Category Archives: Gallery

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

New England Central 611 at Three Rivers—Four Photos

It was nice to see some freight on the move!

Here we have New England Central’s 611 Job northbound at Three Rivers in Palmer, Massachusetts.

My eight page feature on the New England Central appears in the June 2020 Trains Magazine.

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Wiscasset, Maine—August 1986.

On the evening of August 22, 1986, I exposed this pair of Kodachrome 25 slides on the Maine Central’s Rockland Branch at Wiscasset, Maine.

At the time traffic on the branch was almost nil.

I used a 21mm Leica Super Angulon lens which offered a distinct perspective of  this rustic scene. My interest was drawn to the two rotting schooners in the westward view, while in the eastward view I was aiming to show the vestiges of the piers for the long defunct Wiscasset, Waterville  & Farmington 2-foot gauge.

Wiscasset looking west.
Wiscassett looking east.

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My Canisteo Valley in Trains Magazine

The June 2020 Trains Magazine features my 8-page article on Conrail in New York’s Canisteo River Valley.

This features some of my favorite Kodachrome slide photos from when the line was still operated as double-track under rule 251 with classic Union Switch & Signal block signals.

One of the outtakes was this view from 1996.

By 1996, Conrail had lifted one of the two main tracks through the Canisteo and removed all the classic signals. While this forever changed the character of the railroad, Conrail continued to make good use of this former Erie Railroad mainline. On November 1, 1996, this eastward unit coal train rolled along the Canisteo near West Cameron, New York.

My new book: Conrail and its Predecessors is now available!

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01309

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Taking Millie for a Spin

Yesterday at Conway Scenic Railroad we took our Budd RDC Millie (no. 23) for a short spin to get her ready for filming and training.

This was the first time Millie had run since February and the first time we had a train out of the yard this Spring!

It was a glorious bright day with wispy clouds and budding trees.

Photos exposed with my Lumix LX7.

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Grand Trunk Station at South Paris-3 views.

Maine.

South Paris, Maine.

There’s no Eiffel tower here. Not a big one anyway.

I exposed these photos digitally using my FujiFilm XT1 with Fujinon 18-135mm lens.

The railroad is operated by Genesee & Wyoming’s St. Lawrence & Atlantic—a line that I traveled on back in the 1990s.

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Southern Pacific at Troy, California—July 1991.

I’d left San Francisco in the wee hours of the morning and drove to the Sierra.

In the early hours of July 14, 1991, an SP eastward freight ascending Donner Pass had stalled near Alta. This resulted in a pair of following eastward freights being held; one at Colfax and one near Alta.

This was the second of two following freights, which developed its own difficulties at Gold Run when the train went into ‘emergency’.

I made the most of SP’s difficult time, by photographing the procession of trains at various points on The Hill (as Donner was known).

As the summer sun approached midday, I drove to Troy, where I’d previously scoped out this high vantage point with a commanding vista.

My project for the day was to find ways of suitably using the harsh high light in the Sierra, conditions that had been vexing me.

This was among my more successful images. Working with my old Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron, I exposed Ilford FP4 that I later processed using Edwal FG7 developer. At the back was a two unit helper. The sounds of EMD 645 diesels toiling in ‘Run-8’ (full throttle) was impressive and not soon forgotten.

Many of my other images from the day were exposed on Kodachrome 25, some using a circular polarizing filter as a means to mitigate the effects of Sierra high light. I’ll save those for another day.

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Washington Metro and Tower K.

It was a gray December 1997 day when I exposed this telephoto view of a Washington DC Metro train and Union Station’s Tower K using my Nikon N90s with f2.8 80-200 Nikon zoom lens.

Really it was the rows of colored position light signals displaying ‘stop’ that caught my attention.

Although the f2.8 8-200 lens offered convenience, and was both fast and sharp, it had its failings. When used wide open it tended to vignette slightly (darker exposure in the corners), but more serious was that it made me visually lazy. Instead of seeking the best vantage point and an optimal composition, I could get a pretty good angle by merely adjusting the focal length of the zoom.

My film was Fujichrome Provia 100F.

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TRAXX at Lorch, Germany

DB (German Railways) class 185 electrics are members of Bombradier’s TRAXX Family of locomotives.

These are a common type for freight service.

Last September, I made this view of a Class 185 leading a southward tank train rolling along the Rhein near Lorch at Im  Bachergrund using my FujiFilm XT1.

Autumn sun was softened by thin high clouds that made for almost ideal lighting.

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The Curse of Wires!

Sometimes electrical wires are placed in inconvenient positions.

In this photograph from a highway overpass near Port Cartier, Quebec, road-side electrical cables resulted in an unfortunate visual obstruction to what would otherwise be an ideal vantage point looking toward the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.

I made this image on my photography adventure to the Cartier Railway with George Pitarys and Bill Linley in July 1997.

A loaded iron ore train was headed from the mines toward the port for trans-loading on to ships. Low evening light accentuated the hues of the water in the distance. The distant searchlights and ship on the water provide added interest.

Although imperfect, I exposed the slide anyway.

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Boston & Maine Station—Morning and Evening

This is my office.

On April 15, 2020, I made photos as I arrived and as I departed to show the light at the respective times of day.

In my recent article on the Conway Scenic Railroad in May 2020 TRAINS Magazine, I discussed the railroad’s North Conway station in detail, but didn’t picture the iconic structure.

This will be rectified in an upcoming issue, but I thought I’d present these recent photos on Tracking the Light.

I’ve always focused on my immediate surroundings, photographing the ordinary, the common as well as the unusual and the extraordinary.

Over time, the common scenes often have the best staying power.

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Conway Scenic 7470 Gone Retro—August 2019.

Last night, I was inspecting scans of some black & white negatives from last summer that are stored on my hard drive.

These are some photos from a Sunday morning in early August at North Conway, New Hampshire of locomotive 7470.

All of these are from a roll of Fuji Acros 100, exposed with a Nikon F3 with 50mm lens and processed with split-bath/multi-stage development using a weak bath of HC110 followed by Rodinal for primary development.

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Pittsburgh Light Rail October 1992.

On October 12, 1992, my father and I traveled on the Pittsburgh Light Rail, traversing both the 47 Shannon and Drake Shuttle routes where vintage PCC cars still roamed. Both lines are now defunct. Later in the day, my brother Sean and I revisited these lines by road to make a few more photos.

On that trip, I exposed this Kodachrome slide with my Nikon F3T fitted with a 35mm perspective control lens.

While I was aiming to fill the frame with the rarely photographed PCC car, in retrospect I wished that I’d allowed a little more space around the streetcar.

I’m happy to have made this photo, since it was my only photographic adventure with the Pittsburgh PCCs.

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Olomouc, Czech Republic

It was a dreary wintery morning in January 2009, when I exposed this view of PCC-derived Tatras meeting on the streets of Olomouc, Czech Republic.

I was traveling with photographers Tim Doherty and Denis McCabe on a whirlwind post-Christmas tour of central Europe that began and ended in Prague.

I was working with Fujichrome color slide film using a Canon EOS-3 with a 100mm f2.0 lens

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St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

All was quiet last Sunday when we passed through the once busy railroad hub at St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Vermont Rail System services the former Canadian Pacific (née Boston & Maine) north-south line, but there was no sign of activity during our brief visit. However, on my previous trip to the town, I rolled by the southward VRS freight, and featured this further down the line in a series of Tracking the Light posts. See:

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/wp-admin/post.php?post=28635&action=edit

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/wp-admin/post.php?post=28651&action=edit

Fellow photographer Kris Sabbatino and I focused on the large railway station building that is a centerpiece of the town, then went to explore the nearby  former Maine Central truss over the Passumpsic River that represents the far west end of the old Mountain Division—the railroad line utilized by Conway Scenic Railroad over Crawford Notch.

I’d photographed this bridge many years ago, but wanted to re-explore it, as it now has greater relevance for me.

The light was flat, and although dull, this seemed appropriate for the circumstances. In additional to these digital photos, I also exposed some black & white film that I intend to process at a later date.

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One of my Missing Connecticut River Bridges—

Over the years, I’d photographed most of the railroad bridges over the Connecticut River. And in most situations I’d pictured the bridges with a train (or at least an engine on them.)

There are a few bridges I’d missed over the years. One was this former Maine Central span on the former Mountain Division west of Whitefield, New Hampshire near Gilman, Vermont.

Last week, photographer Kris Sabbatino and I, took the opportunity to picture this three-truss span.

No train on this bridge for us. My guess is that the last rail-move across the bridge was in the mid-1990s.

Lumix LX7 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.

Photos exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 and Lumix LX7.

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Revisiting my 1992 Whitefield Photo.

My April 3rd, 2020 post featured a Kodachrome slide that I’d exposed at Whitefield, New Hampshire back in October 1992.

At the time I made that image, Whitefield was on the periphery of my photographic territory. I was visiting New England from California where I’d been living for more than three years. I arrived at Whitefield to inspect the famous ball signal, and I was fortunate to catch the New Hampshire & Vermont working with an Alco RS-11.

I never thought that I might be based in New Hampshire in 28 years time and that Whitefield would be in easy reach.

Looking back, I find it fascinating to locate these old chromes and revisit the locations today. It’s a pity that there is much less activity on some lines now. So while the tracks remain at Whitefield, there is virtually no traffic and train movements are exceptionally rare.

Last week photographer Kris Sabbatino and I paused at Whitefield so that I could make a ‘now’ view at the same spot as my 1992 photo. Using my iPhone to access Tracking the Light, I brought up my April 3rd posting and used that to help re-establish my earlier vantage point. The tracks remain in place, although it doesn’t appear that anything has used them in recent times and the crossing protection has been removed.

However, except for the ill-fated Alco RS-11, most of the remaining elements of the scene are still in place.  

My friend Dan Howard researched the RS-11 and reported, ‘it went to the Lake State Railway where it became their 1195 and was subsequently scrapped.’


I used my Lumix LX7 to approximate the angle of the 1992 slide, which was exposed with my old Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron.

I’ll need to try this again, since the lighting was flat in my contemporary view, and my positioning was only about 98 percent correct.

Complicating this comparison is that my notes from the day are in Monson, Mass., which has me guessing on some details.

There I am at the historic spot. Thanks to Kris Sabbatino for the guest Tracking the Light image.

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Truss Bridge at Fabyan, New Hampshire.

Last year I traveled by this bridge on various occasions, and photographed it from the front of a locomotive,  and I’ve been wanting to make satisfactory images of it from the ground

Recently fellow photographer Kris Sabbatino and I stopped by the oldl truss bridge for a closer look.

This is located on the portion of the former Maine Central Mountain Division owned by the State of New Hampshire and operated by the Conway Scenic Railroad.

Notice the unusual mix of lattice-type and solid steel cross members.

These photographs were made using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.

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Brussels Trams at Schaarbeek: 1999 and 2017.

Here are two views made at the tram terminal in Schaerbeek/Schaarbeek in Brussels. The top was exposed on Fujichrome with my Nikon N90S in 1999, the bottom using a Lumix LX7 in April 2017.

The building in the background is the old SNCB railway station house, now part of the Train World railway museum complex.

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An SD45 Emerges from the Mists of Time.

Just now I was searching for another photo, and I came across this scan from a 35mm black & white negative that I exposed in June 1989.

This was on a routine trip to East Deerfield. It was a foggy morning, as mists clung to the Connecticut River Valley and over Boston & Maine’s sprawling yards behind me.

I was standing at the famous ‘Railfans Bridge’ where countless thousands of photos were exposed over the years (and that’s just my personal collection, not to mention all the photos made by countless other photographers).

I was working with my father’s M3 fitted with a 90mm Leitz telephoto.

At the time, a long-hood forward SD45 at this common location probably didn’t rate my A-list. Yet any SD45 on the move would have warranted my attention.

Look at the old B&M phone box to the left of the locomotives.

When I revue my old photos, I am routinely surprised how the common has become cool.

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Lost Lumix Files Revealed!

Yesterday, I described how my SD card disintegrated and how I was able to ultimately retrieve the photos stored on the card.

Below are some of the photos from the card that may have been lost forever.

These represent the more or less routine scenes around Conway Scenic Railroad during last week while we were filming videos for crew training purposes.

The railroad has had to postpone its April reopening because of restrictions imposed to help contain the on-going pandemic. So railroad’s core-staff are using down-time to prepare for re-opening when conditions allow for it.

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Gorham, New Hampshire Revisited.

In the late 1990s, Seattle-based tour operator Great Train Escapes employed me to provide on-board contextual narration to their guests during their autumn rail-based New England excursions.

Part of the journey were trips over the St. Lawrence & Atlantic former Grand Trunk line in Maine and New Hampshire.

On several occasions we boarded the train eastbound at Gorham, where I took the opportunity to expose Fujichrome color slides.

Last week I revisited the old Grand Trunk station and environs at Gorham with fellow photographer Kris Sabbatino, where we met Andrew Dale who reminded me of my earlier visits to the town. This inspired me to dig into the archives to find these vintage photos.

October 1999.
April 2020.
April 2020

October 1999.

April 2020.

The modern images were expose using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit, while the vintage photos were made with a Nikon.

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Budapest-July 19 2007.

The Hungarian capital has a wonderfully complex transit system mixing heavy railways, with metro lines, funicular railways, urban street trams, and interurban trams.

On a visit in July 2007, I exposed this Fujichrome of a route 49 tram passing below a MAV (Hungarian state railways) arched bridge.

It was extraordinarily warm that day.

This was one of the last rolls I exposed using my Contax G2 rangefinder. Not long after returning to Dublin, the camera developed a serious fault and I stopped using it.

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New Hampshire & Vermont Alco RS-11 at Whitefield.

It seems like another age when I drove to Whitefield, New Hampshire on spec to photograph the famous ball signal in October 1992. As a bonus, I caught this New Hampshire & Vermont Alco RS-11 working the yard.

In this view the RS11 crosses Union Street-Route 3 on the former Boston & Maine line to Wells River via Littleton.

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

The ball signal still stands at Whitefield, but the tracks are almost never used. I wonder what happened to this RS-11?

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Central Vermont at Palmer—May 17, 1985.

This was a common scene in the mid-1980s; Central Vermont’s southward road freight with a large collection of GP9s crossing the Palmer diamond.

What I find remarkable looking at this image is how few trees were around the tracks back then as compared with today.

At the bottom is a view of the New England Central at the same location a few weeks ago.

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May TRAINS Features Conway Scenic.

May 2020 Trains Cover.

My epic 8-page article on the Conway Scenic Railroad appears in the May 2020 Trains Magazine.

Months of research and personal experience contributed to my writing and illustrating this feature.

It was my hope to distill the railroad’s history, operations and spirit into these 8 pages.

Ironically, the magazine arrived the week following the railroad entering its unplanned period of dormancy owing to the on-going COVID-19 crisis and New Hampshire’s mandates in reaction to the crisis.

The photo below shows the waiting room on Friday afternoon with the first of several coats of fresh polyurethane in anticipation of the 2020 operating season.

12mm view with XT1 fitted with a Zeiss Touit.

Although ‘cocooned,’ with its operations postponed, Conway Scenic will continue to make preparations to reopen when the time is right to do so.

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English Electric in the Douro Valley One Year Ago.

It was just a year ago, March 30, 2019, that I exposed this digital image of a Comboios de Portugal (national railway of Portugal) passenger train winding along the picturesque Douro Valley near Aregos .

Denis McCabe and I had spent a week documenting Portuguese railways. Fine weather and excellent scenery combined to make this an enjoyable and successful Iberian adventure.

For this photo, I worked with my compact Lumix LX7. This compact camera produces outstanding results, owing in part to its Leica Vario-Summilux lens. Previously on Tracking the Light I published some of my Douro Valley photos exposed using my FujiFilm XT1.

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Top of the Boston & Albany—May 1985.

In the mid-1980s, my friends and I would convene at Washington Summit on Conrail’s former Boston & Albany mainline.

Located in the Berkshires, several miles timetable east of the old station at Hinsdale, the summit offered a good view in both directions and a pleasant, quiet place to wait for trains.

On this May 1985 afternoon, the chugging of an eastward freight could be heard for several miles before it came into view. I opted to frame the train with the Top of the B&A sign.

This sign was replaced in the 1990s; Conrail was divided by CSX and Norfolk Southern in 1999; the old Bullards Road over bridge (seen in the distance) was removed in 2003; and the trees have grown much taller. So there’s not much left of this scene today, although the tracks are still there.

Exposed on black & white film using a Leica 3A with Canon f1.8 50mm lens.

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SPV2000 at Windsor Locks May 1985.

I made this photograph at Windsor Locks, Connecticut showing a southward Amtrak SPV2000 making its station stop.

The Budd SPV2000s only worked this Amtrak ‘branch’ for about six years and during that time they were rarely photographed.

Lets just say, I’ve seen more of my own photographs of these cars on the Springfield-New Haven run than all other published views of the cars. (And I only have a few photos).

It’s too bad. I thought the cars looked pretty cool. And they were fun to ride on. Plus, you never knew when one might show up hauled by an Alco RS-3 or some other locomotive!

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ALCO RS-3 Westfield, MASSACHUSETTS.

On May 14, 1985, I exposed this photo of Pioneer Valley Railroad’s stored RS-3 203 at the railroad’s Westfield, Massachusetts yard.

PVRR was one of the Pinsley-owned railroads.

In 1985, my photographic efforts were supported by a shoe-string budget. I’d buy bulk 100-foot rolls of 35mm black & white film to roll my own cassettes. At the time I was working with a 1938-vintage Leica 3A with a screw-mount Cannon f1.8 50mm lens.

I’d process the film at college using Kodak D76.

Three decades later I’d scan the negatives. I have hundreds of rolls from that era picturing thousands of scenes, most of which can never be repeated.

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Zagreb August 2003.

Yesterday, when I read about the Magnitude 5.4 earthquake that shook Croatia, I thought back to the pleasant few days I spent on my first trip to the Croatian capital Zagreb in August 2003.

During that trip, I exposed this Fujichrome slide of a tram in Whirlpool a advertising livery near the Zagreb main railway station.

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Wrestling with a Tripod in the Rain.

New York’s Canisteo Valley was among my favorite places to photograph in the late 1980s. The lure of the Erie Railroad and the old Union Switch & Signal Style S signals had captivated my interest.

On the morning of July 19, 1988, my old pal TSH and I were on one of our annual summer rail-photo adventures. We had started before dawn, and picked up a westward Conrail OIBU rolling though the Canisteo toward Hornell, New York.

Trains moved right along on the former Erie Railroad mainline and racing ahead of it in a Dodge Dart, I parked and leaped out of the car at a preselected location at milepost 320 (measured from Jersey City) and began to set up my photograph.

I was working with equipment I borrowed from my father. The Leica M2 loaded with PKM (Kodachrome 25 professional) was mine, but the 200mm Telyt mounted with a bellows on a Leica Visoflex viewfinder and positioned on a antique Linhof tripod were his.

In our hasty chase, I’d cut my set up time too fine. It was lashing rain and I was struggling to set up and level the tripod, while trying to focus the camera using the Rube Goldburg Visoflex arrangement. My exposure was about f4 1/8 of a second.

Conrail’s BUOI came into view before I had time to refine my composition: this imperfect photo was the result. I recall the frustration of fighting with the equipment as the roar of the train intensified and the rain obscured my vision.

Let’s just say, that at the time I wasn’t impressed with my image. I’d cropped too much of the foreground and the whole image is off level. So for 30 years, it sat in the Kodak yellow cardboard slide box that it had been returned to me from lab in.

Last year, I scanned it. Ironically, this damp-day silhouette closely captures the spirit of Conrail’s Canisteo Valley that had captivated my photographic interest. The reflection of the headlight on the glossy codelines is the finesse that I didn’t manage to capture in most of brighter-day photography.

I’m glad I didn’t throw the slide away.

This morning I cropped and leveled the image in an effort to correct for my failings in 1988. I’m not sure I improved it any.

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Amtsterdam May 26, 1996.

My father and I traveled from Brussels to Amsterdam by train on May 26, 1996. Shortly after arriving at Amsterdam Centraal, I exposed this color slide of a tram paused in front of the station.

On the front of the tramcar is a bit of graffiti which annoyed me at the time. This bit of marker seemed to spoil the scene.

Later in the day, we traveled by tram to the end one of the lines, just to see what was there. It was like Legoland.

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Shadow at 64

During Conway Scenic Railroad’s Snow Train season last month, I took this photo from engine 573 as it approached milepost 64 along the Saco River.

We were plowing snow ahead of the scheduled train. The sun was rising behind the engine and it made for an interesting juxtaposition.

Exposed digitally with my Lumix LX7.

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