In July 1984, I made a few black & white photos of the Canadian Pacific station at Jackman, Maine using my old Leica 3A with 50mm Canon lens. At that time, Jackman still hosted VIA Rail’s Atlantic and was an open train order station. I had a conversation with the operator before I made my photos.
On my recent visits Jackman earlier this month, I tried to recreat the angle of my earlier eastbound view.
In both photos, I am standing at the Route 201 grade crossing.
The purpose of this comparison is to demonstrate the degree of change at Jackman in the 38-year interval between them. Notice that the 1984 view is far more interesting to look at despite being a technically inferior photograph.
Eleven years ago, I made this end of daylight view on the longest day of the year at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts.
CSX’s westward freight Q423 had stopped to change crews. In those days, Q423 ran from Worcester, Mass., to Selkirk, NY. I cannot recall why the crew was on short time.
I made the exposure using my Canon EOS-7D at 6400 ISO at 1/3 second, f3.5 using a prime 28mm lens.
The Canon 7D is an excellent camera. I’ve had mine for a dozen years and exposed thousands of digital photos with it. It’s higher ISO settings are weak compared with modern cameras. Here the 6400 ISO setting appears relatively pixelated. Yet at the time I was delighted to the ability to use such a fast ISO setting at the twist of a dial.
On this day nine years ago, I was traveling east from Chicago to Worcester, Massachusetts on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited (Train 48/448) and made these photos of the journey with my Lumix LX3 digital camera.
At the time I was working on a book about Chicago’s railroads with Mike Blaszak, Chris Guss and John Gruber.
On June 18, 2010, I was traveling with John Gruber on the way back to Madison, Wisconsin from Minneapolis, where John had collected Wallace Abbey’s photographs recently donated to the Center for Photography & Art.
John wanted to take a look at a surviving portion of the old Green Bay & Western at Hixton Wisconsin. And I made this evening view of grain elevators catching the glinting sun with my Lumix LX3.
Years earlier, John had made a project of photographing GB&W and its people. This was among the smaller railroads melded into Wisconsin Central in the 1990s.
A week ago Kris and I visited the crossing at Tarratine, west of Rockwood, Maine where we waited for the eastward Canadian Pacific freight number 132.
This remote crossing bisects the track in a sweeping curve in the forest. We waited here for quite some time. Finally, I heard the distant sound of laboring General Electric diesels. And then, finally, a distant whistle.
I set up with my Nikon Z6 fitted with a f2.8 70-200mm Z-series zoom. When the train came into view, I exposed a series of digital images and made a pair of color slides on Ektachrome.
The slides remain latent (unprocessed), but here are a few of my digital images.
Some my regular viewers on Tracking the Light have expressed interest in seeing more photos of the freight cars behind the locomotives. So I’ve included a few of those images too.
Later that night, Kris and I returned to this same crossing where we made a series of night photographs of the westward freight. Those will be featured in another posting.
Until Kris and I visited last week during our survey of Canadian Pacific’s Moosehead Sub, I had last made photos at Brownville Junction, Maine in 1997.
We arrived just in time to see a set of three nicely painted leased GATX Locomotive Group GP40s getting ready to depart the east end of the yard. These were operated by Irving Transportation’s NBM Railways, which runs the former Canadian Pacific east from Brownville Junction toward St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.
When I spotted these engines departing the yard, I acted quickly and pulled off to the side of the road, and framed up a view of the engines crossing a deck bridge.
Interestingly, it seems that GATX 3050 was originally Baltimore & Ohio GP40 3717. In 1984, on a visit to Brownville Junction with my late friend Robert A. Buck, we photographed a B&O GP40 in a consist on an eastward CP Rail freight at time the railroad had leased locomotives from Chessie System. Wouldn’t that be cool if this was the very same GP40! (I’ll need to find my photos from 1984 and check it out).
Canadian Pacific’s Moosehead Subdivision is arguably one of the most scenic railways lines in New England. But this lives up to inverse ratio of trains to scenery; more trains = less scenery; awesome scenery = fewer trains.
As discussed previously, on most days CP operates just one train east and one west, with only the eastbound passing in daylight.
In the long gaps between between trains, Kris and I found plenty of subjects to photograph, including the tracks winding through the trees, the scenery around the beautiful lake, and the wildlife.
Last week, after another wait in the rain near the East Outlet Bridge on Canadian Pacific’s Moosehead Sub, I decided to forego the bridge, and try a different location nearer to Greenville Junction, Maine. So, Kris and I drove toward Harford Point, where there is a nice sweeping curve east of a shallow rock cut.
We had inspected this spot last year, and had waited there about an hour for the eastward train before giving up. (That was in June 2021, and ultimately on that day we saw the train and photographed it further west).
On this year’s visit to Harford Point, the lighting was soft owing to cloudy conditions. Light rain had put a gloss all over the foliage and tracks.
While waiting, I had a brief chat with one of the locals near the grade crossing, who reassured me that we had not missed the train. And not long after we set up, we could here CP’s eastward 132 whistling for a crossing to the west.
As the freight came into view, I made this sequence using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens. In post processng, I made some minor adjustments to contrast, shadow density, sky detail, color temperature and saturation.
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The former Canadian Pacific Railway station building at Greenville Junction, Maine is a distinctive wooden structure dating to 1889. A local preservation group has embarked on a mission to preserve and restore the structure.
Since Kris and I visited Greenville Junction a year ago (June 2021), considerable work has been done to the station and it looks much improved!
During Conway Scenic Railroad’s special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer, I traveled on the head end to help position the train, while making photos for the company archive.
While the train was discharging passengers at the site of the Mount Willard section house near Crawford Notch, NH, I was across the ravine to the east, set up to photograph the special crossing the famous Willey Brook Bridge (also known as the Willey Brook Trestle).
I made several dozen photos over the course of several minutes, trying to make the most of this photo opportunity. Below is a selection of similar compositions. Why so many? It is impossible to know exactly how a photo may be considered for publication in the future and I’ve learned from experience that it helps to position the subject in a variety of ways within the frame of the viewfinder.
On Wednesday (June 7, 2022), I walked from our lake-side cabin at Moosehead, Maine to Canadian Pacific’s East Outlet Bridge with the hope of catching the eastward 132 freight.
Not long after I arrived, the skies opened to a light drizzle. Gradually drizzle turned to a steady rain. The rain stirred up Maine’s famous mosquitoes. So after more than an hour of waiting under a tree, I was beginning to question my intentions. Yet having stood out in the elements, I decided to wait a while longer.
Finally, off to the west, I heard a distant train whistle! Hooray, it had to be CP’s 132! (Normally the railroad only operates one train east and one west every 24 hours.)
After another seven minutes, the sky brightened and a headlight came into view. By the time the train reached the East Outlet Bridge at Moosehead, the sun was out and shining brightly!
My perseverance was rewarded! Walking back to the cabin, I claimed this effort as a success.
On Monday (June 6, 2022), driving west on Maine Route 6, we had just passed Greenville Junction, Maine on our way to Moosehead.
Kris said, ‘hey, I hear a train!’
I suspected the eastward 132 might be close, so I quickly turned around and drove east on Rt 6 back to the bridge at Kellys Landing, immediately east of the old CP station at Greenville Junction. At one time Bangor & Aroostook lines connected with CP here, while a spur went below CP to serve docks on Moosehead Lake.
We had just a few moments to get ready. I grabbed my Lumix LX7 and framed up the eastward freight on the bridge and exposed a series of digital photos. My first CP Moosehead Subdivision photos since June 2021!
One notable exception was during the Winter-Spring 1978, when I exposed two rolls of Kodacolor II that had been given to me during the previous winter holidays as a gift.
On a bright April day, my father brought me along the Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor to photograph the passing trains, where I made the most of the second of two 36-exposure rolls.
Working with a Leica fitted with 200mm Telyt lens using a Visoflex (reflex attachment), I made this view at New Brunswick, New Jersey of a southward Amtrak train led by a relatively new General Electric E60CH crossing the Raritan River.
In 2016, I scanned my old negatives, which despite being stored in glassine envelopes had withstood the passage of time reasonably well.
Kodacolor film had a distinctive color palate.
All things being equal, I wish I’d made the photo on Kodachrome slide film, but considering I was only 11 years old, I did pretty well!
Working at Conway Scenic Railroad, I see former Maine Central GP38 252 almost every day.
My familiarity with 252, makes this image of sister locomotive 262 interesting to me today.
I exposed this on February 17, 1985 with with my father’s Leica M3 loaded Kodak Plus X. My friends and I had been following an eastward Boston & Maine freight symbol EDAY that was led by a GP18-GP9- GP18 combination.
Along the way, we found this eastward freight tied down without a crew. It was led by MEC 262. I don’t really remember that part of the day, and I can’t place this location. Somewhere I took notes, but most of my notes from January to October of 1985 are missing.
My guess is that this west of the passenger station in Ayer, Massachusetts, as I made a variety of photos in Ayer that day.
Back in 1985, a backlit Maine Central GP38 with its headlight off wasn’t worth a lot of my attention, but at least I made this image.
East of the station and yard at Palmer, Massachusetts, Conrail’s former Boston & Albany passed the abutments of the Southern New England—a pre-World War I railroad scheme aimed at connecting Palmer with Providence.
Bob Buck referred to this location (milepost 81.81/81.82) as Electric Light Hill. It was near a electric substation, and not far from where the old interurban electric line crossed the Quaboag River.
I made these photos on a Spring 1982 evening. Conrail freights had backed up at the block signals, likely because the Central Vermont was occupying the Palmer diamond to the west..
While I recall relatively little about the events, I do remember the excitement of seeing a second headlight to the east after the first westbound had passed me.
I made these photos with my Leica 3A on black & white film, probably Kodak Tri-X, which I would have processed in Kodak Microdol-X. In those days, I had a tendency to over process the film which made for some pretty dense highlights and relatively grainy photos.
I made a series of exposures of Conway Scenic’s May 22nd special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer at Crawford, NH.
In these views the locomotives were fighting the light with the sun nearly behind the subject at a relatively high angle in the sky.
For this discussion, I underexposed the scene, which allowed me to retain detail in the sky and other highlight areas.
By importing the camera NEF RAW file into Lightroom I was able to make adjustments to the shadows and highlight areas to compensate for the undesirable effects of underexposure while retaining adequate detail across the exposure range.
This is in part possible because of Nikon Z6’s full-frame sensor with an enormous dynamic range.
Of the three views: The top is the uncorrected NEF file scaled for internet. The bottom two are screen shots of the Lightroom work window to show how I implemented changes to the NEF file before scaling for internet presentation.
On Monday, May 30, 2022, I photographed the company ballast train at almost precisely the same place. In these views Conway Scenic GP35 216 works upgrade with three loaded ballast cars plus rider coach 6743.
I made these recent photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens. Working with the camera RAW files, I made adjustments to color and contrast using Adobe Lightroom.
I experimented with compact mirrorless cameras on May 31, 2014, during a visit to Charlotte, North Carolina,
My trusty Lumix LX3 had failed a few weeks earlier, and I was seeking a suitable replacement.
On this trip photographer Pat Yough let me try out his FujiFilm XE-2. While my father had lent me his Lumix LX7, (a model that was an upgraded variation on the older LX3)
I made these images using the Lumix LX7 which photographing the Lynx light rail system south of downtown Charlotte.
Ultimately,not onlydid I buy a Lumix LX7, but after continued experimentation with the Fuji system, I also bought a Fuji XT1, which served me well for a number of years.
I’ve found that it really helps to experiement with different camera systems to put them through their paces BEFORE drawing firm conclusions or making a purchase.
Below are three variations of the same image. The first is a scaled version of the in-camera JPG (scaled for internet presention, not cropped); the other two are interpretations from the camera RAW using Adobe Lightroom.
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In May 2014, I spent several days photographing the Streamliners at Spencer event in North Carolina.
Photographer Pat Yough and I had traveled on Amtrak to the event
In addition to this being a significant gathering of historic locomotives, largely Electro-Motive E and F units, it was also a major gathering of railroad photographers and I had the opportunity to visit with many old friends.
Exposed this selection of digital photographs on May 29, 2014 using my Canon EOS 7D. These photos were adapted from the Canon RAW files using Adobe Lightroom, yet retain the classic Canon color profile for which Canon’s digital cameras are prized.
During my visit to Dublin last month, I stayed the Ashling Hotel across the Liffey from Irish Rail’s Heuston Station. This gave me ample opportunity to revisit this old haunt during my wanders around the city.
Working with my Lumix LX7, I made this selection of views around the station during my final 24-hours before flying to Boston.
I’d made my first photos at Heuston upon arriving by train from Galway in February 1998, more than 24 years ago!
Sunday, May 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad’s Special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer, brought more than 100 guests up to Crawford Notch and enabled them to make photos at various places along the line.
In my capacity as Manager of Marketing & Events, I helped to organize the trip, and traveled on the head-end to work with the crew to select photo stops and spot the train.
A secondary condition of this role was that in several intances I was able to make uncommon views of the train, often in situations I needed to climb down from the lead locomotive ahead of final positioning or during other aspects of the operation.
Among the 400 photos I exposed that day were these views of recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268. All of these images were exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.
Sunday, May 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer over Crawford Notch, NH.
This was the first time recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268 made a trip over the Mountain Division for Conway Scenic Railroad, and the first time that Conway Scenic had the two B&M F7As working in multiple with former Maine Central GP7 573.
All three were painted in the classic EMD-designed maroon & gold scheme.
It is rare that Conway Scenic operates three diesels in multiple.
The weather cooperated nicely.
I helped organize the photo stops and run-bys and traveled on the head-end in both directions.
Conway Scenic advertises boarding times rather than departure times. This train boarded at 9am, and departed 2 minutes ahead of schedule. We performed 8 special photo stops in addition to the normal run around at Crawford Station. The train arrived back at North Conway almost an hour ahead of its target. In other words, it was an extremely successful trip.
I made more than 400 digital images and haven’t had time to look at most of them. Last night, the day had caught up with me before I could go through my images. Today Conway Scenic has another special trip.
More Boston & Maine F7A photos to come in later posts!
Last weekend, Kris and I visited the Berkshire Scenic Railway with the New York Central System Historical Society.
We boarded the BSRy excursion train at Adams, Massachusetts for a short spin up to North Adams and back.
The railway had arranged several photo stops for us. The first of these was at Zylonite, where we paused at the old Boston & Albany station. Clouds parted and the sun emerged. BSRy ran their mixed consist of a former New York Central SW8 diesel hauling two former Lackawanna commuter cars and a Budd RDC. This performed several photo run-bys for passengers.
I exposed these images using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series Nikkor zoom lens. Files were processed and adjusted in Lightroom, where I made nominal corrections to constrast, color temperature, and saturation.
On Friday, May 20, 2022, the 470 Club in cooperation with Conway Scenic Railroad, assembled a three unit consist of former Maine Central GP7 573 bracketed by former Boston & Maine F7As 4266 and 4268. B&M 4268 was restored to service last month using the guts of former North Coast GP9 number 1757.
This is the first time all three vintage EMD diesels have worked together on Conway Scenic. All are painted in the 1940s-era EMD designed maroon and gold livery that mimics the hues of autumn foliage in New England.
The locomotives were operated in multiple as a test to see if all were performing satisfactorily and run up and down ‘The Hill’ within North Conway Yard Limits.
I traveled on one of the test runs, as well as making photographs for the railroad.
On Sunday, May 22, 2022, these three locomotives will be the intended consist for the Railfan’s Mountaineer, a specialthat will run from North Conway over the Mountain Division to Crawford Notch and return for the benefit of photographers and locomotive enthusiasts.
These images were made with my Nikon Z6 and 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom lens.
In yesterday’s Tracking the Light, I described the challenges of when a fluffy cloud obscures the sun beneath an otherwise blue sky. The opposite is a burst of direct sun through an otherwise overcast sky.
On Thursday, May 12, 2022, after departing Bernardston, Massachusetts, Kris and I zipped down to Pan Am’s yard at East Deerfield and set up at the east end overlooking the Connecticut River Bridge. Here the Deerfield hump engine was gradually shoving a long cut of cars. This is a blue, black & white, EMD switcher working with slug..
About the same time an eastward freight moved on the the bridge on the opposite track.
For a brief moment a burst of sunlight illuminated both trains on the bridge, making for a stunning setting in cosmic light.
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In this scenario, the exposure trick is to quickly getting the optimal exposure and not to allow the highlight areas to receive too much light relative to the rest of the scene.
On Thursday, May 12, 2022, Kris and I stopped by the railroad station at White River Junction, Vermont to catch train 55, the southward Vermonter.
It was a clear bright morning and pleasantly warm.
I made this pair of photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.
I recalled to Kris my first visit to this station back in May 1985 when my pal T.S. Hoover and I had driven over night to witness the crew change on the northward Montrealer. An event that occurred in the wee hours shortly before sunrise.