Category Archives: digital photography

Photographing SEPTA’s Rarest Electric at Jefferson Station, Philadelphia

SEPTA has a small fleet of electric locomotives; seven are AEM-7s (kin to Amtrak’s now retired fleet), one is a similar model ALP44 built by ABB Traction in 1996.

This one SEPTA ALP44 carries the road number 2308. It is among the regional rail operator’s most elusive locomotives. NJT Transit also operated ALP44s, but these have been out of service for a number of years.

Last week (November 2017) I was in the right place at the right time and caught 2308 arriving at Temple University (station) with a train destined for Thorndale. I boarded and traveled to Jefferson Station (formerly called Market East), where I made these images using my Lumix LX7.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

Soon SEPTA will be receiving a fleet of new Siemens-built electrics, so I would assume that old 2308 is on borrowed time.

Recognizing rare equipment is part of making interesting railway images.

Is SEPTA’s 2308 the modern-day equivalent of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s DD2 electric (a rarely photographed, one-of-a-kind machine that looked similar to PRR’s common GG1)?

 

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Photography with an Independence Pass: A dozen new photos.

Last week, I bought my SEPTA Independence Day Pass at 1234 Market Street.

For a mere $13 this allows for unlimited travel on the SEPTA network (with a few minor restrictions). See SEPTA: www.septa.org/fares/pass/independence.html

I made good use of the pass, traveling over several heavy rail routes to make photos.

One of the greatest features of this pass is the ability to get on and off trains without concern for cost, or trying to explain to the conductor where I’m are traveling to. This allows me to change my plan on the spot if I see an interesting location.

SEPTA offers regular interval service on most of its suburban lines, with extra trains in the evening rush hour.

Lumix LX7 Photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo at Berwyn, Pa.
FujiFilm XT1 photo at Berwyn, Pa.
Lumix LX7 photo on the Main Line at Merion, PA.
Lumix LX7 photo at Glenside, PA.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo at Glenside.
Lumix LX7 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.
SEPTA Silverliner IVs approach Temple. FujiFilm XT1 photo.
Interior of a Bombardier coach. Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA Silverliner IV interior. Lumix LX7 photo.
SEPTA at 30th Street Station. Lumix LX7 photo.

These digital photos were made using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 digital cameras.

 

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Dusk at Cynwyd; SEPTA’s most obscure branch?

Dusk is a mystical time to photograph; highlights are subdued, shadows are deep, while the prevailing light is soft and cool. Window light is equivalent to the outdoors, and railroad signal light seems more intense.

The short SEPTA line to Cynwyd in the northwestern Philadelphia suburbs is a vestige of Pennsylvania Railroad’s Schuylkill Valley line that once reached northward into anthracite country.

Today Cynwyd is the end of the line.

Until last week, it was one of the last segments of SEPTA’s Regional Rail network left for me to travel.

I arrived at dusk, and in that ‘blue hour’ and I made these photographs using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 digital cameras.

All things being equal I would have used a tripod, but I didn’t have one so with the XT1, I boosted the ISO to unusually high levels to compensate for the dim conditions.

FujiFilm XT1 with Zeiss 12mm lens. ISO 1600.
FujiFilm XT1 with Zeiss 12mm lens. ISO 1600.
Lumix LX7 ISO 200.
FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fujinon lens. ISO 1600.
FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fujinon lens. ISO 3200.

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Diesels Under Wire on the Main Line.

Not just any old ‘mainline,’ but the famous Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) Main Line— so called because it was built as the ‘Main Line of Public Works’ in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

I made this view of Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian taking the curve at Berwyn, Pennsylvania.

Where most of the trains on this line draw power from the high-voltage AC catenary, Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian changes from an electric to a diesel locomotive at 30th Street to avoid the need to change at Harrisburg.

This is Amtrak’s only service on the former PRR west of Harrisburg. The lone long distance train on what was once a premier passenger route, and unusual on the electrified portion of the line.

I exposed this sequence at Berwyn using my FujiFilm XT1 and 18-135mm zoom lens.

To make the most of the curve and autumn color, I positioned myself on the outside of the curve at Berwyn. The chug of Amtrak’s P42 diesel alerted me to the approach of this westward train.

 

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CSX Freight Rolls on the Reading; Two cameras, Four photos.

I made these views of a CSX freight operating on the former Reading Company in Philadelphia. My vantage point was from the sidewalk on the road bridge near the Strawberry Mansion Bridge over the Schuylkill.

The day was bright, but partially overcast, which benefitted my photography since bright sun would have resulted in a difficult and unflattering high-contrast situation.

This northward freight was moving slowly, allowing me to work with two digital cameras and expose a series of images as it went by.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.
A wider view from the same vantage point exposed with my Lumix LX7.
The lighting post provides a hint as to the location ‘City of Phila.’ Lumix LX7 photo.
Trailing telephoto view with the FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom. This offers some interesting roof detail of the General Electric diesels hauling the train.

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Seeking Streetcars on a Rainy November Night; 10 New Photos.

To the uninitiated a cold windy rainy night might not seem like a good time to make urban photographs.

In my eye this is a fantastic opportunity to make unconventional images.

My brother and I planned to ride SEPTA’s No. 15 streetcar along Girard Avenue to have burgers and beer at Johnny Brenda’s located on Girard near the crossing of the Market-Frankford rapid transit line.

I worked with my Lumix LX7 hand-held to expose this selection of images.

Some of the street views were exposed using the Lumix’s ‘night mode’ that exposes a burst of images in rapid succession and combines them in-camera as a composite.

As you can see it was really lashing down and the most difficult part of this exercise was keeping the lens dry.

A Lumix LX7 night-mode image composite exposed at Girard and 41st Street.
A Lumix LX7 night-mode image composite exposed at Girard and 41st Street.
On a route 15 PCC car.
The back of the PCC car near the end of the run.
PCC’s pass on Girard near the Market-Frankford line elevated. Exposed handheld in ‘A’ mode.
A Lumix LX7 night-mode image composite exposed at Girard Avenue and Frankford Street.
A PCC takes the corner from Girard onto Frankford.
This was made with a relatively long exposure for a handheld photo.
Johnny Brenda’s bar was a welcome refuge from the rain.
Beneath the old elevated railway crossing  Girard. Sorry no PCC’s, I wasn’t in the mood to get any more wet that necessary to get home!

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Pennsylvania Angel at 30th Street Station.

Click on Tracking the Light to see the un-cropped photographs.

I exposed these photos the other day of Pennsylvania Railroad’s super human size angel at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.

This pays tribute to its employees killed during World War II.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

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SEPTA in the Subway; a brief tutorial on underground photography.

I made these views of SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Subway in Philadelphia using my Lumix LX7.

The ISO was set to 200; white balance to ‘Auto’, I adjusted the exposure using the aperture priority (‘A’ setting) and selected F stop manually.

I’ve included screen shots with detailed exposure/camera information.


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Another SEPTA PCC Pan.

It’s dusk and too dark for a conventional photograph without boosting the ISO to high levels.

So, I opt for a panned image, where I use a comparatively slow shutter speed and move the camera to follow the motion of the subject.

I’ve found that it helps to pick a point on the vehicle and stay with it.

It also helps to begin panning well before the shutter is released and continue to pan without changing your overall motion after the picture has been made.

This last part is crucial. Many pans are ruined when the photographer stops panning (or slows) at the very moment the shutter is released, which unfortunately can be a natural inclination that must be overcome with practice.

I exposed this pan-image of a SEPTA Route 15 PCC car on Girard Avenue on November 5, 2017.
Screen shot showing Lumix LX7 EXIF data including shutter speed, ISO and f-stop.

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Amtrak Crosses the Schuylkill River—November 2017.

 

 

On a warm Saturday afternoon I exposed a series of photos of Amtrak’s bridge over the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia using my Lumix LX7.

To boost contrast and color saturation, I imported the Lumix RAW files into Lightroom and made adjustments manually.

In 1914, the Pennsylvania Railroad built this massive arch over the Schuylkill River to replace it original 1867 double-track bridge constructed of stone arches and a metal truss span.

Although the bridge resembles the stone arches it replaced, this isn’t actually a stone arch bridge, but rather reinforced concrete arches faced with sandstone.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

 

SEPTA local crosses the Schuylkill. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Glint on the Water Level Route.

Early November is a great time to photograph along the Hudson.

I made these views from the one-time Erie Railroad terminus at Piermont, New York.

Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited catches the glint of the evening sun near Dobbs Ferry, New York. Meanwhile, a Metro-North electric multiple unit is rolling toward Grand Central.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 28-135mm Fujinon lens fully extended. (Equivalent to a 200mm view on a traditional 35mm film camera)

Meet on the old New York Central Hudson Division.
Looking across the wide expanse of the Hudson River toward Dobbs Ferry.

Would a longer lens have produced more effective photos?

(I wish I’d brought my Canon 100-400mm. Maybe next time!).

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Slug-Set on the Connecticut River Bridge

Call this one Telephoto and Wideangle contrasts.

In October I called up to one of my favorite places and made these two views of the GATX slug-set that Pan Am Railways uses to work the East Deefield hump.

During the course of its duties the East Deerfield hump engine routinely pulls cuts of freight cars out onto the Connecticut River Bridge, which makes for ample opportunity to expose photographs.

Sometimes one view doesn’t give you the full picture.

I like the old bridge in this bucolic setting, and this also a great place to picture equipment. I’ve photographed dozens of trains here over years.

One view was exposed with my 12mm Zeiss Touit (wide angle) lens; the other with my Fujinon 90mm telephoto. The wideangle view takes in the scene; the telephoto photo focuses more tightly on the locomotive. By presenting both you get a more complete picture.


In this 12mm wide angle view, notice how the effect of soft sunlight on the bridge helps direct your eye to the locomotive.
On my FujiFilm XT1, the 90mm lens approximates the angle of view offered by a 135mm lens on a traditional full-frame 35mm film camera.

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November 2017 TRAINS Magazine Features my Column on Photography

The November 2017 issue of Trains Magazine, pages 16 and 17, features my column with suggestions for improving your photography.

I offer some simple and obvious suggestions, but more importantly I challenge some common assumptions and provide some valuable counter-intuitive advice.

The nice thing about advice is that if you don’t like it, you can ignore it.

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Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering the photograph used to illustrate the article was exposed with my FujiFilm XT1 with the Zeiss 12mm lens often mentioned in this blog.

Sunburst on the Boston & Maine.

Alternatively, I could call this Tracking the Light post, ‘28N at Millers Falls.’

Whichever you like.

So what do you do in a situation where a train is coming directly out of the midday sun?

You could

1) give up.

2) go for a sandwich.

3) take up plane spotting.

4) all of the above.

Or you can try something different.

The other day at Millers Falls, Massachusetts I exposed these views looking timetable west on the old Boston & Maine. Train 28N is an eastward autorack destined for Ayer, Massachusetts.

Using a super wide-angle 12mm Zeiss Touit, I set the aperture to the smallest setting (f22), which produces a sunburst effect. To make the most of this effect, I positioned an autumn branch between the camera and the sun.

12mm Zeiss Touit, ISO 800, f22 at 1/125th of a second.

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Pan Am Southern at Buckland—Pick the best of three Photographs.

Earlier this month, I exposed these three views of Pan Am Southern’s autorack train 287 working westward at Buckland, Massachusetts on the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg route.

The color view is a digital photo made with my FujiFilm XT1. This is Jpg using the in-camera Velvia color profile, which I scaled for presentation here, but otherwise left it unmodified in regards to color, contrast, saturation etc.

The black & white photographs are film images, exposed with a Leica IIIA fitted with a 1940s-vintage Nikkor screw mount 35mm lens. I used Ilford Pan F (ISO 50) processed in D76 (1 to 1 with water) and toned in selenium for improved highlights.

Telephoto view made digitally with a FujiFilm XT.
Wide-angle view exposed on black & white film.
No locomotive in this black & white photo. Is it always important to feature the locomotives?

I like to work with multiple cameras. I have my favorite of the three photos. Do you have your favorites?

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Bright Sun on CSX at Palmer.

The other morning I noticed the points at CP83 in Palmer on CSX’s former Boston & Albany line were set for the controlled siding.

Since CSX’s local freight B740 from West Springfield, Massachusetts often arrives at Palmer in mid-Morning, I thought it was likely I could make some photos.

Bright autumn sun in this classic location made for excellent conditions.

I didn’t have to wait long at the South Main Street overpass, when I heard the short freight dropping down grade toward the Palmer diamond.

I made this sequence using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm Fujinon lens.

CSX local freight B740 takes the controlled siding at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts. This will allow B740 to access the leads to Palmer yard and make its interchange.
The classic view of B740 arriving in Palmer. Trains on the controlled siding make for a more pleasing angle to photograph because they are further from south side of the cutting. October morning sun is pleasing light.
Is this view too close?
Trailing view looking toward the Palmer yard.

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HDR versus Manipulated RAW; or Flowers with NI Railways.

My Lumix LX7 has an ‘high-dynamic range’ feature. Otherwise known by its initials ‘HDR’, high-dynamic range is a technique for digital imaging that allows greater detail in highlights and shadows by combining several images of the same subject that were exposed at different values.

The LX7 includes the HDR setting as one of the options in ‘scene mode’ (SCN on the selection dial). This rapidly exposes a sequence of images and combines them in-camera to produce a single HDR JPG. Obviously you need to hold still when you make the photo.

Also it helps to photograph a static scene or the result my get a bit weird.

In this instance, I photographed some flowers on the platform of NI Railway’s station at Whitehead, Co. Antrim (Northern Ireland).

This is my HDR composite photograph. The camera automatically exposes a burst of images at various exposure settings and combines them in-camera to produce a single image with greater shadow and highlight detail than is normally possible with a single frame.

There are other ways of accomplishing a similar result.

So I decided to compare the HDR with some manipulated versions of a camera RAW file that I exposed of the same scene. With the RAW images, I’d adjusted the file with Lightroom post processing software, selectively altering contrast, gamma, and colour saturation and colour temperature to make for a more pleasing photograph.

Specifically I applied a digital graduated neutral density filter, while making global changes to highlights and saturation.

The output of the RAW is also as a JPG, which I scaled for presentation here.

This view is from a single RAW file exposed with the Lumix LX7 and manipulated digitally to maximize highlight and shadow detail. This is my first of two manipulations.
This is a more intensively manipulated file than the image immediately above. Again this image was from a single camera RAW file. This one features slightly darker highlight values.

I made two versions of the RAW interpretation.

In both sets of images I’ve intentionally focused on the flowers and not the NIR train.

Which do you prefer?

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Sunday at Moira

Last Sunday, I spent several hours photographing NI Railways and Enterprise trains at Moira, a station on the old Great Northern Railway’s Belfast-Dublin route.

The attractions of this location include a preserved signal cabin and a footbridge at the Dublin-end. Another benefit is the level crossing with a local road at the Dublin end. The barriers protecting the road drop 3-4 minutes before trains pass, which provides ample warning to prepare for photography.

This is especially helpful if you are sitting in a car nearby trying to edit texts and photos for a book on deadline.

Moira cabin is preserved. I made several views of the old box including this one with a crow in flight.
A NI Railways 3000-series CAF set approaches its station stop at Moira on its way from Belfast to Portadown, Northern Ireland.
Soft sun accentuates the front of the train and the signal cabin at Moira.

I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.

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German Outtakes-1

As mentioned last week, I’m in the final lap of assembling a book on European Railway travel.

This image is among my ‘outtakes’ from the section on Germany.

I have hundreds of photos along the Rhein. I like this one because it shows the twin tunnels on the right bank opposite Oberwesel, but the wires in the sky annoy me, as does the clutter in the river at right and shrub on the left.

There’s better photos to select from for my book.

A Swiss Cargo freight works forward along the Rhein in September 2015. Really? That was two years ago? Gosh, where does the time go? Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1.

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In the Rain at the Famous Biaschina Loops—Swiss Outtakes Part 2

Here’s another view that won’t appear in my book on European Railway travel. (Are you missing the mist? Facebook viewers will need to click on the post to get the whole picture).

I’m just days away from submitting my final chapters.

Believe it or not, I substituted a film photo from this same location for consideration in the book instead of this digital photo.

Why?

I felt the film image captured the scene more effectively.

This is a digital photo at the three-level Biaschina Loops; for the book I went with a film photo of an SBB Re4-4 at the same spot.

I like the way the mist and rain add depth to this famous location at the Biaschina Loops on the south slope of Switzerland’s Gottard Pass.

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Glint, Flare and Clouds; Evening in the Gullet.

I realize that today’s title might not catch everyone’s eye.

How about: ‘Clean GM Diesel on a Freight’?

Or, ‘Irish Rail at Rush Hour’ ?

‘Gullet Glint’?

Anyway, this post is about light.

I was waiting on the Up IWT liner (International Warehousing & Transport Ballina, County Mayo to Dublin Northwall container train)with recently painted Irish Rail 071 class diesel number 082.

Just ahead of this Dublin-bound freight was the Up-Galway passenger train with a common set of ICRs (InterCity Railcars).

I was photographing into the sun. My intent was to work the glint effect. (That’s when the sun reflects off the side of the train).

Usually, I find this is most effective when you shade the front element of the lens to minimize flare. Notice the two variations with the ICR.

By shading the front element I’ve prevented the rays of the sun from directly hitting the front element of my lens, thus minimizing the effects of flare.
In this view, exposed moments after the photo above, I’ve allowed the sun to hit the front element to show the effects of flare. This small adjustment can produce very different results. Often I aim to control the amount of flare; a little bit lightens shadows and adds some colour to the scene but too much can result in unpleasant and unnatural looking light streaks or light fog.

By the time the freight reached me clouds had partly shaded the sun leaving only a hint of back-lighting.

All the photos were made using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 lens. The camera RAW Files were all adjusted for colour balance, colour saturation and contrast using the same ratio of change. (In other words, although I’ve manipulated the final result, all the photos have received the same degree of alteration).

The clouds shaded the sun for me here.
In this image, I adjust the exposure on site to compensate for the clouds blocking the sun.

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Lumix LX7 at Belfast Central.

I had a few minutes between trains at Belfast Central, so in the interval I made a few photos with my Lumix LX7.

To compensate for less than ideal lighting I made nominal adjustments to the RAW files in post processing using Light room.

Essentially I lightened the shadows, brought down the highlights in the sky, and boosted colour saturation while slightly increasing overall contrast.

Douglas Adams once wrote something to the effect: ‘There’s no language that has a word that means “as pretty as an airport”‘.
An inbound NI Railways train.
Red ‘tail lamps’ indicate that this is a trailing view.
NI Railways 8209 on the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise.
No flash was used in the exposing of this photo.

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Irish Rail Class 071 Works the IWT Liner.

Last week Irish Rail class 071 worked the IWT Liner.

Dressed in the 1970s-era heritage livery, this locomotive has been a popular topic with local photographers.

The bright orange locomotive glistens even on a dull day.

Digital photograph exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm lens.

I exposed this view on Friday (1September 2017) from Conyngham Road in Dublin (at the entrance to the Phoenix Park Tunnel) using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

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Telephoto versus Wide angle: Picturing Irish Rail’s Tara Mines Run at Drogheda.

A few days ago, my daily Tracking the Light post featured a long distance telephoto view of Irish Rail’s Tara Mines zinc ore train crossing the Malahide causeway.

See: Long View: Tara Mines Zinc Ore Train at Malahide. 

In that photo the train is relatively small in a big scene.

Three days later, David Hegarty and I were again out along the old Great Northern line, this time at Drogheda, to photograph the Tara Mines on the move.

In contrast to the distant view in the earlier posting, the photographs displayed here  focus tightly on the locomotive and train using more classic three-quarter angle.

In the top photograph, I used my FujiFilm XT1 with a 90mm fixed telephoto for a tight compressed view (what some photographers might term a ‘telewedgie’).

While in bottom photograph I used my Lumix LX7 with zoom lens set with a wide-angle perspective that approximates the angle of view offered by a 35mm focal length lens on a traditional 35mm film camera.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm fixed telephoto lens. Notice the crossovers located on  curved track.
Lumix LX7 wide view.

I prefer the telephoto view for overall appeal; this handles the soft lighting conditions more satisfactorily, focuses more closely on the locomotive and train, minimizes bland elements of the scene such as the ballast and white sky, and offers a high impact image of the train in motion. Also it helps emphasize the trackage arrangement with crossovers between the up and down lines.

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Think Fast at Hazlehatch! Action on the Quad Track.

Irish Rail’s quad-track line southwest of Dublin is a popular place for photos.

Last week, Colm O’Callaghan and I made a trip down to Hazlehatch to make photos of trains on the move in the afternoon.

Belmond’s Grand Hibernian was passing down road when Colm said to me, ‘Quick, it’s the inspection car’. I had only a few seconds. I turned around and with little time to compose I fired off a few frames.

Both the train and the inspection car were in motion.

FujiFilm XT1 photograph at Hazlehatch. The fifth line in the center serves a stub-end track to a bay platform at Hazlehatch station.

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Coming and Going: The Belfast-Dublin Enterprise on the old Great Northern Line near Mosney

There’s a lightly used road bridge over Irish Rail’s old Great Northern line south of the former station at Mosney that offers a clean view in both directions.

The Irish Sea is in the distance to the east.

A week ago David Hegarty and I spent a few hours here making photos of passing trains.

The Enterprise is a cross-border service connecting Belfast and Dublin. Trains are arranged in a push-pull configuration with the locomotive at the Belfast-end. Exposed at 1/1000th of a second to minimize motion blur.
Trailing view: Exposed at 1/1000th of a second to minimize motion blur.

I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a fixed focal length 27mm pancake lens, which offers an angle of view rough equivalent to a 41mm lens on a traditional 35mm film camera. In other words it is a slightly wide-angle perspective.

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Long View: Tara Mines Zinc Ore Train at Malahide.

On the morning of 25 August 2017, David Hegarty and I were in position at Malahide looking toward the old Great Northern Railway causeway to photograph a laden Tara Mines Zinc Ore Train led by Irish Rail class 071 locomotive number 077.

I liked this location because it allowed me to picture the whole train in a scenic setting. As you can see the Tara Mines train is very short as demonstrated in this  broad-side view (if you are viewing on FB you may need to click on Tracking the Light for the full photo).

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 fitted with an f2.0 90mm fixed telephoto.

To make this work I used a medium telephoto and then in post processing cropped the extraneous portions of the sky and water at top and bottom of the image.

I also altered contrast, colour balance and colour saturation.

I’m not fully satisfied though, because the dark locomotive and dull wagons with relatively flat lighting tend to get lost in the overall scene.

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Steam in the Rain: RPSI Steam & Jazz at Lisburn—25 August, 2017.

Lisburn is a surviving gem among old Great Northern Railway stations in Northern Ireland.

RPSI’s steam crew apologized for the weather, but there was no need. Steam locomotives make for excellent subjects when photographed at dusk in the rain.

This was my reunion with Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s engine 85, a Great Northern compound 4-4-0.

Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) engine 85 is named Merlin. It was one of five V-class compounds, all of which were named for birds of prey.

Honer Travers arranged my visit to Lisburn to witness the arrival of the scheduled Steam & Jazz special from Belfast, and introduced me to members of the crew (some of whom I’d met on previous occasions).

Working with three cameras, I made dozens of atmospheric images in the course of about 15 minutes. These photos were made digitally with my FujiFilm XT1 and Panasonic Lumic LX7. In addition, I exposed a handful of black & white photos using a Nikon loaded with Fomapan Classic.

RPSI’s Steam & Jazz excursion arrives from Belfast in a steadily drizzling rain.
Cold, windy, wet and dark, but great for atmospheric photos. It helps to have a FAST lens, in this case an f2.0 90mm Fujinon telephoto.
Number 85 runs around at Lisburn. Fuji XT1 photo.
Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1, notice the effect of shallow depth of field and selective focus.
Lumix LX7 photo at Lisburn.

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Belmond in the Gullet; Navy Blue Train as viewed with Lumix and Fuji Digital.

Three photos:

Belmond is a high-end tour train operator that since 2016 has served Ireland with its Grand Hibernian sleeping car train.

This has been a popular topic for railway photographers as it represented a return of the Mark 3 carriage to Irish rails and makes for a decidedly different passenger train in contrast with Irish Rail’s regularly scheduled services.

Yet, as previously mentioned on Tracking the Light, the train itself is challenging to capture in images owing to its largely unbroken dark navy-blue paint.

In dull light this looks nearly black.

I’ve found that the most effective photographs of the Belmond Grand Hibernian are made in bright sunlight.

These views were exposed at ‘the Gullet’ west of Dublin’s Heuston Station. One was made with my Lumix LX7 with the Vivid colour profile; the other two with my FujiFilm X-T1 using the Velvia colour profile.

Belmond’s Grand Hibernian exposed using a FujIFilm X-T1 digital camera with fixed 90mm lens.
A view of the same train exposed moments later with my Panasonic Lumix LX7.
On Saturdays the Belmond train is shunted in the Gullet in order to move it from Heuston Station to Dublin Connolly. This requires another locomotive to couple to the back of the train and haul it via the Phoenix Park Tunnel. Notice the changeable lighting conditions and how that affects the appearance of the navy-blue paint. Exposed using a FujIFilm X-T1 digital camera with fixed 90mm lens.

Files were scaled in Lightroom for internet presentation, but were not altered in post processing in regards to exposure, colour balance, colour temperature or contrast.

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On the Roll to Derry on NI Railways.

It had been a long time since I’d last traveled NIR’s Belfast to Derry railway line (in the original version of this post, I’d described this as the ‘Derry Road’ but several readers wrote into correct me, as the phrase ‘Derry Road’ refers to the long abandoned GNR route to Derry and not the present NIR line), and while I’ve been over the whole line between Derry and Belfast in stages, I’d never before actually traveled all the way from Belfast to Derry.

So, two weeks ago, Honer Travers and I organized a day out to Derry. We began our rail journey at Lisburn and traveled to Belfast Great Victoria Street where we changed trains.

After a wander in Derry, we returned by rail the way we had come.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

Interior view of a 4000-series CAF train.
Holding the Lumix above my head I made this interior view.
Interior view of a 4000-series CAF train.
Rolling toward Derry, Northern Ireland.
Interior view of a 4000-series CAF train. Although only moderately busy when we departed Belfast, by the time the train arrived at Derry it was packed.
Outside NI Railways’ Derry station.
An NI-Railways train rolls along the Foyle on its return trip to Belfast. In the distance is Derry’s Peace Bridge.
View of the line along the Foyle looking toward Derry’s station from the Peace Bridge. Would this be a better photo with a train?
A panoramic composite photo exposed with my Lumix LX7 from the platform at Derry.

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Up Close with Irish Rail 215 in Fresh Paint-Five New Photos.

Irish Rail’s class 201 General Motors-built diesel-electric number 215 (now technically 92 60 02 10215-6) was recently repainted in fresh green and silver paint.

Over the last few days I had several opportunities to photograph this locomotive up-close, allowing for some detailed images.

Here’s a selection of Lumix LX7 views.

Irish Rail 215 works the back of a Mark 4 set on approach to Heuston Station Dublin.
Irish Rail 215 at Dublin’s Heuston Station. Lumix LX7 digital photo.
Irish Rail 215 at Dublin’s Heuston Station. Lumix LX7 digital photo.
Irish Rail 215 at Kent Station, Cork. Lumix LX7 digital photo.
Irish Rail 215 at Kent Station, Cork. Lumix LX7 digital photo. Contrast and saturation adjusted in post processing.

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NI Railways on the Roll—Panned Views Crossing the Lagan.

A few weeks back on a trip to Belfast, I exposed these views of NI Railway’s CAF-built diesel railcars crossing the River Lagan.

To convey a sense of motion I panned the trains using a relatively slow shutter speed with a medium telephoto lens. By using an even panning motion I was able to keep the train sharp with the background is blurred.

Exposed at f 22 for 1/60th of a second. 135mm focal length.
Exposed at f20 for 1/60th of a second.

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Irish Rail 220 with IWT Liner at Islandbridge Junction on 17 August 2017.

Clear blue dome. Nice view. Short walk.

Islandbridge Junction near Heuston Station in Dublin.

I exposed this photo of Irish Rail’s IWT Liner (Dublin North Wall to Ballina, Co. Mayo) on the morning of 17 August 2017 using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a 27mm pancake lens.

Exposed at f9 1/500th of a second at ISO 400 using a 27mm pancake lens (provides an angle of view equivalent to a 41mm lens on a full-frame 35mm film camera).

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Exploring Repurposed Railway Vestiges in County Down; 8 new photos.

Here’s another instance where I was working with two cameras and two very different photographic media.

My Lumix LX7 is an easy tool to capture images digitally, while the Leica IIIa I carry requires a bit more work and yields a very different result using traditional 35mm black & white film.

Newcastle, County Down is a classic sea-side resort on the Irish Sea at Dundrum Bay.

It’s been many years since the old Belfast & County Down Railway branch line saw activity, yet the station-building survives.

Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using a Leica IIIa with 35mm screw mount Nikkor lens. Film processed in Agfa-mix Rodinal Special mixed with water at a ratio of 1 to 31 at 68F for 3 minutes. Negatives scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
Colour view exposed digitally using a Lumix LX7. Notice how the Lidl logos jump out at you in the colour views.
Flowers work better in colour than in black & white.
A sidelight view of the old station building showing old railway fencing. Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using a Leica IIIa with 35mm screw mount Nikkor lens. Film processed in Agfa-mix Rodinal Special mixed with water at a ratio of 1 to 31 at 68F for 3 minutes. Negatives scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.

A couple of weeks ago, Honer Travers brought me on a tour of rural County Down and was keen to point out the old Newcastle Station and nearby railway hotel.

Today, the old station has been repurposed to house a Lidl market, while the old railway hotel remains as a resort hotel (sans railway traffic).

Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using a Leica IIIa with 35mm screw mount Nikkor lens. Film processed in Agfa-mix Rodinal Special mixed with water at a ratio of 1 to 31 at 68F for 3 minutes. Negatives scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
Does this colour view work better?
The automobiles are part of the scene. Lumix LX7 view.
The old station as seen in context with the surrounding buildings and streets.

My intent was to document these historic structures in their present roles.

 

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Enterprise on the Move.

The Dublin-Belfast Enterprise service is a joint effort of NI Railways-Translink and Irish Rail.

I’d bought my tickets on-line from Irish Rail’s website.

It was a rainy weekday at Dublin’s Connolly Station when Honer Travers and I boarded the train for Portadown.

After arrival at Portadown we changed for a NI Railways local train.

I exposed these photographs using my Lumix LX7.

Ticket barriers at Dublin’s Connolly Station, exposed with a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
The Enterprise uses specially appointed equipment dedicated to the service.
First Class features 1 x 2 seating.
My Lumix LX7 is an excellent tool for making interior views of railway carriages.
Drizzly weather on the way north.
Cross-platform transfer at Portadown.
An NI Railways CAF-built 4000-series diesel railcar at Portadown. This was a very well-patronized local train.

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Dusk in the Gullet; Illustration of Digital Sunset in 5 variations.

What? Not another of those InterCity Railcars?!

Yep.

I made these views from the St. John’s Road Roundabout bridge at Killmainham/Islandbridge in Dublin.

The light was fading, the train was shadowed and the situation routine: Irish Rail’s ICR pass this spot dozens of times daily. In fact, these trains rumble up and down all day long.

Unmodified Lumix camera RAW file (except for scaling). I’ve exposed for the sky.

What initially caught my interest was the sunset glow in the north-west sky.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7, which exposes a RAW file.

After the fact, I made some heavy handed adjustments to exposure, contrast, colour balance and colour saturation to show what is possible with post processing.

Here’s my first adjusted file; working with the RAW I’ve made a variety of alterations.

In addition to enhancing the sky, I lightened the train and cutting while making a variety of localize adjustments, such as to the flowers at lower left.

I’m using the same essential approach that I used to apply to my black & white photography when making prints in the darkroom, except its now done digitally on the computer.

Unmodified camera RAW (scaled as a JPG for internet presentation).
My first modified RAW image (presented as scaled JPG).

The graffiti at lower right is bit of an annoyance. In my final version, I’ve darkened the area around the graffiti to minimize it.

My second modified RAW where I’ve tried to minimize the graffiti under the bridge.

My first modified RAW image (presented as scaled JPG).

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