Category Archives: News

Dublin to Cork

On Monday, 3 October 2022, Kris and I traveled on Irish Rail’s 1200 Dublin Heuston to Cork (Kent) train.

It was a typically dull day with showers and occasional sun across the Midlands.

We had First Class tickets and traveled in Coach A of a five-piece ICR (InterCity Railcar).

At Cork we were given a warm and very special welcome by Irish Rail.

Heuston Station.
Self portrait with the Nikon in Coach A on the way to Cork.
Cork’s Kent Station upon arrival on platform 4.
The arrivals/departures board at Cork had a special welcome for us!
Cropped version of the above photo.

I made these photos of the trip using my Nikon Z6.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday!

Millie Trip-Second Edit

When you make a lot of photos it is crucial to review and edit the images to select the most appropriate photos for presentation.

But what are the most appropriate images? I’ve often found that my second review of a batch of images will reveal a more interesting selection than the first edit.

The day of our special trip on RDC Millie for our wedding guests, I’d forgotten to pack my SD card reader. However, since my brother lent me a clever device I was able download selected photos from my Panasonic Lumix LX7’s SD card directly to my Apple iPhone. I posted a few of those images on Sunday.

Last night, while recovering from Sunday’s celebrations, I had the time to download and review all of the photos from Saturday’s trip and make the most of them.

Below is my ‘second edit’ from Saturday, September 17th, 2022.

Sanford, Florida reunion gang.
Richard Jay Solomon holds up the signed copy of my latest book.
Chris Guss shows off his drone at Moat Brook.
Conductor Rob Flannigan and Mass Bay RRE’s Dave Brown.
Millie at the Swift River Bridge.
Photographers on the platform at North Conway, NH.
Family and friends on the platform at North Conway, NH.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Brian & Kris’s Wedding Extra-Lumix Jpgs

On Saturday, September 17, 2022, I’d arranged with Conway Scenic’s operating department to take Budd RDC-23 Millie on a special trip for our wedding guests.

We boarded at the North Conway grade crossing as the regularly scheduled Sawyer River excursions boarded at the station platform on the adjacent tracks.

I served as motorman, Rob Flannigan as conductor. We had more than 27 guests on board.

The weather was perfect; bright sun and blue skies.

Since our train was not operating on a schedule, we ran as an ‘extra’ and carried white flags, as per rulebook 34.

Our first stop was at the Moat Brook bridge, where we let guests off to make photos. We also stopped at the Swift River Bridge and at the Conway freight house.

Many of our closest friends and family were on board, including several long-time Tracking the Light readers. My friend Chris Guss made some drone photos of the event.

It was a lovely day for a train ride! In addition to these digital photos exposed with my Lumix LX7, I made seveal Fujichrome Provia 100F color slides.

My friends posed for photos with Millie.
Re-boarding near Moat Brook.
Photo stop at the Swift River Bridge.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

A Special Event

On January 4, 2020, I met my future fiancée at Mass Bay Railroad Enthisiast’s ‘Steam in the Snow’ event held at Conway Scenic Railroad—where I’d been appointed manager of marketing & events just a few weeks earlier.

I met Kris on the platform of the North Conway Station, where I said, ‘hello’, and was properly introduced by mutual friend Doug Scott a little while later.

At Notchland we all stood together to make photos.

Tomorrow, Sunday September 18, 2022, we are getting married in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Maine Central 501 on the Move!

Last Friday, Conway Scenic’s president and general manager Dave Swirk, asked if I could be available on Monday (September 12) to document the moving of steam locomotive 501 into the North Conway Roundhouse for the first step in its restoration evaluation.

Locomotive 501 is an Alco 2-8-0 built for Maine Central and was a regular freight locomotive on Maine Central’s Mountain Division for many years. It had been part of the Steamtown collection, but when Steamtown relocated from Vermont to Pennsylvania in the 1980s the locomotive was moved to North Conway, N.H. for display.

Until yesterday, 501 had been prominently displayed in front of the North Conway freight house.

The railroad used former Maine Central GP7 573 to move the collection of freight and passenger cars behind the locomotive 501, and then hauled the locomotive from its resting place to the run around track (known as the ‘WA’) in front of the station.

Former Canadian National 0-6-0 7470 was fired up to complete 501’s move to the roundhouse, and I made a series of photos of the two locomotives together.

In addition to photos of the move, I also recorded video using the railroad’s Sony 4K capable video camera.

These images were made using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera and adjusted for color temperature, contrast, and exposure using Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Tokyo Trolley in Traffic

April 22, 1997: I ascended a footbridge over a busy Tokyo thoroughfare to make photos of the rarely captured Tokyo trolley.

Where most of the railway lines in Japan are meter-gauge, the Tokyo Trolley is unusual because it was an early use of 4 ft 8.5 inch gauge train in Japan. The other big users of ‘standard gauge’ in Japan are the Shinkansen routes.

In yesterday’s post, I described the compositional challenges of poles and wires near Bartlett, NH. Compare those images with the sea of poles and wires in this view!

Exposed on Fujichrome Velvia50 using a Nikon N90S with an AF f2.8 80-200mm Nikkor zoom lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

New Hampshire Chronicle Visits Conway Scenic

Last week Senior Producer Mary-Paige and camera-man Joel visited Conway Scenic Railroad to film the musical duo Eastwood Station.

Ben and Danny of Eastwood Station have been paying weekly visits to the railroad to play railroad songs.

I spent the day documenting the TV crew’s visit and assisting with their safe access to the railroad, which included a trip to Sawyer River and back.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Under the old Grand Trunk.

A few miles from Island Pond, Vermont, the former Grand Trunk crosses over Vermont Highway 114.

Aiming to catch St Lawrence & Atlantic’s 394 on the move, I waited patiently until I heard the roar of EMDs.

Working with my Nikon Z6 digital camera fitted with an Z-series 80-200mm zoom lens, and set with the motor drive on high, I waited until just the right moment and then released a burst of images.

Below are my results from three bursts, including one of Conway Scenic Railroad’s new dome that was second car from last.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

To the Border!

Last week I was on a mission from Conway Scenic.

The railroad’s new dome was on the move and expected to cross the border from Canada in the early evening.

I drove to the border station at Norton, Vermont to meet St. Lawrence & Atlantic/St Lawrence & Quebec’s eastward (southward) freight 394 that was in transit from Richmond, Quebec.

Norton is where the US Border Patrol conducts their inspections.

I met the train, and with permission, made a few photographs to document the event. Luckily the train was relatively early and it was still daylight at the time of the crossing.

The whole event went very smoothly.

It was very exciting to see the ‘new’ car. This Budd Vista Dome was built in the 1950s for Northern Pacific’s North Coast Limited and has a long history.

Stay tuned . . . . .

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

August 28, 2012

Ten years ago (August 28, 2012), I made this photo from my standard location overlooking Islandbridge Junction in Dublin of the morning’s down IWT Liner, led by Irish Rail Class 071 number 073.

Working with a zoom lens, I made vertical and horizontal images of the freight as it worked around the bend this was facilitated by my ability to change focal lengths quickly.

My question is: does the ability to change focal lengths rapidly allow for better photos or does it make the photographer lazy?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Maine Central 252 at West Side Road.

Wednesday (August 24, 2022) I was running errands around North Conway-Conway, New Hampshire. Between stops, I paused for a few minutes at West Side Road to catch the 9:30am Conway train on its return to North Conway.

This featured former Maine Central GP38 252, a locomotive that isn’t often assigned to the Conway run.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I exposed this view as a RAW digital file, then processed the data using Adbe Lightroom to make the most of the image.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

GP7 on the Work Extra

The other morning was bright and clear in North Conway, NH.

Locomotive 573 (a former Maine Central GP7) was put to work on Conway Scenic Railroad’s work train.

The work train ran from North Conway to Conway to load ballast and ties.

I made this photo at the Golf Course crossing in North Conway using my Nikon Z6 digital camera with 24-70mm zoom lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Railroad History Award

Yesterday, Kris and I traveled to the Connecticut Trolley Museum at East Windsor, where we met Daryl Mundis who presented me with the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society’s Fred A. and Jane R. Stindt Photography
Award for 2020. This is one of five prestiguous Railroad History Awards they are presenting in various categories of achievement.

I feel humble and honored to receive this award.

Kris made several photos of Daryl and me.

Daryl is on the left; that’s me on the right with a few cameras.

https://www.railwayage.com/freight/rlhs-presents-railroad-history-awards/?RAchannel=freight

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Ominous LEDs at Simi Valley

Six years ago, I made this trailing view of an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner bound for Los Angeles Union Station at Simi Valley, California.

The on-platform infomational signs were scrolling an ominous message about a Metrolink train that had been cancelled because of a mechanical issue. That’s a modern way of saying; ‘the train failed enroute and your going to be late’.

I exposed this photo using my FujiFilm XT1.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

7470 with Nikon Zoom

On Sunday, July 31, 2022, I used my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom to focus on the details of Conway Scenic Railroad’s 7470 and its crew,

Locomotive engineer Wayne Duffett was at the throttle of the 101-year old Canadian-built 0-6-0.

I worked with the Nikon NEF RAW files in Lightroom to get the maximum amount of detail in shadows and highlights while maintaining good contrast overall.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Musicians on the Train

The musical duo Eastwood Station was visiting Conway Scenic Railroad again last week.

In addition to their public performances, I arranged for them to travel on the 0930 train to Conway (boarding at 9:15am), in order to film them for a music video.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 to help publicize their appearances at North Conway and on the trains.

At the bottom of this post I’ve attached a short video clip of the duo and CSRR conductor Jeff. Hopefully the technology will cooperate and you’ll be able to hear them sing!

Conductor Jeff sings ‘all Aboard!’

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Ten Years Ago at East Deerfield Yard

Ten Years ago, July 30, 2012, I made this evening view of Pan Am Railway’s EDMO at East Deerfield Yard near Greenfield, Massachusetts.

I was standing upon the old ‘Railfan’s Bridge’, where tens of thosands of photos had been exposed over the years.

The bridge and Pan Am are now memories.

In-camera JPG exposed using a Canon EOS7D. Image scaled without adjustment using Lightroom.

Tracking the Light has been posting for a full ten years!

Ballast Train at the Gateway-July 2022

Earlier in the week, Conway Scenic operated a ballast train with GP35 216 to Crawford Notch and then worked its way east through the famous Gateway cut and over the Girders bridge.

There was cosmic lighting, with low clouds scraping over the tops of the mountains with shafts of sunlight reaching the ground.

To gain necessary elevation, I climbed up into the Gateway cut, following in the footsteps of generations of previous photographers.

I exposed these photos using my Nikon Z6.

Russian Ore train

On my July 2015 visit to Finland, my host Markku Pulkkinen did an excellent job of finding interesting railway subjects.

Early in the morning on July 26, 2015, we set up on the outskirts of Oulu to catch VR T5220, a freight forwarding iron ore mined in Russia to a Finnish plant. The freight wagons were Russian, the locomotive is a VR Group class Sr2 electric of Swiss design.

I had just purchased my first Adobe Lightroom for my then-new Apple MacBook Pro and was beginning to learn how to use this tool to make the most of my Fuji RAW files.

This was a revelation as the programs sliders made it easy to make adjustments to shadow and highlight detail, as well as color temperature and color balance corrections, which help make for much better photos when used judiciously.

I’m now working with a more advanced version of Lightroom with this I created two JPGs created from the Fuji RAW file. The top was scaled without any adjustements; the bottom reflects adjustments to color temperature, saturation, plus highlight and shadow area changes. Notice the difference in the detail to the sky.

No changes to the Fuji RAW file except for scaling.
Adjusted with Adobe Lightroom to better present the data captured by the Fuji RAW file.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Soviet Electrics on July 25, 2015

Seven years ago I was visiting my friend Markku Pulkkinen in Oulu, Finland.

On the evening of July 25th, we stopped in at the VR station to witness the arrival of sleeping car train IC266 that paused on its way to Helsinki.

In the lead were a pair of 1970s era Sr1 electrics that were built in the Soviet Union and still carried their ‘USSR’ builder’s tags (notably in English, rather than Russian or Finnish).

I exposed these detail views using my new FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

The Fuji’s built-in color profiles did a wonderful job of capturing the rich colors of the evening sun at northerly latitudes.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Steam on the Conway Branch!

Yesterday morning (July 23, 2022), Kris and I timed our visit to Allens Siding Road to perfectly coincide with the operation of Conway Scenic Railroad steam locomotive 7470 on the 915am Conway train.

I’d scoped this location out the day before (featured in yesterday’s post) just make sure it was the best place to picture the steam locomotive working.

We arrived a minute before the eastbound train passed. (Conway Scenic timetable 34 predicates all movements on a east-west axis. Conway being the further station East and Hazens being the furthest west, without consideration for the compass).

After the eastward train passed, we had about a 20 minute wait for the return.

Engineer Wayne Duffett made a good show climbing the grade west from the Swift River Bridge.

All photos were exposed using my Nikon Z6 with a 24-70mm Z-series zoom and adjusted for contrast and color balance using Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Clear Morning at Allens Siding Road

I’d been meaning to get some photos of Conway Scenic Railroad’s former Maine Central GP38 255 working New Hampshire’s Conway Branch in red paint.

The railroad acquired this pure Maine Central GP38 from the Vermont Rail System last autumn, and in recent weeks it has been the regular locomotive for the Valley Train, which makes three Conway trips.

The plan is have this locomotive painted in a neo-Maine Central scheme, similar to its sister GP38, number 252, which also serves Conway Scenic, so time may be getting short to get good photos of it in the red scheme.

These photos were exposed with my Nikon Z6 digital camera, but I also made a exposures on Ektachrome slide film for posterity.

I wonder, will the posterity even care about a red GP38 on the Conway Branch?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Amtrak 449 on the eve of Change

May 4, 1997: I exposed this Fujichrome slide of Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited (Boston section), train 449 rolling down the Quaboag River Valley near the former Boston & Albany station at West Brimfield, Massachusetts.

This was at a time when the train was carrying a fair amount of freight and mail on the head and tail ends of the passenger consist, and shortly before Amtrak replaced the old EMD F40PHs with new Genesis P42 diesels.

It was just about two years before Conail’s class 1 operations were divided and the old Boston & Albany was conveyed to CSX.

Exposed using a Nikon N90S with 80-200mm Nikon zoom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Forest Lake, Palmer, Massachusetts—July 9, 2015.

In-camera JPG without adjustments (except scaling for internet presentation.)
Fuji RAW file adjusted using Lightroom and output as JPG, following nominal adjustments to color, contrast and exposure.

Seven years ago, I exposed this photo of the northward Mass Central freight near Forest Lake, Massachusetts.

At the time, Mass Central was operating on a late schedule, departing northbound from Palmer in the evening, to accommodate heavy track work on the line during the day.

In this view, I used my FujiFilm XT1, and exposed an in-camera JPG at the same time as a much larger RAW file.

For point of comparison, I’ve displayed both the in-camera JPG (without alteration) and a JPG that is the product of post processing—created from the Fuji RAW image.

Choosing to work with the camera-RAW instead of the in-camera JPG, depends on the photo and its application. If the image needs little to no adjustment the JPG will save a lot of time. However in situations where it is desirable to make adjustments, the RAW file provides significantly more data, giving more room to maneuver, and can result in a better image.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Steam on the Radio

Yesterday, July 1, 2022, I organized a broadcast at Conway Scenic Railroad by Lakes FM 101.5 and the Hawk 104.9 FM. In conjunction with this, I invited Ben and Danny of the band Eastwood Station to play some original music, and asked Conway Scenic general manager Dave Swirk if he could bring out steam locomotive 7470 to sound its whistle live on air.

It was a very successful day at North Conway!

In between radio spots, I made these photos with my Nikon Z6, some of which I put up on the railroad’s facebook, while recording the musicians and steam locomotive with digital video.

The railroad hopes to have the steam locomotive out of the roundhouse and under steam for display and training over the 4th of July weekend.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Pan Am crosses the Connecticut-Five Years Ago.

On June 29, 2017, photographer Mike Gardner and I had chased Pan Am Railway’s EDPL (East Deerfield to Plainville, Connecticut) freight.

Our final set was of the train crossing the Connecticut River near Windsor Locks on the former New Haven Railroad bridge.

I was working with my first Fuji XT1 digital camera and a telephoto lens. By holding the camera close to the top of the water, I made this dramatic angle of the train.

Last night, I made some changes to contrast, color and exposure to the FujiFilm Raw file (RAF) using Adobe Lightroom aiming to compensate for the hazy evening light.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

7470 Under Steam

For Father’s Day, Sunday June 19, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad brought steam locomotive 7470 out of the roundhouse under steam for display and training.

Presently, Conway Scenic is training a new generation of firemen to help work on the locomotive.

More than 600 people came down last sunday to see the locomotive. This engine should be on display again today, Saturday June 25, 2022.

I made these photos with my Nikon Z6 digital camera for display on the company’s Facebook and Instagram pages and for distribution to the media.

The railroad hopes to operate this 101-year old 0-6-0 type locomotive this summer in exursion service.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Jackman, Maine 1984 & 2022

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.

Canadian Pacific Railway/VIA Rail station at Jackman, Maine in July 1984.
Looking east at Jackman, Maine on June 11, 2022.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Starlight at Tarratine!

On our last evening at Moosehead Lake, Kris and I made a strategic drive to Tarratine, Maine hoping to intercept Canadian Pacific’s westbound freight, #223, at the grade crossing with Route 6.

Within five minutes of our arrival, we could hear a whistle far to the east. Gradually the chug of General Electric diesels grew louder and more pronounced.

Kris set up her FujiFilm XT4, while I positioned my Nikon Z6 on my ancient Bogen tripod.

The moon was rising and the stars were glistening above. The time was approaching 11pm.

I made this sequence with the Z6 fitted with my 24-70mm zoom. The camera was set to ISO 400 and my exposures varied from 2.5 seconds to 30 seconds at f4.

After exposure, I made nominal adjustments to color and exposure in Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light posts Every Day!

Irish Rail at Edgeworthstown-26 March 2005

Among the dozens of rolls of slides that I retrieved from storage at a friend’s house in Ireland was this one exposed of Irish Rail at Edgeworthstown, County Longford back on the 26th of March 2005.

On that day the down midday Connolly-Sligo passenger train terminated at Edgeworthstown and the passengers were transferred to a bus for the remainder of their journey west.

Locomotive 083 was hauling the train.

These were three of the photos I exposed on Fujichrome using a Contax G2 rangefinder.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Greenville Junction Station

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!

See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2021/06/20/greenville-junction-westbound-at-the-station/

I was very pleased to witness this progress. My first visits to Greenville Junction were with my father on a family vacation back in 1972!

At one time the Bangor & Aroostook met the CPR at this location and a vestige of the connecting line is now used for equipment storage.

All photos were made in June 2022 using my Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

The Sun Shines at East Outlet 

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.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Canadian Pacific at Greenville Junction-June 2022

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!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

New Brunswick, NJ-April 1978

I rarely used color negative film.

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!

Tracking the Light is Daily!

Underexposed F-Unit

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.

Scaled but uncorrected NEF RAW file.
Lightroom work window showing first round of corrections.
Lightroom work window showing second round of corrections.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!