Category Archives: Gallery

This features recent work and exceptional images for display and discussion.

Walong, California July 30, 2016.

On this day four years ago, I re-visited the former Southern Pacific crossing the Tehachapi mountains.

At Walong, popularly described as the ‘Tehachapi Loop’—where in the 1870s SP’s chief engineer William Hood applied this spiral arrangement to gain elevation while maintaining a steady gradient—I photographed this BNSF eastward intermodal train. (train direction is by timetable, not the compass.)

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with an 18-135mm Fujinon zoom, I made this photograph with the lens set to 21.6mm in order to take in most of the helical track arrangement. Exposure was f8 at 1/500 of a second at 200 ISO.

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IC 274 arriving at Oulu for Helsinki—Five Years ago.

It was raining approaching midnight at Oulu, Finland, when I used my old Lumix LX7 to photograph IC 274 bound for Helsinki on July 29, 2015.

A pair of Russian-built Sr1 electrics led the train of largely new sleepers.

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Crawford by Starlight—night photo technique

The other evening, Kris Sabbatino and I stopped at the old Maine Central station at Crawford, New Hampshire shortly after moonrise to make night photos of the station.

I mounted my Lumix LX7 on a heavy Bogan tripod and set the ISO to 200. Working in manual mode, I set the camera to between 40 and 80 seconds and tripped the shutter manually (without using the self timer).

Working with the RAW files in Lightroom, I made slight adjustments to highlights and shadows.

Catching the stars in the night sky has always been a favorite effect of mine. I first tried this back in 1977 in my back yard in Monson, Massachusetts.

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Monochrome on the Redstone Branch.

On July 3, 2020, Conway Scenic sent engine 216 out on the Redstone Branch to collect a Boston & Maine boxcar I’d been using for advertising.

I documented the move with digital photos, as previously presented, and also on film.

For these images, I worked with a Nikon F3 with f2.5 Nikkor 105mm lens and Fomapan Classic 100 black & white film. I first sampled Fomapan on a trip to the Czech Republic in 2016.

Operating 216 was Adam, a Conway Scenic engineer trainee.

I processed the film using customized split-development that begins with a very dilute solution of HC110 with PhotoFlo as a presoak followed by primary development with Ilford ID11. After processing, I scanned the negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner then imported the scans into Lightroom for final adjustment and scaling for presentation.

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Botched 1996 Olympic Pan

On September 10, 1996, I was driving east from Denver to Council Bluffs. Near Kearney, Nebraska, I was following the Union Pacific main line on a secondary road, where I made this panned photo of a westward UP freight train led by SD40-2 1996 specially painted for the 1996 Olympic games.

Working with my Nikon F2 fitted with a 200mm lens and loaded with Kodachrome 200, I panned the unusually painted locomotive to capture the sense of motion.

I’ve always found this photograph unfortunate because: 1) the doors were open on the side of the engine thus spoiling my view of the special paint livery. 2) the distant hill makes for a visually disruptive intersection near the front of the engine just over the top of the short hood.

In retrospect, I’m happy to have the photo, I just wish my execution had been better.

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July 24, 2015: WAITING AT A Grade Crossing at Niskaniitty—Two PHOTOS.

On the afternoon of July 24, 2015, my Finnish friends, Markku, Petri, Pietu and I waited at this rural grade crossing east of Kontiomaki, Finland for a diesel powered long distance local freight.

It was warm and quiet. For me it had an edge of the world quality.

Finally after a while we could hear the diesel approaching.

This was a VR  Class Dr16 leading symbol freight T4077 from Joensuu in south eastern Finland.

I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera. I had been playing with the camera’s presets, and made an image of the grade crossing using a monochrome setting. Although I was exposing some Fuji Provia 100F, I didn’t use any black & white film at this location.

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Unexpected Surprise.

The other day I was scanning some vintage Guilford photos from my 1980s and 1990s file.

This photo came up in the rotation.

Photographer Mike Gardner and I had spent a productive May 1997 day photographing Guilford trains on former Boston & Maine lines.

Toward the end of the day, we caught EDLA (East Deerfield to Lawrence, Massachusetts) working eastbound upgrade near Farley, Massachusetts (east of Millers Falls).

I was working with my N90S fitted with an 80-200 Nikon zoom.

I remember the day well! But when I scanned the slide, I had an unexpected surprise.

Initially, when I saw the lead locomotive, I thought it was Guilford’s 352, a GP40 that has often worked out of East Deerfield Yard. It was only on second inspection that I notice what this engine’s true identity . . .

It was 252! Former Maine Central 252. In other words, Conway Scenic’s locomotive which I see everyday and have hundreds of photos working in New Hampshire.

Wow, that’s kind of cool, to suddenly find a vintage photo I made of this now familiar GP38, back when it was a common freight hauler and not a darling of the tourist trade.

June 27, 2020 at North Conway.

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Five Years Ago-July 22.

On this day in 2015, I was visiting my friend Markku Pulkkinen in Oulu, Finland.

Oulu is far north, and in July it never gets completely dark.

Working with my then new FujiFilm XT-1, I made these evening photos late in the day near the VR locomotive sheds at the north end of Oulu’s expansive yards.

Finland is one of my favorite places to photograph, and I hope to return someday when travel returns to normal.

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North Conway Station after March Snow

Last March on my way to work I exposed a series of black & white photos of North Conway, New Hampshire. Fresh snow blanketed the ground, with a clear blue sky above.

Such a contrast with July . . .

I made this photo using Kodak Tri-X exposed with a Nikon F3 with 105mm Nikkor Lens.

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Gorham Monochrome

Back on April 3, 2020, I exposed a handful of photographs on Kodak Tri-X (ISO 400) at the old Grand Trunk Railway station in Gorham, New Hampshire.

This was on a photo adventure in the White Mountains with Kris Sabbatino.

Last month I processed the film using specially tailored split development by first soaking the film in a very dilute HC110 solution, then using a more active solution of ID11. After stop, and dual fixing baths, I washed the film, rinsed in permawash, and washed for a full ten minutes before toning the still wet negatives in a selenium solution for 7 minutes. After rewashing, and drying, I cut the negatives and stored them in archival polypropylene sleeves.

Yesterday, I scanned them using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner powered by Epson software.

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Empty Oil at Tapa

On a trip to Estonia in July 2002, I’d organized a cab ride on a freight from Tallinn to Tapa, where I spent the evening.

The following morning, I exposed this view near the station with my Nikon N90S and 135mm f2.0 lens of an empty oil train led by a 2M62 diesel heading toward the Russian frontier.

This was a very busy junction with a lot of freight, mostly oil trains, passing through.

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Class Lamp Up Close—Maine Central 252

Yesterday I took a spin on the train to Conway. I made this view with my Lumix LX7 as I boarded the locomotive on the return trip.

Former Maine Central GP38 252 has been working Conway Scenic’s Valley Trains between North Conway and Conway, and to Bartlett for the last couple of weeks.

Historically classification lamps were used as part of the system of timetable and train order rules, where lights of different colors were part of a hierarchy that defined the superiority of trains.

Conway scenic still uses these rules, with extra trains flying white flags by day and displaying white lamps by night.

At the moment all of our trains are operated under timetable and train order rules as ‘extras’.

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Corry, PA at Sunrise.

In October 2009, I photographed Western New York & Pennsylvania’s westbound HNME (Hornell to Meadville) freight crossing the diamond at Corry, Pennsylvania.

Historically this was where the Erie Railroad mainline crossed Pennsylvania Railroad’s route to Erie, Pennsylvania.

Working with a Canon EOS3 with f2.8 200mm prime telephoto, I exposed this photo on Fujichrome Velvia100F.

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Storm Light at North Conway

Yesterday evening a series of thunderstorms swept over the White Mountains making for a show of lightening and dramatic clouds.

Near the end of daylight, I made this photograph of the North Conway, New Hampshire yard. I was with Kris Sabbatino on the way to collect my car.

I was working with my Lumix LX7. This is a JPG file scaled without manipulation from the in-camera jpg. In other words I made no changes to exposure, contrast, color balance, focus or sharpness.

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Snow on the Tracks, Lincoln, Maine.

In the heat of Summer, I thought it would be a cool to look at a wintery scene.

I made this view looking timetable east on Guilford’s Maine Central at Lincoln, Maine on a trip with photographer George S. Pitarys in January 1997.

For this image, I was working with a Nikon F2 fitted with a Nikon 80-200mm AF zoom lens, and loaded with Fuji Provia 100F.

My photography spans nearly 50 years, more than 30 nations, hundreds of cities and thousands of towns, while focusing on rails, transport, nature, urbanity, and friends (among other subjects).

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Maine Central 252 on the Valley.

During the last week, Maine Central GP38 252 has been working Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley trains that run daily from North Conway railroad east to Conway and North Conway railroad west to Bartlett.

While 252 is more than capable of working these trains, it is typically been assigned to the run to Crawford Notch.

I took the opportunity to make photos of 252 working the 1910-1920s-era heavy steel cars that comprise our Valley train set.

These photos were made using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

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Guilford Tv96 at Worcester.

On May 16, 1997, photographer Mike Gardner and I were in Worcester, Massachusetts, where we caught Guilford Rail System’s TV96, a short-lived intermodal service that GRS forwarded from Conrail.

Working with my Nikon F3T and 80-200mm zoom lens, I made this view standing in the Amtrak parking lot below Interstate-290.

After making this photo we chased the train up to the Wachusett Reservoir.

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July THunderstorm at North Conway, NH.

Yesterday evening (July 8, 2020), Tom Carver said to me, ‘get some shots in this cool light’.

It was sunny when I left the North Conway, NH station and cloudy by the time I’d walked the length of the platform. A thunderstorm was rapidly descending.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with 18-135mm lens, I made these images of the approaching storm.

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Valley Transportation Authority-May 2008.

California Dreamin’—Working with Fujichrome late in the day on a Sunday afternoon in May 2008, I exposed this long telephoto view of a Valley Transportation Authority light rail train.

VTA Light Rail is the operator of the San Jose, California-area light rail system.

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Conway Extra—Monday June 15, 2020.

Yesterday, we ran an extra train to Conway.

‘Extra’ in the traditional sense:


Since this was not a scheduled train; its authority was granted using train orders and thus operated as a ‘extra’, which must display white flags.

I organized small banners on the short hood of the locomotive to advise observers of our opening date.

On Saturday, June 20th Conway Scenic will commence its Summer 2020 operating season.

Trains will board for Conway at 930am and 3pm; and for Bartlett at 1230pm.

Trains depart 30 minutes after boarding.

I exposed this photo with my Lumix LX7. To compensate for midday light I adjusted contrast, shadows, highlights and saturation using Lightroom.

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Monochrome Millie—Four Photos

Conway Scenic Railroad’s Budd Company RDC-1 is named ‘Millie’.

A month ago, I organized a training exercise and publicity trip with this single-unit self propelled car.

In addition to digital photos and video, I exposed a few black & white photos of the car in the yard at North Conway.

For these images I used Fomapan 100 Classic loaded in a Nikon F3 with f1.8 50mm lens.

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Sunday’s Surprise.

I needed a topic for today’s Tracking the Light, so I reached in to a sorting file of un-scanned slides and found this photo: Surprise!

On October 13, 2004, photographer Mike Gardner and I chased New England Central Railroad’s 608 south from Palmer, through my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts.

This is a chase I’ve done countless times over the last 40 years, but just because you’ve done something before, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to find a new angle on it.

At Robbins Road in Monson, I made this dramatic trailing view of the train’s locomotives. Here we have a selection of NECR GP38s roaring away in ‘Run-8’—maximum throttle on the tooth of the grade.

The train was moving 10-12 mph, producing a rush of engine exhaust along with traction motors blowers blowing to keep the motors cool. (And prevent them from over heating) These blasts of hot air, combined with the wind from the train’s approach and passage, plus and sand from the sanders to maintain adhesion all helped stir up the ballast and fallen leaves. 

It was a good chase and I wish I was there now!

I scanned the photo using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 and VueScan software. My initial scan produced a 4000 dpi TIF file, which I then imported to Lightroom in order to scale it for presentation here.

June 2020 Trains Magazine features my 8-page article on New England Central.

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Irish Rail Weedspraying Train at Limerick Check.

Between 2000 and 2007, I made more than 1,000 images of the Irish Rail weedspraying train on its annual campaign around the system.

In my early days focusing on this one of kind train (there have been many weed spraying trains, but this one was unique!), I aimed to catch it in unusual places.

On this day in April 2000, I was traveling with intrepid photographer Mark Hodge, and we drove cross-country from Tipperary to County Limerick to intercept the train on the then rarely-traveled Foynes Branch.

Later in the morning, I caught the train coming off the branch at Limerick Check.

The day was wet and dark, but I’m very glad I exposed these photos, despite the fact that over the coming years I made numerous sunny day views of the train.

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The Old Mountain at Steep Falls, Maine.

The former Maine Central Mountain Division across Maine is a disused, but largely intact relic of former times.

On Saturday, June 6, 2020, Kris Sabbatino and I inspected portions of this former main line on our return from Portland.

I made these photos at Steep Falls on Fomapan 100 Classic with a Nikkormat FT.

Route 113 crossing at Steep Falls.
Looking toward Portland, Maine.
Looking toward St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

I processed the film on Sunday using split development for maximum tonality: HC110 1-300 for 9 minutes at 71F followed by ID11 1-1 for 6 minutes 68F.

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Revisiting Rigby Yard in 2020

I made my first visit to Rigby Yard in Portland back about 1983 using directions provided to me by the late Bob Buck of Tucker’s Hobbies of Warren, Massachusetts.

Over the weekend, I traveled with Kris Sabbatino and retraced my steps to Rigby.

Working with a Nikkormat FT with 105mm telephoto, I exposed this view on Fomapan 100 Classic black & white film, which I then processed yesterday. To obtain a greater sense of depth and texture, I aimed through some tall grass in the foreground, while focusing on the Pan Am Railways EMD diesels in the distance.

Using split development with twin development bath, I produced negatives that were ideal for scanning.

My recipe: Kodak HC110 mixed 1-300 with water and a drop of Photoflo for 9 minutes at 70 F (with minimal agitation); then Ilford ID-11 1-1 with water for 5 minutes 30 seconds (agitating very gently for three inversions once a minute); stop, twin fix bath, rinse, perm awash, 10 minute wash, and final rinse in distilled water.

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The St Lawrence & Atlantic Adventure—Part 1.

Years ago I said to a fellow photographer, ‘When the scanner is silent, either the railroad isn’t running any trains, or your scanner isn’t working’.

Now that we are into the ‘long days,’ I hope to use the later sunset to make railroad photos that are not normally possible during the rest of the year.

Forty minutes to the north of North Conway, is Genesee & Wyoming’s St Lawrence & Atlantic. Normally this is an elusive nocturnal operation with road freights to and from Canada passing 3-4 nights a week.

While in the 1990s, I traveled on, and made a few photographs of trains on this former Grand Trunk Railway line at locations in Maine, New Hampshire and to lesser degree, Vermont, in recent times my coverage has only featured tracks, not trains.

On June 4, 2020, Kris Sabbatino and I set out in the hopes of finding one of these elusive trains . . .

We joined the route near Gorham, New Hampshire and followed the tracks west, passing Berlin, Groveton and North Stratford. Then into Vermont, to Island Pond.

Radio silence.

Grade crossing west of North Stratford, NH, in rural north eastern Vermont.

We continued following the tracks all the way to Norton, on the border with Canada. We waited out the daylight at a lightly used rural grade crossing just a few miles from the Vermont-Quebec line.

As darkness fell, we retreated to Island Pond were we made photos of the station and the rising moon. No sign; not even a hint of the southward (eastward?) freight.

The former Grand Trunk Railway near Norton, Vermont looking compass south. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm Fujinon lens.
Looking toward Canada!
As daylight fades . . ..

I learned the next day, that it didn’t operate, but that trains were scheduled to run on that day, Friday June 5th.

Old, GT station at Island Pond, Vermont.
Old, GT station at Island Pond, Vermont.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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New England Central 611 at Three Rivers—Four Photos

It was nice to see some freight on the move!

Here we have New England Central’s 611 Job northbound at Three Rivers in Palmer, Massachusetts.

My eight page feature on the New England Central appears in the June 2020 Trains Magazine.

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Wiscasset, Maine—August 1986.

On the evening of August 22, 1986, I exposed this pair of Kodachrome 25 slides on the Maine Central’s Rockland Branch at Wiscasset, Maine.

At the time traffic on the branch was almost nil.

I used a 21mm Leica Super Angulon lens which offered a distinct perspective of  this rustic scene. My interest was drawn to the two rotting schooners in the westward view, while in the eastward view I was aiming to show the vestiges of the piers for the long defunct Wiscasset, Waterville  & Farmington 2-foot gauge.

Wiscasset looking west.
Wiscassett looking east.

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My Canisteo Valley in Trains Magazine

The June 2020 Trains Magazine features my 8-page article on Conrail in New York’s Canisteo River Valley.

This features some of my favorite Kodachrome slide photos from when the line was still operated as double-track under rule 251 with classic Union Switch & Signal block signals.

One of the outtakes was this view from 1996.

By 1996, Conrail had lifted one of the two main tracks through the Canisteo and removed all the classic signals. While this forever changed the character of the railroad, Conrail continued to make good use of this former Erie Railroad mainline. On November 1, 1996, this eastward unit coal train rolled along the Canisteo near West Cameron, New York.

My new book: Conrail and its Predecessors is now available!

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01309

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Taking Millie for a Spin

Yesterday at Conway Scenic Railroad we took our Budd RDC Millie (no. 23) for a short spin to get her ready for filming and training.

This was the first time Millie had run since February and the first time we had a train out of the yard this Spring!

It was a glorious bright day with wispy clouds and budding trees.

Photos exposed with my Lumix LX7.

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Grand Trunk Station at South Paris-3 views.

Maine.

South Paris, Maine.

There’s no Eiffel tower here. Not a big one anyway.

I exposed these photos digitally using my FujiFilm XT1 with Fujinon 18-135mm lens.

The railroad is operated by Genesee & Wyoming’s St. Lawrence & Atlantic—a line that I traveled on back in the 1990s.

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Southern Pacific at Troy, California—July 1991.

I’d left San Francisco in the wee hours of the morning and drove to the Sierra.

In the early hours of July 14, 1991, an SP eastward freight ascending Donner Pass had stalled near Alta. This resulted in a pair of following eastward freights being held; one at Colfax and one near Alta.

This was the second of two following freights, which developed its own difficulties at Gold Run when the train went into ‘emergency’.

I made the most of SP’s difficult time, by photographing the procession of trains at various points on The Hill (as Donner was known).

As the summer sun approached midday, I drove to Troy, where I’d previously scoped out this high vantage point with a commanding vista.

My project for the day was to find ways of suitably using the harsh high light in the Sierra, conditions that had been vexing me.

This was among my more successful images. Working with my old Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron, I exposed Ilford FP4 that I later processed using Edwal FG7 developer. At the back was a two unit helper. The sounds of EMD 645 diesels toiling in ‘Run-8’ (full throttle) was impressive and not soon forgotten.

Many of my other images from the day were exposed on Kodachrome 25, some using a circular polarizing filter as a means to mitigate the effects of Sierra high light. I’ll save those for another day.

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Washington Metro and Tower K.

It was a gray December 1997 day when I exposed this telephoto view of a Washington DC Metro train and Union Station’s Tower K using my Nikon N90s with f2.8 80-200 Nikon zoom lens.

Really it was the rows of colored position light signals displaying ‘stop’ that caught my attention.

Although the f2.8 8-200 lens offered convenience, and was both fast and sharp, it had its failings. When used wide open it tended to vignette slightly (darker exposure in the corners), but more serious was that it made me visually lazy. Instead of seeking the best vantage point and an optimal composition, I could get a pretty good angle by merely adjusting the focal length of the zoom.

My film was Fujichrome Provia 100F.

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