Category Archives: digital photography

TEN photos: All-New Berlin Station—Connecticut, that is!

There’s little left to remind you of the historic building that once served passengers at Berlin, Connecticut.

In December 2016, during construction of the modern building, the historic New Haven Railroad station was suspiciously destroyed in a fire.

An artist vision of the proposed integration of the old station with the modern structures. It was not to be.

Last weekend was my first visit to the new station. This features some impressive looking architecture, elevators and a high glass enclosed footbridge.

Morning light on the impressive entrance to the new station. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.

However, it seems to be notably lacking a proper waiting room where passengers can get out of the elements, and features only a ‘portapot’ in place of proper toilets.

In place of our friendly ticket agent, there’s a modern CT rail ticket machine to dispense tickets. You can buy your Amtrak ticket on-line, over the phone, or using an App on your smart-phone.

Also on the ‘plus side’ the station is well suited to photography and will make for a nice place to board and photograph trains. Also, with the expanded Amtrak service and new CT rail Hartford Line trains, there’s more service than there has been in many years.

Any thoughts?

The east-side platform looking south toward New Haven, Connecticut at 8am. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.
Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.

CT rail 6400 making its stop at Berlin, bound for Springfield, Massachusetts. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.
Amtrak 405 to New Haven. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.
Amtrak 461 heading toward New Haven at midday is about to depart Berlin. All aboard! Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm Fujinon lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point.

For more than forty years my family has been visiting the Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point in East Windsor.

I made these views last weekend.

I’ve always enjoyed the nostalgia of the trolleys and the leisurely ride through the forest. What’s interesting is that the trolleys I knew as a kid are largely inside and pending restoration, while today’s operable cars were largely out of service when I was younger.

These views were exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1.

Tracking the Light posts every day.

Hey! I Thought This Train Seemed Familiar!

I experienced the new CT rail Hartford Line commuter train for the first time on Saturday.

CT rail in Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

I had this distinct sense of Déjà vu.

Then I reviewed the cover of my new book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

Wow! It’s like a German train at Berlin. Berlin, Connecticut, that is.

A German electric multiple unit graces the cover of my book.

CT rail 6400 crosses an old stone arch bridge at Windsor, Connecticut on Sunday June 17, 2018.
DB and CFL (Luxembourg Railways) EMUs working together on the famous Hanging Viaduct in Germany’s Mosel Valley.

I’m commenting on the paint liveries, not the equipment or the services.

Tracking the Light Posts EVERY day!

 

If you haven’t seen it, check out my latest book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

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

New CT Rail Hartford Line Commuter Trains—First Day in Eight Photos!

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1, I exposed more than 100 photos of the new Connecticut commuter rail service on the Hartford Line.

There’s nothing like the first day.

Train rides were FREE.

Springfield, Massachusetts on June 16, 2018.
Springfield, Massachusetts on June 16, 2018.
Springfield, Massachusetts on June 16, 2018.

 

Amtrak 461 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

Yesterday, June 16, 2018 the long awaited CT Rail Hartford Line Commuter service commenced.

My father and I traveled on the first train from Berlin, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts. It was a bright clear morning.

Contrast was a challenge, and for some of these photos I imported the camera RAW image into Light Room for exposure, color balance and exposure adjustment.

Amtrak 460 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.
CT Rail 6653 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.
CT Rail 6653 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.
CT Rail 6654 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

 

If you haven’t seen it, check out my latest book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

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

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

 

 

Tracking the Light EXTRA: CTRail Free Train Ride Today!

Today, June 16, 2018, the long awaited CTRail service began public operation on the Springfield-Hartford-New Haven Line.

Free rides were on offer on both the new CTRail trains and some Amtrak services.

CTRail staff at Berlin supplied complimentary tickets!

My father and I traveled on the first northward train (CTRail 6400) between the new station at Berlin, Connecticut and Springfield. The train was very well attended!

More free train rides are available on the route tomorrow (Sunday June 17, 2018).

CTRail’s first public forward run, train 6400, makes its stop at Berlin, Connecticut. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
The view near Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

I made many photographs over the course of the day and I’ve yet to look at all of them. Stay tuned for more tomorrow!

See: http://www.hartfordline.com

Tracking the Light posts EVERY Day! (Sometimes twice!)

 

 

More New England Central GP38s-Four Photos!

For the last month, New England Central’s 608 (Willimantic, Connecticut to Palmer, Massachusetts and back) has continued to run with a  pair of GP38s.

(I missed the day when 608 ran with three!)

What’s so special about this?

These locomotives began with New England Central when it commenced operations in February 1995, and have continued to work the railroad in the same paint (if not the same numbers) ever since.

A classic view of 608 running northward near Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 and 27mm pancake lens.
A classic view of 608 running northward near Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 and 27mm pancake lens.

Originally there were a dozen, but the ranks have thinned.

New England Central has changed owners twice since 1995; it was originally a RailTex property, then RailAmerica, today Genesee & Wyoming.

NECR has acquired or borrowed many other diesels over the years.

Yet for me the few surviving blue and yellow GP38s offer a sense of continuity, and also represent a throw-back to when EMD’s 645 diesels were dominant on American railroads.

How much longer will New England Central continue this vintage railroading?

A view of 608 running northward passing Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 and 90mm telephoto lens.

Will these GP38s see G&W corporate colors? Will they be reassigned elsewhere on the expansive G&W railroad family? Will newer locomotives assume their duties?

Never take anything on the railroad for granted; eventually everything changes.

Change makes old photos more interesting.

A 12mm view with my Zeiss Tuoit lens fitted to the FujiFilm X-T1.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Connecticut River Composition.

Last week I made these views of New England Central’s northward 611 freight as it crossed the Connecticut River bridge at East Northfield, Massachusetts.

The longer days feature the evening sun in a northerly position that allows for sunlight on the nose of the locomotive as it crosses the bridge.

Although I’ve often worked the south side of this span, this was the first time I’ve made successful photos of a train from the north side.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 and prime (not zoom) 90mm telephoto lens.
Several turbo-flutters later (about 8 digital ‘frames’ or exposures), also made with my FujiFilm X-T1 and prime (not zoom) 90mm telephoto lens. 

I was watching the light and the effect of reflections in the river as I composed my photos.

For these digital images I was working with both my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1.

Lumix LX7 photo. The locomotives are more fully on the bridge, but here I’ve lost the effect of the nose reflection in the water.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Pacing the New England Central.

We were trying to overtake the New England Central ballast train extra

(see: Extra train on New England Central. https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5yy).

I rolled down the passenger-side window of my friend’s Golf, and exposed a series of photos with my Lumix.

Lumix LX7 RAW file adjusted for color, contrast, and exposure in post processing.

I’ve described this technique previously; I adjusted the f-stop (aperture control) manually to its smallest opening (f8), my ISO was at its slowest setting (80), and I put the camera to aperture priority.

I intended this combination of settings to automatically select the appropriate shutter speed for ideal exposure, while using the slowest setting to allow for the effect of motion blur.

Lumix LX7 RAW file adjusted for color, contrast, and exposure in post processing.

I kept the camera aimed at the locomotive while allowing for ample foreground to blur by for the effect of speed.

This works especially well to show the large diesel working long-hood forward, which is not its usual position.

Lumix LX7 RAW file adjusted for color, contrast, and exposure in post processing.
Lumix LX7 RAW file adjusted for color, contrast, and exposure in post processing.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Amtrak’s Vermonter with American Flags.

This is a grab shot; I didn’t have time to do what I intended (and the sun went in).

We arrived at the small cemetery at West Northfield, Massachusetts minutes before Amtrak 56 (northward Vermonter).

 The brush along the railroad has recently been cut. Unfortunately, a brush cutting/removal machine was awkwardly (as in non-photographically) positioned by the tracks, foiling my intend angle for a photo. I was going to try ‘plan b’.

I’d heard the crew call ‘Approach’ for East Northfield, I was hoping for time to swap to a wide angle lens, when I saw the headlight.

No time: so instead, I hastily composed this vertical view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

The front of the locomotive is nearly centered. I wonder if I should have let it move a bit more to the left for a more effective composition?

I like the American flags, placed for Memorial Day. I wonder about my placement of the front of the locomotive relative to the gap in the brush. Should I have let the locomotive continue a few more feet to the left?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Extra! Extra train on New England Central.

We’d heard there was an extra move.

We didn’t know what it was.

I got a bit confused as to where the extra was in relation to the regular northward New England Central 611 (that runs weekdays from Brattleboro to Palmer and back).

After being out of position, and some quick driving to recover, we managed to get the extra on the move at Vernon, Vermont.

This consisted of the lone New England Central former Southern Pacific ‘tunnel motor’ (SD40T-2 number 3317) hauling some ballast cars.

This isn’t Donner Pass! Here’s a former SP tunnel motor working long-hood forward leading a ballast extra at Vernon, Vermont. In the background is the decommissioned Vermont Yankee Nuclear generating station.

Unusual to say the least!

The regular freight followed about an hour later.

Both photos were exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm Fujinon telephoto lens.

NECR 611 on its northward run from Palmer, Massachusetts at Vernon, Vermont.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Headlights too Bright? Now What?

I’d heard complaints about this. You’ll find my solutions are the very end of this blog text.

Pan Am Railway’s 7552, a former CSX General Electric-built DASH8-40C (sometimes simplified as ‘C40-8’), features modern white light-emitting diode (LED) headlights.

The sun went in, so I ‘opened up’ the aperture to f5.6. This exacerbated the effect of LED headlight bleed.

The problem is that these white LEDs viewed head-on are much brighter than ordinary incandescent-bulb headlights. Unnaturally bright headlights may have some advantages; they undoubtedly offer better illumination and can be spotted from greater distance.

However they tend to be mesmerizing, which may have something less than the desired effect from a safety point of view.

I first encountered these headlights about 10 years ago photographing an electric locomotive in Munich, Germany.

With the sun out slightly, I used a smaller aperture and also was nominally  off-axis, two things that help minimize the effects of light bleed.

For photography bright LED headlights pose a couple of problems. They can confuse both auto exposure and auto focusing systems, and as a result may contribute to under exposed and/or out of focus digital photos.

Also, many digital cameras only have a limited ability to handle extreme contrasts, resulting in an unappealing effect that I’ll call ‘light-bleed’, when bright light appears to spill over to adjacent areas of the image. A similar problem is a ghosting effect caused by reflections from external filters or inner elements on some lenses.

So what do you do?

I found that these LEDs are only unacceptably bright when viewed head-on, so by moving off axis, you can greatly reduce the unpleasant visual effects of these bright lights. That’s one solution, anyway.

Here I’m significantly off axis, which virtually eliminates the bleed problems.

Another way to suppress headlight bleed is to select a smaller aperture (larger f-number). I work my cameras manually, so this is easy enough to accomplish. If you are using automatic modes, you’ll need to select an aperture priority setting that allows you to control the aperture. Just mind your shutter speed or you might suffer from motion blur.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

 

 

Four New Photos: New England Central Six-Motor EMDs in Orange.

After years of operating its fleet of second-hand EMD diesels in a rainbow of ragtag paint liveries, today most of New England Central’s locomotives wear clean Genesee &  Wyoming corporate colors.

A few of the 1995 painted blue and yellow GP38s survive, lately working the Palmer area and south into Connecticut.

New England Central at East Northfield; Boston & Maine Connecticut River Line at the right (operated by Pan Am).

Fear not, I have no shortage of images from New England Central’s patch-work paint era.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera, I made these photos last week, of freight 611 on its northward run to Brattleboro, Vermont from Palmer, Massachusetts.

Soft afternoon sun and a matched set of 1960s-era six-motor EMD diesels in clean orange paint makes for a nice subject.

A ‘grade crossing wedgie’ (tight view of locomotive crossing a road) in South Vernon, Vermont.
A crossing view in Vernon featuring the road.
New England Central 611 approaching Brattleboro, Vermont on a causeway across a Connecticut River backwater.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Europe’s Most Photogenic Urban Railway? Five Photos—Lisbon Trams.

As far as transit is concerned, Lisbon is the San Francisco of Europe.

Ok, you can nitpick about the methods of propulsion, cables versus juice, but with steep hills, outstanding urban panoramas and quirky twisting trackage in narrow streets and fully functional antique cars, Lisbon’s tram system has lots in common with San Francisco’s famous cable cars.

These cities have lots of parallels too, certainly in layout and appearance, and weather.

I made these photos in the Portuguese capital on a brilliant day in April.

There’s seemingly endless opportunity for photographs. But do you work with the shadows or in the shadows?

Canon EOS 7D digital photo.
View from a Portuguese restaurant. Canon EOS 7D digital photo.

For the tourist, Lisbon’s trams are both transport and an attraction.

Lisbon is among the cities featured in my new book, Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe  available now from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

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

You can also get my book on Amazon. If you like what you see, please give me a good review! Thanks!

Red trams make a special circuit for visitors. Canon EOS 7D digital photo.

Canon EOS 7D digital photo.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

East Deerfield New Bridge—June 2018 Up Date.

We called it the ‘waste too much film bridge’.

How many thousands of photographs have been exposed from the old bridge at the west end of Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield Yard?

The new bridge is progressing. I made these photos a few days ago.

Old and new bridges at McClelland Farm Road, East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

As mentioned in an earlier post, a new pole-line has been erected to the east of the old bridge that threatens to ruin photographs. How will this ultimately affect views from the new bridge?

Suitable vantage points are key to making good photographs, so I’m curious to see what the new bridge offers. If it turns out to be of little use, I’ll need to find new vantage points.

South approach to the new bridge.
North abutment with Pan Am tracks in foreground.
Looking west from the old McClelland Farm Road bridge.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo -in-camera panoramic composite image.

What do you think?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Pan Am Railways crosses the Connecticut; Old and Older and both Blue.

I had a late start the other day.

After intercepting Amtrak’s southward Vermonter on the Connecticut River Line, I drove to Pan Am’s East Deerfield yard(near Greenfield, Massachusetts)  to see if anything was moving.

Fortuity and patience combined enabled me to make photos of Pan Am Railways POED crossing the Connecticut River Bridge (immediately east of the yard).

In the lead was 7552, one of two (soon to be three) former CSX DASH8-40Cs wearing Pan Am Railways paint, plus one of the railroad’s last remaining 600-series six motor EMDs (619, that began its career as a Southern Pacific SD45) still in traffic.

Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens.

Catching this pair of locomotives together is a coup. I’ve always found transition periods make for interesting photographs; during the last year, these second-hand GE’s have sidelined many of Pan Am’s older locomotives.

Will this be the last time I catch one of the 1980s era GEs working together with a 1960s era six-motor EMDs in Pan Am blue paint?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Pan Am Railway’s EDBF: Stone Arches and DASH8s.

Using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom lens, I exposed this view of Pan Am Railway’s symbol freight EDBF (East Deerfield to Bellows Falls) working the Connecticut River line at Bernardston, Massachusetts.

The early evening sun in May reaches the northside of the old stone viaduct at Bernardston.

I like the technological and geometrical contrasts of boxy General Electric diesels on the 19thcentury stone arch viaduct.

Tracking the Light posts daily.

 

 

Terrible Railroad Pictures? Tips for Overcoming Common Problems

Bad timing, poor exposures, lousy composition and blurred images can all result in missed opportunities.

Was it human error or an equipment malfunction? You got to the tracks in time but your camera didn’t perform as expected. Is there something wrong with your camera, or was it simply set the wrong way.

There’s the moment of frustration  when you press the shutter release and nothing happens, or the auto focus goes haywire, or you realize the camera is in  a ‘mode’ and not the right one for making railway pictures—All well and good if you have time to resolve the problem, but if a train is passing at speed, you might end up with regrets rather than results.

Nice angle, interesting subject, but the dreaded ‘shutter lag’ may make your life difficult. (Shutter lag simulated digitally for effect).

Even if you are an experienced railroad photographer, you should take the time to learn the peculiarities of your equipment and double check the exposure and focus settings BEFORE you expect a train to enter the scene.

Earlier, were you using the self-timer? Be sure to turn it off again before you expect to use the camera for making action photos.

Why was the camera set to manual? AND why was it a f22 at 1/8000 of a second?

If you don’t know why, that’s going to be a problem. So step back and go over the basics. Or rely on ‘automatic’ modes until you have the time to cover that properly

Locomotive headlights can confuse camera autofocus systems. The result may be that at the very moment you need to rely on autofocus, it fails you.

One potential solution, if the autofocus starts hunting wildly quickly point the camera away from the headlights and allow it to find a focus point, then point it back at your subject.

Another solution: before the train arrives in the scene, auto focus on a preset point, then switch the autofocus off so that it won’t attempt to refocus at the last minute.

Autofocus problems tend to be more acute on dull days and in low light.

No pixels were harmed in the making of this post.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Railfan’s Bridge East Deerfield: Old Bridge/New Bridge and some Bad News.

Construction crews are working on the approaches to the new McClelland Farm Road bridge over the tracks at the west end of Pan Am’s East Deerfield Yard.

This work has been on-going for about a year.As detailed in previous posts, the old bridge has been a popular place for photographers for many years and countless images have been exposed from this vantage point.

See: Railfan’s Bridge at East Deerfield—my First Farewell.

The new bridge is being built immediately to the west of the old bridge, and once it is complete and fully open to traffic, the old bridge will be removed.

The view west from the old McClelland Farm Road bridge.
Pan Am GE’s wearing tired CSX paint pass construction crews working on approaches for the new McClelland Farm Road bridge.
The old McClelland Farm Road Bridge at East Deerfield.

Now for some bad news: in conjunction with bridge construction, the above ground electrical line has been relocated and is now carried across the tracks on a new pole-line located to the east of the bridges.

The new pole line can be seen here on the right crossing over the tracks. To the uninitiated this may seem innocuous but in fact it poses an obstruction that may make views of the yard from the new bridge difficult to achieve without heavy cables running right through the middle of the image.

This obstruction poses a new challenge for photographers making photos of the yard and depending on the height of the new bridge mayruin the classic view.

I exposed these views of former CSX DASH8-40Cs leased to Pan Am that had just arrived on road freight POED from Portland, Maine.

Photos made with a FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens.

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Medium Clear at Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Pan Am’s EDBF (East Deerfield to Bellows Falls) gets a medium clear aspect (30 mph indication) at Greenfield, Massachusetts to proceed northward on the Connecticut River line.

Medium clear is displayed on the signal at left with a red over green over red.

Modern LED cluster signals offer relatively bright aspects that can be easier to photograph in daylight than older styles of color light signals that use traditional incandescent lamps.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom lens, set to 135mm telephoto.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Vermont Rail System SD70M-2 on the Crossing.

Vermont Rail System operates portions of the old Rutland network, including the Green Mountain Railroad from Rutland to Bellows Falls, Vermont.

Last Friday (May 11, 2018), I followed eastward freight 263 from Rutland toward Bellows Falls. This is section of railroad that I’ve been photographing for most of my life.

Freights move at a relaxed pace, and even with the roadworks on-going on Vermont highway 103, I had no difficulty making a variety of photographs.

This view is at a rural grade crossing compass north (and railroad timetable west) of Gassetts.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 camera with 18-135mm zoom lens.

I like this angle because it features the distant mountain that mimics the Vermont Railway logo on the side of the SD70M-2 diesel-electric locomotive leading the train.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Tonight—May 15, 2018 at 6pm Brian Solomon’s Slide Show at the Monson Free Library.

Tonight—May 15, 2018 at 6pm: I’ll be giving a slide show (with real 35mm color SLIDES) and lecture in Monson, Massachusetts at the Monson Free Library.


This is in conjunction with the recent release of my Railway Guide to Europe published by Kalmbach Books.

This book is a culmination of more than 20 years of wandering around exploring Europe by rail while seeking places to make photographs.

And yes, copies of the book are available for purchase!

Monson Free Library.

 

Vermont Rail System; the Dark Side.

On Friday May 11, 2018, I made this view of Vermont Railway System SD70M-2 432 ascending the grade at Mt. Holly on Green Mountain Railroad’s former Rutland.

Over the years I’ve made a number of photos at Mt. Holly, and I like to work the ‘dark side’ of the tracks here, because it better features the old siding that is still in place there.

This telephoto cross-lit dark-side view also adds a sense of drama and better features the mountains in the distance.

Exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 with a 90mm Fujinon telephoto lens; ISO 200 f5.6 1/500thof a second.

Tracking the posts daily!

 

 

Still at Work after all these Years: New England Central GP38s.

New England Central began operations on the former Central Vermont Railway in Febraury 1995 using a dozen freshly painted secondhand GP38s.

More than 23 years later, and two changes of ownership, and New England Central still has a handful of these old GP38s working in the same paint scheme.

Last week, a matched pair of these engines was working the Willimantic-Palmer freight, job 608.

I made an effort to catch these venerable diesels on the roll.

New England Central 3857 leads the southward 608 at Stafford Spring, Connecticut. I was aiming to feature the blossoming tree at the right. Photo adjusted in post processing.
New England Central 608 approaches the Route 32 overbridge south of Stafford Springs, Connecticut in May 2018.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Pan Am’s ED-4 Rolls Ballast on the Connecticut River Main Line.

For nearly 35 years, locomotives have worn Guilford gray and orange paint. The scheme is has been out of vogue since introduction of the new Pan Am liveries about ten years ago, yet a few of the locomotive are still working in the old paint.

I made these views of GP40 316 working local freight ED4 hauling state-owned ballast cars southward at Hillside Road in South Deerfield.

Is this tighter version a better photograph?

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm Fujinon telephoto lens. I opted for the ‘darkside’ angle in order to better feature the hills in the distance (that make this a distinctive location) as well as the tie-piles that indicate the improvement to the track is on-going.

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Spring at Cushman: New England Central’s northward 611.

During the last few days everything’s gone green in central Massachusetts.

I was driving north and overtook New England Central’s 611 on its run from Palmer back to Brattleboro.

At Cushman in Amherst, Massachusetts the spring greenery and flowers combined with soft early afternoon light made for a pleasant setting.

After a wait of just 20 minutes, the NECR freight hit the crossing and I exposed a sequence of digital images using my FujiFilm X-T1. From there the chase was on!

Exposed at ISO 250 f6.4 1/500 18-135mm lens set at 18mm.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Acela Express Cross-Lit on the Draw.

Yes, I’m trying to pick a title that will get you to read this post.

I could call it ‘Fast Train on the Bridge’ or ‘Amtrak on the New Haven’, or ‘What? NO! Not Westport, Again!’ Or perhaps the accurate, if opaque, ‘Trailing View over the Saugatuck.’

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens. To make this photo work, I had to carefully mind the shadows from catenary poles so they didn’t appear to intersect the sloping face of the Acela Express train set.

In late April, I made this trailing view of a Boston-bound Acela Expresstilting train crossing the former New Haven Railroad draw bridge at Westport, Connecticut.

By working from the outbound Metro-North platform in the evening, I cross lit the train for dramatic effect and to better show the infrastructure.

Cross-lighting, is when the main light source (the sun in this case) primarily illuminates only the facing surface of the subject, while the  surfaces are bathed in shadow. This presents a more dramatic contrast than three-quarter lighting, which offered relative even illumination across the subject.

Cross-lighting is often most effective for railroad photography when the sun is relatively low in the sky. In this instance the compression effect that results from the long telephoto lens works well with the cross lit train.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens. To make this photo work, I had to carefully mind the shadows from catenary polls so they didn’t appear to interect the sloping face of the Acela Expresstrain set.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

 

 

Dynamic Photo: German Electric on the Shore Line.

Amtrak Siemens-built ACS-64 ‘Cities Sprinters’ are the standard electric locomotives for Regional and Long Distance services operating on the Northeast Corridor.

I made this view of Amtrak 160 blasting through the station at Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

For my raw and unmodified composition I gave the camera a slight tilt that makes for a more dynamic image of the fast electric in action.

My original composition features a slight angle intended to better convey speed and motion.

Purists might flinch at my altering of the level, so I’ve ‘corrected’ the photo in post processing and offer the more ‘normal’ view as well.

Here’s the revised image, ‘corrected’ in post processing.

Who said you can have your cake and eat too?

Which version do you prefer?

Don’t Miss Out!

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Vestiges of the Central Vermont Railway.

Last Sunday was dreary and damp. I inspected the old Central Vermont Railway Palmer Subdivision main track at the Massachusetts-Connecticut state line, where I was delighted to find these vestiges from the steam era.

The tie plate below the rail date from the 1940s and still bear evidence of the CV, a company gone since 1995, when New England Central assumed operation of the line.

Exposed digitally with a FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens.
Exposed digitally with a FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens. To make the raised lettering on the tie plate more visible in the photo, I needed to adjust my angle in regards to the reflection of the sky in the water on top of the plate. The water acted both to highlight and obscure the lettering  depending on how the it reflected the light.

I wonder how many times CV’s classic 2-8-0 steam locomotives pounded over these plates in years gone by? Not to mention carrying the passage of CV’s later era locomotives such as the GP9s and Alco RS-11s that I grew up around.

How much longer will these vestiges survive? A welded rail train arrived a couple of days later, so it’s anyone’s guess.

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East Northfield, Massachusetts: a Junction; a Tunnel Motor; A Searchlight and Three Quarter Light.

Years ago, the view from the road bridge at East Northfield, Massachusetts was more open than it is today.

The trees have grown up making it more challenging to expose photos of trains at the junction between former Boston & Maine and former Central Vermont lines here.

At one time, a century or more ago, B&M’s Conn River route crossed the CV here. B&M’s line continued across the Connecticut River and rejoined the CV at Brattleboro.

Later, the two routes were melded in a paired track arrangement. However, by the time I started photographing here in the 1980s, the B&M route north of East Northfield was no longer functioning as a through line.

On the morning of April 27, 2018, I made this view of New England Central freight 608 led by a former Southern Pacific SD40T-2 ‘tunnel motor’ diesel.

New England Central 611 approaches the junction at East Northfield, Massachusetts. The lead locomotives have just crossed the Vermont-Massachusetts state line. The old Boston & Maine line once continued to the right of the present NECR alignment (and to the left of the dirt road), running northward across the Connecticut River and beyond via Dole Junction, New Hampshire toward Brattleboro.

The light was spot on for a series of three quarter views featuring a vintage GRS searchlight signal that protects the junction.

Perfect morning light makes for a calendar view from the road bridge at the junction.
NECR 611 continues south toward Palmer, Massachusetts on the old Central Vermont Railway, the old Boston & Maine route diverges to the left toward Greenfield and Springfield, Massachusetts.

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London St Pancras Station on 3 May 2016.

On this day two years ago (3 May 2016), I spent the morning photographing London’s St. Pancras Station.

The old terminal of the Midland Railway is my favorite London Station, and among the most influential railway stations in Britain.

I’ve featured this station in a number of books, including Depots, Stations & Terminals published by Voyageur Press in 2015, and my new Railway Guide to Europe, now available from Kalmbach Publishing.

https://www.amazon.com/Railway-Depots-Stations-Terminals-Solomon/dp/0760348901

Click here to order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

These photos were exposed digitally using my FujiFilm X-T1. Although I exposed the images in RAW and JPG, all of these images represent the colour and contrast of the in-camera JPG with Fujifilm colour profile.

London St Pancras on 3 May 2016. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens.
London St. Pancras. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit.
London St. Pancras. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit.
London St. Pancras. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit.
London St. Pancras. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit.
London St. Pancras. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit.

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Glistening Water—New England Central on the move at Brattleboro, Vermont.

At 8:08 AM on April 27, 2018, New England Central 611 was on the move south from Brattleboro, Vermont.

Bright hazy sunshine made for excellent conditions for photography.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto, I exposed this view looking across the Connecticut River backwater south of Brattleboro yard.

By cropping the sky, featuring the locomotives in the top third of the frame, and allowing the natural patterns of glistening water to occupy most of the image, I create visual tension that keeps your eye scanning the photo. I chose a broadside view to feature the locomotives, each of which is of a different length; SD40T-2, SD40, and SD45 (three of my personal favorites).

To make the most of this contrasty scene, I imported the Fuji RAW file into Lightroom and made minor adjustments to highlight and shadows to improve the appearance of the image, then slightly boosted saturation to make for a more pleasing photograph.

NECR freight  611 was on the move toward Palmer, Massachusetts and a bright morning on hand, so the chase was on!

More photos to follow!

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Brian Solomon’s Talk at Monson Free Library: Tuesday May 15, 2018, 6pm.

Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe

On May 15, 2018 at 6pm: I’ll be giving a slide show and lecture in conjunction with a book signing for my recently released Railway Guide to Europe, published by Kalmbach Books.

I’ll have copies of the book available for purchase; signatures provided FREE!

I’ve also donated a copy of the book to the library.

The Monson Free Library is located a 2 High Street in Monson, Massachusetts.

See: https://monsonlibrary.com

Click here to order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

My new guide book on European Railway Travel on the plane. With a cup of Barry’s Tea.
I exposed this photo of the Monson Free Library in April 2018 using a Leica IIIA with 35mm Nikkor lens on Kodak Tri-X.
I exposed this photo of the Monson Free Library in April 2018 using a Leica IIIA with 35mm Nikkor lens on Kodak Tri-X.
I exposed this photo of the Monson Free Library in April 2018 using a Leica IIIA with 35mm Nikkor lens on Kodak Tri-X.

CSX Intermodal on the Edge of Spring.

On my way through Palmer, Massachusetts, I noticed New England Central’s northward 608 blocked at the diamond crossing with CSX’s Boston Line.

That was a good indication that a CSX train might be close.

After a very short wait this eastward CSX intermodal train came into view. It was probably Q012;‑one of several daily trains that runs to Worcester for unloading.

The trees are still bare, but the sun was bright. In just a few more days the trees will begin to leaf, the grass will become green, and Spring will be in the air.

Exposed digitally with my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 90mm Fujinon telephoto. I’ve composed the image to take in the old Union Station, now Palmer’s Steaming Tender restaurant, while positioning the lead locomotive between the control signals at CP83, and keeping the horizon in view.

Mid morning light in Palmer, Massachusetts, April 2018.

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Class 201 Retrospective: Northern Irish Railways 8208 Everywhere but the Enterprise.

Next up for my 20 years in Ireland/class 201 numerical retrospective is old 208/8208: to be different, I’m posting views of 8208 (one of two Class 201s owned by NIR for Enterprise service) working a variety of trains but not the Enterprise!

Originally, the locomotive was number 208, and it had been painted in an attractive NIR blue livery, similar to the 111-class diesels.

I never saw it in blue.

208 as I first saw it; a thumbnail scan from a slide I made in 1998.
Working a Dublin-Waterford train at Athy in July 2003, shortly after it was renumbered 8208.
For few years 8208 worked in a unusual variation of the Enterprise livery, as pictured here on an RPSI excursion near Clonsilla on the Sligo line in 2009.
NIR 8208 in the latest Enterprise livery working Irish Rail’s IWT liner from Ballina at Memorial Road in Dublin.

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Rolling Along with 22K—Lesson in making Pacing Shots.

We were in hot pursuit of Pan Am Southern intermodal freight 22K with three BNSF Railway GE diesels in the lead.

The sun was out.

Rich Reed was driving.

I rolled down the back window, set my Lumix to the smallest aperture (f8) and set the shutter speed dial to ‘A’ mode, which automatically picks the corresponding shutter speed based on the aperture setting.

Since f8 lets the less light to the sensor, the camera program compensated by selecting a slow shutter speed.

I exposed a burst of images as we drove along side the locomotives.

Does it matter that we were in Shirley, Massachusetts?

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BNSF C4s Where?!

This is about location and something unusual.

A week ago, Rich Reed, Paul Goewey and I were making a survey of Pan Am/MBTA operations around Fitchburg, Massachusetts, when we came across intermodal freight 22K stopped east of Fitchburg yard.

Driving up to the head-end, we were surprise to find that the train was led by three BNSF Railway GE diesels, with one of the ‘C4’ (model ES44C4; a six-axle/four-motor riding on a variation of the A1A truck) in the lead.

The train was stopped just west of MBTA’s North Leominster platforms to allow the morning commuter rush to pass unimpeded. This gave us ample opportunity to make photographs.

I was keen to show these BNSF locomotives (nearly 1,000 miles from home rails) operating in Boston suburban territory.

Simply photographing the train/engines really wasn’t good enough, since without some geographically identifying feature, these images could be anywhere.

While I made some close photos of the engines for the record, but I also made a point of exposing images that included station signs and other features to positively identify where we were.

Morning sun on Pan Am Southern intermodal freight 22K at North Leominster on April 20, 2018.
The big GE diesels weren’t the only thing displaying the BNSF logo in North Leominster!
Not the most graceful composition, but it shows where we are.
MBTA 406 heading to Boston’s North Station overtakes 22K at North Leominster.
As MBTA 406 accelerated away from the station, I made a photo of the trailing locomotive with the BNSF GEs beyond. MBTA operates its trains in push-pull mode (locomotive only at one end, cab control car at the other).

One the commuter rush cleared, 22K got permission to proceed and continued east toward its terminus at Ayer, Massachusetts, leading to more photographic opportunities. Stay tuned!

Admittedly not the most scenic location, but this view from the North Leominster parking garage identifies where we are.

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