Four hours apart, I exposed pairs of photos of antique GP38s at two New England Railroad Stations using my Lumix LX7.
Just after 10:30am yesterday, I made a couple of images of the Snow Train departing Conway Scenic Railroad’s North Conway, New Hampshire Station. GP38 number 255 was positioned at the back of the train for the return run from Attitash.
Sometime around 2:30pm, I made photos of New England Central GP38 number 3845 at the station in White River Junction, Vermont. This is one of New England Central’s surviving original GP38s (with which the railroad started operations back winter 1995).
These mid-1960s era machine soldier on in regular service despite their age.
I find Amtrak’s old Metroliner cab cars a novelty.
These rolling antiques are vestiges of 1960s High Speed rail that have survived into the 2020s in regular revenue service.
On my exploration of the Lancaster area with Dan Cupper a few weeks ago, we stopped at Gap in the morning to photograph the westward Amtrak Keystone service No. 641, led by Metroliner cab car 9634 with ACS-64 634 at the back.
I wonder if I have a photo of this cab car in Metroliner service?
I made this telephoto sequence with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera fitted with a 70-200mm telephoto zoom. The yellow front works well with soft winter sun.
What are you supposed to do while waiting for trains?
How about take portraits of each other on the railroad platform.
That’s what we did two weeks ago at Paoli, Pennsylvania!
I made some views of my brother Sean and his partner Isabelle with my wife Kris as a westward Amtrak Keystone and SEPTA trains made station stops. Then Kris made a couple of photos of me with Sean and Isabelle using my Nikon Z7-II.
Hi ISO and auto white balance makes night photos easy!
Strasburg Rail Road is best known for its steam excursions, but the railroad is a common carrier and operates a thriving local freight business.
On our visit to the Strasburg, PA area last month, I was lucky to catch one of their freights on the move. This was led by the railroad’s former New York Central SW8 diesel 8618.
This classic General Motors Electro-Motive Division swticher was built for New York Central System c1953 and carried the number 9618. It is painted in a neo-New York Central scheme, and was Conrail 8618 for many years.
In the 1980s, I made many photos of Conrail switchers, and I wonder if somewhere among my slides and negatives I may have a photo of this locomotive in its former existence.
Google Maps makes it much easier to navigate to the west shore of the Susquehanna River at Marysville, Pennsylvania to reach the famed Rockville Bridge.
I recall pouring over maps in the 1980s, trying to locate the correct sequence of turns to get to River Road. The challenge of this location is that the path is indirect and the main highways running parallel to the river and railroad do not facilitate straight forward exits.
On my most recent visit, I followed Google Maps instructions to my map ‘pin’ situated at the westend of Rockville Bridge. I approached the bridge just as a Norfolk Southern freight was easing across the 48 stone arches.
I returned to the vantage point on the north side of the bridge that Kris and I had visited nearly a year ago. This allowed me to make a long telephoto view of the train and capture the dramatic sky to the east.
Thursday I traveled with Conway Scenic’s Plow Extra to Attitash, and then east from Mountain Junction down the Redstone Branch to Kearsarge in North Conway.
My primary objective of this trip was to make video footage of the plowing and plow crew for Conway Scenic, both to document the activity and to help promote the railroad.
I used my Nikon Z-series mirrorless camera to record both still photos and video. In general, I feel more confident in my ability to work with still images than video, but I still made a lot of video clips which I am now editing into a short film that will hopefully play on Conway Scenic’s Facebook page as well as other accessible media.
Below are a few of the still photos from Thrusday’s adventure on the rails.
Last week, I caught up with fellow photographer, author and Trains contributor Dan Cupper, who offered to spend the day showing me railroads in the Lancaster/Strasburg area of Pennsylvania.
Among the places we visited was the archives/meeting house of the Lancaster Chapter, Inc., National Railway Historical Society which is located in the old Pennsylvania Railroad freight house at Christiana, Pennsylvania.
While I’d visited this the passenger station earlier in the week, the day our our visit had much better weather. Also, it was my first ever visit inside freight house where we were met by the chapter’s Stephen Himpsl.
Among the things we explored were views of the freight station and the old passenger station from both sides of the former PRR Main Line.
The passenger station hadn’t served in its intended role since the 1950s, but had been restored and was in good shape.
I made a variety of images using my Nikon mirrorless cameras including those presented here. Most received post-processing adjustment using Adobe Lightroom to better present the data captured by the camera’s NEF RAW files.
More to come on our explorations at Christiana and other nearby locations.
Winter has finally made its footprint in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
After weeks of unseasonable weather that led to speculation that snow was a thing of the past, a series of snow storms has brought plently of snow.
Following a heavy snow fall that lasted most of the day on Monday (January 23, 2023), Conway Scenic called a plow extra on Tuesday to clear its lines.
I made these views of Work X255 in the yard at North Conway as the crew was getting ready to head west to Attitash.
I worked with the NEF RAW files in Adobe Lightroom to make the most of the dramatic sky. Adjustments included my standard repertoire; lighten shadows, darken highlights, adjust color temperature and color saturation and scale for internet presentation.
Later I followed the Plow Extra west to make photos of it clearing the tracks.
Winter sun and clear skies on Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Rail Road open a host of photographic opportunities!
For Monday’s return run of engine No. 90 from Leaman Place, Kris and I selected a vantage point at Carpenters at Blackhorse Road—where the line takes a gentle curve by an old Graveyard.
I made a few color slides using my Nikon F3 and 180m lens and then a series of digital photos with my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.
The sildes remain to be processed, but I’ve posted a selection of the digital images here.
Engine 90 is a Baldwin 2-10-0, a type known as a decapod for its arrangement of ten driving wheels. I am working on a new book with Kalmbach Media tentatively titled Steam Locomotives by th Numbers that will tell the story of steam locomotive development and application using wheel arrangement as the system of organization.
January 15, 2023: Kris and I spent the day driving to Strasburg, Pennsylvania. We arrived just in time to make photos of 2-10-0 No. 90 arriving with the last scheduled train of the day.
With the setting sun just above the horizon, we had some beautiful winter light to photograph this historic machine in action. Cold weather can offer the best conditions to photograph steam locomotive because of the superior light and dramatic effects of condenstation.
I made these images using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Nikkor zoom lens.
I’ve been photographing trains around Greenfield, Massachusetts for more than 40 years.
Sometimes there have been long waits. Sometimes I got lucky.
Saturday, Kris and I were driving south on I-91. I asked, “would you like to stop by East Deerfield Yard”
She said “ok!”, so we jumped off the Interstate at Route 2, and took the roundabout (traffic circle) and headed east. At that moment I saw containers rolling east on the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg line.
“That’s 22K, the NS intermodal train”.
We zipped over to East Deerfield Yard—located railroad timetable east of Greenfield—where I had just enough time to make these photos using my new Nikon Z7-II.
Nothing fancy, but these are lucky shots. I was delighted!
I always like it when luck prevails!
With these ‘in the bag’, we drove to the Connecticut River bridge for more photos. Why waste a lucky day?
Yesterday, Kris & I visited White River Junction, Vermont, where I photographed a pair of EMD diesels on Genesee & Wyoming’s New England Central, including Buffalo & PIttsburgh GP38-2 No. 3511.
To emulate an image I made here in the 1980s of a Boston & Maine GP7, I framed B&P 3511 in the station canopy using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.
Below are two versions of the NEF file. The top version is scaled but otherwise unaltered. The bottom version has been adjusted with changes to shadow and highlight density, color temperature, and contrast, with nominal sharpening.
January 7, 2023, Conway Scenic Railroad hosted Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthuasiast’s Covered Wagons in the Snow photo charter.
I helped arrange and organize this uncommon trip and spent countless hours working with Mass Bay RRE’s Dave Brown, members of the 470 Club (which owns the two former Boston & Maine F7As that were the stars of the day) and the Conway Scenic staff to refine the details.
Mother nature cooperated and provided several inches of fresh powdery snow the night before the trip.
The morning of the trip, I conducted a safety briefing with Mass Bay’s people, and Kris and I made photos of the F-units in the North Conway, NH yard.
We traveled on the train and during the course of the trip we made hundreds of winter F-unit inspired images.
Since September 2020 I’ve been regularly photographing with a Nikon Z6 Mirrorless camera. This offers great flexibility and exception image quality with its 24.5 megapixel full frame sensor
On New Years Eve my new Nikon Z7-II mirrorless camera arrived. The Z7-II is even more powerful than the Z6 and features a 45.7 megapixel CMOS sensor that Nikon boasts offers
‘maximum color depth and dynamic range.’
New Years Day, Kris and I went for a drive in western Maine and stopped along the way to make photos.
Learning a new camera takes time. In my initial setup, I thought I’d profiled the Z7-II camera to work in both JPG and RAW. However, although I’d set up the RAW specifications, I’d failed to select the correct output setting and only exposed in JPG.
Although disappointing, this wasn’t a huge problem since the files straight out of the camera were extraordinary, even without the ability to make major adjustments.
Below are a selection of images scaled from the in-camera JPG files. In some situations, I’ve also enlarged a portion of the photo to demonstrate the capabilities of the sensor in regards to sharpness, etc.
My intention is work with both the Z6 and Z7II. Initially assigning my 24-70mm Z-series lens to the Z7II, and various telephoto lenses to the Z6.
I’m including two photos to usher in 2023. The first is one of the last photos that I made in 2022: a telephoto image of Mount Washington that I made from the viewing area off Route 302 near Bretton Woods yesterday afternoon when Kris and I were returning from Littleton, New Hampshire.
The second image is from a scan that I made yesterday evening of a vintage Kodachrome 25 color slide . I’d exposed this view of Conrail’s PASE (Palmer to Selkirk) on the afternoon of June 1, 1989. This is among my classic chromes and shows Conrail’s 6611, one of ten distinctive GE-built C32-8s that regularly operated over the Boston Line (former Boston & Albany main line) beginning in 1984. My slide had remained in the yellow Kodachrome box from the time it was processed until yesterday.
The BIG event for me on New Year’s Eve was the arrival of my latest camera! I hope to feature photos from this picture making machine over the coming weeks. I’ll reveal details about this new camera in upcoming posts during 2023! Stay tuned . . . .
Conrail and the town of Palmer, Massachusetts were replacing the old South Main Street Bridge immediately east of the signals at CP83.
I made this view from the old bridge that was in its final weeks. New retaining walls had just been installed and machinery was working near the old Palmer Union station as Conrail’s eastward SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester) took the conrolled siding to make a meet with a set of westward light engines holding on the main track.
The old bridge featured classic wooden decking and makes for an interesting foreground. To make the most of the bridge and railroad code lines, I framed the scene with my Leica M2 rangefinder fitted with an f2.0 35mm Summicron.
A Central Vermont local freight was working the interchage track to the right of the Conrail freight.
My wife has an annual tradition of setting up an elaborate Christmas village as a central part of her holiday decorations. She has had some of her decorations for many years and these have great sentimental value.
I helped this year by setting up the railroad portions of the village including stations, signals and the railroad cars and locomotive.
After it was complete, I made a few photos using my Lumix LX7 and Nikon Z6 digital cameras.
On our return from Cape Cod last month, we paused at Norfolk, Massachusetts for lunch and to roll by MBTA Train 2706 on its way to Boston, South Station.
During an earlier visit to Norfolk two years ago, Kris and I noted that MBTA/Keolis was working to install two-main track (signaled in both directions on both tracks) on this portion of the Franklin Line—a former New Haven Railroad route that was at one time graded for directional- double track, but in my lifetime has been a single track railroad.
Some progress was made and on this visit I noted that new signals and crossovers were in place on both sides of Norfolk, however the track through the station has not yet been completed, and the signal heads turned away, indicating they were not yet in use.
Using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens, I made these trailing views of train 2706 looking toward Walpole and Boston.
I exposed this Kodachrome 25 color slide on Jan 11, 1998 of Conrail SD80MACs leading SEBO eastbound approaching CP83 in Palmer, MA.
Below, I’ve posted five different examples of scans all from the same slide. All were made with an Epson V600 flatbed scanner. All were scaled from TIF RAW files using Lightroom without alterations in post processing (In otherwords other than scaling, I didn’t make changes to the files to alter the appearance of the scans.)
In addition to the full scan of each slide is a greatly enlarged view to better judge the quality of the scan
The first three were exposed with Epson Scan 2 software; the last two using VueScan 9.7.96. The purpose of these various scans is to show how minor changes in scanning may alter the end appearance of the scan.
Over the years, I’ve photographed hundreds of locomotives, on scores of railways, in dozens of countries.
Occasionally I’ve opted for the classic ‘three-quarter’ roster angle. More often I’ve opted for various more dramatic, interpretive, or dynamic views.
A long time ago I learned that when I find some equipment resting in a accessible location, to photograph it from a great variety of different angles, because you never know what might suit a book or magazine article later on.
Two weeks ago on our visit to Cape Cod, I had the opportunity to make a sequence of photos of this former New Haven Railroad FL9 that now works for Cape Cod Central and was assigned to the west end of the Polar Express at Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts.
I have countless photographs of FL9s in various schemes when they worked for Amtrak, MTA, CDOT and Metro North, so this was an opportunity to do something a little different.