Category Archives: digital photography

Steam and Smiles: 7470 on the Move!

Yesterday, Friday June 14, 2019, Conway Scenic Railroad fired up locomotive 7470 (its former Grand Trunk 0-6-0) and assigned it to an afternoon run down the old Boston & Maine line to Conway.

This was its first revenue run on a scheduled train in many years.

There were surprisingly few people around to witness the event.

Railroad President David Swirk took the throttle on the return run which arrived under sunny skies. His grin from the cab beamed liked that of the Cheshire Cat!

Today the plan for 7470 was to display this engine at Conway for an event.

Photos exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

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First Trains of the Season at Crawford Notch.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 12mm lens, file adjusted for contrast using Lightroom.
Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 90mm lens, file adjusted for contrast using Lightroom.

Monday June 10, 2019, Conway Scenic Railroad operated an employee-special to Crawford Notch in preparation for commencement of its regularly schedule excursions, which began the following day.

Trains to Crawfords station from North Conway, New Hampshire operate on supremely scenic and steeply graded former Maine Central Mountain Division.

Last used for regularly scheduled freight in 1983, this route has been a highlight of Conway Scenic’s excursion program since the mid-1990s.

I made these views at Crawfords station of Monday’s excursion using my FujiFilm XT1. Compare the relative perspective offered by a wide-angle versus that with a medium telephoto from a distance.

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Conway Scenic’s Notch Train—low and wide.

The other evening I made this view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Notch Train at North Conway, New Hampshire.

I wanted to make the most of the low sun, while featuring the railroad’s former Maine Central GP38 and the lower quadrant semaphore at the south-end of the yard.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with my super wide angle (12mm) Zeiss Touit, I used the camera’s adjustable rear display to compose my image while holding it at arm’s length close to the ground.

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Quiet Evening on The Mountain

At the end of May 2019, I paused briefly at Crawford Notch, New Hampshire to expose some photos in the evening light of the former Portland & Ogdensburg (Maine Central) Crawfords station.

This classic resort station is now seasonally served by Conway Scenic Railroad, and that season is about to begin!

Stay tuned!

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Conway Scenic 7470 Awakes From Hibernation.

On June 1, 2019, after several years of slumber, Conway Scenic Railroad’s 0-6-0 7470 made its first steps, moving under its own power around the railroad’s North Conway , New Hampshire yard.

The sights and sounds of this former Grand Trunk 0-6-0 have delighted visitors and residents of North Conway since the early 1970s, so having the locomotive back under steam represents a milestone event for the railroad’s 2019 operating season.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

Among the challenges of photographing excursion railroads is working with high-summer light. Operations favor the schedules of the majority of the visiting public, and during summer often this tends coincide with the dreaded midday sun.

Black steam locomotives make for an extra challenge as the drivers and other reciprocating gear tend to be masked by the inky shadows of the highlight.

In this circumstance high-thin clouds diffused high-sun and resulted in better contrast than on a completely clear day. Working with my RAW files in Lightroom I made further adjustments to shadow areas in order to make my images more appealing.

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Maine Central 573 at Bartlett—Two Days, Two Photos.

Here’s two photos of Conway Scenic Railroad’s former Maine Central GP7 573 running around the Valley Trainat Bartlett, New Hampshire on the old Mountain Division.

One was made from the train on a cloudy day, the other from the road near the section house as the engine was cutting off from the train.

Some contrasts: Cloud versus sun; vertical versus horizontal; traditional versus interpretative; road versus rail.

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Some viewers commented that they were unable to see the ‘cloudy’ photo. For this reason, I’ve rescaled and re-uploaded a version of the original vertical photo plus an EXTRA horizontal image from the same sequence.

Near the End of the Line.

Last week, I made these photos of disused former Boston & Maine tracks north of Littleton, New Hampshire.

This had been B&M’s line that ran from Wells River, Vermont via Bath and Littleton to Whitefield, New Hampshire.

The section from Littleton to Woodsville and Wells River had been abandoned and lifted in 1996.

Abandoned railways make for forlorn photographs, that are sad yet compelling.

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Rails Along the Old Connecticut River.

North from White River Junction the former Boston & Maine line runs toward Wells River and Newport, Vermont.

It’s been nearly a century since B&M conveyed the line north of Wells River to Canadian Pacific, but I’m old enough to remember B&M operations White River to Wells River, although I don’t have many photos to show for it.

Last week I followed Vermont Rail System’s freight operating northward from White River Junction. Unfortunately for photos, many of my preferred locations were suffering from excessive vegetation.

Here’s a few photos exposed digitally. More to come.

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Two Railroads at the Junction—panoramic composite

Click on Tracking the Light for the full view!

Last week, I made this panoramic composite using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm fixed-focal length (‘prime’) telephoto.

New England Central on the left; Vermont Rail System on the right; the station at White River Junction between them.

By ‘composite’, I mean that the camera exposed numerous single frame images as I swept across the scene and then assemble them internally using pre-programmed software. This feature is offered by both my XT1 and Lumix LX7 digital cameras.

If you would like to board a train from White River Junction for a leisurely ride along the river on June 15th:
http://massbayrre.org/Trips/GreenKnightTrain.htm
Photography encouraged!

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New England Central 437 Works White River Junction.

Last week, I made these photographs of New England Central 437 and Buffalo & Pittsburgh 3000 working a local freight at White River Junction, Vermont.

Old 437 wears some tired looking Florida East Coast paint, revealing its former owner.

This local made numerous passes of the old station, making for ample photographic opportunities.

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Bellows Falls ‘Dusty Diamond’ Found!

Several days ago, I posted a view of a dusty diamond in the Bellows Falls, Vermont yard that I exposed way back in 1978. Tracking the Light readers wrote in and wondered if this disused section of track survived, and one suggested that it did still exist.

So, the other day, I stopped over in Bellows Falls while driving northward and searched for the old diamond at the southeast area of Vermont Railway’s former B&M/Rutland yard.

I’ll admit that I drove over the section of  track in question before I finally spotted it, well buried in dirt and partially covered by a puddle.

Making matters difficult, was that in my youthful focus on the diamond, I completely cropped the building next to it, which if I had included in my earlier photo, would have made finding the location easier.

Below are several comparison views plus a scan from the original slide.

Site of the ”dusty diamond’ in May 2019. This is as close of an angle as could manage and is nearly a direct comparison. Keep in mind the 1978 view was made in late autumn and in the afternoon, while the above photo was exposed on an overcast morning.
1978 view at Bellows Falls.
Close-up view of the diamond, which has been nearly absorbed by the road since my 1978 photograph.

An overall view showing the factory building at left. Apparently this factory didn’t impress me at age 12, and I completely omitted it from my 1978 view. It would have made a good reference point had I included it.

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My Amtrak Photos on Flicker


I recently opened a Flicker account under the name: briansolomonauthor.

Among the various albums is one devoted to Amtrak. This features a very modest selection from the tens of thousands of images I’ve made of Amtrak trains during my travels since the 1970s.

Even if you do not have a Flicker account you should be able to enjoy my Amtrak photographs.

This is a work in progress I hope to post new selections on a regular basis.

Click the following link to go directly to my Amtrak Flicker page:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/163833022@N05/sEJb24

In addition to Amtrak images are more than a dozen other rail albums with lots of wonderful images.

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Tracking the Light Extra—Conway Scenic 7470 Fire Lit.

Tracking the Light is on location at North Conway, New Hampshire.

For the first time in more than four years Conway Scenic 0-6-0 7470 (former Grand Trunk) has a fire in its boiler.

Gordon Lang, who on August 3, 1974 was the first to light a fire in 7470 on Conway Scenic, did the honors again just after 3pm today (May 31, 2019).

The locomotive was last steamed in January 2015, and after months of restoration and repair will soon be moving again under its own power.

I made these photos of 7470 using my FujiFilm XT1 with a 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

Irish Rail photos on Flicker

I recently opened a Flicker account under the name briansolomonauthor.

Among the various albums is one devoted to Irish Rail. This features a modest selection from the thousands of images I’ve expose of Irish Rail since 1998.

Even if you do not have a Flicker account you should be able to enjoy my photographs. I hope to post new selections on a regular basis.

Click the following link to go directly to my Irish Rail Flicker page:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/163833022@N05/01i2r2

I’ve also assembled various other albums including those for: Conrail, Finnish Railways, Transit, Railway Stations, and New England Central.

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MBTA Glinty Green Line at Coolidge Corner.

At the end of the day (no, really, like the sun was setting and everything) photographers Pat Yough, Tim Doherty and I set up at Coolidge Corner on MBTA’s Green Line Beacon Street route.

Soft golden glint made for some nice light.

I made these images with my Lumix LX7 in RAW format, imported the files into Lightroom where I made adjustments to lighten the shadow areas and soften the contrast, then exported as small Jpg files for internet presentation here.

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CSX Q263 at Palmer, Massachusetts.

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I have a zillion photographs in Palmer, Massachusetts.

‘Zillion’ inferring an undetermined non-specific large quantity.

So why chase CSX’s Q263 down the Valley?

Silly question!

We arrived at the site of the old Boston & Albany freight house at the west end of Palmer yard just in time to catch Q263 (empty autorack train from East Brookfield) passing Mass-Central’s local freight.

I made these views with my Lumix LX7.

Memory Card Full! (Read On)

Those dreaded red letters in my view finder!

So, there we were, poised and waiting . . . .

Mike Gardner and I had photographed CSX’s loaded autorack train Q264-21 (as featured with ‘DPU’ the other day on Tracking the Light) and were waiting for the crew to take the empty autorack Q263-23 west.

For more than an hour we waited at milepost 67 in Brookfield, Massachusetts.

As recommended, I made several test shots with my Fujifilm XT1 as the lighting conditions changed.

Test shot.

Then finally Mike announced ‘HEADLIGHT!’

I exposed a test burst of photos CSX Q263-3 in the distance and then . . .

OH NO!

[insert expletive here]

With a 32GB card, I can store hundreds of images. So many that I forget to even check how many I have left. And so at this critical moment, I’m left pixel-less.

The last frames in a burst of three . . . Had I only checked to see how many frames were left. You know I had a spare card (several) in my camera bag. Poor show, Brian.

Well, thankfully I had my Lumix LX7 around my neck and so managed a close-up photograph anyway. But there’s a lesson for you in this story. And for me too!

Lumix LX7 photo. The irony in this lesson is that I think I made a better photo with the Lumix.

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Amtrak Heritage Locomotive and the Waterfall.

Exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens.


Yesterday, Saturday May 24, 2019, I re-visited West Warren, Massachusetts to photograph Amtrak 449 (Boston section Lake Shore Limited) with the old mills and mill dam along the Quaboag River.

I was delighted to find that the scruffy trees and brush that had grown up on the north-side of the line had been cleared away, opening up a vista that I haven’t seen in more than 15 years.

Also, Amtrak was running about 40 minutes late, which combined with a thin layer of cloud to diffuse the afternoon sun, allow for a satisfying view on the north side of the tracks.

Locomotive 145 wearing 1980s-era ‘heritage paint’ was in the lead.

Reminder: Tracking the Light will be undergoing site maintenance and there may be delays to service. (Sorry no bus!).

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Archiving, Research and a Nasa Launch.


You might ask, ‘what does this have to do with railway photography?’

Nothing. And Everything.

Everything? YES.

Several years ago my concerns over the lack of long-term archival storage for my growing collection of railroad photographs (and those of my fellow photographers) led me to begin working with scientists at Creative Technology LLC, including my father Richard Jay Solomon, Clark Johnson Jr., and Eric Rosenthal, in order to find a means of preserving photography, especially digital photography, by using proven technologies.

This evolved into a much larger project aimed at preserving and storing all digital media using silver technology—similar to that used to make photographs.

NASA took an interest in Creative Technology’s concept and offered to send examples of Creative Technology’s storage media to the International Space Station to test its ability to withstand the rigors of the space environment.

Nasa photograph. SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket launch on May 3, 2019

Creative Technology test materials that I helped create were launched via a SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket on May 3, 2019 and docked at the International Space Station on May 6th.

This brings the Creative Technology concept closer to a commercial manifestation.

Nasa photograph of the Dragon module approaching the International Space Station on May 6, 2019.

When the materials are returned in several months time, Creative Technology can further the analysis of the storage medium which hopefully will facilitate NASA’s application of this technology for long-term data storage among other applications.

Below is Creative Technology’s press release detailing the invention and its promise.

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NASA International Space Station  Will Test Innovative Data Storage System to Preserve Vital Human Records

Can data survive in space over extremely long times and multiple human generations? The possibility of human colonies on other planets may ultimately depend on just such data stability. Now, a patented innovative long-term archival data storage system created by a Delaware-based firm is being tested on the International Space Station (ISS) for up to a year. 

The system developed by Creative Technology LLC (CTech) of Hockessin, DE, applies a century-old tested archival media for photography in a completely new way for storing high-density computer data in perpetuity. Inherently secure, low-cost technology is used that cannot be hacked or altered. CTech’s archival media can be used to store critical DNA and healthcare records, financial information and contracts, family photos and records which need to preserved for multiple human generations

NASA’s ISS test will determine if data on CTech’s media can survive a hostile space environment during long-term space missions, such as the mission to Mars and beyond. Today, conventional media, such as hard drives, magnetic tape, and solid state memory, are vulnerable to decay and bit rot due to gamma and cosmic rays and age deterioration. 

CTech’s media is a green technology which can be stored for long periods in normal room environments without excessive energy for cooling or maintenance, opening up a new opportunity for storing secure data for extended periods of time without the need for energy. 

CTech is a group of technologists with over 300 years collective experience in human perception, image capture & display, photosensitive media, data storage & compression, and video and  telecomm applications and technology. CTech sponsors have included NSA, the Naval Research Lab, the Office of Naval Research, NASA, & DARPA.

All media used today have to be continually replicated and authenticated in order to be readable even in less than one human lifetime, and that process alone incurs new errors each time the data is copied. CTech avoids that problem, saving enormous labor and energy costs over long periods.

Contact:

Eric Rosenthal, 732-580-9555‬

eric@creative-technology.net

Palmer, Massachusetts—Track Changes soon! (Four views on Tracking the Light)


On the way back from some errands this morning (May 18, 2019), I stopped at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts


Although not a wheel was turning, I was fascinated to discover some brand new points waiting for installation near the famous ‘diamond’ crossing (where CSX crosses New England Central) .

Using my Lumix LX7 digital camera I made these views of what appear to be a power derail.

Stay tuned!

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MBTA Green Line at Cleveland Circle.


Last Saturday evening (May 11, 2019), I exposed these digital photographs of Boston’s MBTA Green Line.

At this location three routes effectively converge which makes it an ideal location for shops and car storage.

Decades ago I’d photograph MBTA’s classic PCCs here. With in a few years of my making those images the PCCs were all but banished to the Red Line Mattapan-Ashmont extension. The PCC’s have since become an icon of that route.

Soon MBTA’s streetcar fleet will undergo another transition that will make last week’s photos seem historic.

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Last Saturday evening (May 11, 2019), I exposed these digital photographs of Boston’s MBTA Green Line.

Mass-Central along Route 181 in Palmer.


On the way toward the interchange in Palmer, Massachusetts, Massachusetts Central’s former Boston & Albany Ware River Branch follows and crosses state Route 181.

So often I have driven this way.

Catching a train here isn’t especially difficult since it runs southbound most weekday afternoons, but making a photo without any highway traffic in the way can be really challenging.

All it takes is one truck or a school bus to pull up to the crossing at the last minute and the whole scene changes, and usually not for the better!

On this May day, we were lucky!

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CT Rail, Farmington River and Fishermen.

Last Thursday, May 9, 2019, photographer Mike Gardner and I set up at the former New Haven Railroad stone arch viaduct over the Farmington River at Windsor, Connecticut to catch CT Rail ‘s southward commuter train number 4407 .

When we arrived a line of a half dozen fishermen were in position on the south bank of the river.

Shortly before the train was due to pass, most of them concluded fishing and began to pack up.

It turns out that the Farmington River bridge is more famous as a place to fish than as a place to picture trains. There’s a plaque about the fishing and everything! Who knew?

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

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Newton Centre—Revisited.

Lumix LX7 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.


When I was a young child my family lived in Newton Centre, an historic suburb of Boston located on the old Boston & Albany Highlands Branch, a railroad that had been converted into a trolley line in 1960.

As a five year old, I’d watch MBTA’s PCC cars pass though, typically operated in multiple sets of two and three cars.

The old B&A railroad station was a relic from former times.

On Saturday, May 11, 2019, after dropping my father on the Logan Express bus for a trip to Portugal, I met some fellow photographers and we visited MBTA’s Newton Centre station on the Green Line.

This was the first stop on our photography of MBTA’s trolley car system.

It was a rare sunny day, and I made these digital photos of the trolley cars as they rolled between Boston and Riverside.

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Footbridge and a Two-Bay Hopper: Willimantic Connecticut


Here’s an everyday scene at Willimantic, Connecticut. An ordinary two-bay covered hopper and the 110 year-old pedestrian bridge over the yard.

As is too often the case in 2019, the covered hopper has more decoration than intended by its owner.

Exposed in May 2019 using a Lumix LX7.

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Sun in the Ware River Valley!


Last Monday, May 6, 2019, was the first properly sunny day after many days of gloomy overcast weather.

In the afternoon, Paul Goewey, John Peters and I followed the Mass-Central Railroad’s line northward toward South Barre. We intercepted the southward freight. This was led by GP38 1750 with the short hood in the lead.

At Ware, it worked a short surviving segment of the old Central Massachusetts, which had run parallel to the former Boston & Albany Ware River Branch (the line that comprises most of Mass-Central’s present operation). This old line is used to reach Kanzaki Paper, one of several carload shippers in greater Ware.

I exposed these photos with FujiFilm XT1 digital cameras.

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Rainy Day in Lille.

It was a pretty damp afternoon on my very brief visit to SNCF’s Gare de Lille Flanders.

On my previous visits to Lille, I’d changed trains at the modern high-speed international station in the Lille suburbs called SNCF Gare de Lille-Europe.

By contrast Lille-Flanders is an historic station in the city center that blends architecture from several eras.

The interior of the shed is a wonderful place to picture trains, as SNCF’s modern railcars make for a dynamic contrast with the station environs.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.

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Amtrak’s Vermonter passes West Northfield.


In late April, Mike Gardner and I made visit to the old graveyard at West Northfield, Massachusetts (south of the junction at East Northfield on the old Boston & Maine), to photograph Amtrak 56 (the Vermonter) on its way to St Albans, Vermont.

Light cloud softened the afternoon sun, which was slightly back-lit at this location for a northward train. To make the most of the old stones and put the entire train in the picture, I opted for my 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

I made minor adjustments to the RAW file in Lightroom to present better contrast in the JPG image presented here.

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Orange Paint and Soft Sun: New England Central 611 at East Northfield.


Monday, May 6, 2019, we set up at the classic location on the bridge at the junction East Northfield, where the New England Central and Boston & Maine lines come together, immediately south of the Vermont-Massachusetts state line.

Paul Goewey, John Peters and I had convened in Palmer and traveled north along the New England Central hoping to catch 611 on its southward run toward Palmer, which it does most weekday mornings.

We caught it several times, as pictured in Tracking the Light on May 7, 2019, before proceeding to this location.

Elevation and soft morning sun made for an excellent setting to picture the train in action. I made these views using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

We didn’t rest here, and continue south with the train to make more photographs.

FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.


Hybrids, Gare Luxembourg—Four Photos on 8 April 2019


I’ll risk condemnation from the purists.

A reader wondered about exterior views of Gare Luxembourg.

While I have some views of the station, I’ll admit I was distracted by the hybrid bus charging station in front of Gare Luxembourg. I’d never seen anything like this charging station before.

The light was flat when I made these Lumix LX7 photos a month ago on my brief visit to Luxembourg City.

The charging pantograph is fixed to the gantry, not the hybrid bus. Each bus pulls below the gantry to receive its charge.

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New England Central Spring at Vernon, Vermont!


Yesterday, May 6, 2019, my old friends Paul Goewey, John Peters and I made a foray to Brattleboro to intercept New England Central’s 611 on its southward run to Palmer. We didn’t have to wait very long!

At Vernon, we paused to make photographs. I’ve always been partial to the view with the farm and the unusually tall tree.

The morning sun was lightly dappled by clouds making for some slight diffused light. Working with a Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1, I made a series of photographs as the freight roared passed. Soon we continued our pursuit, aiming to make more photos in the lush Spring greenery and low morning sun

Lumix LX7
FujiFilm XT1.
FujiFilm XT1.

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Cross-lit Crossing the Connecticut.

In late April, after an interlude to photograph Amtrak 56, the northward Vermonter, Mike Gardner and I resumed our photo chase of New England Central’s northbound 611 (Brattleboro, VT to Palmer, Massachusetts and return), that would soon follow Amtrak’s train on it way north toward Brattleboro.

We arrived at the west end of the old Central Vermont Railway bridge over the Connecticut River (near the junction with Pan Am’s Boston & Maine at East Northfield) shortly before the freight crossed it.

Mike assumed a position at the classic location on the south side of the bridge, while I improvised with a view on the north side.

Why photograph from the ‘dark side’?

In this instance, I feel that the north side of the bridge offers a superior view of the setting, while cross lighting the train adds a sense of drama.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto.


Lumix LX7 photo.


Lumix LX7 photo.

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Gare Luxembourg—Six Views of an Impressive Railway Station.


Gare Luxembourg is Luxembourg’s primary passenger railway hub. This impressive station hosts trains from Belgium, France and Germany as well as those from Luxeumbourg’s own railway, known by the initials CFL .

CFL is the abbreviation for the state railway undertaking; 

Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois.

CFL has textbook perfect track; and from my brief experience its trains were clean and operated to time.

Gare Luxembourg is a wonderful example of classic Golden Age railway station architecture that has been tastefully modernized in the latest European styles.

Luxembourg is among the countries featured in my book; Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe. See Kalmbach Hobby Store:

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01304

I made these recent views using my Lumix LX7.

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