Category Archives: digital photography

Holiday Decoration Work Extra.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving—November 24, 2021, Conway Scenic called a work train for the Conway Branch to put up decorations for upcoming Santa’s Holiday Express Christmas themed trains.

I was on-board to assist with decorating while documenting the run. It was a perfectly clear bright sunny morning.

At Moat Brook I organized a special photo stop. At Conway we held for the regularly scheduled Valley train that was operating with RDC #23 Millie.

I made all of these photos using my Lumix LX7 digital camera.

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Soo Line Side Show

The trappings and extras incorporated into November 14th’s Soo Line 1003 photo freight gave the whole experience a throw back feel.

In addition to period freight cars and Soo Line caboose, were some vintage automobiles posed at crossing in Burnett, Wisconsin, where a man played the roll of crossing tender.

Here I focused on the details and extras, making a few photos that appeared like those from more than six decades ago.

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Digital Monochrome—Soo 1003.

Often I’ve described the details of my black & white film techniques on Tracking the Light.

Today’s post features a digital photograph converted to monochrome in post processing using Adobe Lightroom.

This was a comparatively simple task. Working with the Lumix RAW file, I used the ‘Saturation’ slider control to eliminate all color from the image. Then, to increase drama and contrast, I implemened some dramatic changes using the ‘Clarity’ slider that intoduced a stark contrast curve before converting the image into the final JPG file displayed here.

Why not make this photo on film? All things being equal, I wish I had exposed a black & white negative, but in this instance I was traveling light: I kept my repitoire of cameras flexble and was working with just two digital bodies, and no film at all.

Perhaps next time, I’ll bring a single film camera with lens.

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Steam and Snow—Wisconsin Style

This timeless scene was made possible by the Trains Magazine steam photo charter on November 14, 2021.

I was among the dozens of photographers taking advantage of the time machine.

This was among the dozens of images I made that day using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera. It was snowing lightly, which added atmosphere and depth.

Soo Line 2-8-2 Mikdao 1003 with vintage photo freight at Red Cedar Road.

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Soo 1003 Teaser

Last Sunday (November 14, 2021), Kris and & I caught up with the Trains Magazine steam photo charter operated with preserved Soo Line 2-8-2 Mikado 1003.

The day was cold, cloudy and snowing lightly; conditions that made for some excellent steam locomotive photography.

The charter was working on the far reaches of the Wisconsin & Southern network north of Horicon, Wisconsin.

I exposed this view using my Panasonic Lumix LX7, and processed the RAW file in Adobe Lightroom.

More photos to come over the coming days.

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When Amtrak 2 leads No. Eight at Dusk.

I was afraid that if I called this post ‘Empire Builder Part 2’ it might get lost in the shuffle.

Last Saturday (November 13, 2021) Kris and I waited for Amtrak’s westward Empire Builder at Duplainville, Wisconsin.

I wanted to catch it passing the vintage GRS Searchlights that date from the Milwaukee Road era.

Dusk is one of the most effective time to photograph searchlights.

One of the great benefits of modern digital cameras is the ability to stop the action in low light. For these photos I had the ISO set to 1600, which allowed me a 1/640th second shutter speed.

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Empire Builder—Part 1

The light was fading.

No 8 was running late.

Kris and I arrived at Duplainville, Wisconsin where the Canadian National’s former Wisconsin Central crosses Canadian Pacific’s former Milwaukee Road. We were there just in time to see that the signals were cleared for an eastward train.

We got into position, post haste, to roll by Amtrak’s eastward Empire Builder—train No. 8.

Amtrak No.8, the Empire Builder rolls toward Brookfield Wisconsin.

As No. 8 blitzed by, I made these images working with my Nikon Z6 mirror-less digital camera. I processed the images in Lightroom to make the most of the NEF files recorded by the camera.

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Elkhart Interlude

On our way west a week ago, Kris and I paused at the old New York Central hub at Elkhart, Indiana.

This brief visit coincided with the passage of Amtrak’s westward Capitol Limited that was making its station stop on the way from Washington D.C. to Chicago.

We also visited the small railroad museum located opposite Norfolk Southern’s main line from the old New York Central station, where former NYC Mohawk 3001 is a prominent static display. 

Curiously, that evening when we checked into our hotel in Wisconsin, we were assigned room 3001.

I made this selection of photos using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera fitted with a Z-series f2.8 70-200mm zoom lens.

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Reading & Northern SW1500

I walked the trail along the Lehigh River in Jim Thorpe on frosty morning last week. This trail runs parallel to Reading & Northern’s former Central Railroad of New Jersey yard.

The yard was once a sprawling sea of track largely used to marshall coal cars moving to and from area mines.

Today, the remains of the yard is primarily a base of operations for R&N’s Lehigh Scenic Gorge Railway.

At the northend of the yard, I spied this R&N SW1500, which made for an interesting subject against the autumn leaves on the hillside. I made these images with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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CNJ Station—Jim Thorpe, PA

Last week Kris & I stayed overnight at Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. I was up early and made a big walk around town.

The old Central Railroad of New Jersey station is situated a very short distance from down town.

This architectural gem is the focalpoint of Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway’s season excursion service.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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Reading & Northern Surprise at Tamaqua.

I was enjoying a prime rib sandwich at the Tamaqua Station Restaurant, taking in the well-preserved Victorian atmosphere with Kris, and marveling at the details, when I hear the unmistable sounds of an approaching train.

Lumix LX7 in hand, I headed for the door and arrived at the platform in time to make a sequence of photos of a Reading & Northern ‘hospital’ move of passenger equipment heading north on the old Reading Company.

I wasn’t expecting this unusual train, but delighted with the fortuity to catch it, and with nice autumn light and brilliant autumn foliage in the distance.

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Tamaqua Station

I work in the classic railroad station in North Conway, NH built in 1874 , and as it turns out the old Reading Company station at Tamaqua, Pennsylvania was built the same year!

On Thursday November 10, 2021, while on our way to Wisconsin, Kris and I stopped in at Tamaqua Station for lunch. My friend and fellow photographer Pat Yough recommended this station restaurant to us.

Several years ago Pat & I had visited Tamaqua but the station restaurant was closed for an event. At that time, I made seasonal Christmas photos of the station lit up for the season, and later used one in my book Railroad Depots, Stations & Terminals. I’ve been eager to return.

I exposed these most recent Lumix LX7 photos during our visit last Thursday.

While enjoying lunch we heard the rumble of EMD diesels . . .

Stay tuned!

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On This Day in 2009

November 13, 2009, I was experimenting with my then new Lumix LX3 digital camera.

Standing at ‘The Box’ at Islandbridge Junction, I exposed this sequence in RAW format using the 16×9 aspect ratio of passing Irish Rail trains.

Locomotive 175 worked a wagon transfer from Inchicore towing a pair of the 2001-built Talgo container pocket wagons (CPWs).

It was one of only a scant few photos that I made digitally of an Irish Rail Bo-Bo at work. Most had finsihed by the time, yet old 175 survived.

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Boston & Albany Sunset

On this day five years ago (November 12, 2016), I made this sunset view at CP64 in East Brookfield, Massachusetts with my first Panasonic Lumix LX7.

Tonight, I am scheduled to present My Conrail, a multimedia slide presentation of my Boston & Albany photography to the 25th Beecherfest in Milwaukee.

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Trams in Graz

In January 2012, I was visiting Graz, Austria with Stephen Hirsch and Denis McCabe.

I made this photo of trams meeting on a pedestrianized street in the ciry center using my Canon EOS 7D.

Below are two versions of the same image.

Camera jpg

The top image is the in-camera JPG, scaled for internet.

The bottom is my interpretation of the camera RAW file with adjustments to exposure, contrast, color temperature and color saturation implemented with Adobe Lightroom to improve the scene.

Interpreted RAW image adjusted in Lightroom.

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From 203 to 255—GP38 at North Conway

The other morning I was up early to make daylight of photos of Conway Scenic Railroad’s latest arrival: former Vermont Railway System’s Clarendon & Pittsford GP38 203, originally Maine Central 255.

This heritage locomotive was deemed ideal for Conway Scenic because mechanically and electrically it perfectly matches the railroad’s GP38 number 252 . The two locomotive were part of the same order of GP38s from Electro-Motive Division back in autumn 1966.

CSRR will shortly renumber 203 back to 255. Initially it will operate in a modified version of the red and white livery pictured here.

As soon as it is practical to do so, the railroad will plan on applying green and gold paint to the locomotive to match 252.

I exposed these photos using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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Blue Line at Aquarium

Two weeks ago, Kris and I visited the New England Aquarium before taking a spin on the Blue Line to Revere Beach.

I made this photo at Aquarium using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camara.

I exposed in ‘A’ (automatic) mode using RAW which produces an NEF file.

Scaled, but unadjusted NEF file converted to JPG for internet presentation.

Unadjusted, the NEF file appears dark. This is because the A mode metering compensates for the artifical lighting in an effort to hold detail in the highlights.

To make a pleasing photo, it is necessary to adjust the file in postprocessing to modify contrast, exposure and color balance/color temperature.

This shows the same NEF file following adjustments.

I have included a screen shot of the Adobe Lightroom work-window to demonstrate where I moved the slide controls to make the necessary adjustments.

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200mm Backlit of the Valley

Recently I bought a Nikkor f2.8 70-200mm Z-series lens for my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

After more than a year of experiementing with the Z6 by putting the camera through its paces, I decided I really needed a longer zoom to compliment the 24-70mm lens that I’d been using on the Z6.

The other day, I made this view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley Train arriving at North Conway from Conway, New Hampshire using the new lens.

The lighting was strongly backlit, which helped illuminate the late-season autumn foliage, but made for some harsh shadows.

To compensate in the photo displayed here, I worked with the Nikon NEF RAW file in Adobe Light room to lighten the shadow areas and darken the highlights to help reduce the contrast in the over all image.

I also warmed the color balance and slightly increased the saturation, and made a very slight crop at the lower lef to remove a visual distraction.

Compare the modified photo above with the version below. The lower photo is from the same file but without modification (except for scaling necessary for internet presentation) so that you can see effect of my changes.

Enlarged section of the NEF RAW file.

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Green Line Government Center

On our travels around Boston two weeks ago, Kris and I changed trains at MBTA’s Government Center station.

40 years ago I photographed MBTA’s PCCs squeeling through these subterranean tunnels. Those cars are largely a memory, as are the Boeing-Vertol ‘LRVs’ that replaced them.

So on the most recent visit to MBTA’s Green Line, I made these photos of more modern trolleys in the arificial light of the subway tunnels using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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NEW ENGLAND’s Railroad Brigadoon

When I was in high-school, the Monson (Mass) Summer Theater group rehearsed and performed the play Brigadoon that is based on a mythical Scottish village that only comes to life once a century.

Near the western extremities of Conway Scenic’s  former Maine Central Mountain Division route is a junction in the forest where the line running northward via Beecher Falls, Vermont to the Province of Quebec had deviated from the main stem to St Johnsbury.

A century ago Quebec Junction was a pretty important place on the Mountain Division.

This year some of our employees took it upon themselves to clear the undergrowth around Quebec Junction, New Hampshire, while the railroad’s Master Carpenter George Small restored the original shanty that had traditional stood here. The shanty had been privately owned and stored off railroad property for many years.

I worked with George and other members of the 470 Club to plan their annual outing over the Conway Scenic, and Quebec Junction was to be one of the highlights of the trip.

October 23, 2021
October 23, 2021
October 23, 2021

Working from photos that George had sent me and carefully gauging sun angles, I helped arrange for the train to arrive when the locomotives at the east end of the consist would be well lit by the sun. I also hoped to amply illuminate the long-disused diverging line to the left of the engines where speeder car TC 470, painted for Maine Central, was carefully positioned.

So for a few minutes, Quebec Junction was like Brigadoon.

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Old Maine Central 255 in the Gloom of Night

Conway Scenic Railroad’s latest acquisition, former Maine Central GP38 255 is on the final legs of its journey to North Conway.

Last night (October 29, 2021) Kris and I drove up to the St Lawrence & Atlantic line to intercept westward freight 393 that was hauling Clarendon & Pittsford 203 in consist. (This red & white GP38 is former Maine Central 255.)

At Gorham, New Hampshire we rolled by the train at the old Grand Trunk station where there is a variety of historic equipment on display.

The plan was for 393 to drop the engine for interchange at Groveton, New Hampshire. In the coming days, CSRR will plan to collect it at the railroad’s only active interchange (at Hazens near Whitefield, NH) i

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 mounted on an old Bogen tripod.

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Views from the Orange Line

Last Thursday evening, October 21, 2021 (10-21-2021), as we rode north on MBTA’s Orange Line I snapped digital photos from the window of the train looking down on MBTA’s former Boston & Maine lines radiating from Boston’s North Station.

We paced an outward commuter train for about a minute.

This reminded me of similar efforts photographing trains through the glass when I was a teenager.

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Chinese Orange Line Cars at North Station

Thursday, October 21, 2021, I had my first experience with MBTA’s new Orange Line subway cars built by Chinese firm CRRC in Springfield, Massachusetts.

It was odd for me because the ‘Old’ cars were delivered when I was in High School. I recall going on a Orange Line shop tour in 1983 with my old friend Dan Howard to see the ‘New Cars’ (now the ‘Old’ Cars). This had been organized by the Mystic Valley Railway Society.

Kris and I were on our way to Malden, Massachusetts so that I could give a talk on Tracking the Light to Mass Bay Railroad Enthusiasts at the old Pearl Street Station.

I made these orange line images using my Nikon Z6 mirroless digital camera.

Old cars at the New North Station Orange Line station.
The new CRRC Orange Line subway cars.

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F from an F

Yesterday, Saturday October 23, 2021, Conway Scenic Railroad hosted 470 Club’s annual autumn trip.

This was led by former Maine Central GP7 573 and former Boston & Maine F7A 4266 with Conway Scenic’s GP35 216 at the back for assistance.

I assisted with planning and executing photo stops. However, I had some other work to do on the way up the mountain, so I rode in the cab of 4266 (trailing westbound).

The 470 Club had arranged to display its other F7A, 4268 on the North Conway turntable. This locomotive rarely sees the light of day. It is a treasured antique that is undergoing a full operational restoration and has spent most of the last year in stall four of the North Conway roundhouse.

As we were departing North Conway, I made this unusual view of 4268 from the cab window of 4266 using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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Mountaineer at Crawford Notch—Late Season Foliage

On Tuesday, October 19, 2021, I caught Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer near the Gateway at Crawford Notch, New Hampshire.

This contrasty scene required a bit of adjustment in post processing to hold detail in the sky and shadow areas.

I like the orange tree at right that hints at the fading autumnal foliage of this supremely scenic area.

Nikon Z6 with 24-70.

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Two Angles on Willey Brook

The former Maine Central Mountain Division is known for its Willey Brook Bridge that appears to cling to the side the rocks on Crawford Notch in New Hampshire’s White Mountains

This October on two occasions—ten days apart, I photographed Conway Scenic Railroad’s westward Mountaineer on its ascent of Crawford Notch as it crossed this iconic span.

In the first view, I stood line-side just east of milepost 84 and looked back toward Willey Brook.

For the second photo, I took a position well below the bridge, just off Route 302.

I used the same camera-lens combination for both photos: my Canon EOS7D digital camera with a Canon f2.0 100mm telephoto lens.

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Fine Foliage at the Gateway

Over the last ten days I’ve made several trips over Crawford Notch to capture Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer with the autumnal leaves.

I exposed this image from atop the Gateway cutting using my Nikon Z6 Mirrorless camera with f4.0 Nikkor Z 24-70mm zoom lens.

Backlit autumn leaves tend to appear more vivid as the sunlight illuminates the leaves like colored bulbs.

The classic Maine Central yellow was based on the yellow-orange color of the autumnal foliage.

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CD Cargo—5 Years Ago!

On the afternoon of 15 October 2016, I was poised with my FujiFilm XT1 to capture this westward CD Cargo freight on the roll at Zebreh, Czech Republic.

Fresh blue and gray paint on an antique electric locomotive made for an interesting subject.

Czech mainlines are extremely busy. Zebreh is located on the heavily traveled east-west trunk line that runs east from Prague to Olomouc and beyond. Every few minutes a train passes, including a variety of freights and open access passenger operators.

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Open Access at Kralupy

Hey, I didn’t make this up.

On October 14, 2016 during our exploration of the Czech Republic, fellow photographer Denis McCabe and I caught this Metrans Container freight rolling through Kralupy.

I exposed this view as part of a sequence using my FujiFilm XT-1 digital camera.

A Bombardier TRAXX type of electric rolls through Kralupy with a container train in tow.

Kralupy is a busy junction to the north of Prague, wear we witnessed a steady parade of freights.

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Prague on this Day 2016

On October 13, 2016, I exposed these digital photos in the Czech Capital using my FujiFilm XT1.

Prague is among the most visually intense cities in central Europe and I filled several cards during my short cloudy visit five years ago.

In addition, I exposed several rolls of black & white film, including my first Fomapan, a Czech-made commercial brand. My Fomapan photos have made various appearances on Tracking the Light. I carry two rolls in my camera bag, waiting for the appropriate moments to expose them.

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Rare Move on Willey Brook Bridge.

Yesterday (October 8, 2021), the 470 Club collected its latest acquisition from the New Hampshire Central interchange at Hazens in Whitefield, NH.

The 470 Club had taken possesion of Boston & Maine GP9 1741 (later Springfield Terminal 72). This was collected by the club’s 4266, an active former B&M F7A, which towed the GP9 east.

On its journey to North Conway, New Hampshire, this short train crossed the famous Willey Brook bridge at Crawford Notch at about a quarter to two eastern time

I made this photo for the Conway Scenic Railroad using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera from a vantage point on some rocks high above the bridge.

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Frankenstein Foliage

Yesterday, I made this image of the Mountaineer descending at the Arethusa Falls grade crossing against a backdrop of autumnal foliage and the famous Frankenstein Cliff in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

A shaft of sun illuminated the front of GP35 216 which made for a tricky exposure.

I’d preset the camera settings in manual mode, anticipating the bright yellow front of the engine catching the wink of sun. Further adjustment of highlight and shadow areas was necessary in post processing.

Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera with 24-70mm Nikkor zoom lens. NEF Raw file adjusted in Adobe Lightroom.

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Storm LIght

Last week I found the most dramatic light of the day on return to North Conway from Crawford.

I made this view at the Golf Course crossings timetable east of the Conway Scenic Station.

This is the unadjusted camera produced JPG, scaled for internet.

Rich low sun with dramatic clouds make for a stunning view of Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer.

Exposed using my Nikon Z6 digital camera.

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Digital Dawn—November 8, 2008

On November 8, 2008, Chris Guss lent me his Canon 50D and we explored the greater Chicago rail scene making photos.

It was one of my earliest experiments with digital photography.

I made this photo of Chicago Metra commuter trains tied up at Kenonsha, Wisconsin.

About a year later I finally acquired my first digital camera.

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