Five years ago, I was poised at the army bridge near Mosney over the old Great Northern line to photograph the, then new, Belmond Grand Hibernian on its run from Dublin to Belfast.
This luxury tour train made weekly tours of the Irish network in season.
Irish Rail class 201 number 216 was painted to match Belmond’s train set, and was routinely assigned to the train.
Belmond’s choice of a dark navy blue made for challenging photos in conditions other than bright sun. In photos, this shade of blue often appeared almost black, and when lightened using post processing software tended to shift green.
In this view, I selectively lightened the front of the locomotive, and applied minimal lightening to the shadow areas of the entire scene. I’ve attempted to retain the true color of the train as best I can.
Over the years, I have often featured New England Central GP38 3850 on Tracking the Light. I was reminded of this on Tuesday with the spectacular photos of its failure on State Line Hill that appeared on social media, Tuesday.
Yesterday, I featured a night photo this locomotive
Yesterday (Sunday August 29, 2021), Conway Scenic Railroad hosted New Hampshire’s Governor Chris Sununu on his Super 603 Thank You Tour.
I was closely invovlved with the logistical planning for the Governor’s special train. We needed to continue to operate our regularly scheduled Valley trains, so I planned a meet at Bartlett.
This was excuted in traditional fashion. Speed through Bartlett is limited to ten mph. Conway Scenic’s Valley Train returning from Sawyers cleared for the special by reversing into the siding near the Bartlett freight house. There was no delay to the Governor’s train, and the absolute minimum delay necessary to the Valley.
Working in my capacity as Manager, Marketing & Events, I made these photos of the meet from the special using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.
August 23, 2016, I made this bright morning view of a short southward New England Central freight at Stafford Springs, Connecticut.
The attraction was the single GP38 wearing the classing blue and gold paint in rich morning sun.
Over the years, I’d photographed trains in Stafford Springs (Stafford on the railroad) from many angles. On this morning, I was pleased to get this view without any automobiles in the way of the train, and feature the row of brick buildings behind the tracks.
The railroads that once served Maine’s Rangely Lake region are long off the map.
At the end of July, Kris & I went for a day-long leisurely drive north from North Conway, New Hampshire to Rangeley where we made some evening photographs of the beautiful lakes there.
Although we inspected evidence of the narrow gauge and standard gauge lines that served this resort so long ago, there was little of interest to photograph on this visit. So instead I’m presenting my lake photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirror-less digital camera.
All the photos were adjusted using Adobe Lightroom. I’ve gradually been formulating color-contrast profiles to make the most of the camera’s NEF RAW files.
On July 26, 2021, Conway Scenic placed its popular open-end parlor-observation lounge Gertrude Emma back in traffic.
During its time in the company roundhouse the car was refurbished inside and out.
The car was built by the Pullman Palace Car company in 1898 for the Pennsylvania Railroad’s flagship train, Pennsylvania Limited that connected Jersey City (across the Hudson from New York City) with Chicago via Pittsburgh.
The colors it wears are aimed to recreate its period livery.
I made these photos for Conway Scenic Railroad’s Facebook and Instagram pages using my Panasonic Lumix LX7.
I’ve been reviewing 40 years worth of Amtrak photos for an article I’m writing for a German magazine.
In the mix of old chromes was this 2003 view of the eastward Lake Shore Limited east of milepost 129 between Chester and Middlefield, Massachusetts on CSX’s old Boston & Albany mainline.
Relatively few of Amtrak’s P42 Genesis diesels were painted in the short-lived Northeast Direct livery, making this a relatively unusual photo.
Working with a Nikon fitted with an f2.8 180mm telephoto, I was trying to make the most of a heavily backlit situation in early October. In situations like this I’d typically use my notebook to shield the front element of my lens to minimize the effects of flare. Backlighting autumn foliage helps accentuate the colored leaves.
On this day Amtrak was the booby prize; I was really after the Ringling Brothers Circus Train that was coming east from Selkirk Yard. And that photo is stored in a different file.
Yesterday (26 July 2021), the White Mountains were obscured by hazy smoke that had settled upon the Mount Washington Valley as a result of raging forest fires in the West.
The sun was out, but an eerie gauzy brownish-fog was lingering in the low-lying areas filtering the light.
Working with my Nikon Z6, I made these photos in the smoky light of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley Train coming up the Hill from Conway. This was a stark contrast to the similar images I made last week of the Valley train arriving at North Conway.
During a whirlwind trip to Italy in April 2017, I spent a day around Florence (Firenze) photographing and taking notes for my book Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.
On this trip I was traveling very light and only brought two cameras: my wee Lumix mark 2 (a Panasonic LX7) for digital, and Nikon F3 with 35mm and 135mm lenses to expose film.
At Firenze Statuto I made this sequence with the LX7 of a passing FS ETR1000 high speed passenger train on its way out of town. Once on the Direttissma this train will accelerate up to 186mph, but here the train is traveling at a more conservative speed.
The original Italian Direttisma was the world’s first purpose-built high speed railway, predating the Japanese Shinkansen by a half century.
There was a low ceiling at Crawford Notch, NH the other evening. The tops of the mountains were in the clouds, yet the tracks and station were clear from mist.
Kris & I arrived after sunset when there was just a hint of daylight remaining. Regular readers of Tracking the Light may recognize that I like to make photos at twilight, and often work my cameras when there is very little light remaining in the sky.
Below are three interpretations of the same Nikon NEF RAW file that reflect minor adjustments to contrast, color temperature and color saturation.
Saturday night, July 17, 2021, I revisited Palmer, Massachusetts with Kris Sabbatino and Pat Yough, where we made night photos of the CSX signals at CP83.
For me photographing at Palmer at night is an old tradition that began in the 1980s.
Where I used to make time exposures with a Leica IIIA loaded with Kodak Tri-X, on this visit I worked with my modern Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera mounted on my father’s Gitzo carbon fiber tripod.
My own tripod had remained in New Hampshire, so needed a loan of my dad’s legs.
I made minor adjustements to color temperature and contrast using Adobe Lightroom.
The other day I traveled on the head-end of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer in order to take notes on running times to help revise the schedule, and to make photos for publicity, marketing and the company files.
This is a selection of the images I exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm Fujinon zoom lens.
Working with the camera’s RAW files, prior to post processing, I converted the files to DNG format using Iridient software and then for final presentation adjusted the DNG files using adobe Lightroom .
Yesterday morning was glorious and sunny in North Conway, NH.
Members of the 470 Club (a group that has preserved and owns several pieces of historic railroad equipment based at the Conway Scenic Railroad) were repairing former Boston & Maine F7A 4266 at the North Conway roundhouse..
Gray Locomotives in High Sun—Variations on a theme.
High sun—when the sun is at or near the highest point in the sky—can be a difficult time to make railroad photos. The harsh contrast presented by midday light makes for unflattering and abrasive visual conditions. But does that mean we should refrain from photography? I know many photographers who might say ‘Yes.’
Last month on the way to Moosehead Lake, Kris Sabbatino and I paused at Pan Am Railway’s sprawling Waterville Yard where we made a few photos of a freight sitting near the east end of the yard.
Guilford painted GP40s are a rare item these days, and worthy of documentation. Soon all of Pan Am Railways may be swept into CSX, giving a growing urgency to photographs of this New England railroad system.
I made several images of the GP40s idling in the yard using my FujiFilm XT1. In Post processing, I adjusted the camera RAW files making slight changes to contrast, exposure and color temperature. Below are four similar variations of the same scene.
Last night Conway Scenic Railroad operated its annual Firecracker Expresses to carry spectators from Conway to North Conway for a patriotic fireworks display.
Although it had been raining all afternoon, the sky cleared off at sunset, and the fireworks went ahead as scheduled, beginning just after 930pm.
As part of of my role as Conway Scenic’s Manager of Marketing & Events, I helped organize our special trains and their promotion. Several hundred people rode the trains which operated as advertised.
My Fiancé Kris Sabbatino and I traveled on the Firecracker Express to North Conway and made photos of the railroad’s iconic station and the explosive displays.
It was an excellent event.
Working with my Nikon Z6 Mirrorless digital camera mounted on my antique Bogen tripod, I made a variety of time-exposures.
Years ago I’d photographed fireworks using color slide film. I realized that I hadn’t done this in a long time and this was my first serious effort to capture a fireworks display digitally. I was a bit rusty at getting my timing right, but after missing a few of the loud bangs in the sky, I managed to refine my technique.
Working with the camera at ISO 200, my exposure times ranged from 4 seconds to 30 seconds, while I varied my f-stop between 4.0 and f11.
In general, I found I obtained my most satisfactory results at about 10 seconds at approximately f8.
After exposure, I imported the camera’s RAW NEF files into Adobe Lightroom for contrast and color adjustment. Through this technique I was able to improve the sky detail and balance the appearance of the images to reflect the scene more closely as I saw it. The benefit of the Nikon Z6 is its sensor’s exceptional dynamic range.
St Lawrence & Atlantic 393 passing the Gorham Station made for a subject akin to the UFO landing in the 1970’s film ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ but accented with an awesome sounding EMD 645-diesel roar.
These photos were exposed last Friday night using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.
Here’s another of my photos at dusk from our pursuit of St. Lawrence & Atlantic’s westward freight 393 last week. Kris and I were positioned along the south shore of the Reflection Pond near Gorham, NH.
My tripod was occupied holding my Canon EOS-3 during a 30 second time exposure. This film photo remains latent at this writing.
While the Canon was exposing film, I made a few hand held photos with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit with the ISO set at 5,000.
These are two of the 1/2 second exposures that night.
I adjusted the Fuji RAW files using Adobe Lightroom.
I made these images the other night when Kris & I were photographing the St Lawrence & Atlantic’s westward road freight (train 393).
Night photography isn’t easy, or straight forward.
There’s a variety of approaches.
These images were exposed during the last hints of daylight.
To capture the train in motion in very low light I used a ‘secret combination’: a telephoto with a wide maximum aperture and a high ISO setting on the camera.
The telephoto minimizes the relative movement of the train to the camera sensor; the wide aperture lets in greater amounts of light and thus allows for a faster shutter speed. Likewise, the higher ISO also contributes to using a faster shutter speed.
However, the real secret was exposing manually, taking into account of the very bright headlights relative to the over all scene, while taking a position relatively off axis to the headlights to avoid the very bright lights directly hitting the front element of the lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with f2.0 90mm lens, camera set to ISO 3200 and 1/60th of a second.