at Works waiting for westbound freights to get their helpers and begin their climb over the Allegheny Divide via Horseshoe Curve.

 

A lone SW1200 was drilling freight cars in the yard. I’ve always like EMD switchers. So while waiting for the mainline action, I exposed this trailing view of the locomotive using my Leica M2 fitted with my father’s Leitz f2.8 90mm Elmarit and loaded with Kodachrome 25 slide film

A classic view of a Conrail SW1200 switcher at work. Exposed on July 28, 1987 using a Leica M2 with 90mm lens on Kodachrome 25 slide film.

A classic view of a Conrail SW1200 switcher at work. Exposed on July 28, 1987 using a Leica M2 with 90mm lens on Kodachrome 25 slide film.

 

Looking back, 1987 was a threshold year for my photography. After several years of fumbling with inadequate camera-meter-film combinations, I’d finally found a couple camera-film combinations that consistently yielded technically satisfactory results.

 

In June of that year, I’d bought my own M2. By then, I’d decided that Kodachrome 25 was the ‘right’ film for most daylight circumstances. Leica’s sharp fast lenses with Kodachrome’s extremely fine grain and exceptional dynamic range allowed me to make some very satisfactory images in a variety of circumstances.

 

Key to my winning formula was developing a working understanding of how Kodachrome 25 would react in different lighting situations. In 1986 I’d bought a Sekonic Studio Deluxe and had begun taking detailed notes on my exposures. This will be the topic of a future post.

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Tomorrow: The Old Standard

 

England vs Korea: A 2-6-0 and a Diesel Multiple Unit—Face to Face.

Technological Contrasts.

Exposed at Connolly Station, Dublin using a Lumix LX7.

Exposed at Connolly Station, Dublin using a Lumix LX7.

The other day, I spotted this photo opportunity at the car park at Dublin’s Connolly Station.

Railway Preservation Society Ireland’s preserved 2-6-0 461 was parked face to face (or front to front, if you prefer) with one of Irish Rail’s common Intercity Railcars (ICRs).

A perfect opportunity to photograph old and new together.

Both are commonly seen on Irish railways, but both are foreigners. The 461 was 1923 product of Beyer Peacock in England, while the ICR was built by Rotem in Korea. Where else can you see such an eclectic combination?

The steam locomotive was one of two built for the Dublin & Southeastern, and is one of only a few operating steam locomotives in Ireland. The ICR is Irish Rail’s standard type of train for intercity services. Do you think the ICR will still be around in 91 years?

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Autumn in Dublin; See new photos on my Dublin Page

Warm Autumn Light Makes for Photographic Opportunity.

Click my Dublin Page for variety of new images.

Essex_Bridge_P1080070

Essex Bridge, River Liffey, Dublin. Lumix LX7 photo.

Custom House with spooky autumnal sky. Lumix LX7 photo.

Custom House with spooky autumnal sky. Lumix LX7 photo.

Christ Church. Lumix LX7 using the Monochrome colour profile.

Christ Church. Lumix LX7 using the Monochrome colour profile.

Trees in Phoenix Park. Lumix LX7 photo.

Trees in Phoenix Park. Lumix LX7 photo.

Freight Along the Rhein

Playing with Aspect Ratios.

April 9, 2010; a group of my Irish friends and I were on a week long trip to the Rhein and Mosel Valleys.

The Rhein is great place to experiment with equipment and technique. Busy double track mainlines occupy both sides of the river amid stunning scenery and historic architecture.

I was set up at the south end of the station platform at Kaub on the Right Bank. This is the busier freight line, with trains passing in fleets. Rarely ten minutes would pass without something clattering along.

My vantage point also gave me a good view of the Left Bank and the Pfalzgrafenstein—a colorful castle situated on an island in the middle of the river. Working with my Lumix LX3, I played with the camera’s aspect ratios as an exercise in composition.

A DB class 151 electric leads a southward container train at Kaub, Germany. I've used the Lumix LX3 with the 1:1 (square) aspect ratio to frame the train with the castle on the side of the hill and lighting masts on the left. April 9, 2010.

A DB class 151 electric leads a southward container train at Kaub, Germany. I’ve used the Lumix LX3 with the 1:1 (square) aspect ratio to frame the train with the castle on the side of the hill and lighting masts on the left. April 9, 2010.

I made this image of a northward car train from the same location as the above photo. By selecting the Lumix's 16:9 aspect ratio I had a panoramic frame with which to compose my photo. My intent was a juxtaposition of the castle in the river with the freight train. Would this photo work if the DB locomotive wasn't bright red?

I made this image of a northward car train from the same location as the above photo. By selecting the Lumix’s 16:9 aspect ratio I had a panoramic frame with which to compose my photo. My intent was a juxtaposition of the castle in the river with the freight train. Would this photo work if the DB locomotive wasn’t bright red? 

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NI Railways—Belfast

September 26, 2014.

Great Victoria Street, Belfast. Exposed with a Lumix LX7. I also made a similar view on Fujichrome Provia 100F.

Great Victoria Street, Belfast. Exposed with a Lumix LX7. I also made a similar view on Fujichrome Provia 100F.

 

It had been nearly four years since my last visit to Northern Ireland, so during the course of my recent exploration of Belfast with my cousin Stella (as mentioned in yesterday’s post) I took a few minutes to photograph NIR’s trains.

 

After arriving at Belfast Central on the Enterprise from Dublin, we changed to an NIR local bound for Great Victoria Street.

 

Later in the day we reversed this exercise on the return to Dublin. In the meantime, I also made a few photos from a location I previously explored along the River Dargan.

 

Photographing NI Railways [http://www.translink.co.uk/Services/NI-Railways/] is relatively easy, since there is ample access from public places and trains run on interval frequencies to most destinations.

 

In addition to these digital photos, I also exposed a handful of colour slides with my Canon EOS 3.

My first up close experience with a 4001 class railcar.

My first up close experience with a 4001 class railcar.

Interior of a CAF-built diesel railcar. Lumix LX7 photo.

Interior of a CAF-built 3001 series diesel railcar. Lumix LX7 photo.

An NIR train crosses the River Lagan in Belfast. Lumix LX7 photo.

An NIR train crosses the River Lagan in Belfast. Lumix LX7 photo.

Wide angle view of the River Lagan on September 26, 2014.

Wide angle view of the River Lagan on September 26, 2014.

A bit of glint; NIR 3020 arrives at Great Victoria Street in the evening light. Lumix LX7 photo.

A bit of glint; NIR 3020 arrives at Great Victoria Street in the evening light. Lumix LX7 photo.

Waiting to depart Great Victoria Street in the afternoon.

Waiting to depart Great Victoria Street in the afternoon.

Contrasty evening light at Belfast Central. To compensate, I adjusted the image locally and globally using Photoshop. Hopefully the result is more pleasing. Lumix LX7 photo.

Contrasty evening light at Belfast Central. To compensate, I adjusted the image locally and globally using Photoshop. Hopefully the result is more pleasing. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Enterprise to Belfast.

Friday, September 26, 2014.

I’d booked tickets on-line for my cousin Stella and I. As planned we took a spin from Dublin down to Belfast on the Enterprise.

Dublin's Connolly Station is the terminus for the Enterprise, Ireland's only cross-border service. Lumix LX7 photo.

Dublin’s Connolly Station is the terminus for the Enterprise, Ireland’s only cross-border service. Lumix LX7 photo.

I made a variety of photos to capture the experience. The train departed Connolly at 9:35am, as per schedule.

The Enterprise under the shed at Connolly Station Dublin. Lumix LX7 photo.

The Enterprise under the shed at Connolly Station Dublin. Lumix LX7 photo.

The Enterprise service is one of the only regularly scheduled locomotive hauled trains in Ireland. Irish Rail 231 worked our trains on both legs of the journey.

The Enterprise service is one of the few regularly scheduled locomotive hauled passenger trains in Ireland. Most trains use diesel rail cars. Irish Rail 231 worked our trains on both legs of the journey.

In long standing tradition, I walked to the top of the platform for a photo of the train before boarding. LX7 Photo.

In long standing tradition, I walked to the top of the platform for a photo of the train before boarding. LX7 Photo.

I reserved our seats on-line a week before traveling. LX7 Photo.

I reserved our seats on-line a week before traveling. LX7 Photo.

I’d first made this journey in February 1998. Back then Belfast still had a bit of an edge to it. I’d stepped out of Belfast Central Station on blustery damp morning and was immediately cautioned by a middle aged couple who told me to watch out where I walked.

On Friday’s trip, we were greeted by bright sunny skies and a much warmer welcoming Belfast. I was traveling light: only my Lumix LX7 and a Canon EOS 3 with just two lenses.

We rode an NIR local train from Central to Great Victoria Street, then spent the next six hours exploring on foot. We opted to return on the 6:05 pm train, which put us back in Dublin early enough for dinner and to meet a few friends.

Northern Ireland is blessed with some wonderful scenery. Lumix LX7 view from the Enterprise.

Northern Ireland is blessed with some wonderful scenery. Lumix LX7 view from the Enterprise.

Looking west from the Enterprise.

Looking west from the Enterprise.

The Enterprise has its own logo and runs with distinctive equipment.

The Enterprise has its own logo and runs with distinctive equipment.

While we walked around Belfast, locomotive 231 made a round trip to Dublin with the Enterprise. More than six hours after we left the train, it was back again waiting to take us up to Dublin.

While we walked around Belfast, locomotive 231 made a round trip to Dublin with the Enterprise. More than six hours after we left the train, it was back again waiting to take us up to Dublin. An NIR DMU rolls into Belfast Central as the Enterprise idles before boarding.

The trains were well patronized in both directions. Afternoon light illuminates the subdued carriages of the 6:05pm Belfast-Dublin Enterprise service. Soon we were rolling along in the evening glow back to Dublin. LX7 photo.

The trains were well patronized in both directions. Afternoon light illuminates the subdued carriages of the 6:05pm Belfast-Dublin Enterprise service. Soon we were rolling along in the evening glow back to Dublin. LX7 photo.

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 Tomorrow: Northern Ireland Railways

SPV’s on the Hudson

Bannerman Castle, June 16, 1986.

It was a hot and humid day. TSH and I were on a New York Central Hudson Division kick. I was working with my father’s Rolleiflex Model T loaded with Verichrome Pan black & white negative film to emulate the style images exposed here decades earlier.

Where in the 1940s, New York Central photographer Ed Novak had made photos of 4-6-4 Hudson and 4-8-4 Niagara type steam locomotives, and in the early 1960s my father had captured New York Central’s E-units with stainless steel streamlined cars, on this day, we had to settle for more modern trains.

I’ve always made it a point to make the most of whatever comes along. We were hoping to make photos of Metro-North’s FL9s, which were then the most interesting locomotives on the line, so far as I was concerned.

Metro-North SPV2000s roll along the Hudson River near the iconic Bannerman Castle. I was emulating an older style of photography by using a vintage 120-size Rolleiflex with Verichrome Pan black & white negative film. Would this photo be better as a digital color image?

Metro-North SPV2000s roll along the Hudson River near the iconic Bannerman Castle. I was emulating an older style of photography by using a vintage 120-size Rolleiflex with Verichrome Pan black & white negative film. Would this photo be better as a digital color image?

When this three-unit set of Budd-SPV2000s rolled by on a shuttle from Poughkeepsie, I framed up the classic view and released the shutter. No regrets now. I Processed the film in D76 using stainless steel tanks. 25 years later I scanned the negatives.

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Cropped and enlarged to show detail.

Cropped and enlarged to show detail.

 

Durango & Silverton K36 in September Sun.

On the Return from Silverton, Colorado.

D&S K36 480 vert Narrow Gauge book cover by Brian Solomon 225353

A version of this image appeared as the cover image from my 1999 book Narrow Gauge Steam Locomotives, published by MBI.

The book was a square format and so the sky was partially cropped. That’s a pity since the sky was especially textured that afternoon.

I exposed it as part of a motor-drive sequence using my Nikon N90S with 28mm lens and Fujichrome Provia 100F. The photo on the book was one or two frames earlier in the sequence.

Lumix Up Close—Macro Views of American classics.

Details at Spencer Shops.

One of the strengths of the Lumix LX-series is the ability to make close-up and detail photos.

The camera’s optical system allows for great depth of field, while the ability to focus manually has allowed me unusual flexibility to make detailed photographs.

While experimenting with the LX7 at the Streamliners at Spencer event held by the North Carolina Transportation Museum, I made many detailed views. This was an idea time to get close, since there was a great variety of equipment on display with great pedestrian access.

Pennsylvania Railroad E8A 5711 on display at Spencer, North Carolina in May 2014.

Pennsylvania Railroad E8A 5711 on display at Spencer, North Carolina in May 2014.

High gloss made for an opportunity to capture reflections and expose innovative compositions. LX7 photo.

High gloss made for an opportunity to capture reflections and expose innovative compositions. LX7 photo.

Union Pacific E9 949 had come a long way for the event and was looking well polished. LX7 Photo.

Union Pacific E9 949 had come a long way for the event and was looking well polished. LX7 Photo.

These days an Amtrak F40PH is a novelty. LX7 detailed view.

These days an Amtrak F40PH is a novelty. LX7 detailed view.

An old Missouri-Kansas-Texas stainless steel clad passenger car harked back to the streamlined era.  Lumix LX7 view.

An old Missouri-Kansas-Texas stainless steel clad passenger car harked back to the streamlined era. Lumix LX7 view.

The event was all about EMD locomotives, yet not everything on display was streamlined. LX7 photo.

The event was all about EMD locomotives, yet not everything on display was streamlined. LX7 photo.

North Carolina Transportation Museum has plenty of regular exhibits. I recall flying Eastern Airlines back in the day.

North Carolina Transportation Museum has plenty of regular exhibits. I recall flying Eastern Airlines back in the day.

Birth certificate for decapod.

Birth certificate for decapod.

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Sunset Under the Shed at Heuston Station, Dublin.

September 20, 2014.

There’s only a few days during the year when the setting sun pierces deep into the darkness of the train shed at Heuston Station.

On the evening of September 20th, I made this image using my Lumix LX7 of the 7pm departure to Cork.

I had my camera set using the ‘A’ aperture priority mode, which automatically selects a shutter speed based on my manual selection of an f-stop. To compensate for the extreme contrast between the darkness shed roof and bright sunlight, I used the manual exposure over-ride to stop down (underexpose). This was necessary if the in-camera meter tries balances the scene it would have led to a total loss of highlight detail.

ISO 80 f2.8 1/80th of a second. RAW file manually adjusted to control contrast and exported as a scaled  Jpg for internet presentation.

ISO 80 f2.8 1/80th of a second. RAW file manually adjusted to control contrast and exported as a scaled Jpg for internet presentation.

An alternative means to select the exposure, would have been to use the camera in ‘M’ mode and manually select both shutter speed and F-stop, but in this situation that would have taken too much time.

I had only a few moments to catch the Station Inspector with his arm raised to give the train the signal to depart.

To make the most of the information captured in this instant, I worked with the RAW file to make some contrast adjustments in post-processing. Using Photoshop, I adjusted contrast locally in highlight areas, while making some over all adjustments to the scene to best portray what I’d seen with my eye.

I wanted to retain the glint effect on the underside of the shed roof while making sure the relatively small silhouette of the Station Inspector wasn’t lost in the direct glow of sunlight.

After making my adjustments I export the file as a Jpg and then scaled this for internet presentation. The camera RAW file is 12.MB, much too large for presentation here, while my scaled image is just 737KB.

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Tracking the Light Special Post: Emerald Isle Express on the South Wexford Line

Monday, September 29, 2014.

Looking west toward Duncormack, Wexford on the rusty South Wexford Line. A black & white print of a train climbing the grade here decorated my wall for years. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Looking west toward Duncormack, Wexford on the rusty South Wexford Line. A black & white print of a train climbing the grade here decorated my wall for years. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Today saw a rare movement on a line devoid of regular traffic. Railtours Ireland’s Emerald Isle Express train was operated as empty carriage across the length of the South Wexford line from Rosslare Strand to Waterford.

Looking east toward the Robinstown Level Crossing. September 29, 2014,  exposed with my Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Looking east toward the Robinstown Level Crossing. September 29, 2014, exposed with my Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Railtours Ireland’s Emerald Isle Express is a high-end tour train making a week-long tour of Irish Rail. This position-move was the most direct means of getting the train from Wexford to Waterford and saved a lengthy deadhead via Dublin and Cherryville. It was operated by Irish Rail in conjunction with the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.

This was the first time I’ve photographed a train on the South Wexford in about six years. This line is storied ground: it was a favorite subject of mine a decade ago when a regular passenger service ran from Rosslare Harbour to Waterford using vintage General Motors diesels, and Cravens carriages like those that traveled the line today.

It was also the route of seasonal sugar beet trains that loaded at Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford for processing at Mallow, County Cork. Between 1999 and 2005, I made more than 50 trips to photograph the sugar beet, a project that resulted in thousands of color slides, black & white negatives, and DAT audio recordings. I could make a book of it.

Today, I traveled down from Dublin with Mark Healy to catch this unusual move. It was strange (and sad) to see this once-familiar line with rusty rails and heavy over growth along the right of way.

While my best photos of the day were exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100F with my trusted Canon EOS 3, I’ve published a few of my digital results here.

The Emerald Isle Express works west of Robinstown, County Wexford on September 29, 2014.  Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

The Emerald Isle Express works west of Robinstown, County Wexford on September 29, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

The Emerald Isle Express works west of Robinstown, County Wexford on September 29, 2014.  Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

The Emerald Isle Express works west of Robinstown, County Wexford on September 29, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

FInally after weeks, months, and years of disuse a train comes to polish the rails. (I'm not counting the weedsprayer, inspection cars, or other perway moves, for the sake of sentiment.) The Emerald Isle Express works west of Robinstown, County Wexford on September 29, 2014.  Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

FInally after weeks, months, and years of disuse, a train comes to polish the rails. (I’m not counting the weedsprayer, inspection cars, or other perway moves, for the sake of sentiment.) The Emerald Isle Express works west of Robinstown, County Wexford toward Duncormick on September 29, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Rusty bullhead track at Ballycullane, County Wexford.

Rusty bullhead track at Ballycullane, County Wexford.

The Emerald Isle Express passes Ballycullane, County Wexford on September 29, 2014.  Regular schedule passenger service was withdrawn in 2010. The last sugarbeet train passed in early 2006—more than eight years ago. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

The Emerald Isle Express passes Ballycullane, County Wexford on September 29, 2014. Regular schedule passenger service was withdrawn in 2010. The last sugarbeet train passed in early 2006—more than eight years ago. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

Trailing view at Ballycullane, County Wexford. Lumix LX7 photo.

Trailing view at Ballycullane, County Wexford. Lumix LX7 photo.

Special thanks to everyone at Irish Rail, Railway Preservation Society Ireland, and Railtours Ireland for making this unusual move possible! (And thanks to Mark for the lift!)

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High Dynamic Range Experiments—Summer 2014.

Playing with the LX7.

Among the built-in features of the Panasonic LX7 is a HDR—High Dynamic Range—setting in ‘Scene Mode’.

The theory behind HDR is the ability to produce a digitally exposed photograph with better highlight and shadow detail through post-processing blending of two or more images of the same scene exposed at different light settings. (In other words, a multiple exposure).

A common way to accomplish this is to place the camera on a tripod and make three images of identical composition with one image over-exposed (too light), one normally exposed, and one underexposed (too dark). Then combine all three images as multiple exposure.

When done effectively this can be used to overcome the limited dynamic range inherent to digital sensors. It can also be used creatively through extreme exposure variations to produce some outlandish images with nightmare skies and penetrating shadows.

The LX7s feature makes exposing a basic HDR style image exceptionally easy as the camera automatically takes three photos in rapid sequence and processes them immediately in-camera to produces a blended Jpg available for viewing.

I found this most effective in high contrast scenes, such as sunsets, that might be difficult to capture because of the camera’s limited exposure range. In other situations, it seems to flatten the contrast and doesn’t necessarily make for a more pleasing photograph.

Another point, if the scene isn’t static, ‘ghosting’ will occur of moving elements. My sense is that camera’s software must have a comparative feature that attempts to minimize the effect of ghosting, but the results can appear unnatural if not outright bizarre. Especially, when the subject, say a passing locomotive, become transparent!

Below are a few of my experiments. With most I’ve first included a comparison image (an ordinary non-HDR photo) exposed in the normal way.

This is the non-HDR normal photo. I've intentionally selected a high contrast scene to test the difference between a normal image and the HDR. Princeton Junction, exposed with Lumix LX7 in 'A' mode.

This is the non-HDR normal photo. I’ve intentionally selected a high contrast scene to test the difference between a normal image and the HDR. Princeton Junction, exposed with Lumix LX7 in ‘A’ mode.

Exposed in HDR mode. Notice that this does a much better job of retaining shadow and highlight detail. Princeton Junction, exposed with Lumix LX7 in HDR 'scene' mode.

Exposed in HDR mode. Notice that this does a much better job of retaining shadow and highlight detail. It is easier to see into the cab of the train and the clouds are better separated from the blue sky. Princeton Junction, exposed with Lumix LX7 in HDR ‘scene’ mode.

This NJ Transit train had paused at Princeton Junction in high midday June sun making for an ideal opportunity to test the effect of HDR. This my 'normal' non-HDR comparison image. Note the nearly opaque underside of the locomotive where wheels and equipment are lost in an inky black. Princeton Junction, exposed with Lumix LX7 in 'A' mode.

This NJ Transit train had paused at Princeton Junction in high midday June sun making for an ideal opportunity to test the effect of HDR. This my ‘normal’ non-HDR comparison image. Note the nearly opaque underside of the locomotive where wheels and equipment are lost in an inky black. Princeton Junction, exposed with Lumix LX7 in ‘A’ mode.

This is the HDR photo of the same scene. By using multiple exposures, the HDR feature has added detail to the shadows making equipment on the underside of the locomotive more visible. I'm not sure if I like the effect on the trees, which to me seem like a painted backdrop compared with those in the normal photo above. Princeton Junction, exposed with Lumix LX7 in HDR 'scene' mode.

This is the HDR photo of the same scene. By using multiple exposures, the HDR feature has added detail to the shadows making equipment on the underside of the locomotive more visible. I’m not sure if I like the effect on the trees, which to me seem like a painted backdrop compared with those in the normal photo above. Princeton Junction, exposed with Lumix LX7 in HDR ‘scene’ mode.

I thought I'd try the HDR feature on a rapidly moving train. Here one of Amtrak's Keystone trains is passing Princeton Junction at speed. Notice the effect of double exposure where the cab car is ghosted into the coach. This is curious aberration, but probably not the best solution for railway action photography.  I don't have a 'non'-HDR image of this scene. Princeton Junction, exposed with Lumix LX7 in HDR 'scene' mode.

I thought I’d try the HDR feature on a rapidly moving train. One of Amtrak’s Keystone trains is passing Princeton Junction at speed. Notice the effect of double exposure where the cab car is ghosted into the coach. This is curious aberration, but probably not the best solution for railway action photography. I don’t have a ‘non’-HDR image of this scene. Princeton Junction, exposed with Lumix LX7 in HDR ‘scene’ mode.

This high contrast scene at Overbrook, Pennsylvania in early July 2014, made for another opportunity to make comparisons. This is the 'non-HDR' image, exposed with Lumix LX7 in 'A' mode.

This high contrast scene at Overbrook, Pennsylvania in early July 2014, made for another opportunity to make comparisons. This is the ‘non-HDR’ image, exposed with Lumix LX7 in ‘A’ mode.

SEPTA at Overbrook, exposed with Lumix LX7 in HDR 'scene' mode.

SEPTA at Overbrook, exposed with Lumix LX7 in HDR ‘scene’ mode.

Sunset at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts. Owing to the extreme contrast of the scene, I opted to expose for the sky in the normal (non-HDR) image. If I exposed to make the tracks lighter, I'd lose the effect of the sunset. Exposed with Lumix LX7 in 'A' mode.

Sunset at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts. Owing to the extreme contrast of the scene, I opted to expose for the sky in the normal (non-HDR) image. If I exposed to make the tracks lighter, I’d lose the effect of the sunset. Exposed with Lumix LX7 in ‘A’ mode.

Here's the HDR image. While it retains sky and track detail, it radically altered the effect of sunset. Is this a more realistic portrayal of the scene? Exposed with Lumix LX7 in HDR 'scene' mode.

Here’s the HDR image. While it retains sky and track detail, it radically altered the effect of sunset. Is this a more realistic portrayal of the scene? Exposed with Lumix LX7 in HDR ‘scene’ mode.

View of an Irish Rail ballast train at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin. This is the 'non-HDR' comparison, exposed with Lumix LX7 in 'A' mode.

View of an Irish Rail ballast train at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin. This is the ‘non-HDR’ comparison, exposed with Lumix LX7 in ‘A’ mode.

While waiting for the ballast train to get the signal, I took the opportunity to make an HDR comparison. It was free, so why not? However, I don't think this improved the scene, now it just looks washed out to me. Exposed with Lumix LX7 in HDR 'scene' mode.

While waiting for the ballast train to get the signal, I took the opportunity to make an HDR comparison. It was free, so why not? However, I don’t think this improved the scene, now it just looks washed out to me. Exposed with Lumix LX7 in HDR ‘scene’ mode.

This is a work in progress, and I’ll follow up in more detail in a later post.

 

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Digital Camera Comparison: LX3 versus LX7

Not a Competition.

Lumix cameras. My old LX3 is at top left. Top right and bottom are LX7s. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.

Lumix cameras. My old LX3 is at top left. Top right and bottom are LX7s. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.

My first digital Camera was a Panasonic LX3 that I bought in late 2009 on suggestion of my digital photography advisor, Eric Rosenthal.

At the time, I’d planned to use the camera as a light meter, to make supplemental photos, and to photograph in social situations where having an email ready photo quickly was an advantage.

In the first few months, I occasionally used this camera for railway action photos, but for the most part I continued to rely on my Canon EOS-3s for important situations.

CSX Q006 rolls south along the Hudson River at Iona Island, New York in March 2012. Lumix LX3 photo.

CSX Q006 rolls south along the Hudson River at Iona Island, New York in March 2012. Lumix LX3 photo.

Rural station at Riachos T. Novas, Portugal. Lumix LX3 photo.

Rural station at Riachos T. Novas, Portugal. Lumix LX3 photo.

Lisbon Metro. Lumix LX3 photo.

Lisbon Metro. Lumix LX3 photo.

Train interior, Porto, Portugal. Lumix LX3 photo.

Train interior, Porto, Portugal. Lumix LX3 photo.

I gradually concluded that the LX3 was a fantastic image-making tool. For the next five years I carried this camera everywhere. I exposed more than 64,000 images with it. I’d still be using it, except it broke! (Some observers suggest that I wore it out) The digital display at the back of the camera stopped functioning reliably.

My father lent me his LX7 for a few weeks, and I quickly concluded that I needed one.

Overall it is a much better camera.

On the downside, it is nominally larger.

On the plus side:

  • 1) It is easier to use.
  • 2) When set up properly there’s virtually no delay in making an image from the time the shutter is released.
  • 3) It cycles much faster.
  • 4) It has a better lens, which lets more light in and has a longer telephoto setting.
  • 5) It offers a variety of features that allow for more creative images, including: a built in neutral density filter; an automatic High Dynamic Range mode that rapid blends three images in a sophisticated manner.
  • 6) It has a traditional aperture ring.
  • 7) It has a built in level that can be displayed on the screen.
  • 8) It has the option of an external digital viewfinder.

Over coming weeks, I’ll continue to discuss the virtues (and drawbacks) of these various cameras. Incidentally, recently Panasonic announced another new camera, the LX100, which looks to be even better than the LX7.

The LX7 has excellent reaction time; I stopped the Acela Express at speed at Princeton Junction. The train was moving faster than 125mph. LX7 photo.

The LX7 has excellent reaction time; I stopped the Acela Express at speed at Princeton Junction. The train was moving faster than 125mph. LX7 photo (uncropped, unmodified—except for scaling for internet usage).

The LX7 is easy to use and well suited to making railway photos. LX7 photo.

The LX7 is easy to use and well suited to making railway photos. LX7 photo.

Irish Rail ICR's roll along a speed near Clondalkin. The camera's small size makes it easier to shoot through fences, such as those on highway bridges over the track. LX7 Photo.

Irish Rail ICR’s roll along a speed near Clondalkin. The camera’s small size makes it easier to shoot through fences, such as those on highway bridges over the track. LX7 Photo.

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Alco Diesels at Emporium, Pennsylvania.

Experiments with a Digital Camera.

On the afternoon of February 6, 2010, Pat Yough, Chris Guss and I were photographing along the former Pennsylvania Railroad at Emporium, Pennsylvania. This route is operated by the Western New York & Pennsylvania, a short line famous for its late-era use of Alco Century diesels.

I was primarily photographing on Fujichrome using my pair of Canon EOS-3, however, I was experimenting with my relatively recently acquired Panasonic Lumix LX3.

Western New York & Pennsylvania’s westward Driftwood Turn (the ‘DFT’) was switching near a grade crossing in nice winter sun. This gave me ample opportunity to try various modes with the Lumix, so I varied the aspect ratio (the parameters of the frame) and sampled various built-in color profiles.

Lumix LX3 set at 16:9 aspect ratio with standard color profile.

Lumix LX3 set at 16:9 aspect ratio with standard color profile.

Lumix LX-3 using 16:9 aspect ratio in the vertical.

Lumix LX3 using 16:9 aspect ratio in the vertical. An annoying wire has interfered with my composition!

Here I selected the 4:3 aspect ratio which maximizes the use of the sensor. I selected the 'Natural' color profile which is slightly less saturated than 'Standard'.

Here I selected the 4:3 aspect ratio which maximizes the use of the sensor. I selected the ‘Natural’ color profile which is slightly less saturated than ‘Standard’.

I wanted to see how the digital camera would cope with extreme backlighting and flare.

I wanted to see how the digital camera would cope with extreme backlighting and flare.

I like the sunburst effect but I was disappointed by the lack of highlight detail. I found that the Lumix couldn't match the dynamic range of Fujichrome, which limits its ability to capture high contrast situations. My LX-7 has an 'HDR' feature that partially overcomes this problem, but is only useful for static situations (topic for another post).

I like the sunburst effect but I was disappointed by the lack of highlight detail. I found that the Lumix couldn’t match the dynamic range of Fujichrome, which limits its ability to capture high contrast situations. My LX-7 has an ‘HDR’ feature that partially overcomes this problem, but is only useful for static situations (topic for another post). 16:9 aspect ratio; ‘Standard’ color profile.

I was curious to see how the camera handled backlighting and flare, so I made a few cross-lit silhouettes to push the limits of exposure. These are a few of my results. The files are unaltered except for scaling for internet display. I haven’t adjusted color or exposure in post processing, nor have I cropped them.

As regular readers of Tracking the Light are aware, since that time, I’ve made great use of the LX3. I wore it out, and a few months ago I replaced it with a Panasonic Lumix LX7, which is an even better camera.

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Tomorrow: LX3 versus LX7!