Category Archives: Gallery

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

SBB Freight—Five years ago.

A venerable SBB electric in classic red paint glides along leading freight on super-elevated track through Wangen bei Olten, Switzerland on April 14, 2016.

Earlier in the day I’d flown with my Irish friends from Dublin to Basel.

I made this view with my FujiFilm XT1. This photo is scaled directly from the camera created JPG with Velvia color profile.

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Not Every Picture is a Pretty Scene.

Documenting the railway scene is more than just making pretty photos of trains passing bucolic countryside.

April 13, 2011, ten years ago today, having spent a weekend on England’s North Yorkshire Moors Railway (making pretty photos of steam locomotives in the moors), I took the Thameslink electric suburban train from Harpenden to London.

I alighted at Blackfriars, where I found the station under construction.

I made this single photo using my Lumix LX3.

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Views from the Train—April 10th, 2016.

Five years ago, I traveled on the second leg of a two-day Irish Railway Record Society diesel rail tour. We had laid over at Killarney, and in the morning a select portion of the group made a round trip to Tralee and back, before heading eastward for a circuitous trip back to Dublin.

It was a gray Irish day, raining and spitting snow.

Ken Fox was our driver from Killarney in the morning, and Class 076 was our locomotive.

Traveling on the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland Cravens carriages afforded me some great views from the train as we made our way through the lush Spring countryside.

These digital images were exposed using my Fujifilm XT1.

Departing Tralee, Co. Kerry for Killarney.
Approaching Farranfore, Co. Kerry it began to snow . . .
Looking west at Limerick Junction. This scene is much changed today, as a second mainline platform has been added along with a massive modern overhead bridge.
Approaching the home signal for Tipperary on the way to Waterford.
View from the the train near Clonmel, County Tipperary.

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Snow at the Gateway—March 31, 2021

It was the earliest that Conway Scenic had cleared the line over Crawford Notch in a number of years. I couldn’t tell you how many.

The rock cutting a the Gateway on the final approach to the summit still had a good amount of snow.

However, considering that trains have been snow-bound at this rugged location, the mounds of soft and partially melted snow, represented only a nominal impediment to our westward progress.

I made still and video images of Conway Scenic GP7 573 breaking through the snow filled cut.

This photo was exposed digitally using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

The Gateway at Crawford Notch on March 31, 2021. File adjusted for exposure and color temperature using Adobe Lightroom.

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This Day EIght Years Ago!

It’s hard to believe that eight years have passed since I made the sprint from my old apartment at Islandbridge in Dublin to the top of the Phoenix Park Tunnel on the Conyngham Road to catch the elusive HOBS on its run toward Dublin’s North Wall yards.

As previously covered in Tracking the Light, Irish Rail’s modern ballast train is known by its initials HOBS, which stands for High Output Ballast System.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D digital camera, I exposed this sequence of images as the train accelerated around the bend at Islandbridge Junction. Old Irish Rail 074 was in the comparatively short-lived silver, black & yellow freight livery.

April 8, 2013. Islandbridge, Dublin.
April 8, 2013. Islandbridge, Dublin.

April 8, 2013. Islandbridge, Dublin.

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Hall Disc Signal at Port Clinton.

Reading Company was among the most prolific users of the Hall Disc signal, one of the earliest forms of an electrically actuated signal.

Curiously, Reading continued to install new Hall Discs years after perfection of the electric three-position semaphore.

A few of Reading’s Halls survived into the diesel era.

Reading & Northern, which operates significant sections of the old Reading Company, installed this recreated Hall Disc near its Port Clinton, Pennsylvania offices in homage to Reading’s classic signaling.

In December 2014, I made this sequence of photos using Pat Yough’s FujiFilm XT1, on a trip to photograph R&N’s 4-6-2 Pacific number 425 that was running Christmas trips to Schuylkill Haven and Minersville.

Now that I’ve endeavored to recreate the Reading Company in HO Scale, I’ve stumbled upon a quandary: How to make operating scale models of the antique Hall Disc signal? 

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VIA Rail Montreal Central Station—1985

I’d traveled overnight from Toronto to Montreal on VIA Rail, one leg of a larger international rail trip in May 1985.

Working with my Leica 3A, I exposed this photo of a departing VIA Rail passenger train, as I stood in the shadow of the signal tower where I was visiting with the operator.

Backlit sun made for a dramatic effect as FPA4 6789 accelerated away from the platforms.

Unfortunately, I used my handheld meter to expose for full sunlight, which resulted in a decidedly dark Kodachrome slide.

Last night I edited my scan of the image using Adobe Lightroom, where I made a series of modifications to make for a more pleasing image.

I adjusted the exposure, contrast, color temperature, and saturation globally, while making numerous fine adjustments aimed at refining the end result.

The unaltered scan is on top, my adjusted version below.

Kodachrome 64 color slide following adjustment for internet presention.

Incidentally, years later VIA Rail 6789 was preserved and restored into Canadian National colors by the Monticello Railway Museum in Illinois.

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Connecticut River at Barnet, Vermont

In February2020, I posted a view of a southward Vermont Rail System freight from the Barnet Road bridge in Barnet, Vermont. (see: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2020/02/10/barnet-road-barnet-vermont/?preview_id=28651&preview_nonce=ef26649382&preview=true&_thumbnail_id=28652)

Today, I’m offering a view of a northward train from the same over bridge.

I made this when following the train with Kris Sabbatino earlier this month.

Although looking toward the sun, I was happy to catch a train from this view point. Since VRS only operates 2-3 northward trains per week, I’m not in a position to be overly choosy about the light.

Exposed using a Nikon Z6 digital camera with 24-70mm lens, image processed using Adobe Lightroom.

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Thalys Departing Brussels Midi

On a whirlwind trip to Belgium, France and Germany in Spring 1999, I made this long telephoto image of the high-speed Thalys departing Brussels Midi for Paris.

I was working with my original Nikon N90S that I’d bought secondhand from Mike Gardner two years earlier fitted with a Tokina 400mm fixed telephoto that I bought from Doug Moore in the early 1990s. 

Most unusual was I was working with a short-lived slide film emulsion sold as Fujichrome MS 100/1000 that offered variable ISO through push/pull processing.

I’d rated this film at ISO 200, which gave me an extra stop over the Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO 100) that I normally used. Fuji offered processing for this film that came with a special mailer on which you would tick a box to select the desired ISO for processing.

The lighting was also unusual: it had been raining, but shafts of diffused sun light were peaking through heavy fast moving clouds.

400mm view at Brussels Midi in March 1999.

The effect of the 400mm lens compressed the complex array of track on approach to the busy Brussels terminal.

Enlarged portion of the above photo to show grain structure and detail.

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Zagreb Sunrise

In August 2003, I made this sunrise view of a Croatian Railway class 1141 electric at the east end of Zagreb’s main station.

The 1141 is an electric locomotive type derived from the Swedish Rc electrics that was an early user of thyristors for precision motor control.

I exposed this photo on Fujichrome using my Nikon F3 with 180mm lens.

Photographer Denis McCabe and I were on an exploratory trip of the Balkans and on our way to Serbia, which had recently lifted Visa restrictions for visitors from the USA and EU.

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Sunshine in North Conway

Monday, March 22, 2021 was a clear bright day in North Conway, NH.

Not a steel wheel was turning, but Conway Scenic Railroad had a variety of equipment positioned around the yard, so in the afternoon I ventured out of my office in the North Tower of the railroad station to make a few photos.

All of these images were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm Fujinon zoom lens. These were scaled from the camera JPG files profiled using the in-camera Velvia color palate.

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Emirates Ad Tram at Suir Road

In May, 2012, I made this Fujichrome slide of a Dublin LUAS Red Line tram covered in an Emirates advertising livery.

The in-bound tram had paused for its Suir Road station stop. This was located about a 10-12 minute walk from my old Dublin apartment.

Fujichrome Provia 100F exposed in Dublin in May 2012.

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Roscrea at Dusk

On the evening of November 27, 2003, I used my old Contax G2 rangefinder to expose this Fujichrome Sensia color slide of Irish Rail’s Nenagh Branch train departing Roscrea, County Tipperary.

This was toward the end of regular locomotive hauled trains on the branch. A few weeks later Irish Rail’s 2700-series diesel railcars would assume most of the runs on this branch, although locomotives with sets Cravens carriages would still occasionally make an appearance on the line into 2004.

Contax G2 with 45mm Zeiss lens.

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Milepost 129—August 1982

In August 1982, Bob Buck of Tucker’s Hobbies in Warren, Massachusetts brought Doug Moore, John Conn and me on a memorable Boston & Albany West End tour.

We started at Westfield and worked our way across the railroad, making it all the way to Amtrak’s Albany-Rensselaer station.

It was my first experience photographing Washington Hill—B&A’s big grade over the Berkshires.

We caught several Conrail freights, including one that we chased from Pittsfield east up toward Dalton.

Earlier in the trip, Bob drove us in his green Ford van along the right of way of the third track to Middlefield Station. When we reached milepost 129, we inspected one of the remaining 1830s-era stone arch bridges.

Here I made this view looking eastbound to show the GRS search light signal. Among the quirks of New York Central-era signaling was displaying a staggered ‘green over green’ for ‘clear’ on intermediate automatic block signals in graded territory. ABS Signals on the B&A Westend grades were continuously lit, while those on the East End tended to be approached lit.

You can see Bob at the wheel of his van.

I wasn’t good a picking my exposures and this frame of Kodachrome 64 was a full stop underexposed (too dark). For years this image was in my ‘3rds file’ (junk), but with modern scanning technology and Adobe Lightroom, I was able to make the image presentable again.

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Amtrak at Ashland, Virginia

On the evening of June 7, 2015, I exposed these two color slides of a northward Amtrak train on CSX’s former Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac pausing for a station stop at Ashland, Virginia.

This was on a trip with Pat Yough to photograph Norfolk & Western J-class steam locomotive 611. On this day, we’d made a side trip to Ashland to catch up with photographer/author Doug Riddell.

I was working with a Canon EOS-3 with 40mm pancake lens. At the time film choice was very limited, and so I had the camera loaded with Fujichrome Provia 100F. Ten years earlier, I would have had a much greater choice of emulsions to pick from.

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NHV on LPP—October 1993.

During the summer of 1993, Kodak had introduced a new flavor of Ektachrome slide film with a rating of 100 ISO and a warm color balance.

I bought a few rolls for use imaging trains with New England autumn foliage.

On October 6th of that year I drove to Groveton, NH to intercept the NHV local that worked the old Boston & Maine line toward Whitefield.

It was raining and dark when I pictured the train ambling along a few miles south of Groveton.

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Old Boston & Maine station at Ely

It was a clear cold afternoon when Kris Sabbatino and I headed north from White River Junction following the old Boston & Maine line toward Wells River.

We were about an hour ahead of Vermont Rail System’s freight that was running to its CP Rail connection at Newport, Vermont.

I exposed these digital silhouettes using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens set to f22. In post-processing using Adobe LightroomI adjusted NEF (RAW) files .

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Lake Shore at Palmer, MASS.

We maintained an old tradition: watching the passage of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited at Palmer, Massachusetts.

Kris Sabbatino and I met some old friends at CP83 in Palmer where we enjoyed takeout from the Steaming Tender (located inside the historic Union Station).

I looked up at the signals and said, ‘449 ought to be hitting the circuit at CP79 any second now.’ And on cue the light cleared to ‘green over red’.

I made these photos of Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited hitting the Palmer diamond using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens. I set the camera manually with a 1/1600th of a second shutter speed to better freeze the motion of the train.

Amtrak 449 is the Boston section of the train, which joins the New York section at Amtrak’s Albany-Rensselaer.

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Monson March Morning

Last week, we heard New England Central 608 sounding for State Line from Moulton Hill in Monson, Massachusetts.

That was the call to send Kris Sabbatino and me into action.

We drove post haste through Monson, as the northward freight was approaching the ‘Monson Tunnel’ (Route 32 underpass at Academy Hill), and selected a spot well ahead of the train where the morning sun provided excellent illumination.

I made these two views using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

After exposure, I imported the NEF (RAW) files into Adobe Lightroom where I re-profiled the color and contrast.

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VRE at Manassas, Virginia

Back in June, 2015, the ever popular Norfolk & Western streamlined J-Class 4-8-4 number 611 was running trips out of Manassas, Virginia.

Photographer Pat Yough and I had traveled by train to Virginia to capture this event.

In addition to the steam locomotive, I made photographs of the more ordinary train on the move.

Working with my Canon EOS-3, I pictured this Virginia Railway Express commuter train on Provia 100F color slide film.

Last week, I scanned this slide using a Nikon CoolScan5000 slide scanner and processed the high-resolution TIF file using Adobe Lightroom.

From an historical perspective I wonder how many photos were made of this lowly commuter train in comparison to the streamlined steam locomotive?

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Morning Sun at East Northfield.

Last Monday, March 8, 2021, Kris Sabbatino and I, followed New England Central’s southward 611 freight.

I drove us to my old standby location at East Northfield, where the NECR line toward Palmer, Massachusetts and New London, Connecticut diverges from the old Boston & Maine Connecticut River line (now operated by Pan Am Southern).

As the train approached I exposed a series of photos using my Nikon Z6.

I’ve displayed two variations of the same image.

The top image is a camera generated JPG with color set to Nikon’s Vivid profile.

The bottom image I created from the NEF RAW file in Adobe Lightroom by manipulating color, contrast, and saturation to emulate my FujiFilm XT1’s in-camera ‘Velvia’ mode.

This in-camera JPG was created by my Nikon Z6 set to VI ‘Vivid’ color profile.
Working with Adobe Lightroom, I adjusted the Camera NEF RAW file by lightening shadows, adjusting saturation, fine-tuning contrast settings, and warming the color balance.

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Nikon Z6 Color Considerations

My Nikon Z6 Mirrorless camera is an amazing tool for capturing images.

It has a tremendous ability to capture detail across a broad dynamic range.

Its RAW (NEF) files allow for a high degree of exposure latitude and post processing adjustment.

It’s unadjusted files are the closest to ‘true’ color of any camera that I have owned.

And yet, it is almost too much detail. But without the supersaturated punch that I’ve come to accept from my other digital cameras, notably my Fuji X-series.

On Monday, Kris Sabbatino and I photographed New England Central’s 611 arriving at Brattleboro, Vermont under a clear polarized blue dome. A near perfect morning, and yet contrasty with crusty snow on the ground and deep dark shadows cast along the sides of the locomotives.

I exposed for the snow to retain highlight detail with an expectation of making post processing adjustments to the NEF files with Adobe Lightroom.

My goal was to eye-up (estimate) the adjustment of my RAW files in order to emulate the richly saturated color profile automatically provided by my Fujifilm XT1 JPGs. This was an unscientific approximation without benefit from a detail study of the Nikon’s histogram in comparison with the Fuji’s.

Scaled JPG from an otherwise unaltered or interpreted NEF file. Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

I’ll plan on making a more critical project by working with these types of comparisons at a later date.

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Eastward at Orange

We concluded our vigorous chase of Pan Am Southern’s ED8 at Orange, Massachusetts, having first seen this freight earlier in the day at East Deerfield Yard.

The overhead bridge in the center of Orange offers several advantages;

  1. Nice elevation.
  2. A long tangent.
  3. Parking is close, easy to obtain and not far from route 2A.
  4. There’s an orange building near the tracks, which allows the title of the photo dual meanings.

I made this photo with my Nikon Z6.

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Farleys Revisited.

As we raced east on Rt2 in pursuit of Pan Am Southern’s ED-8, I kept my eye open for the turn that lead down to the railroad location on the old Boston & Maine known as ‘Farleys’.

I thought back to that February morning, 35 years ago, when working with my father’s Leica, I exposed the final frame on a roll of Kodachrome 64 of an eastward Boston & Maine loaded Bow coal train meeting the westward POPY (Portland to Potomac Yard) at Farleys.

While ED8 wasn’t quite as thrilling as that rolling meet, it was pretty neat to soak in the sight and sounds of this 106-car freight grinding up the grade toward Erving.

I exposed this photo using my Nikon Z6 with an aim to adjust the RAW (NEF) file to maximize the data presented so as to compensate for the excessively contrasty scene.

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Pan Am Southern and Searchlights

On Saturday afternoon, a Pan Am Southern freight departed East Deerfield yard eastbound for Ayer, Massachusetts.

Kris Sabbatino and I drove to Lake Pleasant crossing in Montague to intercept the train.

I opted for an unorthodox framing to feature the General Railway Signal searchlight signals that survive at this location.

Once standard on the Boston & Maine, these now antique signals are become increasingly rare and well-worthy of photographing.

Images exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens. Nikon NEF RAW file processed using Adobe Lightroom.

Below the cab, NS has stenciled ‘ACSES PTC’ to indicated the types of advanced signaling that this locomotive is equipped to work with. Installation of these modern signaling systems have largely coincided with the replacement of legacy signaling, including traditional searchlights such as those pictured here.

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Dreary Evening On the Erie

This Kodachrome slide has languished in the darkness for 32 years.

I’d followed a westward empty Conrail coal train through New York’s Canisteo Valley on the evening of April 7, 1989.

It had been an overcast day with laden clouds. Yet traffic had been heavy on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad lines in western New York.

At the time Conrail was routing coal empties west from Hornell via the old Erie main line that went through Alfred and Andover, then operated as the Meadville Line.

West of Hornell this route ascended a steep grade that brought heavy trains to a crawl.

In the fading light of that April evening, I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide along Canacadea Creek. If I recall correctly, my shutter speed was about 1/30th of a second.

Why such a slow film?

That is what I had in my Leica M, and so I made do.

Here are two versions of the scanned image. The first is scaled but unmodified. The second is a heavily modified image to make the most of the extremes of Kodachrome’s capturing ability while adding drama to the scene.

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Chessie System at Willard

Willard, Ohio, July 21, 1988: CSXT was still a novelty and many locomotives were still painted for CSX’s Chessie System and Seaboard System components.

My pal TSH and I were traveling around central Ohio on our summer 1988 adventure.

I made this Kodachrome 25 slide using my Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron.

I scanned this slide in January 2021 using a Nikon Coolscan5000 scanner, and made minor adjustments to color, contrast and exposure using Adobe Lightroom.

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Central Vermont Feature

Yesterday, my author’s copies of NRHS Bulletin Vol 83, No. 4 arrived with my feature story, ‘Growing Up with Central Vermont’.

This personal story of my experiences with the old CV includes a variety of my photos of the railroad exposed between 1977 and 1993.

The opening spread is a photo, previously unpublished, of train 444 crossing the Palmer diamond in September 1977, which I exposed using my father’s Leica IIIC.

An unexpected surprise was the cover story of the magazine, which is a detailed article on Metro North by my old friend (and Tracking the Light reader) Walter E. Zullig Jr!

CV_Ry_447_Vernon_Vt_May14_1986_Fuji50 with Leica.

Although a nice photo, the above view of Central Vermont’s northward road freight at Vernon, Vermont, did not make my final cut for photos submitted to the NRHS Bulletin.

Special thanks to Bulletin Staff Editor Jeff Smith for bringing my article to print.

The NRHS Bulletin’s email is: bulletin@nrhs.com

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Hoboken Terminal—1982

In December 1982, my father and I visited the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Hoboken Terminal on the Hudson River waterfront opposite Manhattan.

I thought this ancient decaying relic of the Golden Age of American railways was just about the most fascinating place on the planet.

Rotten, yet grand, elusive, yet filled with intrigue. I exposed a series of Kodachrome slides using my 1930s era Leica 3A with Sumitar lens.

There’s no doubt; I was born in the wrong era. At age 16, my interests lay in the world decades before my birth.

Lackawanna Terminal has been tidied up since that day. Today, one of the old DL&W electric multiple unit cars serves as Conway Scenic Railroad’s dining car Chocorua, while another former DL&W car is coach 3202 Hurricane Mountain. Oddly enough, I write this in the shadow of Hurricane Mountain in North Conway, New Hampshire.

I scanned the slide portrayed here just a little while ago. I offer two versions. One is a scaled RAW scan without interpretation, the other is an ‘improved’ version of the same scan. I lightened this, adjusted the contrast and color temperature.

Modified version of the above scan.

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Grand Trunk Station Groveton, NH.

It was a wintery weekend a few weeks ago, when Kris Sabbatino and I briefly revisited the forlorn former Grand Trunk station along Genesee & Wyoming’s St. Lawrence & Atlantic at Groveton, New Hampshire.

I made these digital studies using my Nikon Z6 digital camera, and processed the files for color and contrast in Adobe Lightroom.

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Reading Company 2102 Location Unknown

In May 1963, my father exposed this Kodachrome slide of Reading Company class T-1 4-8-4 number 2102 leading one of the railroad’s popular Iron Horse Rambles.

21 years ago, I ran this photo across two pages in my large format book Locomotive published by MBI.

Today, this image of great interest to me as part of our on-going model railroad project, which aims to recreate the spirit of the Reading Company in anthracite country.

Leica M3 with Summicron lens. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon.

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Change at Crewe.

On April 9, 2000, I was traveling across the UK from Oxford to Holyhead (and then on to Dublin), and changed trains at Crewe.

During my layover, I exposed this 400mm view of new Class 175 diesel railcars arriving from Holyhead.

I was working with a Nikon N90s loaded with Fujichrome. The lens was an older model Tokina f5.6 400mm that I’d bought years earlier from Doug Moore.

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Nice Day for a Plow Extra

Yesterday (Wednesday February 24, 2021) was bright and sunny with textured clouds in North Conway, New Hampshire.

The railroad had scheduled a plow extra to clear the line toward Attitash in Bartlett.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens, I made these photos of the plow being readied for action and heading west out of the yard.

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Intervale Cross

On Sunday, February 21, 2021, Kris Sabbatino and I visited the old Intervale, New Hampshire station site at Intervale Cross Road to catch the in-bound snow train from Attitash.

In the lead was former Maine Central GP7 573, one of Conway Scenic’s most productive locomotives. It is pictured on former home rails.

Historically, Intervale was the interchange between Maine Central’s Mountain Division and Boston & Maine’s Conway Branch.

Exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1. File converted from Fuji’s RAW format to a DNG file using Iridient X-Transformer and adjusted in Adobe Lightroom.

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Stone Train at Grand Ave

In the mid-1990s, Wisconsin Central actively pursued traffic to fill its lines with trains.

In this September 1996 photo a former Algoma Central SD40-2 leads a short stone train at Grand Avenue in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

These trains typicallyl ran with a single six-motor diesel and former Canadian National gypsum cars, often make several trips a day over the line.

I made this image using a Nikon F3T with f4.0 200mm Nikkor lens on Kodachrome Film.

Kodachrome’s grain structure permitted superior definition in extreme exposure situations such as the locomotive headlights. Where E6 films and digital media often suffer from poorly defined headlight areas, Kodachrome had a much better ability to retain detail.

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