Category Archives: Gallery

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

LUAS at Museum

Seven Years ago: on the evening of September 14, 2014, an inbound LUAS Red Line tram makes a stop at Museum on its way to the Dublin City center.

I made this photo by placing my Lumix LX7 on the footpath to steady the camera for a comparatively long-exposure, while proping up the lens with the lens cap to obtain the desired level.

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Sunburst near Shannonbridge—13 September 2014.

On this day seven years ago, Denis McCabe and I were photographing Bord na Mona’s Blackwater Network near Shannonbridge, Co. Offaly, Ireland.

At sunset we caught this laden peat train heading toward the Shannonbridge generating station located on the eastbank of the River Shannon.

This is a RAW file from my old Lumix LX7 processed in Adobe Lightroom to better balance the colorful sunset sky with the shadow areas on the ground.

Between 1998 and 2019 I made dozens of trips to photograph Bord na Mona’s three-foot gauge systems.

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Travels with a Ballast Train-Part 1

On Friday, I was attached to the Conway Scenic Railroad ballast extra, which I documented, but also used as transportation to make video of the Conway Valley train.

Working with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera, I made this sequence of photos of the ballast train in the rich September morning light.

It was a beautiful day to make photos. More to follow!

Kearsarge station on the Redstone Branch in North Conway, NH.
Kearsarge station on the Redstone Branch in North Conway, NH.

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Misty Mountaineer

Yesterday (September 9, 2021) I traveled on the headend of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer to Crawford Notch in order to calculate train timings for this month’s timetable change.

Among my jobs at the railroad, in addition to Marketing, is that of timetable planner.

When we reached the old Maine Central station at Crawford, I climbed down from the locomotive to make a few photos from the ground, then boarded again for the run-around.

All photos were made using my Nikon Z6 and processed using Adobe Lightroom.

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The End for an Old GP?

Yesterday I learned through social media that New England Central 3850 suffered a main generator fire while climbing State Line Hill (located in my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts.)

Over the last 26 years, I’ve made countless photos of this antique EMD diesel-electric at work and at rest.

While I cannot predict the future, I know that often with older diesels, a main generator failure may represent the kiss of the scrapper.

When it came to New England Central in 1995, 3850 carried the number 9531, which is how I picture it in the December 1996 view below.

I made this photo at Palmer, Massachusetts using a mix of artificial lighting, including electronic strobe for fill flash, and my original Fujichrome slide is strongly tinted.

I scanned this slide using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner driven by Epson Scan 2 software. Working from a high-resolution TIF file, I initially scaled the photo without corrections.

Then, working with slider controls in Adobe Lightroom, I implemented a variety of color corrections, plus contrast and exposure adjustements to overcome flaws with color balance and exposure. Below are both results for point of comparison.

This is a scaled JPG of the uncorrected scan which reflects how the original slide appears to the eye. Compare this with a partially color corrected version below.
Above is my first color-corrected scan aimed at better representing the colors of the locomotive as they would have appeared to my eye at night. Although imperfect, it is an improvement over the original slide.
Here’s an alternative version aimed at further reducing the green tint from the mercury vapor light and reducing overall contrast. This is closer to the way the scene would have looked.

Tracking the Light is a Daily Photoblog focused on railroads.

NIR-Derry 5 April 2002

NI Railways had a minimalist presence in Derry, Northern Ireland when I visited there on 5 April 2002.

The railway station consisted of a 1960s-era bus shelter style building and a single platform serving two tracks, situated flush with the River Foyle.

I made these photos while boarding an NIR 80-class railcar bound for Belfast.

My camera was a rugged Contax G2 Rangefinder fitted with 45mm Zeiss Planar lens and loaded with Kodak Tri-X black & white film. I used a red filter to alter the black & white tonality and boost contrast.

For me the film’s contrast and stark spring lighting was well-suited to the minimalist railway infrastructure.

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NECR-No Logo

I don’t think this what author Naomi Klein had in mind!

In May 1997, New England Central’s southward 559 was led by GP38 9549—a noteworthy engine at the time because it lacked the company logo on its short hood.

Without the classic New England Central logo on the engine, this image represents a generic North American freight train.

Twenty Four years later, a few of NECR’s GP38s are still working in the railroad’s classic blue and gold paint.

New England Central 559 approaches Plains Road in Tolland, Connecticut in May 1997. The Route 32 bridge over the tracks is visable in the distance.

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EDRJ at Zoar—Rangefinder Slide

Working with my Contax G2 Rangefinder fitted with a Zeiss 28mm Biogon, I made thisa color slide at Zoar, Massachusetts on the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg Line.

Photographer Pat Yough and I had started the day(February 13, 2005) at Guilford’s East Deerfield Yard, where at daybreak symbol freight EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction) was being readied for its westward journey.

We followed the freight west, using the lightly traveled road to the Hoosac Tunnel to reach Zoar.

February 13, 2005.

A few days ago, I’d posted a view of this same train on its approach to the East Portal. See:

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2021/08/29/same-bridge-different-day/

Lately, I’ve been scanning my older slides. This is stored in a metal Logan box along with 500-600 select Guilford Rail System/Pan Am Railways photos exposed between 1998 and 2018.

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Ballast Train

The unusual moves; the uncommon train; the special unscheduled and unexpected operation. These are what fascinate me about railroads.

On most days, Conway Scenic operates its selection of normally scheduled excursion. By contrast it’s work trains are comparatively rare.

Yesterday, September 3, 2021, Conway Scenic’s former Maine Central GP7 No. 573 ran light to from North Conway to Conway to collect a pair of ballast cars that were expected to be loaded.

After lunch the engine returned with the ballast cars to North Conway where it ran around and proceeded back to Conway.

I was on-hand to make these photos using my Nikon Z6.

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New England Central on a Frosty morning.

I made this Fujichrome slide of the New England Central yard at Palmer, Massachusetts in January 1998—just a few weeks before embarking on my first trip to Ireland

The subtle duo-chromic hues and stark winter landscape make for a simple frame for what I find a visually complicated image.

Carefully observe the unorthodox use of selective focus.

Where a common solution for a focus point might have been on the nose of the locomotive, instead I aimed at the distant truss bridge at the south-end of the yard, while leaving the tracks in the foreground slightly blurred.

The use of lighting selective provides silhouettes.

Texture in the tracks, trees and sky, add complexity.

What is the subject? The locomotive? The tracks? Or the truss bridge and poles in the distance?

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Sunset with a Truck in a Meadow.

So what would you title this evening image sequence?

Last night Kris and I paused at an overlook off Route 16 in North Conway, where I made these drop-under sunset views looking across the Saco River toward the Moat Mountains.

Both photos were exposed as NEF RAW files using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera and processed using Adobe Lightroom.

Saco RIver sunset on September 1, 2021.

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Glinty Diamond on Kodachrome

In 1997, I still kept one camera loaded with Kodachrome 25.

At the end the day on August 6th during a visit to Vermont, Mike Gardner and I paused at the Bellows Falls station for a few photos.

Working with a Nikon F3T, a 24mm Nikkor wideangle lens, I made this Kodachrome slide of the setting sun reflecting off the rails of the diamond where Green Mountain Railroad crossed New England Central.

There are certain types of lighting siutation where Kodachrome really shined! And this is one of the them.

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Same Bridge—Different Day

Tracking the Light is a blog that focuses on the process of railroad photography, and how certain techniques produce different results. Light, angle and season play an enormous role in the end result.

In yesterday’s Tracking the Light, I featured a misty autumn-morning view of a westward Guilford Rail System freight crossing the bridge over the Deerfield River on approach to the east portal of the Hoosac Tunnel.

See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2021/08/28/misty-morning-at-east-portal/

Today, I’m featuring a photo exposed a few months later (February 2005) of another westward freight crossing the same bridge: winter versus autumn; south side of the bridge versus the north; and later in the morning. Another difference was my choice of lens: 45mm on the winter view; 180mm on the autumn.

In addition, I’ve included two slightly different versions of the February 2005 photo, as well as one of the photos from yesterday’s post for point of comparison.

This freight was EDRJ, which Pat Yough and I followed all the way to the Hudson River and beyond!

Compare this view with the verson below.- 45mm lens.

February 13, 2005. In the above photo I made slightly different adjustments in post processing in regards to color temperature and exposure.

Both images were made from a scan of the same slide, which had been exposed on Fujichrome film using a Contax G2 rangefinder with 45 mm Zeiss lens.

Here’s the comparison view that was posted with yesterday’s (August 28, 2021) Tracking the Light. Fujichrome with 180mm lens, October 2004.

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High short Hood South

Yesterday at Conway Scenic we turned GP35 216 on the turntable.

Now the high short hood is facing south.

This directional change was performed for operational reasons, but has also opened up a variety of photographic possibilities, especially on the return run of Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer from Crawford Notch.

I made these views in the North Conway, NH yard using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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Dresden in Color

Although many of my favorite photos of Dresden are black & white images, I also have a good few color images.

In June 2001, on a visit to the Dresden Hbf, I made this Fujichrome color slide using my old Nikon N90S.

A day or two later the N90S stopped working while photographing in Leipzig.

Would this photo work more effectively in black and white?

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Nostalgia for a Bad Slide.

Languishing in my Miscellaneous Railroad Seconds file (Bad Slides) from 1982-1983 was this back lit winter view of the Central Vermont Railway yard in Palmer, Massachusetts.

I’d exposed this Kodachrome 64 slide using my old Leica 3A fitted with 50mm Sumitar.

This is a technically flawed photo. It is considerably off-level. The exposure is slightly on the dark side. The composition is a bit loose. And the color is decidedly magenta owing to a processing abnormality on the part of Kodak.

As an exercise, I decided to scan the slide and import into Lightroom to see if I could improve it.

I’ve included the unadjusted scan. A screen shot of the adjustment window. And, my final adjusted image.

My unadjusted scan.
Leveled, cropped, color and contrast corrected scan.

Screen shot of the Adobe Lightroom work window showing the degree of change during an early edit of my ‘Bad Slide’. I ended up taking out even more magenta.

I ended up wondering how I might photograph this scene today, using my most modern cameras. Also I wonder, is my ‘bad slide’ really all that bad? It may mean little to random viewers, but it conjured up in my memory the Palmer Yard of my youth. There’s a pair of idling Central Vermont Alco RS-11s, and in the distance the train they had recently delivered. Just about everything in the photo reminds me of how exciting I found railroading when I was 13.

Would a ‘better’ photo convey the same feeling for me?

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Five Years Ago on the New England Central

August 23, 2016, I made this bright morning view of a short southward New England Central freight at Stafford Springs, Connecticut.

The attraction was the single GP38 wearing the classing blue and gold paint in rich morning sun.

Over the years, I’d photographed trains in Stafford Springs (Stafford on the railroad) from many angles. On this morning, I was pleased to get this view without any automobiles in the way of the train, and feature the row of brick buildings behind the tracks.

Fujifilm XT1. Focal length 19.5mm. ISO 200. f6.4. 1/500th second. Velvia color profile with in-camera JPG. File scaled for internet.

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Geometry and Contrast—Kent Station, Cork

Here’s another view from Kent Station in Cork exposed on a visit in 2002 using my Contax G2 rangefinder loaded with Kodak Tri-X.

The repetitive geometry of the station roof and the extreme contrast between light and dark gives this photograph dramatic impact.

I was standing on the platform, just under the station roof at the east-end of the curved train-shed, where I was using the elliptical valance of the roof as a visual frame to bracket the pair of Irish Rail trains.

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Chocorua Dam on Ektachrome

In the villiage of Chocorua in Tamworth, New Hampshire is an historic mill dam.

I made this atmospheric view of the Chocorua Dam last October on Kodak Ektachrome 100. Using a comparatively slow shutter speed shows movement in the water.

A couple of weeks ago I scanned the color slide with my Epson V600 scanner. Final presentation for viewing here required nominal adjustment in Adobe Lightroom.

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Meadville viewed with a Canon.

Over the years I’ve used a great variety of Camera-film combinations.

In 2009, I largely worked with a pair of Canon EOS-3s loaded with Fujichrome.

On an October trip to photograph along the old Erie Railroad, I had one of my EOS-3s fitted with a Canon 100-400mm. The morning of the 6th, I caught Western New York & Pennsylvania’s HNME (Hornell, New York to Meadville, PA) arriving a Meadville.

A dozen years earlier I’d photographed the same Montreal Locomotive Works diesel working the Cartier Railway in Quebec using Nikon cameras loaded with Kodachrome.

I wonder how I might capture this scene today with my current camera combinations?

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20mm view of the Arcade & Attica

On a foray to western New York state in July 2009, I made this 20mm wide-angle image of the Arcade & Attica tourist train near Arcade, New York.

I was working with RVP-100 (Velvia 100, no ‘F’), exposed using a Canon EOS-3.

Velvia 100 had a red-bias that makes for a difficult image to scan in a high contrast situation, such as this view of the steam locomotive.

Working in Adobe Lightroom, I made a variety of changes to contrast and color balance to help compensate for the red-bias color slide.

Adjusted slide-first version.
Final adjustment.

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Room with a View

Irish Rail class 141 number 167 glides over the River Liffey at Islandbridge, Dublin.

I made this view from my old apartment at Islandbridge in December 2005.

Although I had just recently purchased a Canon EOS3, I was still working with my old Nikon F3s, which is what I used to expose this view on Fujichrome.

At the time there were still a number of class 141/181 General Motors diesels working for Irish Rail.

Over the years, the trees and other obstructions gradually hemmed in my view of the tracks, so that by the time I left more than a dozen years later, it was more difficult to obtain an uncluttered photo of a train crossing the Liffey from the apartment.

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Empty Beet on the Barrow Bridge:

On December 28, 2005, toward the end of Irish Rail’s final beet season, I stood on the western shore of the Barrow, where I aimed a Nikon F3 fitted with a 180mm f2.8 lens and loaded with Fujichrome toward the multiple span Pratt truss that crosses the river.

NI Railways 112 (on loan to Irish Rail) worked east across the span at about 5mph with a train of four-wheel empty beet wagons.

Last night I scanned the nearly 16-year old slide using my Epson V600 scanner at relatively high resolution (3200 dpi) then imported the resulting TIF file into Lightroom.

The RAW scan exhibits a minor red tint. To compensate I made a variety of changes. First I moved the black point to the limit of data loss with the aid of the histogram. This adjusted the tonal range of the slide, then I worked with green-magenta and blue-yellow color correction sliders to balance the color, while paying close attention to hue in the shadow areas. 

Finally I made some nominal contrast and saturation changes to make for a more pleasing image before outputting as a medium resolution JPG  crafted for optimum internet presentation.

Below is the unadjusted JPG along with my final adjusted JPG for comparison. Since every computer screen is slightly different and provide varied interpretations of my images.

the proof of  success for my adjustments may be in the color prints that I have yet to make.

This is a JPG made from the unadjusted TIF scan. Notice the slightly red hue and a lack of a rich black tone.
This is the scan following adjustment.
Screen shot of the Lightroom work window.

In addition, I’ve also included a screen shot of the Lightroom control panel so that you may see how I’ve moved the sliders to improve the scan.

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Midnight Sun

You’ve heard of the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’, well here it is!

On my July 2002 trip to Sweden’s Torne Träsk, I made this late evening view of the sun gracing in the northern sky.

This photo was exposed on the same 120 roll of Tri-X as yesterday’s Tracking the Light photo of an LKAB iron ore train.

Exposed using a German Rollieflex Model T. When I returned to Dublin, I processed the film in a custom mix of Ilfotec HC developer. Recently I scanned the film using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner powered by Epson Scan 2 software, then made minor adjustments to contrast using Adobe Lightroom.

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Arctic Ore at Torne Trask

On a July 2002 morning, I made this view of an LKAB class Dm3 heavy electric passing the disused electric substation at Torne Träsk, Sweden.

My friend Markku Pulkkinen and I spent several days in high summer exploring the Malmbanen that connects Swedish iron ore mining areas in the Arctic with the port of Narvik in Norway.

At that time, many of the ore trains were still powered by the massive three-section Dm3 siderod electrics.

Working with a vintage German Rollieflex Model T, I exposed this view on Kodak 120 Tri-X in the 2 ¼ inch square format. When I returned to Dublin, I processed the film in a custom mix of Ilfotec HC developer. Recently I scanned the film using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner powered by Epson Scan 2 software, then made minor adjustments to contrast using Adobe Lightroom.

For the Facebook output and lead-in image I cropped the square photo, but this view is uncrossed. 

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Provia 100F on the Rhein

Among the photos in my ‘Scan pile’ was this Fujichrome Provia 100F slide of a northward SBB Cargo train on the westbank of the Rhein near Lorch, Germany

It was among the color slides that I chose to scan during the week using my old Epson V600 flatbed scanner powered by Epson Scan 2 software.

Yesterday, I had prints made from some of my recent scans and was impressed by the way the scanning captured detail in the film right down to the grain.

Provia 100F color slide exposed on September 17, 2019.

Tightly cropped version to show detail.

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Kent Station, Cork—April 2002.

On a day trip to Cork City (Ireland) in April 2002, I made this photo using my Contax G2 rangefinder on Kodak Tri-X.

I had the camera fitted with a 45mm Zeiss lens. Key to the image tonality was an orange filter, which gives the photo a contrasty snap with lots of texture in the sky while lightening the rendiition of the shade of orange paint on the class 201 diesels.

Kent Station, Cork, Ireland, April 2002.

I’d processed the film using a custom mix of Ilfotec HC.

To scan the film, I used my Epson V600 flatbed scanner with Epson Scan 2 driving software. I made nominal adjustments to contrast using Adobe Lightroom.

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Rangeley Lake, Maine

The railroads that once served Maine’s Rangely Lake region are long off the map.

At the end of July, Kris & I went for a day-long leisurely drive north from North Conway, New Hampshire to Rangeley where we made some evening photographs of the beautiful lakes there.

Although we inspected evidence of the narrow gauge and standard gauge lines that served this resort so long ago, there was little of interest to photograph on this visit. So instead I’m presenting my lake photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirror-less digital camera.

All the photos were adjusted using Adobe Lightroom. I’ve gradually been formulating color-contrast profiles to make the most of the camera’s NEF RAW files.

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Amtrak at Oakland

On an afternoon in August 2009, I stood atop a parking garage near Jack London Square in Oakland, California where I made this view featuring an Amtrak Capitols train against a backdrop of the city’s sprawling port facilities.

I was working with a Canon EOS3 fitted with a 100-400mm zoom lens to expose a Fujichrome slide. This was several months before buying my first digital camera.

During my five week stay in California that year I exposed more than 80 rolls of color slide film. Many of my photos featured scenes around San Francisco Bay. At the time I envisioned writing a book on San Francisco, but I didn’t get sufficient interest from my publishers at the time to move that proposal forward.

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Five Years ago at Santa Ana

On August 4, 2016, I spent a little while at the Metrolink station in Santa Ana, California on the old Santa Fe photographing passenger trains coming and going.

As modern adapted stations go, Santa Ana is cool.

This view was made from the footbridge over the tracks. I was putting my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera through its paces.

Working with Lightroom, I made adjustements to color temperature, contrast and color saturation to improve this Fuji RAW file. I wanted to make the most of the California color palate.

Metrolink F59PHi 877 works at the back of train 687.

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Gertrude Emma back in the Sun.

On July 26, 2021, Conway Scenic placed its popular open-end parlor-observation lounge Gertrude Emma back in traffic.

During its time in the company roundhouse the car was refurbished inside and out.

The car was built by the Pullman Palace Car company in 1898 for the Pennsylvania Railroad’s flagship train, Pennsylvania Limited that connected Jersey City (across the Hudson from New York City) with Chicago via Pittsburgh.

The colors it wears are aimed to recreate its period livery.

I made these photos for Conway Scenic Railroad’s Facebook and Instagram pages using my Panasonic Lumix LX7.

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Pssst! Wanna buy a Railroad Station?

Last week I learned, much to my surprise, that the old Boston & Maine station at Berlin, NH is still standing. So yesterday (31 July 2021), Kris Sabbatino and I drove to the east side of this old New Hampshire milltown to investigate.

I made these photos from the street using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

I’ve seen stations in better shape than this one. Also, it has been without regular passenger service for about 60 years. The tracks have been lifted and its a long walk from the center of town. But it has a ‘For Sale’ sign out front! (If you are interested).

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Ludmilla at Dresden

Twenty years ago on a visit to Germany, I spent a couple of days photographing around the historic city of Dresden.

This black & white photo at the Dresden Neustadt station features a former DR (East German Railways) Russian-built diesel-electric, DB class 234, a type colloquially known as a ‘Ludmilla’. 

June 2001.

Working with myvintage German-made Rolleiflex Model T, I made this photo on 120-size Fuji Neopan 400 roll film. I processed the film in Agfa Rodinal Special (not to be confused with Agfa Rodinal) mixed 1-32 with water for 3 min 45 seconds. I scanned the negative using an Epson flatbed scanner. 

Also see: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2020/12/20/dresden-june-2001/

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