Category Archives: Announcements

Canadian Pacific in a Concrete Canyon

On this day in 2010, I photographed a soutward CP Rail freight on the former Delaware & Hudson in Albany, New York, while using my (then new) Canon EOS 7D with a 100-400mm zoom lens.

These views were made at 250mm and 180mm respectively—however the 7D’s small sensor magnifies the telephoto’s compression effect.

I’d followed the freight down from Mechanicville.

July 17, 2010.
July 17, 2010.

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New England Central—eleven years ago!

When staying in Monson, Massachusetts, I’d often listen for New England Central 608 climbing State Line Hill.

I didn’t need a scanner, a call from a friend, or consultation with an ap on the phone. The sound of the train down in the valley would alert me.

On this day in 2013, I heard the train sounding for crossings in town. I jumped in my Volkswagen GTI and zipped down to Stafford Springs, Ct., where I waited for the southward train rolling slowly through the village.

Waiting for the train at one of my favorite locations, I made the following notation in my notebook: “… It is a sunny morning, but looks to be a baking hot day. Yesterday, I scanned John Pickett negs, plus various prints for Steam Twillight, and interviewed Fred Matthews over the phone. Tracking the Light was down most of the day owning to host server problem.” John and Fred, have both since passed across the great divide, their photos immortalized in my books, among other places.

Exposed with my Canon 7D with 28-135mm lens.

July 16, 2013, New England Central 608 at Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Exposed with my Canon 7D— I love the Canon color right out of the camera. I only made very minor adjustments to these images for presentation today.
I had photographed train here many times before since Central Vermont days when I’d catch GP9s on the job to or from New London.

Steam in the Heat of Summer

Late autumn and winter are my two favorite seasons to photograph steam locomotives. Cool air facilitates impressive displays of steam, smoke and condensation.

But I photograph in all seasons. Thirty years ago, I may have sniffed at making steam locomotive photos in summer ‘high light’ (Midday summer sun), when high contrast, high humidity, and high temperatures made for an unappealing environment to photograph.

Today, these conditions offer a challenge. What can I do with a steam locomotive hauled train on very hot day?

Yesterday, while on errands, I timed my crossing of the Strasburg Rail Road at Esbenshade Road to allow for a few photos of the 12 noon return run from Leaman Place led by former Norfolk & Western 4-8-0 475.

I made these photos using a Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom.

Files adjusted for color temperature, contrast, and exposure using Lightroom.

Shallow depth-of-field allowed for more environmental drama.

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Making the Most of Locomotives in Bright Morning Sun

I consider this an excercise in composition. I had a few minutes last Thursday morning, so I went up to Leola, Pennsylvania to catch up with Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch local.

The sun was bright and the clouds were just rolling in from the west. I made this sequence of photographs of the GP38-3 and SD40E that had paused by the old PRR depot along Horseshoe Road.

Over the last year, I’ve made a variety of railroad photos at this location. I like the concept of variation on a theme. Years ago I learned to make the most of good photographic situation, because you never know precisely the situation and composition that will best suit a photograph for publication.

Of this selection do you have any favorites? All were exposed using my Nikon Z7-II mirror-less digital camera.

Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 30mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/320th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 24mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/400th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 33mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/400th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 31mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/320th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 54mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/400th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 45mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/400th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 24mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/640th second. No adjustments to exposure or contrast.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 49mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/320th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom set to 24mm; ISO 100, f 7.1, 1/400th second. Nominal adjustment to shadows and hightlights.

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From the Window of Train 61.

In August 1984, I was traveling overnight on Amtrak’s Montrealer—train 61—from its Canadian namesake to Washington D.C. Approaching Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, I made this view with a Leica 3A rangefinder. The camera was fitted with an antique uncoated 50mm Elmar, which resulted in images with broad tonality, but low contrast.

Exposing through Amtrak’s windows further reduced contrast and sharpness, but the effect is almost ethereal and dreamlike. Gliding along, I was witnessing mid-1980s railroading the way I like to remember it.

A Conrail freight was crossing the elevated High Line. While in the yard sat several sets of ‘Capitolliners’—the original Budd-built ‘Metroliner’ cars that had been rebuilt and were serving the Keystone corridor to Harrisburg.

I remember the Metroliner cars in the 1970s when they worked their namesake highspeed services between New York and Washington, but this is one of the few photos I made of the cars as ‘Capitolliners’, which today makes it special. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been re-reseaching the ground-breaking Metroliner for my new book on Amtrak equipment.

Almost daily, I see these old Metroliner cars which still work to Harrisburg, but now as neutered (unpowered) control cabs on the Keystone trains. Today, they are now among the oldest Amtrak cars in regular revenue service.

Central to this photo I made through the window of Train 61 are the sets of Capitoliner multiple units.

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Reading & Northern 2023

On our visit to Pittston Junction, Pa., in June, we witnessed the early evening arrival of the Reading & Northern’s Pittston-Jim Thorpe excursion. In the lead was R&N’s 40th Anniversary (1983-2023) locomotive number 2023, wearing immaculate fresh paint.

Clear skies and low sun made for dramatic light. While impressive, this high-contrast specular lighting result in very dark shadows.

Working with Adobe Lightroom, I made a series of easy corrections to the NEF RAW file to lighten the shadows, darken the highlight areas and lower overall contrast. These changes were aimed a producing a more pleasing and more accurate end photograph.

Take a note of the difference in the shadows around the locomotive trucks. The wide dynamic range offered by Nikon Z7-II digital camera captures a lot of detail in the shadow areas that may not be evident when viewing the unadjusted RAW file.

I’ve included the Lightroom work-window so you can see the relative postion of the slider controls and how these altered the RAW image.

Lightroom JPG created directly from the NEF RAW file without alteration to color, contrast or exposure.
This JPG was created from the same NEF RAW file as the top image, but reflects changes to contrast and selective adjustment to shadow and highlight areas. See the screenshot of the Adobe Lightroom work- window below for the postion of the slider adjustments.
Screenshot of the Adobe Lightroom work-window showing the position of slider controls at right.

Stormy Sunset—July 10, 2024

Last night a stormy sunset filled the western sky. Thunderstorms were raging to the North and West of Lancaster, Pa.

Kris and I drove by my standard location along Jefferson Drive. Amtrak Keystone 620 was just getting ready to depart Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

We paused so I could made a few photos using my Lumix LX7. Using the ‘Scene Mode’ feature, I selected ‘Night mode’ to make better use of the low evening light. This blends a series of images exposed during a synchronized burst.

I’ve included the camera info in the last frame which lists all the tech data imbedded in the photo.

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Norfolk Southern at Horseshoe Road in Leola

We often drive to Leola, Pa., on Horseshoe Road, which runs roughly parallel to Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch.

Returning, we get a view from the car of the road, the railroad, and the surrounding architecture including the old station building.

Over the last year, I’ve made a variety of photos around the station with and without trains, and I’d been eyeing capturing it the way we see it from the road.

Perhaps, this is the more signficant angle for many people, because it is how they see the railroad.

Sunday morning a few weeks ago, I used my Nikon Z6-II with 70-200mm zoom to try to capture the Horseshoe Road perspective—with and without automobiles.

Over time, the cars on the road will add interest to these photos, as old cars often do!

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Failed Diesel and an Electric to the Rescue!

Saturday afternoon, Kris and I were having lunch at the Speckled Hen in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, when my old friend Dan Howard forwarded me a text with a photo of Amtrak 42 (eastward Pennsylvanian) crossing the Rockville Bridge with a Norfolk Southern GE in the lead exposed about an hour earlier.

We didn’t know the details, but it appeared that Amtrak’s GENESIS P42 (that normal leads the train) had failed. I realized that it was unlikely that the NS locomotive would continue east because it probably didn’t have compatible signaling equipment, but that Amtrak was likely to assign an ACS-64 electric to haul the train to Philadelphia.

We were a little late learning this, and when I checked the tracker (asm.transitdocs.com) train 42 was already east of Harrisburg. Yet, we still had time to finish lunch and check a few locations. My favorite spots at Gap were back-lit.

When I checked the tracker a second time, I saw that 42 wasn’t making great eastward progress, so we backtracked west to Leaman Place in Paradise, Pa. Not only did we make it there in time to catch train 42 with an ACS-64 leading the failed diesel, but Amtrak Keystone train 670 was about three minutes behind it!

Photos exposed using a Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

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Mogul in the Corn—Surprise meet between Horses

It was more than 90F the other day when I made these photographs.

Strasburg number 89, a former Canadian National Railways 2-6-0 Mogul, was leading the return run of the 3pm excursion to Paradise.

The best photo eclipsed the train altogher. After the excursion crossed Esbenshade Road, Amish horsedrawn buggies passed in front of me.

I made this photo from the hip; with no view finder. Old school technique with a modern digital camera. Unfortunately, the Strasburg Rail Road excursion was entirely blocked by the back-end of a horse.

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Classic Chrome—Marias Pass, 30 Years Ago Today

On the morning of July 7, 1994, my pal TSH and I chased trains up and down the west slope of Montana’s Marias Pass.

When I look at this Kodachrome slide today, what catches my attention is the collection of graffiti-free freight cars, including a car wearing Great Northern sky blue paint.

I made this image just a few days after the annoucement of the Santa Fe – Burlington Northern merger. At the time, I was on my way from California to Wisconsin to take a job as the Associate Editor of Pacific RailNews magazine.

This slide was in a selection of ‘seconds’ that I recently retrieved from my parent’s attic.

Anticipating Changes

On our recent visit to Windsor Locks, Connecticut, I made a series of photographs of an Amtrak Sunday-only Springfield to Washington DC train making its station stop.

In the relatively near future this entire scene is expected to change. Amtrak’s P42 diesels are reaching the end of their useful lives, and Amtrak’s Amfleet replacement cars are on order. Plans have also been made to build a new and improved station for Windsor Locks about a mile north of the present station.

The present Windsor Locks station is pretty basic. It lacks amenities, features just a short platform, and is scenically bereft. Yet, I’ve made many photos here over the last forty years.

Documenting change is more than just making pretty pictures.

These views were exposed digitially using my Nikon Z digital cameras.

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Late Sun at Safe Harbor

Our new home is a relatively short drive from the former Pennsylvania Railroad bridges at Safe Harbor.

The cutoff to Parksburg was abandoned in the 1980s and has since been converted into the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail, while the old Port Road route along the east bank of the Susquehanna River is operated by Norfolk Southern.

I’ve previously described the challenges in catching trains on this route. Owning to a daylight hours curfew on through freights using Amtrak’s former PRR electrified mainlines, most freight over the old Port Road tends to pass at night.

However, in the long days of summer it is possible to catch freights on the move in daylight. So over the last week I’ve made two attempts to catch trains on this route. In both instances I waited out the daylight without a wheel turning.

On July 2nd, we visited Safe Harbor. I hiked up to the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail to scope angles and wait. The droning of the Safe Harbor dam made it difficult to hear if a train was approaching. In the hour I spent there, I exposed a variety of photos of the tracks, bridges, dam and river.

One of these days, I hope to see steel wheels rolling on these rails.

This bridge now carried the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail, which offers a commanding vantage point of the river, railroad and Safe Harbor dam.

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Fireworks with 100 year old Passenger Cars and a 150 year old Station

Three years ago, my wife Kris and I photographed the North Conway, New Hampshire fireworks. We stood at the Post Office crossing on Conway Scenic Railroad looking toward the railroad station where I worked (the second floor center window was near my desk in the station’s North Tower).

July 4th, 2024, Conway Scenic Railroad is operating its annual Firecracker Express trains that run from Conway to North Conway to bring visitors to the fireworks.

Exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series Nikkor zoom on a tripod.

For me the photos I made that night are significant because of their long term effect on my photography. When I had large color prints made from the Nikon RAW files exposed that night and compared those photos to similar images I’d exposed with my Fuji XT1, I discovered that the Nikon Z files were significantly better than those from the old Fuji. I’ve only occasionally used the XT1 since that night.

I’ve been using this image and similar photos to promote the railroad’s Firecracker Express trains.

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Reading & Northern freight at Pittston Junction.

We called into Pittston Junction, Pennsylvania in the early evening, just in time to catch several Reading & Northern trains on the move.

Using my Nikon Z mirrorless cameras, I made this sequence of photos of a job working the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Coxton Yard. I also finished off a roll of 35mm Kodak Ektachrome making photos of the classic wig-wag style grade crossing signal.

Although once common, the wig-wag signal is now virtually extinct.

Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Z-series zoom lens.
Nikon Z6 mirror-less with 70-200mm Z-Series zoom lens set to 92mm.

Conrail Local on the Franklin Branch

Following up on Saturday’s post of the MBTA at Norfolk, Massachusetts, I thought I’d post this photo that I made of a Conrail local working at Franklin, Massachusetts in November 1984.

This is looking west where the tracks run parallel with East Street, at the junction between former New Haven Railroad’s New York & New England route running west toward Willimantic, Connecticut and the New Haven Branch to Milford, Massachusetts (since upgraded for MBTA service to Forge Park/495.)

I’d exposed this photograph on black & white film using a Leica 3A rangefinder fitted with a Canon screw mount 50mm f1.8 lens. For a few months, I used the Canon lens as a replacment for my Leica 50mm f2.0 Summitar that I’d damaged.

The Canon lens was faster than the Summitar but lacked the critical sharpness of the Leica lens. As a result, this period of photography has great interest to me in regards to subject matter, but suffers from inferior technical quality than some of my earlier work.

It took a few years, but ultimately I made significant changes in the equipment that I was using that greatly improved the technical quality of my photograhy.

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CT Rail—Hartford Line Iconic View

Over the last 40 years, I’ve made many photographs along Amtrak’s former New Haven route between Springfield, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut.

Among my favorite vantage points is this view of the Farmington River bridge in Windsor, Connecticut.

This is a tricky location for a couple reasons; the skewed angle of the bridge can make it difficult to make a level photo; trains operating on the southward track will result in cropping of the trucks/wheels owing to the relatively low position along the riverside; and without careful planning it is easy to miss the benefit of the reflection in the river water.

The CT Rail-Hartford Line began operations just over six years ago. My father and I took advantage of the ‘free rides’ offered on opening day and spent the second day of operations making photos along the line.

This view exposed was two weeks ago. It was my first photo of a CT Rail painted GENESIS 1 diesels working the line. I was delighted to get this clean push-pull set (working train 6400 from New Haven) crossing the bridge with the locomotive trailing. It makes the most of the iconic view of the bridge.

Moving Day!

Today the moving truck comes to get our heavy stuff—furniture and what-not— to bring to our new house.

We’ve already moved the bulk of our smaller items including more than 135,000 color slides, 15,000 B&W negatives, and hundreds of books, notebooks and related materials.

In the spirit of this transition, I thought I’d post this view I made along Jefferson Drive, near our Greenfield apartment in Lancaster, Pa.

Amtrak ACS-615 leads train 642 on its eastward journey from Harrisburg toward Philadelphia.

This was among the locations just a very short drive from the aparment. Our new house is closer to the Strasburg Rail Road and the former PRR’s Port Road Branch, and just a 15 minute drive from Amtrak’s Harrisburg line, so I still plan to post regular photos from these locations.

(even when ‘in-transition’)

MBTA HSP-46 at Norfolk, Mass.

On our recent New England trip, Kris and I visited Norfolk, Massachusetts.

The Norfolk station, which is served by MBTA’s Franklin Line.

The double-tracking project that has been underway during our previous visits to Norfolk seems to have stalled. There’s a modern signal gantry in place with new signals, and while the right-of-way has been cleared and some ties laid down, heavy track work is still pending.

We waited for westward MBTA train 1709 that runs from South Station to Forge Park/495 station. This was led by one of the distinctive HSP-46 diesels that are unique to MBTA.

Using my Nikon Z7-II, I exposed a rapid sequence of photos as the train entered the station at speed and then came to a complete stop on the platform. This was a good show!

Rural View Near Lancaster, PA.

For the last year, Kris and I have lived in an apartment at Greenfield in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. One of the great benefits of this location has been the proximity to both Amtrak’s Harrisburg Line and Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch.

A couple of weeks ago, as I went about my Sunday errands, I made this photo of the outbound NS local freight on its way east toward New Holland. I’ve photographed this run dozens of times since moving to Greenfield.

This week Kris and I bought a house. This offers many significant improvements to our standard of living including; an enclosed garage, lots of storage and office space, and a fully finished basement (already allocated for the latest interpretation of the Reading Company in HO Scale).

The new house is only 15 minutes from Greenfield, but will no longer be within earshot of the New Holland Branch. So while I may still seek out the New Holland local, it will require a bit more effort than during our Greenfield stay.

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Amtrak 101

Is there room for subtlety and allusion?

I could make a lot of this photo.

Kris, Seamus-the-dog and I arrived at the Farmington River in Windsor, Connecticut just a few minutes before Amtrak’s southward train 143 (from Springfield, Massachusetts) was due to cross the former New Haven Railroad bridge over the mirror-like waters.

In the lead was Amtrak P42 GENESIS 101.

A couple of weeks ago, I signed the papers for my next book which will tell the story of Amtrak through its equipment. This will be more than a nuts and bolts analysis of Amtrak motive power, although I’m hoping to cover a lot of detail.

Just remember, the mirror image of 101 is 101.

Note to regular TTL viewers: Yesterday’s Post ‘Brief Visit to a Familiar Place’ was experiencing some technical difficulties. I received a variety of concerned comments that the photos were not appearing as expected. Word Press appears to have resolve the problem. You may re-check this post at: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/brief-visit-to-a-familiar-place/

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Brief Visit to a Familiar Place

Over the years, I’ve exposed thousands of railroad photos in Palmer, Massachusetts. I started photographing there in 1977.

Kris and I paid a brief visit to Palmer on our trip to Massachusetts in mid-June. This was primarily a social call, and we had limited time to look at the railroad, but we made a few photos in Palmer at familiar places.

For me, Palmer was in its heyday in the mid-1990s, when Conrail was at its zenith running about 15 freights daily in each direction, and Central Vermont/New England Central could be found working the yards here at any hour of the day or night; when Amtrak operated 6-8 trains daily through Palmer, and the Mass-Central had a busy intermodal container facility in town.

It is much quieter these days. We didn’t see a wheel turn, although Genesee & Wyoming’s New England Central had several locomotives at the ready in its yard.

The undergrowth has encroached and there are leafy vines getting ever closer to the tracks. Yet, I was happy to see a set of new CSX gondolas in the NECR yard carrying large pieces of stone.

Photos exposed using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

(For old time sake, I also took a couple of color slides).

Site of the Boston & Albany Palmer Freight House.

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Dual Mode GENESIS along the Hudson

GE’s dual mode P32DM-AC is a highly specialized locomotive model built during the mid-1990s for Amtrak and Metro North.

Similar in appearance to the more common P42 employed by Amtrak and VIA Rail in passenger service across the United States and Canada, the P32DM-AC dual mode variation was designed to draw current from third rail when operating on electrified lines in New York City.

Kris and I had the opportunity to watch these engines race up and down the Hudson from our vantage point at Mine Dock Park.

I exposed these photos using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens. I’ve enlarged a few photos to get a larger view of the GE diesels.

Amtrak P32DM-AC number 707 leads train 235 near Manitou, NY.
Enlarged version of the top photo.
Metro-North 234 leads train 839 toward Poughkeepsie.
Metro-North 234 near Manitou, NY.
Metro-North 227 works at the back of Grand Central bound train from Poughkeepsie.
Metro-North 227 works at the back of Grand Central bound train from Poughkeepsie.

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New Book!

Saturday a package was delivered to my door containing my author’s copies of my latest book: Steam by the Numbers, published by Kalmbach Media.

I dedicated this work to my wife, Kris. She has a dramatic photograph of restored Soo Line 2-8-2 Mikado 1003 on pages 62 and 63.

This is a nuts and bolts book containing a lot of detail, lots of information, and solid context to tell the story of the many locomotive types covered within. I’ve broken down the history of the North American steam locomotive by the different wheel arrangements and arranged these into 36 individual chapters.

To make this an interesting book to look at I included dozens of photos. Many of these came from my own collection, some exposed by myself, but also images from my father, Richard Jay Solomon, and many contributors. A great many images are from the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania archive, where thanks to the help and patience of Musuem’s Archives Manager Lauren Radkiewicz and PHMC’s Railroad Collections Archivist, Senior Processing Archivist Kurt Bell, I had spend countless hours pouring through vintage photographs.

Among the other significant collections included are those from my late-friends Robert A. Buck and John E. Pickett, as well as those from the Kalmbach archives. George C. Corey supplied some excellent photos of Delaware & Hudson 4-6-6-4s.

J. William Vigrass supplied the dramatic cover image, which captures the majesty of steam .

The book is available through the Kalmbach Hobby Store and other book distributors.

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Longest Day—Cherry Hill Crossing

I’m always seeking an angle, and I like visiting the familiar places again and again to see a photo I hadn’t made previously

June 21st is the longest day of the year which can be a distinctive time to catch the sun during the early morning and late evening.

On Friday evening Kris, Seamus-the-Dog and I went over to Cherry Hill Road to roll by the 6pm train to Leaman Place.

Over the last year, I’ve photographed this crossing from a variety of angles, and I was looking for something different. So, I walked up the road, which rises sharply after crossing the tracks. The sun had just crossed over to the northside of the line.

Working with my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens I made this sequence of images as the crossing gates came down and former Canadian National 2-6-0 number 89 rolled over the crossing toward Groffs.

A Different Lancaster

8:50 am, October 3, 1987.

I was following the old Erie Railroad toward Buffalo and overtook a freight that had stopped a red signal.

This was Conrail’s OIBU and the location was East Lancaster, New York. I made a single Kodachrome 25 slide with my Leica M2 fitted with a 200mm Leitz Telyt lens mounted via a Visoflex and positioned on a tripod. My exposure was f4 at 1/15th of a second.

Not long after the slide came back from processing, I labled it. However at some point there after, I deemed this image unworthy and tucked it back into one of the many Kodak yellow slide boxes labled ‘2nds,’ where it resided for the last 36+ years in my parents attic.

I scanned it the other day, then imported the scan into Lightroom to correct for level, exposure and excessive cyan tint. The photograph has aged well! However the pole to the immediate left of the locomotive cab has always annoyed me.

Scan prior to post processeing adjustment
Same scan as at the top, but with my first round of corrections.
Scan following my final corrections.

CSX Local Freight Along the Hudson

Road switchers are designed for bi-directional operation.

When I was younger, EMD’s running long-hood forward annoyed me.

These days, I think its pretty cool to find a single SD40-2 operating long-hood first.

Last week, we saw CSX 8400 leading a local freight along the River Line in New York’s Hudson River Valley. I made this sequence of images from the Mine Dock Park near Ft Montgomery.

Exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series-Nikkor lens. Contrast and saturation adjusted using Adobe Lightroom.

Note the mismatched number boards and the plow profiled for use in 3rd rail territory.

Maine Central-44 Years Ago.

On our recent visit to New England, Kris and I collected another batch of my older photographs from my parents attic.

Among these were a box labeled, ‘Maine Central-Seconds’.

Not to brag, but these were of the Maine Central before Guilford. Most of the images were of marginal quality, but of great interest.

I exposed these three Kodachrome 64 slides on the Rockland Branch at Bath, Maine on June 1980 trip to visit my grandparents. Traffic on Route 1 was pretty bad, so we got off the road for a little while to relax.

At the time, I was using a 1937-8 vintage Leica 3A 35mm rangefinder. Based on the angle of view, I guess I was working with a Nikkor 35mm lens, which was one of my favorites at the time. It was a very sharp piece of glass. To gauge my exposure I had a handheld Weston Master III light meter.

New Haven Heritage

Last week we paid a brief visit to Mine Dock Park at Highland, New York.

This location along the west shore of the Hudson offers a variety of vistas to photograph trains.

One of the first trains that we saw was northward Metro-North 837 running from Grand Central to Poughkeepsie on the former New York Central Hudson Division.

This was led by a General Electric Genesis model P32DM-AC, a dual-mode diesel-electric/electric designed for passenger service into New York City. This locomotive was funded by the Connecticut Department of Transportation and painted in a retro New Haven Railroad scheme.

I was delighted to catch it on the move and made this photo using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens. I panned the photo which helps separate the locomotive from the background.

To improve the contrast of the photo, I made some minor adjustments in post-processing using Lightroom.

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Running Errands

Sunday mornings are a great time to combine two activities; making trips to the grocery and catching photos of the local freight.

A few weeks ago, I missed Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch local on its outward journey.

Not to worry, Kris and I caught up with it on the way to the supermarket in Leola.

It was a clear bright morning, and while the angle of the sun was contrasty, I feel that this photo captures the spirit of the New Holland Branch in one image.

I made a variety of modifications to the image in post processing to reduce contrast and improve detail.

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Amtrak Keystone 618

For the next weeks the sun will be rising and setting on the north side of Amtrak’s Harrisburg Line where it runs parallel to Jefferson Drive in Lancaster.

I’ve been making a project of working the light at this familiar location.

Amtrak Keystone train 618 is a good choice because this is scheduled to depart Lancaster at 1945 (745pm) which can result in some dramatic backlit photos.

On this occasion, Amtrak ACS-64 number 615 was leading. This elusive electric was on my list of Amtrak locomotives to photograph on the move. I guess I can tick that box!

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(Almost) Summer Evening Sun at Cherry Hill

We caught Strasburg’s evening train returning from Leaman Place at Cherry Hill. On the long days the sun favors the northside of the tracks allowing for classic views as the locomotive accelerates away from Groffs Grove.

This run proved to be a convergence of friends. Not only was a fellow Conway Scenic employee enjoying a ride in the tail car, but at the last moment a pickup truck with New Hampshire plates pulled up to the crossing with two more familiar faces!

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Victorian Pipe Dream

Boyertown, Pa, where Lewis Carroll meets tomorrow’s yesterday.

Step through the looking glass and find a steam punk vision of railroading, where Frank Gowen meets the Addams Family, and gets ice cream!

Check out the brew pub across the parking lot that has great pizza too.

Sitting along the the New Holland Branch on a Sunday morning waiting for the NS local, I read through my July 2024 Trains Magazine, which included a feature on the Colebrookdale Railroad by Dale Woodland. Later in the day, Kris, Seamus-the-Dog and I drove east to investigate this retro-reinvention of a former Reading Company branch.

To capture the spirit of this interpretation of ornate Victorian railroading, I altered my color profile when processing the digital images of the railroad.

Neat place! We’ll be back. I want to ride in the parlor car! And I’d love a spin in the old M-55 railcar. How cool is that?

South Railroad Avenue—Part 2

New Holland, Pennsylvania has classic character. It is one of those towns where the railroad still serves local industry and remains an active part of the landscape. It is at the east end of Norfolk Southern’s former PRR railroad New Holland Branch.

On another recent visit, I made these photos along South Railroad Avenue in the evening light.

Kris spotted the TTX ‘Railbox’ Plate F boxcar on the siding located east of the grade crossing.

Photos exposed using Nikon Z-series mirrorless cameras.

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No. 30 passing Point of Rocks.

Recalling a trip along the old Baltimore & Ohio that I made with my old pal TSH some 35 years ago, I brought Kris and Seamus-the-Dog on a brief exploration of the railroad along the Potomac River.

We aimed to catch Amtrak No. 30 the Capitol Limited rolling through Point of Rocks, Maryland.

The signals have changed from the classic B&O Color Position Lights to more common traffic-light style color-light hardware. The station at Point of Rocks is boarded up and appears a bit rough around the edges. But, it was neat to see this old territory again and brought back memories from that earlier time.

Photos exposed using my Nikon Z-series mirrorless digtal cameras.

Cola and a Coal Train

Cola Tower is located in Columbia, Pennsylvania along the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s Port Road Branch near the junction with the Columbia Branch that ran from its namesake to Lancaster. The solid brick building has been closed for many years and retains its Conrail-era blue sign. Evidence of PRR’s electrification abounds, although electric operations were discontinued by Conrail more than 40 years ago. However, I can’t claim to be an authority on Cola or this section of the PRR, and I’ll welcome details about its operation and demise.

I’ve visited Columbia on a number of occasions, but until recently, I hadn’t photographed a train at this historically important railroad junction.

Part of the challenge is that Columbia is a difficult place to portray. There is a lot of trackage, but not many vantage points. The second problem is that most of the action occurs in the evening owing to an Amtrak aytime curfew on the North East Corridor, which effectively limits movements over connecting lines.

Now that we are into the long days its is easier to find trains on the move.

My friend Dan Cupper encouraged me to investigate opportunities on this route. Last year, I caught an empty coal train in the morning at Washingtonboro, a few miles to the south.

Now that we are back into the bright evenings I aimed to try again. So, a couple of weeks ago I drove to Cola Tower with Seamus-the-Dog, reaching there about 7:30pm. After a cursory inspection to check sun angles and signals, we set up near the old tower.

I noticed a group of teenagers with phone congregating near a grade crossing, then a young enthusiast showed up wearing a Nofolk Southern T-shirt. He let me know that I was in luck, and a coal train was enroute via the Royalton Branch.

Camera’s in hand I positioned myself in the shadow of the tower. Before long, we could hear the whistle of an approaching train.

I made a series of photos of the passing train as Seamus watched with interest from the safety of the car. Afterwards, my friend and fellow photographer Pat Yough supplied details about the train which was NS’s unit train number 590, running from Shire Oaks, Pa., to Baltimore.

With this success, I’m anticipating more adventures in the area and hope to learn more about photographing this portion of the former PRR.

Tracking the Light by Brian Solomon publishes Daily Explorations into Railroad Photography!