Category Archives: Gallery

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

Irish Rail 222—The Bishop.

Many Irish Rail locomotives have nicknames. Engine 222 is ‘The Bishop’ or ‘Bishop Tutu’, which is an allusion to its number.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve caught this locomotive at many places across the Irish network.

Irish Rail 222 working push-pull set at Cherryville Junction on 20 September 2002. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon.
10 June 2006; An electrical power cut at Westport, County Mayo had required the use of portable generators at the station. In addition to the discordant cacophony at the normally peaceful location, this had resulted in some unusual moves to get trains positioned properly, such as this view of 222 with Mark 3s beyond the station to the West.

See: DAILY POST: Timber and General Motors, June 10, 2006 

Irish Rail 222 works a Dublin to Cork Mark4 set nearing Kent Station, Cork.
Now officially 02-10222. The Bishop basks in the evening sun at Heuston Station in Dublin.
Working the IWT liner from Dublin to Ballina, at my all to often photographed location at Islandbridge in Dublin. Exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1.

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EMDs on the Roll! Conrail-Era SD60M.

Gosh, I remember when 6798 was NEW and blue. This is among Conrail-era SD60Ms still at work on Norfolk Southern.

To make for a more dramatic locomotive action photo, I’ve taken a low angle medium-telephoto view.

Notice how the angle features the wheels on rails, allowing you to see below the locomotive.

Engine exhaust blurs the wires beyond, demonstrating the engines are working.

By focusing on the locomotives; I’ve cropped most of the following freight, more than a mile of it in tow.

Exposed at LaPorte, Indiana on Norfolk Southern’s former New York Central Water Level Route mainline. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto. ISO 200, f5, 1/500thsecond; JPG image processed from camera RAW file using Lightroom; contrast and exposure adjusted globally and locally to improve visual impact.

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Documenting the Common: Norfolk Southern Double-stacks at CP485.

Norfolk Southern’s Water Level Route is among the busiest freight routes in the East.

It features a continual parade of trains; long freights led by common modern diesels.

Here a cookie-cutter General Electric Evolution-series works east with a double stack train, ducking under the South Shore line at CP485 near Burns Harbor, Indiana.

Isn’t this freight the modern day equivalent of a New York Central freight led by F7s; or a generation earlier by a common Central H-10 Mikado?

Freight trains are about freight and I’ll often make photos of the consist.

But does it matter that I exposed this image? Where does it fit in the BIG picture?

I was pleased when I made this view. Chris Guss and I had enough time to set up, but didn’t wait long. I recalled a photo made more than 20 years ago in this same territory; Mike Danneman and I spent a snowy February morning photographing Conrail. Those photos are looking better all the time.

The common deserves to be recorded.

 

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In Memory: Jim Shaughnessy.

Jim Shaughnessy signs his book ‘Essential Witness’ on visit in December 2017.

Yesterday, August 7, 2018, my friend Jim Shaughnessy passed away.

Jim’s photography and writing are some of the best known in American railroad circles; over the years he has been a strong influence on my own work.

He and I often discussed three interests we had in common: Ireland, railways and photography.

Jim had been visiting Ireland since the 1960s. In 2005, Jim visited me in Dublin and I gave him a walking tour.

He will be missed; his photography and writing lives on.

—Brian Solomon

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Three Years Ago Today: New England Central at Belchertown, Massachusetts

It was July 6, 2015, three years ago, that Paul Goewey and I photographed New England Central at Springfield Street in Belchertown, Massachusetts.

Our vantage point is from the old Central Massachusetts Railroad right of way—a line that was abandoned in the early 1930s, when Boston & Maine obtained trackage rights over the parallel Central Vermont (now New England Central) line.

On this Day, July 6, 2015, I caught Connecticut Southern 3771 leading the southward New England Central 611 at Springfield Street in Belchertown, Massachusetts.

I made this view using my FujiFilm X-T1.

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Evolution at Cassandra—Summer Sunrise.

Evolution at Cassandra—Summer Sunrise.

On July 1, 2010, I exposed this sunrise glint view of an eastward Norfolk Southern freight led by an Evolution-Series General Electric diesel-electric at the Railfan’s Overlook in Cassandra, Pennsylvania.

I adjusted the file using Lightroom to balance the contrast between highlights and shadows and make for a more pleasing image.

Notice the effect of the backlit leaves and grass.

Tracking the Light is on autopilot.

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Eight Years Ago: Gallitzin, Pennsylvania.

Norfolk Southern 20Q approaches the Allegheny Divide at Gallitzin, Pennsylvania on June 30, 2010.

On this day eight years ago, I exposed this photograph of Norfolk Southern eastward intermodal train climbing toward the tunnels at Gallitzin, Pennsylvania.

I made this view in the evening of June 30, 2010  using a Canon EOS-7D with 100-400mm autofocus image stabilization lens set at 160mm focal length.

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Union Pacific on the old Chicago & North Western at Rochelle, Illinois on June 28, 2010.

Exposed with a Canon EOS7D at Rochelle, Illinois on June 28, 2010.

I was traveling with John Gruber on this day eight years ago, when we stopped at the famous Rochelle, Illinois diamonds to photograph this Union Pacific eastward freight.

I opted for a classic view with short telephoto perspective, over the shoulder light, and locomotives framed under the signal bridge.

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Palmer’s Rare Move—June 22, 2018.

Here’s the follow up to my June 25thposting Palmer’s Busy Bright Morning [https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5Az].

A lone loaded auto-rack was spotted in CSX’s Palmer Yard.

CSX’s local freight B740 had arrived from West Springfield Yard.

B740’s crew discussed arrangements with the dispatcher to reverse out of the yard (westward) with the auto-rack on the interchange track and then pull forward onto the controlled siding at CP83.

CSX B740 shoves back on the interchange track at Palmer, Massachusetts.

The reason for this was to avoid using the normal freight connection from the controlled siding into the yard because of the length of the auto rack was at risk of derailing over the tight switches.

The crossover at CP83 from the interchange track to the controlled siding was installed in 1995 to facilitate Amtrak’s Vermonter, which was then operating via Palmer and changed directions here to go between CSX and New England Central’s route on its Springfield, Massachusetts-St Albans, Vermont portion of the run.

The passenger crossover at CP83 has been rarely used, since Amtrak’s Vermont returned to the more direct routing in December 2014 (running north of Springfield on the Boston & Maine Connecticut River line via Greenfield to East Northfield).

CSX’s crewman lines the switch for the controlled siding on the now rarely used crossover. Notice the rust on the rail.
CSX B740 pulls forward through the crossover and will soon head east on the Boston & Albany to East Brookfield. Notice how the CSX crewman on the ground is illuminated by the sun shinning through the gap between the locomotives and the auto rack.

It was a fortuitous situation to catch this rare move in nice morning sun.

B740 then continued east to East Brookfield, where CSX autoracks are unloaded on the East Brookfield & Spencer.

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Palmer’s Busy Bright Morning—four new photos.

The day dawned clear and bright. I spent an hour at CP83 in Palmer making good use of the light. The railroads cooperated and supplied a parade of eastward trains, and these favored the sun for classic views.

I’ve made countless thousands of photos at Palmer, Massachusetts, but it’s always nice to keep the files fresh.

CSX eastward intermodal—probably Q012—passes the signals at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm telephoto lens.
New England Central GP38 3845 works a local freight on the interchange track.
NECR 3845 shoves back.
Moments after New England Central’s local disappeared from view, CSX’s B740 arrived with cars for interchange. (exposed at f5.0 1/640 ISO 200)  It was about this time that things got interesting! Stay tuned for more.

Soon the scene is likely to change since CSX is installing new equipment for its positive train control signaling, and this will likely result in new signal hardware in place of the Conrail-era signals installed during single-tracking in 1986-1987.

Then something unexpected happened, and by shear luck I caught a rare move! Stay tuned for Part 2.

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Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Coal Train: Saving a Sunset Chrome.

On November 15, 1987, I followed a loaded PLMT coal train east from Buffalo, New York. This train had operated with Pittsburgh & Lake Erie locomotives and was being handled by Guilford’s Delaware & Hudson via trackage rights over Conrail’s former Erie Railroad.

Try to fit all that on the slide mount!

At the time these coal trains operated about once a week, and while it wasn’t uncommon to find P&LE locomotives, catching the trains on film was challenging.

I made this view on Kodachrome 25 with my Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron Lens. It’s a badly under exposed long pan (about 1/8 of a second) from a hillside off the Canisteo River Road, in the valley of that name, a few miles east of Adrian.

The original slide was made at the very end of daylight, and the slow speed ISO25 film didn’t give me the needed sensitivity to capture the scene with adequate exposure.

That’s a long way of saying; it was dark and I underexposed the film.

Here’s the scaled, but unadjusted scan. It’s about 3 to 4 stops underexposed. The slide is nearly opaque except for the sky. Exposure was about f2.0 at 1/8 second on Kodachrome 25 (ISO 25).

Thankfully, I didn’t through the slide away.

I scanned it using VueScan 9×64 (edition 9.6.09) software and a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 slide scanner. It opted for manual controls; I selected 4000 dpi input, under ‘color’ I used the Kodachrome K14 color profile, and while output was set at 4000 dpi as a TIF file.

I then imported the TIF into Lightroom for color, exposure and contrast adjustment, necessary to compensate for my extreme underexposure. To hold sky detail, I applied a digital graduated neutral density filter.

Here’s my first round of adjustments. I thought the sky and overall color balance  seemed a bit otherworldly so I zeroed out the adjustments and started again. Compare this with the image below.
Although similar, this version is better balanced and looks closer to the original scene. Although underexposed, the Kodachrome film was able to capture some detail over more than 6 stops, allowing for post processing adjustment.

Although slightly grainy, the results are much improved over the original and captures my intended effect of the train rolling at speed through the Canisteo Valley at dusk.

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TEN photos: All-New Berlin Station—Connecticut, that is!

There’s little left to remind you of the historic building that once served passengers at Berlin, Connecticut.

In December 2016, during construction of the modern building, the historic New Haven Railroad station was suspiciously destroyed in a fire.

An artist vision of the proposed integration of the old station with the modern structures. It was not to be.

Last weekend was my first visit to the new station. This features some impressive looking architecture, elevators and a high glass enclosed footbridge.

Morning light on the impressive entrance to the new station. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.

However, it seems to be notably lacking a proper waiting room where passengers can get out of the elements, and features only a ‘portapot’ in place of proper toilets.

In place of our friendly ticket agent, there’s a modern CT rail ticket machine to dispense tickets. You can buy your Amtrak ticket on-line, over the phone, or using an App on your smart-phone.

Also on the ‘plus side’ the station is well suited to photography and will make for a nice place to board and photograph trains. Also, with the expanded Amtrak service and new CT rail Hartford Line trains, there’s more service than there has been in many years.

Any thoughts?

The east-side platform looking south toward New Haven, Connecticut at 8am. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.
Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.

CT rail 6400 making its stop at Berlin, bound for Springfield, Massachusetts. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.
Amtrak 405 to New Haven. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.
Amtrak 461 heading toward New Haven at midday is about to depart Berlin. All aboard! Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm Fujinon lens.

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Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point.

For more than forty years my family has been visiting the Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point in East Windsor.

I made these views last weekend.

I’ve always enjoyed the nostalgia of the trolleys and the leisurely ride through the forest. What’s interesting is that the trolleys I knew as a kid are largely inside and pending restoration, while today’s operable cars were largely out of service when I was younger.

These views were exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1.

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Hey! I Thought This Train Seemed Familiar!

I experienced the new CT rail Hartford Line commuter train for the first time on Saturday.

CT rail in Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

I had this distinct sense of Déjà vu.

Then I reviewed the cover of my new book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

Wow! It’s like a German train at Berlin. Berlin, Connecticut, that is.

A German electric multiple unit graces the cover of my book.

CT rail 6400 crosses an old stone arch bridge at Windsor, Connecticut on Sunday June 17, 2018.
DB and CFL (Luxembourg Railways) EMUs working together on the famous Hanging Viaduct in Germany’s Mosel Valley.

I’m commenting on the paint liveries, not the equipment or the services.

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If you haven’t seen it, check out my latest book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01304

New York City’s Flushing Line November 1998.

The other day I found this Fujichrome color slide in my archives. I exposed in on a subway tour with my father back in November 1998.

Working with a Nikon F2 with 28mm lens, I made this photo from the end of a platform on the Flushing Line’s elevated structure. I like the subtlety of the autumn sky. For me this brings back memories of long ago.

Wide-angle view of New York City’s Flushing Line (that’s the number 7 train).

I recall the water color painter Ted Rose telling me about how a yellow sky stirred his memories. That was in regard to a painting he made of a wintery Midwestern scene. His memories, not mine. Similar sky though.

My dad claims that my first railway trip was on the Flushing Line in Queens, New York. That was about 1968. All I remember was the dirty floors on the subway cars, and being held up to look out the front window as we rattled along. I made no photos on that day.

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New CT Rail Hartford Line Commuter Trains—First Day in Eight Photos!

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1, I exposed more than 100 photos of the new Connecticut commuter rail service on the Hartford Line.

There’s nothing like the first day.

Train rides were FREE.

Springfield, Massachusetts on June 16, 2018.
Springfield, Massachusetts on June 16, 2018.
Springfield, Massachusetts on June 16, 2018.

 

Amtrak 461 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

Yesterday, June 16, 2018 the long awaited CT Rail Hartford Line Commuter service commenced.

My father and I traveled on the first train from Berlin, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts. It was a bright clear morning.

Contrast was a challenge, and for some of these photos I imported the camera RAW image into Light Room for exposure, color balance and exposure adjustment.

Amtrak 460 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.
CT Rail 6653 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.
CT Rail 6653 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.
CT Rail 6654 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

 

If you haven’t seen it, check out my latest book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01304

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Tracking the Light EXTRA: CTRail Free Train Ride Today!

Today, June 16, 2018, the long awaited CTRail service began public operation on the Springfield-Hartford-New Haven Line.

Free rides were on offer on both the new CTRail trains and some Amtrak services.

CTRail staff at Berlin supplied complimentary tickets!

My father and I traveled on the first northward train (CTRail 6400) between the new station at Berlin, Connecticut and Springfield. The train was very well attended!

More free train rides are available on the route tomorrow (Sunday June 17, 2018).

CTRail’s first public forward run, train 6400, makes its stop at Berlin, Connecticut. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
The view near Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

I made many photographs over the course of the day and I’ve yet to look at all of them. Stay tuned for more tomorrow!

See: http://www.hartfordline.com

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More New England Central GP38s-Four Photos!

For the last month, New England Central’s 608 (Willimantic, Connecticut to Palmer, Massachusetts and back) has continued to run with a  pair of GP38s.

(I missed the day when 608 ran with three!)

What’s so special about this?

These locomotives began with New England Central when it commenced operations in February 1995, and have continued to work the railroad in the same paint (if not the same numbers) ever since.

A classic view of 608 running northward near Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 and 27mm pancake lens.
A classic view of 608 running northward near Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 and 27mm pancake lens.

Originally there were a dozen, but the ranks have thinned.

New England Central has changed owners twice since 1995; it was originally a RailTex property, then RailAmerica, today Genesee & Wyoming.

NECR has acquired or borrowed many other diesels over the years.

Yet for me the few surviving blue and yellow GP38s offer a sense of continuity, and also represent a throw-back to when EMD’s 645 diesels were dominant on American railroads.

How much longer will New England Central continue this vintage railroading?

A view of 608 running northward passing Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 and 90mm telephoto lens.

Will these GP38s see G&W corporate colors? Will they be reassigned elsewhere on the expansive G&W railroad family? Will newer locomotives assume their duties?

Never take anything on the railroad for granted; eventually everything changes.

Change makes old photos more interesting.

A 12mm view with my Zeiss Tuoit lens fitted to the FujiFilm X-T1.

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Oh No, Not the Dreaded 215! Again . . . 

Irish Rail 215. Is this my least favorite of the 201 class locomotives?

It’s probably my most photographed.

My first recognition of the 215-effect was on a trip to Galway many years ago. Friends were visiting from America and we were traveling on the Mark3 International set.

Soon after departing Dublin Heuston, it was evident that the train was in trouble. We weren’t making track speed. When we got to Hazelhatch, our train took the loop. Old 215 had failed. We waited there for about 40 minutes until 203 was summoned for a rescue.

Some months later, I returned from Boston to Dublin, and on the front page of the papers was 215 at Heuston Station—on its side! It had derailed.

15April2006 Irish Rail 215 works the Galway train passing Attymon. Fujichrome slide.
Possibly one of my first photos of 215, working the Mark3 push-pull at Westland Row in Dublin, April 1998. Fujichrome exposed with a Nikon F3T and 135mm lens.
Old 215 in orange paint at Pearse Station in 1998.

And which loco worked the very first publically scheduled Mark IV set from Dublin to Cork?

215 with a patch! Islandbridge Junction in September 2006. Not its first trip on the Mark4 set, nor its last!

Out for the down train, take a guess which loco I’m most likely to catch!

Here’s a Mark4 trial in April 2006. Revenue working began a couple of weeks later. Top of Ballybrophy bank on the Dublin-Cork mainline.

Uh! There it is again. Damn thing is a like a shadow.

Near Newbridge on 14 April 2009. Back when film was all I had.
Irish Rail 215 in clean paint with the up-road IWT liner passing Fonthill.

Good ol’ 215.

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Amtrak’s Vermonter with American Flags.

This is a grab shot; I didn’t have time to do what I intended (and the sun went in).

We arrived at the small cemetery at West Northfield, Massachusetts minutes before Amtrak 56 (northward Vermonter).

 The brush along the railroad has recently been cut. Unfortunately, a brush cutting/removal machine was awkwardly (as in non-photographically) positioned by the tracks, foiling my intend angle for a photo. I was going to try ‘plan b’.

I’d heard the crew call ‘Approach’ for East Northfield, I was hoping for time to swap to a wide angle lens, when I saw the headlight.

No time: so instead, I hastily composed this vertical view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

The front of the locomotive is nearly centered. I wonder if I should have let it move a bit more to the left for a more effective composition?

I like the American flags, placed for Memorial Day. I wonder about my placement of the front of the locomotive relative to the gap in the brush. Should I have let the locomotive continue a few more feet to the left?

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Brian’s Limited Edition Prints, Signed & Numbered.

Just three prints remain for sale! Order one today!

I’ve made five traditional 11×14 black & white prints of my recent photograph of the former New Haven Railroad electrification and drawbridge at Westport, Connecticut.

This represents the first time I’ve printed one of my ‘stand processed’ black & white negatives. The prints are signed in pencil and numbered 1/5 to 5/5.

I’m selling the remaining three prints for $100 each plus shipping.  First come first serve. If you are interested please contact me via email at: briansolomon.author@gmail.com

I exposed the photograph using a vintage Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss 75mm lens on 120 black & white film. I processed using the ‘stand processing’ technique to obtain maximum tonal range with deep shadows and delicate highlights.

I made these silver prints in the traditional way on Ilford double weight 11×14 photographic paper, fixed and washed to archival standards. These have been pressed and are suitable for matting and framing.

I chose the Westport drawbridge because it is graphically engaging and historically significant. This bridge and electrification are examples of early 20thcentury infrastructure in daily use on one of America’s busiest passenger lines.

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Four New Photos: New England Central Six-Motor EMDs in Orange.

After years of operating its fleet of second-hand EMD diesels in a rainbow of ragtag paint liveries, today most of New England Central’s locomotives wear clean Genesee &  Wyoming corporate colors.

A few of the 1995 painted blue and yellow GP38s survive, lately working the Palmer area and south into Connecticut.

New England Central at East Northfield; Boston & Maine Connecticut River Line at the right (operated by Pan Am).

Fear not, I have no shortage of images from New England Central’s patch-work paint era.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera, I made these photos last week, of freight 611 on its northward run to Brattleboro, Vermont from Palmer, Massachusetts.

Soft afternoon sun and a matched set of 1960s-era six-motor EMD diesels in clean orange paint makes for a nice subject.

A ‘grade crossing wedgie’ (tight view of locomotive crossing a road) in South Vernon, Vermont.
A crossing view in Vernon featuring the road.
New England Central 611 approaching Brattleboro, Vermont on a causeway across a Connecticut River backwater.

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Brian’s Limited Edition Prints For Sale, Signed & Numbered.

 

I’ve hand printed  five 11×14 black & white  prints. If you wish to buy one contact me via email: briansolomon.author@gmail.com

I’ve made five traditional 11×14 black & white prints of my recent photograph of the former New Haven Railroad electrification and drawbridge at Westport, Connecticut.

This represents the first time I’ve printed one of my ‘stand processed’ black & white negatives. The prints are signed in pencil and numbered 1/5 to 5/5. One print has already been sold.

I’m selling the remaining four prints for $100 each plus shipping.  First come first serve. If you are interested contact please me via email at: briansolomon.author@gmail.com

I exposed the photograph using a vintage Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss 75mm lens on 120 black & white film. I processed using the ‘stand processing’ technique to obtain maximum tonal range with deep shadows and delicate highlights.

I made these silver prints in the traditional way on Ilford double weight 11×14 photographic paper, fixed and washed to archival standards. These have been pressed and are suitable for matting and framing.

See my post called: Stand Process for more detail on how I processed the negatives.

I chose the Westport drawbridge because it is graphically engaging and historically significant. This bridge and electrification are examples of early 20thcentury infrastructure in daily use on one of America’s busiest passenger lines.

Tracking the Light posts daily.

 

 

From the Closet: Ektachrome Rejects from March 1987.

When I was at the Rochester Institute of Technology, once or twice a year Kodak would gift photo students with a selection of new products to try.

On this occasion, I had been given a sample of two rolls of the latest Ektachrome.

A professor gave us a vague assignment to make color photographs, so I wandered up to Lincoln Park, a junction on Conrail’s Water Level Route west of downtown Rochester, New York, and exposed these photos.

There I found local freight WBRO-15 working with GP8 7528. The crew was friendly and quite used to me photographing of their train.

Back in 1987 my serious railroad photos were exposed using 120 black & white film or on Kodachrome 25. These Ektachromes were an anomaly. After the assignment was turned in, I relegated the remaining images to my ‘seconds box’ and forgot about them—for 31 years!

I found them back accident the other day, and so scanned them post haste.

You mean pairs of Conrail SD50s aren’t common any more on Water Level Route road freights?

I thought my Rochester friends would get a kick out of seeing them. How much has changed since March 11, 1987?

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Classic Chrome: On this Day in 1988 I had 2020 Vision.

Ok, make that a vision of Conrail 2020.

It was just after 8am on May 27, 1988, when I exposed this portrait (vertical) view of Conrail BAL013 stopped at CP123 east of Chester, Massachusetts.

The sun was perfect and I used this opportunity to make several photos of the train as it held for westward Conrail intermodal freight TV9, which passed CP123 at 8:13am

This is a Kodachrome 25 slide (using the professional PKM emulsion) exposed using a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron lens.

I scanned the original Kodachrome slide with a Nikon Coolscan5000 scanner using VueScan. Later I scaled the file using Lightroom. I did not alter color balance, contrast, sharpness or other inherent characteristics. The original image has an overall cyan (blue-green) bias that was characteristic of Kodachrome from that period.

I calculated my exposure using a Sekonic Studio Deluxe light meter, and set the camera at f6.3 (half way between the marks for f5.6 and f8) at 1/125thof a second. This was equivalent to my standard exposure for ‘full sun’.

I learned when I moved west that ‘full sun’ is brighter in the Western states than in New England. A bright day in the Nevada desert is a full stop difference than in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

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Lost Archives: DARK, RAW, and Minimal.

A couple of weeks ago five cartons of slides were discovered in a closet.

These contained photos I exposed in the 1970s and early 1980s that I’d later rejected as ‘unsuitable for presentation.’

Sometimes the ‘rejects’ prove more interesting than the ‘keepers’.

When I was a teenager, I had a different vision than I did in later years. Although I grew up in a rural area, I was fascinated by urban settings.

SEPTA 69th Street, Media trolley. 1980.
Media, Pennsylvania. 1980.
Media, Pennsylvania. 1980.

My visual inspiration came from slide shows with family friend (and now regular Tracking the Light reader) Emile Tobenfeld, who specialized in innovative and creative urban abstract images. Other inspiration included Donald Duke’s book Night Train (published in 1961), and various main-stream media, including the film 2001.

By intent, I made color slides that were dark and minimalistic. These are raw images made by a kid with a Leica who could see, but who had very little technical prowess. They were intended for projection in dark room.

Newark City Subway, December 1981.

Later when I learned more about photography, I was discouraged from this sort of raw minimalism. Instead I was urged to photograph to capture greater detail, where sharpness was prized among other qualities. My photography adopted qualities that were ‘better suited for publication and commercial application’.

Although my vision continued to embrace some of the same compositional threads that I’d worked with in my earlier years, by the mid-1980s I rejected these early efforts because they were raw and unrefined. Today, I find them fascinating.

PATH Station at Exchange Place, Jersey City circa 1982.
Penn-Station, New York. December 1979.
MBTA Green Line, Boston, 1983.
MBTA Green Line, Boston, 1983.

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SNCB at Brussels Midi 22 Years Ago!

Upon arrival from Köln, Germany On this day, 25 May 1996, my father and I made photographs in the rain at Brussels Midi.

I’ve since returned to Brussels on many occasions when the weather has been more hospitable.

Brussels is among the cities profiles in my new book Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from Kalmbach Books/Kalmbach Hobby Store.

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Classic Chrome: On this day, 24 May 1996 Views along the Rhein.

Classic Chrome: On this day, 24 May 1996 Views along the Rhein.

On this day in 1996, my father and I made a circle trip along the Rhein from Köln to Koblenz, traveling south via the Right Bank and north via the Left Bank lines.

Working with two cameras, I exposed these views on Kodachrome and Fujichrome slide film.

Looking back, its amazing to see how much has changed on German railways in the last 22 years.

Confluence of Rhein and Mosel rivers at Koblenz. 24 May 1996.
DB shunting locomotives at Koblenz Hbf on 24 May 1996.
View of a northward freight on the Right Bank line along the Rhein from the walls of the Festung Ehrenbreitstein (fortress).
A northward IC train passes Namedy, Germany at speed behind a class 103 electric.
Minutes later a northward EC (EuroCity) long distance train passes Namedy, this view with a 28mm lens.

The scenic Mittelrhein are among the great railway trips profiled in my new book Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from Kalmbach Books/Kalmbach Hobby Store.

My new guide book on European Railway Travel with a cup of Barry’s Tea.

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East Deerfield West: Providence & Worcester 2009 leads the Plainville Job.

In 1982, Boston & Maine bought several routes in Massachusetts and Connecticut from Conrail. Among these were lines clustered around Plainville, Connecticut, accessed via trackage rights over Amtrak’s Springfield-New Haven Line.

Today, Amtrak’s route requires advanced signaling on leading locomotives and only a handful of Pan Am’s engines are so equipped. As a result, Pan Am sometimes operates a borrowed Providence & Worcester engine on its East Deerfield to Plainville freight.

As of last week, Pan Am’s EDPL was still operating on a daylight schedule, however with increased Springfield-New Haven passenger services to commence in June, this operation may become nocturnal.

I made these views from the old McClelland Farm Road bridge, a vantage point that will soon be gone when the new bridge opens.

Looking east from the old McClelland Farm Road Bridge.
EDPL prepares to cross over to access the East Deerfield Loop that connects with the Connecticut River line.

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Irish Rail 211, I Never Went Out for it, but here it is! 4 Views.

Ok, I’ll be honest. Irish Rail 211 seemed like part of the furniture. Just a common 201 class diesel. I didn’t make any special effort to put it on film.

Yet, whenever it passed, hauling freight or passenger, I made photos of it.

It’s hard to believe that its been nearly 10 years since I last saw 211 on the move. Yet, when I look at these photos, the scenes tell all.

So much has changed in the interval.

400mm Telephoto view from the top of Ballybrophy bank on 13 May 2000 with an up-road train from Cork to Dublin.
Kent Station Cork on 10 January 2005. Fujichrome Sensia 100 exposed with a Nikon F3 with 180mm lens.
A down road bubble cement train heading to Cork passes Ballybrophy on 25 March 2005. Exposed with a Nikon on Fujichrome Sensia 100.
Irish Rail 211 in the revised orange and yellow livery as photographed at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin on 10 December 2007. Canon EOS-3 with 50mm lens. Note the Bo-Bo towing a failed Enterprise 201.

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Southern Pacific on Donner Pass.

Today, May 10, 2018 represents the 149thanniversary of the completion of America’s first Transcontinental railroad.

To commemorate the day, I’m posting a Kodachrome view that I made of a Southern Pacific freight on Donner Pass in 1993.

SP’s former Central Pacific route over Donner was a key portion of the original Transcontinental Line.

In the 1990s, I made hundreds of Kodachrome views of the Donner Pass crossing.

An SP westward freight ascends the east slope of Donner Pass near Shed 47 above Donner Lake west of Truckee, California. Kodachrome 25 slide.

 

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Black & White, Stand Development.

Years ago, when I was a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology, I recall whispers of a non-conventional approach to processing black & white film.

Key to conventional black & white processing is regular agitation of the tank. This keeps the developer from stagnating, minimizes streaking and mottling of the image area, while greatly speeding the development of the film.

Until recently, I’ve always agitated my film, but made a point to minimize this activity, since excessive agitation results in a host of other defects and undesirable characteristics.

Stand processing, as it’s now known, was what I heard in whispers during college.

Basically, you mix a very weak developer solution (approximately one third the concentration of ‘normal’ developer), agitate for about 15 seconds when introducing the solution to the tanks, then leave it to stand for about an hour with NO AGITATION. Then agitate briefly before draining the tanks and continuing process as normal: stop, fix, rinse, etc.

Kodak 120 Tri-X with Stand Processing in a mix of HC110 1 to 100 with water.
Kodak Tri-X stand processed in HC110.

By doing this, you use the developer to exhaustion, which is more economical and yields a different result than by working with short times and more concentrated solutions.

This doesn’t work well with 35mm film because bromide salt deposits tend to cluster around the sprockets resulting in streaking.

I made a series of tests using 120-size film, which has no sprockets.

An advantage of stand processing is a very different tonal curve that features extremely rich blacks with great detail in shadows, and broad tonality in the mid-tones. When the mix is just right, the highlight regions should reach an optimal density that allows for excellent detail without loss of data.

Holga 400 120-size film exposed with a Rollei model T. Stand processed.
Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Holga 400 120-size film exposed with a Rollei model T. Stand processed.
Metro-North. Holga 400 120-size film exposed with a Rollei model T. Stand processed.
Westport, Connecticut. Holga 400 120-size film exposed with a Rollei model T. Stand processed.
Westport, Connecticut. Holga 400 120-size film exposed with a Rollei model T. Stand processed.

Key to making the stand process work is controlling chemical fog. Without controlling chemical fog, the shadow areas will gain too much density and there will be an undesirable loss of image data leading to a poor quality negative.

There are other elements of the process that aid in making for more effective negatives, and like any black & white process, these require trial and error refinement to yield the best results.

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201 Retrospective: 209 in the Most Unlikely Place.

Continuing my 20 years in Ireland/class 201 numerical retrospective, I’m featuring loco 209 in a most unlikely place.

Hint, if you are not viewing this post on Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light, you’ll need to click the link or all you’ll see is a view of this locomotive at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin!

Locomotive 209 in the old Enterprise livery at Islandbridge Junction.
Same locomotive, same place, but wearing an interim livery before being painted in the current Enterprise livery, and carrying the number 8209 in stead its old 209 id.
Irish Rail 209 at Wellingtonbridge 24 Nov 2003 working a sugar beet train destined for Mallow Co. Cork. At this time, the line from Waterford to Limerick Junction was shut owing to a bridge collapse at Cahir and sugar beet trains were running via Kildare. As a result, some 201 class locomotives worked beet trains. This was the only time I ever saw an Enterprise 201 on the South Wexford line.

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East Northfield, Massachusetts: a Junction; a Tunnel Motor; A Searchlight and Three Quarter Light.

Years ago, the view from the road bridge at East Northfield, Massachusetts was more open than it is today.

The trees have grown up making it more challenging to expose photos of trains at the junction between former Boston & Maine and former Central Vermont lines here.

At one time, a century or more ago, B&M’s Conn River route crossed the CV here. B&M’s line continued across the Connecticut River and rejoined the CV at Brattleboro.

Later, the two routes were melded in a paired track arrangement. However, by the time I started photographing here in the 1980s, the B&M route north of East Northfield was no longer functioning as a through line.

On the morning of April 27, 2018, I made this view of New England Central freight 608 led by a former Southern Pacific SD40T-2 ‘tunnel motor’ diesel.

New England Central 611 approaches the junction at East Northfield, Massachusetts. The lead locomotives have just crossed the Vermont-Massachusetts state line. The old Boston & Maine line once continued to the right of the present NECR alignment (and to the left of the dirt road), running northward across the Connecticut River and beyond via Dole Junction, New Hampshire toward Brattleboro.

The light was spot on for a series of three quarter views featuring a vintage GRS searchlight signal that protects the junction.

Perfect morning light makes for a calendar view from the road bridge at the junction.
NECR 611 continues south toward Palmer, Massachusetts on the old Central Vermont Railway, the old Boston & Maine route diverges to the left toward Greenfield and Springfield, Massachusetts.

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