Category Archives: digital photography

Irish Rail at Portlaoise—Two Night Views.


The other evening I made these two night photographs using my Lumix LX7 at Irish Rail’s station in Portlaoise.

Night photography involves compromises. My techniques sometimes seem counter intuitive.

In this situation, I was traveling light. To optimize the amount of information captured, I set the ISO to 200 and steadied the camera on available surfaces to minimize the effects of camera shake.

After exposure, working with Camera RAW files in Lightroom, I made various adjustments to shadows, highlights and over all contrast as a means of optimizing of the appearance of the final images.

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Connecticut Southern freight at Warehouse Point, Connecticut.


It was nearly two weeks ago that Paul Goewey and I intercepted Connecticut Southern’s northward road freight at Warehouse Point, Connecticut.

I made these tight views near the east-end of the big bridge over the river using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto.

Classic EMD diesels are among the attractions of Connecticut Southern’s freight.

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Under and Over in Dublin.


I made these views the other day on Beresford Place near Bus Aras in Dublin.

An outbound LUAS tram on the Red Line had stopped for traffic Gardner Street, while a southward DART suburban train rolled across the Loop Line Bridge on its way from Connolly Station to Tara Street.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

This is the sort of common scene that is repeated hour after hour, day after day, and yet only rarely get recorded.

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The New ‘Old Liffey Ferry’.


New and old are relative terms.

The ‘Old Liffey Ferry’ that had ended service back in 1984 has been revived by Dublin Port, and so now you can cross the Liffey again by boat in the Dublin Docklands.

Although advertised as the ‘Old Liffey Ferry’, it was a new experience for me.

Last Thurday it was bright and warm, and I met with Mark Healy for a photo wander in Dublin and we crossed the Liffey twice by boat.

The posted fare is 2 Euro and the crossing takes just a few minutes. This is a novel way of seeing the Dublin Docklands and offered a variety of photographic opportunities.

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Irish Rail 217 River Flesk—A Lesson in Night Photography.


The other evening I made a few handheld photos of Irish Rail class 201 diesel number 217 River Fleskat Dublin’s Heuston Station.

217 was working a Mark4 set on the 2100 schedule to Cork.

There are myriad approaches to night photography. In this instance, I worked with my Lumix LX7 without a tripod.

I’m fortunate because I have an unusually steady hand. The Lumix further aids my efforts because it has image stabilization.

I set the camera to ISO 200, and working in ‘A’ (aperture priority) I manually set the lens aperture to its widest opening, which in this case is f1.8. The wider the aperture, the more light passes through the lens to reach the sensor, so having a ‘fast’ lens (one with a small maximum aperture number, such as my f1.8 lens) is a huge benefit.

This set up allowed me work with a 1/10 of second shutter speed, which is adequate speed for a static photograph.

Lumix LX7 photo f1.8 at 1/10th second hand-held, ISO 200, auto white balance. JPG adjusted from a camera RAW file using Lightroom.


Lumix LX7 photo f1.8 at 1/10th second hand-held, auto white balance

If I had been using my FujiFilm XT1 with the kit zoom lens, my widest aperture would have been about f4.5, which is nearly two full stops slower than f1.8, which means at ISO200, I’d require about ½ second exposure to obtain a comparable result, which is too slow for a sharp handheld image in most instances.

Another way of approaching this would be raise the ISO. So with the FujiFilm set up just described, I could increase the ISO setting to 800, which would boost the effective sensitivity of the sensor by two stops (bringing me back up to 1/10thof a second using f4.5). However, this would also boost the noise level and reduce sharpness.

Back in the old days, I would have used Kodachrome, and that would have required a tripod, and probably some filters to colour-correct for the artificial light. Today, digital cameras when set to ‘auto white balance’ do an admirable job of balancing the colour for fluorescent, sodium vapor and other forms of artificial light that tend to tint an image.

Normally for night work with the Lumix, I’d dial in a 1/3 over exposure compensation (+ 1/3 on the exposure compensation dial) however in this situation the relatively bright night sky where low cloud was illuminated by lots of artificial light combined with the silver body of the locomotive and bright platform lighting, obviated the need for boosting the exposure by 1/3 of a stop.

However, I did make some very subtle changes in post processing to help visually separate the roof of the locomotive from the sky.

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Amtrak 490 Crosses the Connecticut River.

While the New CT Rail trains tend to capture most of attention on the Springfield-New Haven route (now branded as the ‘Hartford Line’), Amtrak continues to run its shuttles and through trains on the same route.

I made this view last week of Amtrak 490 working northward to Springfield, Massachusetts as it crossed the Connecticut River between Windsor Locks and Warehouse Point.

I like the distant vantage point, using a telephoto lens to feature the small train on the big bridge.

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Two Trains on the Move at Islandbridge Junction!


Monday, 11 February 2019 was bright and sunny in Dublin.

Although I was only just back across the Atlantic, I made use of the morning when I’d heard that Irish Rail 073 in heritage orange paint was working the down IWT Liner (container train operated from Dublin’s North Wall to Ballina, Co. Mayo).

As this exited Dublin’s Phoenix Park Tunnel approaching Islandbridge Junction, an Irish Rail ICR working the Hazelhatch-Grand Canal Docks service came the other way.

I hadn’t anticipated a ‘rolling meet’, but as luck had it I got two trains for the price of one.

This sequence of photos was exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 27mm pancake lens.

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Thompsonville, Connecticut: CT Rail 4405 on the Roll!


Last week, Paul Goewey and I revisited Thompsonville, Connecticut, an old mill village along the former New Haven Railroad, just south of Springfield, Massachusetts.

I made photos here in the mid-1980s and late 1990s, but hadn’t scoped the location since the start up of CT Rail passenger services last year.

I’d been inspired to go back when I traveled on CT Rail a few days earlier.

These views were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 of southward CT Rail train 4405 on its way to Hartford and New Haven. I worked from the road, making images from the ‘dark side’ of the train by using my telephoto to feature the train rolling though the curve.

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Dublin’s Pearse Station, Spring 1998.


Pearse Station features a capacious Victorian-era balloon-style train shed. Presently this is under-going restoration making for seen very different scene today than this one that I exposed 21 years ago.

I was very impressed by the Pearse Station shed and exposed a number views to make the most of the structure.

This is among my favorites. I’m standing near the south entrance to the shed, and the illumination effects resulting from combination of the broad southward opening and skylights produce an excellent effect on the train and platforms.

My composition is simple, yet clever. I’ve centered the DART train— which some photographers would frown upon, insisting instead on arbitrary placement using rules of thirds or other preconceived notions—and so made the most of the train shed, which is really the subject of my image.

By allowing for greater amounts of interior space to the right of the train, I’ve caused visual tension, while helping to expand the space in the photograph occupied by train shed. This draws the eye away from the train, while the lighting on the front of the train pulls the eye back. Placement of the rails to the lower right corner has another effect, allowing the eye to follow lines of perspective back to the north opening of the shed.

A novice artist might crop this image by cutting the space to the right of the train, moving the corner from the rails, and thus spoiling the intended effects while placing greater emphasis on the DART train, and in so doing ruining my intended composition. 

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New England Central 608 Cross-Lit at Plains Road.

South of Stafford, Connecticut, the former Central Vermont Railway runs along Plains Road, before crossing it to continue its path along the Willimantic River.

This is a favorite morning location for me, but a week ago Tuesday I opted to catch the southward 608 in the last rays of winter sun.

These are 12mm wide-angle views exposed with the FujiFilm XT1 and 12mm lens.

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New England Central 608 at Stafford Springs—Part 4.

Last Tuesday was another sunny afternoon, and so another opportunity to photograph 608 New England Central rolling through downtown Stafford Springs, Connecticut!

This time I worked with my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

As the train eased through town I made my way to another location for an additional photograph. Stay tuned!

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Steam and Semaphores: Another Vintage View at Killucan.

—Not seeing semaphores? Click the link to Tracking the Light to get the full view and story—

I made this vertical (portrait) view of a driver’s training special on Irish Rail’s Sligo Line at Killucan back in April 2003

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland tank engine No 4 had run around its train at Killucan and then received the signal to reverse back on the main road (line). The driver had opened the regulator (throttle) and the engine had begun to move when I released the shutter, framing the engine in a cloud of its own effluence.

The semaphores were removed in conjunction with Irish Rail’s conversion of the Sligo line to operation using Mini CTC signaling during 2005, a change that closed Killucan cabin, among other classic signal cabins on the route.

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Another View: New Haven Railroad’s Stone Arch Bridge at Windsor, Connecticut.


Sunday, I featured a photo of Connecticut Southern’s southward road freight crossing the old New haven Railroad bridge over the Farmington River at Windsor.

Today’s photo is of the same structure, but in the morning from the east side.

Amtrak train 147 at Windsor, Connecticut. Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

This classic bridge is easily accessible with good parking, which makes it a nice place to catch trains on the Springfield-Hartford-New Haven Line (now marketed by CT Rail as the ‘Hartford Line’).

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Connecticut Southern Crosses the Farmington River at Windsor.


Here’s a follow up from Saturday’s post about traveling on CT Rail.

My CT Rail train had overtaken the southward CSOR freight south of Springfield. So when I got off at Windsor Locks, I drove to this location and waited for the freight to follow.

High water in the Farmington River made for a mirror-like reflection.

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CT Rail Hartford Line from Windsor Locks to Springfield.


On Monday February 4, 2019, I took a spin on CT Rail from Windsor Locks, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts and back. The fare was a reasonable $4.00 in each direction and I bought my tickets from the fare machines at the stations.

Traveling by train presented an opportunity to visit with my old friend Jack May, who had traveled up from the New York metro area.

XT1 photo.
CT Rail train interior. Lumix LX7 photo.
Connecticut Southern freight seen from the cab-car of the Northward CT Rail train. I was riding in the coach and photographed through the windows. The freight is shoving back from West Springfield Yard in preparation for its southward journey toward Hartford.

Restored Springfield Union Station. Lumix LX7 Photo.

Restored Springfield Union Station. Lumix LX7 Photo.

I made a few photos using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 digital cameras. It was a nice bright day! I scoped additional line-side locations from the train.

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In the Shadow of the Hiawatha: CP Rail’s Former Milwaukee Road at Wyocena.


Trains Magazine’s Brian Schmidt and I were making the most of sunny frosty weather in central Wisconsin.

We arrived at Columbus to refuel.

Upon exiting the gas station, we spotted a westward CP Rail train making its way over the old Milwaukee Road mainline. Soon we were in rapid pursuit.

I navigated using my iPhone and we found our way to an open crossing near Wyocena.

“Hey, I know this place” I remarked upon arrival at Salisbury Road. “I caught Milwaukee Road 261 here back in 2004.”

As we waited for our westward freight, I imagined what it would have been like to see Milwaukee’s famous streamlined Hiawatha  race through at 100 plus mph.

Wow. That would have been exhilarating. An Otto Kuhler styled 4-6-4 in yellow, orange, gray and maroon. 

Before my time . . .

So we happily settled for a BNSF former Santa Fe SD75M leading two CP Rail units on a long drag freight.

Photo exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm pancake lens; ISO 400, Velvia Color Profile.

We were rewarded by a following westward freight a few minutes later, and then an eastbound! 

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February Sunrise and Headlight on the Horizon.


This morning, February 6, 2019, my photography began with this westward view at CP64 in East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

‘Headlight!’ I announced, as I watched the sun tickling the distant hills.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Paul Goewey and I anticipated the passage of an eastward CSX autorack train.

Sometimes the thrill of photography is that distant twinkle on the horizon and wondering how it will play out.

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EMD’s Racing the Sun at East Northfield.


After catching New England Central’s local freight at White River Junction (featured in Friday’s Tracking the Light), I figured we had time to zip down I-91 to Brattleboro, Vermont and catch road freight 611 on its run south to Palmer, Massachusetts.

Rolling down Cotton Mill Road, I spied 611 led by five vintage EMD diesels pulling across the causeway south of Brattleboro Yard.

Pat Yough, visiting from Pennsylvania, wanted to try for a photograph at the Junction in East Northfield, on the Vermont-Massachusetts state line, so after a cloudy day photograph near Vernon, we overtook the slow moving freight.

Shortly before the train arrived, the clouds parted for a few moments, and a brilliant ‘sucker hole’ illuminated the tracks.

Working with my 18-135mm zoom lens, I quickly adjusted my composition to make the most of this sunny opportunity. And made several nice sunlit telephoto shots.

By the time the train rolled below us, the clouds had dampened the morning light. Yet, the chase was on . . .

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New East Deerfield ‘Railfan’s Bridge’ January 2019 Up date!


Over the last two years, I’ve posted progress on the replacement of the McClelland Farm Bridge over the west end of Pan Am’s Boston & Maine East Deerfield Yard near Greenfield, Massachusetts.

See: December 2018 Update

https://wp.me/p2BVuC-606

A visit toward the end of January 2019 found the new bridge open to traffic in both directions and nothing left of the old bridge except the concrete bridge piers.

New photographer-friendly fences were in place on the west side of the bridge, while temporary chain-link fences were on the east. Presumably these will be replaced as the new bridge reaches completion.

Photographer friendly fences in place on the west side of the bridge. It is easy enough to take photos from between the fence posts and the new sidewalk (footpath) is a welcome change. Lumix LX7 photo.
A view over the chain-link fence looking East toward the yard and the abutments of the old bridge. Lumix LX7 photo.
Although it isn’t a pretty picture, this shows the temporary chainlink fences on the east side of the new bridge along with remaining vestiges of the old ‘Railfan’s’ bridge, where so many photos were made over the years. Lumix LX7 photo.
Looking along the old alignment of McClelland Farm Road; East Deerfield Yard at the right, and the abutments of the old bridge to the right (east) of the new bridge. Lumix LX7 photo.
Pan Am’s symbol freight 16R arriving from the West as viewed from the new ‘Railfan’s Bridge’ over the west end of East Deerfield Yard. Lumix LX7 photo.

The view west offers several good angles of the tracks; while (as previously discussed) the view to the east of East Deerfield Yard suffers from the installation of new power lines with heavy electrical cables that interfere with photography.

More updates to follow in the Spring!

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White River Junction in the Snow!


Last week, Pat Yough and I drove to White River Junction, Vermont, seeking photographs of Buffalo & Pittsburgh 3000, a classic EMD-built GP40 that works the New England Central (NECR) local freight based there.

We found the engine, and shortly after we arrived a snow squall allowed us to exposed some very wintery images.

It had been several years since my last visit to White River Junction, which historically was among the busiest freight locations in Vermont.

Why is a Buffalo & Pittsburgh engine on the New England Central? My short answer: since both B&P and NECR are Genesee & Wyoming railroads it seems logical that engines from one railroad might be loaned or conveyed to another. However, the detailed particulars of the B&P 3000 arrangement are beyond my knowledge at this time.

Finding B&P in White River was only the beginning of our day photographing NECR operations; Stay tuned for more!

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Narrow Gauge Gem at the 2019 Amherst Railway Society BIG Railroad Hobby Show.


In a world of small trains, S.D. Warren & Company’s Baldwin-built 0-4-0T is a giant.

This wonderfully restored narrow gauge steam locomotive was under steam in front of the Better Living Center at the Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts last weekend.

I made these digital photographs in the afternoon.

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Illinois Central SD40-2s on Wisconsin’s Byron Hill.


The Illinois Central has been part of the Canadian National system for more than 20 years.

It’s remarkable that classic IC SD40-2s (listed as ‘SD40-3s’ on some rosters presumably owing to changes to the locomotive electrical systems and other upgrades) survive in traditional black paint.

During my travels earlier this month with Chris Guss and Brian Schmidt, I made these photos of a pair of sequentially numbered IC SD40-2s working as rear-end helpers on a southward CN freight ascending Wisconsin Central’s Byron Hill.

Notice the GE builders ‘plate’ on the trailing unit.

Low evening sun and frigid temperatures made for some rosy light.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 90mm f2.0 lens.

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Eclectic Array of Modern Diesels at Theresa, Wisconsin.


Class 1 North American railroading can still offer variety.

Take for example this photo I exposed of a northward Canadian National freight at Theresa, Wisconsin on Sunday, January 20, 2019.

In the lead is CN2500, a mid-1990s General Electric DASH9-44CW built with a four-piece windshield.  This is followed by more 1990s-era motive power: a CN EMD-built SD75I, a BNSF EMD-built SD75M in classic Santa Fe style warbonnet paint; then finally two more examples of state-of-the-art General Electric diesels; a BNSF ET44C4 (An emissions compliant ‘Tier 4’ with A1A trucks) and Norfolk Southern ET44AC 3616, a six-motor ‘Tier 4’ model.

This broad side view makes the most of the motive power array. I exposed this image as part of a sequence using my FujiFilm XT-1 with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens. Scaled JPG for internet presentation using Lightroom.



This was just one of many photos I exposed on an adventure with Chris Guss and TRAINS Magazine’s Brian Schmidt.

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Union Pacific Adams Line on January 20, 2019.


It was bitterly cold and clear when Chris Guss, Brian Schmidt and I set out to photograph the former Chicago & North Western Adams Line—the late-built ‘Adams Cut-off’ that shortened the distance between Milwaukee and the Twin Cities.

We drove back roads from Waukesha to Clyman Junction, the location of a surviving steam-era coaling tower. Then we explored various potential photo locations.

Clyman Junction.

Looking east near Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

Train movements on the Adams Line can be infrequent, but patience paid off, and by mid-morning we caught an eastward train in nice light.

The clean SD70M was an added bonus. I made both color slides and digital photos.

The slides remain latent, so here are some of the digital images.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom.


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Telephoto Views: Amherst Show January 2019.


This is part 3 in my series on photos of the January 2019 Amherst Railway Society BIG Railroad Hobby Show.

Previous views were exposed using my Lumix LX7 (see: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2019/01/27/2019-big-railroad-show-a-dozen-more-photos/) but these photos were made using my FujFilm XT1 fitted with a 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.

The combination of a long focal length lens, with close focus and very wide aperture allows for a shallow depth of field. This technique enabled me to highlight select subjects in the image area while allowing potentially distracting elements to blend into a sea of blur.

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2019 BIG Railroad Show A Dozen MORE Photos!


Amherst Railway Society BIG Railroad Hobby Show—2019 Part 2.

I made hundreds of images.

Were you there? Maybe I caught you on camera!

All of these photos were exposed with my Lumix LX7.

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Amherst Railway Society BIG Railroad Hobby Show—2019 Part 1.

Yesterday, Saturday January 26, 2019, I attended the annual Amherst Railway Society BIG Railroad Hobby Show in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

This was an opportunity to connect with old friends, watch small trains run in circles, collect ephemera and old pictures and make lots of new photos.

Here’s a few from my ‘new’ Lumix LX7! More to come soon!

Bus glint!


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Wisconsin Sunset—drop under light.


I made this view traveling with Brian Schmidt last weekend on our way from Columbus, Wisconsin to near Middleton.

We weren’t near the tracks, so this ‘Tracking the Light’ is focused only on the light.

And yes, it was cold.

‘Drop under light’ is when the sun illuminates the clouds from below.

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A Rolling Meet, a DPU and Sun at Highway F, Byron, Wisconsin.


With some pavement passing beneath us in spirited run on the ascent to Byron, Brian Schmidt and I arrived at the Highway F overpass near the summit of Canadian National’s Wisconsin Central line over Byron Hill in time to record the passage of a northward double stack train meeting a southward freight.

I’ve featured both trains previously on Tracking the Light:

Byron Hill, Lost Arrow Road—Old location Revisited in January 2019.

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2019/01/25/byron-hill-lost-arrow-road-old-location-revisited-in-january-2019/

Canadian National Kicks Up Snow at Ackerville.

For this post: as the northward train glided below me, I was watching for the DPU (the locomotive working as a ‘distributed power unit’, 1990s-speak for a ‘radio controlled remotely operated helper). I timed my exposure to document its passage as the uphill train approached.

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Canadian National Kicks Up Snow at Ackerville.


Sometimes a cloudy day gives you more options.

If the sun had been out, Hillside Road in Ackerville, Wisconsin may not have been the preferred mid-morning location to catch this northward Canadian National double-stack train.

Brian Schmidt and I caught three trains here on Saturday, January 19, 2019.

I made this view using my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with an 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens.

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Freight at Duplainville—Part 1.


You’ll need to pay close attention to figure out the players in this scenario.

Duplainville, Wisconsin is where the former Milwaukee Road mainline to the Twin Cities from its namesake crosses the historic Soo Line/Wisconsin Central route between Chicago and Fond du Lac.

Soo Line bought the Milwaukee in the 1980s, and in the 1990s the Soo Line branding was displaced by parent Canadian Pacific, which is now CP Rail.

In the late 1980s, Wisconsin Central Limited took over the old Soo Line route and operated this until bought up by Canadian National in 2001.

This led to confusing situation in the mid 1990s where the old Soo Line was the WCL, and the ‘New Soo Line’ was the former Milwaukee Road.

Now the principal Canadian carriers cross at grade in Wisconsin, many many miles from the Canadian frontier.

Further complicating clarity is that many freights operate with run-through locomotives.

In this case CSX 13 (a GE-built) AC4400CW leads a northward CN freight across the old Milwaukee Road. In consist are BNSF, CN and BC Rail locomotives.

Try printing all of that on a color slide mount!

On January 19, 2019, in a light snow CSX 13 leads a northward CN freight across the diamonds with CP Rail’s former Milwaukee Road at Duplainville, Wisconsin.


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New England Central at Eagleville Dam (Part 2).

Here’s a view I made last week of New England Central’s southward 608 as it passed the old mill dam at Eagleville, Connecticut.

I’m curious to know more about the mill. All I know is that the dam and mill pond remain. The area is now a public park.

Dusk at Eagleville, Connecticut.

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Amtrak Veterans Cabbage: Panned at Night.


The other evening at the modern Amtrak station in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, Trains Magazine’s Brian Schmidt and I set up to photograph Hiawatha Corridor trains during their station stops.

The southward train arrived first, and featured one of the former F40PH diesels, now a cab-control/baggage car in the lead. These are colloquially known as ‘cabbages’, and this one was painted to honor American veterans.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 27mm lens, I set the camera to ISO 6400 and panned the train as it arrived to allow for the effect of motion.

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Monday, January 14, 2019: New England Central at Eagleville Dam (Part 1).

In the last light of a winter’s evening, I exposed this view of New England Central’s southward 608 as it approached Eagleville, Connecticut.

Which is the subject of the photo: the train or the waterfall?

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

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Empire Builder, Bloody Nose and a Snow Squall.


Friday afternoon January 18, 2019, Trains Magazine’s Brian Schmidt and I visited Duplainville, Wisconsin to catch Amtrak’s westward Empire builder, train number 7, as it split the signals in a snow squall.

Amtrak P42 50 leads train number 7 west at Duplainville, Wisconsin.

I was delighted to see that the Milwaukee Road-vintage searchlight signals that I remember from my days in Wisconsin (now more than two decades ago) are still active.

The third locomotive in the Builder’s consist was the elusive Amtrak 156, ‘the bloody nose’—so named for its wearing of the 1970s-era Amtrak paint scheme.

I exposed these views using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto. White balance set to ‘daylight’.

Local photographers had gathered for Amtrak’s daily passing.


Amtrak 156 is one of several ‘heritage’ locomotives wearing paint schemes from years gone by..

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