Category Archives: digital photography

Westport, County Mayo: Contrasts of Modern train in a Traditional Station—Three photos.

13 April 2019: during RPSI’s The West Awakerail tour, I made these views from the platform at Westport station of an Irish Rail ICR.

I like the contrast between the modern Rotem-built diesel railcar and the traditional station setting.

Would these photos have been better if the sun was shinning brightly? (Keep in mind, I was on the northeast side of the line in the late afternoon).

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Busy Time on the Branch—Views from Dublin’s Conyngham Road.

On Monday afternoon, 15 April 2019, I made this sequence of photos from Dublin’s Conyngham Road.

In just a few minutes I photographed four trains passing over the Branch that connects Islandbridge Junction with lines to Connolly Station/North Wall yards.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7; files adjusted for colour balance and contrast using Lightroom.

At 1452 (2:52pm a Hazelhatch-Grand Canal Docks ICR passed; note the signal with feather at left).

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TESCO Tram Prowls Dublin Streets.

Yesterday (Monday, 15 April 2019) I made these photographs of LUAS Tram 5003 working Green Line trackage in the Dublin City Centre using my Lumix LX7.

This is one is decorated for the Tesco supermarket chain and is one of four trams presently wearing colorful full-body advertising liveries.

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Narrow Gauge to Light Rail: Senhora da Hora.

A significant portion of Porto’s modern light rail Metro system is built on the right of way of an historic narrow gauge network.

In March 2019, photographer Denis McCabe and I visited the old station at Senhora da Hora in suburban Porto. The station building an a water tower survive, providing visual clues of operations from former times.

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Irish Rail Class 071 on Parade.

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Saturday’s (13 April 2019) The West Awakerail tour put Irish Rail’s class 071 diesels in the limelight.

Although once regularly used in prominent passenger services, in recent years Irish Rail’s 071 class General Motors diesels have largely been assigned to freight and per-way (maintenance) trains, which makes their prominent use in excursion work of great interest to observers

I photographed 071 locomotives that participated in Saturday’s tour. Engine 074 delivered Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Cravens carriages from Irish Rail’s Inchicore Works to Connolly Station in Dublin.

Locomotives 082 and 075 had been specially prepared for the tour and set up of multiple unit working, a highly unusual arrangement for these agile six-motor diesels in Ireland.

At Claremorris, the 071 class-leader (number 071 and dressed in retro orange and black paint) took over for the runs to Ballina and Westport.

For 071 enthusiasts, 082 was a special treat because of its extra-loud base roar in the higher throttle positions. While 075 is a curiosity because it is painted in a slightly warmer shade of gray than most of the other members of its class.

I made these photos of the well-maintained 1970s-era General Motors locomotive on parade during The West Awake tour.

Special thanks to everyone at Irish Rail and the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland for making the tour a very enjoyable experience and productive photographic opportunity!

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Portraits and Train Views from RPSI’s 13 April 2019 Tour.

During the course of yesterday’s Railway Preservation Society of Ireland The West Awakerail tour to County Mayo I exposed dozens of portraits of the crew, passengers and observers, along with views of the train from many angles.

This selection was exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

Thanks to Irish Rail and the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland for a well-planned rail excursion!

For more about the RPSI click the link below:

Irish Rail 074 delivers the RPSI train to Connolly Station.
Connolly Station.

Photographers at Athlone.





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The West Awake Rail Tour—13 April 2019—Some Lumix views.

Yesterday, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland operated its The West Awake rail-tour in conjunction with Irish Rail.

A special feature of the tour was the unusual multiple-unit operation using a pair of General Motors-built 071 diesels that hauled RPSI’s Cravens to County Mayo.

At  Claremorris the pair of 071s were replaced with locomotive number 071 (class leader) in retro orange for further excursions to Ballina and Westport.

For more about the RPSI click the link below:

During the trip I made numerous digital photos using my Lumix LX7.

Below are a dozen of my finest Lumix LX7 views. I’ll post more photos soon! The best are yet to come!

Special thanks to everyone at RPSI and Irish Rail for an excellent excursion to the west of Ireland!

Irish Rail 074 delivers the excursion train to Connolly Station for boarding. The early start resulted in an opportunity for making photos in rosy morning light. Lumix LX7 photo.

Connolly Station.

Multiple working with 071 diesel is unusual.

Friends at Connolly Station.

The West Awake approaches Islandbridge Junction; a different view of my usual spot!
Photo stop at Athlone.


Double header at Roscommon!

Enjoying the trip!

Discussing the finer points of railways.

Westport through the glass.

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Dusk at Dublin’s North Wall—April 2019.

Wednesday evening, 10 April 2019, I paid a visit to Dublin’s North Wall freight yard with fellow photographer Jay Monaghan.

I made this view looking toward the old Granaries sidings and beyond to Dublin Port and the Poolbeg Power Plant.

Exposed handheld using a FujiFilm XT1 with f2.0 90mm prime telephoto, ISO set at 6400.

Brian Solomon is Traveling today and Tracking the Light is posting on ‘auto pilot’.

Exposed handheld using a FujiFilm XT1 with f2.0 90mm prime telephoto, ISO set at 6400.

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Conversations with Brian Solomon; Trains Magazine Podcast Episode 19—Discussions on railroad photography.

In this most recent podcast, I discuss railroad photography with Trains Associate Editor Brian Schmidt and Digital Editor Steve Sweeney. What do the editors see as overplayed in the genre? How can you get your photos in Trains Magazine? Listen in today and learn!

Check out the podcast on Sound Cloud:

Photo by Colm O’Callaghan.

I made this photo of Amtrak’s westward Southwest Chief passing Style T-2 semaphores on the old Santa Fe near Levy, New Mexico on a trip with Mel Patrick in 1998. What do Trains’ editors think of Santa Fe semaphore photos? Listen to the podcast, and you may be surprised!

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Porto’s Magnificent Sao Bento Station—Five Photos!

In my Railway Guide to Guide to Europe, I featured Porto’s Sao Bento Station.

On my recent visit to Porto with fellow photographer Denis McCabe, I took the opportunity to re-photograph this stunning railway terminal. I’ve included a few of these views below.

Here’s an excerpt from my text on Sao Bento Station:

Sao Bento  . . . was designed by architect Marques da Silva and constructed in the early 20th century.  . . .Portuguese stations are known for their elaborate blue painted-tile decorations but none is more elaborate than Sao Bento. Inside the main hall allegorical tile murals by Jorge Colaço depict the history of transportation and events in Portuguese history.

From Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe ©2018

Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe is available from Kalmbach Hobby Store click below for the link:

Lumix LX7 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.

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Porto Metro at Trindade.

In contrast to my April 2014 visit to Porto’s Trindade station , where I remember horizontal rain blowing into the covered over portions of the platforms, my more recent visit was under clear sunny skies.

Trindade is a busy junction station where Porto Metro lines interface with each other.

At the northeastern end of the top level, Metro tracks exit the station into an open area while taking a remarkably tight curve before plunging into a tunnel below the city.

I exposed these views using my ‘new’ Lumix LX7 on a visit to Porto in late March 2019.

Photos were exposed in ‘A’ mode, which allows me to set the lens aperture manually with the camera selecting a corresponding shutter speed to obtain the ideal exposure.

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GM Powered Diesel Leads Portuguese Timber Train.

Most of the Portuguese main line network is electrified, which makes diesel hauled trains something of a novelty.

Among the regular diesel hauled trains are freights by Portuguese open access operator Takargo, such as this one led by a Vossloh-built Euro 4000 diesel-electric locomotive.

This unusual looking machine sounds familiar since it is powered by a General Motors Electro-Motive Division designed 12 cylinder 710 diesel engine. The Euro 4000 is a cousin of Ireland’s 201 class locomotive and the America F59PHI, also powered by variations of the 12-710.

I made these photos from the platforms at Porto Campanha.

Lumix LX7 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

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Kildare; Light; Action!

Irish Rail diesel trains on the move.

On Saturday (6 April 2019), Paul Maguire, Jay Monaghan and I were in position at the road bridge west of Kildare Station on Irish Rail’s Dublin-Cork mainline.

The elusive steel train was holding on the middle road waiting to cross over, while a Mark 4 set from Cork weaved through the loop on its way to Dublin’s Heuston Station.

I made this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm fixed telephoto.

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Irish Rail ICRs at Kildare.

A few views from Saturday morning (6 April 2019) at Kildare on Irish Rail’s Dublin-Cork mainline.

I’d traveled down with fellow photographers Paul Maguire and Jay Monaghan.

We were after the elusive steel train from Waterford, and entertained our wait with the passage of regularly scheduled passenger trains.

I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 .

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A set of ROTEM-built InterCity Railcars (ICRs) race up road at Kildare. The train was traveling in the 90-100 mph range so I used 1/1000th of a second to stop the action.

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Aregos, Portugal: English Electric diesel hauled passenger train.

The scenic Douro Valley is legend as one Portugal’s great places to ride and photograph trains.

On our brief visit to the valley last week, Denis McCabe and took positions on the south side of the river to photograph regularly scheduled passenger trains that for a short time were being hauled by vintage English Electric diesels.

What’s so special about diesel-hauled passenger trains? Not only do the English Electric engines represent a throw-back to an earlier era, but by-in-large Portuguese Railways are electrified and/or host passenger multiple units in place of diesel locomotive hauled trains.

I made these photos using my FujiFIlm XT1 with 90mm lens.

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Eiffel Bridge: Porto’s Pont Luis I.

Porto boasts two large Eiffel bridges over the River Douro.

One is a disused railway bridge; the other is this one pictured— the famed Pont Luis I, which carries tram-operated Metro Line D and a pedestrian walkways on its top level and a road on the lower level.

I made this view with my Lumix LX7 from an alleyway east of the bridge.

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Electric Local at Valega, Portugal.

Under a clear sky with a blazing sun over my left shoulder, I made this view of a Comboios de Portugal (Portuguese Railways) local passenger train pausing for a station stop at Valega.

This small town benefits from a regular interval stopping passenger service on the busy double-track Lisbon-Porto mainline that hosts high-speed Alfa Pendolino, InterCity long distance, and lots of freight trains on the same rails.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

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Portuguese Railways’ English Electric Diesel Up Close.

Last Saturday, 30 March 2019, Denis McCabe and I navigated sinuous roads over the hills from the Douro Valley to Marco de Canaveses, Portugal in order to inspect one of Portuguese Railways’ vintage English Electric-built diesels that are temporarily assigned to scheduled passenger services on the scenic sections of the Douro Valley route to the east.

Locomotive 1455 restored in a retro-blue livery was laying over between runs at the Marco de Canaveses station. We had about 10 minutes to make photos, before we departed for the return drive to the Douro Valley to catch this machine at work.

I made these views using my Lumix LX7, but also exposed a few Fujichrome Provia 100F slides.

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Spring in Dublin: Grand Canal Docks Railcar at Conyngham Road.

Minutes ago (on 4 April 2019) I made this view from Conyngham Road in Dublin as an ICR working a Grand Canal Docks-Hazelhatch service exited the Phoenix Park Tunnel and crossed the lattice bridge over the River Liffey.

Spring is in bloom and the trees are just getting their leaves, yet it is freezing outside with a harsh nip in the wind.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7; RAW file imported into Lightroom for colour and contrast adjustments.

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Alfa Pendolino at Dusk—Porto Campanha.

In the rosy light of a warm March 2019 evening, I exposed this view of a Portuguese Railways Alfa Pendolino ready to depart Porto Campanha on its scheduled run to Lisbon.

I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 with a 90mm f2.0 prime telephoto. ISO set at 2500; aperture wide open (f 2.0); shutter speed 1/60.

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Medway Electric Cement

Last week, Wednesday 27 March 2019, photographer Denis McCabe and I set up at a rural level crossing south of Pampilhosa, Portugal on the double-track electrified Lisbon-Porto mainline.

Several minutes before a train, warning bells would ring and lights would flash, giving us ample time to prepare for photographs.

The crossing is conveniently situated near the apex of curve in an S-bend.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens, I exposed these photos of a Medway electric leading an empty cement train as it passed the crossing.

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First Foray in Portugal’s Supremely Scenic Douro Valley.

On the agenda for last week’s photographic adventure in Portugal was a venture into the Douro Valley.

In recent weeks line-works had resulted in a throw-back operation of regularly scheduled Douro Valley passenger services using vintage English Electric diesel hauled trains in place of diesel railcars.

[Translation: a limited opportunity to make photos of vintage trains in very scenic settings.]

Denis McCabe and I departed Porto in our hired car for a location I’d preselected the night before.

Google Maps provided the most direct (if not the shortest) route to a point south east of Aregos on the south bank of the river. Neither of us had ever been here before.

For me the Douro Valley resembles a populated version of California’s Feather River Canyon.

We made it just in time: shortly after our arrival we heard a diesel working up the valley. The cameras were hastily switched ‘on’, positions taken and photos made.

Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Trailing view. Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
This is a much enlarged and cropped view of the photo above.

Special thanks to Tracking the Light reader and fellow photographer Stephen Hirsch who supplied us with up to date details on Douro Valley operations.

Not bad for our first minutes in the Douro Valley. But there’s more to come! Stay tuned . . . 

Irish Rail’s ICR works the up-Sligo at Clonsilla—March 2019.

Tracking the Light is on ‘auto pilot’ while Brian is traveling.

Never pass up a perfect sunny photograph. That’s been my policy for a very long time and its one that pays off.

There’s nothing special about an Irish Rail Rotem-built InterCity Railcar (ICR) on the Sligo Line.

And 20 years ago there was nothing special about a General Motors 071 diesel-electric with Mark 2 carriages on the same run. Photos like this one will age well. Someday some young photographer will wish that he/she was at Clonsilla to capture a scene like this one.

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April First Tip; Oops! Don’t you hate when this happens.

Tracking the Light is on ‘auto pilot’ while Brian is traveling.

Not every photo works as planned.

Sometimes it takes too long to get the camera organized.

Sometimes we should be better prepared before the train comes into view!

Not my best effort with the Lumix!

Here’s a bad view of Irish Rail 082.

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Tram said ‘Click It’—So I thought, yes, I’ll do that!

Tracking the Light is on ‘auto pilot’ while Brian is traveling.

Here’ the LUAS banana yellow advertising tram crosses the River Liffey in Dublin.

On the side of the car it says ‘click it’. Gosh, I’m glad I brought my Lumix!

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Northward Medway Freight, Pampilhosa, Portugal—A Lesson in Crossing Lighting.

Hopefully you see a full -colour landscape-orientation image of a Medway freight train.
This is a portrait-orientation view of a Medway freight train.

Here’s a visually challenging situation: a semi-gloss black locomotive with yellow lettering cross-lit by the afternoon sun.

‘Cross-lit’: when a train has the front lit by the primary light source (in this case the sun) while the side of the train remains on the ‘dark side’ (that opposite from the primary light source).

In certain situations cross lighting can be used for dramatic effect; in others it may be viewed as unfortunate or non-conventional.

At Pampilhosa, I found cross-lighting was a good way to show the scenery, the empty freight train, and the effects of overhead catenary.

But does this photo work?

Brian Solomon is traveling in Portugal and may not be able to respond promptly to questions or queries. Hopefully photos will display without difficulty.

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Stainless Steel and Sun at Porto Campanha—29 March 2019.

I made this view using my Lumix LX7 at Porto’s Campanha Station on Friday 29 March 2019. I’ve posted this using a wireless ‘hotspot’ connection from my MacBook to my iPhone. Apologies if the quality isn’t up to standards or if the photo doesn’t load quickly.

Porto Campanha, Portugal. (Normally there is a tilde over the second ‘a’ in Campanha.)
Porto Campanha, Portugal. (Normally there is a tilde over the second ‘a’ in Campanha.)

I’ve exposed hundreds of photos in Portugal over the last few days. It may take some time before I’ve had time to sort through every thing.

As I write this, I’m sitting on a hillside with fellow photographer Denis McCabe overlooking the supremely scenic Douro Valley awaiting the passage of an English Electric diesel-hauled passenger train, as per the recommendations of Tracking the Light reader Stephen Hirsch.

More to come!

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Frosty Evening at Byron, Wisconsin—January 2019.

Tracking the Light is on ‘Auto Pilot’ all week.

Two months ago I was traveling with Chris Guss and Trains Magazine’s Brian Schmidt.

It was below zero fahrenheit when I made this sunset view of a southward Canadian National freight on on the old Wisconsin Central at Byron, Wisconsin.

I exposed this view with my FujiFilm XT1. The cold weather was taking its toll on my hands and the camera performance. In the end I was luck to get results.

As I write this I’m in a warmer climate.

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Portuguese Local Train on the Beira Alta at Trezoi—March 2019

Deep in a valley, far from main roads, Portuguese Railways’ Beira Alta line soars across the village of Trezoi.

This a quiet place and the rattle of the train on the bridge momentarily wakes the town.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Brian Solomon is traveling in Portugal.

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Deep in a valley, far from main roads, Portuguese Railways’ Beira Alta line soars across the village of Trezoi.

Pendolino tilts at Pampilhosa!

I made this digital photo of a southward Portuguese Railways Pendolino train tilting through a curve at Pampilhosa using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

This is trailing view looking south toward Pampilhosa Station. Portuguese track is textbook perfect.

Brian Solomon is traveling in Portugal so communication may be infrequent.

Tracking the Light continues to post daily.

Viaduct at Luso, Portugal—26 March 2019.

Yesterday afternoon, Denis McCabe and I arrived at the impressive viaduct at Luso, Portugal on the Beira Alta line that runs toward the Spanish frontier.

I made this view of Intercidades 513 crossing the bridge at Luso, Portugal on its way toward Guarda.

Traveling light on this trip, I only have three cameras with me and a mere four lenses.

More to come!

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Elusive ‘Raccoon’ leads the RPSI Cravens Transfer at the Gullet.

I made this photo on the morning of 18 March 2019 using my FujiFilm XT1.

I’ll admit that if you’re not closely familiar with Irish Rail’s Dublin operations my title to today’s Tracking the Light post might seem cryptic.

Two of the Irish Rail 201 class General Motors diesels, 231 and 233, are painted in a minimalist silver, black and yellow livery. These are colloquially known in the enthusiast community as ‘raccoons’ (or ‘badgers’).

Engine number 233 has been shy lately and rarely seen out on the mainline.

RPSI stands for the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.

RPSI owns an historic set of Cravens-built passenger carriages.

These are stored/maintained at Irish Rail’s Inchicore works (repair shops), and when they are required for an excursion, Irish Rail makes a transfer run across Dublin to deliver them to Connolly station for boarding.

The graded three-track line from Islandbridge Junction to Inchicore runs through a cutting along Con Colbert Road known as ‘the Gullet’.

While I’ve covered most of this previously, I figure it doesn’t hurt to review the esoteric every so often to avoid confusion.

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Lucky Morning at Islandbridge!

Just a little while ago I was passing the usual place at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin. Although mostly cloudy, I took a glimpse over the wall. A horn hooted from the Phoenix Park tunnel and an Enterprise 201 eased out onto the Liffey Bridge.

As locomotive 206 approached, running light engine toward Irish Rail’s Inchicore Works, the clouds parted and brilliant morning sun illuminated the junction.

Lumix in hand, I made these photos!

Lumix LX7 photo 25 March 2019.

Irish Rail 206; Lumix LX7 photo 25 March 2019.

Travel Notice: Brian will be traveling over the coming days and weeks, so Tracking the Light notices and responses may become infrequent. However:


Heuston Station Evening Glint—Three Photos.

Working with my Lumix LX7 I made these three evening glinty views of Irish Rail trains to and from Cork at Dublin’s Heuston Station.

I’ve always loved the soft orange glow of filtered evening light.

Where’s the filter you ask? It’s in the sky. A mix of clouds and pollution—particulates and other stuff—alters the spectral qualities of the setting sun by pushing the color balance toward the red-orange end of the spectrum.

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