Category Archives: digital photography

Glounthaune Sunrise—Cobh Junction Glint in 3 photos.

Last week on a visit to Cork, I made these views of Irish Rail’s 2600 railcars working Cork-Cobh and Cork-Midleton services from Glounthaune village looking across the water toward Glounthaune/Cobh Junction station.

I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 and Canon EOS-3 cameras. The Canon was loaded with Provia 100F, and we’ll have to wait for the slides to be processed.

Regular Tracking the Light readers know that I often favor low-light ‘glint’.

This is tricky light to expose satisfactorily. It is a matter of getting the balance between highlights and shadows right, which is a subjective decision on the part of the photographer.

Which is your favourite?

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Irish Rail 226 and its Great Southern & Western Railway Commemorative Plate.

Irish Rail 226 is unique because of commemorative plate(s) it carries on the sides of the locomotive.

Here’s a selection of digital photos I exposed of 226 at Portarlington on 13 October 2018.

Irish Rail 226’s commemorative plate.
A dreary morning at Portarlington. Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo on 13 October, 2018. A few hours later this camera failed. Thankfully, I have others to work with.

Sometimes a detailed photograph says more than an overall view. What do you think?

 

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Rails along the River Slaney—Killurin, County Wexford.

Irish Rail’s line from Dublin to Rosslare hugs the River Slaney north of Wexford town.

On our exploration of disused lines in county Wexford, Ken Fox, Donncha Cronin and I made a short detour to photography the ‘Up-Rosslare’ at Killurin as it ran along the west bank of the Slaney.

This is a pretty part of the line, and a place I hadn’t explored in almost a decade.

The last time I’d made a photo here, it was a 141-class diesel hauling the then ‘new’ weedsprayer. That wasn’t yesterday!

Telephoto view at Killurin.
From the Slaney bridge at Killurin.
This trailing view reminds me of Maine Central’s Rockland Branch.

These images were made with my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom, files adjusted for contrast and exposure in Lightroom.

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Railway Preservation Society Ireland—Fall Tour: Ten Lumix Views.

I described the failure of my trusty Lumix LX7 in yesterday’s post:
Final Frame? Lumix LX7 Coils Up

https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5Rm

Despite its failure on the day of the tour, I’d made good use of the camera right up to the end. This versatile picture making device had been a staple of my camera bag for more than four years.

Below are a selection of photos from Saturday 13 October 2018 of RPSI’s The Southwestern rail tour that operated from Dublin Connolly to Cork, then via Limerick, Ennis and Athenry and back to Dublin.

On these rail tours I tend to focus on the people as much as the equipment.

Blocked outside of Mallow.
Operational discussion at Mallow.

 

Kent Station, Cork.

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Final Frame? Lumix LX7 Coils Up.

That’s a phrase that means ‘failed in service’.

In recent days, my faithful Lumix LX7 that I bought in June 2014 had developed quirky, unreliable traits.

Machines, including cameras shouldn’t develop irritable personalities. It’s an indication that the machine is broken.

On Saturday, 13 October 2018 the camera exhibited symptoms of failure. The weather had been exceptionally wet for two days in a row, and dampness is bad for electronics.

I made two  images  of Irish Rail 088 running around at Kent Station, Cork using LX7. Later in the day my efforts to turn the camera on resulted in an error message in the rear display.

My penultimate LX7 photo? One of the advantages of the LX7 is its small size enabled me to slide it through fences and gates to make images such as this one. The next frame was the last before the camera ‘coiled up’. It was one of three cameras I carried on 13 October, so I was able to continue making images.
I never would have guessed that this photo of Irish Rail 088 at Cork would be the last I exposed with my Lumix LX7. I wonder if I’ll be able to revive this camera? In its more than four years of service I carried it with me everywhere and used it to make more than 79,000 shutter releases.

Stay tuned . . .

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More Rain; 8 More Views of the RPSI Train.

It was cloudy in Dublin; it was lashing rain in Ennis.

At no time did we see the sun.

Yet, it was a rewarding trip, and I’m happy with my photos.

I made these views of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s ‘The Southwestern’ diesel tour using my FujiFilm XT1.

Portarlington.

Limerick.
Ennis, Co Clare.
Athenry, Co. Galway.
Athenry, Co. Galway.
Athenry, Co. Galway.
Connolly Station in Dublin.

More to follow!

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Limerick Junction: Photographing LED signals.

Yesterday, 13 October 2018, I exposed these views of an LED (light emitting diode) signal on Irish Rail at Limerick Junction.

Take a careful look at the yellow aspects in the respective images.

In the top photo, the yellow LEDs appear relatively dim (and much dimmer than they seemed in person). On the bottom photo these are brighter.

Exposed at 1/400th of a second.
1/60th of a second.

Many LEDs do not produce constant light output and flicker many times a second. Although you cannot see this with your naked eye and the light output appears constant, in fact the light is blinking. When you use a fast shutter speed the camera only captures a portion of the light emitted and so the signal lights seem too dim.

The key when photographing LED signals is to use a relatively low shutter speed. In this case 1/60thof second is much better than 1/400th.

Another tip when making effective LED signal photos is to make the most of subdued lighting which can make the signals seem brighter than the light around them.

 

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Magnificent Vestige at Borris, County Carlow.

The Borris Viaduct is an impressive vestige of the closed Irish railway line from Bagenalstown to Palace East.

Ken Fox, Donncha Cronin and I explored this old bridge, which has been converted into a hiking trail with easy public access.

Photos exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

Notice the effect of selective focus and soft light.
This similar view has greater depth of field.
This old milepost is measured from Dublin and is located immediately south/east of the big bridge.

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Irish Rail at Bagenalstown, October 2018—Fuji Zoom Lens Exercise.

As I got off the down Waterford train from Dublin at Bagenalstown, County Carlow, I immediately began considering photo options. I didn’t have much time, because the train was only in the station for a couple of minutes.

I took a position at the back of the Irish Rail ICR adjacent to the old station building, and made a series of digital photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fuji zoom lens.

I’ve selected two of the sequence here: One wide angle, one telephoto; same camera, same location, same vantage point, same railcar, but different focal lengths.

JPG from a RAW file that was adjusted for contrast and colour in post processing.
Telephoto view from a Camera produced JPG without adjustment except for scaling.

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NIR Downhill, Co. Derry—Two Years Ago.

On this day, 8 Oct 2016, I made this view of an Northern Ireland Railways CAF at Downhill, Co. Derry on its run from Derry/Londonderry to Belfast.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1.

A similar view from this sequence appeared in my book Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe. 

The book is available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store and Amazon.

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An OBB (Austrian Railways) Electric Leads Freight at Bonn-Beuel, Germany.

OBB Taurus at Bonn Beuel. FujiFilm XT1 photo.

In September 2015, an Austrian Taurus electric leads a northward freight at the DB Station in Bonn Beuel, Germany.

Low angle and telephoto view add drama to compensate for an otherwise dull morning.

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Irish 082 Five Years Apart—Same Job.

Irish Rail operates International Warehousing & Transport (IWT) container liner freights five to six days per week between Dublin Port and Ballina, County Mayo.

On 3 October 2013, Colm O’Callaghan and I photographed Irish Rail 082 working the down IWT Liner at Clondalkin on the quad track section of the Dublin-Cork line. Back then the locomotive wore the now obsolete black, silver and yellow ‘freight’ livery.

Five years ago: Irish 082 on 3 October 2013 working down road at Clondalkin. Exposed using a Canon EOS-7D with 200mm lens.

On 1 October 2018, two days ago, I caught the very same locomotive working the up IWT liner at Blackhorse Avenue in Dublin. It’s now in battle ship gray paint, as are most of the 071s, except numbers 071 and 073 that are dressed in heritage paint.

Irish Rail’s up-IWT liner approached Blackhorse Avenue on 1 October 2018. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto lens. Notice how I’ve exposed for backlighting and used the arched bridge to frame up the train, while minimizing the effects of a bright sky. Image adjusted in post processing for contrast, exposure and colour saturation.

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Sunny Saturday: Colourful Tram Works LUAS Green Line on Dawson Street—3 photos.

Yesterday, 29 September 2018, I made these views of a LUAS Green Line tram wearing the latest fully covered advertising livery as it worked up Dawson Street in Dublin on its way to Broombridge.

September often brings sunny days in Ireland, and yesterday was a fine afternoon to make a few photos.

This encounter with the colourful tram was fortuitous, rather than planned, as I was on a shopping mission and photography was a secondary activity.

Photo adjusted from the camera RAW in post processing.

All the images were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

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Irish Rail 224: 20 Years In Ireland: Irish Rail class 201 Retrospective

I’ve been exploring and photographing Irish railways since 1998. To mark my twenty years photography, I’ve been displaying images of each of Irish Rail’s 201-class General Motors diesels in numerical order.

Today’s locomotive is 224, seen above  a while back in a view that’s up-close and personal. The introduction photo was made on 17 March 2017 in a curve between Mourne Abbey and Rathduff, Co. Cork. A green loco for St. Patricks Day.

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Irish Rail 071 Leads the Grand Hibernian—Variations on a Theme.

I’ve been unusually fortunate to catch Irish Rail’s 071 almost everyday for the last couple of weeks.

This locomotive is the class leader and features a heritage livery based on the as-delivered General Motors scheme.

It is very popular with photographers.

On Saturday 22 September 2018, locomotive 071 worked the Belmond Grand Hibernian cruise train from Dublin Heuston to Connolly Station. Until yesterday, it had been assigned to the Dublin-Ballina IWT Liner container train.

To make this view, I used my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss Touit 12mm lens. To help bring in sky detail, I attached a Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter (a physical filter), then made further adjustment to RAW files in post processing using a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter, which allowed me to make adjustments to highlight and shadow detail.

Additional adjustments were made globally (the entire image) to modify contrast and colour saturation to improve the appearance of the photograph.

Compare these images with my earlier post: Irish Rail 071 in Retro Orange and Lessons in Exposing for RAW Adjustment 

A view from Dublin’s Conyngham Road above the south portal of the Phoenix Park Tunnel on the branch that runs from Islandbridge Junction toward Connolly Station.

Thanks to Paul Maguire for lending me an SD card! (I’d left mine in the computer, and the spare on my desk, and the second spare in my other bag! Poor show on my part.)

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Northern Ireland Railways at River Foyle Peacebridge.

I arrived from Belfast on this Northern Ireland Railways 4000-series diesel railcar.

With a little more than ten minutes before the train began its return journey from the Derry/Londonderry Station, I hoofed to the pedestrian Peacebridge over the River Foyle to make this photograph.

Although overcast, it was bright, but very windy.

The view from the Derry/Londonderry Peace Bridge. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens set at 23.5mm; ISO 400, 1/500 second, f5.0.

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Enterprising the Boyne or BIG BRIDGE tiny train.

Irish Rail’s lofty Boyne bridge spanning the river and valley of the historic Boyne at Drogheda poses a visual conundrum.

This prominent span rises high above Drogheda. It is a very impressive bridge.

But it’s difficult to adequately picture a train on it. Feature the bridge; the train is lost. Feature the train; the bridge gets cropped.

Look up at the bridge; and the train is marginalized.

Stand back to take in the whole span of the bridge and the train becomes insignificant.

Place the train at the center of the bridge and it become lost in the iron work.

Complicating matters, the only regularly scheduled trains with locomotives are the cross-border Belfast-Dublin Enterpriseservices, and on these train the locomotives always face north.

Last Sunday, I made these views of up and down Enterpriseconsists at Drogheda.

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Mainline Steam: RPSI No.4 at Mosney—16 September 2018.

Gauzy autumn light is perfect for photographing black steam locomotives on the move.

Yesterday, Railway Preservation Society of Ireland operated steam excursions between Dublin, Drogheda and Dundalk. Plans to work with engine 85 were foiled by difficulties with the turntable at Connolly Station.

Instead RPSI engine No.4 did the work.

Paul Maguire and I drove to a remote overhead bridge near Mosney.

I exposed this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. To make the most of the scene, I imported the RAW file into Lightroom and adjusted it for contrast and saturation, using a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter to bring in sky detail.

RPSI engine No.4 has a roll-on working north toward Drogheda.

Learn more about the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland:

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

As I was preparing this post, Dublin’s Radio NOVA was talking about the excursion on FM.

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Transport Museum at Cultra

Below are a selection of contemporary digital photographs that I made on visits to the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum at Cultra, near Belfast, Northern Ireland.

See: https://www.nmni.com/our-museums/ulster-folk-and-transport-museum/Home.aspx

Museums offer opportunity to study historic equipment and take in the spirit of earlier times. But can be challenging places to make captivating photos. Confined quarters, cluttered arrangements, and other visitors can complicate composition.

Contrasty mixed source lighting is another problem. Thankfully modern digital cameras do an excellent job of balancing  florescent, incandescent light with direct and indirect daylight. While the ability to make test shots helps to obtain better exposures.

I exposed these images using my FujiFilm XT1 with a 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

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Northern Ireland Railways at Helen’s Bay.

Here’s another case of when the station isn’t a station.

The classic old stone station building at Helen’s Bay, County Down is now a salon.

The platforms still serve the railway though.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit lens.

NIR 4006 bound for Bangor glides into Helen’s Bay.

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Great Northern Railway 85 at Killarney.

The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland operated a steam charter last week using former Great Northern Railway engine  85 Merlin.

Rich afternoon sun and a colourful train made for easy photos at Killarney on 3 September 2018.

These views were among the digital photos I exposed with my FujiFilm XT1.

I was playing with scale and focus while working with the light to make the most of shadows.

Which is your favorite?

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

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John Gruber at IRM.

The Illinois Railway Museum (IRM) is a wonderful repository of American railway equipment and artifacts.

Last month, photographer John Gruber and I spent a couple of hours wandering around, photographing and traveling on IRM’s preserved trains.

John has an on-going exhibit of his finest Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee photographs in IRM’s East Union station.

He asked if I could make a few photos of him surrounded by his photography.

Lumix LX7 digital photo, partially desaturated for effect.
John Gruber surrounded by his North Shore photos at the East Union station.
Frisco 2-10-0 1630 made a cameo appearance.

Back in the day, John worked with an iconic Nikon F single lens reflex. Today, he carries a Canon EOS 7D. Both have served him well. Right John?

As we were leaving we crossed paths with Trains Magazine editor, Jim Wrinn.

“Small world!”

Jim Wrinn greets John Gruber.

If you are planning a trip to Illinois Railway Museum, be sure to check John’s photos!

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Purple Tram Harcourt Street.

There’s a purple tram prowling Dublin’s Green Line.

The other day I was on my way over to John Gunn’s Camera Shop on Wexford Street and I made these photos with my Lumix LX7 of LUAS trams gliding along Harcourt Street.

This is a perfect place to pose modern Citadis trams against a backdrop of Georgian Terrace houses.

To compensate for flat lighting, with two of these three images I made some minor manipulations in post processing to boost sky detail, lighten shadows and improve contrast.

That means one of the images is simply the unaltered camera-JPG. Can you guess which one that is?

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Bad Luck with the Belmond!

Two Sunday Mornings in a row I walked up to the line with an aim of catching an 071 class locomotive in heritage paint leading Belmond’s Grand Hiberniancruise train on its run from Dublin Connolly to Waterford.

Two Sundays, two locations, two heritage locomotives (numbers 073 and 071 respectively), and two different Irish Rail scheduled trains that got in my way.

Gosh, bad luck!

In both instances, I came away with different photos than I’d set out to make.

Irish Rail 073 leads Belmond’s Grand Hibernian in Dublin on 2 September 2018. An Irish Rail intercity rail car destined for Heuston Station is stopped at a red signal. Bad luck! The Belmond train was running a few minutes behind the advertised.
Bright sun, fluffy clouds, elevation, all the elements for a calendar perfect image. Oh no, an ICR! Shoo shoo!
Well, that didn’t work out as hoped! But then again, I have a zillion photos here anyway.

My question: might these photos age well? Perhaps the intrusion of the ROTEM ICRs may make these photographs more interesting in years to come?

 

I’m not one to get overly excited when a photo opportunity doesn’t work as planned. Sometimes it’s best to just keep making photos when a scene plays out.

PSSSST! (I also made some sneaky 35mm slides that may make the most of both situations).

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Steam Portraits-Faces of the Footplate.

A locomotive is hardly an ideal portrait studio.

Or is it?

Shafts of filtered light and a dark background make for a fascinating setting, while the opportunity to make silhouettes against the daylight provide a contrast.

The men of the footplate proudly wear the coal dust, cinders and ash that identify them.

I made these portraits of the crew on board Great Northern Railway of Ireland 85 on its excursions last week.

Driver Ken Fox adjusts the regulator on locomotive 85.
Lumix LX7 portrait.
Lumix LX7 portrait.
FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Touit lens.
Lumix LX7 portrait.

Special thanks to everyone at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) and at Irish Rail for making my locomotive journeys possible.

For details about the RPSI and scheduled steam and diesel trips see:

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Check out: Room with a View: The Challenges on Photographing from/on a Steam Locomotive Footplate—12 Photos.

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Irish Rail 079 leads RPSI Cravens.

On Monday, 3 September 2018, Irish Rail 079 worked Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s preserved Cravens carriages, running as an empty train from Dublin’s Inchicore Works to Connolly station.

This was a scheduled move to position the heritage train for RPSI’s private charter to Killarney, County Kerry with steam locomotive 85 (featured in earlier Tracking the Light Posts).

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 90mm lens, I photographed from the north end of Connolly platform 1 & 2.

The train was slightly backlit. To compensate, I made nominal adjustment to the Fuji RAW file to lighten shadows in post processing, then exported as a scaled JPG for internet presentation.

Irish Rail’s Ken Fox is at the throttle of General Motors-built class 071 number 079 approaching Dublin Connolly station.

For details about the RPSI and scheduled steam and diesel trips see:

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

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Room with a View: The Challenges on Photographing from/on a Steam Locomotive Footplate—12 Photos.

Earlier this week it was organized for me to travel on the footplate of Great Northern Railway of Ireland 85.

The thrill of experiencing a steam locomotive cab on the main line is a rare privilege.

My job was to make photographs and stay out of the way.

Locomotive driver Ken Fox works on the left side of the engine as it rolls through Tipperary countryside.

Locomotive 85 is a three cylinder compound  4-4-0, a 1932 product of Beyer Peacock.

The compound arrangement is what intrigued me, but like the low droning throb sounding  from the 20 cylinder diesel powering an EMD SD45, this element of the steam equipment is beyond my ability to picture.

Instead, I had to settle for making images of the crew at work and the locomotive in motion.

Fireman’s view near Mountrath on the Cork Line.
12mm Zeiss Touit view of the fireman shoveling coal.
Fireman’s view of a Mark 4 train up road near Thurles. Special viewing equipment on my Fuji XT1 made images like this possible.
Fireman’s view. Working the injector.
View of the firebox.

The footplate offers a rough ride, while swirling coal dust and locomotive exhaust complicate photography and the handling of sensitive equipment. The lighting is at best difficult. Staying out of the way often means that I wasn’t always  able to get the angle I really wanted and needed to make due with where I was able to stand.

Driver side view.
Feeding the fire. Lumix LX7 photo.

The locomotive is bathed in smoke and dust.

Special thanks to everyone at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) and at Irish Rail for making my locomotive journeys possible.

For details about the RPSI and scheduled steam and diesel trips see:

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

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Ghosts of the North Shore—Five Photos.

In the 1950s and 1960s, My father made a project of photographing the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee, the distinctive interurban electric line connecting it’s namesakes.

Last month, John Gruber and I paid a visit to the Illinois Railway Museum at Union, Illinois. Like my father, John had focused on the North Shore. He made hundreds of excellent photographs that distilled the spirit of the railway.

North Shore was before my time, but I feel that I know the line thanks to my dad’s and John’s photographs,  which were featured in books by the late William D. Middleton.

The railway may be gone 55 years, but key pieces of it’s equipment survive.

I made these digital views of preserved North Shore cars at IRM using my FujiFIlm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens. This flat-field super wide-angle lens is well suited to making images in the tight quarters of IRM’s car barns.

John Gruber has an on-going exhibit of his finest North Shore photography in the East Union Station at IRM. This will be subject of another Tracking the Light post.

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NI Railways at Botanic, Belfast.

Sometimes a station name conveys a grander image than what’s really there.

Cherry Orchard in Dublin comes to mind.  Put out visions of lush blossoming trees in a bucolic pastoral setting, and replace it with industrial squalor, palisade fencing, graffiti and garbage. Yet, it’s still a good place to catch trains on the move.

Then we have today’s featured location: NI Railway’s modern station at Botanic in Belfast. For me the name invokes images of flowing beautiful gardens, tall majestic trees and rows of manicured flowers, perhaps a fountain.

Er, not exactly.

While more salubrious than Dublin’s Cherry Orchard (and undoubtedly safer too), Botanic isn’t a wonderland.

But it’s not a bad place to picture trains.

Here’s a couple of Lumix Views.

Lumix LX-7 view, August 2018.
Lumix LX-7 view, August 2018.

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Great Northern Compound Under Steam at Portarlington—Five Photos!

Yesterday (3 September 2018), sunny skies greeted Great Northern Railway Ireland 85, a 4-4-0 three-cylinder compound locomotive operated by Railway Preservation Society of Ireland, when it paused at Portarlington, County Laois to take water.

This classic Irish express passenger locomotive was working a chartered train from Dublin Connolly to Killarney.

I exposed these images using my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

The photos here were scaled without modification from camera JPG files using the Velvia color profile.

An active contrast of modern and antique at Portarlington.
85’s safety valves lift making for an awesome sight.
Driver Ken Fox and his crew made a great run from Dublin.

I also made a few colour slides on real FujiFilm: Provia 100F.

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

Stay tuned for more steam photos! Including: Room with a View.

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Modern American Railroading in Soft Light.

Here’s a thoroughly today scene: An Amtrak Midwest Siemens Charger at Milwaukee’s Intermodal Terminal.

Diffused afternoon sun works well with the geometry of the station’s architecture and the curves and lines of the Siemens Charger.

Using my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 12mm Zeiss Touit, I opted for a skewed angle that accentuates this modern scene.
In post processing, I adjusted contrast and color balance.

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Ireland’s Oldest Railway.

The Dublin & Kingstown commenced operations in 1834. Today, the line is part of Irish Rail’s national network and also hosts Dublin Area Rapid Transit suburban electric trains.

In August 2018, I exposed this view of the down evening Dublin-Rosslare passenger train approaching Blackrock along the shore of Dublin Bay.

I like the modern candy-apple green livery that now graces some of Irish Rail 29000-series diesel railcars, and I find that it works especially well in a scene such as this one.

To make for a more appealing photograph, I imported the camera RAW into Lightroom and made a few minor adjustments to contrast and color temperature. Among my most important changes was to lighten the shadow areas to more closely represent what we see with our eyes.

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What to do about the Wires?

Sometimes wires can make a photo.

Other times these are a nuisance.

Here, a modern highway overpass near Marsh siding on Canadian National’s Wisconsin Central line offers a pleasant vista.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Unfortunately, high voltage wires running parallel to the road complicate composition.

So do you pick someplace else, shoot through the wires, or try to pick an angle that minimizes the visual intrusion of the wires passing through the scene?

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