Category Archives: digital photography

Snow Train Day and Night

On Tuesday February 18, 2020 it snowed most of the day at North Conway, New Hampshire.

Through out the day the Conway Scenic Railroad was operating its new Snow Trains between its famous North Conway station and Attitash in Bartett.

I made these views of the Snow Train set led by former Maine Central GP7 573 paused between runs at the North Conway B&M station.

Both were exposed using a Lumix LX7.

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Plowing Snow with my Video Studio!

Shortly after arriving on the property at New Hampshire’s Conway Scenic Railroad last Spring, I asked owner David Swirk why he had an air-conditioner on his vintage Russel snow plow.

He laughed and said the plow was employed for various tasks. Later in the summer, my video editing studio was temporarily relocated to the plow, where I learned first hand of the importance of the air-conditioner!

Last week in preparation for commencement of February operations, Swirk decided it was time to send the Russel plow out to clear the line and widen the swath of snow made during previous plowing efforts using GP7 573.

So on Thursday, February 13, 2020 the plow was readied and dispatched by Train Order as a Work Extra 573 from North Conway Yard to Attitash pushed in traditional fashion by 573.

I hiked into the Whitaker Woods to document the plow at work, then followed along by road. Here are few of my photos.

Passing under Highway 302 near Bartlett, New Hampshire.

I also made a video, which I posted on Conway Scenic’s Facebook page:

This also appears on the railroad’s Instagram page.

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Snow Trains—The First Day.

Some times plans don’t materialize as expected.

The day dawned with an arctic claw. This made for an azure sky, but was a tad difficult on the fingers.

I thought I’d be showing photos of RDC Millie in the New Hampshire snow.

Instead, I have some photos of former Maine Central GP7 573 pulling a four car consist as Conway Scenic’s Snow Train.

That turned out to be a good thing for the railroad and resulted in some unusual winter photos. The larger train accommodated the swell of passengers that arrived to travel.

For these photos I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

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Cupid’s Express under the Stars.

Last night (February 14th) I traveled on the head-end of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Cupid Express dinner train that ran over the old Maine Central Mountain Division toward Bartlett.

When the train paused for the engineer to change ends (we had a locomotive positioned at each end of the train to avoid the need to run around), I exposed a few photos.

It was clear, very cold and the stars were bright. You can see my footprints in the foreground snow.

The train was a success and was completely sold out.

Exposed with a Lumix LX7 at f1.4 for 13 seconds, ISO 100. Camera mounted on a Bogen tripod. I made some minor adjustments to exposure and color saturation in post processing.

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Snow Train Trial.

Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday February 11, 2020), I traveled with the Conway Scenic train crew on RDC 23 Millie that was performing a trial-run of our new Snow Train  service that will begin this Saturday.

By arrangement, the crew dropped me at milepost 64 along the Saco River, so that I could make some video and still images of the RDC to be used in Conway Scenic promotions.

These images are low-res Jpgs downloaded from my FujiFilm XT1 to my iPhone via WiFi.

Westbound at Milepost 64 near Glen & Jackson, New Hampshire.
Eastbound at Milepost 65.
Laying over at Attitash.

I made a variety of other digital images that I hope to download soon.

Between February 15th to 29th, Conway Scenic Railroad will be running seven trains a day on an 90 minute interval between North Conway and Attitash. This is something new for the railroad!

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Memory Full!

When I’m working with film I keep a sharp eye on how many photos I expose, and work judiciously as I approach the 36th frame.

But with digital, too often the potentially vast numbers of photos that I can save to a card leads to my complacency. So, despite having had hundreds of exposures at my disposal, at an inopportune moment after releasing the shutter the dreaded ‘Memory Full!’ message appears at the back of the camera along with a snide sounding ‘beeep!’

I had this misfortune a couple of weeks back when in pursuit of the southward Vermont Rail System freight near Wells River, Vermont.

Luckily, I’d just captured the train in motion.

However, since I’d planned out a series of locations, and I needed to proceed post haste to my next spot. I didn’t have the time to root around and locate another SD Card for my FujiFilm XT1 (poor planning on my part), so I went immediately to ‘Plan B’. (the back up plan).

That involved working with my Lumix LX7 and a Nikon F3 (loaded with black & white film) cameras, both of which are excellent tools.

The film remains in the camera, so I’ve opted to present the Lumix Photos here.

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Barnet Road-Barnet, Vermont.

I’ve looked at this location several times over the years. Here, Barnet Road crosses the Connecticut River and the railroad south of the old station-location at Barnet, Vermont.

Either the light didn’t suit photography, or there was no train around.

On January 28th, 2020, I had ample time to set up since the southward Vermont Rail System freight I was following had stopped to switch at Barnet. 

I scoped a couple of different angles from the road bridge, and at the last minute settled on this view.

I exposed this sequence of photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

This view was panned slightly, which allows for a greater sense of motion while retaining sharpness on the leading locomotive.
Trailing view from the same bridge as the photos above.

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White Flags: Extra 573 Clearing Snow Near Mountain Junction.

Friday, February 7, 2020, Conway Scenic dispatched former Maine Central GP7 573 as a work extra to clear the line to Attitash (near Bartlett, NH).

Icy rain and sleet had been falling throughout the day and it was beginning to turn to snow. Temperatures were expected to drop and by morning the snow would be like cement. Clearing the line while the snow was still slushy was imperative or this relatively small task could become an epic one.

Conway Scenic normally shuts its lines from early January until April. This year the railroad is planning a series of special trips during the last two weeks of February beginning with Cupid’s Express Valentines Day trains on February 14th, followed by Snow Trains that will run from North Conway to Attitash on a 90 minute interval beginning at 7:30 am.

The interval was my idea and I’ve planned a timetable for the event.

I traveled with the engine crew on 573 to document the day’s events and make notes. Near Mountain Junction (where the former Boston & Maine Conway Branch connects with the old Maine Central Mountain Division) 573 paused for the crew to clear a crossing. I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1.

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Irish Rail 084 at BlackHorse Avenue—Dublin.

As it rains ice outside my window in Conway, New Hampshire, I was thinking back to greener warmer times last summer in Ireland!

It was toward the end of August 2019, when I made this view of Irish Rail 084 working an up-IWT Liner from Ballina, Co. Mayo to Dublin’s North Wall approaching Blackhorse Avenue in Dublin.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with a 90mm lens.

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Vermont Rail System—East Barnet.

On my recent travels between North Conway, New Hampshire and Monson, Massachusetts, I prefer the rural highways of the Connecticut River Valley to the heavily traveled rat race to the south.

Among the benefits of my long way round is that it follows the tracks most of the way.

I don’t always find a train, and honestly across much of the territory I pass there are scant few trains to find.

Last week as I drove north, I scoped a host of locations to photograph along the old Boston & Maine/Canadian Pacific route between White River Junction and St Johnsbury, Vermont.

At the last-named point, I got out of my car by the old railroad station just in time to hear the roar of twin 16-645E3 diesels. Excellent timing! I reversed course and returned promptly to a spot that I’d photographed on previous occasions at East Barnet, Vermont.

Vermont Rail System at East Barnet, Vermont. Expose using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm lens.

This was a good start, but I was just getting warmed up. From there I continue my pursuit to make a variety of satisfying images. More to follow soon!

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Dusk at East Northfield.

It is unlikely you will find ‘East Northfield’ on most maps of Massachusetts, since this is a railroad location that doesn’t reflect local geography.

Not withstanding these directional peculiarities, East Northfield (as so-identified by New England Central’s sign) is a classic railroad location and a favorite place to photograph trains. Located on the Massachusetts-Vermont state line, this is where New England Central meets Pan Am’s Boston & Maine Connecticut River line from Greenfield.

On Friday, January 24, 2020, my friends, fellow photographers, Tim and Pat and I converged at the junction to make photographs of New England Central’s northward 611.

Here the train was held for a few minutes while Amtrak’s northward Vermonter made its Brattleboro station stop. Operational considerations typically find freights holding south of East Northfield until Amtrak is north of ‘West River’ (a railroad location situated north of Amtrak’s Brattleboro station).

The light was fading fast. So working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm prime telephoto, I exposed a series of images to make the most of the tinted low lighting.

The first view was made with an auto-white balance setting. The second two using a daylight preset that results in the camera capturing more of the blue-spectrum of dusk.

Auto white balance; no post processing color correction.
Daylight white balance without post processing corrections.

This exposure was made a few minutes later and reflects the approach of evening after the amount of light had diminished. It was also made using the ‘Daylight’ white balance preset.

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NECR on the Millers Falls High Bridge.

Here’s a view I exposed of New England Central’s northward 611 crossing the 1905-built Millers Falls High Bridge at Millers Falls, Massachusetts on January 24, 2020.

This former Central Vermont Railway bridge has long been a favorite of mine.

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New England Central on the Roll!

After departing Greenfield, where I’d had the fortuity to catch a westward Pan Am empty grain train (Thursday’s posting on Tracking the Light), I drove to Millers Falls, Mass. My friends Tim and Pat were photographing the northward New England Central 611 turn on its run from Palmer back toward Brattleboro, Vermont.

I phoned Pat when I arrived at Millers Falls. “Where are you?”

“We’re in South Amherst, 611 is passing Amherst now.”

That was just the information I needed.

I knew it would be cutting it a bit fine (in other words; with the wind a my back, I’d barely make it) but I was going to try to run against this freight and intercept it at Leverett (north of Amherst on the old Central Vermont).

I’m no novice at following trains on this line. I recall a spirited chase of CV freight from Amherst to Millers Falls back in Spring 1986!

I had a clear shot to Leverett (I didn’t get stuck behind a school bus). I pulled in, grabbed my FujiFilm XT1, jumped out of the car and listened.

I could hear multiple 16-645E3 diesels working in run 7 or 8. They were very close.

I needed to change lenses and had just enough time to switch from a 27mm pancake lens to my fixed focal length ‘prime’ 90mm telephoto.

As I set my exposure, the freight roared around the bend! I exposed a burst of images and then laid chase back north again. At one point, I gazed in my rear-view and saw that my friends were behind me. Classic train chase!

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Luck, Wisdom Way, and an Empty Grain Train!

Last week, I exited I-91 at Greenfield, Massachusetts with a vision of nipping over to Pan Am’s East Deerfield Yard—an old haunt that I hadn’t visited in a while.

As luck would have it, I never made it to the yard. Driving east I spotted former CSX GE DASH8-40Cs working west. It was an empty grain train! A prize indeed.

With no time to spare, and working from memory, I navigated post haste to Wisdom Way—a choice overpass on the former Fitchburg Main Line where I’ve made countless photos over the years.

I arrived in just enough time to set my exposure and capture this elusive freight as it passed in and out of dappled sun.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Not bad for a spontaneous catch. Soon I was on my way in another direction aiming to intercept New England Central 611 on its northward run.

Stay tuned for the results of that adventure!

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Boston & Maine Station at Ely, Vermont with Cotton Candy Sky.

On Friday January 24, 2020, I made a series of photos of the former Boston & Maine station at Ely, Vermont.

These views were made looking south toward White River Junction and show the station in partial silhouette against a wintery cotton-candy sky.

I exposed them in RAW using my Lumix LX7 and processed the files using light room to make the most of the dramatic sky.

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20 NEW photos of the BIG Show—Friends and Trains.

On Day 2 of last weekend’s BIG Railroad Hobby Show in West Springfield, I spent more time making photos of the people than of the trains.

When I wasn’t meeting friends, fans and guests at the Conway Scenic Railroad booth, I took my Lumix LX7 and wandered the halls snapping away.

Here’s just a few views!

And yes, I’ve included a few photos of the models too.

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January 2020_Amherst Railway Society’s BIG Railroad Hobby Show.

This year instead of merely wandering the annual Amherst Railway Society’s BIG Railroad Hobby Show as a free agent, I spent most of my time there working for Conway Scenic Railroad.

But, I did wander the show making photos as I have in the past.

I also signed a few books, answered lots of questions, spoke with countless friends, and researched details for a number of upcoming articles.

I made these photos Saturday January 25, 2020 using my Lumix LX7.

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Otto with Otto beer and old NY&SW replica locomotive.



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Not In Service

On a June 2008 trip to San Diego, I made this photo of a Metropolitan Transit System car in fresh paint running on the Green Line without passengers.

The car’s destination boards boldly read ‘Not in Service.’

I exposed the photo on Fujichrome slide film using a Canon EOS3 with 24mm lens.

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Two Foot Gauge Steam

Here’s another view from the amazing winter photography trip sponsored by Maine’s Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum in conjunction with Portland’s Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum.

Sometimes conditions practically photograph themselves, all you have to do is point the camera!

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens. Arctic conditions produced some stunning steam effects.

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Number 9 Bathed in Steam—Three Photos.

Last weekend the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum in conjunction with Portland’s Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum invited me to a magical event featuring three steam locomotives under steam.

Arctic conditions were tough on fingers and toes, but made for spectacular displays of steam and condensation.

Among the stars of the event was former Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington number 9, a legendary machine that had been saved from scrapping many years ago and then stored for decades in a Connecticut barn.

This was my first visit with old number 9.

I exposed these photos digitally but I also made use of an old Nikon F3 to exposed both black& white and color film so that future generations may be able to appreciate the cosmic even of January 18-19, 2020.

More photos soon!

Special Thanks to Wayne Duffett and Ed Lecuyer.

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Maine Central 573 at Milepost 64—Two photos.

As a follow up to Monday’s post, I’m presenting these two photos of Maine Central 573 at milepost 64 on the old Mountain Division.

Friday, January 17, 2020, I was traveling with the Conway Scenic crew on their frosty expedition west toward Bartlett to inspect the line and clear snow.

I arranged for them to drop me near milepost 64 (east of the old Glen & Jackson station) where the line runs along the Saco.

Here I set up Conway Scenic’s company video camera with the help of Connor Maher, and made a short clip of the engine passing.

I also exposed these images with my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

After filming, the locomotive crew collected us.

Flying white flags, old 573 was on home rails at milepost 64 along the Saco River.

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Looking toward Mount Washington—three photos.

Friday, January 17, 2020, I joined the Conway Scenic train crew of a light engine sent west on the old Mountain Division to inspect the line and clear snow and as far as Rogers Crossing east of Bartlett, New Hampshire.

It was clear, cold afternoon, which made for some magnificent views along the Saco River and looking toward Mount Washington.

My primary intent was to document the move and gather some video footage of the railroad operating in the snow.

using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens, I made these views at milepost 62 west of Intervale.

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Roger Williams in the Snow.

In the 1950s, New Haven Railroad worked with the Budd Company to develop a semi-streamlined self-propelled passenger train adapted from the successful Budd Rail Diesel Car—RDC for service as the Roger Williams.

The ends of the train featured a distinctive nose-section.

I recall these end cars working Amtrak’s Springfield, Mass., to New Haven, Connecticut shuttles in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

A couple of weeks ago on a business trip to Lincoln, New Hampshire, I saw that the Hobo Railroad has this portion of the old ‘Roger Williams’ RDC on display. I took a couple of minute to make a few photos. Someday I’d like to return for a more thorough documentation.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

Fresh snow made for a monochromatic setting with the bold New Haven logo.

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Amtrak Vermonter on THe Move!

Earlier this month I exposed this view of Amtrak train 57 on the move crossing a fill on the Connecticut River Backwater just south of Brattleboro, Vermont.

There was soft directional lighting with a textured sky. To better balance the exposure I worked with an external graduated neutral density filter positioned over the front element of the lens with the darkest portion of the filter ever the sky.

I’m not entirely satisfied with the results, but the filter helped.

Luckily, I also exposed a black & white photo that I hope to process with my next batch of film!

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Rail Transit Photo Marathon

The other day I posted a photo of the Los Angeles Metro Rail Blue Line and noted that I’d photographed many rail transit systems but ‘lost track’ after 50.

A regular Tracking the Light reader wrote in that he was close to 90 light- rail/streetcar systems, which made me wonder how many systems I’ve photographed over the years. So the other day, while the rain fell outside the window in North Conway, I made a list of every city/rail transit system that I’d photographed.

One two occasions, I’ve photographed streetcars at Mainz, Germany. This view was made of a route 52 car in September 2019.

For this exercise I included both light-rail/streetcar and heavy-rail metro rail transit systems. I excluded purely interurban lines where the frequency and service pattern doesn’t fit ‘rail transit’.

All of the systems are electric, rail-based transit, although I included rubber-tire/tyre metros such as Montreal, since rails and electricity are involved.

Fine print: I’ve excluded trolley bus operations (in most cases cities that I’ve photographed trolley buses also have some form of rail transit. However, this qualification excluded Chernivtsi, Ukraine—and yes I have a photo of an electric bus there). I’ve also excluded cities where I may have seen rail-transit but not photographed it. As may be inferred, cities with more than one mode (light rail and heavy rail metro for example) get counted only once. However, in situations where disconnected systems serve adjacent cities get counted individually. So I’ve counted the Newark City Subway and Jersey City-Hoboken light rail as two systems. Non-electric systems are not on my list. German cities with interurban interconnections, such as Bonn and Köln get counted twice. Systems with long extensions into adjacent communities such as Charleroi in Belgium and the Belgium coastal tram get counted once. (I realize that some viewers my take exception to my counting the Belgian coastal tram, and not including some Swiss interurban electric lines.) Systems that I photographed under construction or out of service without vehicles, will not be included (that leaves out Florence, Italy, and San Juan, Puerto Rico from my total).

Trolley bus systems are not included in my final count. SF Muni Potrero garage October 1990.

Chicago’s CTA ‘L’ lines are cool—systems like this make the list! Howard Street Line July 5, 1995.
I’ve photographed in numerous cities across Eastern Europe. In 2003, I made this color slide in Zagreb, Croatia.

I’ve been photograph Boston’s rail transit for more than 47 years! (Eeek!) So I have more coverage of the MBTA than many other systems. Park Street Station on the Green Line back in the day. (December 1980).

So as of January 2020, my list of  photographed subway, metros, light-rail, streetcars, monorail, and rail-based cable car (aka San Francisco) systems total 100.

My challenge now will be locating original images from each and every of these systems. Mexico City was recently covered, so we’ll leave that one out.

Also, I may remember another system, presently off my list, and if so I’ll make note of that later.

Since North Conway doesn’t have electric rail transit, I can only wistfully look back on my photos.

Incidentally, while I have extensive photographic coverage of some cities such as Dublin, Boston and San Francisco, in others I may only have a handful of images. Kansas City, being one recent example, which I photographed from the dutch-door window of Budd dome Silver Splendor (now Rhonda Lee) while traveling East on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief in 2018.

This might take a while! (And no, I won’t be limiting my daily posts to rail transit, but will be including archive photos in the mix of other subjects).

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Pan Am Railways at Greenfield, Massachusetts on January 12, 2014.

It was on this day six years ago (January 12, 2014) that I made this close-up view of Pan Am Railways 616 as it worked west at Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens set at 400ISO at f3.5 1/400th of a second.

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Five Years Ago!

On this day, January 11, 2015 I made this telephoto view of Amtrak AEM-7 944 working the back of New York City bound Keystone train passing Torresdale, Pennsylvania.

At that time, Amtrak’s AEM-7s were on the wane and photographer Pat Yough and I were capturing the relatively brief transition period between the AEM-7s and new Siemens ACS-64 electrics.


Canon EOS-7D fitted with a prime 200mm lens, ISO 200 f5.6 1/1000 sec.

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Los Angeles Blue Line—Rosa Parks Station.

In November 2018, I made this view of the Los AngelesMetro Rail Blue Line at Rosa Parks Station using my old Lumix LX7.

A while ago in a spare quiet moment, I started to count up all the cities where I’d photographed rail-transit over the years.

I lost track at fifty!

(Cities, that is).

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Vintage New England Central!

New England Central from 24 years ago!

On February 5, 1996, I exposed a series of Kodachrome 25 color slides of New England Central 9529 switching at Palmer, Massachusetts.

The railroad later renumbered its engines from the 9500-series to the 3800-series, but in 2020 a few of its now geriatric GP38s still work the line in the 1995-era Conrail-applied New England Central start-up paint.

K25 exposed with a Nikon F3T fitted with an f4 Nikkor 200mm telephoto lens.

25 years in the same blue and yellow scheme. While not a world record, it is still pretty impressive.

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Black and White in Color.

In decades-old railroad tradition, Conway Scenic’s steam locomotive 7470 is largely painted black. While in winter, the environment around the railroad is largely snow covered (at least we hope it is) .

Why steam in the snow?

Drama!

The cold air contributes to spectacular effects from condensation tinted with smoke from the firebox.

Here are a few of my Lumix LX7 color digital photos from Saturday’s (January 4, 2020) Steam in the Snow excursion sponsored by the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts on Conway Scenic’s operation over the former Maine Central Mountain Division.

Dave Swirk at the throttle of 7470.

(And yes, maybe I made a few classic black & white images of this trip on film!)

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Steam in the Snow!

Yesterday, January 4, 2020, Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts Inc., operated its famous Steam in the Snow event at the Conway Scenic Railroad from North Conway to Notchland, New Hampshire.

Locomotive 7470 was the star of the show.

Several photo run bys were organized to allow travelers on the train to make photos and enjoy watching the locomotive in action.

Conway Scenic’s President and General Manager Dave Swirk was at the throttle of the steam locomotive.

As a representative of Conway Scenic, I traveled on the train for part of its journey and documented people enjoying the event.

This view at Notchland, shows Mass Bay RRE’s photo line up during the first of three staged runbys at this location.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens mounted on a Bogen tripod.

More to come!

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Crawford Notch at Dusk—January 1, 2020.

I arrived at the old Maine Central station at Crawfords (New Hampshire) in the ‘blue hour’—that last hint of daylight before night.

It was snowing lightly.

The railroad was quiet. No trains are expected for months to come!

The scene was serene.

To make this photo, I had my FujiFilm XT1 with 28mm pancake lens mounted on a Bogen tripod. I set the meter for 2/3s of stop over exposure in ‘A’ mode at the widest aperture. The camera selected the shutter speed at 25 seconds.

Over the course of several minutes, I made several exposures ranging from 20 to 30 seconds each.

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New England Central 437—White River Junction.

Yesterday, January 1, 2020, I paused at White River Junction, Vermont, a place I first visited to make railroad photographs nearly 35 years ago.

That first visit was a warm sunny summer’s morning. By contrast yesterday’s visit was a wintery, cold and gray afternoon with hints of color in the southern sky.

New England Central local was working with GP40-2 437,  a locomotive still wearing Florida East Coast colors.

Nutt Lane, White River Junction, Vermont. January 1, 2020.

Former Boston & Maine bridge over the Connecticut River. Viewed from White River Junction, Vermont. January 1, 2020.

I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

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Colm O’Callaghan’s Irish Traction Book.

My old friend Colm O’Callaghan has recently published his first book.

This features a selection of his finest color photos of Irish Rail diesels in action.

Below is information on the book and how to obtain it.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Irish-Traction-Iarnród-Colm-OCallaghan/dp/1445688441/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3IBT62VUXEKCA&keywords=irish+traction&qid=1577407995&sprefix=%2Caps%2C195&sr=8-1

https://www.bookdepository.com/Irish-Traction–Iarnrod-Eireann/9781445688442

I exposed this photo of Colm on his 46th birthday standing along side a British Class 46 diesel at a Crewe open house. At the time I was working with Contax G2 rangefinder loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO).
Colm recently retired after many years working for An Post, the Irish postal service. About ten years ago, I made this view of Colm and his famous green van on the South Circular Road in Dublin.

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