Category Archives: photography

Classic Chrome: New New York City R-62A Subway Cars on Conrail—May 1986.


I like the apparent redundancy of today’s title.

Back in May 1986, I made this Kodachrome view of brand-new Bombardier-built New York City R-62A subway cars at Conrail’s West Springfield Yard (Massachusetts).

The cars would come down the Central Vermont Railway to Palmer where they were interchanged to Conrail for delivery to New York City.

Check out the vintage Trailer-Train flatcars carrying the subway cars.

Below is the scaled unmodified scan; and an adjusted scan correcting contrast, color temperature and level.

Exposed on K64 using a Leica; scanned this morning using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 slide scanner and processed in Lightroom. Scaled, but otherwise unmodified scan.


This is an adjusted scan that corrects for contrast, color temperature and level.

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Westport, County Mayo: Contrasts of Modern train in a Traditional Station—Three photos.


13 April 2019: during RPSI’s The West Awakerail tour, I made these views from the platform at Westport station of an Irish Rail ICR.

I like the contrast between the modern Rotem-built diesel railcar and the traditional station setting.

Would these photos have been better if the sun was shinning brightly? (Keep in mind, I was on the northeast side of the line in the late afternoon).

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Classic Chrome: Amtrak F40s at New London, Connecticut.

On March 24, 1997, Mike Gardner and I spent the afternoon photographing around New London, Connecticut. This was shortly before Amtrak began electrification.

I made this view of a pair of F40PHs leading train 175 west of the New London station.

Who would have thought the omnipresent Amtrak F40 would be the subject of a classic photo?

Exposed on Kodachrome using a Nikon N90S with 80-200mm AF zoom lens.


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Crazy places to put tracks!

Lisbon trams—Part 2.

Old four wheel cars and ancient buildings are part of the attraction to Lisbon’s antique tram network, but for me the best part are the crazy track arrangements.

This network has some of the most extreme trackage of any railway in the world relying on adhesion principles for traction. In other words: no racks, cogs or cables.

I exposed these black & white views with my Nikon F3 on 1 April 2019 while exploring Lisbon with fellow photographer Denis McCabe.

What better way to spend April Fool’s Day?

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Classic Chrome: Cal-Train 7thStreet San Francisco.


Working with my old Nikon F3T and an f1.8 105mm lens, I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide of a Cal-Train ‘Commute’ departing San Francisco, seen taking the bend at 7thStreet in February 1992.

Interestingly, lately I’ve been making good use of this same camera and lens combination for exposing black & white negatives and Fuji Provia 100F color slides.

If this image seems familiar, its because back in the 1990s it appeared in various publications.

I scanned the slide this morning using a Nikon Coolscan5000 digital scanner and processed the hi-res TIF file in Lightroom to adjust color and produced a scaled file for internet presentation.

Typically, I scan Kodachrome slides at 4000 dots per inch (or higher) to maintain the high resolution of the original photographs. Since these files are in the 120-170MB range they require scaling to upload them to WordPress for presentation here.

The San Francisco street-scene and skyline have changed considerably since this February 1992 view.

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Lisbon: narrow streets and trams—Part 1.


This could be a book, or at least part of one.

Lisbon is visually intense and everywhere I looked I saw photos to be made.

This is the first is multi-part series of photos that I made on Lisbon streets on 1 April 2019.

Exposed on Fuji Acros 100 with a Nikon F3, processed in Rodinal.

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Porto Campanha at Night—four photos.


Monochrome; black & white; noir—what ever you like.

I made these views on an evening in late March at Porto’s Campanha Station using a Nikon F3 loaded with Fomapan 100 Classic film.

Negatives were processed using an dilute HC110 presoak (1-300 with water plus wetting agent) followed by  ID11 1-1 69 F for 7 min 30 sec then following stop, fix and extended rinse, a final bath of selenium toner 1-0 for 7 min 30 sec and re-wash and final rinse in distilled water.

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Mystical Railway Viaduct—Luxembourg.


Not many people travel to Luxembourg to photograph railway bridges.

I made this view on Fuji Acros 100 black & white film using a Nikon F3 fitted with a f1.8 105mm Nikkor prime telephoto.

To enhance the mystique of the viaduct, I opened the lens to nearly its widest aperture and focused on the tree branches.

Later, with a digital camera I photographed trains crossing the bridge in color.

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Faces of Steam: Portraits of RPSI’s train crew.


Working with a Nikon F3 with f1.4 50mm lens loaded with Fomapan 100 Classic, I exposed these portraits of some of the men working Railway Preservation Society’s 18 March 2019 trips from Dublin Connolly Station to Maynooth.

 I processed the film in a non-standard way to obtain a period look while giving photos optimal tonality in a contrasty situations.

First: I pre-soaked film it in a very dilute bath of Kodak HC110 (measured 3 parts per 1000 with water, plus wetting agent) for about 7 minutes at 72 F;

Second: primary developer consisted of Ilford ID-11 1 to 1 with water at 69 F for 6 minutes;

Third: following stop bath, two fixer baths, and a thorough 10 minute rinse, I toned the negatives in a 1-9 selenium solution (outdoors to avoid breathing toxic fumes) for 8 minutes. This was followed by several rinse cycles and a final rinse in distilled water.

Negatives were scanned in colour to retain the selenium tint.

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Busy Time on the Branch—Views from Dublin’s Conyngham Road.

On Monday afternoon, 15 April 2019, I made this sequence of photos from Dublin’s Conyngham Road.

In just a few minutes I photographed four trains passing over the Branch that connects Islandbridge Junction with lines to Connolly Station/North Wall yards.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7; files adjusted for colour balance and contrast using Lightroom.

At 1452 (2:52pm a Hazelhatch-Grand Canal Docks ICR passed; note the signal with feather at left).

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TESCO Tram Prowls Dublin Streets.

Yesterday (Monday, 15 April 2019) I made these photographs of LUAS Tram 5003 working Green Line trackage in the Dublin City Centre using my Lumix LX7.

This is one is decorated for the Tesco supermarket chain and is one of four trams presently wearing colorful full-body advertising liveries.

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Narrow Gauge to Light Rail: Senhora da Hora.


A significant portion of Porto’s modern light rail Metro system is built on the right of way of an historic narrow gauge network.

In March 2019, photographer Denis McCabe and I visited the old station at Senhora da Hora in suburban Porto. The station building an a water tower survive, providing visual clues of operations from former times.

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Irish Rail Class 071 on Parade.

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Saturday’s (13 April 2019) The West Awakerail tour put Irish Rail’s class 071 diesels in the limelight.

Although once regularly used in prominent passenger services, in recent years Irish Rail’s 071 class General Motors diesels have largely been assigned to freight and per-way (maintenance) trains, which makes their prominent use in excursion work of great interest to observers

I photographed 071 locomotives that participated in Saturday’s tour. Engine 074 delivered Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Cravens carriages from Irish Rail’s Inchicore Works to Connolly Station in Dublin.

Locomotives 082 and 075 had been specially prepared for the tour and set up of multiple unit working, a highly unusual arrangement for these agile six-motor diesels in Ireland.

At Claremorris, the 071 class-leader (number 071 and dressed in retro orange and black paint) took over for the runs to Ballina and Westport.

For 071 enthusiasts, 082 was a special treat because of its extra-loud base roar in the higher throttle positions. While 075 is a curiosity because it is painted in a slightly warmer shade of gray than most of the other members of its class.

I made these photos of the well-maintained 1970s-era General Motors locomotive on parade during The West Awake tour.

Special thanks to everyone at Irish Rail and the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland for making the tour a very enjoyable experience and productive photographic opportunity!

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Portraits and Train Views from RPSI’s 13 April 2019 Tour.


During the course of yesterday’s Railway Preservation Society of Ireland The West Awakerail tour to County Mayo I exposed dozens of portraits of the crew, passengers and observers, along with views of the train from many angles.

This selection was exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

Thanks to Irish Rail and the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland for a well-planned rail excursion!

For more about the RPSI click the link below:

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Irish Rail 074 delivers the RPSI train to Connolly Station.
Connolly Station.

Photographers at Athlone.


Castlerea.


Ballyhaunis.

Claremorris.

Claremorris.

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The West Awake Rail Tour—13 April 2019—Some Lumix views.


Yesterday, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland operated its The West Awake rail-tour in conjunction with Irish Rail.

A special feature of the tour was the unusual multiple-unit operation using a pair of General Motors-built 071 diesels that hauled RPSI’s Cravens to County Mayo.

At  Claremorris the pair of 071s were replaced with locomotive number 071 (class leader) in retro orange for further excursions to Ballina and Westport.

For more about the RPSI click the link below:

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

During the trip I made numerous digital photos using my Lumix LX7.

Below are a dozen of my finest Lumix LX7 views. I’ll post more photos soon! The best are yet to come!

Special thanks to everyone at RPSI and Irish Rail for an excellent excursion to the west of Ireland!

Irish Rail 074 delivers the excursion train to Connolly Station for boarding. The early start resulted in an opportunity for making photos in rosy morning light. Lumix LX7 photo.

Connolly Station.


Multiple working with 071 diesel is unusual.


Friends at Connolly Station.

The West Awake approaches Islandbridge Junction; a different view of my usual spot!
Photo stop at Athlone.


Athlone.


Double header at Roscommon!


Enjoying the trip!


Discussing the finer points of railways.


Westport through the glass.

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Westport.

Conversations with Brian Solomon; Trains Magazine Podcast Episode 19—Discussions on railroad photography.


In this most recent podcast, I discuss railroad photography with Trains Associate Editor Brian Schmidt and Digital Editor Steve Sweeney. What do the editors see as overplayed in the genre? How can you get your photos in Trains Magazine? Listen in today and learn!

Check out the podcast on Sound Cloud:

Photo by Colm O’Callaghan.


I made this photo of Amtrak’s westward Southwest Chief passing Style T-2 semaphores on the old Santa Fe near Levy, New Mexico on a trip with Mel Patrick in 1998. What do Trains’ editors think of Santa Fe semaphore photos? Listen to the podcast, and you may be surprised!

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Porto’s Magnificent Sao Bento Station—Five Photos!


In my Railway Guide to Guide to Europe, I featured Porto’s Sao Bento Station.

On my recent visit to Porto with fellow photographer Denis McCabe, I took the opportunity to re-photograph this stunning railway terminal. I’ve included a few of these views below.

Here’s an excerpt from my text on Sao Bento Station:

Sao Bento  . . . was designed by architect Marques da Silva and constructed in the early 20th century.  . . .Portuguese stations are known for their elaborate blue painted-tile decorations but none is more elaborate than Sao Bento. Inside the main hall allegorical tile murals by Jorge Colaço depict the history of transportation and events in Portuguese history.

From Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe ©2018

Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe is available from Kalmbach Hobby Store click below for the link:

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

Lumix LX7 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.


Lumix LX7 photo.

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Tracking the Light: Diversity within a Niche.


In my quest to display transport and railway images while disseminating information on technique, location choice, lighting and how I use photographic equipment, I’ve aimed to cover a diverse range of railway subjects.

These include: freight and passenger; heavy rail and transit; views across North America, Ireland and many other nations; photos by day, by night and in dusk and in twilight; rural, urban and suburban settings; above ground and below; track gauges broad, standard and narrow; preserved railways and modern for-profit carriers; historic and contemporary subjects; film and digital; black & white and colour; wide angle and telephoto; model trains and prototype; views with scenery, with structures, with people; photos in all weather; sun over the shoulder, sun in the face, and sun behind the cloud. Signals, bridges, stations, sheds, and etc; Common places and obscure locations.

Also myriad associated forms of transport including canals, highways and in the skies; active lines and those lifted.

Some images represent a degree of perfection; most are works in progress; a few present examples of failure or missed opportunity.

CN freight in the snow at Lomira, Wisconsin.

SNCB passenger trains at Ottignies, Belgium on a cloudy morning.

Amador Central backlit in the Sierra foothills in March 1997.



Broadstone Station with LUAS tram, Dublin.

SEPTA Silverliner IVs at Media, Pennsylvania at dusk.

Model train at speed at the Amherst Railway Society train show in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

Portuguese Railways Alfa Pendolino near Santarem on a cloudy evening.

Black & white photo made on film at Bridgeport, Connecticut in December 1986.

Irish Rail IWT Liner at North Wall Yard, Dublin. Portrait view.

Irish Rail 29000 train interior.

Bessemer & Lake Erie at Wallace Junction on the evening of July 22, 1988, exposed with flash on Kodachrome using a Leica M2.

White River Junction, Vermont: Boston & Maine 4-4-0 494 on display.

Amiens Street, Dublin in the fog.

Bord na Mona rail section near Lanesborough, County Longford, Ireland.

Duplainville, Wisconsin.

Bord na Mona empties near Lanesborough, County Longford, Ireland.




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Porto Metro at Trindade.


In contrast to my April 2014 visit to Porto’s Trindade station , where I remember horizontal rain blowing into the covered over portions of the platforms, my more recent visit was under clear sunny skies.

Trindade is a busy junction station where Porto Metro lines interface with each other.

At the northeastern end of the top level, Metro tracks exit the station into an open area while taking a remarkably tight curve before plunging into a tunnel below the city.

I exposed these views using my ‘new’ Lumix LX7 on a visit to Porto in late March 2019.

Photos were exposed in ‘A’ mode, which allows me to set the lens aperture manually with the camera selecting a corresponding shutter speed to obtain the ideal exposure.


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GM Powered Diesel Leads Portuguese Timber Train.


Most of the Portuguese main line network is electrified, which makes diesel hauled trains something of a novelty.

Among the regular diesel hauled trains are freights by Portuguese open access operator Takargo, such as this one led by a Vossloh-built Euro 4000 diesel-electric locomotive.

This unusual looking machine sounds familiar since it is powered by a General Motors Electro-Motive Division designed 12 cylinder 710 diesel engine. The Euro 4000 is a cousin of Ireland’s 201 class locomotive and the America F59PHI, also powered by variations of the 12-710.

I made these photos from the platforms at Porto Campanha.

Lumix LX7 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.


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Kildare; Light; Action!


Irish Rail diesel trains on the move.

On Saturday (6 April 2019), Paul Maguire, Jay Monaghan and I were in position at the road bridge west of Kildare Station on Irish Rail’s Dublin-Cork mainline.

The elusive steel train was holding on the middle road waiting to cross over, while a Mark 4 set from Cork weaved through the loop on its way to Dublin’s Heuston Station.

I made this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm fixed telephoto.

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Irish Rail ICRs at Kildare.

A few views from Saturday morning (6 April 2019) at Kildare on Irish Rail’s Dublin-Cork mainline.

I’d traveled down with fellow photographers Paul Maguire and Jay Monaghan.

We were after the elusive steel train from Waterford, and entertained our wait with the passage of regularly scheduled passenger trains.

I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 .

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A set of ROTEM-built InterCity Railcars (ICRs) race up road at Kildare. The train was traveling in the 90-100 mph range so I used 1/1000th of a second to stop the action.

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Aregos, Portugal: English Electric diesel hauled passenger train.


The scenic Douro Valley is legend as one Portugal’s great places to ride and photograph trains.

On our brief visit to the valley last week, Denis McCabe and took positions on the south side of the river to photograph regularly scheduled passenger trains that for a short time were being hauled by vintage English Electric diesels.

What’s so special about diesel-hauled passenger trains? Not only do the English Electric engines represent a throw-back to an earlier era, but by-in-large Portuguese Railways are electrified and/or host passenger multiple units in place of diesel locomotive hauled trains.

I made these photos using my FujiFIlm XT1 with 90mm lens.

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Eiffel Bridge: Porto’s Pont Luis I.

Porto boasts two large Eiffel bridges over the River Douro.

One is a disused railway bridge; the other is this one pictured— the famed Pont Luis I, which carries tram-operated Metro Line D and a pedestrian walkways on its top level and a road on the lower level.

I made this view with my Lumix LX7 from an alleyway east of the bridge.

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Electric Local at Valega, Portugal.


Under a clear sky with a blazing sun over my left shoulder, I made this view of a Comboios de Portugal (Portuguese Railways) local passenger train pausing for a station stop at Valega.

This small town benefits from a regular interval stopping passenger service on the busy double-track Lisbon-Porto mainline that hosts high-speed Alfa Pendolino, InterCity long distance, and lots of freight trains on the same rails.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

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1990s Flashback: Warrior Ridge, Pennsylvania.

It was the coolest defect detector on Conrail.

There, on the old Pennsylvania Railroad ‘Middle Division’, which followed the Juniata River across central Pennsylvania, the railroad passed the point on the map called ‘Warrior Ridge’.

When visiting Huntingdon, PA, you knew you had a train close by when you heard on the radio, “Conrail, Warrior Ridge, Pennsylvania, no defects”.

I made this image of a westward Conrail freight at the signal bridge near Warrior Ridge in 1997 on an epic PA trip with Mike Gardner.

If you look closely you’ll see the dragging equipment flaps and related defect detector equipment.

Exposed using a Nikon N90S.

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Portuguese Railways’ English Electric Diesel Up Close.


Last Saturday, 30 March 2019, Denis McCabe and I navigated sinuous roads over the hills from the Douro Valley to Marco de Canaveses, Portugal in order to inspect one of Portuguese Railways’ vintage English Electric-built diesels that are temporarily assigned to scheduled passenger services on the scenic sections of the Douro Valley route to the east.

Locomotive 1455 restored in a retro-blue livery was laying over between runs at the Marco de Canaveses station. We had about 10 minutes to make photos, before we departed for the return drive to the Douro Valley to catch this machine at work.

I made these views using my Lumix LX7, but also exposed a few Fujichrome Provia 100F slides.

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Spring in Dublin: Grand Canal Docks Railcar at Conyngham Road.

Minutes ago (on 4 April 2019) I made this view from Conyngham Road in Dublin as an ICR working a Grand Canal Docks-Hazelhatch service exited the Phoenix Park Tunnel and crossed the lattice bridge over the River Liffey.

Spring is in bloom and the trees are just getting their leaves, yet it is freezing outside with a harsh nip in the wind.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7; RAW file imported into Lightroom for colour and contrast adjustments.

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Alfa Pendolino at Dusk—Porto Campanha.

In the rosy light of a warm March 2019 evening, I exposed this view of a Portuguese Railways Alfa Pendolino ready to depart Porto Campanha on its scheduled run to Lisbon.

I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 with a 90mm f2.0 prime telephoto. ISO set at 2500; aperture wide open (f 2.0); shutter speed 1/60.

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Medway Electric Cement


Last week, Wednesday 27 March 2019, photographer Denis McCabe and I set up at a rural level crossing south of Pampilhosa, Portugal on the double-track electrified Lisbon-Porto mainline.

Several minutes before a train, warning bells would ring and lights would flash, giving us ample time to prepare for photographs.

The crossing is conveniently situated near the apex of curve in an S-bend.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens, I exposed these photos of a Medway electric leading an empty cement train as it passed the crossing.

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First Foray in Portugal’s Supremely Scenic Douro Valley.


On the agenda for last week’s photographic adventure in Portugal was a venture into the Douro Valley.

In recent weeks line-works had resulted in a throw-back operation of regularly scheduled Douro Valley passenger services using vintage English Electric diesel hauled trains in place of diesel railcars.

[Translation: a limited opportunity to make photos of vintage trains in very scenic settings.]

Denis McCabe and I departed Porto in our hired car for a location I’d preselected the night before.

Google Maps provided the most direct (if not the shortest) route to a point south east of Aregos on the south bank of the river. Neither of us had ever been here before.

For me the Douro Valley resembles a populated version of California’s Feather River Canyon.

We made it just in time: shortly after our arrival we heard a diesel working up the valley. The cameras were hastily switched ‘on’, positions taken and photos made.

Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Trailing view. Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
This is a much enlarged and cropped view of the photo above.

Special thanks to Tracking the Light reader and fellow photographer Stephen Hirsch who supplied us with up to date details on Douro Valley operations.

Not bad for our first minutes in the Douro Valley. But there’s more to come! Stay tuned . . . 

Irish Rail’s ICR works the up-Sligo at Clonsilla—March 2019.

Tracking the Light is on ‘auto pilot’ while Brian is traveling.

Never pass up a perfect sunny photograph. That’s been my policy for a very long time and its one that pays off.

There’s nothing special about an Irish Rail Rotem-built InterCity Railcar (ICR) on the Sligo Line.

And 20 years ago there was nothing special about a General Motors 071 diesel-electric with Mark 2 carriages on the same run. Photos like this one will age well. Someday some young photographer will wish that he/she was at Clonsilla to capture a scene like this one.

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