Category Archives: News

Boston & Maine 4268 in the Sun: FujiFilm JPG versus Iridient Processed RAW

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. 

Scaled and watermarked but otherwise un-modified JPG file exposed with the Velvia color profile using my FujiFilm XT1.
Camera RAW file converted to a DNG file using Iridient X-Transformer and then imported into Lightroom for adjustment to color temp, contrast, and exposure)
Scaled and watermarked but otherwise un-modified JPG file exposed with the Velvia color profile using my FujiFilm XT1.

Camera RAW file converted to a DNG file using Iridient X-Transformer and then imported into Lightroom for adjustment to color temp, contrast, and exposure)

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Final 2020 Mountaineer

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.

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MBTA at Walpole.

In conjunction with line works on the west end of MBTA’s Franklin Branch, weekend trains were terminating at Walpole, Massachusetts with bus connections to Norfolk, Franklin and Forge Park.

The old passenger station is still in use at this location.

Here, the Franklin Branch crosses the former New Haven Railroad Old Colony line that runs between Mansfield and Framingham, Massachusetts on a traditional diamond.

More than 30 years ago I visited Walpole on several occasions to photograph trains passing the steam era semaphores that still protected the diamond.

These photos were made in November 2020 using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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Working on the Franklin Branch.

It’s been a long time since the White Train passed this way.

At one time, many years ago MBTA’s Franklin Branch was the New York & New England main line, which was then a double track line through Norfolk, Massachusetts.

When Kris Sabbatino and I paid a visit to Norfolk a week ago, Keolis track crews were busily working on the line installing a second main track.

So, I wonder, when will the line be extended west to restore the Inland route via Blackstone, Putnam and Willimantic to New Haven?

Photos exposed with a Nikon Z6.

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Millie at Work!

During the relatively quiet days mid-week in November, Conway Scenic has assigned RDC 23 Millie to work Valley Train runs to Conway and Bartlett. This will continue Monday-Thursday until Thanksgiving.

This former is former New Haven RDC 23, that later worked for Penn Central, Amtrak, Metro-North, and Susquehanna

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera, I made these views on Tuesday November 10, 2020 while the car was in service at North Conway, New Hampshire.

As I’ve been digging through my older photos, I’ve searched for photos of Mille working for one of its former owners, but so far have only found photos of its sister cars.

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Amtrak at 150 mph!

At Mansfield, Massachusetts, Amtrak’s Acela Express trains are allowed up to 150 mph.

The other day, Kris Sabbatino and I stopped by the former New Haven Railroad Shoreline Route to witness these high-speed trains in motion.

We caught Amtrak train number 2167 (Boston -Wash D.C.) approaching maximum speed.

This gave a short blast before passing the MBTA station platforms, which provided a few seconds advance warning.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 set for ‘Turbo-flutter’—what I call the fast motor drive ‘continuous high’ setting—I exposed a burst of three digital images as the train raced by.

My shutter was set to 1/2000th of a second.

I converted the RAW files using Iridient X-Transformer image conversion software that makes these into DNG files for adjustment by Adobe Lightroom.

Below are the three closest images in sequence.

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Wanders With Millie

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.

Moat Brook Bridge.
Moat Brook Bridge.
photo by Kris Sabbatino.
Conway station.

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SUN, SNOW AND AUTUMN LEAVES AT FABYAN.

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.

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Sunrise at the Benicia Bridge with Ektachrome—August 1993.

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.

See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2020/10/06/kodak-lpp-a-tunnel-motor-and-a-camel/

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.

Full frame scan of a 35mm Ektachrome LPP slide exposed in August 1993.

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.

Much enlarged crop of the same slide to better show Amtrak’s Coast Starlight.

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First Snow!

The highlight of yesterday’s 470 Club Special Autumn Express to Fabyan, New Hampshire was the dusting of snow on late season foliage at Crawford Notch.

I arranged for a photo stop at the site of the Mount Willard Section House where we performed a photo ‘run by’ over the famous Willey Creek Bridge.

I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

RAW files were converted to DNG format with Iridient X-Transformer and then processed using Adobe Lightroom to adjust color temperature, saturation and contrast,

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Foliage at Mp79 and Iridient Comparison.

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.

See comparisons below.

Fuji RAW file processed by Adobe Lightroom and adjusted for color balance and saturation in post processing.
Fuji RAW file processed by Iridient X-Transformer and adjusted for color balance and saturation in post processing.
Close up of the Fuji RAW processed by Adobe Lightroom.
Close up of the Fuji RAW processed by Iridient X-Transformer. Notice the superior clarity of hard edges and better definition at the edge of the headlights.

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October Rainbow

Last week on my way to work at the North Conway, NH station, a magnificent rainbow graced the morning sky.

Rainbows are often fleeting, lasting only a few moments, yet this one hung in the sky for about a half an hour.

I made these photos using my new Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

After exposure I downloaded the camera and imported the camera RAW files (NEF) into Adobe Lightroom for processing.

I made nominal adjustments to color temperature, contrast and color saturation, then output the files as scaled JPGs while adding my watermark.

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Five Foliage Views from the Old Maine Central Mountain Division

Last week, I spent several days on the former Maine Central Mountain Division making photographs of the line in the autumn foliage as part of my job for the Conway Scenic Railroad.

This is an amazing section of railroad with lots of history and lore.

I’ve included just five of the several hundred digital photographs I made that I feel best capture the season and the character of the railroad.

East of the Arethusa Falls grade crossing looking toward Frankenstein Cliff. Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
Track maintenance at Bartlett, NH. FujiFIlm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
Site of the Mount Willard section house looking toward the Willey Brook Bridge.. FujiFIlm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
Telegraph pole west of MP80 looking. FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

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Storm Light at Bartlett—October 10, 2020.

I arrived at Bartlett, NH, several minutes ahead of Conway Scenic’s train 162, the eastward Mountaineer. The sky was chocolate.

Then as the train approached the crossing with Rt302 west of town, the clouds parted to bathe the scene with strong rays of afternoon autumn sunlight.

I made photos with both my Nikon Z6 and my FujiFilm XT1 (with 27mm pancake lens).

This image was exposed with the Fuji.

I converted the Fuji RAW using Iridient software to make a DNG file, which I then imported into Adobe Lightroom for final adjustment.

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New Camera with Old Lens: trying out the FTZ Adaptor.

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.

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Rhonda Lee Glints at Bartlett

Thursday evening (October 1, 2020), Adam Bartley and I photographed Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer at Bartlett, NH.

Budd-built Vista Dome Rhonda Lee (originally Burlington’s Silver Buckle) was the at the back of the train.

This momentarily caught the glint of the evening sun as it crossed Albany Avenue near the old freight house.

I made this view using my Nikon Z6 digital camera with 24-70mm zoom lens.

Budd Vista Dome ‘Rhonda Lee’ at Bartlett.

This image was recorded using the Z6’s JPG setting with Vivid color profile. I scaled the file without editing using Adobe Lightroom

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Frankenstein with the Nikon Z6

Monday September 28, 2020, I made the hike up to Frankenstein to photograph the westward Mountaineer crossing the famous trestle in peak autumn color.

This was also one of my first tests with the new camera photographing a moving train.

Among the features of the Z6 is the ‘heads-up’ display in view finder that allows for me to observe a histogram while I’m making photographs.

After exposure, I imported the Nikon NEF (camera RAW) file into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.

The sensor in the camera captures an enormous amount of data. To make the best use of this requires a bit of interpretation.

Specifically, I used a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter in the sky to better display highlight detail. I also lightened shadow areas, while making subtle color temperature changes.

While I have made these types of adjustments with my other digital cameras, I was impressed by the level of detail and the subtlety of the colors displayed in the Nikon file.

This camera-lens combination allows for exceptional sharp images. I’ve enlarged a small portion of the file without adjustment for comparison.

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My New Camera: Nikon Z6

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.

Grafton Notch, near Neary, Maine.
Grafton Notch, near Neary, Maine.
St. Lawrence & Atlantic at Bethel, Maine.
St. Lawrence & Atlantic at Gilead, Maine.

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.

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Vintage EMD’s meet at the North Yard.

For the last few days, Boston & Maine F7A 4266 has been parked in Conway Scenic’s North Yard at North Conway, New Hampshire.

Last week I thought this might make for a classic juxtaposition with the returning Valley train from Bartlett led by former Maine Central GP7 573.

Both locomotives are painted in a classic EMD-designed livery, popular on B&M and Maine Central in the 1940s and 1950s. The gold and maroon nicely mimic the hues of fading New England foliage.

I made these views with my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. Hazy autumn afternoon light offers bright low contrast illumination that suits the subjects of the photos.

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Frankenstein Foliage

September 24, 2020: I made my way to Frankenstein trestle on the former Maine Central Mountain Division to photograph Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer.

The autumn foliage has almost reached its peak brilliance near the bridge. The leaves are turning early this year, probably because of drought conditions.

I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1. Output is the camera JPG with Velvia color profile. Other than scaling for internet, I did not adjust for color, contrast, or exposure.

If all goes well, I’ll be back up on the mountain today. The conditions look to be warm, bright and dry in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

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Prague Metro-2000

In May 2000, on one of two visits to Prague that Spring, I made this view deep below the streets of Soviet-era metro cars.

While the cars seemed old, the Metro was clean, quick and heavily used. However, there was a little bit of graffiti that emulated the style of New York City subway graffiti from the 1970s.

I exposed this Fujichrome color slide with my Nikon F3T.

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Mountaineer at Fabyan

Last week, Conway Scenic Railroad extended its Mountaineer to Fabyan, New Hampshire. This will be the normal operation until October 18, 2020, when it will be cut back to Crawford station.

I made these views of the train at Fabyan on Friday September 18, 2020 using my Lumix LX7.

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A Tinge Of Autumn Color at Crawford Notch.

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.

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1950s Photo Freight—10 Photos.

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.

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Setting up the Photo Freights.

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.

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Conway Scenic Railfan’s Weekend—September 5 & 6.

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.

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Hidden Wonders at Philips, Maine.

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!

A covered bridge once carried tracks over this river at Philips—Lumix LX7 photo.

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.

The historic Sandy River & Rangely Lakes gave up the ghost in 1935. This is relic from the original operation.
Some wee diesel disguised as a Forney. Lumix LX7 photo.
The original SR&RL roundhouse burned to the ground in 1923 destroy three fine locomotives in the process. This is a recreation. Lumix LX7 photo.
You just never know what lurks among the trees! Lumix LX7 photo.

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Danville Junction Then and Now—Three photos.

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.

Eastbound at Danville Junction in October 1999.

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.

Looking east at Danville Junction in June 2020.
Former St Lawrence & Atlantic alignment at Danville Junction in June 2020.

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.

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Monochrome on the Redstone Branch.

On July 3, 2020, Conway Scenic sent engine 216 out on the Redstone Branch to collect a Boston & Maine boxcar I’d been using for advertising.

I documented the move with digital photos, as previously presented, and also on film.

For these images, I worked with a Nikon F3 with f2.5 Nikkor 105mm lens and Fomapan Classic 100 black & white film. I first sampled Fomapan on a trip to the Czech Republic in 2016.

Operating 216 was Adam, a Conway Scenic engineer trainee.

I processed the film using customized split-development that begins with a very dilute solution of HC110 with PhotoFlo as a presoak followed by primary development with Ilford ID11. After processing, I scanned the negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner then imported the scans into Lightroom for final adjustment and scaling for presentation.

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Class Lamp Up Close—Maine Central 252

Yesterday I took a spin on the train to Conway. I made this view with my Lumix LX7 as I boarded the locomotive on the return trip.

Former Maine Central GP38 252 has been working Conway Scenic’s Valley Trains between North Conway and Conway, and to Bartlett for the last couple of weeks.

Historically classification lamps were used as part of the system of timetable and train order rules, where lights of different colors were part of a hierarchy that defined the superiority of trains.

Conway scenic still uses these rules, with extra trains flying white flags by day and displaying white lamps by night.

At the moment all of our trains are operated under timetable and train order rules as ‘extras’.

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Snow on the Tracks, Lincoln, Maine.

In the heat of Summer, I thought it would be a cool to look at a wintery scene.

I made this view looking timetable east on Guilford’s Maine Central at Lincoln, Maine on a trip with photographer George S. Pitarys in January 1997.

For this image, I was working with a Nikon F2 fitted with a Nikon 80-200mm AF zoom lens, and loaded with Fuji Provia 100F.

My photography spans nearly 50 years, more than 30 nations, hundreds of cities and thousands of towns, while focusing on rails, transport, nature, urbanity, and friends (among other subjects).

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Maine Central 252 on the Valley.

During the last week, Maine Central GP38 252 has been working Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley trains that run daily from North Conway railroad east to Conway and North Conway railroad west to Bartlett.

While 252 is more than capable of working these trains, it is typically been assigned to the run to Crawford Notch.

I took the opportunity to make photos of 252 working the 1910-1920s-era heavy steel cars that comprise our Valley train set.

These photos were made using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

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July THunderstorm at North Conway, NH.

Yesterday evening (July 8, 2020), Tom Carver said to me, ‘get some shots in this cool light’.

It was sunny when I left the North Conway, NH station and cloudy by the time I’d walked the length of the platform. A thunderstorm was rapidly descending.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with 18-135mm lens, I made these images of the approaching storm.

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Farewell MG Tower?

MG Tower in 1987.

Yesterday, photographer Pat Yough sent me an article from the Altoona Mirror concerning Norfolk Southern’s planned demolition of the former Pennsylvania Railroad MG Tower (located on the climb from Altoona to Gallitzin, PA.)

Like the late, great New York Pennsylvania Station, MG Tower will succumb to corporate philistines who fail to value history and architecture. The rationale for such destruction may be justified to satisfy short term financial or safety prerogatives, but the loss is everyone’s. Once destroyed, this classic structure will be gone forever.

So much of the Pennsylvania Railroad has already been lost in the name of ‘progress’ and other abstract concepts. Have we learned nothing from past transgressions? So today’s railroad remain eager to erase the monuments of railroading’s glory days.

Of course the tower can be saved.

Of course future generations could benefit from its preservation.

Instead it will be but a memory ruined by those who fail to value history.

Well done Norfolk Southern! May the names of the persons condemning this structure to dust be enshrined so that everyone can relish in their achievement and congratulate them for their wisdom.

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Mountaineer Climbs the Mountain!

June 27, 2020 was the Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer debut!

This was the big day!

I organized banners for the locomotive  . . .

And a ribbon-cutting photo-op with Dave and Rhonda Swirk at North Conway, New Hampshire.

The guests were boarded.

I departed ahead of the train by road and hiked in to the Frankenstein trestle where I caught the train on film and video. Then, I laid chase to intercept it again at Crawford, NH. A neat trick considering all the equipment I was carrying.

At the end of the day, I was interviewed on the radio for broadcast Monday.

Dave Swirk cuts the ceremonial ribbon for the first Mountaineer!
Mountaineer at Frankenstein.
Mountaineer arriving at Crawford station. Maine Central 252 is the locomotive that hauled the last revenue road freight over the Mountain Division back in 1983, and had the honor of leading the first Mountaineer from North Conway to Crawford.

George Small, Rhonda and Dave Swirk, and Bob Marquardt with the Mountaineer Banner at Crawford.
Conway Scenic Railroad’s president and general manager Dave Swirk (left) with Mountaineer’s first narrator, Steve Nickless at Crawford Station.

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