In July 1984, I made a few black & white photos of the Canadian Pacific station at Jackman, Maine using my old Leica 3A with 50mm Canon lens. At that time, Jackman still hosted VIA Rail’s Atlantic and was an open train order station. I had a conversation with the operator before I made my photos.
On my recent visits Jackman earlier this month, I tried to recreat the angle of my earlier eastbound view.
In both photos, I am standing at the Route 201 grade crossing.
The purpose of this comparison is to demonstrate the degree of change at Jackman in the 38-year interval between them. Notice that the 1984 view is far more interesting to look at despite being a technically inferior photograph.
The former Canadian Pacific Railway station building at Greenville Junction, Maine is a distinctive wooden structure dating to 1889. A local preservation group has embarked on a mission to preserve and restore the structure.
Since Kris and I visited Greenville Junction a year ago (June 2021), considerable work has been done to the station and it looks much improved!
On Wednesday (June 7, 2022), I walked from our lake-side cabin at Moosehead, Maine to Canadian Pacific’s East Outlet Bridge with the hope of catching the eastward 132 freight.
Not long after I arrived, the skies opened to a light drizzle. Gradually drizzle turned to a steady rain. The rain stirred up Maine’s famous mosquitoes. So after more than an hour of waiting under a tree, I was beginning to question my intentions. Yet having stood out in the elements, I decided to wait a while longer.
Finally, off to the west, I heard a distant train whistle! Hooray, it had to be CP’s 132! (Normally the railroad only operates one train east and one west every 24 hours.)
After another seven minutes, the sky brightened and a headlight came into view. By the time the train reached the East Outlet Bridge at Moosehead, the sun was out and shining brightly!
My perseverance was rewarded! Walking back to the cabin, I claimed this effort as a success.
On Monday (June 6, 2022), driving west on Maine Route 6, we had just passed Greenville Junction, Maine on our way to Moosehead.
Kris said, ‘hey, I hear a train!’
I suspected the eastward 132 might be close, so I quickly turned around and drove east on Rt 6 back to the bridge at Kellys Landing, immediately east of the old CP station at Greenville Junction. At one time Bangor & Aroostook lines connected with CP here, while a spur went below CP to serve docks on Moosehead Lake.
We had just a few moments to get ready. I grabbed my Lumix LX7 and framed up the eastward freight on the bridge and exposed a series of digital photos. My first CP Moosehead Subdivision photos since June 2021!
One notable exception was during the Winter-Spring 1978, when I exposed two rolls of Kodacolor II that had been given to me during the previous winter holidays as a gift.
On a bright April day, my father brought me along the Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor to photograph the passing trains, where I made the most of the second of two 36-exposure rolls.
Working with a Leica fitted with 200mm Telyt lens using a Visoflex (reflex attachment), I made this view at New Brunswick, New Jersey of a southward Amtrak train led by a relatively new General Electric E60CH crossing the Raritan River.
In 2016, I scanned my old negatives, which despite being stored in glassine envelopes had withstood the passage of time reasonably well.
Kodacolor film had a distinctive color palate.
All things being equal, I wish I’d made the photo on Kodachrome slide film, but considering I was only 11 years old, I did pretty well!
I made a series of exposures of Conway Scenic’s May 22nd special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer at Crawford, NH.
In these views the locomotives were fighting the light with the sun nearly behind the subject at a relatively high angle in the sky.
For this discussion, I underexposed the scene, which allowed me to retain detail in the sky and other highlight areas.
By importing the camera NEF RAW file into Lightroom I was able to make adjustments to the shadows and highlight areas to compensate for the undesirable effects of underexposure while retaining adequate detail across the exposure range.
This is in part possible because of Nikon Z6’s full-frame sensor with an enormous dynamic range.
Of the three views: The top is the uncorrected NEF file scaled for internet. The bottom two are screen shots of the Lightroom work window to show how I implemented changes to the NEF file before scaling for internet presentation.
On Monday, May 30, 2022, I photographed the company ballast train at almost precisely the same place. In these views Conway Scenic GP35 216 works upgrade with three loaded ballast cars plus rider coach 6743.
I made these recent photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens. Working with the camera RAW files, I made adjustments to color and contrast using Adobe Lightroom.
I experimented with compact mirrorless cameras on May 31, 2014, during a visit to Charlotte, North Carolina,
My trusty Lumix LX3 had failed a few weeks earlier, and I was seeking a suitable replacement.
On this trip photographer Pat Yough let me try out his FujiFilm XE-2. While my father had lent me his Lumix LX7, (a model that was an upgraded variation on the older LX3)
I made these images using the Lumix LX7 which photographing the Lynx light rail system south of downtown Charlotte.
Ultimately,not onlydid I buy a Lumix LX7, but after continued experimentation with the Fuji system, I also bought a Fuji XT1, which served me well for a number of years.
I’ve found that it really helps to experiement with different camera systems to put them through their paces BEFORE drawing firm conclusions or making a purchase.
Below are three variations of the same image. The first is a scaled version of the in-camera JPG (scaled for internet presention, not cropped); the other two are interpretations from the camera RAW using Adobe Lightroom.
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Sunday, May 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad’s Special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer, brought more than 100 guests up to Crawford Notch and enabled them to make photos at various places along the line.
In my capacity as Manager of Marketing & Events, I helped to organize the trip, and traveled on the head-end to work with the crew to select photo stops and spot the train.
A secondary condition of this role was that in several intances I was able to make uncommon views of the train, often in situations I needed to climb down from the lead locomotive ahead of final positioning or during other aspects of the operation.
Among the 400 photos I exposed that day were these views of recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268. All of these images were exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.
Sunday, May 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer over Crawford Notch, NH.
This was the first time recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268 made a trip over the Mountain Division for Conway Scenic Railroad, and the first time that Conway Scenic had the two B&M F7As working in multiple with former Maine Central GP7 573.
All three were painted in the classic EMD-designed maroon & gold scheme.
It is rare that Conway Scenic operates three diesels in multiple.
The weather cooperated nicely.
I helped organize the photo stops and run-bys and traveled on the head-end in both directions.
Conway Scenic advertises boarding times rather than departure times. This train boarded at 9am, and departed 2 minutes ahead of schedule. We performed 8 special photo stops in addition to the normal run around at Crawford Station. The train arrived back at North Conway almost an hour ahead of its target. In other words, it was an extremely successful trip.
I made more than 400 digital images and haven’t had time to look at most of them. Last night, the day had caught up with me before I could go through my images. Today Conway Scenic has another special trip.
More Boston & Maine F7A photos to come in later posts!
Last weekend, Kris and I visited the Berkshire Scenic Railway with the New York Central System Historical Society.
We boarded the BSRy excursion train at Adams, Massachusetts for a short spin up to North Adams and back.
The railway had arranged several photo stops for us. The first of these was at Zylonite, where we paused at the old Boston & Albany station. Clouds parted and the sun emerged. BSRy ran their mixed consist of a former New York Central SW8 diesel hauling two former Lackawanna commuter cars and a Budd RDC. This performed several photo run-bys for passengers.
I exposed these images using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series Nikkor zoom lens. Files were processed and adjusted in Lightroom, where I made nominal corrections to constrast, color temperature, and saturation.
On Friday, May 20, 2022, the 470 Club in cooperation with Conway Scenic Railroad, assembled a three unit consist of former Maine Central GP7 573 bracketed by former Boston & Maine F7As 4266 and 4268. B&M 4268 was restored to service last month using the guts of former North Coast GP9 number 1757.
This is the first time all three vintage EMD diesels have worked together on Conway Scenic. All are painted in the 1940s-era EMD designed maroon and gold livery that mimics the hues of autumn foliage in New England.
The locomotives were operated in multiple as a test to see if all were performing satisfactorily and run up and down ‘The Hill’ within North Conway Yard Limits.
I traveled on one of the test runs, as well as making photographs for the railroad.
On Sunday, May 22, 2022, these three locomotives will be the intended consist for the Railfan’s Mountaineer, a specialthat will run from North Conway over the Mountain Division to Crawford Notch and return for the benefit of photographers and locomotive enthusiasts.
These images were made with my Nikon Z6 and 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom lens.
Last month I was invited on an official tour of Irish Rail’s Inchicore Works. I joined a small group of journalists preparing a feature on the upcoming 175th Anniversary open house that occured about 10 days later (after I returned to the USA).
On my casual walk-around I had the opportunity to chat with a variety of Irish Rail employees and retirees.
In addition to some photos of locomotives and railcars, I made numerous vignettes of the shops and the details thereof using my Lumix LX7.
In a future post, I’ll include some more of the locomotive photos.
In yesterday’s Tracking the Light, I described the challenges of when a fluffy cloud obscures the sun beneath an otherwise blue sky. The opposite is a burst of direct sun through an otherwise overcast sky.
On Thursday, May 12, 2022, after departing Bernardston, Massachusetts, Kris and I zipped down to Pan Am’s yard at East Deerfield and set up at the east end overlooking the Connecticut River Bridge. Here the Deerfield hump engine was gradually shoving a long cut of cars. This is a blue, black & white, EMD switcher working with slug..
About the same time an eastward freight moved on the the bridge on the opposite track.
For a brief moment a burst of sunlight illuminated both trains on the bridge, making for a stunning setting in cosmic light.
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In this scenario, the exposure trick is to quickly getting the optimal exposure and not to allow the highlight areas to receive too much light relative to the rest of the scene.
On Thursday, May 12, 2022, Kris and I stopped by the railroad station at White River Junction, Vermont to catch train 55, the southward Vermonter.
It was a clear bright morning and pleasantly warm.
I made this pair of photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.
I recalled to Kris my first visit to this station back in May 1985 when my pal T.S. Hoover and I had driven over night to witness the crew change on the northward Montrealer. An event that occurred in the wee hours shortly before sunrise.
Yesterday, May 11, 2022, it was bright sunny and warm in Conway, New Hampshire. The only train on the move was Conway Scenic’s ballast extra. So I conferred with the ballast train crew before they departed the yard (with engine 252 and a rider coach—for use as a shoving platform and to carry the crew between work sites), and then intercepted the train at Conway as they were putting the consist together.
In the afternoon, I tracked down the train again to make the most of the bright day.
All of these images were exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera with 24-70 Z-series zoom.
On May 10, 2007, I organized 37 photographers across North America to document railroading over the course of one 27- hour span.
I chose May 10th for several reasons: It was the anniversary of the Golden Spike at Promontory, Utah, which marked completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad; It was also the anniversary of New York Central’s 999 on its world famous speed run, and it was my friend, Eamon Jones’s birthday. (Eamon spent his working career running engines for Irish Rail).
I, along with all the other photographers, spent the day photographing railroad operations. Early in the day, I captured Genesee Valley Transportation’s Matt Wronski removing a blue flag from the Falls Road Railroad shop at Lockport, New York. This image was exposed on Fujichrome.
I was one of only a few photographers that exposed film on this day. Among the other film photographers were my father Richard Jay Solomon—who made photos around Palmer, Massachusetts, and Hal Reiser—who spent the morning with me on the Falls Road Railroad.
The Railroad Never Sleeps was published by Quarto Press and was sold in book stores around the continent.
The two magnificent bridges at Safe Harbor, Pennsylvania are vestiges of the Pennsylvania Railroad from its days in the early 20th century as the busiest freight railroad in North America.
The line on top bridge was abandoned by Conrail c1990 no longer carries track. It is now used a by a trail system. This bridge originally carried PRR’s low-grade freight cutoff from Parkesburg via Shocks Mills to Marysville, PA. The bottom bridge is part of the Port Deposit route and still used by Norfolk Southern. The electrification was discontinued early in the Conrail era.
Add this to the list of, ‘You just couldn’t make this stuff up’:
Yesterday, on my drive to work in rural New Hampshire, a radio broadcast reminded of a blistering hot day in July 2007 when photographer Denis McCabe and I explored L’viv making photos of trains. This broadcast described a garage reportedly destroyed by a Russian missile-strike in L’viv earlier in the morning.
Yesterday afternoon, Denis pinpointed for me the location of the bombed garage as a building that he and I would have walked by not long after I’d exposed this July 2007 photograph of a UZ 2M62 diesel. (The building stood about about 700 feet behind me in this photo.)
This isn’t the sort of story I’d ever imagine featuring on Tracking the Light.
Tracking the Light is a daily blog on railway imaging.
On our drive back from Pennsylvania last month we stopped in to Port Jervis, New York.
This town was once synonymous with the Erie Railroad which maintained significant facilities and yards here.
Today, little is left of the sprawling freight yards, and relatively little freight passes over the former Erie route, but Port Jervis is the western extent of NJ Transit/Metro North commuter service from Hoboken, NJ.
On this dull Saturday morning, Metro North’s weekday commuter fleet was tied up in the small yard west of the present passenger station, near the site of the old Erie engine facilities.
I thought that this collection of diesels made for interesting subjects. Photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm lens.
If had been clear and bright, I’d have been looking directly into the mid-morning sun.
On Wednesday April 6, 2022, I traveled with Train Master Lacey and Conductor Weimer on GP38 255 from North Conway to Conway, New Hampshire and back.
This was the first locomotive over Conway Scenic Railroad’s Conway Branch since the end of the 2021 Holiday season. My last trip over the line was a test run with steam locomotive 7470, where I used the opportunity to videotape the engine crossing the Moat Brook Bridge.
On our April 6th trip, we collected Easter decorations stored in the Conway freight house for distribution along the line as part of the annual Easter Egg hunt for the benefit of children traveling on the Easter Bunny Express.
I assisted with the collection and positioning of the eggs along the line, while documenting the opening move. Rusted rail conditions meant that we approached each highway crossing ‘prepared to stop and flag’.
It was a gorgeous sunny day and well suited to photography with my Nikon Z6 fitted with 24-70mm Z-series zoom!
In the 1960s my father, Richard Jay Solomon, made numerous photos of Reading Company’s famous Iron Horse Rambles. This included countless photos of Reading T-1 2102.
As I’ve previously recalled on Tracking the Light and in the pages of Trains Magazine, these photos were, in part, my inspiration for the HO-scale Reading Company that I’ve been building in my Finacé’s basement.
Early in the planning for the railroad Kris and I bought an HO model of 2102, and in February last year (2021), I ran one of my father’s famous photos of this engine, a picture that I featued in my book Locomotive, 20 years earlier (see below).
A week ago Friday (March 18, 2022), Kris & I visited Reading & Northern’s Port Clinton, PA offices and obtained permission to visit the 2102 and make photos. This was a privilege and a real thrill. It was the first time I’d seen this engine up close.
Later this year R&N plans to have this magnificent machine operating in excursion service on their railroad.
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In the 1960s my father, Richard Jay Solomon, made numerous photos of Reading Company’s famous Iron Horse Rambles. This included countless photos of Reading T-1 2102.
A week ago (March 17, 2022), Kris and I visited the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania at Strasburg, where we saw a variety of finely preserved locomotives and rolling stock.
Among the most interesting and unusual pieces on display was Reading Company 800, a perfect example of an overhead electric multiple unit car that once operated on suburban lines in the Philadelphia area.
Of the thousands of locomotives and railcars preserved across the United States, there are relatively few electric multiple units in their as-built condition, which is what makes this display so unusual.
I got a kick out of seeing this car again because it is a Reading Company car and thus relates to our model railroad enterprise in Kris’s basement (although we don’t delve into electrified territory on the wee pike.)