I was just a kid with a camera. Luckily, the camera was a Leica 3A.
I’d loaded it with Tri-X and exposed a few views around the Rockland, Maine roundhouse during a visit there with my family in August 1980.
Months later I processed the film in Microdol-X (not the best choice of developers, but it’s what I used at the time) and made a few tiny prints. Then I put the negatives in a paper envelope and mostly forgot about them.
Two years ago, when looking for some other photos, I re-discovered the negatives in a big batch of missing photos, and scanned them at high-resolution with an Epson flatbed scanner.
This photo required a little post processing adjustment to improve tonality and even out contrast, while removing a few dust specs.
I’d use ‘gray’ in place of ‘dark’, but apparently the phraseology has assumed new meanings.
I could just say ‘Dublin in Black & White’, but that isn’t really correct either.
Working with my Nikon F3 loaded with Foma Classic 100 black & white film, I made these photos during March 2018 wintery weather in Dublin.
To keep my camera steady for long exposures, I used various tripods, depending on the surface and circumstance.
My exposures varied, but most were between 1 and 8 seconds. I calculated exposure manually using a Minolta IV Flash meter (in reflective mode).
I processed the Fomapan 100 film in Ilford ID-11 stock mixed 1-1 with water at 68F for 7 minutes 15 seconds, plus pre-soak with a token amount of Kodak HC110, then scanned negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
Not as rare to my lens as 202, but not as common as say 201, 205, or the seeming omnipresent 215. Today, views of 204 on the move are still pretty neat since it’s been more than eight years since it turned a wheel.
These are all Fujichrome photos, since I never photographed 204 at work using a digital camera. Maybe someday it will return to service. But even then I might take it on slide film for old time sake.
All were exposed using Kodak Tri-X black & white film, which I processed in Ilford ID-11 (1-1 at 68 degrees F for 7 minutes 45 seconds, plus extended presoak with very dilute HC110 to pre-activate development.)
I scanned the negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
For me, sometimes black & white film provides the best medium for capturing a scene.
Working with my Nikon N90S loaded with Ilford FP4 black & white film, I exposed this sequence of photographs at Mallow, County Cork.
Soft afternoon sun provided some nice light; just the sort of low sun that allows for tonality and texture to be interpreted on black & white film.
Previously, I’d struggled with FP4 to get a range of tones that satisfy me. With this roll of film, I used Ilford ID11 stock solution without dilution at 68 degrees F (20C) for 5 minutes, with only a short water bath prior to develoment.
Although, my negatives still required a touch of contrast adjustment in post processing, I’m very happy with the way they turned out.
Here are colour and black & white views at NI Railway’s Lisburn station exposed at sunset in late January 2018. Both original images were exposed within a few moments of each other.
The colour photo was exposed in RAW format using my Lumix LX7 digital camera, while the black & white image was made on Kodak Tri-X exposed using a Nikon F3 with 24mm Nikkor lens. (Film processed in ID11 1-1 for 8 minutes at 20C (68 F).
I imported the files into Lightroom and made a series of contrast adjustments to better balance the sky with the train, station and platforms.
I made my changes to compensate for limitations of the recording media while aiming for greater dynamic presentation.
Below are both the unaltered files, Lightroom work windows, and my penultimate variations, which are aimed to demonstrate the changes, the means of alteration, and my results.
At 1007 (10:07 am) this morning (8 February 2018), Irish Rail’s 071 (class leader of the popular 071 class of General Motors-built diesel locomotives) passed Islandbridge Junction with the down IWT Liner.
This locomotive was repainted in 2016 into the attractive 1970s-era livery.
Although, I’ve made a number of photographs of this locomotive in heritage paint before, it’s always nice to see it on the move. I’m told it had been laid up for the last few months and it’s only back on the road this week.
On February 3, 1995, Canadian National Railway’s American affiliate Central Vermont Railway ended operations.
Shortly thereafter, the newly created RailTex short line called New England Central assumed operation of the former CV route. Since that time, New England Central became part of Rail America, which was then acquired by Genesee & Wyoming.
Despite these changes, a few of New England Central’s start-up era GP38s are still on the move in the classy blue and yellow livery.
Although exposed more than 30 years apart. This pair of ‘then and now’ photos at Maple Street in Monson, Massachusetts, helps delineate my appreciation for New England Central and Central Vermont.
Over the last few years I’ve posted a variety of photos showing Dublin’s LUAS Cross City tram line under construction and trial/training runs.
In December 2017, this new LUAS service commenced from St. Stephens Green (at the north end of the original Green Line service) to Broombridge on Dublin’s Northside. But, at that time, I was elsewhere.
So last Friday (26 January 2018), Mark Healy and I went for a spin out to Broombridge and back. I made digital photos with my Lumix LX7 and colour slides with my Nikon N90S.
Back in the mid-1980s, my friends and I made trips to Mechanicville, New York where the adjacent Boston & Maine and Delaware & Hudson yards lent to lots of action and a great variety of diesel locomotives.
The yard was an early casualty of Guilford’s short lived consolidation of B&M and D&H operations. By 1986 the yard was a ghost town.
In more recent times a small portion of the yards were redeveloped for intermodal and auto-rack facilities, but very little of the sprawling trackage remains
In December, I returned to Mechanicville with a Leica IIIA and Sumitar loaded with Kodak Tri-X in an effort to recreate the angles of photos I exposed in November 1984 using the same camera/film combination.
To aid this exercise, I scanned my old negatives and uploaded these to my iPhone. The viewfinder of the Leica IIIA presents difficulties as this is just a tiny window and not well suited to precision composition. (Topic for another day).
Also complicating my comparisons was the fresh layer of snow in the 2017 views.
In some places the only points of reference between ‘then’ and ‘now’ views are the electrical lines crossing the yard.
I made these views of New England Central job 608 working timetable northward at Stafford Spring, Connecticut.
It was about 7:30am, and the sun was just tinting the eastern sky.
Rather than set my camera with ‘auto white balance’ (a typical default setting), I opted to fix the white balance with the ‘daylight’ setting.
Auto white balance arbitrarily selects a neutral color balance and adjusts the balance based on the conditions at hand. This is a useful feature in some situations, such as photography under incandescent lighting, or in situations with mixed lighting, such as in a museum or subway.
However, auto white balance settings have the unfortunate effect of minimizing the colorful effects of sunset and sunrise and so using the ‘daylight’ setting is in my opinion a better alternative.
But there’s really much a more complex problem; the way that digital cameras capture images is completely different to the ways the human eye and brain work in fixing visual stimuli. You could write a book on that!
Tracking the Light Posts Daily!
Tracking the Light Posts Different Photos Every Day!
I asked viewers three questions, below are the questions and my ‘correct’ answers:
There’s no train, but can you spot three distinct rail elements featured in this image.
ANSWERS: The three elements are: 1) the streetcar infrastructure: tracks and wires. 2) SEPTA’s former Pennsylvania Railroad Chestnut Hill Railroad Station (behind the bus). 3) The advertisement on the bus that reads ‘Respect the Train.’
Do you see what’sWRONG with this photo?
The silver Nissan automobile in the foreground has been double exposed.
How did I do it?
I was using the Lumix LX7’s HDR (high dynamic range) mode that combines several images in-camera, which exposed differently. Although these exposures are made in rapid succession, the moving car confused the camera’s combination software and resulted in a double exposure.
Thanks to all the viewers who submitted guesses! And congratulations to everyone that guessed correctly!
Sorry if the streetcar wires and tracks are counted as one answer. 🙂
Here are two views of the same train: led by the same locomotive, at the same location, more or less at the same time of day, exposed using the same camera with the same lens.
Both photos show New Engand Central job 608 led by GP38 3845 working northward in the morning along Plains Road in Willington, Connecticut (south of Stafford Springs).
Photos were exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. The slight difference in angle may be attributed to the inconvenience of a mushy snow bank along the road in winter view that was not a problem in the summer.
On the previous day, CSX B740 had interchanged a healthy cut of cars for Mass-Central at Palmer, Massachusetts. So I surmised that this would be a good time to catch Mass-Central working both of its GP38-2s together.
Paul Goewey and I arrived in Palmer early, and once we were sure Mass-Central was ready to head north up their line toward Ware (old Boston & Albany Ware River Branch), we began scoping photo locations.
Although brisk and cold, the sun was clear and bright and there was a good amount of snow on the ground.
We set up at the Main Street Crossing along the valley’s namesake river. We didn’t have to wait long before we heard the train coming up the line.
These views were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.
Here’s my holiday card. Amtrak’s westward 449 led by heritage locomotive 156 passes West Warren, Massachusetts, Sunday December 10, 2017.
Amtrak 156 has been on my list for a long time. Of all the Amtrak paint schemes over the years, this is by far my favorite.
Although I caught 156 second unit out three days earlier (see yesterday’s Tracking the Light), this locomotive had eluded my photography for years. Apparently it had been assigned to the Vermonter for a month a few years ago, but I was out of the country.
Every other time it was some place, I was some place else.
But finally everything came together; first snow of the season, Amtrak 156 in the lead, and soft afternoon sun at one of my favorite former Boston & Albany locations; the engineer gave me a friendly toot of the horn, and I’m pleased with the outcome of the photos.
I hope you have a great holiday season and you find your 156 in the new year.
Tracking the Light wishes you Seasons Greetings too!
In November 2017, I returned to this location in advance of the approaching northward Housatonic freight NX-12 that featured two early 1960s-era GP35s in the lead followed by 32 cars (28 loads, 4 empties) and another GP35 at the back.
I find the railroad setting here fascinating. The combination of the traditional line with wooden ties and jointed rail in a setting of old factories, freight house and passenger station makes for a rustic scene out of another era.
Working with a Nikon F3 with 50mm lens I made a series of black & white photos on Kodak Tri-X. And, I also exposed a sequence of digital color photos using my FujiFilm X-T1.
Yesterday I received my copy of the January 2018 Trains Magazine that features my most recent column.
Using my Lumix LX7, I made the photo illustrating my text on-board an SNCF TGV high-speed service from Brussels to Lille back in April 2017.
Below is a view of the same train at sunrise in Brussels prior to departure. Although unstated in the article, this was part of a trip across Europe during my research for my up-coming book on European Railway travel.
Last week (November 2017) I made these picturesque tableaus of the Strasburg Railroad in its classic Pennsylvanian Dutch settings.
All were made with my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.
Over the years I’ve made more than a dozen visits to the Strasburg Railroad, but this most recent trip was the first time I’d exposed digital photos here. I guess it’s been a while since my last visit.