Category Archives: News

Bright Morning at the Station.

Friday morning I walked to North Conway station where I work.

It was a brilliant sunny day with a cool breeze and a textured sky.

The week after Labor Day is traditionally quiet. A lull in the masses. The summer crowds have gone, the leaf peepers have yet to arrive.

The leaves around the station are already showing hints of autumn color.

Everyday prospective train riders call and ask if the day of their trip will be during peak foliage—As if Conway Scenic Railroad’s ticket agents are visionaries or fortune tellers.

Conway Scenic Railroad’s North Conway, New Hampshire station.

I made these photos from North Conway, New Hampshire’s Schouler Park using my Nikon Z6 Mirrorless digital camera and processed the NEF RAW files using Adobe Lightroom.

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Misty Mountaineer

Yesterday (September 9, 2021) I traveled on the headend of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer to Crawford Notch in order to calculate train timings for this month’s timetable change.

Among my jobs at the railroad, in addition to Marketing, is that of timetable planner.

When we reached the old Maine Central station at Crawford, I climbed down from the locomotive to make a few photos from the ground, then boarded again for the run-around.

All photos were made using my Nikon Z6 and processed using Adobe Lightroom.

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Sunset with a Truck in a Meadow.

So what would you title this evening image sequence?

Last night Kris and I paused at an overlook off Route 16 in North Conway, where I made these drop-under sunset views looking across the Saco River toward the Moat Mountains.

Both photos were exposed as NEF RAW files using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera and processed using Adobe Lightroom.

Saco RIver sunset on September 1, 2021.

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Meet with the Governor at Bartlett

Yesterday (Sunday August 29, 2021), Conway Scenic Railroad hosted New Hampshire’s Governor Chris Sununu on his Super 603 Thank You Tour.

I was closely invovlved with the logistical planning for the Governor’s special train. We needed to continue to operate our regularly scheduled Valley trains, so I planned a meet at Bartlett.

This was excuted in traditional fashion. Speed through Bartlett is limited to ten mph. Conway Scenic’s Valley Train returning from Sawyers cleared for the special by reversing into the siding near the Bartlett freight house. There was no delay to the Governor’s train, and the absolute minimum delay necessary to the Valley.

Working in my capacity as Manager, Marketing & Events, I made these photos of the meet from the special using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

View of the Valley Train from the Governor’s special.
Valley engineer Wally Hills tips his hat to the special.
Conductor Adams on the Valley waves from the rear platform of open-end observation lounge Gertrude Emma, as the Governor’s special rolls through Bartlett on the main track.

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High short Hood South

Yesterday at Conway Scenic we turned GP35 216 on the turntable.

Now the high short hood is facing south.

This directional change was performed for operational reasons, but has also opened up a variety of photographic possibilities, especially on the return run of Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer from Crawford Notch.

I made these views in the North Conway, NH yard using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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Empty Beet on the Barrow Bridge:

On December 28, 2005, toward the end of Irish Rail’s final beet season, I stood on the western shore of the Barrow, where I aimed a Nikon F3 fitted with a 180mm f2.8 lens and loaded with Fujichrome toward the multiple span Pratt truss that crosses the river.

NI Railways 112 (on loan to Irish Rail) worked east across the span at about 5mph with a train of four-wheel empty beet wagons.

Last night I scanned the nearly 16-year old slide using my Epson V600 scanner at relatively high resolution (3200 dpi) then imported the resulting TIF file into Lightroom.

The RAW scan exhibits a minor red tint. To compensate I made a variety of changes. First I moved the black point to the limit of data loss with the aid of the histogram. This adjusted the tonal range of the slide, then I worked with green-magenta and blue-yellow color correction sliders to balance the color, while paying close attention to hue in the shadow areas. 

Finally I made some nominal contrast and saturation changes to make for a more pleasing image before outputting as a medium resolution JPG  crafted for optimum internet presentation.

Below is the unadjusted JPG along with my final adjusted JPG for comparison. Since every computer screen is slightly different and provide varied interpretations of my images.

the proof of  success for my adjustments may be in the color prints that I have yet to make.

This is a JPG made from the unadjusted TIF scan. Notice the slightly red hue and a lack of a rich black tone.
This is the scan following adjustment.
Screen shot of the Lightroom work window.

In addition, I’ve also included a screen shot of the Lightroom control panel so that you may see how I’ve moved the sliders to improve the scan.

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Provia 100F on the Rhein

Among the photos in my ‘Scan pile’ was this Fujichrome Provia 100F slide of a northward SBB Cargo train on the westbank of the Rhein near Lorch, Germany

It was among the color slides that I chose to scan during the week using my old Epson V600 flatbed scanner powered by Epson Scan 2 software.

Yesterday, I had prints made from some of my recent scans and was impressed by the way the scanning captured detail in the film right down to the grain.

Provia 100F color slide exposed on September 17, 2019.

Tightly cropped version to show detail.

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Cal Train at Bayshore—A Scanner Story

The other day I uploaded Epson Scan 2 to drive my ten-year old Epson V600 scanner.

I decided to make a few test scans and selected this Fujichrome color slide I exposed of a San Jose-bound Cal Train at Bayshore, California on August 13, 2009.

I was delighted with high-quality scan using this improved scanner-driver combination. I imported the TIF file into Adobe Lightroom to make minor adjustments to color and contrast in order to improve the Web-presentation.

This is a scaled Jpg from the adjusted TIF.

Original 35mm slide exposed on Fujichrome using a Canon EOS3 with 100mm lens.

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August 6, 2012—East Windsor, Connecticut

On this day nine years ago, I paid a brief visit to the Connecticut Trolley Museum at East Windsor, Connecticut where I made a selection of digital photos using my Canon EOS7D.

I made my first visits to this museum in the 1970s when it was then known as the Warehouse Point Trolley Museum.

The trees were taller in my 2012 visit than way back in the 1970s.

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Gertrude Emma back in the Sun.

On July 26, 2021, Conway Scenic placed its popular open-end parlor-observation lounge Gertrude Emma back in traffic.

During its time in the company roundhouse the car was refurbished inside and out.

The car was built by the Pullman Palace Car company in 1898 for the Pennsylvania Railroad’s flagship train, Pennsylvania Limited that connected Jersey City (across the Hudson from New York City) with Chicago via Pittsburgh.

The colors it wears are aimed to recreate its period livery.

I made these photos for Conway Scenic Railroad’s Facebook and Instagram pages using my Panasonic Lumix LX7.

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Ludmilla at Dresden

Twenty years ago on a visit to Germany, I spent a couple of days photographing around the historic city of Dresden.

This black & white photo at the Dresden Neustadt station features a former DR (East German Railways) Russian-built diesel-electric, DB class 234, a type colloquially known as a ‘Ludmilla’. 

June 2001.

Working with myvintage German-made Rolleiflex Model T, I made this photo on 120-size Fuji Neopan 400 roll film. I processed the film in Agfa Rodinal Special (not to be confused with Agfa Rodinal) mixed 1-32 with water for 3 min 45 seconds. I scanned the negative using an Epson flatbed scanner. 

Also see: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2020/12/20/dresden-june-2001/

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Amtrak’s Lake Shore in 2003

I’ve been reviewing 40 years worth of Amtrak photos for an article I’m writing for a German magazine.

In the mix of old chromes was this 2003 view of the eastward Lake Shore Limited east of milepost 129 between Chester and Middlefield, Massachusetts on CSX’s old Boston & Albany mainline.

Relatively few of Amtrak’s P42 Genesis diesels were painted in the short-lived Northeast Direct livery, making this a relatively unusual photo.

Working with a Nikon fitted with an f2.8 180mm telephoto, I was trying to make the most of a heavily backlit situation in early October. In situations like this I’d typically use my notebook to shield the front element of my lens to minimize the effects of flare. Backlighting autumn foliage helps accentuate the colored leaves.

On this day Amtrak was the booby prize; I was really after the Ringling Brothers Circus Train that was coming east from Selkirk Yard. And that photo is stored in a different file.

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Smoky Light in the White Mountains.

Yesterday (26 July 2021), the White Mountains were obscured by hazy smoke that had settled upon the Mount Washington Valley as a result of raging forest fires in the West.

The sun was out, but an eerie gauzy brownish-fog was lingering in the low-lying areas filtering the light.

Working with my Nikon Z6, I made these photos in the smoky light of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley Train coming up the Hill from Conway. This was a stark contrast to the similar images I made last week of the Valley train arriving at North Conway.

North Conway, New Hampshire.

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Valley at the Golf Course

Yesterday afternoon was sunny and pleasant in North Conway, NH.

As part of my job as Manager Marketing & Events at Conway Scenic Railroad, I made a few photos of our afternoon Valley Train from Conway returning to the North Conway station.

On the final leg of its short journey down the Conway Branch this ascends a short 3 percent grade and crosses the Golf Course Crossings.

A former Maine Central Style B lower quadrant semaphore decorates the east-end of our yard. (The semaphore does not serve either a control or protective function).

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 mirror-less digital camera and processed the camera’s NEF RAW files using Adobe Lightroom.

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Dark Chrome at Talent

July 3, 1992, I was poised on a hillside in Talent, Oregon to photograph Southern Pacific’s eastward RVME-M (Roseville to Medford manifest) on the sinuous Siskiyou Line

My Nikon F3T was loaded with Kodachrome and fitted with a 35PC lens.

An unfortunate cloud drifted in front of the sun moments before the freight descended into view.

Last night I opted to import a scan of this dark chrome into Adobe Lightroom where I imposed a series of small adjustments.

Below are two images: a scaled version of the othersie unadjusted scan, and my re-interpreted photo.

I can’t change the clouds, but I can lighten the image and adjust the color temperature and contrast to make for a nominally more pleasing photo.

Unaltered scan of SP’s RVME-M at Talent, Oregon.

My re-interpreted image.

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Rainy Night at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts

Saturday night, July 17, 2021, I revisited Palmer, Massachusetts with Kris Sabbatino and Pat Yough, where we made night photos of the CSX signals at CP83.

For me photographing at Palmer at night is an old tradition that began in the 1980s.

Where I used to make time exposures with a Leica IIIA loaded with Kodak Tri-X, on this visit I worked with my modern Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera mounted on my father’s Gitzo carbon fiber tripod.

My own tripod had remained in New Hampshire, so needed a loan of my dad’s legs.

A westward CSX highrail truck passes CP83.

I made minor adjustements to color temperature and contrast using Adobe Lightroom.

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Misty Arrival at Crawford.

Traveling on the head end of Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer, I was first off the train upon its arrival at Crawford station.

Although often Crawford is crowded with people when the Mountaineer arrives, the damp misty weather appeared to have discouraged all but few on-lookers.

I made this view of the train with low flying clouds shortly before the engine was uncoupled for the run-around in preparation for the return to North Conway, NH.

Believe it or not, one of the most common complaints from travelers on Conway Scenic is ‘The train came back the same way it went out!’.

If we came back any other way, that would be a pretty good trick!

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View from the Head-End

Saco River trusses at Glen, NH.

The other day I traveled on the head-end of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer in order to take notes on running times to help revise the schedule, and to make photos for publicity, marketing and the company files.

This is a selection of the images I exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm Fujinon zoom lens.

Bartlett, NH.
Bartlett Roundhouse.
3rd Iron.
Near milepost 81 on the ascent to Crawford Notch.

WIlley Brook Bridge.
Crawford Notch near mp 84.

Working with the camera’s RAW files, prior to post processing, I converted the files to DNG format using Iridient software and then for final presentation adjusted the DNG files using adobe Lightroom .

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Frosty Scene on the Redstone Branch

Last December, we brought GP7 573 out on the Redstone Branch to clear the line of snow. It was the furthest east that I’d traveled on the line as we went all the way to the East Conway Road crossing.

The effective end of track for Conway Scenic is the Saco River Bridge east of East Conway Road.

Working with my Canon EOS 3 fitted with a 40mm pancake lens, I made these images on Kodak Ektachrome E100 color slide film.

The great dynamic range of color slide film, combined with its broad tonal range and delicate colors still makes it a perfect choice for making photos in circumstances like these.

Dec 2020.

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Rainy Day at Tobyhanna

In October 2005, I traveled with Delaware-Lackawanna’s PT98 that operated from Scranton to Slateford Junction, Pennsylvania.

At Tobyhanna the eastward freight stopped to switch, and I made a few photos on Fujichrome using a Nikon F3. It was pouring rain, so I made the best of it.

I scanned this image using a Nikon Coolscan 5000, and adjusted the TIF raw file in Adobe Lightroom to correct the color temperature and color balance while adjusting contrast and shadow detail.

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Boston & Maine 4266

Yesterday morning was glorious and sunny in North Conway, NH.

Members of the 470 Club (a group that has preserved and owns several pieces of historic railroad equipment based at the Conway Scenic Railroad) were repairing former Boston & Maine F7A 4266 at the North Conway roundhouse..

I made these views using my Panasonic Lumix LX7.

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Vestiges of the WIld River Railroad.

It’s not on most maps, but the Wild River Railroad was a short-lived lumber-hauling line that was ripped up early in the 20th century.

The other day, Kris Sabbatino and I explored a vestige of this railroad, by driving the old right-of-way to the Wild River camp ground.

I made this photo looking northward toward Hastings and Gilead, Maine using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto.

The last train used the line about 118 years ago.

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Woodsville—Classic Chrome

On October 8, 1992, I made this Kodachrome 25 slide of the old Boston & Maine station building at Woodsville, NH.

Although a relatively subtle quality, notice that the verticals are parallel with the sides of the photo. This was made possible by working with a Nikkor 35mm PC (Perspective Control) lens. This had an adjustible front element used to keep vertical lines from visually falling away from the film plane (when the camera was kept level).

I miss my old PC lens, which I sold in 1997.

The line in front of the Woodsville Station was lifted in the mid-1990s.

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July 4th Fireworks at North Conway.

Last night Conway Scenic Railroad operated its annual Firecracker Expresses to carry spectators from Conway to North Conway for a patriotic fireworks display.

Although it had been raining all afternoon, the sky cleared off at sunset, and the fireworks went ahead as scheduled, beginning just after 930pm.

As part of of my role as Conway Scenic’s Manager of Marketing & Events, I helped organize our special trains and their promotion. Several hundred people rode the trains which operated as advertised.

My Fiancé Kris Sabbatino and I traveled on the Firecracker Express to North Conway and made photos of the railroad’s iconic station and the explosive displays.

It was an excellent event.

Working with my Nikon Z6 Mirrorless digital camera mounted on my antique Bogen tripod, I made a variety of time-exposures.

Years ago I’d photographed fireworks using color slide film. I realized that I hadn’t done this in a long time and this was my first serious effort to capture a fireworks display digitally. I was a bit rusty at getting my timing right, but after missing a few of the loud bangs in the sky, I managed to refine my technique.

Working with the camera at ISO 200, my exposure times ranged from 4 seconds to 30 seconds, while I varied my f-stop between 4.0 and f11.

In general, I found I obtained my most satisfactory results at about 10 seconds at approximately f8.

After exposure, I imported the camera’s RAW NEF files into Adobe Lightroom for contrast and color adjustment. Through this technique I was able to improve the sky detail and balance the appearance of the images to reflect the scene more closely as I saw it. The benefit of the Nikon Z6 is its sensor’s exceptional dynamic range.

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12mm at the Reflection Pond.

Here’s another of my photos at dusk from our pursuit of St. Lawrence & Atlantic’s westward freight 393 last week. Kris and I were positioned along the south shore of the Reflection Pond near Gorham, NH.

My tripod was occupied holding my Canon EOS-3 during a 30 second time exposure. This film photo remains latent at this writing.

While the Canon was exposing film, I made a few hand held photos with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit with the ISO set at 5,000.

These are two of the 1/2 second exposures that night.

I adjusted the Fuji RAW files using Adobe Lightroom.

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Long Days on the St Lawrence & Atlantic.

The long days of summer offer a rare opportunity to catch Genesee & Wyoming’s St. Lawrence & Atlantic through freights in daylight.

Last Friday, 25 June 2021, my fiancé Kris Sabbatino and I drove to Locke Miles, Maine, east of Bethel, where we set up along South Pond to wait for the westward freight, job 393.

The light was fading when we finally heard a distant whistle.

Our friend Andrew Dale had been keeping us updated as to the trains’s westward progress.

I made this image of the leading locomotives reflecting in South Pond using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera. I set the ISO to 800, the aperture to f4.0 (my widest setting), and the shutter speed to 1/100th of a second.

After the train passed we pursued it West into the night.

24-70mm Nikkor zoom set at 53mm. Full frame sensor

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Thursday, June 24, 2021 Conway Scenic Radio Broadcast.

On Thursday, June 24, 2021, I was live on the radio at North Conway during a simulcast for New Hampshire’s Lakes region radio stations FM 101.5 and FM 104.9.

This was a promotion for Conway Scenic Railroad as part of greater exploration of tourism in the White Mountains and Lakes regions.

I worked with the radio hosts to give listeners a greater appreciation for the railroad, its history and its excursions.

Using my Lumix LX7, I made these photos during broadcast and between interviews.

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First 2021 Mountaineer

Last Saturday, June 19th, Kris & I met the first Conway Scenic Railroad Mountaineer of the 2021 season at Crawford Notch, NH on the former Maine Central Mountain Division.

We spoke with the crew and arranged to make photos from the sunny side of the tracks.

A few days later, I posted some of these to the Conway Scenic Facebook page, which is among my jobs as Manager of Marketing & Events for the railroad.

File converted from Lumix RAW file.
Color adjusted and saturation increased working with the RAW file in Adobe Lightroom.
I was trying to minimize the placement of automobiles parked along Rt 302 adjacent to the tracks., while featuring the textured sky.

I made these photos with a Lumix LX7 compact mirrorless digital camera fitted with external view finder.

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Kennebec East Outlet at Dusk—two views.

Among the CP Rail freights we caught on the move on the Moosehead Sub, was this westbound rolling across the Kennebec East Outlet Bridge just after sunset.

Working with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera, I made this trailing view with the camera set at ISO 1600, shutter speed 1/50, aperture at f4.0, and the 24-70mm zoom adjusted to its widest (24mm) position.

Soon after the locomotives passed we were in hot pursuit of the train for nocturnal photos. More soon!

June 2021—CP Rail SD70ACU 7044 was in the lead.

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GenSet on June 13, 2013

Eight Years ago today, June 5, 2013, Rich Reed and I photographed an MBTA equipment transfer at Ayer that had come up from Worcester, Massachusetts via Pan Am’s Boston & Maine Worcester-Ayer line.

Among the items of interest was MBTA 3249, one of two MBTA GenSet diesel-electric locomotives.

I made this photo using my Lumix LX3 from the Main Street Bridge east of downtown Ayer.

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INSPECTING FRANKENSTEIN

Last week, I traveled with Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates on the fourth of four Conway Scenic Railroad bridge inspections.

Midway through the day we inspected Frankenstein Trestle, a steel/iron tower supported viaduct that was built in sight of the ridge of the same name.

Frankenstein is really two bridges, one inside the other as the result of a strengthening effort by the Maine Central in 1930.

I made these images of the famous bridge using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm zoom lens.

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Photo Freight Second Edit

During the course of last weekend’s special Railfan Photo Freight hosted by the Conway Scenic Railroad, I made several hundred images of the train and its preparation.

Today, I’m just getting through the editing of these images.

A few days ago I posted: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/wp-admin/post.php?post=31266&action=edit

Today, I offer this selection, all exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens.

Conway, NH.
View from the head end working west near Bartlett, NH.
Run by at Second Iron, west of Bartlett, NH.
Looking west near Cobb Farm Road.

I converted my Fuji RAW files using Iridient X-Transformer and made adjustments to color and contrast using Adobe Lightroom. When I make contrast adjustments, I generally use the ‘highlights’, ‘shadows’, and ‘contrast’ slider controls.

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Wide View at Crawford

Two years ago I made my first trip to Crawford Notch by road in 20 years.

I was on my way to the Conway Scenic Railroad at North Conway to write an article for Trains Magazine.

One thing led to another, and two years later Crawford is now a regular place on my visit list! I was up there again yesterday in HyRail truck TC-205 as part of a bridge inspection with Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates .

This photo was exposed on May 29, 2019 using my FujiFilm XT1 with a Zeiss 12mm Touit. I’ve posted two versions, one more saturated than the other.

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Speeders over Crawford Notch

This is my second installment of photo covering the private speeder trip on Conway Scenic Railroad over Crawford Notch. I acted as pilot on this rare opportunity to travel on the railroad using vintage Fairmont rail motorcars.

See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2021/05/23/speeder-trip-part-1/

I was traveling in the lead car as part of a group of 15 vehicles.

We proceeded from the State Yard at Kearsarge on the Redstone Branch in North Conway, NH to Mountain Junction in Intervale, then continued west on the Mountain Division through Bartlett and up the mountain over Crawford Notch.

I made these images using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens. Camera RAW files converted to DNG format using Iridient X-Transformer and the adjusted for color, contrast, exposure and saturation using Adobe Lightroom.

Bartlett, NH.
Near Frankenstein bridge.
Mp 83 looking west toward Mount Willard.
Site of the Mount Willard Section House.
Site of the Mount Willard Section House.
Milepost 84 at Crawford Notch.

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