Category Archives: Gallery

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

Lumix LX100 at Littleisland, Co. Cork.

Sunday, 13 October 2019, I exposed this view of an Irish Rail 2600-series railcar at Littleisland on the Cobh Branch destined for Kent Station, Cork.

For me this was a test of the Lumix LX100 that Denis McCabe lent me.

The scene is cross-lit; so the sun is off-camera to my left, leaving the railcar on the ‘Dark Side’ while the signal cabin is brightly illuminated. Complicating the contrast are the fluffy white clouds and a polarized sky above.

This image was adjusted from the camera-RAW file using Lightroom. I darkened highlight areas to obtain greater detail, while lightening shadow regions, and used a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter to better hold detail in the sky.

Two points: I find the RAW files from Lumix LX100 exceptionally sharp; and the files have very good dynamic range which gives me plenty of room to make adjustement in situations with extreme contrast.

More Lumix LX100 photos soon!

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Through the Mists of Rhein!

One September 2019 morning on Germany’s Rhein, clear skies were obscured by a thick mist hugging the river. As the warm rays of the rising sun graced the tops of the nearby hills, the mist cleared, which made for some cosmic lighting.

I exposed these photographs digitally using my FujFilm XT1. But I also exposed a few colour slides using a Nikon F3 with 105mm lens.

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St Stephens Green View

The view from Dublin’s St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Plaza  The Food Village  food court is among the best vistas to picture LUAS trams in the city centre.

This offers an elevated view of the St Stephens Green prominently featuring the Fusiliers Arch on the Grafton Street side of the park.

I like the view because it was featured on an early 19th century hand-tinted postcard the also included trams, albeit those of the previous lineage. (The Dublin city centre was without trams from the 1940s until 2004 when LUAS commenced operations).

The S-bend in the tram route seen here was opened as part of the Cross City Green Line extension a couple of years ago.

The other day I met fellow photographer Mark Healy for serious image making discussion over a cup of tea while waiting to photograph some of the LUAS advertising trams that now prowl the Green Line route.

I exposed these photos using my Lumix LX7. The challenge of this location is obtaining a satisfactory image through the window glass. I used a very wide aperture, which offers low depth of field to minimize the effect of the glass.

Tracking the Light is a Daily railway-photography Blog.

Slide Show in CORK This Tuesday!

This coming Tuesday evening, 15 October 2019, I’ll be presenting a slide show and talk featuring my travels in Spain and Portugal to the Munster Branch of the Irish Railway Record Society at the Brú Columbanus Rooms at Cardinal Way, Wilton in Cork City.

The talk begins about 8pm.

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The Cobh Rambler—Crew Portrait at Mallow

Before Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s  The Cobh Rambler  departed Mallow on Saturday evening (5 October 2019) for Dublin, I was given an important task. 

A group portrait was hastily organized for me to expose.

Sometimes gathering railwaymen for a portrait is like herding cats, but there’s a long tradition in posing them in front of locomotives.

Smiling alongside locomotive 232 leading The Cobh Rambler are some the RPSI members and Irish Rail employees that made our excursion a roaring success.

For this photo I used my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Special thanks to everyone that made  The Cobh Rambler  a great day out!

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Faces of The Cobh Rambler—lots of photos!

Saturday wasn’t the brightest or driest day.

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s  The Cobh Rambler departed Dublin Heuston Station as per schedule.

It was raining by the time we passed Lucan South (about 6 miles from Heuston).

By the time we reached Cork it was lashing.

On these excursions I often focus on my friends, many of whom are Irish Rail employees and/or RPSI members.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip a success!

All images were exposed using my Lumix LX7.

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Irish Locomotives Yesterday and Today?

Often I assembled Tracking the Light posts several days in advance of publication (or ‘posting’).

As I write this, rain lashes at my window in Dublin.

If all goes to plan, as you read this my friends and I will be traveling on the RPSI diesel tour to Cork and Kerry, titled the ‘Cobh Rambler.’

Traveling behind diesels, especially the 1970s-vintage 071 class General Motors locomotives, has become a novelty in Ireland since the widespread purchase of Intercity Railcars in the mid-2000s, replaced most diesel hauled trains.

This has made diesel trips, such as that one planned for today, a special treat.

What promises to make this trip especially unusual is the very rare combination of 071 class and 201 class working together. There has been considerable comment and speculation as to which locomotives may work this trip.  Sometimes the locomotive planned for the day is re-assigned, develops a fault, or is replaced for other reasons. 

Over the years I’ve photographed most of the GM diesels in Ireland, and in this post I’ve put up a sampling of the locomotives suggested might work today’s train.

Irish Rail 078 with the Steel Train at Kildare on 7 April 2019.
Irish Rail 225 at Tralee, Co. Kerry in August 1999. Exposed with a Nikon N90S on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO).
Irish Rail 232 with up IWT Liner at Stacumni Bridge near Hazelhatch in March 2017.

Learn more about the RPSI: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday, or at least tries to.

Medieval Window on the Railway—two views.

The old city walls at Oberwesel, Germany feature a 13th century watch tower.

The builders of the tower were clearly railway enthusiasts ahead of their time.

Ok, so you’d have to wait for about 600 years before your first train went by!

I revisited the watch tower last month and made these photos with my FujiFilm XT1.

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The Power of the Dark Side—Sankt Goarshausen.

Sometime, long ago, back in film days someone concluded that three-quarter sun made for the most desirable lighting conditions for locomotive photos.

While its true that in many instances low, three-quarter sun will yield a pleasing result, this is but one lighting solution, and not always the most effective for every setting.

Whoa! WAS that blasphemy?

In September, we hiked into a vineyard south of Sankt Goarshausen, Germany. Blue skies and high thin clouds gave us soft directional lighting with an elevated view of the Right Bank line on the Rhein. In the distance a castle loomed above the river-side Sankt Goarshausen village.

Opting for the dark side presented better contrast that helps visually distinguish the train from the landscape. In this situation because the setting is so visually complex and compelling it helps to make the train stand out, since the train was intended as our subject.

Sure, we could have visited this place earlier in the day, but would that have yielded more effective images?

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BETTUNNEL: Trailing Telephoto View.

This place presented a composition and lighting challenge.

To obtain a satisfactory and balanced telephoto view that emphasized the classic tunnel portal at DB’s Bettunnel near Sankt Goar, we found that midday sun offered effective lighting.

A trailing view of an IC passenger train places the locomotive at the right side of the tunnel portal.

However, the sloped angle of the DB class 101 electric had a tendency to reflect the sunlight in a less than ideal way.

I compromised in post processing by adjusting the highlight values in the camera RAW file, to bring it more in line with the rest of the scene.

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Class on Wheels!

Gliding along the terraced vineyards near Boppard, Germany rolls EC109 running from Hamburg to Interlaken, Switzerland.

Maybe not as fast as the ICE, but probably among the nicest types of day trains in regular service that you can travel upon. This isn’t a cruise train, but simply a scheduled stopping express, and that’s my point.

And, as you can see, it makes for great photos!

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Lidl Tram Prowls Dublin’s LUAS Red Line—3 photos.

In recent weeks, two advertising trams have been working the LUAS Red Line in Dublin. Previously, I featured a view of the white TESCO tram.

In this post, I ofter a few view of the brightly adorned Lidl advertising tram.

This really stands out and distinguishes it from the multitude of LUAS Citidis trams on the Dublin network.

Abbey Street, Dublin.

On Benburb Street at Blackhall.
Smithfield, Dublin

I made these photos with my Lumix LX7.

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Curious Convergence—TESCO Tram and RPSI Cravens In Dublin

Sunday’s Railway Preservation Society of Ireland excursion paused on Dublin’s Loop Line waiting for a clear signal to enter Connolly Station.

I had just exposed views of the train crossing the River Liffey.

(see Monday’s Tracking the Light; http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2019/09/23/sunday-steam-charter-crosses-the-river-liffey/).

Photographer Jay Monaghan and I were walking toward Connolly to meet the train when this over and under scenario unfolded.

LUAS Red Line Tram in the TESCO supermarket wrap came around the bend having just made its stop at Bus Aras to present a rare juxtaposition with RPSI’s Cravens.

I made these photos with my Lumix LX7 before proceeding to Connolly to get steam locomotive number 4 arriving.

The lessons from this exercise:

1) Sometimes the most unusual photographic opportunities unfold when the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

2) Always have a camera ready for those unexpected moments.

3) Keep going, don’t give up, there’s might be another opportunity!

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It Looks Like A Model.

The other day I focused my FujiFilm XT1 down on a passing DB Cargo AG Class 187 electric as it rolled south along the Rhein south of Lorch, Germany.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm prime telephoto; ISO 400, f2.2 1/640. Panned with locomotive. Camera JPG file without adjustment or modification.

This soft-lit shallow-focus panned view with a simple background makes the modern Bombardier electric seem like an HO-scale model.

It isn’t. It is a full-size machine and I really was standing there along the Rhein.

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Steam Crew at Mallow

Last Saturday (7 September 2019) I made this classic view of the steam crew with locomotive 85 at Mallow, County Cork.

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s former Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) compound 4-4-0 85 had been assigned to work the annual Steam Dreams tour and was running around its train.

While the locomotive garnered most of the attention, here I focused on the men who operate it.

Classic?

Yes. This photo follows in a long tradition: Since photography was invented we’ve been making images of steam crews with their engines.

Exposed digitally using my Lumix LX7.

Learn more about the RPSI and their excursion operations: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com/whats-on

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Decades of Difference: A Compound and an ICR.

My first visit to Killarney was in February 1998. It was dark and damp.

It was my among first encounters with a class 201 diesel.

By contrast, Friday, 6 September 2019, Killarney was warm and pleasant.

The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Cravens led by 4-4-0 Compound no. 85 was in the sidings, having arrived earlier from Dublin with annual Steam Dreams excursion. A scheduled Irish Rail train was just arriving.

I like the contrast between the steam locomotive and the ROTEM built InterCity Railcar. There’s more than 70 years between the two train designs , yet they co-exist on the same modern railway.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday.

Conway Scenic on Television!

Last month, one of my assignments at the Conway Scenic Railroad was to assist a television production crew from WCVB in Boston that was filming a segment on the railroad.

This was an interesting experience and I enjoyed speaking with the film crew and showing them around. I made sure they got to see some of the highlights of Conway Scenic’s run over Crawford Notch.

Channel 5 WCVB TV Camera operator Rich Ward.

Conway Scenic Railroad President and General Manager Dave Swirk anticipates the passage of the railroad’s Notch Train at the Gateway in Crawford Notch.

They interviewed Conway’s President and General Manager Dave Swirk, while off-camera I discussed airbrake technique and practices with locomotive engineer Gordon Lang.

I learned yesterday that the program will be broadcast this Thursday evening (September 5, 2019.) at 7:30pm on WCVB Channel 5 in Boston. It is part of the Chronicle show titled High Adventures.

The web address for the Boston WCVB Channel 5 TV is:

https://www.wcvb.com/chronicle

In Ireland I cannot access this website (for reasons beyond my knowledge it appears to be blocked), but perhaps my readers in the USA will be able to tune in.

Lumix LX7 photograph. Dave Swirk with WCVB production crew.

Anyone who knows me must realize the irony of this post.

Although I’ve appeared on television a few times, I’ve never owned a television set and have only watched commercial TV on rare occasions. I’ll be curious as to the feedback on Conway Scenic’s portrayal on High Adventures.

I offered my lesson in the importance of getting lots of exercise when filming a railroad.

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BUOI in the Snow, Future CP Adrian.

Although it was more than 25 years ago, it really doesn’t seem so long since I made this Fujichrome Velvia slide of Conrail’s BUOI (Road freight from Buffalo to Oak Island) along the former Erie Railroad in the Canisteo Valley.

I’d followed the train east from Rock Glen, New York. Steady snow made for slippery road conditions so I took it easy.

Here I’d caught up with the train, which had reached the newly created siding east of Adrian, that would soon become ‘CP Adrian’ (CP for dispatcher Control Point).

Work was under way at the time, but the new color light signals hadn’t been commissioned and the old semaphores that had governed movements under rule 241 (current of traffic) remained in place, but deactivated.

Working with my Nikon F3T and 105mm lens, I exposed this view as the train waited for permission to proceed east.

Velvia was a finicky film and it was tough to nail the exposure in some conditions Getting the snow exposure right was tricky, but since the train wasn’t moving I made a bracket—in other words I exposed several slides with slight exposure variations. You can see that it was relatively dark by the illumination in the number boards on 6118.

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Conrail SD70 Roars West at Batavia!

From late 1998 through early 2000, I was almost continuously on the road.

I made lots of photos, sent them for processing, plucked out a few choice slides for books, slide shows, etc, and then put the rest in a carton which I promptly mis-placed.

I recalled photographing this Conrail westward freight at CP406 in Batavia, New York in January 1999. I’d been traveling with GVT’s local freight with an Alco RS-11. Although one of the photos from this morning was recently published in September Trains Magazine as an illustration for my discussion on Alco diesels, I couldn’t locate the rest of roll, or most of the other photos from that trip! 

In fact many others from 1999 were also beyond reach.

So, Monday (Aug 26, 2019) in my continuing quest for Conrail images, I finally found the long lost box, in it were a great many photos that have remain unseen since the demise of Conrail at the end of May 1999. Twenty years ago.

Conrail’s ‘convention cab’ SD70s were short-lived on the Water Level route east of Cleveland. These were built to Norfolk Southern specs during the Conrail split, assigned NS numbers and then all went to NS following the divide (as intended). This view was one of the only photos I ever made of a Conrail SD70 on the CSX side of Conrail before the split.

It was the last of the Conrail SD70s and only about two months old when I made this photo in January 1999. I think it is safe to say that 2580 was the last New locomotive built for Conrail (as a Class 1 mainline carrier). Thoughts?

Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon N90s with 80-200mm zoom lens, scanned with a Nikon Coolscan 5000.

Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon N90s with 80-200mm zoom lens, scanned with a Nikon Coolscan 5000.

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Windsor Locks to Islandbridge

Aer Lingus has a neat direct flight from Hartford, Connecticut to Dublin.

I made a view with the Lumix LX7 looking down on the old New Haven Railroad bridge across the Connecticut River at Windsor Locks from my window seat above the wing.

And just a few hours later (and only minutes ago), I caught Irish Rail 082 leading the down IWT Liner from my standard fall-back location at Islandbridge Junction. Also with my Lumix.

EI130 over the Connecticut River on August 26, 2019. The railroad bridge is by the split in the river at lower center right.
Irish Rail 082 leads Tuesday’s (27 Aug 2019) down IWT Liner at Islandbridge Junction.

Tracking the Light Does Jetlag!

Clear Signal CP83—December 27, 1997.

At 8pm on December 27, 1997, I exposed this view looking west at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts.

Mike Gardner and I were returning from one of our all day photo adventures in the Albany area and we decided to make a few more photos before heading home.

The signals lit and there was a green on the mainline, indicating a westward train was near.

This back in Conrail days, when the Boston & Albany route was still very busy with freight. It was years before the old Union Station was transformed into the Steaming Tender restaurant. And there were a few more buildings and businesses on Palmer’s main street.

It was more than a decade before I bought my first digital camera and I exposed this using my Nikon N90S on Provia 100F color slide film.

CP83 at Palmer, Massachusetts on December 27, 1997.

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Conrail at Olean—November 6, 1988.

Yesterday I scanned this 30 year Kodachrome  25 slide using a Nikon Coolscan5000 operated with VueScan 9.6.09 scanning software.. 

The unmodified scan is a bit on the dark side. I’d been chasing Conrail ELOI (Elkhart to Oak Island) eastbound on the former Erie Railroad on typically dull western New York November day.

Many of my photos from that chase were exposed on black & white film using my father’s old Rollei Model T. At least one of those appeared in CTC Board as a Conrail new illustration back in the day.

When I reached Olean, I wanted to feature the crossing with the former PRR route to Buffalo, which was then also a Conrail secondary main line, and I made this panned view of ELOI’s lead locomotive crossing the diamonds.

I exposed this at f5.6 1/30 second to capture the motion of the locomotive.

Unmodified scan, except for scaling for internet presentation (the original is about 110MB).

After scanning, I imported the slide into Lightroom and made a variety of corrections to improve the appearance of the image. This included slight cropping to improve the level; color correction, lightening of the shadow areas and over-all contrast control.

I’ve include both the unmodified scan and corrected image here.

Corrected scan outputted as a JPG file for internet.

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CSX Before the Storm.

Monday afternoon, August 19, 2019 was hot and humid as I rambled through Massachusetts’ Quaboag Valley completing errands.

Driving west on Route 20, I reached the flying junction with Route 67, where I saw the head-end of CSX Q264 roar below me with two modern GEs in the lead.

The train had a good roll-on, so I knew it was making a run for the grade up through Warren. I diverted from my path west, and drove post haste east on Route 67 to find a location to picture this eastward freight.

In the afternoon there aren’t a lot of options. The old B&A has become unpleasantly overgrown with brush, and the back lit summer sun doesn’t offer a flattering  portrayal of modern GE diesels.

I opted for the overhead bridge at West Warren, where I made these views with my Lumix LX7.

Although it was still sunny, I could see the storm approaching from the west. Shortly after I arrived home there was lightning, thunder and a violent deluge.

Tracking the Light posts EVERY day!

No DPU (mid-train remote control locomotive) on this train. Just about a mile and a half of loaded auto racks bound for the East Brookfield & Spencer at East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

October 2019 Train Column Photo Considerations

Yesterday, August 19, 2019, I received my author’s advance copy of the October Trains Magazine that features my column titled ‘Getting on board with rail transit.’

Is it ironic that today I’m scheduled to get new tires for my automobile?

Cover of October 2019 TRAINS, photo by Samuel Phillips.

This is the opening spread to my column; you’ll need to obtain a copy of the magazine to see my photo.

To illustrate my column, I selected a digital photo that I exposed in May 2010 using my old Lumix LX3—my first digital camera.

To view the image that I chose, you will need to obtain a copy of the magazine. However, here I’ve included a few of the other railroad images exposed at the same essential location that same evening.

At the time a volcanic eruption in Iceland had filled northern skies with fine layers of ash. While this brought havoc to European air travel (I was waiting in Stockholm for a friend to arrive from Addis Abiba who had been delayed by more than 24 hours because of the ash cloud), the ash produced some stunning sunsets owing to the greater high altitude light refraction.

I was just learning to make use of digital photography. Luckily, my Lumix LX3 had a superb lens and lent itself to making great low light photographs.

Stockholm suburban train in May 2010. Lumix LX3 photo.
Swedish X2000 intercity tilting train in Stockholm.

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Sunset over Stockholml in May 2010. Lumix LX3 photo.

Conrail BUOI at West Cameron, New York.

In Autumn 1988, I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide of Conrail’s BUOI (Buffalo, New York to Oak Island, New Jersey) rolling through the Canisteo Valley near West Cameron, New York.

During the late 1980s, the Canisteo Valley was among my favorite venues for photographing Conrail freights.

This is among the legions of Conrail slides that I considered for my upcoming book ‘Conrail and its Predecessors’.

I’m entering the final stages of photo selection and have begun the captioning process.

This is the same scan, but here I’ve lightened the image and warmed it slightly for improved internet presentation.

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There has to be Rain for a Rainbow.

One week ago, I was sitting in the North Tower of Conway Scenic’s North Conway Station. To the west the sun was shining. To the east it was pouring rain, and the rain was still falling all around. I said to Conway’s operations manager, Derek Palmieri, ‘There must be a rainbow.’

And there was!

Briefly it was a full, but faint, double.

Outside I went, where I made a variety of photos with my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 cameras.

This one is from the Lumix.

Sometimes where there’s a rainbow is a sign of change. A fortuitous signal for the future. And this is how I see it.

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Moose in the Night.

Elwyn of North Conway’s Moose Safari invited me to join him on one of his nocturnal tours searching for New Hampshire’s elusive Moose.

I say elusive, because in the nearly three months I’d spent in New Hampshire, including considerable time roaming the old Maine Central Mountain Division searching for locations and waiting for trains, I’d not seen any moose.

Elwyn knows the roaming patterns of these great animals and brings visitors to see them on a nightly basis. Like finding freight trains in New England, finding moose requires a detailed understanding of their patterns and paths. He explained that its not about simply waiting for the moose, but actively going to find them.

I joined Elwyn’s Moose Safari on the night of the full moon in front of Conway Scenic’s North Conway Station.

After a few hours of scouring New Hampshire’s highways and byways, we spotted a pair of moose. Elwyn illuminated the roadside with lights mounted to his tour vehicle and using that light, I made this photo using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 lens. The camera was set at ISO 6400; f2.0 1/30thof a second.

If you are interested in joining one of Elwyn’s Moose Safari’s contact him at: moosetours@yahoo.com

Tracking the Light Finds a Moose!

30 Years Ago at Rockville Bridge.

It was a bright and hazy August 1989 morning, when my old pal TS Hoover and I set up on the east bank of the Susquehanna River to capture this view of the famous former Pennsylvania Railroad Rockville Bridge.

I made this Professional Kodachrome 25 (PKM) slide using my old Leica M2 with a 90mm Elmarit.

It was just one of many Conrail photographs exposed on one of our great adventures in the 1980s!

Tracking the Light Looks Back!

Moat Creek Trestle and a Bear!

I’d been eying Conway Scenic’s wooden pile Moat Creek trestle as a good afternoon photo location since I arrived at the railroad in May.

While I’d made a variety of angles from West Side Road that runs parallel to the line, until last Friday (August 9, 2019) I hadn’t hiked into the bridge.

As discussed in yesterday’s post ‘Rare Move During My Signing—GP9 works the yard,’ the necessity to move a few old freight cars posed some unusual photographic opportunities.

When I learned that GP7 573 would be hauling a flatcar down to Conway, New Hampshire for storage, I decided this would make for my opportunity to catch a train in low afternoon sun on the Moat Creek Trestle.

Old 573 was whistling for a crossing just north of the bridge when I heard loud rustling in a tree opposite the tracks from my location. A sizeable bear climbed down out of the tree and ambled through the undergrowth about a car-length from my position.

Of course, I’d selected a prime 27mm lens to frame the train on the bridge and this lens was less than ideal for photographing the bear.

The photographs of the train and bear were exposed about a minute apart.

Running extra to Conway, New Hampshire.

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Rare Move During My Signing—GP9 works the yard.

Sometimes when engaged with one task, something unexpected occurs that demands your attention.

Such was the situation last Friday while I was standing on the platform at North Conway, New Hampshire during my book signing event.

Conway Scenic’s GP9, 1751, still dressed in a New York Central inspired livery applied by former owner Finger Lakes Railway, was engaged to switch a few freight cars out of the North Yard.

In more than two months at Conway Scenic, the only freight car that I’d seen turn a wheel is a tank car that has been rigged up to supply water for steam locomotive 7470. So when I saw 1751 moving the two ancient flats in the yard, I excused myself from book signing tasks and made a few photos with my FujiFilm XT1.

There was gorgeous afternoon light bathing the North Conway station. The Valley excursion train was out on the line, so in one of the odd moments, the platform was almost empty and there few cameras in sight.

Later in the day, in a related incident I had a close encounter with an alarmingly large bear, but I’ll get to that in a future post.

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