Category Archives: digital photography

Lumix LX100 at Littleisland, Co. Cork.

Sunday, 13 October 2019, I exposed this view of an Irish Rail 2600-series railcar at Littleisland on the Cobh Branch destined for Kent Station, Cork.

For me this was a test of the Lumix LX100 that Denis McCabe lent me.

The scene is cross-lit; so the sun is off-camera to my left, leaving the railcar on the ‘Dark Side’ while the signal cabin is brightly illuminated. Complicating the contrast are the fluffy white clouds and a polarized sky above.

This image was adjusted from the camera-RAW file using Lightroom. I darkened highlight areas to obtain greater detail, while lightening shadow regions, and used a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter to better hold detail in the sky.

Two points: I find the RAW files from Lumix LX100 exceptionally sharp; and the files have very good dynamic range which gives me plenty of room to make adjustement in situations with extreme contrast.

More Lumix LX100 photos soon!

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Lumix LX100 Second Test

A few years back I tested a LUMIX LX100 digital camera.

I very much liked the camera, but had just invested in a FujiFilm XT1.

I’ve recommended the LX100 to several photographers.

This week, Denis McCabe, who acted on my advice purchased an LX100 and has been getting very good results with it. He has lent me his camera for further evaluation.

On Friday, 11 October 2019, I traveled by Irish Rail to Portarlington and exposed these photos as a test.

More tests and analysis to follow!

On Friday, 11 October 2019, I traveled by Irish Rail to Portarlington and exposed these photos as a test of an LX100 digital camera.

Tracking the Light aims to post Daily

Through the Mists of Rhein!

One September 2019 morning on Germany’s Rhein, clear skies were obscured by a thick mist hugging the river. As the warm rays of the rising sun graced the tops of the nearby hills, the mist cleared, which made for some cosmic lighting.

I exposed these photographs digitally using my FujFilm XT1. But I also exposed a few colour slides using a Nikon F3 with 105mm lens.

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St Stephens Green View

The view from Dublin’s St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Plaza  The Food Village  food court is among the best vistas to picture LUAS trams in the city centre.

This offers an elevated view of the St Stephens Green prominently featuring the Fusiliers Arch on the Grafton Street side of the park.

I like the view because it was featured on an early 19th century hand-tinted postcard the also included trams, albeit those of the previous lineage. (The Dublin city centre was without trams from the 1940s until 2004 when LUAS commenced operations).

The S-bend in the tram route seen here was opened as part of the Cross City Green Line extension a couple of years ago.

The other day I met fellow photographer Mark Healy for serious image making discussion over a cup of tea while waiting to photograph some of the LUAS advertising trams that now prowl the Green Line route.

I exposed these photos using my Lumix LX7. The challenge of this location is obtaining a satisfactory image through the window glass. I used a very wide aperture, which offers low depth of field to minimize the effect of the glass.

Tracking the Light is a Daily railway-photography Blog.

Slide Show in CORK This Tuesday!

This coming Tuesday evening, 15 October 2019, I’ll be presenting a slide show and talk featuring my travels in Spain and Portugal to the Munster Branch of the Irish Railway Record Society at the Brú Columbanus Rooms at Cardinal Way, Wilton in Cork City.

The talk begins about 8pm.

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The Cobh Rambler—Crew Portrait at Mallow

Before Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s  The Cobh Rambler  departed Mallow on Saturday evening (5 October 2019) for Dublin, I was given an important task. 

A group portrait was hastily organized for me to expose.

Sometimes gathering railwaymen for a portrait is like herding cats, but there’s a long tradition in posing them in front of locomotives.

Smiling alongside locomotive 232 leading The Cobh Rambler are some the RPSI members and Irish Rail employees that made our excursion a roaring success.

For this photo I used my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Special thanks to everyone that made  The Cobh Rambler  a great day out!

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Faces of The Cobh Rambler—lots of photos!

Saturday wasn’t the brightest or driest day.

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s  The Cobh Rambler departed Dublin Heuston Station as per schedule.

It was raining by the time we passed Lucan South (about 6 miles from Heuston).

By the time we reached Cork it was lashing.

On these excursions I often focus on my friends, many of whom are Irish Rail employees and/or RPSI members.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip a success!

All images were exposed using my Lumix LX7.

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Limerick Junction—5 October 2019.

Arriving on Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s  Cobh Rambler,  I photographed four trains at Limerick Junction during the train’s brief pause.

The weather was dire, but that’s all part of the challenge.

New footbridge at Limerick Jct.

More photos from the Cobh Rambler soon!

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Irish Locomotives Yesterday and Today?

Often I assembled Tracking the Light posts several days in advance of publication (or ‘posting’).

As I write this, rain lashes at my window in Dublin.

If all goes to plan, as you read this my friends and I will be traveling on the RPSI diesel tour to Cork and Kerry, titled the ‘Cobh Rambler.’

Traveling behind diesels, especially the 1970s-vintage 071 class General Motors locomotives, has become a novelty in Ireland since the widespread purchase of Intercity Railcars in the mid-2000s, replaced most diesel hauled trains.

This has made diesel trips, such as that one planned for today, a special treat.

What promises to make this trip especially unusual is the very rare combination of 071 class and 201 class working together. There has been considerable comment and speculation as to which locomotives may work this trip.  Sometimes the locomotive planned for the day is re-assigned, develops a fault, or is replaced for other reasons. 

Over the years I’ve photographed most of the GM diesels in Ireland, and in this post I’ve put up a sampling of the locomotives suggested might work today’s train.

Irish Rail 078 with the Steel Train at Kildare on 7 April 2019.
Irish Rail 225 at Tralee, Co. Kerry in August 1999. Exposed with a Nikon N90S on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO).
Irish Rail 232 with up IWT Liner at Stacumni Bridge near Hazelhatch in March 2017.

Learn more about the RPSI: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

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Medieval Window on the Railway—two views.

The old city walls at Oberwesel, Germany feature a 13th century watch tower.

The builders of the tower were clearly railway enthusiasts ahead of their time.

Ok, so you’d have to wait for about 600 years before your first train went by!

I revisited the watch tower last month and made these photos with my FujiFilm XT1.

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The Power of the Dark Side—Sankt Goarshausen.

Sometime, long ago, back in film days someone concluded that three-quarter sun made for the most desirable lighting conditions for locomotive photos.

While its true that in many instances low, three-quarter sun will yield a pleasing result, this is but one lighting solution, and not always the most effective for every setting.

Whoa! WAS that blasphemy?

In September, we hiked into a vineyard south of Sankt Goarshausen, Germany. Blue skies and high thin clouds gave us soft directional lighting with an elevated view of the Right Bank line on the Rhein. In the distance a castle loomed above the river-side Sankt Goarshausen village.

Opting for the dark side presented better contrast that helps visually distinguish the train from the landscape. In this situation because the setting is so visually complex and compelling it helps to make the train stand out, since the train was intended as our subject.

Sure, we could have visited this place earlier in the day, but would that have yielded more effective images?

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BETTUNNEL: Trailing Telephoto View.

This place presented a composition and lighting challenge.

To obtain a satisfactory and balanced telephoto view that emphasized the classic tunnel portal at DB’s Bettunnel near Sankt Goar, we found that midday sun offered effective lighting.

A trailing view of an IC passenger train places the locomotive at the right side of the tunnel portal.

However, the sloped angle of the DB class 101 electric had a tendency to reflect the sunlight in a less than ideal way.

I compromised in post processing by adjusting the highlight values in the camera RAW file, to bring it more in line with the rest of the scene.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Parallel Moves: Belmond and Enterprise—Three photos.

On the afternoon of Saturday, 14 September 2019, Belmond’s Grand Hibernian was due at Connolly Station, Dublin .

Earlier I’d caught the train being shunted at Heuston Station, and expected it to make the run with Irish Rail 071 in retro orange paint.

A group of us were in place at Connolly anticipating the navy blue cruise train led by the orange loco.

But which platform would make a better photograph?

At the last minute, photographer Kevin O’Brien suggested platform 3. I owe him one for the idea. As it happened the Belmond and a late running Belfast-Dublin  Enterprise  approached Connolly at the same time.

My friends over on platform 2 didn’t get the view they hoped for since in the final seconds the Enterprise effectively blocked the view of the other train.

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Class on Wheels!

Gliding along the terraced vineyards near Boppard, Germany rolls EC109 running from Hamburg to Interlaken, Switzerland.

Maybe not as fast as the ICE, but probably among the nicest types of day trains in regular service that you can travel upon. This isn’t a cruise train, but simply a scheduled stopping express, and that’s my point.

And, as you can see, it makes for great photos!

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Double Headed Electric Freight-Three views.

Last week, late afternoon sun illuminated terraced vineyards south of Lorch along the Rhein’s Right Bank (east) which I thought made excellent conditions for railway photography.

I pictured double headed DB class 185 electrics leading a chemical train northward using my FujiFIlm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

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Lidl Tram Prowls Dublin’s LUAS Red Line—3 photos.

In recent weeks, two advertising trams have been working the LUAS Red Line in Dublin. Previously, I featured a view of the white TESCO tram.

In this post, I ofter a few view of the brightly adorned Lidl advertising tram.

This really stands out and distinguishes it from the multitude of LUAS Citidis trams on the Dublin network.

Abbey Street, Dublin.

On Benburb Street at Blackhall.
Smithfield, Dublin

I made these photos with my Lumix LX7.

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Steam and Diesels at Connolly Station Dublin-7 photos!

After photographing Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s private charter crossing the Liffey in Dublin, and catching the train with the TESCO painted Red Line tram at Gardiner Street, I walked briskly to make more photos of the train arriving at Connolly station.

Steam locomotive number 4 was unhooked and sent to Connolly shed, while Irish Rail 082 took its place to bring the RSPI Cravens across to Inchicore Works.

I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1.

Nothing sweeter than a wink of sun. A colourful collection of Irish Rail EMDs at Connolly.
Just a few frames remaining on my card, so make each one count!

The camera battery was flashing red and my storage card was alarmingly low on pixels. Where were my film cameras? Not with me at Connolly.

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Castle and Trains.

Crossing from Sankt Goarshausen to Sankt Goar, Germany on a Rhein ferry offered for some stunning views of the river’s left bank (the west side).

Atop the hill overlooking the valley is the impressive Schloss Rheinfels.

DB’s busy double track left bank mainline runs on a shelf along the Cliffside, above street level in Sankt Goar, and well below the castle.

Mittelrheinbahn Siemens-built railcar glides northward along the Rhein.

I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Are they photos of a castle with a train; or are they train photos that feature a castle?

And yes, there’s a view of the tracks from the castle.

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Curious Convergence—TESCO Tram and RPSI Cravens In Dublin

Sunday’s Railway Preservation Society of Ireland excursion paused on Dublin’s Loop Line waiting for a clear signal to enter Connolly Station.

I had just exposed views of the train crossing the River Liffey.

(see Monday’s Tracking the Light; http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2019/09/23/sunday-steam-charter-crosses-the-river-liffey/).

Photographer Jay Monaghan and I were walking toward Connolly to meet the train when this over and under scenario unfolded.

LUAS Red Line Tram in the TESCO supermarket wrap came around the bend having just made its stop at Bus Aras to present a rare juxtaposition with RPSI’s Cravens.

I made these photos with my Lumix LX7 before proceeding to Connolly to get steam locomotive number 4 arriving.

The lessons from this exercise:

1) Sometimes the most unusual photographic opportunities unfold when the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

2) Always have a camera ready for those unexpected moments.

3) Keep going, don’t give up, there’s might be another opportunity!

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Rail-freight Viewed From the City Wall.

Perched high in a 13thcentury stone tower on the Oberwesel city wall, I made this photograph of a container boat navigating up river on the Rhein as a northward freight of GATX tank cars rolls by behind a Bombardier Traxx electric.

The combination of two very busy railways, a busy water way and a medieval town set in a supremely picturesque setting make Oberwesel, Germany among my favorite places to photograph trains.

On this visit the pesky fluffy clouds tended to stay out of the way of the sun, which had been an annoyance on previous visits.

In the course of just a few hours, I exposed weeks worth of photographs. Although this view minimizes the wall itself, I made plenty of photographs of Oberwesel and its architecture.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

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Sunday Steam Charter Crosses the River Liffey.

Yesterday, Sunday 22 September 2019, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland operated a private charter from Dublin Connolly station to Graystones, County Wicklow and return.

For more on RPSI excursions see: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Photographer Jay Monaghan and I made a run on the LUAS into the Dublin city centre to intercept the return leg, and exposed views of the excursion crossing the Loop Line Bridge.

Congestion at Connolly resulted in the train holding for platform space, giving us time to leg it over to the station for more views. Stay tuned!

Lumix LX7 photo. RAW file adjusted for contrast and localized exposure control, exported as a JPG for internet viewing.
FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm lens. RAW file adjusted for contrast and localized exposure control, exported as a JPG for internet viewing.

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It Looks Like A Model.

The other day I focused my FujiFilm XT1 down on a passing DB Cargo AG Class 187 electric as it rolled south along the Rhein south of Lorch, Germany.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm prime telephoto; ISO 400, f2.2 1/640. Panned with locomotive. Camera JPG file without adjustment or modification.

This soft-lit shallow-focus panned view with a simple background makes the modern Bombardier electric seem like an HO-scale model.

It isn’t. It is a full-size machine and I really was standing there along the Rhein.

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Steam and Freight; Side by SIde.

It’s a comparatively unusual occurrence to find an RPSI steam excursion side by side with an Irish Rail freight.

In fact, over the last two decades, I’ve only had a handful of opportunities to photograph steam excursions and freight together.

Last Wednesday September 11, 2019, was one of those opportunities.

Locomotive number 4 on its way from Galway to Dublin with the Steam Dreams trip was paused to take water at Athlone, when the up-IWT liner from Ballina arrived to change crews. In the lead was locomotive 234.

I made a few photographs, then the sun emerged from the clouds, so I made a few more photos!

Here are examples from both my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 digital cameras.

FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.
Lumix LX7 photo at Athlone.

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Steam Dreams behind RPSI number 4 at Portarlington.

Steam on the mainline on 11 Sept 2019.

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland steam engine number 4 leads the Steam Dreams excursion at Portarlington.

To improve the overall appearance of these photos I made minor adjustments to colour temperature and saturation to my FujiFilm XT1 RAW files.

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The Last Wink of Sun at Oberwesel.

Last night (Wednesday, 18 Sept 2019), we waited in anticipation along the Rhein at Oberwesel as the sun was about to disappear from view behind a hillside.

The right bank of the Rhein has a busy double track railway, which all day long had been flowing with freight trains and the occasional Stadler railcar in local passenger service.

At times the freights rolled on each other’s blocks, passing every three to four minutes.

However as the final rays of sun tickled the cliffs and ships glided up and down the river, we wondered if a train might exit the Ross Stein tunnel allowing us to make use of the low and fading sun. We were near nearly ready to depart, when  this freight burst into view.

I had my Lumix LX7 at the ready and exposed these photos.

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ICE at Boppard.

The forecast had been for poor weather.

The forecast was wrong.

Although there were clouds at dawn, by 9am sunlight bathed the bend in the Rhein Valley near Boppard, Germany.

I was here my old pal TSH and I set up to make the most of the morning light.

In our first few minutes the barrier at the near by level crossing dropped, alerting us to an approaching train. Two as it happened.

A southward ICE and a north IC train.

The left bank of the Rhein is known as being a busy place, and this morning it lived up to its reputation.

I made this trailing view of the ICE train using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancak lens; f4.5 1/500 ISO 200.

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Take a Spin on Irish Rail—8 Photos.

Last week I boarded an Irish Rail ICR (InterCity Railcar) at Dublin’s Heuston Station.

Taking the train is more than opportunity to travel, it is a great time to make views of the railway at work and in motion.

I expose these photos on board using my Lumix LX7.

Irish Rail ICR at Heuston Station, Dublin.
Passing an Irish Rail Mark 4 set led by locative 229 as we departed Heuston Station.
It’s a bit strange to make a novel view such as this one, while being only a very short distance from my apartment in Dublin. At left is the Wellington Testimonial in the Phoenix Park, a monument I can see from my window.
Rolling along at speed on the Cork-Dublin main line in quad track territory in suburban Dublin.
Kildare.
Clara.
Paused for a station stop at Clara.

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Steam Crew at Mallow

Last Saturday (7 September 2019) I made this classic view of the steam crew with locomotive 85 at Mallow, County Cork.

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s former Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) compound 4-4-0 85 had been assigned to work the annual Steam Dreams tour and was running around its train.

While the locomotive garnered most of the attention, here I focused on the men who operate it.

Classic?

Yes. This photo follows in a long tradition: Since photography was invented we’ve been making images of steam crews with their engines.

Exposed digitally using my Lumix LX7.

Learn more about the RPSI and their excursion operations: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com/whats-on

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Killarney Sunset

Sometimes the best photo opportunities happen when everyone else is at dinner.

Last Friday I had an errand on the station platform at Killarney, County Kerry that kept me there late.

For a few minutes the sun colored the sky in shades of yellow, orange and magenta.

I made these views using my Lumix LX7. They were the best photos of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s train that I got all day!

Tracking the Light Catches the Sunset! (But not every day).