Category Archives: photography

TEN photos: All-New Berlin Station—Connecticut, that is!

There’s little left to remind you of the historic building that once served passengers at Berlin, Connecticut.

In December 2016, during construction of the modern building, the historic New Haven Railroad station was suspiciously destroyed in a fire.

An artist vision of the proposed integration of the old station with the modern structures. It was not to be.

Last weekend was my first visit to the new station. This features some impressive looking architecture, elevators and a high glass enclosed footbridge.

Morning light on the impressive entrance to the new station. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.

However, it seems to be notably lacking a proper waiting room where passengers can get out of the elements, and features only a ‘portapot’ in place of proper toilets.

In place of our friendly ticket agent, there’s a modern CT rail ticket machine to dispense tickets. You can buy your Amtrak ticket on-line, over the phone, or using an App on your smart-phone.

Also on the ‘plus side’ the station is well suited to photography and will make for a nice place to board and photograph trains. Also, with the expanded Amtrak service and new CT rail Hartford Line trains, there’s more service than there has been in many years.

Any thoughts?

The east-side platform looking south toward New Haven, Connecticut at 8am. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.
Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.

CT rail 6400 making its stop at Berlin, bound for Springfield, Massachusetts. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.
Amtrak 405 to New Haven. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.
Amtrak 461 heading toward New Haven at midday is about to depart Berlin. All aboard! Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm Fujinon lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point.

For more than forty years my family has been visiting the Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point in East Windsor.

I made these views last weekend.

I’ve always enjoyed the nostalgia of the trolleys and the leisurely ride through the forest. What’s interesting is that the trolleys I knew as a kid are largely inside and pending restoration, while today’s operable cars were largely out of service when I was younger.

These views were exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1.

Tracking the Light posts every day.

Irish Rail 216 in Ordinary Dress.

Today, Irish Rail 216 wears a one of a kind navy-blue livery and is seasonally assigned to Belmond’s luxury Grand Hiberniancruise train.

 This has become one of the most popular trains to photograph in Ireland and I’ve caught it here and there over the last few years.

For my 201 retrospective, I thought I’d present a few photos of 216 before it was blue.

Irish Rail 216 was among the first 201 class diesels I put on film. Here it is at Westport, County Mayo back in February 1998. Exposed on Provia100 with my Nikon F3T and 135mm lens.
In April 1998, I made this view of 216 at Heuston Station, back when the station shed was blue, but 216 wasn’t! 24mm view with Fujichrome Sensia.
Also in April 1998, 216 with a Mark3 set at Kent Station, Cork. A 135mm view on Fujichrome Sensia (100 ISO).
This seems unusual now: Irish Rail 216 in orange paint on the container pocket wagons (CPWs) then assigned to Dublin-Cork midday liner. Photographed at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin using a Contax G2 with 28mm Biogon Lens. Give me a good price, and I’ll sell you the lens. (I’m totally serious!) briansolomon.author@gmail.com
And there’s 216 in fresh green, yellow and silver paint, rolling through Cherryville Junction with a down Mark3 set on 20April2006. How things have changed!

Stay tuned for more soon!

Check out my new book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01304

 Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light Posts Everyday!

 

 

 

 

 

Hey! I Thought This Train Seemed Familiar!

I experienced the new CT rail Hartford Line commuter train for the first time on Saturday.

CT rail in Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

I had this distinct sense of Déjà vu.

Then I reviewed the cover of my new book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

Wow! It’s like a German train at Berlin. Berlin, Connecticut, that is.

A German electric multiple unit graces the cover of my book.

CT rail 6400 crosses an old stone arch bridge at Windsor, Connecticut on Sunday June 17, 2018.
DB and CFL (Luxembourg Railways) EMUs working together on the famous Hanging Viaduct in Germany’s Mosel Valley.

I’m commenting on the paint liveries, not the equipment or the services.

Tracking the Light Posts EVERY day!

 

If you haven’t seen it, check out my latest book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01304

New York City’s Flushing Line November 1998.

The other day I found this Fujichrome color slide in my archives. I exposed in on a subway tour with my father back in November 1998.

Working with a Nikon F2 with 28mm lens, I made this photo from the end of a platform on the Flushing Line’s elevated structure. I like the subtlety of the autumn sky. For me this brings back memories of long ago.

Wide-angle view of New York City’s Flushing Line (that’s the number 7 train).

I recall the water color painter Ted Rose telling me about how a yellow sky stirred his memories. That was in regard to a painting he made of a wintery Midwestern scene. His memories, not mine. Similar sky though.

My dad claims that my first railway trip was on the Flushing Line in Queens, New York. That was about 1968. All I remember was the dirty floors on the subway cars, and being held up to look out the front window as we rattled along. I made no photos on that day.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

New CT Rail Hartford Line Commuter Trains—First Day in Eight Photos!

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1, I exposed more than 100 photos of the new Connecticut commuter rail service on the Hartford Line.

There’s nothing like the first day.

Train rides were FREE.

Springfield, Massachusetts on June 16, 2018.
Springfield, Massachusetts on June 16, 2018.
Springfield, Massachusetts on June 16, 2018.

 

Amtrak 461 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

Yesterday, June 16, 2018 the long awaited CT Rail Hartford Line Commuter service commenced.

My father and I traveled on the first train from Berlin, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts. It was a bright clear morning.

Contrast was a challenge, and for some of these photos I imported the camera RAW image into Light Room for exposure, color balance and exposure adjustment.

Amtrak 460 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.
CT Rail 6653 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.
CT Rail 6653 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.
CT Rail 6654 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

 

If you haven’t seen it, check out my latest book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01304

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

 

 

Tracking the Light EXTRA: CTRail Free Train Ride Today!

Today, June 16, 2018, the long awaited CTRail service began public operation on the Springfield-Hartford-New Haven Line.

Free rides were on offer on both the new CTRail trains and some Amtrak services.

CTRail staff at Berlin supplied complimentary tickets!

My father and I traveled on the first northward train (CTRail 6400) between the new station at Berlin, Connecticut and Springfield. The train was very well attended!

More free train rides are available on the route tomorrow (Sunday June 17, 2018).

CTRail’s first public forward run, train 6400, makes its stop at Berlin, Connecticut. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
The view near Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

I made many photographs over the course of the day and I’ve yet to look at all of them. Stay tuned for more tomorrow!

See: http://www.hartfordline.com

Tracking the Light posts EVERY Day! (Sometimes twice!)

 

 

More New England Central GP38s-Four Photos!

For the last month, New England Central’s 608 (Willimantic, Connecticut to Palmer, Massachusetts and back) has continued to run with a  pair of GP38s.

(I missed the day when 608 ran with three!)

What’s so special about this?

These locomotives began with New England Central when it commenced operations in February 1995, and have continued to work the railroad in the same paint (if not the same numbers) ever since.

A classic view of 608 running northward near Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 and 27mm pancake lens.
A classic view of 608 running northward near Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 and 27mm pancake lens.

Originally there were a dozen, but the ranks have thinned.

New England Central has changed owners twice since 1995; it was originally a RailTex property, then RailAmerica, today Genesee & Wyoming.

NECR has acquired or borrowed many other diesels over the years.

Yet for me the few surviving blue and yellow GP38s offer a sense of continuity, and also represent a throw-back to when EMD’s 645 diesels were dominant on American railroads.

How much longer will New England Central continue this vintage railroading?

A view of 608 running northward passing Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 and 90mm telephoto lens.

Will these GP38s see G&W corporate colors? Will they be reassigned elsewhere on the expansive G&W railroad family? Will newer locomotives assume their duties?

Never take anything on the railroad for granted; eventually everything changes.

Change makes old photos more interesting.

A 12mm view with my Zeiss Tuoit lens fitted to the FujiFilm X-T1.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Connecticut River Composition.

Last week I made these views of New England Central’s northward 611 freight as it crossed the Connecticut River bridge at East Northfield, Massachusetts.

The longer days feature the evening sun in a northerly position that allows for sunlight on the nose of the locomotive as it crosses the bridge.

Although I’ve often worked the south side of this span, this was the first time I’ve made successful photos of a train from the north side.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 and prime (not zoom) 90mm telephoto lens.
Several turbo-flutters later (about 8 digital ‘frames’ or exposures), also made with my FujiFilm X-T1 and prime (not zoom) 90mm telephoto lens. 

I was watching the light and the effect of reflections in the river as I composed my photos.

For these digital images I was working with both my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1.

Lumix LX7 photo. The locomotives are more fully on the bridge, but here I’ve lost the effect of the nose reflection in the water.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Oh No, Not the Dreaded 215! Again . . . 

Irish Rail 215. Is this my least favorite of the 201 class locomotives?

It’s probably my most photographed.

My first recognition of the 215-effect was on a trip to Galway many years ago. Friends were visiting from America and we were traveling on the Mark3 International set.

Soon after departing Dublin Heuston, it was evident that the train was in trouble. We weren’t making track speed. When we got to Hazelhatch, our train took the loop. Old 215 had failed. We waited there for about 40 minutes until 203 was summoned for a rescue.

Some months later, I returned from Boston to Dublin, and on the front page of the papers was 215 at Heuston Station—on its side! It had derailed.

15April2006 Irish Rail 215 works the Galway train passing Attymon. Fujichrome slide.
Possibly one of my first photos of 215, working the Mark3 push-pull at Westland Row in Dublin, April 1998. Fujichrome exposed with a Nikon F3T and 135mm lens.
Old 215 in orange paint at Pearse Station in 1998.

And which loco worked the very first publically scheduled Mark IV set from Dublin to Cork?

215 with a patch! Islandbridge Junction in September 2006. Not its first trip on the Mark4 set, nor its last!

Out for the down train, take a guess which loco I’m most likely to catch!

Here’s a Mark4 trial in April 2006. Revenue working began a couple of weeks later. Top of Ballybrophy bank on the Dublin-Cork mainline.

Uh! There it is again. Damn thing is a like a shadow.

Near Newbridge on 14 April 2009. Back when film was all I had.
Irish Rail 215 in clean paint with the up-road IWT liner passing Fonthill.

Good ol’ 215.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Märklin’s Mickey Mouse at Köln!

It was a lucky shot. I was changing trains at the Köln Hauptbahnhof in 1999, when I made this photo from the platforms at the east side of the station.

A DB Class 120 electric had been specially painted by or for Märklin model trains to commemorate the 70thanniversary of Disney’s Mickey Mouse.

I wasn’t expecting this locomotive, but as it went by I made a few choice photographs on Fujichrome Sensia using my Nikon N90S and a 105mm lens.

One of the great things about exploring German railways is a tremendous variety of trains complete with unexpected surprises in the form of specially painted locomotives, antiques on the roll, and special trains.

Germany is one of my favorite countries to visit and among the places profiled in my new book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01304

Tracking the Light posts daily.

Amtrak’s Vermonter with American Flags.

This is a grab shot; I didn’t have time to do what I intended (and the sun went in).

We arrived at the small cemetery at West Northfield, Massachusetts minutes before Amtrak 56 (northward Vermonter).

 The brush along the railroad has recently been cut. Unfortunately, a brush cutting/removal machine was awkwardly (as in non-photographically) positioned by the tracks, foiling my intend angle for a photo. I was going to try ‘plan b’.

I’d heard the crew call ‘Approach’ for East Northfield, I was hoping for time to swap to a wide angle lens, when I saw the headlight.

No time: so instead, I hastily composed this vertical view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

The front of the locomotive is nearly centered. I wonder if I should have let it move a bit more to the left for a more effective composition?

I like the American flags, placed for Memorial Day. I wonder about my placement of the front of the locomotive relative to the gap in the brush. Should I have let the locomotive continue a few more feet to the left?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Extra! Extra train on New England Central.

We’d heard there was an extra move.

We didn’t know what it was.

I got a bit confused as to where the extra was in relation to the regular northward New England Central 611 (that runs weekdays from Brattleboro to Palmer and back).

After being out of position, and some quick driving to recover, we managed to get the extra on the move at Vernon, Vermont.

This consisted of the lone New England Central former Southern Pacific ‘tunnel motor’ (SD40T-2 number 3317) hauling some ballast cars.

This isn’t Donner Pass! Here’s a former SP tunnel motor working long-hood forward leading a ballast extra at Vernon, Vermont. In the background is the decommissioned Vermont Yankee Nuclear generating station.

Unusual to say the least!

The regular freight followed about an hour later.

Both photos were exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm Fujinon telephoto lens.

NECR 611 on its northward run from Palmer, Massachusetts at Vernon, Vermont.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Brian’s Limited Edition Prints, Signed & Numbered.

Just three prints remain for sale! Order one today!

I’ve made five traditional 11×14 black & white prints of my recent photograph of the former New Haven Railroad electrification and drawbridge at Westport, Connecticut.

This represents the first time I’ve printed one of my ‘stand processed’ black & white negatives. The prints are signed in pencil and numbered 1/5 to 5/5.

I’m selling the remaining three prints for $100 each plus shipping.  First come first serve. If you are interested please contact me via email at: briansolomon.author@gmail.com

I exposed the photograph using a vintage Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss 75mm lens on 120 black & white film. I processed using the ‘stand processing’ technique to obtain maximum tonal range with deep shadows and delicate highlights.

I made these silver prints in the traditional way on Ilford double weight 11×14 photographic paper, fixed and washed to archival standards. These have been pressed and are suitable for matting and framing.

I chose the Westport drawbridge because it is graphically engaging and historically significant. This bridge and electrification are examples of early 20thcentury infrastructure in daily use on one of America’s busiest passenger lines.

Tracking the Light posts daily.

 

 

Grand Central Terminal—From A Different Angle.

Working with a Leica and Visoflex reflex-viewing attachment mounted on a tripod, I exposed this Kodak Kodachrome 64 slide with a 200mm Leitz Telyt telephoto lens.

Looking toward the skylights of New York Central’s architectural masterpiece.

I calculated the exposure using an old GE handheld light meter, which I promptly dropped on the floor of the famous New York City terminal, destroying the device’s sensitive electro-mechanical photocell and needle.

That was back in 1986.

It turned out that my meter had been giving me hot readings. After I bought a new meter a couple of days later, I began obtaining more accurate daylight readings and better overall Kodachrome exposures.

However, because the meter had been encouraging me to ‘over-expose’ (allow more light to reach the film than I intended), I actually produced a better color slide here at Grand Central Terminal, because slight over-exposure was necessary to balance the lighting and bring out the grandeur of the architecture.

If I’d exposed as I intended, my photo would have appeared darker. So, what makes this photo effective was the result of accidental relative over-exposure. How about that?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Irish Rail 214: Two Sunrise Views, Dublin and Mallow.

This pair of photos depict Irish Rail class 201, engine number 214 at work on passenger and freight.

The top photo was exposed in July 2005. I wanted to make a photo of the 0700 (7am) Dublin-Cork passenger train departing Dublin Heuston, before the service was changed to one of the new Mark4 sets.

My theory was that this service was rarely photographed leaving Dublin owing to the early hour and backlit sun. I had months left to do this, but by July the days were getting shorter, and by the following summer the Mark 4s would be in traffic. (It pays to think ahead).

So I went to my favorite spot on the St. John’s Road, and used my Contax G2 with 28mm lens and exposed a few frames of Fujichrome Sensia (100).

Irish Rail 214 departs Dublin with the 0700 train for Cork. Today the Mark3 carriages are a memory and 214 is stored at Inchicore.

The bottom photo was exposed at Mallow on 18 July, 2003 at 0622 (6:22am). I’d gone out for another train, but instead caught this late running cement that was carrying some containers at the front. The train paused for three minutes at Mallow to change crews.

Here, I worked with Fujchrome Sensia (100 ISO) using my Nikon F3 with a 180mm Nikkor telephoto lens.

These are part of my continuing series on the Irish Rail 201 class locomotives aimed to mark my 20 years of railway photography in Ireland (1998-2018).

Tracking the Light posts daily.

Headlights too Bright? Now What?

I’d heard complaints about this. You’ll find my solutions are the very end of this blog text.

Pan Am Railway’s 7552, a former CSX General Electric-built DASH8-40C (sometimes simplified as ‘C40-8’), features modern white light-emitting diode (LED) headlights.

The sun went in, so I ‘opened up’ the aperture to f5.6. This exacerbated the effect of LED headlight bleed.

The problem is that these white LEDs viewed head-on are much brighter than ordinary incandescent-bulb headlights. Unnaturally bright headlights may have some advantages; they undoubtedly offer better illumination and can be spotted from greater distance.

However they tend to be mesmerizing, which may have something less than the desired effect from a safety point of view.

I first encountered these headlights about 10 years ago photographing an electric locomotive in Munich, Germany.

With the sun out slightly, I used a smaller aperture and also was nominally  off-axis, two things that help minimize the effects of light bleed.

For photography bright LED headlights pose a couple of problems. They can confuse both auto exposure and auto focusing systems, and as a result may contribute to under exposed and/or out of focus digital photos.

Also, many digital cameras only have a limited ability to handle extreme contrasts, resulting in an unappealing effect that I’ll call ‘light-bleed’, when bright light appears to spill over to adjacent areas of the image. A similar problem is a ghosting effect caused by reflections from external filters or inner elements on some lenses.

So what do you do?

I found that these LEDs are only unacceptably bright when viewed head-on, so by moving off axis, you can greatly reduce the unpleasant visual effects of these bright lights. That’s one solution, anyway.

Here I’m significantly off axis, which virtually eliminates the bleed problems.

Another way to suppress headlight bleed is to select a smaller aperture (larger f-number). I work my cameras manually, so this is easy enough to accomplish. If you are using automatic modes, you’ll need to select an aperture priority setting that allows you to control the aperture. Just mind your shutter speed or you might suffer from motion blur.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

 

 

On this day, June 6, 2015, I photographed Norfolk & Western 611 Under Steam.

It was three years ago that Pat Yough and I traveled to Manassas, Virginia, where we were joined by our friends Vic and Becky Stone, and spent several days with Norfolk & Western J-Class locomotive 611 under steam.

Although I largely worked with digital cameras, I also exposed some color slides to capture the spirit of the event.

These images were made using Fujichrome Provia 100F with my Canon EOS-3, I scanned the slides yesterday (June 5, 2018) using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 using VueScan software.

Powell Wye at Manassas, Virginia, June 6, 2015.
Markham, Virginia, June 6, 2015.
Smart phones and steam, Markham, Virginia.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Four New Photos: New England Central Six-Motor EMDs in Orange.

After years of operating its fleet of second-hand EMD diesels in a rainbow of ragtag paint liveries, today most of New England Central’s locomotives wear clean Genesee &  Wyoming corporate colors.

A few of the 1995 painted blue and yellow GP38s survive, lately working the Palmer area and south into Connecticut.

New England Central at East Northfield; Boston & Maine Connecticut River Line at the right (operated by Pan Am).

Fear not, I have no shortage of images from New England Central’s patch-work paint era.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera, I made these photos last week, of freight 611 on its northward run to Brattleboro, Vermont from Palmer, Massachusetts.

Soft afternoon sun and a matched set of 1960s-era six-motor EMD diesels in clean orange paint makes for a nice subject.

A ‘grade crossing wedgie’ (tight view of locomotive crossing a road) in South Vernon, Vermont.
A crossing view in Vernon featuring the road.
New England Central 611 approaching Brattleboro, Vermont on a causeway across a Connecticut River backwater.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Europe’s Most Photogenic Urban Railway? Five Photos—Lisbon Trams.

As far as transit is concerned, Lisbon is the San Francisco of Europe.

Ok, you can nitpick about the methods of propulsion, cables versus juice, but with steep hills, outstanding urban panoramas and quirky twisting trackage in narrow streets and fully functional antique cars, Lisbon’s tram system has lots in common with San Francisco’s famous cable cars.

These cities have lots of parallels too, certainly in layout and appearance, and weather.

I made these photos in the Portuguese capital on a brilliant day in April.

There’s seemingly endless opportunity for photographs. But do you work with the shadows or in the shadows?

Canon EOS 7D digital photo.
View from a Portuguese restaurant. Canon EOS 7D digital photo.

For the tourist, Lisbon’s trams are both transport and an attraction.

Lisbon is among the cities featured in my new book, Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe  available now from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01304

You can also get my book on Amazon. If you like what you see, please give me a good review! Thanks!

Red trams make a special circuit for visitors. Canon EOS 7D digital photo.

Canon EOS 7D digital photo.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Three Tips for Making Better Railroad Photos

1) Use your foreground. Unless you’re a ballast enthusiast, avoid emphasizing the ballast. Too many railroad photographs suffer from excessive foreground clutter and other distracting elements, so when you’re composing an image pay attention to the bottom of your frame.

2) Watch your focus. Although most modern cameras have auto focus systems, too many use center-weighted auto-focusing sensors. These produce an unfortunate side-effect of encouraging novice photographers to center their subject, which tends towards bland and ineffective composition. More advanced cameras have tools such as variable focus points and focus locks that help you get around the centering problem.

Although an imperfect image, take notice the focus: A center weighted autofocus system may have resulted in the front of the locomotive appearing soft, while the hoppers at the center of the image being  tack sharp. Alternatively, I  may have had to alter the composition to suit the failings of the auto focus system, which would have produced a compromised photo.

3) Avoid Flare. One of the reasons traditional photography technique stressed over the shoulder lighting was to avoid the unpleasant effects of lens flare. This is caused when the primary light source hits the front element of your lens and cause streaks and patterns across your image while lowering overall contrast. You can make successful backlit photographs by finding ways to minimize direct sun or other primary light sources; stand in the shadow of a tree, building or other object; no shadows available? Make your own with a flat piece of cardboard, book, or spare copy of TRAINS magazine. One last point: while you should avoid flare, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should eliminate it entirely. In certain circumstances, a little flare can improve a photo. Watch the way Hollywood uses flare for dramatic effect.

To make this backlit shot work, I used a 28mm wide-angle lens and shaded the front element with my left hand to avoid unwanted lens flare. Notice how the clouds and foreground elements frame the primary subject, adding interest and balance without becoming overly distracting. Also, would a dark colored locomotive have produced an equally effective photo? The effect of slight backlighting on a silver train can result in a dramatic effect.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

East Deerfield New Bridge—June 2018 Up Date.

We called it the ‘waste too much film bridge’.

How many thousands of photographs have been exposed from the old bridge at the west end of Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield Yard?

The new bridge is progressing. I made these photos a few days ago.

Old and new bridges at McClelland Farm Road, East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

As mentioned in an earlier post, a new pole-line has been erected to the east of the old bridge that threatens to ruin photographs. How will this ultimately affect views from the new bridge?

Suitable vantage points are key to making good photographs, so I’m curious to see what the new bridge offers. If it turns out to be of little use, I’ll need to find new vantage points.

South approach to the new bridge.
North abutment with Pan Am tracks in foreground.
Looking west from the old McClelland Farm Road bridge.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo -in-camera panoramic composite image.

What do you think?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Retrospective in 3 Photos: Amtrak E60s in the Early 1980s.

In my early days, picturing former Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electrics was one of my main photographic interests.

I held Amtrak’s newer E60 electrics is disdain.  These modern, boxy electrics appeared to be supplanting the GG1s. For me they lacked the historic connections, the elegant streamlined style, and the character of the GG1. They were bland and common.

I may not have been fond of the E60s. But I always photographed them. They were part of the scene, and important elements of modern operations.

Recently I rediscovered these E60 photos along with some other long-missing black & white negatives.

Amtrak E60 972 leads a westward/southward train at the PATH (Husdon & Manhattan) station in Harrison, New Jersey on a gray wintery afternoon in 1981.
Kodak Tri-X processed in Microdol-X.
The view from my grandparents’ balcony in Co-op City in The Bronx overlooked Amtrak’s former New Haven Railroad Hell Gate Bridge route. I made this view using a Leitz 200mm Telyt telephoto lens attached to a Visoflex reflex viewfinder. Although klutzy, this lens arrangement allowed me to attach the telephoto lens to my Leica 3A. Focusing on moving subjects was a challenge. I made this view hand-held and while I nailed the focus  my level was completely off. I corrected the skew in post processing.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

From the Closet: Ektachrome Rejects from March 1987.

When I was at the Rochester Institute of Technology, once or twice a year Kodak would gift photo students with a selection of new products to try.

On this occasion, I had been given a sample of two rolls of the latest Ektachrome.

A professor gave us a vague assignment to make color photographs, so I wandered up to Lincoln Park, a junction on Conrail’s Water Level Route west of downtown Rochester, New York, and exposed these photos.

There I found local freight WBRO-15 working with GP8 7528. The crew was friendly and quite used to me photographing of their train.

Back in 1987 my serious railroad photos were exposed using 120 black & white film or on Kodachrome 25. These Ektachromes were an anomaly. After the assignment was turned in, I relegated the remaining images to my ‘seconds box’ and forgot about them—for 31 years!

I found them back accident the other day, and so scanned them post haste.

You mean pairs of Conrail SD50s aren’t common any more on Water Level Route road freights?

I thought my Rochester friends would get a kick out of seeing them. How much has changed since March 11, 1987?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Six Vintage 201 photos: Spring with Irish Rail 213!

Years past, I made many colourful photos of Irish Rail 213 River Moy on bright Spring days.

One of my first encounters was in May 1998 at Carlow. I’d arrived by bus (Shhh!!) and made photos of the down train (Dublin to Waterford) at Carlow station using my Nikon F3T loaded with Fujichrome Sensia 100.

View through the fence from the road using a 135mm lens.
213 side-on as it approaches the down starting signal at Carlow in May 1998.

Seven years later, in the Spring of 2005, I was keen to catch 213 on the move, since this was the first Irish Rail class 201 to wear the revised orange livery with bright yellow front end.

I saw this as a big improvement over the original 201 livery.

On 8 April 2005, I photographed 213 in fresh paint with my Contax G2 and 28mm lens on Velvia slide film.
Close up of 213 at Cork’s Kent Station using my Nikon N90S with telephoto lens and Sensia 100 film.
A month later on 8 May 2005, I made this view of 213 light engine at Heuston Station in Dublin. Anyone need a cheap shoe?

And because it fits the theme, I’ve also included a view from April 2006, of 213 descending Ballybrophy-bank racing toward Dublin.

It was on the evening of 17 April 2006 when I caught 213 with Mark3 carriages on the up-Cork passing milepost 62 1/2.

213 hasn’t turned a wheel in many a Spring now. It waits its turn in the sun in a deadline at Inchicore.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

 

 

Kimball, South Dakota on this Day in 1995.

It was on this day, May 29, 1995, that Tom Danneman and I chased a Dakota Southern freight on a former Milwaukee Road line across the rolling South Dakota prairie.

Track conditions didn’t allow for train speeds greater than about 5 to 10 mph, so we were able to make several sets of images over a relatively short period of time.

I made this view at dusk with a Nikon and 200mm lens while standing at grade crossing near Kimball. I like the way the electrical polls and wires frame the tracks and train.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Classic Chrome: On this Day in 1988 I had 2020 Vision.

Ok, make that a vision of Conrail 2020.

It was just after 8am on May 27, 1988, when I exposed this portrait (vertical) view of Conrail BAL013 stopped at CP123 east of Chester, Massachusetts.

The sun was perfect and I used this opportunity to make several photos of the train as it held for westward Conrail intermodal freight TV9, which passed CP123 at 8:13am

This is a Kodachrome 25 slide (using the professional PKM emulsion) exposed using a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron lens.

I scanned the original Kodachrome slide with a Nikon Coolscan5000 scanner using VueScan. Later I scaled the file using Lightroom. I did not alter color balance, contrast, sharpness or other inherent characteristics. The original image has an overall cyan (blue-green) bias that was characteristic of Kodachrome from that period.

I calculated my exposure using a Sekonic Studio Deluxe light meter, and set the camera at f6.3 (half way between the marks for f5.6 and f8) at 1/125thof a second. This was equivalent to my standard exposure for ‘full sun’.

I learned when I moved west that ‘full sun’ is brighter in the Western states than in New England. A bright day in the Nevada desert is a full stop difference than in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

Lost Archives: DARK, RAW, and Minimal.

A couple of weeks ago five cartons of slides were discovered in a closet.

These contained photos I exposed in the 1970s and early 1980s that I’d later rejected as ‘unsuitable for presentation.’

Sometimes the ‘rejects’ prove more interesting than the ‘keepers’.

When I was a teenager, I had a different vision than I did in later years. Although I grew up in a rural area, I was fascinated by urban settings.

SEPTA 69th Street, Media trolley. 1980.
Media, Pennsylvania. 1980.
Media, Pennsylvania. 1980.

My visual inspiration came from slide shows with family friend (and now regular Tracking the Light reader) Emile Tobenfeld, who specialized in innovative and creative urban abstract images. Other inspiration included Donald Duke’s book Night Train (published in 1961), and various main-stream media, including the film 2001.

By intent, I made color slides that were dark and minimalistic. These are raw images made by a kid with a Leica who could see, but who had very little technical prowess. They were intended for projection in dark room.

Newark City Subway, December 1981.

Later when I learned more about photography, I was discouraged from this sort of raw minimalism. Instead I was urged to photograph to capture greater detail, where sharpness was prized among other qualities. My photography adopted qualities that were ‘better suited for publication and commercial application’.

Although my vision continued to embrace some of the same compositional threads that I’d worked with in my earlier years, by the mid-1980s I rejected these early efforts because they were raw and unrefined. Today, I find them fascinating.

PATH Station at Exchange Place, Jersey City circa 1982.
Penn-Station, New York. December 1979.
MBTA Green Line, Boston, 1983.
MBTA Green Line, Boston, 1983.

TRACKING THE LIGHT POSTS EVERY DAY.

Tracking the Light EXTRA: Author’s Advance of July Trains!

My author’s advanced copy of the July 2018 Trains has been eagerly awaited.

July 2018 Trains will be available soon!

In addition to my monthly column, I authored and illustrated two large feature articles.

The first is a detailed nuts and bolts discussion on Positive Train Control signaling, the second a travel guide to one of my favorite places: Germany’s Rhein.

I’m extremely pleased with how both stories turned out. Special thanks to my hosts at SEPTA for allowing me to better understand the intricacies of their modern signaling. And thanks to everyone at Trains Magazine for bringing these stories to print!

My SEPTA PTC story starts on page 24, this is half of the opening spread that spans two pages. Exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss lens.
Travel down the Rhine beginning with my two page opener on pages 34-35. Can you guess which photo(s) in this feature were exposed on film and which are digital?

Tracking the Light Posts EVERY day!

 

Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe is available from  the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01304

SNCB at Brussels Midi 22 Years Ago!

Upon arrival from Köln, Germany On this day, 25 May 1996, my father and I made photographs in the rain at Brussels Midi.

I’ve since returned to Brussels on many occasions when the weather has been more hospitable.

Brussels is among the cities profiles in my new book Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from Kalmbach Books/Kalmbach Hobby Store.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

 

Classic Chrome: On this day, 24 May 1996 Views along the Rhein.

Classic Chrome: On this day, 24 May 1996 Views along the Rhein.

On this day in 1996, my father and I made a circle trip along the Rhein from Köln to Koblenz, traveling south via the Right Bank and north via the Left Bank lines.

Working with two cameras, I exposed these views on Kodachrome and Fujichrome slide film.

Looking back, its amazing to see how much has changed on German railways in the last 22 years.

Confluence of Rhein and Mosel rivers at Koblenz. 24 May 1996.
DB shunting locomotives at Koblenz Hbf on 24 May 1996.
View of a northward freight on the Right Bank line along the Rhein from the walls of the Festung Ehrenbreitstein (fortress).
A northward IC train passes Namedy, Germany at speed behind a class 103 electric.
Minutes later a northward EC (EuroCity) long distance train passes Namedy, this view with a 28mm lens.

The scenic Mittelrhein are among the great railway trips profiled in my new book Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from Kalmbach Books/Kalmbach Hobby Store.

My new guide book on European Railway Travel with a cup of Barry’s Tea.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Irish Rail 212 Flying Along at Cherryville Junction.

I made this panned view of Irish Rail class 201 number 212 working up-road at Cherryville Junction on 11 January 2003.

Blurred birds help convey the sense of speed as 212 races toward Dublin on 11 January 2003. This is part of my sequence of posts commemorating 20 years of railway photography on Irish railways. Next up is Irish Rail 213.

Panning is an effective technique for conveying motion. For this view I used a short telephoto lens and a comparatively slow shutter speed, probably about 1/60thof a second, while moving the camera in tandem with the locomotive.

Key to making an effective pan is maintaining constant speed and smooth motion.

Novice panners may make the mistake of stopping panning as they release the shutter. This results in a jarring complete blur that produces something less than the intended effect.

Tracking the Light Publishes New Material Each and Every Day.

East Deerfield West: Providence & Worcester 2009 leads the Plainville Job.

In 1982, Boston & Maine bought several routes in Massachusetts and Connecticut from Conrail. Among these were lines clustered around Plainville, Connecticut, accessed via trackage rights over Amtrak’s Springfield-New Haven Line.

Today, Amtrak’s route requires advanced signaling on leading locomotives and only a handful of Pan Am’s engines are so equipped. As a result, Pan Am sometimes operates a borrowed Providence & Worcester engine on its East Deerfield to Plainville freight.

As of last week, Pan Am’s EDPL was still operating on a daylight schedule, however with increased Springfield-New Haven passenger services to commence in June, this operation may become nocturnal.

I made these views from the old McClelland Farm Road bridge, a vantage point that will soon be gone when the new bridge opens.

Looking east from the old McClelland Farm Road Bridge.
EDPL prepares to cross over to access the East Deerfield Loop that connects with the Connecticut River line.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Railfan’s Bridge East Deerfield: Old Bridge/New Bridge and some Bad News.

Construction crews are working on the approaches to the new McClelland Farm Road bridge over the tracks at the west end of Pan Am’s East Deerfield Yard.

This work has been on-going for about a year.As detailed in previous posts, the old bridge has been a popular place for photographers for many years and countless images have been exposed from this vantage point.

See: Railfan’s Bridge at East Deerfield—my First Farewell.

The new bridge is being built immediately to the west of the old bridge, and once it is complete and fully open to traffic, the old bridge will be removed.

The view west from the old McClelland Farm Road bridge.
Pan Am GE’s wearing tired CSX paint pass construction crews working on approaches for the new McClelland Farm Road bridge.
The old McClelland Farm Road Bridge at East Deerfield.

Now for some bad news: in conjunction with bridge construction, the above ground electrical line has been relocated and is now carried across the tracks on a new pole-line located to the east of the bridges.

The new pole line can be seen here on the right crossing over the tracks. To the uninitiated this may seem innocuous but in fact it poses an obstruction that may make views of the yard from the new bridge difficult to achieve without heavy cables running right through the middle of the image.

This obstruction poses a new challenge for photographers making photos of the yard and depending on the height of the new bridge mayruin the classic view.

I exposed these views of former CSX DASH8-40Cs leased to Pan Am that had just arrived on road freight POED from Portland, Maine.

Photos made with a FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Vermont Rail System SD70M-2 on the Crossing.

Vermont Rail System operates portions of the old Rutland network, including the Green Mountain Railroad from Rutland to Bellows Falls, Vermont.

Last Friday (May 11, 2018), I followed eastward freight 263 from Rutland toward Bellows Falls. This is section of railroad that I’ve been photographing for most of my life.

Freights move at a relaxed pace, and even with the roadworks on-going on Vermont highway 103, I had no difficulty making a variety of photographs.

This view is at a rural grade crossing compass north (and railroad timetable west) of Gassetts.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 camera with 18-135mm zoom lens.

I like this angle because it features the distant mountain that mimics the Vermont Railway logo on the side of the SD70M-2 diesel-electric locomotive leading the train.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Irish Rail 211, I Never Went Out for it, but here it is! 4 Views.

Ok, I’ll be honest. Irish Rail 211 seemed like part of the furniture. Just a common 201 class diesel. I didn’t make any special effort to put it on film.

Yet, whenever it passed, hauling freight or passenger, I made photos of it.

It’s hard to believe that its been nearly 10 years since I last saw 211 on the move. Yet, when I look at these photos, the scenes tell all.

So much has changed in the interval.

400mm Telephoto view from the top of Ballybrophy bank on 13 May 2000 with an up-road train from Cork to Dublin.
Kent Station Cork on 10 January 2005. Fujichrome Sensia 100 exposed with a Nikon F3 with 180mm lens.
A down road bubble cement train heading to Cork passes Ballybrophy on 25 March 2005. Exposed with a Nikon on Fujichrome Sensia 100.
Irish Rail 211 in the revised orange and yellow livery as photographed at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin on 10 December 2007. Canon EOS-3 with 50mm lens. Note the Bo-Bo towing a failed Enterprise 201.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.