Category Archives: black and white film

Mystery Photo of Maine Central 262

Working at Conway Scenic Railroad, I see former Maine Central GP38 252 almost every day.

My familiarity with 252, makes this image of sister locomotive 262 interesting to me today.

I exposed this on February 17, 1985 with with my father’s Leica M3 loaded Kodak Plus X. My friends and I had been following an eastward Boston & Maine freight symbol EDAY that was led by a GP18-GP9- GP18 combination.

Along the way, we found this eastward freight tied down without a crew. It was led by MEC 262. I don’t really remember that part of the day, and I can’t place this location. Somewhere I took notes, but most of my notes from January to October of 1985 are missing.

My guess is that this west of the passenger station in Ayer, Massachusetts, as I made a variety of photos in Ayer that day.

Back in 1985, a backlit Maine Central GP38 with its headlight off wasn’t worth a lot of my attention, but at least I made this image.

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Conrail at Electric Light Hill

East of the station and yard at Palmer, Massachusetts, Conrail’s former Boston & Albany passed the abutments of the Southern New England—a pre-World War I railroad scheme aimed at connecting Palmer with Providence.

Bob Buck referred to this location (milepost 81.81/81.82) as Electric Light Hill. It was near a electric substation, and not far from where the old interurban electric line crossed the Quaboag River.

I made these photos on a Spring 1982 evening. Conrail freights had backed up at the block signals, likely because the Central Vermont was occupying the Palmer diamond to the west..

While I recall relatively little about the events, I do remember the excitement of seeing a second headlight to the east after the first westbound had passed me.

I made these photos with my Leica 3A on black & white film, probably Kodak Tri-X, which I would have processed in Kodak Microdol-X. In those days, I had a tendency to over process the film which made for some pretty dense highlights and relatively grainy photos.

Looking west at milepost 81.81; notice the old abutments built to carry the Southern New England.
A second westbound freight was right on the heals of the first.

Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens.

Three Trains at Islandbridge Junction.

Toward the end of April, for the second morning in a row, I was in position at ‘the box’ on St Johns Road in Dublin to witness the passing of Irish Rail’s down IWT liner.

It was a cosmic alignment. The sun came out just as three trains converged upon Islandbridge Junction. The first was an ICR that emerged from the Phoenix Park Tunnel and stopped across from Platform 10. The second was an ICR heading toward the tunnel.

Then the down IWT liner emerged from the tunnel weaved around both ICRs on its way through the junction.

Sometimes, it helps to be in place at the best spot and just wait out the action.

Exposed in April 2022 using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.

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Prague, October 2016

Here’s another view exposed on the Czech Fomapan 100 black & white film at the Praha-Smíchov railway station in the Czech capital.

Nothing fancy for equipment; just my old Nikon F3 with 50mm f1.8 Nikkor prime lens.

Black & white film is well suited to a dull day in Prague. And well worth the price!

The film cost less than $5 for 36 exposures.

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Overgrown freight wagon—Prague

On a visit to Prague, Czech Republic in October 2016, I bought several rolls of locally produced Fomapan black & white film.

At a suburban station to the east of the city center, I made this view of an old four-wheel freight wagon parked on a siding and consumed by the local vegetation.

This photo is a scaled Jpg from the original scanned negative. I made no adjustment to the scanned file in regards to contrast, exposure or sharpness.

Fomapan 100 black & white film exposed with a Nikon F3 camera.

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Will We Ever See This Again?

In May 2000, an Irish Rail train consisting of six 2700-series railcars approaches Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

The 2700s were only about a year old at the time.

Today, Irish Rail’s 2700s are long-stored out-of-service, ticking away the clock until they are sold, scrapped, or maybe, just maybe, returned to traffic. . . .

Exposed on Kodak 120-size Tri-X film.

Tonight, Thursday, February 24, 2022, I’ll be presenting a Zoom slide show on Conway Scenic Railroad to the members of the Irish Railway Record Society.

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HST at Newport- A Scanning Lesson.

A few weeks ago I scanned a strip of 120-size Fuji Neopan 100 using my Epson V600 Scanner.

This featured some coming and going views of First Great Western HST in Newport, Wales, UK that I exposed using my Rolleiflex Model T.

One of the features of Epson Scan 2 software is the ability to apply an ‘unsharp mask’ at the time of scanning. Despite its confusing name, the unsharp mask is a digital sharpening tool. The software allows for three degrees of sharpening with the mask, ‘low,’ ‘medium’ and ‘high’.

Normally, I select ‘low,’ which I find makes for a better looking scan.

Another option is to scan without the unsharp mask, and apply sharpening in post processing.

The unsharp mask adds an edge effect that makes the photo appear sharper. It doesn’t actually add detail.

Below are three sequences of images showing the image without unsharp mask; with the ‘low’ unsharp mask, and an image created in post processing by applying sharpening after scanning. Each of the three sequences shows first the full frame scan followed by a greatly enlarged portion to allow for a detailed inspection and comparison. Each is captioned for clarity.

Full-size scan without mask or modification.
Detail of the above scan without mask or modification.
Full-size scan of scan with the ‘unsharp mask’ applied at the ‘low’ setting at the time of scanning.
Detail of the above scan, made with the ‘unsharp mask’ applied at the ‘low’ setting at the time of scanning.
Scan made without mask at the time of scanning; sharpening applied manually in post processing.
Detail of the above scan; no mask at the time of scanning; sharpening applied manually in post processing.

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Great Northern Railway Station—Lisburn, Spring 2001

NI Railways’ former Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) station at Lisburn is a classic that retains its traditional appearance including platform canopies and footbridge.

I made this view on a visit in Spring 2001. Working with my Rollei Model T, I exposed a geometerically balanced composition, where I’ve used the canopy supports as a visual partition that divides the photo evenly at the center.

Perfectly centered compositions are frowned upon in some circles, but I’ve occasionally executed successful and visually dynamic photos using this technique. In this instance I don’t think my photo could have been improved by off-center placement of the column.

Kodak 120 Tri-X procecessed in Ilfotec HC.

Since background elements vary considerably on the right and left sides, the centered composition helps weigh the intrigue of one side versus the other.

Do you think this image would be improved if I had included a train?

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Irish Rail 201 framed.

In May 2001, I stood on the old footbridge at Irish Rail’s Kildare Station and framed an up-road train using the bridge’s lattice iron-work .

Irish Rail locomotive 213 (of the 201 class EMD diesels) led Mark III carriages. At the time this was about as common as one could expect for an Intercity passenger run.

Now, the Intercity MarkIII carriages are long gone, and old 213 is among the 201-class diesels stored at Inchicore.

I made the square image with my Rolleiflex Model T. Kodak 120-size Tri-X film processed in a customized mix of Ilfotec HC developer.

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Oulu Roundhouse—Summer 2001.

On a visit to Oulu, Finland in Summer 2001, my friend Markku Pulkkinen arranged a visit the VR Group roundhouse.

At that time this was still the primary facility for locomotive storage and repair in Oulu.

In modern times, a big modern train care center has supplanted the old roundhouse, which on my visit in 2015 was largely used to house historic railroad equipment.

I made this photo on 120-size Kodak Tri-X using my Rollei Model T. In addition to a handful of black & white photos, I also made some color slides with my then-new Contax G2 rangefinder.

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2001 Sunset at Heuston Station

On an evening in Spring 2001, I made this monochrome silhouette at Dublin’s Heuston Station using my Rollei Model T. The photo brings back memories of another time.

The place has much changed in the intervening 21 years since the click of the shutter.

This shows Irish Rail class 141/181s working as shunters, a practice that ended about a dozen years ago when locomotive hauled consists were phased out in favor of modern self propelled Intercity Railcars (ICRs). Among the other changes: the platform arrangement was altered and extended, while the trainshed roof restored.

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April 2001—CSX at Guilderland, NY.

Way back in April 2001, photographer Mike Gardner and I paid a visit to the closed Old State Road bridge over the former West Shore route at Guilderland, New York.

This was only a couple of years after CSX assumed operation of Conrail’s former New York Central Waterlevel Route across New York State. At that time this was an exceptionally busy line with a non-stop parade of freights.

Eastward CSX freight at Guilderland, New

I made this coming and going pair of photos using my Rollei Model T. This featured a very sharp f3.5 Zeiss Tessar lens.

My choice of film was Kodak Tri-X processed in Ifotec HC developer. I scanned the negatives yesterday using my Epson V600 flatbed scanner, then made minor adjustements to the TIF scans using Adobe Light room to improve constrast and exposure.

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Group Portrait with 461—April 2001

On 13 April, 2001, I traveled with the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland to Mullingar, where I exposed a roll of Kodak 120 Tri-X using a Rolleiflex Model T.

Among the photos I made was this group portrait featuring RPSI’s steam locomotive 461 on the Mullingar turntable with an array of Irish Rail and RPSI crew and members.

If I recall correctly, RPSI’s Kevin Walker and Denis McCabe assisted with arranging the group portrait.

Many years earlier, I learned a trick for getting large numbers of people to all look at the camera at the moment of exposure.

I think I was pretty successful here.

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Boston & Maine 202 westbound at Greenfield

On November 10, 1985, I had my father’s Rollei loaded with Verichrome Pan black & white 120-size roll film.

Using the camera with the 645-size insert, I photographed Boston & Maine GP38-2 201 leading one of Maine Central’s former Rock Island U25Bs on a westward freight working the Fitchburg route at Greenfield, Massachusetts.

I scanned the negative with my Epson V600 flatbed scanner, then imported the scan into Adobe Lightroom to make a series of contrast and exposure adjustments, while elimintating dusk specs to improve the negative.

I liked the stark quality of Verichrome that made it well suited to November in New England

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Crossing a Vestige of the old New Haven Railroad

I made this unusual view at East Deerfield, Massachusetts where Boston & Maine’s Fitchburg route mainline crossed over the former New Haven Railroad line to Turners Falls. This was one of several grade seaparations in the Greenfield area.

120-size roll film negative on Verichrome Pan (125 Iso).

By the time I made this photo in late 1985, the track on the Turners Falls line had been abandoned, but remained largely intact and undisturbed below the weeds.

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Big DIesels at West Springfield.

On a session of the West Springfield Train Watchers, I made this view of four BIG Conrail diesels at the west end of the yard.

It was the evening of July 19, 1983.

I traveled there with Bob Buck in his green Ford van.

As dusk settled, I set up my Leica 3A on a tripod, carefully keeping the yard lights at the edge of the frame. I opened the shutter using the ‘T’ setting and illuminated the train with a Metz strobe to compensate for the inky shadows of the summer evening.

I was keen on making the most of the Conrail C30-7s and SD45-2s leading the evening westbound. These were rare locomotives and worthy of my attention at the time. On the recommendation of my friend and fellow photographer Doug Moore, I’d wrapped the head of the strobe in a white garbage bag to soften and diffuse the light.

Looking back this photo, what strikes me is the relative sophistication my composition. Yet, for years this image sat dormant because of its poor technical qualities. I over processed the film, leading to coarse grain and excessive contrast.

Conrail C30-7s and SD45-2s at West Springfield, Massachusetts on July 19, 1983.

I asked Kris why my early photos benefit from great composition despite their poor technical quality. She suggested that this was because I was making photo for joy of the subject without too much concern for technique.

Over the years my overall techique improved, but as my technical qualities were refined my compositions grew less innovative. Eventually my improved techniques resulted in superior images, but I still look back at my early efforts trying to see what I saw.

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South Monson—1983 & 2018

I’ve had a special request from a regular Tracking the Light subscriber for more Central Vermont. So here we go! Read on . . .

I grew up less three miles from the South Monson crossing, where the Central Vermont Railway crosses Route 32 near the sand & gravel company.

On July 21, 1983, I made one of my earliest solo train chases by car. (Previously, I chased on a ten-speed).

I’d followed a northward CV freight from Stateline toward Palmer, where this met a southward freight led by GP9 4442.

Old 4442 was my favorite of CV’s GP9s. It was my favorite for no other reason than it always seemed to lead the freight coming through Monson, and was almost always in Palmer during my forays there.

I made this view of 4442 southbound crossing Route 32.

Fast forward to August 7, 2018. I’d stepped out of Monson Savings Bank in time to see New England Central GP38 3850 work through town with the Federal Railroad Administration inspection train.

My first point of interception was at the South Monson Crossing.

Digital photo of NECR 3850 leading a southward FRA inspection train at South Monson.
This is nearly the same angle that I’d taken back in 1983.

In the intervening years between these two trains, the trees and line-side foliage have grown!

Also, I notice that my youthful enthusiasm for catching the train in motion seems to have resulted in a more successful photographic composition than my more skilled efforts.

This last point is a topic I plan to explore in great depth in upcoming Tracking the Light posts.

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Black & White SD80MAC at South Fork, Pennsylvania.

Nearly 21 years ago, back in March 2001, photographer Mike Gardner and I photographed this former Conrail SD80MAC leading an empty coal train by the old PRR SO tower at South Fork, Pennsylvania.

I made this medium format black & white photo using a classic Speed Graphic with roll-film back borrowed from regular Tracking the Light reader Doug Moore.

Last week I scanned this 6×9 120 negative using my Epson V600 flatbed scanner and adjusted the RAW file with Adobe Lightroom.

Tri-X.

I have numerous photos of the SD80MACs on Conrail when they were painted in blue and white and working in pairs on the Boston Line. However, I have relatively few images of these BIG 20-cylinder diesels in black & white Norfolk Southern paint.

The SD80MAC was not a common type. Only Conrail received them new frome EMD. Today, they are near extinct. The last I heard, there were just four left.

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Central Vermont at the Diamond.

September 23, 1984; crisp autumn sunlight made for some nice light to capture a southward Central Vermont freight crossing the Boston & Albany at Palmer, Massachusetts.

I was working with Kodak Tri-X, which I was learning to process in D-76, rather than Microdol-X. D-76 offered broader tonality, but resulted in somewhat coarser grain. Complicating matters, my process time was a bit longer than necessary and I tended to over agitate, which resulted in denser negatives than I’d like.

A comparatively rare Central Vemont lash-up; GP9 4551 and GP18 3602. The former Rock Island GP18 was relatively short lived on CV.
Palmer Union Station at left.

Despite the minor processing flaws, I scanned the negatives last week and made minor corrections in post processing to yield better results.

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Reading Vista from the Vista Cruiser.

In August 1981, my family and I were on a loosely mapped vacation in Pennsylvania.

On the second day of our trip, we were driving from Hazelton to Strasburg to visit the famous Strasburg Rail Road.

Fast forward 41 years: yesterday, if you’d asked me if I’d ever photographed Conrail running freight on the old Reading Company, I’d have been hard pressed to come up with an answer.

And, yet here is a Conrail caboose crossing PA 501 near Prescott, PA exposed on the move from the rear window of our 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser!

Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens-Kodak 5063 (Tri-X) processed in Microdol-X developer.

I scanned the negative a little while ago. Unsure as to the location, I enlarged the photo. Thinking back, I recalled a train crossing over us enroute, but as a teenager wasn’t good with my Pennsylvania geography. Looking a the photo, I noticed the Route 501 sign, which gave me the needed clue.

A quick Google search placed this location near Prescott (where 501 ducks under the former Reading Company Crossline route). Looking a Google Earth, I’ve nearly confirmed the location.

Ironically, the next few frames on the roll show static cabooses at Strasburg’s The Red Caboose caboose-themed motel. Ironic, because in 1981, cabooses (of all colors) were still common on most America freight trains.

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Conrail at Milepost 119

Here’s a photo from my black & white archives that I’d completely dismissed. I’d exposed it at Huntington, Massachusetts in March 1985.

There were a few of problems with this image that irked me.

The first was cosmic. Moments before I release the shutter, a cloud coverd the front of the train. That sort of thing used to drive me nuts.

The second was strategic. I’d released the shutter a little earlier than I’d like, leaving the train just a bit distant. I didn’t have a motor drive in those days, and typically would wait for the decisive moment to take my photo.

The third was a chronic failing from my Leica 3 days. I tended to photograph slightly off level, leaving most of my photos annoyingly tilted.

All of these flaws are now easily overcome using Adobe Lightroom.

I altered the exposure and contrast to correct for the obscured sun, while bringing in sky detail partially lost to over exposure. I cropped the photo to minimize the foreground, and this pleasantly altered the composition to feature the code lines to the right of the locomotives and milepost 119 on the left. Lastly, I leveled the image, a task that take now about 2 seconds.

Looking at this photo now, I find that I’m very pleased with it. It has aged very well. The minor flaws don’t bother me, since these were easily corrected, while the overall subject fascinates me. It is the time machine I needed today.

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Here’s the original, unaltered image for comparison.

Springfield Monochrome

March 1985: working with Ilford FP4 black & white film, I made this view of Amtrak’s Charter Oak paused for its station stop at Springfield Union Station, in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Amtrak F40PH 228 leads the westward Charter Oak at Springfield Union Station in March 1985.

I processed the film in Kodak D76.

As was too often the case back in the mid-1980s, I over processed my film which resulted in excessively contrasty negatives. This is easily corrected with today’s technology.

Last week I scanned the 37-year old negative using my Epson V600 flatbed scanner. I made some nominal adjustments to exposure and contrast using Adobe Lightroom.

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Alcos at Dublin Street

On January 27, 1984, I made a few photos of Central Vermont Alco RS-11s switching at Dublin Street in Palmer, Massachusetts.

Locomotive 3608 was a rare bird on CV’s Palmer Subdivision. I only caught it in daylight on a few occasions. This RS-11 was distinctive for its boxy chopped nose on its short hood.

I scanned this negative a few days ago using my Epson V600 flatbed scanner and made some very minor post-processing adjustments to contrast using Adobe Lightroom.

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Crossing Tender Bangor, Maine

During a week-long vacation to coastal Maine in July 1983 to visit my grand parents, I was given the keys to the family Ford for the day. On the recommendation of my friend Bob Buck, I visited a host of interesting railroad locations in Maine.

My forth stop was at Bangor, where I photographed the Maine Central yard and a local freight switching there using my Leica 3A.

The negative for this black & white image had resided in a marked envelope until last week when I finally scanned it.

In 1983, my photographic processing abilities were rudimentary, and frankly I wasn’t very good at developing black & white film. Only recently, I was able to overcome some of the technical failings in this image by adjusting the scan I made using Adobe Lightroom.

Adjusted and altered scan at Bangor Yard. Photo expsoed in July 1983.
Version ‘B’ with additional adjustments.

Unlike some of my photos displayed on Tracking the Light that only receive minor corrections to tweak contrast or exposure, in this image I needed to make some fairly substantial corrections to contrast and exposure, while eliminating a host of spots.

There’s virtually nothing in this scene remaining today, and now manned crossings are nearly extinct.

Just for comparison, this is an un-modified version of the same scan (scaled for internet presentation). Hard midday backlighting made for a difficult photo, poor processing on my part made it worse. Yet, the subject matter is interesting.

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Palmer Yard—Spring 1985

Another choice image from my recently scanned roll of Ilford FP4 exposed in Spring 1985.

I made this view with a 50mm lens looking timetable west at the west end of Conrail’s old Boston & Albany yard in Palmer, Massachusetts. I had driven in behind Howlett’s Lumber to photograph a Sperry rail defect detection car that was stored near the B&A freight house.

Just about everything in this scene has changed. The freight house was demolished in Janaury 1989. The large building at right beyond burned down some years later. The code lines were removed after the B&A was re-signaled in 1986-1987.

I’ve posted two versions of this photo. The top is my unaltered and uncorrected scan. The bottom reflects a series of nominal adjustments using Adobe Lightroom.

Unadjusted sca&W negative. Back in the day, I suffered from a propensity to tilt my camera to the right, leaving many fine photos flawed by being off-level. I also had a tendency to over process my negatives, which led to ‘white skies’ and excessive highlight contrast.

In this view, I leveled the image by rotating it about 2 degrees clockwise. I then adjusted sky density and contrast and make overall changes to image contrast and density to improve tonality and detail..

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Amtrak 321 leading train 448 Eastbound at West Brookfield.

I scribbled locations and dates on an envelope back in the Spring of 1985, when ‘d processed this roll of Ilford FP4.

I’d bulk-rolled the film myself, thus allowing 39 frames on one roll of film, which I then exposed with a Leica 3A between March 31 and April 6 (my notes say April 5) 1985.

I recall the day, which was a Sunday. I started photographing in Palmer, Massachusetts, where I met Mike Tylick and his young son. I then followed Conrail’s former Boston & Albany route east in pursuit of a slow moving freight.

At West Brookfield, Massachusetts I caught up with my friend Bob Buck, who was train watching while reading his Sunday newspaper.

In this photograph, I’ve posed Amtrak’s eastward Lake Shore Limited, train 448, led by F40PH-2 #321, by the 1840s-era Western Railroad passenger station, which is among the oldest surviving railroad buildings in New England.

I’d borrowed my parent’s Chevy Impala (seen at the left) as I didn’t yet have my own car. The front of Bob’s green Ford van can be seen at the right.

Conrail’s B&A was still directional double track under rule 251 that governed movements in the current of traffic by signal indication.

My photo skills weren’t fantastic, but rapidly improving.

Last night I scanned this image using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner, and adjusted the RAW file from the scanner using Adobe Lightroom. This included cropping of the top of the frame to limit the amount of sky and the bottom of the frame to minimize foreground clutter.

The actual date of the photo confounds me. I know it was a Sunday, which was either March 31 or April 6. Somewhere I have a small six-ring orange notebook filled with my photo notes from 1985. This will likely solve my date quandary. But does anyone really care?

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Slam Door Stock at Copyhold Junction Near Haywards Heath

It was a pleasant June evening in June 2001 when I made the short walk from the bed & breakfast where I was staying to this bridge at Copyhold Junction, north of Haywards Heath, England.

Although the railway line was in shadow, I exposed a few black & white photos with my Rolleiflex Model T.

This image interests me because it features a two-piece diesel-electric multiple unit of the now obsolete ‘slam door’ type. The ‘slam door’ cars featured multiple doors to allow for rapid boarding and unload and were a characteristic type of train on the old Southern Region.

While in 2001, these cars were still relatively plentiful, they were soon to be phased out in favor of more modern equipment.

Consider this: my primary goal of my 2001 visit to this area was to photograph the nearby Bluebell Railway, a well-known preserved line famous for its steam power. Twenty years later, the Bluebell Railway remains as one of Briain’s most popular heritage railways and hasn’t changed radically in its overall appearance. By comparison, the era of ‘Slam Door’ trains (such as that pictured) working regular revenue mainline services are largely a memory. (A few have been preserved)

The lessons: an ordinary train may make for a more significant historical photo than an image of preserved train. Yet, I’d be willing to bet that the photos I made of Bluebell’s steam will still draw greater interest than the Slam Door DEMU on the move!

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Not Every Place is Pretty

Must every interesting photo feature stunning scenery?

On my visit to Leizig, Germany in 2001, I traveled on a local passenger train to the out-lying station at Rackwitz, where I spent an hour making photos of passing trains.

This was one ugly place. Low level platforms on tangent track with scruffy weeds and brush mixed in with uninspired industrial what not.

This northward freight paused for a few minutes on the mainline waiting for a signal to clear. For me this a photograph that works with texture, including the platform. But what makes it work for me are the flock of birds that filled the sky above the locomotive.

Exposed with a Rollei Model T on Fuji Neopan400 120 size film. Two versions of the same RAW scan below.

Low contrast interpretation.
This is a high contrast interpretation of the original negative that more closely represents the stark effect I was trying to achieve.

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Leipzig Tram Square

Among the desirable qualities of the Rolleiflex Model T was its square format.

While in my early years of using a Rollei I tended toward overuse of the 645 Superslide insert which provided a rectangular negative. I later decided that I preferred the basic square.

In June 2001, I traveled to Germany with a Rollei T, and exposed numerous 120 rolls of black & white film.

In Leipzig, I made this image of a tram on Fuji Neopan 400. I processed this roll using a mix of Agfa Rodinal Special. Unfortunately, I slightly overprocessed the negatives, a problem easily corrected after scanning, using Adobe Lightroom to adjust contrast and shadow density. The end result offers broad tonality.

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Blue Cement

We believe this was the second to last Wexford bag cement (also known as a ‘blue cement’ because of the covers on the four wheel freight wagons.)

Working with my old Contax G2 rangefinder, this was one of a series of black & white photos on Kodak Tri-XI exposed of the Irish Rail cement train on April 3, 2002.

Today, the single Bo-Bo diesel leading four-wheel wagons seems like a relic of former times.

How I miss those times.

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Wicklow Silhouette

On 3 April 2002, I traveled from Dublin to County Wexford on the morning train.

My friend and fellow railroad photographer, Hassard Stacpoole, and I were headed to Wexford town to intercept one of the last bag cement trains that was being unloaded there.

Once common, by mid-2002 Irish Rail’s bag cement runs were on the wain.

At Wicklow, our train paused in the loop to cross an up passenger train on the Dublin & Southeastern route.

Exposed on 35mm Kodak Tri-X using a Contax G2 rangefinder camera.

When our train paused at Wicklow Station made this view of a lattice-mast semaphore, which at the time was still in use to protect train movements.

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New Trams: April 2002

Although Dublin’s new LUAS tram system would not commence operations for another two years, in April 2002 the first batches of Alstom Citadis trams had already arrived.

I was invited on a tour of the Red Cow depot as a member of the Irish Railway Record Society, and made this view of tram 3013, which at the time was a ‘short’ three-section tram.

Recently I scanned this negative along with numerous other images exposed on the same roll of film. It’s amazing how much has changed over the last twenty years in Ireland.

LUAS Red Cow Depot, Contax G2 photo, April 2002.

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Irish Times in Motion

In August 2003, I was traveling on the Steam Enterprise, Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Dublin-Belfast express led by compound 4-4-0 number 85—Merlin .

On board the train, this once-timeless scene caught my eye. Today, I wonder how much longer might passengers afford of the luxury of perusing the Sunday newspaper while traveling by rail? Or has this activity already become completely obsolete?

Less than 20 years ago, the smart phone had yet to grip the population and emerge as the chief vehicle for media and entertainment on board trains.

Kodak 120 size Tri-X, exposed manually using a Rollei Model-T, and processed in Ilfotec HC.

I scanned this black & white negative yesterday morning for presentation here. Ironically, when I exposed the photo, I expected to make prints from it, not scans.

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Sunset at Duncormick, Co. Wexford

In July 2003, I exposed a single frame of 120 size Tri-X looking toward the old Duncormick Station on Irish Rail’s lightly used South Wexford line.

I’d processed the film in Ilfotec HC shortly after the time of exposure. The other day I scanned this photo along with other images on the roll.

Working with Adobe Lightroom 5.0, I made use of the ‘select sky’ feature under the ‘New Mask’ option (located at the righthand side of the control panel and indicated with a pixilated circle icon) to make the sunset sky more dramatic.

Previously, I would have achieved a similar effect by creating a linear gradiation mask to make my adjustments.

The advantage of the ‘select sky’ mask is that it neatly segregates the sky area from the rest of the image and allows for a cleaner adjustment while requiring less work on my part.

In this case, to make the sky appear more dramatic, I used the ‘clarity’ slider, moving to the right (+) which increases the constrast without a substantial loss of detail.

Below are both the unaltered scan of the original black & white negative, and my adjusted version. In addition, I’ve included a screenshot of hte Adobe Lightroom control panel.

Unadjusted reversed scan from the original 120-size black & white negative. This was scaled for internet presentation.
Adjusted scan with ‘select sky’mask feature used to improve the sky contrast.
Adobe Lightroom 5.0 control panel. Notice the position of the Clarity slide while in the ‘create new mask’ -‘select sky’ mode.

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Beware of Trains

In July 2003, I made this 2/14 inch sqaure black & white photo at Limerick Junction, Co. Tipperary using a Rollei Model-T twin lens reflex.

Working with a relatively slow shutter speed, I allowed the train to blur as it passed the signals at the Dublin-end of the platform.

At that time Limerick Junction was controlled by a mix of tradititional mechanical signals and more modern color lights.

The sign makes the photo.

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