Step back to September 28, 2020. I had just bought my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. The foliage was turning, and I hiked up to the famed Frankenstein Trestle to catch the Mountaineer on its ascent of Crawford Notch.
This photo is among my favorites from 2020. I have used it extensively to promote Conway Scenic Railroad. It has appeared in various magazines and newspapers. The railroad sells refrigerator magnets featuring this image in the North Conway Brass Whistle Gift Shop, and we had monochromatic hoodies made up as well.
Saturday, September 17, 2022, Conway Daily Sun featured the photo on the cover of the newspaper.
The photo was exposed with my Z-series 24-70mm zoom set at 26mm, aperture at f4; camera shutter speed to 1/1000th of a second. I made adjustments to shadows, highlights and color temperature and saturation using Adobe Lightroom.
In May 1978, my father drove us to Palmer, Massachusetts to watch the passage of the eastward Lake Shore Limited (train 448). I made a series of photos using my pre-war Leica IIIA rangefinder on Kodacolor II color negative film.
This trailing view looks east toward the old South Main Street Bridge and Conrail’s Palmer yard. It looks like something nasty happened to the westward signal (at right). A pair of E8s led the train.
Despite their age, these old color negatives have held up reasonably well. I scanned them in 2016 using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.
Yesterday evening (September 22, 2022), I made a few photos of Dublin’s LUAS trams using my Nikon Z6.
It had been raining much of the day but about 6pm the sun came out, making for some interesting but high contrast scenes.
Back in the old days I’d have worked with black & white film to make the most of this type of lighting, and controlled the contrast chemically. Now, I’m applying contrast controls digitally to my Nikon’s NEF (RAW) files using Adobe Lightroom.
The wee Reading Company has had some new arrivals!
Thanks to my long-time friend and expert model railroader, Rich Reed, my model railroad now has a variety of new equipment.
Rich painted a Reading class I-8 2-8-0 camelback for me. This is an interim paint job while we search for the appropriate Reading Company decals. He also supplied as wedding gifts; a Reading I-10sa 2-8-0 (with conventional cab arrangement); a tiny Reading Company camelback 0-4-0 similar to the class A-4b No. 1187 that used to live at the Strasburg Rail Road, a selection of Reading Co. freight cars and some buildings and other small structures.
I made these photos the other night using my Lumix LX7 to feature some of the additions to my interpretation of coal country.
When you make a lot of photos it is crucial to review and edit the images to select the most appropriate photos for presentation.
But what are the most appropriate images? I’ve often found that my second review of a batch of images will reveal a more interesting selection than the first edit.
The day of our special trip on RDC Millie for our wedding guests, I’d forgotten to pack my SD card reader. However, since my brother lent me a clever device I was able download selected photos from my Panasonic Lumix LX7’s SD card directly to my Apple iPhone. I posted a few of those images on Sunday.
Last night, while recovering from Sunday’s celebrations, I had the time to download and review all of the photos from Saturday’s trip and make the most of them.
Below is my ‘second edit’ from Saturday, September 17th, 2022.
Yesterday (September 13, 2022) I returned to Goves, where the old Maine Central Mountain Division ducks under Route 302 east of Bartlett, NH, to again photograph Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer on its westward run to Crawford Notch.
The other day in my Tracking the Light Post, ‘Poles and Wires Conundrum,’ I described my compositional frustrations with this location.
Working with my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens, I selected a slightly lower position that was a bit closer to the tracks.
On this attempt, the Mountaineer had two units and seven cars, which made for a more photogenic train. Also, it was brightly overcast, which helped to minimize the poles and wires, and I opted for a tight crop.
Yesterday, Kris & I made a drive to Vermont to deliver Hans-the-Rooster-Chicken to an animal sacntuary where he will live out his days. Hans has lived in our back yard since 2020 and has faithfully ushered in the new day with his cockadoodeling for many months.
It was a beautiful day and on the way back we stopped at a various places to make photos.
All of these photos were exposed digitally using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
April 22, 1997: I ascended a footbridge over a busy Tokyo thoroughfare to make photos of the rarely captured Tokyo trolley.
Where most of the railway lines in Japan are meter-gauge, the Tokyo Trolley is unusual because it was an early use of 4 ft 8.5 inch gauge train in Japan. The other big users of ‘standard gauge’ in Japan are the Shinkansen routes.
In yesterday’s post, I described the compositional challenges of poles and wires near Bartlett, NH. Compare those images with the sea of poles and wires in this view!
Exposed on Fujichrome Velvia50 using a Nikon N90S with an AF f2.8 80-200mm Nikkor zoom lens.
I love to gaze across the great expanse of the desert. On the morning of September 4, 1996, we climbed atop one of the ‘mud mounds’ at Floy in the Utah desert east of Green River and waited for Amtrak No.6—the California Zephyr.
I made this trailing view on Fujichrome Velvia slide film with my Nikon F3T fitted with a Nikkor f4.0 200mm prime telephoto.
Amtrak’s long distance trains were in the transition between the 1970s-era F40PH-2s and the mid-1990s era General Electric GENESIS™ P40s and in this view of the California Zephyr featured one of each locomotives.
At the back of the train was a private car with its single red light marking the rear.
Yesterday (September 3, 2022), Kris and I stopped in at Conway, NH to observe the arrival of the morning train led by steam locomotive 7470.
This is the last weekend of regularly scheduled steam service for the summer season and I wanted to make a few photos and catch up with steam locomotive engineer Wayne Duffett.
I made these photos of the 7470 and crew at Conway using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom. By working with the variable focal length telephoto I was able to quickly compose images of the crew and their locomotive.
All images were exposed in the NEF (RAW) format, imported into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment, and exported as JPGs for internet display.
Last week , I made this view of St. Lawrence & Atlantic’s train 394 as it worked the yard at Island Pond, Vermont.
There was a bit of an evening sunshower as photographed across the glistening waters of Back Pond. The town’s larger namesake pond, complete with Island, is on the other side of the tracks beyond the trees.
I was looking for something else and I found a box of Fujichrome slides: on it was written ‘VRS’. Nothing more.
Inside are a bunch of gems from early 1998. Photographer Mike Gardner and I had made a trip to Rutland, Vermont where we photographed a Vermont Rail System local freight that worked a Clarendon & Pittsford job to a quarry.
This was just a few weeks before I made my first trip to England and Ireland. Months later when I returned from across the Atlantic, this box of slides sat on my desk. I don’t think I ever look at it. None of the slides are labled and they are all in numerical order.
Today, it has special significance to me. Leading the train is Clarendon & Pittsford GP38 number 203.
That’s former Maine Central 255, now Conway Scenic 255. It is the locomotive I see almost every day! Back then it was just another red VRS EMD diesel.
I scanned the slide using a Nikon LS5000 scanner driven by VueScan software. I scanned as a high-res TIF file then imported into Adobe Lightroom for some minor adjustments.
Wednesday (August 24, 2022) I was running errands around North Conway-Conway, New Hampshire. Between stops, I paused for a few minutes at West Side Road to catch the 9:30am Conway train on its return to North Conway.
This featured former Maine Central GP38 252, a locomotive that isn’t often assigned to the Conway run.
Working with my Lumix LX7, I exposed this view as a RAW digital file, then processed the data using Adbe Lightroom to make the most of the image.
I made this photo of the old Union Pacific station at Caliente, Nevada in March 1997. Photographer Mel Patrick and I had been following the Los Angeles & Salt Lake route west from Utah.
Not far from Caliente we’d discovered one of the tires had developed a serious defect. It wasn’t flat, but it was about to be!
We arrived in town too late to visit the local mechanic, so stayed overnight across from the station. Before sunrise, I went over to the railroad and exposed a series of Fujichrome slides of the UP station using my Nikon F3T that I’d fitted with Mel’s 16mm full-frame fisheye.
This unusual lens lent itself to photos like this one.
Almost every train on Conway Scenic Railroad stops at the North Conway Station.
It is extremely unusual train that passes the station without stopping
Yesterday, while serving in the capacity as ‘Manager on Duty,’ I cleared Work Extra 252 into North Conway from Conway, and granted it permission to drop its caboose at the North Yard before continuing West.
I made this selection of photos as vintage GP38 252 worked passed the 1874 station.
Among the challenges of summer photography on a tourist railroad is that train operations tend to be focused during the middle of the day when the light is comparatively harsh.
Generally speaking, the passengers appear to be more focused on eating breakfast during the early morning, so we schedule the trains for later in the morning. The first train boards at 9:15 am.
The other day, we sent out a work Extra more than an hour ahead of the scheduled Conway train in order for the work crew to get ballast and ties loaded onto the train at Conway before the first passenger train arrived. This made good use of time, and provided me with some photographic opportunities.
I made these photos of the Work Extra at Conway before 9am using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
Occasionally I’m asked about the schedules for the work trains. Unfortunately my answers aren’t very helpful. By definition, a ‘Work Extra’ doesn’t have a schedule. These trains typically have to stay out of the way of the regular passenger excursions. They are called ‘as-required’, and move about the railroad as it suits the crews to get their work done. Plans change quickly and so it can be difficult to know when and where the trains will be more than a few hours or minutes in advance.
Standing at the south end of the platform at White River Junction, Vermont, I envisioned a panoramic image that would show the station and the locomotives parked to either side of the station.
I wanted to convey the sense of Junction, while making use of the nice afternoon sunlight.
Working with my Lumix LX7, I used the ‘panoramic’ function in ‘scene mode’, which allowed me to make a panoramic composite. Moving the camera from right to left while holding the shutter down makes for a sequence of image that are then sewed together in-camera using a preprogramed algorithm .
Then I set the camera with a 16:9 aspect ratio and made a single frame, which I then cropped manually to give it a panoramic look.
This second method provided better compositional control and is free from the computer generated artifacts associated with composite images, but isn’t as sharp as the composite.
On October 13, 2003, I exposed this color slide of Canadian Pacific SD40-2 at Binghamton, NY using my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 16mm Zeiss Hologon.
This was a flat field super wideangle lens that corrected for barrel distortion and other lens artifacts typically associated with very wide lenses. However, it was important to kept the film plane level or other types of distortion would alter the shapes of the subjects photographed.
In 1991, Southern Pacific was still routing through freight over its West Valley route between Tehama and Davis, California.
Photographer Brian Jennison and I were on our way to photograph streamlined steam locomotive 4449 at Redding on August 31, 1991 (featured yesterday on TTL), when we intercepted a westward SP freight working its way along the West Valley route.
Although we were a little tight on time for the steam locomotive, we decided to make the most of this fortuitous find, and photographed the freight twice, once just south (timetable west) of Willows, California and again 15 minutes later near Delavan.
This was one of just a few SP trains that I photographed on the West Valley route that was sold off a couple of years later to a short line start-up called California Northern. I revisited this territory in 2003 and again in 2005, to photograph and travel on California Northern’s local freight.
Photos were exposed on black & white film with a Leica M2 fitted with 50mm Summicron, and cropped slightly for effect.