Category Archives: Gallery

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

Amtrak Shuttle Crossing the Connecticut River—February 6, 2019.

Last February the Connecticut River was swollen.

I made this telephoto view of a northward Amtrak shuttle (running from New Haven, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts) using a Nikon F3 with a 105mm lens and loaded with Fuji Acros 100 black & white film.

I like the way the Amtrak train glints in the morning sun.

To maximize tonality and detail, I used a split-development process, first soaking the film in a very dilute mixture of Kodak HC110, then using a more concentrated mix of Rodinal for primary development.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Conrail and Conway in December 2019 TRAINS Magazine.

Travels have kept me on the move. But last night I finally sat down with the paper copy of December 2019 Trains and read my column on page 13 that talks about New York Central and Conway Scenic.

Cover of Dec 2019 trains.

There I am on page 13!

Here’s the scene I wrote about in the column but didn’t picture in the article. I made a couple of color slides here too.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Coming and Going with New England Central at Northfield, Massachusetts.

Stark winter light suits black & white photography.

Back in January (2019), photographer Pat Yough and I made a day of photographing New England Central between White River Junction, Vermont and Leverett, Massachusetts.

Among the trains we photographed was freight 611, the Brattleboro to Palmer turn.

I made these views near Northfield, Massachusetts on Fuji Acros 100 black & white film using a Nikon F3 with 50mm lens.

To maximize tonality and detail, I used a split-development process, first soaking the film in a very dilute mixture of Kodak HC110, then a more concentrated mix of Rodinal.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

—THREE PHOTOS—LUAS Vodafone Tram at Dundrum

The impressive cable-stayed suspension bridge at Dundrum is one of my favorite places to picture Dublin’s LUAS Green Line.

A week ago, I timed my arrival at Dundrum to coincide with the passage of the Vodafone advertising tram that wears a colourful temporary livery.

There was perhaps 10 minutes left of sun in the Irish winter sky.

Photos exposed using my Lumix LX7

At left is the old Dundrum railway station—LUAS Green Line operates over portions of the old Harcourt railway line.

Tracking the Light posts daily!

Cork’s Kent Station: Three Views on Tri-X.

During October’s Cobh Rambler tour, I made these views at Cork’s Kent Station on Kodak Tri-X black & white film.

The tour was operated by Railway Preservation Society of Ireland in conjunction with Irish Rail.

Kent’s curved Victorian train shed makes for a fascinating venue to photograph a modern railway in action, while the inclement weather on the day translated well with the traditional media.

I processed the film using a customized split development process consisting of  Kodak HC110 presoak mixed 1-200 followed by primary development using Ilford ID11 1-1. The negatives were scanned using an Epsom V500 flatbed scanner with some minor final adjustment using Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Cobh Rambler: A Dozen Monochrome Portraits.

Last month while traveling on Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Cobh Rambler, I exposed two rolls of Kodak Tri-X using a Nikon F3.

This week I processed and scanned the film. Black & white film suited the gloomy dark and very wet weather.

Among my favorite images from the day were photos I made of my friends and railway staff on the trip.

Thanks to everyone at RPSI and Irish Rail who made this trip a rewarding experience and a photographic success!

Tracking the light Posts Daily!

More Adventures with the Ash Train!

Tuesday last week, my arrival at Sallins, County Kildare by Irish Rail suburban train was merely a jumping off for a much more productive photographic endeavor.

See yesterday’s post,  SUBURBAN TRAINS PASS AT SALLINS.

So Tuesday last week, I met fellow photographer Aiden McDonald outside Sallins and traveled by road for another visit to Bord na Mona’s Lanesborough narrow gauge network. This was my fourth foray in 2019 photographing on this wonderful industrial railway, and my second in less than a week.

My first visit to Lanesborough was more than six years ago and of all the Bord na Mona systems, it is my favorite.

We lucked out and met the empty ash train immediately on crossing the line near Derraghan More, County Longford.

It was bright and sunny and followed the train all the way back toward the Lough Ree Generating Station.

This was just the warm up and for the next six hours we were treated to almost non-stop action on one of Ireland’s coolest little railways.

A meet with a pair of empty trains returning to the bog for reloading.

Sadly this is an Indian Summer for the system, both literally and metaphorically. Word to the wise: time is running short.

Photo adjusted with digitally applied ND Grad using Light Room. A bit heavy handed here by my normal standards of adjustment, but possibly necessary for a more successful image.
Leading the ash train was one of the last locomotives on the Lanesborough system still working in the older Bord na Mona paint livery. This photo also benefits from wee bit of digital adjustment to the sky.

These photos were made using my FujiFilm XT1.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Suburban Trains Pass at Sallins.

Most passengers were heading toward Dublin in the morning. I was heading into the country. That was my train at left.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

Most were undoubtedly heading off to work.

I was heading off to make photos.

But wait, was that work? Not in a conventional sense, but I worked diligently at making the best photos I could. Sallins was just the jumping off point—more soon!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Classic Dublin with Low October Sun—Claude Road.

Monday, 28 October 2019 was a bright day in the Irish capital.

Although the main focus of the day was catching Irish Rail’s IWT Liners and the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Haunted Expresses, the weather was conducive to making captivating photos of the more pedestrian trains.

Photographer Jay Monaghan and I had spent the day traveling around Dublin, grabbing angles of the passing trains.

In the afternoon we made our way to the Claude Road footbridge west of Drumcondra Station and set up for the outbound RPSI train.

While waiting, I made this view of an outbound ICR (intercity railcar) working the afternoon Dublin to Sligo service. In the distance is the Croke Park stadium. Further, are the iconic ‘Chimneys’ or ‘Stacks’ for the Poolbeg Generation Station.

135mm view with a FujiFilm XT1.
Wideangle photo exposed with a Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Spooky Retro Special.

Tonight is Halloween.

Last night I processed a roll of Rollei 80S Retro that I exposed last summer.

The timing was apropos.

I made these images using my Nikon F3 with f1.8 105mm lens. My cousin Stella was visiting from the West Coast and we were exploring spooky graveyards in Western Massachusetts.

You may wonder why I waited nearly four months to process the film. Was it an infusion of Irish spirits and pucas that lent inspiration?

No, it was actually simpler than that. My preferred developer for Rollei 80S Retro is Rodinal and in Dublin I keep a healthy volume of this antique solution on hand. So I brought the film with me from America for processing in Dublin. However, distractions and writing have kept me occupied for weeks and I just got to souping the film last night!

I have an adjusted recipe for this very unusual film that yields stunning results.

Rollei 80S Retro will provide superb tonality, super fine grain, and a deep rich black when processed properly.

I’ll be posting more view to my Instagram account over the coming hours and days. See my photos on Instagram at: briansolomon.author

Tracking the Light looks to the Dark Side Tonight!

Making the Most of a Magnificent Bridge.

Last week it was dull and cloudy in Dublin. I was on a quest to find a bag for my vacuum cleaner, and was wandering shops and shopping centres on Dublin’s North Side.

During this quest, I called into the Hugh Lane art gallery on Parnell Square.

Now, I had no illusions of finding a bag for a Henry Hoover there. Instead, I wanted to gaze upon the paintings. You know, as you do.

Entering one of the galleries, a painting of a bridge immediately arrested my gaze. However, rather than merely wandering up to it, I first looked at the selection all around it.

This one painting stood tall among the rest. As it turns out it was a Monet of London’s Waterloo Bridge.

According the description, Monet had rented accommodation near the bridge, and painted this one bridge more than 40 times. Now that impressed me.

Also, in this painting, Monet opted to portray a dull, misty morning, when the combined effluence of smoke, steam, and pollution mixed with the mist to diffuse the light adding depth and mystery.

A few days later, I was in Drogheda, County Louth, where I aimed to picture Irish Rail’s immense Boyne Viaduct.

No mist and smog for me this day. But one bridge image tends to inspire another.

So here we have the down Enterprise Dublin to Belfast. (But that’s not the train I aimed to picture in Drogheda).

Next time in London, I’ll endeavor to photograph Waterloo Bridge. Although I doubt I can do it justice.

Oh, just in case your curious, I never found a bag for my Henry Hoover! These seem to be very elusive items in the Irish Republic, apparently.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Great Northern Railway Compound at Laytown Viaduct.

Saturday, 26 October 2019, Railway Preservation Society of Ireland ran a series of trips using Great Northern Railway (Ireland) compound 4-4-0 number 85. on old home rails.

This presented ideal opportunities for photography.

Too often steam locomotives are operated mid-day in high light, which present poor conditions for photography. Saturday’s trips benefitted from low late October sun and cool conditions.

I set up at Laytown where late afternoon sun illuminated the viaduct over an Irish Sea estuary.

The clouds were a nuisance, with dark shadows covering the scene until moments before the locomotive charged northward across the bridge toward Drogheda.

I exposed this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Thanks to everyone at Irish Rail and RPSI for making Saturday’s steam trips a success!

See: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Lucky meet at Lanesborough!

Brilliant sunny skies in County Longford made for an auspicious foray into Bord na Mona country.

Finding narrow gauge trains is part of the challenge.

Last week I was traveling with Mark Healy and Aiden McDonald . I was acting as navigator, and worked with my iPhone and my collection of annotated Ordinance Survey maps as we scoured the bog lands looking for movement.

While the first couple of locations were quiet, when we arrived at this overhead bridge near the Lough Ree Power Station in Lanesborough, I spotted a laden train.

Within a minute, we could hear trains coming from both directions and were afforded a running meet! Neat!

I exposed these views using my Lumix LX7. Working in Lightroom, I adjusted contrast and exposure to compensate for the extremes between light and dark.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Locked in Portabello.

Years ago I lived a few blocks from the Grand Canal in Portabello, Dublin.

In more than five years there, I never once saw a boat traverse the locks.

Last month during a walk along the old canal with some friends, I watched a floating restaurant navigate one of the locks, which made for some 18th century entertainment.

I exposed these views using my Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

CinCinnati Union Station—17 Years ago.

I was driving from Madison, Wisconsin to Roanoke, Virginia on October 25, 2002.

I stopped at Cincinnati to make photographs of Fellheimer & Wagner’s art deco masterpiece: Cincinnati Union Station, a railway station inspired by Helsinki’s Main Station.

This was among the photos I made on Fuji Acros 100 using my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with the super wide-angle flat-field 16mm Hologon. I featured this station in my book Depots, Stations & Terminals, published by Voyageur Press.

Seventeen years ago! Gosh!

Tracking the Light is like the Energizer Bunny!

Dusk on the Corridor—October 25, 1991

Twenty eight years ago on this day, my brother Sean and I made a survey of the former PRR electrified mainline south (timetable west) of Philadelphia.

Rather than literal interpretations, I was aiming for something more interpretive.

I’d bought a roll of Kodak Ektachrome 160 slide film. This featured a ‘tungsten balance’ designed to work with incandescent lamps and so featured a very cool color temperature, which accentuates the effect of dusk.

My notes from the day are nearly 4,000 miles away, so I can’t tell you which suburban platform on which we were standing when I made this time exposure of a rapidly approaching Amtrak train in the blue glow of the evening.

What I remember most from that evening was a sky filled with migratory birds, chirping, singing and squawking as they flew by.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday, sometimes more than once!

Signal Sunset Sunburst—34 Years Ago!

On this day in 1985, I exposed this view at Palmer, Massachusetts using my father’s Rollei Model T.

I silhouetted the setting sun behind the northward home signal at Central Vermont’s diamond crossing with Conrail’s Boston Line.

This old search light was soon replaced with a modern color light. Last year that signal was again replaced by even more modern hardware.

120 Verichrome Pan exposed with a Rolle Model T with Zeiss Tessar. Processed in D76. Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 1985

Tracking the Light Looks Back!

Kanturk Castle.

In the rain we approached the ruins of the 17th century mansion house known as Kanturk Castle in rural north Co. Cork.

This spooky hollow of century old stones hints at ambitions long forgotten, banquets feasted upon, and a way of life long past. In truth, except for the brief description of the structure posted in front of it, I know virtually nothing about it.

Yet the ruins make for compelling photographs. I made these colour photos with my Fujifilm XT1, whie simultaneously working with a Nikon F3 and Tri-X black & white film. When I finish my current book project, I’ll process that film and begin scanning.

What do these photos have to do with railroads? Well, Ken Fox, Donncha Cronin and I came across the castle while we were following the abandoned branch that ran from Banteer via Kanturk to Newmarket. The branch ran nearby the old castle.

Ironically, while the castle ruin is centuries old and the railway was only abandoned in 1963, there’s precious little left of the railway line, and in some places we were unable to find tangible evidence of the line to photograph!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Leaves at Frankenstein Trestle

Last June, while working with the Conway Scenic Railroad I exposed this view of fresh green foliage at the Frankenstein Trestle on the line over New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch.

I was working with an antique Nikon FTN Nikkormat with a Nikkor f1.8 105mm lens.

I like the ‘fast’ 105 because it allows for very shallow depth of field at its widest aperture, while offering exceptional sharpness on the area of focus.

This effect is especially appealing as a contrast to many modern digital systems that offer razor sharp images with great depth of field in most circumstances. Focus, like other qualities, may be most effective when applied judiciously.

I exposed this image on Ilford HP5 400ISO 35mm black & white film. I hand processed the film. After a presoak with very dilute HC110 for about 5 minutes, I introduced my primary developer, Ilford ID11 developer mixed 1 to 1 with water,  for 6 minutes and 15 seconds at 70F. By raising the temperature slightly and using a relatively dilute solution I controlled contrast while increasing shadow detail.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Conrail Rolling!

At 351pm on September 20, 1989—Just over 30 years ago—I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide using my Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron near Silver Creek, New York.

Although a favorite slide, this is one of thousands of Conrail photos I reviewed for my latest Conrail book that didn’t make the final cut.

This weekend I’ll put the final touches on the manuscript and send my selection of photos to Kalmbach so that the book may enter its next phase of production.

Tracking the Light Rolls with Conrail this weekend!

Cobh Junction‑Glounthaune, Co. Cork—Revisited.

The trackage arrangement at Irish Rail’s Cobh Junction, Glounthaune gives the location great photographic interest.

Here the Cobh Branch and Midleton lines divide.

Historically, the line to Midleton (left) had continued to Youghal and was envisioned as a scheme to continue on to Waterford. Later the Cobh Branch (right) was built to reach the old port at Queenstown (Cobh).

The Cobh Branch developed as double-track suburban route, and ultimately the priority of the lines at the junction was reversed.

By the 1980s route via Midleton to Youghal had languished and allowed to go fallow. Ten years ago, after decades of inactivity, Irish Rail rebuilt and revitalized the route as far as Midleton. Today both lines are busy with passenger trains.

A Cobh Branch train bound for Kent Station, Cork approaches Glounthaune station.

This week, Ken Fox gave me a tour of Cork area railways, including trips along the Cobh and Midleton routes.

I made this view from the station footbridge at Cobh Junction, Glounthaune using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Lumix LX100 at Littleisland, Co. Cork.

Sunday, 13 October 2019, I exposed this view of an Irish Rail 2600-series railcar at Littleisland on the Cobh Branch destined for Kent Station, Cork.

For me this was a test of the Lumix LX100 that Denis McCabe lent me.

The scene is cross-lit; so the sun is off-camera to my left, leaving the railcar on the ‘Dark Side’ while the signal cabin is brightly illuminated. Complicating the contrast are the fluffy white clouds and a polarized sky above.

This image was adjusted from the camera-RAW file using Lightroom. I darkened highlight areas to obtain greater detail, while lightening shadow regions, and used a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter to better hold detail in the sky.

Two points: I find the RAW files from Lumix LX100 exceptionally sharp; and the files have very good dynamic range which gives me plenty of room to make adjustement in situations with extreme contrast.

More Lumix LX100 photos soon!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Through the Mists of Rhein!

One September 2019 morning on Germany’s Rhein, clear skies were obscured by a thick mist hugging the river. As the warm rays of the rising sun graced the tops of the nearby hills, the mist cleared, which made for some cosmic lighting.

I exposed these photographs digitally using my FujFilm XT1. But I also exposed a few colour slides using a Nikon F3 with 105mm lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

St Stephens Green View

The view from Dublin’s St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Plaza  The Food Village  food court is among the best vistas to picture LUAS trams in the city centre.

This offers an elevated view of the St Stephens Green prominently featuring the Fusiliers Arch on the Grafton Street side of the park.

I like the view because it was featured on an early 19th century hand-tinted postcard the also included trams, albeit those of the previous lineage. (The Dublin city centre was without trams from the 1940s until 2004 when LUAS commenced operations).

The S-bend in the tram route seen here was opened as part of the Cross City Green Line extension a couple of years ago.

The other day I met fellow photographer Mark Healy for serious image making discussion over a cup of tea while waiting to photograph some of the LUAS advertising trams that now prowl the Green Line route.

I exposed these photos using my Lumix LX7. The challenge of this location is obtaining a satisfactory image through the window glass. I used a very wide aperture, which offers low depth of field to minimize the effect of the glass.

Tracking the Light is a Daily railway-photography Blog.

Slide Show in CORK This Tuesday!

This coming Tuesday evening, 15 October 2019, I’ll be presenting a slide show and talk featuring my travels in Spain and Portugal to the Munster Branch of the Irish Railway Record Society at the Brú Columbanus Rooms at Cardinal Way, Wilton in Cork City.

The talk begins about 8pm.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

The Cobh Rambler—Crew Portrait at Mallow

Before Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s  The Cobh Rambler  departed Mallow on Saturday evening (5 October 2019) for Dublin, I was given an important task. 

A group portrait was hastily organized for me to expose.

Sometimes gathering railwaymen for a portrait is like herding cats, but there’s a long tradition in posing them in front of locomotives.

Smiling alongside locomotive 232 leading The Cobh Rambler are some the RPSI members and Irish Rail employees that made our excursion a roaring success.

For this photo I used my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Special thanks to everyone that made  The Cobh Rambler  a great day out!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Faces of The Cobh Rambler—lots of photos!

Saturday wasn’t the brightest or driest day.

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s  The Cobh Rambler departed Dublin Heuston Station as per schedule.

It was raining by the time we passed Lucan South (about 6 miles from Heuston).

By the time we reached Cork it was lashing.

On these excursions I often focus on my friends, many of whom are Irish Rail employees and/or RPSI members.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip a success!

All images were exposed using my Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Irish Locomotives Yesterday and Today?

Often I assembled Tracking the Light posts several days in advance of publication (or ‘posting’).

As I write this, rain lashes at my window in Dublin.

If all goes to plan, as you read this my friends and I will be traveling on the RPSI diesel tour to Cork and Kerry, titled the ‘Cobh Rambler.’

Traveling behind diesels, especially the 1970s-vintage 071 class General Motors locomotives, has become a novelty in Ireland since the widespread purchase of Intercity Railcars in the mid-2000s, replaced most diesel hauled trains.

This has made diesel trips, such as that one planned for today, a special treat.

What promises to make this trip especially unusual is the very rare combination of 071 class and 201 class working together. There has been considerable comment and speculation as to which locomotives may work this trip.  Sometimes the locomotive planned for the day is re-assigned, develops a fault, or is replaced for other reasons. 

Over the years I’ve photographed most of the GM diesels in Ireland, and in this post I’ve put up a sampling of the locomotives suggested might work today’s train.

Irish Rail 078 with the Steel Train at Kildare on 7 April 2019.
Irish Rail 225 at Tralee, Co. Kerry in August 1999. Exposed with a Nikon N90S on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO).
Irish Rail 232 with up IWT Liner at Stacumni Bridge near Hazelhatch in March 2017.

Learn more about the RPSI: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday, or at least tries to.

Medieval Window on the Railway—two views.

The old city walls at Oberwesel, Germany feature a 13th century watch tower.

The builders of the tower were clearly railway enthusiasts ahead of their time.

Ok, so you’d have to wait for about 600 years before your first train went by!

I revisited the watch tower last month and made these photos with my FujiFilm XT1.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

The Power of the Dark Side—Sankt Goarshausen.

Sometime, long ago, back in film days someone concluded that three-quarter sun made for the most desirable lighting conditions for locomotive photos.

While its true that in many instances low, three-quarter sun will yield a pleasing result, this is but one lighting solution, and not always the most effective for every setting.

Whoa! WAS that blasphemy?

In September, we hiked into a vineyard south of Sankt Goarshausen, Germany. Blue skies and high thin clouds gave us soft directional lighting with an elevated view of the Right Bank line on the Rhein. In the distance a castle loomed above the river-side Sankt Goarshausen village.

Opting for the dark side presented better contrast that helps visually distinguish the train from the landscape. In this situation because the setting is so visually complex and compelling it helps to make the train stand out, since the train was intended as our subject.

Sure, we could have visited this place earlier in the day, but would that have yielded more effective images?

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday!