Wednesday, February 10, 2021, Conway Scenic organized another plow extra to clear accumulating snow on the line between North Conway and Attitash near Bartlett, NH.
Instead of following the plow train by road as I have in the past, I arranged to travel on it, mostly riding in GP7 573 that powered it.
Although there was only about 18 inches of snow at North Conway, we encountered deeper snow and drifts on the run toward Attitash, with some of the deepest snow along West Side Road, near where the old Maine Central Mountain Division ducks under Route 302 west of Glen, NH.
I made these views with my FujiFilm XT1. It wasn’t as warm as it looks!
This morning I am preparing a short video on the plow ride that I will post on Conway Scenic Railroad’s Facebook page later today. This is a follow up to last week’s video of Conway Scenic’s Plow Extra that has proven extremely popular with hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook.
Snow fell on North Conway starting the evening of February 1, 2021 and kept on falling for a full day. This was a heavy wet snow that settled like concrete. There was over a foot on the ground by the time it was all done, and over 18 inches in some places.
On Wednesday, February 3rd, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its first plow extra of the season.
I made this photograph at the North Conway station as the plow was being readied for its trip west to Attitash.
Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera. RAW file convert to DNG format using Iridient X-Transformer and adjusted with Adobe Lightroom.
Yesterday, I exposed a few photos of Conway Scenic Railroad’s work train unloading cut trees at Kearsarge in North Conway, NH as part of materials that I was preparing for story about the railroad in the Conway Daily Sun.
The railroad has been cutting dead and dangerous trees along its lines and storing the timber at the Kearsarge siding on the Redstone Line.
This operation is parallel to the North-South Road in North Conway which used as a bypass for highway traffic through town.
I like photographing this lightly used former Maine Central line because it runs just a few blocks from my apartment in town.
Photos exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm Fujinon lens.
The other day plowing through my old yellow Kodak boxes, I found one marked in pencil ‘RR-BAD, 2nds & 3rds’.
Translated from my teenaged sorting classification system this was code for ‘real garbage, but not so bad that it should be thrown away’.
Without opening this box, hidden away in the dark for more than three decades, I joked to Kris Sabbatino, “these slides are marked as ‘Bad’, so they must be the best of the lot!”
I explained further, “In my younger days I’d dismiss a photo for the slightest perceived imperfection and classify it as ‘junk’. I know better now! Any box that’s coded as ‘garbage’ is filled with lost treasure!”
Sure enough when I opened this yellow box last night and examined it closely, I found host of fascinating photos. Many only a quick correction away from public presentation.
So what was wrong with this view of a Bangor & Aroostook GP7 at Northern Maine Junction? I’d exposed it on Kodak Ektachrome back in July 1983, and missed my ideal exposure. The original is a bit hot (too light). But that’s a quick fix using Adobe Lightroom.
What you see here is my corrected scan of the original overexposed slide. Not all that bad after all!
In September, I brought Kris Sabbatino to Pemaquid Point, Maine. This is a place steeped in my memories; many years ago on visits to my grandparent’s Maine summer house, we’d visit this rocky promenade where a thin sliver of land scratches the North Atlantic.
Fascinated by the waves in my youth, I’d drift perilously close to the water.
A wise friend once said that we may grow old but we can remain immature forever.
Drawn by the ocean, aiming to expose a roll of Fuji Velvia 50 that I brought here for the purpose, I was mesmerized by the tide. Kris called to me— as my mother had decades earlier—that I was too close; too far out.
A rogue wave loomed behind, reared up and splashed over me. My wee Lumix succumbed immediately. My Nikon F3 quietly blinked off and was silent. Two cameras down and soaked to the skin, I was lucky . . .
October 31st, 2020; Halloween:I heeded the advice of Tom Carver, who admiring the robust qualities of Nikon’s film cameras suggested that I let the F3 dry out for a few weeks, and then try it again. So, I put a fresh battery and it flickered to life.
Kris and I went down to Conway, NH., where Conway Scenic’s final day of ‘Pumpkin Patch’ was underway. Here I made a photo of Engineer Wayne Duffett—dressed as a Imperial Storm Trooper from the Star Wars films—as he sat in the cab of GP9 1751.
Both photos were exposed on Fuji Velvia 50, which at more than $18 a roll, is among the most expensive film I’ve ever bought. The F3 returned to life on Halloween. My slides were returned to me from AgX Imaging lab in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan yesterday.
Last week, Conway Scenic Railroad temporarily evicted former Boston & Maine F7A 4268 from stall 4 at the North Conway, NH roundhouse where the locomotive has been undergoing an operational restoration by the 470 Club (that also owns sister F7A 4266 which is operational at CSRR).
Saturday morning (November 21, 2020) brilliant late-autumn presented excellent light to photograph this relic of mid-20th century dieselization. B&M 4268 was originally an EMD demonstrator and features the builder’s less-common ‘passenger pilot’, which makes it distinctive among B&M’s F-unit.
I made these photos using my FujiFilm X-T1 with recently acquired 16-55mm Fujinon lens. After exposure, I converted the camera-RAW files to DNG format using Iridient X-Transformer software, which does a more effective job of transforming these files for conversion by Adobe Lightroom, than either Lightroom itself or other image processing software.
After conversion, I imported the DNG files into Lightroom and made some minor adjustments to color temperature, contrast, and highlight/shadow detail plus saturation.
Below are examples of the in-camera FujiFilm JPG (using Velvia color profile, and a comparison DNG file converted from RAW using the Iridient software.
All photos were then scaled and exported using Lightroom.
Saturday, November 14, 2020, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its final Mountaineer of the 2020 operating season. As scheduled, this ran from North Conway to Crawford, Notch, New Hampshire and return.
Historically CSRR ceased operations over Crawford Notch earlier in the season.
I used this rare late-season move over the former Maine Central Mountain Division to make some unusual photos. Bare leaf-less trees allow for views that are unobtainable during the summer and early autumn.
During the course of the operating season, I’d made several head-end trips and Hyrail inspections of the line to look for angles. Some of the finest locations I found are a long way from public highways.
For this photo of eastward train 162, I climbed to an elevated point, and used my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.
Old Millie is Conway Scenic’s Budd RDC. This car is a former New Haven Railroad RDC built back in 1952.
Earlier this week Millie had finished its 92-day inspection and needed to go for a test run before she enters service next week on the Valley run.
My parents were visiting from Massachusetts, so a group of us including Kris and Sharon Sabbatino and Conway Scenic’s Train Master and Road Foreman of Engines, Mike Lacey, went for wander with Millie down the Conway Branch.
We stopped on the way down and again on the way back.
If all goes to plan, Mille will be working the 1115 Conway and 1245 Bartlett trains Monday – Thursday up until Thanksgiving.
I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 Mirrorless camera.
Below are a few more photos from last Saturday’s 470 Club Special over the Maine Central Mountain Division.
Heavy early season snow made for a cosmic setting at Fabyan, NH where the locomotives ran around the train for the return run to North Conway.
Conway Scenic Railroad’s track patrol wasn’t as impressed with the snow as the passengers on the special. Prior to the train’s arrival at Fabyan, the members of the patrol had to remove numerous fallen trees which had succumbed to the weight of the early season snow.
Sun at Fabyan made for some interesting photo opportunities.
These images were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1. Fuji RAW files were converted to DNG format using Iridient X-Transformer and adjusted using Adobe Lightroom.
A few weeks ago on Tracking the Light, I described my early experiences with Kodak’s Ektachrome LPP (a warm-tone emulsion with subtle color rendition), of which I received a free-sample from Kodak back in August 1993.
Among the other photos on that roll, was this view exposed shortly after sunrise of Amtrak’s Los Angeles-bound Coast Starlight crossing Southern Pacific’s massive Benicia Bridge near Martinez, California.
I had loaded the film into a second-hand Nikkormat FTN that I fitted an f4.0 Nikkor 200mm telephoto.
This slide sat in the dark until I scanned it on October 6, 2020.
Yesterday, October 15, 2020, I made a late season foliage photo of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer descending from Crawfords at milepost 79 near the Arethusa Falls grade crossing.
Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 90mm prime telephoto, I set the ISO to 1000. I needed relatively high sensitivity because I was working in the shadows of the trees and mountain side and wanted a sufficiently fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the train, while using a smaller aperture to minimize headlight bleed.
Then I imported the Fuji RAW files directly into Adobe Lightroom for processing, while making a comparison set of files by importing them first into Iridient X-Transformer which converts the files to a DNG format and then imported these into Lightroom.
As previously described on Tracking the Light, the Iridient software does a superior job of interpreting the Fuji RAW files.
When I bought my Nikon Z6 a few weeks ago, the camera package came with a 24-70mm zoom (designed for the Nikon mirrorless system) and an FTZ adaptor that allows a variety of older lenses to be fitted to the Nikon mirrorless digital cameras.
This adaptor was among the attractions of the Z6 system, because it will allow me to experiment with a variety of my older lenses.
Saturday evening, I fitted my Nikkor f2.5 105mm telephoto to the Z6 and traveled with my girlfriend and photography partner Kris Sabbatino to the dam and park in Chocorua at Tamworth, New Hampshire.
Long ago, I learned that it is best to test a new equipment combination in a relaxed, non-pressurized photographic environment; in other words, NOT when a train is approaching at speed. The park was a perfect place to play with my new set up.
My old lens has manual focus and manual aperture controls, which requires greater attention than the 24-70mm. The camera’s viewfinder has a colored focusing aid to assist with manual focus lenses (when optimal sharpness is reached the focused area is highlighted in red), yet picking a focus point is still pretty tricky.
Also, the lens has older coatings that were designed to produce the best color with film, and are different than the coatings optimized to work with the digital system. This results in somewhat softer color rendition.
The lens is a very sharp piece of glass, and when used wide open (f2.5) allows for photos with very shallow depth of field.
Below are a few examples.
Soon, I’ll begin testing my other older lenses and try photographing some railroad subjects.
Last week I received my latest in a long line of cameras that began with an Exakta back in 1972.
Over the last six months, I’ve been considering an upgrade to my digital cameras.
Sensor technology has progressed and my ability to work with digital photography successfully has matured.
I considered a variety of cameras in my price range including Canon, FujiFilm, and Panasonic Lumix.
I was looking for a camera that will augment my existing cameras while providing demonstrably better or different image quality.
Two events pushed me toward my purchase: The first was the loss of service of my 18-135mm zoom for my Fuji XT1. The second was the loss of service of my Panasonic LX7.
After careful and lengthy consideration, I ended up purchasing a Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera on the recommendation of photographer Pat Yough.
I plan to continue to use my Canon and FujiFilm digital cameras as well as my film cameras. Plus, I’m in the market for another Lumix!
The Nikon’s excellent full-frame sensor and the ability to use my older Nikon lenses on the new camera, plus the price point were among my considerations. I bought the camera with a 24-70 zoom.
Below are a few of the photos from my first day out with the Z6 on a wander around western Maine with my girlfriend and photography partner Kris Sabbatino. All were made with the 24-70mm and processed using Adobe Lightroom.
I may take me a while before I obtain the full visual benefit of this new tool, as it has a lot of buttons, functions, menus and features to explore and learn.
I am not new to Nikon, as I bought my Nikon in the form of an F3T in 1990, but this is my first Nikon Digital camera.
Yesterday, September 18, 2020, I traveled on the headend of Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer to scope autumn view points for publicity photos.
The trees have hints of the autumn palette and I noted a variety of places near the top of the mountain where I hope to revisit over the coming weeks.
It looks like some of the best color will be near the famous Willey Brook Bridge and Mount Willard Section House in New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch. We’ll have to wait and see how the autumn colors manifest this season.
I made these views from GP35 216 using my Lumix LX7.
Yesterday, Saturday September 5, 2020, was clear, sunny and bright.
I’d helped organized Conway Scenic Railroad’s Railfan’s Day photo freights. Train crew inlcluded: Road Forman/Train Master Mike Lacey, Engineer Adam Bartley,and Conner and Cullen Maher. Various others assisted with operations, especially working the crossing gates on the Redstone Branch.
The event was a huge success.
I made these photos of the 10am Photo Freight using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.
This train worked out to Mountain Junction and then east on the Redstone Branch to Pudding Pond.
Most of the year, Conway Scenic Railroad’s historic freight cars quietly reside in the railroad’s North Yard, although few cars, such as our ballast hoppers are assigned to maintenance service.
Today, Saturday September 5th, we plan to operate a pair of demonstration photo freights for our scheduled Railfan’s Day event.
In preparation, we needed to spot cars at key locations in order to make pick-ups, just like a traditional local freight. In conjunction with this work, we needed to position two flatcars used for our weekly work train, and I wanted to scope locations and remove brush.
Working with former Boston & Maine F7A 4266 and our GP35 216 we gathered cars and make our positioning moves.
Today’s photo freights should be led by 4266 plus former Maine Central GP7 573 which share the traditional EMD-inspired maroon and gold paint scheme.
These are among the photos I exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 (scaled for internet presentation). I also made a few color slides for posterity.
This week I’ve been preparing for Conway Scenic’s annual Railfan’s weekend—traditionally held on Labor Day weekend.
This year the conditions relating to the containment of Covid-19 have imposed a host of constraints that will make our Railfan’s Weekend a more subdued affair than in previous years. Sadly this is unavoidable. However rather than cancel the event, we decide to move forward with it for the benefit of our fans and loyal supporters.
We’ve placed 470 Club’s Boston & Maine F7A 4266 back in service and this will work photo freights on Saturday (boarding at 10am and 2pm at North Conway) and on Sunday it will lead a special Photographers Mountaineer (that will make photo stops on its journey to Crawford Notch).
The railroad hopes to have a variety of its equipment on display, including several pieces that have been sheltered by the roundhouse for most of 2020.
Below are just some of the photos that I’ve made this week, while helping to organize the Railfan’s event.
Following up on yesterday’s Tracking the Light Post . . . Kris Sabbatino and I had found the tracks of the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes two-foot gauge tourist railroad recreation and decided to investigate!
Using the powers of the internet we learned there was more to see than the small station at Sanders; so we drove toward the village of Phililps, Maine and down the appropriate side street. A sign advising hikers and railfans provided the needed clues.
Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes must be one of these Brigadoon Railways that comes to life at infrequent intervals but spends most of the time secluded deep in a forest.
We met no one. We saw nothing on the move. We took only pictures. And left without a trace.
In October 1999, I made this view of a meet between the Great Train Escapes tour train and a St Lawrence & Atlantic freight. Both trains were led by MLW-built M-420 diesels.
Since that photo 21 years ago, much has changed at Danville Junction,
The trees have grown; the track arrangement was simplified, the St Lawrence & Atlantic was amalgamated into the Genesee & Wyoming network, the MLW diesels have vanished from the scene, and the tour train doesn’t operate any more.
In June, Kris Sabbatino and I paid a brief visit to Danville Junction, my first since 1999. It was a surreal experience for me. So little of it seem familiar.