Category Archives: photography

HDR versus Manipulated RAW; or Flowers with NI Railways.

My Lumix LX7 has an ‘high-dynamic range’ feature. Otherwise known by its initials ‘HDR’, high-dynamic range is a technique for digital imaging that allows greater detail in highlights and shadows by combining several images of the same subject that were exposed at different values.

The LX7 includes the HDR setting as one of the options in ‘scene mode’ (SCN on the selection dial). This rapidly exposes a sequence of images and combines them in-camera to produce a single HDR JPG. Obviously you need to hold still when you make the photo.

Also it helps to photograph a static scene or the result my get a bit weird.

In this instance, I photographed some flowers on the platform of NI Railway’s station at Whitehead, Co. Antrim (Northern Ireland).

This is my HDR composite photograph. The camera automatically exposes a burst of images at various exposure settings and combines them in-camera to produce a single image with greater shadow and highlight detail than is normally possible with a single frame.

There are other ways of accomplishing a similar result.

So I decided to compare the HDR with some manipulated versions of a camera RAW file that I exposed of the same scene. With the RAW images, I’d adjusted the file with Lightroom post processing software, selectively altering contrast, gamma, and colour saturation and colour temperature to make for a more pleasing photograph.

Specifically I applied a digital graduated neutral density filter, while making global changes to highlights and saturation.

The output of the RAW is also as a JPG, which I scaled for presentation here.

This view is from a single RAW file exposed with the Lumix LX7 and manipulated digitally to maximize highlight and shadow detail. This is my first of two manipulations.
This is a more intensively manipulated file than the image immediately above. Again this image was from a single camera RAW file. This one features slightly darker highlight values.

I made two versions of the RAW interpretation.

In both sets of images I’ve intentionally focused on the flowers and not the NIR train.

Which do you prefer?

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Views of a Level Crossing and Some Sheep; Moira—Part 2 (four new photos)

This is a follow up to yesterday’s post on NI Railway’s Moira Station.

I’m always looking for a different angle, and I found a variety of ways to photograph Moira last Sunday.

The vantage points for these photos were all within a one-minute walk of each other.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
Lumix LX7 digital photograph.
A view from the road near the station. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Sunday at Moira

Last Sunday, I spent several hours photographing NI Railways and Enterprise trains at Moira, a station on the old Great Northern Railway’s Belfast-Dublin route.

The attractions of this location include a preserved signal cabin and a footbridge at the Dublin-end. Another benefit is the level crossing with a local road at the Dublin end. The barriers protecting the road drop 3-4 minutes before trains pass, which provides ample warning to prepare for photography.

This is especially helpful if you are sitting in a car nearby trying to edit texts and photos for a book on deadline.

Moira cabin is preserved. I made several views of the old box including this one with a crow in flight.
A NI Railways 3000-series CAF set approaches its station stop at Moira on its way from Belfast to Portadown, Northern Ireland.
Soft sun accentuates the front of the train and the signal cabin at Moira.

I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.

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Virgin HST at London Kings Cross.

This is among the hundreds photos I chose for final consideration for my book on European Railway Travel. It is not an outtake. Instead this is among my selections for the section on railways of Great Britain.

Exposed on 3 May 2016 using my Lumix LX7. This image was adapted from the camera RAW image for maximum dynamic range.

In the text I discuss the great London terminals, and I use this photo to illustrate Kings Cross. I like it because it features a vintage HST in nice light with a dynamic view of the classic train shed beyond.

The HST (High Speed Train) was introduced by the then nationalised British Railways (BR) in the mid-1970s as the Intercity 125.

As a 125 mph train capable of operating on many existing lines with minimal changes to infrastructure and signaling this represented a significant improvement over older trains that allowed BR to speed schedules and more effectively compete with other modes.

More than 40 years later, many of the old HSTs are still on the move.

Exposed on 3 May 2016 using my Lumix LX7. This image was adapted from the camera RAW image for maximum dynamic range.

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Czech Outtakes Part 1

On my  more than a half dozen trips to the Czech Republic I’ve made hundreds of photos of Czech Railways in action.

Here are a couple of outtakes from the selection of Czech photos considered for my book on European Railway Travel.

Both were exposed digitally in October 2016.

Czech class 380 electric in a nostalgic livery at Breclav, Czech Republic.
CD trains on the move at Grygov, Czech Republic.

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Finland Outtakes-1

This morning I’m posting from a NI Railways train en route Bangor, County Down.

I’m reviewing Scandinavian photos for my book on European Railway Travels.

This view of a Finnish intermodal train near Oulu didn’t make the cut.

I exposed it on Fujichrome slide film using my Nikon N90S with 135mm lens.

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Great Southern & Western Station at Portlaoise.

I could have titled this ‘Dusk in the Rain’.

As it happens I was at Irish Rail’s Portlaoise Station on my way up to Dublin and I needed a few potential illustrations of the 1840s buildings for my book on European railway travel. I thought, ‘what better time than now to make some up to the minute photos?’

Working with my Lumix LX7 I made these views that I feel capture the atmosphere of the station.

Looking down road toward Cork.
An Irish Rail Portlaoise commuter train arrives during light rain.

Any favorites?

 

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Swiss Outtakes Part 3; Rhätische Bahn on a dull day

I’m still editing photos for my European Railway Journeys book.

There were more tough choices and this one had to go!

This photo has drama but the light is flat.

Flat light and dead snow just don’t make the cut.

This photo was exposed the narrow gauge Swiss Rhätische Bahn at Küblis .

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Hanging Viaduct-German Outtakes Part-3

I’ve been reviewing hundreds upon hundreds of photos for my book on European Railway Travel.

Here’s a view I  like but it didn’t make the cut because I’m using a similar angle that works better. It was one of several views that I made on film, although was also working with my digital cameras that day.

This pictures the famous ‘Hanging Viaduct’ in the Mosel Valley near Bullay.

Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100F using a Canon EOS3 with 100mm lens.

Two years ago I visited this unusual railway construction with my friends Gerry Conmy, Stephen Hirsch and Denis McCabe.

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Train with Castle Rejected! German Outtakes Part 2.

Another example of some photos that didn’t make the final cut for my book on European Railway Travel.

You might think that catching a train with medieval castles in the background is pretty neat.

It is.

But I have many photos at this curve at Oberwesel on the busy Rhein left bank route. I’ve selected several potential candidates from this excellent German location and these two just didn’t seem book worthy.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1.

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French Outtakes—Part 1

Perusing my photos of France and French railways for my up-coming book on European Railway Travel, I was surprised  to find how many excellent images I had in my collection.

I’ve made about a half dozen trips through France over the years, and I’ve generally had good weather.

In reviewing my selection I’ve decided to cull these two images from consideration for the book.

This train photo is of an SNCF train but it’s not in France, and rather in Basel, Switzerland. More to the point, the lighting isn’t wonderful, and the setting is awkward.

I chose it because it’s a contemporary photo of an SNCF locomotive-hauled passenger train (which are becoming increasingly rare in France.) I have better SNCF photos than this one for the book.

Exposed on Fujichrome using a Canon EOS3.

I liked this Eiffel Tower image because it shows the scale of the structure. However, I have some really stunning views of this Parisian icon that better capture its majesty. This one gets the axe.

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Wassen Curves on a Dull Day— Swiss Outtakes Part 1

An outtake (spelled with two ‘t’s) is a portion of a work removed during editing.

I’m in the final lap of assembling a book on European Railway travel.

Among my ‘outtakes’ from the section on Switzerland is this digital image that I made last year at the famous Wassen curves on the Gotthard Route.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

I was traveling with my friends Gerry Conmy, Denis McCabe and Stephen Hirsch.

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Glint, Flare and Clouds; Evening in the Gullet.

I realize that today’s title might not catch everyone’s eye.

How about: ‘Clean GM Diesel on a Freight’?

Or, ‘Irish Rail at Rush Hour’ ?

‘Gullet Glint’?

Anyway, this post is about light.

I was waiting on the Up IWT liner (International Warehousing & Transport Ballina, County Mayo to Dublin Northwall container train)with recently painted Irish Rail 071 class diesel number 082.

Just ahead of this Dublin-bound freight was the Up-Galway passenger train with a common set of ICRs (InterCity Railcars).

I was photographing into the sun. My intent was to work the glint effect. (That’s when the sun reflects off the side of the train).

Usually, I find this is most effective when you shade the front element of the lens to minimize flare. Notice the two variations with the ICR.

By shading the front element I’ve prevented the rays of the sun from directly hitting the front element of my lens, thus minimizing the effects of flare.
In this view, exposed moments after the photo above, I’ve allowed the sun to hit the front element to show the effects of flare. This small adjustment can produce very different results. Often I aim to control the amount of flare; a little bit lightens shadows and adds some colour to the scene but too much can result in unpleasant and unnatural looking light streaks or light fog.

By the time the freight reached me clouds had partly shaded the sun leaving only a hint of back-lighting.

All the photos were made using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 lens. The camera RAW Files were all adjusted for colour balance, colour saturation and contrast using the same ratio of change. (In other words, although I’ve manipulated the final result, all the photos have received the same degree of alteration).

The clouds shaded the sun for me here.
In this image, I adjust the exposure on site to compensate for the clouds blocking the sun.

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Lumix LX7 at Belfast Central.

I had a few minutes between trains at Belfast Central, so in the interval I made a few photos with my Lumix LX7.

To compensate for less than ideal lighting I made nominal adjustments to the RAW files in post processing using Light room.

Essentially I lightened the shadows, brought down the highlights in the sky, and boosted colour saturation while slightly increasing overall contrast.

Douglas Adams once wrote something to the effect: ‘There’s no language that has a word that means “as pretty as an airport”‘.
An inbound NI Railways train.
Red ‘tail lamps’ indicate that this is a trailing view.
NI Railways 8209 on the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise.
No flash was used in the exposing of this photo.

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Telephoto versus Wide angle: Picturing Irish Rail’s Tara Mines Run at Drogheda.

A few days ago, my daily Tracking the Light post featured a long distance telephoto view of Irish Rail’s Tara Mines zinc ore train crossing the Malahide causeway.

See: Long View: Tara Mines Zinc Ore Train at Malahide. 

In that photo the train is relatively small in a big scene.

Three days later, David Hegarty and I were again out along the old Great Northern line, this time at Drogheda, to photograph the Tara Mines on the move.

In contrast to the distant view in the earlier posting, the photographs displayed here  focus tightly on the locomotive and train using more classic three-quarter angle.

In the top photograph, I used my FujiFilm XT1 with a 90mm fixed telephoto for a tight compressed view (what some photographers might term a ‘telewedgie’).

While in bottom photograph I used my Lumix LX7 with zoom lens set with a wide-angle perspective that approximates the angle of view offered by a 35mm focal length lens on a traditional 35mm film camera.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm fixed telephoto lens. Notice the crossovers located on  curved track.
Lumix LX7 wide view.

I prefer the telephoto view for overall appeal; this handles the soft lighting conditions more satisfactorily, focuses more closely on the locomotive and train, minimizes bland elements of the scene such as the ballast and white sky, and offers a high impact image of the train in motion. Also it helps emphasize the trackage arrangement with crossovers between the up and down lines.

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Tracking the Light features Irish Rail 29000s at Drogheda in five photos.

Only see one photo? That’s because you are not viewing this post on Tracking the Light (Hint: click the link).

Irish Rail maintains its 29000-series diesel railcars (built by CAF) at its Drogheda Depot.

Back in Janaury 2003 I photographed the very first of these trains being lifted out of the boat at Dublin port. (Thanks to the late Norman McAdams who had encouraged me to  be dockside to make photos for the Irish Railway Record Society Journal).

I was reminded of that event while crossing the now disused trackage (half paved over) by the old Point Depot along the north Liffey Quays near where I made my photos.

These images were exposed last week at Drogheda using my digital cameras.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7. Notice Irish Rail’s Tara Mines train at the upper left.
Irish Rail 29000s by the dozen! FujiFilm XT1 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo looking toward Dublin.
Lumix LX7 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.

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Long View: Tara Mines Zinc Ore Train at Malahide.

On the morning of 25 August 2017, David Hegarty and I were in position at Malahide looking toward the old Great Northern Railway causeway to photograph a laden Tara Mines Zinc Ore Train led by Irish Rail class 071 locomotive number 077.

I liked this location because it allowed me to picture the whole train in a scenic setting. As you can see the Tara Mines train is very short as demonstrated in this  broad-side view (if you are viewing on FB you may need to click on Tracking the Light for the full photo).

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 fitted with an f2.0 90mm fixed telephoto.

To make this work I used a medium telephoto and then in post processing cropped the extraneous portions of the sky and water at top and bottom of the image.

I also altered contrast, colour balance and colour saturation.

I’m not fully satisfied though, because the dark locomotive and dull wagons with relatively flat lighting tend to get lost in the overall scene.

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Steam in the Rain: RPSI Steam & Jazz at Lisburn—25 August, 2017.

Lisburn is a surviving gem among old Great Northern Railway stations in Northern Ireland.

RPSI’s steam crew apologized for the weather, but there was no need. Steam locomotives make for excellent subjects when photographed at dusk in the rain.

This was my reunion with Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s engine 85, a Great Northern compound 4-4-0.

Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) engine 85 is named Merlin. It was one of five V-class compounds, all of which were named for birds of prey.

Honer Travers arranged my visit to Lisburn to witness the arrival of the scheduled Steam & Jazz special from Belfast, and introduced me to members of the crew (some of whom I’d met on previous occasions).

Working with three cameras, I made dozens of atmospheric images in the course of about 15 minutes. These photos were made digitally with my FujiFilm XT1 and Panasonic Lumic LX7. In addition, I exposed a handful of black & white photos using a Nikon loaded with Fomapan Classic.

RPSI’s Steam & Jazz excursion arrives from Belfast in a steadily drizzling rain.
Cold, windy, wet and dark, but great for atmospheric photos. It helps to have a FAST lens, in this case an f2.0 90mm Fujinon telephoto.
Number 85 runs around at Lisburn. Fuji XT1 photo.
Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1, notice the effect of shallow depth of field and selective focus.
Lumix LX7 photo at Lisburn.

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When at Station isn’t a Station: Belfast & Northern Counties Railway Derry Station.

Four Photos:

The old Belfast & Northern Counties Railway Derry Station is adjacent to the contemporary Translink/NI Railways’ station.

Where the modern station is a functional utilitarian facility with all the charm of a small town bus station, the old station sits as an elegant vestige of former times when a railway station was viewed as a city gateway and endowed with suitable architecture.

Maybe someday the old station building will be a station again?

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

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On the Roll to Derry on NI Railways.

It had been a long time since I’d last traveled NIR’s Belfast to Derry railway line (in the original version of this post, I’d described this as the ‘Derry Road’ but several readers wrote into correct me, as the phrase ‘Derry Road’ refers to the long abandoned GNR route to Derry and not the present NIR line), and while I’ve been over the whole line between Derry and Belfast in stages, I’d never before actually traveled all the way from Belfast to Derry.

So, two weeks ago, Honer Travers and I organized a day out to Derry. We began our rail journey at Lisburn and traveled to Belfast Great Victoria Street where we changed trains.

After a wander in Derry, we returned by rail the way we had come.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

Interior view of a 4000-series CAF train.
Holding the Lumix above my head I made this interior view.
Interior view of a 4000-series CAF train.
Rolling toward Derry, Northern Ireland.
Interior view of a 4000-series CAF train. Although only moderately busy when we departed Belfast, by the time the train arrived at Derry it was packed.
Outside NI Railways’ Derry station.
An NI-Railways train rolls along the Foyle on its return trip to Belfast. In the distance is Derry’s Peace Bridge.
View of the line along the Foyle looking toward Derry’s station from the Peace Bridge. Would this be a better photo with a train?
A panoramic composite photo exposed with my Lumix LX7 from the platform at Derry.

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Up Close with Irish Rail 215 in Fresh Paint-Five New Photos.

Irish Rail’s class 201 General Motors-built diesel-electric number 215 (now technically 92 60 02 10215-6) was recently repainted in fresh green and silver paint.

Over the last few days I had several opportunities to photograph this locomotive up-close, allowing for some detailed images.

Here’s a selection of Lumix LX7 views.

Irish Rail 215 works the back of a Mark 4 set on approach to Heuston Station Dublin.
Irish Rail 215 at Dublin’s Heuston Station. Lumix LX7 digital photo.
Irish Rail 215 at Dublin’s Heuston Station. Lumix LX7 digital photo.
Irish Rail 215 at Kent Station, Cork. Lumix LX7 digital photo.
Irish Rail 215 at Kent Station, Cork. Lumix LX7 digital photo. Contrast and saturation adjusted in post processing.

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Irish Rail 220 with IWT Liner at Islandbridge Junction on 17 August 2017.

Clear blue dome. Nice view. Short walk.

Islandbridge Junction near Heuston Station in Dublin.

I exposed this photo of Irish Rail’s IWT Liner (Dublin North Wall to Ballina, Co. Mayo) on the morning of 17 August 2017 using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a 27mm pancake lens.

Exposed at f9 1/500th of a second at ISO 400 using a 27mm pancake lens (provides an angle of view equivalent to a 41mm lens on a full-frame 35mm film camera).

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NI Railways at Adelaide Depot, Belfast.

The other day I made this view of a CAF-built NI Railways train at the railway’s Adelaide Depot in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Exposed using a Panasonic Lumix LX7 digital camera.

Sometimes its hard to resist perfect three-quarter lighting. The elevation helps too!

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LUAS on Trial: Cross City Line test, finally! Ten Photos.

I found it fascinating to finally see a tram negotiating Dublin Cross City trackage having followed the construction of the line over the last few years.

This my third post showing LUAS tram trial on 18 August 2017.

These photos were exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 27mm pancake lens. That’s right: fixed focal length (no zoom).

Never mind the camera, what amazed me was how completely oblivious most passers by were to the tram. What does it take these days to catch notice?

Warning!
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a Fujinon 27mm lens at Parnell Street.
Marlborough Street in Dublin on 18 August 2017.
The soon to be Marlborough LUAS stop.
Crossing Abbey Street at the Abbey Theatre.
College Green, soon to be Trinity LUAS stop.
Warning!
College Green, Trinity LUAS stop (future).
LUAS trial in the rain near Grafton Street shopping.
St. Stephens Green.

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Tram on O’Connell Street in Dublin: LUAS Cross City Trackage Trial

On Friday August 18, 2017, Mark Healy and I met to document a LUAS 5000-series tram trial on new Cross City trackage.

This was my first experience seeing a tram working recently completed Cross City trackage.

Mark and I have been documenting LUAS Cross City progress for more than two years.

Working with Lumix LX7 RAW file, I lightened shadows and adjusted contrast. In the distance is Dublin’s famous Spire.
I made this view using my Lumix LX7s HDR (high dynamic range) mode that digitally combines several images in-camera to allow for better shadow and highlight detail.
The trailing tram takes the points at the top of O’Connell Street to use the turn back loop to reach the southbound line on Parnell Street. Is this the first time a tram has negotiated this trackage? First time I’ve seen it anyway.

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Belmond’s Grand Hibernian at Cabra.

A couple weeks ago, I met fellow photographer Jay Monaghan in Cabra to document the passing of Belmond’s luxury tour train that was making it’s scheduled move to Dublin’s Connolly Station.

Using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera, I opted for this portrait-oriented (vertical) telephoto view to accentuate the Dublin Mountains. In contrast to my view, Jay executed a very nice wide-angle photograph that better shows the cutting and the length of Belmond’s train.

Working with the camera-RAW file in post processing, I adjusted contrast and lightened shadow areas slightly to lessen the effects of midday-sun.

The Grand Hibernian uses 10 custom refurbished former Irish Rail Mark3 carriages, making it the longest regularly scheduled passenger train in Ireland.

In this instance an Irish Rail class 071 diesel is working the train, but for most moves Irish Rail 216 specially painted in Belmond navy-blue is assigned to it.

In season, Belmond’s high-end excursion train makes tours of Irish railways.

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Tracking the Light EXTRA: LUAS Cross City Trial Blocked by an automobile on Parnell Street!

This afternoon Mark Healy and I were in the Dublin city centre to observe a LUAS tram trial on new Cross City trackage.

The trial was delayed when the tram was blocked by what appeared to be an illegally parked white Toyota Prius occupying the tracks on Parnell Street.

Lumix LX7 photo showing a white Toyota Prius apparently illegally parked on Parnell Street in Dublin on 19 August 2017.
Lumix LX7 photo showing a white Toyota Prius apparently illegally parked on Parnell Street in Dublin on 19 August 2017.

Eventually the driver of the automobile arrived to remove it from the tracks and the tram resumed testing.

I’ll post more LUAS Cross City  trial photos in the coming days.

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Exploring Repurposed Railway Vestiges in County Down; 8 new photos.

Here’s another instance where I was working with two cameras and two very different photographic media.

My Lumix LX7 is an easy tool to capture images digitally, while the Leica IIIa I carry requires a bit more work and yields a very different result using traditional 35mm black & white film.

Newcastle, County Down is a classic sea-side resort on the Irish Sea at Dundrum Bay.

It’s been many years since the old Belfast & County Down Railway branch line saw activity, yet the station-building survives.

Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using a Leica IIIa with 35mm screw mount Nikkor lens. Film processed in Agfa-mix Rodinal Special mixed with water at a ratio of 1 to 31 at 68F for 3 minutes. Negatives scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
Colour view exposed digitally using a Lumix LX7. Notice how the Lidl logos jump out at you in the colour views.
Flowers work better in colour than in black & white.
A sidelight view of the old station building showing old railway fencing. Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using a Leica IIIa with 35mm screw mount Nikkor lens. Film processed in Agfa-mix Rodinal Special mixed with water at a ratio of 1 to 31 at 68F for 3 minutes. Negatives scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.

A couple of weeks ago, Honer Travers brought me on a tour of rural County Down and was keen to point out the old Newcastle Station and nearby railway hotel.

Today, the old station has been repurposed to house a Lidl market, while the old railway hotel remains as a resort hotel (sans railway traffic).

Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using a Leica IIIa with 35mm screw mount Nikkor lens. Film processed in Agfa-mix Rodinal Special mixed with water at a ratio of 1 to 31 at 68F for 3 minutes. Negatives scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
Does this colour view work better?
The automobiles are part of the scene. Lumix LX7 view.
The old station as seen in context with the surrounding buildings and streets.

My intent was to document these historic structures in their present roles.

 

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Lisburn Station in Black & White.

It was raining.

I had the Leica IIIa fitted with a vintage Nikkor f3.5 35mm screw-mount lens and loaded with Kodak Tri-X.

And yes, I had a digital camera with me. Two, really. And I also made some colour views. I’ll tend to cover my bases when at a special location.

Honer Travers and I traveled down from Dublin on the Enterprise, having changed at Portadown to an NIR (Northern Ireland Railways) 4000-series CAF built railcar. Arriving at Lisburn, I paused to make these two black & photos of our train.

Fine grain in the rain. Lisburn station exposed on black & white film.
This a view from the footbridge. Both images were exposed with a Leica fitted with a vintage f3.5 Nikkor 35mm wide-angle lens.

In Dublin, I processed the film using Agfa-mix Rodinal Special (not to be confused for bog-standard Agfa-mix Rodinal) mixed with water 1 to 31 at 68F for 3 minutes.

I like to play with developer to see what I can get with different combinations of chemistry. Agfa Rodinal Special with short development time allows for fine grain and a metallic tonality. While not as rich as Kodak HC110 (dilution B), the grain appears finer with Rodinal Special.

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Dusk in the Gullet; Illustration of Digital Sunset in 5 variations.

What? Not another of those InterCity Railcars?!

Yep.

I made these views from the St. John’s Road Roundabout bridge at Killmainham/Islandbridge in Dublin.

The light was fading, the train was shadowed and the situation routine: Irish Rail’s ICR pass this spot dozens of times daily. In fact, these trains rumble up and down all day long.

Unmodified Lumix camera RAW file (except for scaling). I’ve exposed for the sky.

What initially caught my interest was the sunset glow in the north-west sky.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7, which exposes a RAW file.

After the fact, I made some heavy handed adjustments to exposure, contrast, colour balance and colour saturation to show what is possible with post processing.

Here’s my first adjusted file; working with the RAW I’ve made a variety of alterations.

In addition to enhancing the sky, I lightened the train and cutting while making a variety of localize adjustments, such as to the flowers at lower left.

I’m using the same essential approach that I used to apply to my black & white photography when making prints in the darkroom, except its now done digitally on the computer.

Unmodified camera RAW (scaled as a JPG for internet presentation).
My first modified RAW image (presented as scaled JPG).

The graffiti at lower right is bit of an annoyance. In my final version, I’ve darkened the area around the graffiti to minimize it.

My second modified RAW where I’ve tried to minimize the graffiti under the bridge.

My first modified RAW image (presented as scaled JPG).

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Lena, Illinois Follow Up: Mysteries and Questions Resolved.

My twin posts focused on Lena, Illinois drew considerable interest and answers.

Regarding the monster eastward Canadian National freight; the actual number of cars carried on this one train was 280 (plus three leading locomotives and a lone DPU). That’s a real whopper at 1,144 axles (24 are the locomotives)!

A number of Tracking the Light readers wrote to me about the unusual GREX drawbar connected maintenance train. I’ve compiled these below into a brief essay.

Dusk view of the GREX Slot Train at Lena, Illinois.

The curious maintenance train was built by Georgetown Industries (a spinoff of Texas-based Georgetown Railroad), which uses the GREX reporting marks. This train is described by the manufacturer as a Self-Powered SlotMachine® and commonly as ‘slot train’ which is designed to distribute materials. Instead of conventional gondolas, this is in effect a string of permanently connected articulated gondolas with the ends removed.

Since there are no bulkheads between cars an excavator can be used to traverse the entire length to load or unload material. The train is especially useful when a railroad is faced with limited track access time or locations that are inaccessible by road. One application is to dump ballast between the rails on ‘skeletonized’ track.

Articulated gons behind the locomotive.

One flaw with the train is that the solid draw bar and articulated connections between cars make it impossible to set out a car in case of defect.

The Slot train’s power is a relatively new creation and appears to be based on LORAM’S boxy power unit.  Georgetown has several Slot train sets that work at various places around the country, the machinery is still being evaluated or leased an as of yet, these trains are a rare sight on American rails.

Dusk view of the GREX Slot Train at Lena, Illinois.

Another Georgetown creation is its Dump Train, which is a series of drawbar-connected hoppers featuring a conveyor belt running under the length of the train and a swing out conveyor belt at the unloading end to deliver aggregate line-side. The style of construction gives the train a nearly European appearance.

Meet with the odd-maintainance train..

Orcuttville in the Fog, New England Central 608 on the Roll.

A thick layer of fog in Stafford, Connecticut made for an excellent environment for dramatic photos.

New England Central 608 (Willimantic – Palmer way freight) was on its northward leg, when I caught it approaching Connecticut Route 319 at Orcuttville.

A lone GP38 was at work this day with more than 20 cars in tow.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1. The tricky part of this photo was balancing the exposure of the headlight/ditchlights with ambient light. I prefer the overall exposure slightly on the darkside for greater drama. Compare with the Lumix LX7 image below.
New England Central 608 with GP38 3845 approaches the crossing at Orcuttville. Exposed using a Lumix LX7.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Early Bird Gets the Worm or, as the case may be, the New England Central local freight!

During the long days of July, I made a point of being up and OUT as early as there was light in the sky.

Those trains that go bump in the night in Winter have a bit of light on them in July.

I made this view before 6 am of the New England Central local crossing the Palmer diamond. The popular Steaming Tender restaurant is located in the old Palmer, Massachusetts Union Station station at left.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with f2.0 90mm lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

Vestige of the Chicago & North Western.

In July (2017), John Gruber and I visited the old Chicago & North Western at Jefferson Junction, Wisconsin. I was surprised to find that the railroad’s old mailbox remained.

It has been more than 22 years since the old C&NW was absorbed by Union Pacific. In 1995 at the end of C&NW’s independent operations I’d made photos of this same mailbox, which for me served as a symbol of the railroad.

Now it’s a faded vestige of another era. More than just the paint has changed.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 18-135mm lens.
Lumix LX7 photo at Jefferson Junction, Wisconsin.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Surprise at Lena; Canadian National Monster Freight—How many cars??

As noted in yesterday’s post, I’d been inspecting a maintenance train parked on the siding at Lena, when lo and behold, the signal cleared to green.

I alerted John Gruber and we took positions to make photographs.

So there we were along the old Illinois Central at Lena, Illinois in the fading glow of the evening sun. This had been IC’s line from Chicago via Dubuque to Council Bluffs, Iowa and Back in the mid-1990s it had been operated as a regional called the Chicago, Central & Pacific, before being re-incorporated into Illinois Central on the eve of IC being absorbed by Canadian National.

Looking west on the old Illinois Central. Fuji film X-T1 photo.
John Gruber (at left) is poised to capture the action.

A headlight twinkled into view, and I could see that a freight was coming, but not very fast.

As it grew closer I had the innate sense that it was a really huge train.

Finally it roared by with CN SD70M-2 in the lead. Many cars into the train was a lone CN DASH8-40C employed as a DPU (distributed power unit, modern railroad lingo for a radio controlled remote.)

This was a real monster! A land-barge. Just simply huge. Eastbound at Lena, Illinois in the fading evening light.
Meet with the odd-maintainance train feature in yesterday’s Tracking the Light.

I’ll let you in on a secret: I counted the cars. And do you know what? This was the largest/longest train I’d ever seen on the move. That’s with more than 40 years of watching trains. Any guesses as to how many cars? Trust me, it was a doosie!

(To those of you that I’ve told about this already, please keep the correct answer under your hat. And if anyone was working this monster, perhaps you have greater appreciation for its size than I do.)

The answers will be revealed in an up-coming post!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily