Category Archives: photography

Spin to Howth

Sunday evening Kris and I took a spin to Howth and back on Irish Rail’s DART from Connolly Station.

I made my first trip to Howth on the DART back in March 1998. On that visit I made photos with a Nikon F3T loaded with Fujichrome Velvia.

For Sunday’s visit, I worked with my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm zoom, while Kris made photos with her Fuji XT4.

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Irish Rail’s Connolly Station

Yesterday, I made this photo of an Irish Rail ICR (InterCity railcar) paused at Platform 4 at Dublin Connolly Station.

It was a comparatively quiet Sunday afternoon and dull outside, but the soft lighting made for a perfect time to portray the modern diesel railcar in the Victorian-era railway station.

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series Nikkor zoom.

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LUAS at Night.

The other night Kris and I went for a spin to The Point Depot and back on Dublin’s LUAS Red Line.

As it happened the tram we traveled upon was one of the Sky television advertising trams that I featured in yesterday’s post.

Photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

LUAS at the Four Courts in Dublin.
LUAS Sky television advertising tram at The Point in Dublin’s docklands.

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Frankenstein-Two Years Ago Today.

Step back to September 28, 2020. I had just bought my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. The foliage was turning, and I hiked up to the famed Frankenstein Trestle to catch the Mountaineer on its ascent of Crawford Notch.

This photo is among my favorites from 2020. I have used it extensively to promote Conway Scenic Railroad. It has appeared in various magazines and newspapers. The railroad sells refrigerator magnets featuring this image in the North Conway Brass Whistle Gift Shop, and we had monochromatic hoodies made up as well.

Saturday, September 17, 2022, Conway Daily Sun featured the photo on the cover of the newspaper.

The photo was exposed with my Z-series 24-70mm zoom set at 26mm, aperture at f4; camera shutter speed to 1/1000th of a second. I made adjustments to shadows, highlights and color temperature and saturation using Adobe Lightroom.

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Sneaky Tips Part 1

Here’s an interesting way to make elevated views of Dublin’s trams: ride at the back of an open-top tour bus.

Kris and I bought 48-hour tickets for the Big Bus Dublin, which provides a half-hourly hop-on hop-off service.

This was primarily a way for us to play tourists in Dubln, but I quickly found that it offered an excellent means to photograph the LUAS.

We traveled on three different types of buses. The variety that was most effective allowed me to shoot over the railing at the very back of the bus. Some of the more modern coaches didn’t have this feature, so you should choose your bus carefully.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera with a 24-70mm zoom.

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May 1978-Amtrak 448 Passes Palmer.

In May 1978, my father drove us to Palmer, Massachusetts to watch the passage of the eastward Lake Shore Limited (train 448). I made a series of photos using my pre-war Leica IIIA rangefinder on Kodacolor II color negative film.

This trailing view looks east toward the old South Main Street Bridge and Conrail’s Palmer yard. It looks like something nasty happened to the westward signal (at right). A pair of E8s led the train.

Despite their age, these old color negatives have held up reasonably well. I scanned them in 2016 using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

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Perspectives on Dawson Street

Yesterday (September 23, 2022) ,as Kris and I walked down Dawson Street in Dublin, I made photos of the passing LUAS trams.

I was aiming for some new perspectives on the LUAS.

At the St Stephens Green, we boarded a Big Red Bus that had an open top section at the back, and retraced our steps.

An open top bus in Dublin, Hmmmm . . . .

All photos exposed digitally with a Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series Zoom.

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High Contrast Trams

Yesterday evening (September 22, 2022), I made a few photos of Dublin’s LUAS trams using my Nikon Z6.

It had been raining much of the day but about 6pm the sun came out, making for some interesting but high contrast scenes.

Back in the old days I’d have worked with black & white film to make the most of this type of lighting, and controlled the contrast chemically. Now, I’m applying contrast controls digitally to my Nikon’s NEF (RAW) files using Adobe Lightroom.

Do these photos work?

If they don’t, I’ll take more later.

LUAS tram on Parnell Street in Dublin. JPG from the unaltered NEF file (No changes to color, contrast, exposure etc).
LUAS tram on Parnell Street in Dublin. This is my adjusted version of the same NEF file. I’ve paid special attention to the sky using Adobe Lightroom’s built in ‘select sky’ mask.
Abbey Street in Dublin. JPG from the unaltered NEF file (No changes to color, contrast, exposure etc).
Abbey Street in Dublin. JPG from the adjusted NEF file.

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Kris & Brian’s Wedding Photos

We were married just after 3pm on Sunday, September 18th at the Indian Head Resort near Lincoln, NH.

This was a wonderful pastoral setting and Kris looked very beautiful.

To capture the event Kris & I hired professionsal photographer Mark R Ducharme who posed us at various locations .

He made dozens of images that afternoon using Canon EOS R5 and R6 digital cameras and sent us a sampling of photos to help remember the event.

For me the wedding, so long-awaited, went by in a seamless series of snapshots, brief conversations, and memories of times and friends past.

It was a very happy day!

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Fujinon 50-140mm Lens Sample

On September 16, 2019, I was traveling in Germany with my old pal T.S.H.

We’d set up north of Boppard along the River Rhein to photograph the morning parade of trains on the busy ‘Left Bank’ route.

For these photos I borrowed T.S.H.’s 50-140mm Fujinon zoom and fixed it to my Fujifilm XT1 as a test.

These images are scaled from the in-camera Fuji JPGsmade with the camera’s Velvia color profile. These files have not been adjusted in post-processing.

Both images are trailing views of northward train IC 2226 that were exposed from the same vantage point. The first has the zoom set at 50mm, while the second has the zoom set at 140mm.

Fujinon 50-140mm zoom at f5.6 1/500 sec; 50mm setting.
Fujinon 50-140mm zoom at f6.3 1/500 sec; 140mm setting.

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Nine Years Ago: B-17 in the sky.

On September 15, 2013, I observed and photographed an airshow over Dublin.

Working with my Canon EOS7D with 200mm prime telephoto, I made these views of an historic World War II-era B-17 aircraft as it circled the city center.

These photos are scaled versions of the camera-profiled JPGs. Canon’s sensor has a wonderful ability to render sky colors.

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By Goves—Take Two.

Yesterday (September 13, 2022) I returned to Goves, where the old Maine Central Mountain Division ducks under Route 302 east of Bartlett, NH, to again photograph Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer on its westward run to Crawford Notch.

The other day in my Tracking the Light Post, ‘Poles and Wires Conundrum,’ I described my compositional frustrations with this location.

Working with my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens, I selected a slightly lower position that was a bit closer to the tracks.

On this attempt, the Mountaineer had two units and seven cars, which made for a more photogenic train. Also, it was brightly overcast, which helped to minimize the poles and wires, and I opted for a tight crop.

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Maine Central 501 on the Move!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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HO Reading Co. Sept 2022.

I’ve been working on my scale Reading Company.

Since the last time I featured my scale railway, I’ve refined and expanded the scenery.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 working with a f2.8 70-200mm and high ISO settings.

In post processing I lightened shadows and cooled the color balance to more closely emulate daylight.

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Chicken Run

Yesterday, Kris & I made a drive to Vermont to deliver Hans-the-Rooster-Chicken to an animal sacntuary where he will live out his days. Hans has lived in our back yard since 2020 and has faithfully ushered in the new day with his cockadoodeling for many months.

It was a beautiful day and on the way back we stopped at a various places to make photos.

All of these photos were exposed digitally using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

Poles and Wires Conundrum

Assemblies of poles and wires can make or break a photo location.

I’ve been flummoxed by the location on the former Mountain Division known as Goves, where the railroad ducks under Rt 302 on the way to Bartlett.

This is one of a scant few overpasses on the Conway Scenic Railroad. What makes the location difficult are several sets of road-side wires that run both parallel and perpendicular to the railroad line.

Wires and poles can create visually distracting elements that can disrupt a composition . Especially difficult are very heavy black cables in this scene that are thoroughly distracting and difficult to minimize.

Yesterday, I photographed the westbound Conway Scenic Mountaineer at Goves and the poles and wires ended up bisecting the scene in various awkward ways.

Below I’ve included two sets of photos, the top image in each set shows the uncropped image; the bottom in each set shows selective cropping aimed at minimizing the effect of the poles and wires.

Full-frame, without cropping.
Cropped
Full-frame, without cropping.
Cropped

Amtrak California Zephyr

I love to gaze across the great expanse of the desert. On the morning of September 4, 1996, we climbed atop one of the ‘mud mounds’ at Floy in the Utah desert east of Green River and waited for Amtrak No.6—the California Zephyr.

I made this trailing view on Fujichrome Velvia slide film with my Nikon F3T fitted with a Nikkor f4.0 200mm prime telephoto.

Amtrak’s long distance trains were in the transition between the 1970s-era F40PH-2s and the mid-1990s era General Electric GENESIS™ P40s and in this view of the California Zephyr featured one of each locomotives.

At the back of the train was a private car with its single red light marking the rear.

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Write Error? No!

Working with my Lumix LX7 last month, I made a variety of photos of St. Lawrence & Atlantic 394 coming down from the border crossing at Norton, Vermont.

When I first attempted to download the SD card from the Lumix, I noticed a serious problem with several of my files.

Portions of the files suffered from corrupted data, with large portions of the image area scrambled.

However, when I viewed the photos in camera, there was no sign of this problem.

Normally, I take the SD card out of the Lumix and used a card reader to couple the card to my MacBook Pro. Then I download the files using a program called ‘Image Capture version 8.0’. Once downloaded, I then upload select images into Lightroom. This saves the files which creates a secondary backup, while allowing me to organize the photos and make scaled and corrected copies.

After a bit of fussing, I decided that what I had suffered wasn’t a write error to the card (which is a very serious problem), but rather a card read error. In otherwords all the information was safely stored my SD card and it was getting corrupted during the downloading process.

What, I ended up doing was using Lightroom to download the card directly. Then I used Lightroom to output my originals in DNG format which I stored in a folder along with the rest of my August Lumix files.

Below, I show the corrupted files as I original saw them (scaled for internet), then the unadjusted DNG files (scaled); and finally my adjusted DNG files.

The lesson: don’t panic if you suffer from corrupted files. Your data may still be recoverable. [Just don’t erase or format the card.]

Corrupted file from my initial download using a card reader an Image Capture 8.0
Unaltered file uploaded using Lightroom and exported in DNG format for archiving then converted to JPG for internet display.
Adjusted DNG file using Adobe Lightroom, scaled and exported as a JPG for internet display
Corrupted file from my initial download using a card reader an Image Capture 8.0
Unaltered file uploaded using Lightroom and exported in DNG format for archiving then converted to JPG for internet display.
Adjusted DNG file using Adobe Lightroom, scaled and exported as a JPG for internet display

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Trams at Place Royale in Brussels.

Using my first Lumix LX7, I made this series of photos of the route 93 trams passing Place Royale in Brussels, Belgium on August 18, 2014.

It was dusk and the light was fading rapidly while taking on that royal blue hue that last for just a few minutes.

Effectively making photos at dusk is always a challenge. I had the camera set to ‘A’ mode (Aperture Priority).

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New Hampshire Chronicle Visits Conway Scenic

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

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

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

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Union Pacific at Pacific, Missouri on Missouri Pacific.

That is correct despite the appearance of redundancy.

What if I caught a UP 4-6-2 here?

I’m in the final lap of my Union Pacific book.

I’d write more but I’m nearly UP’d out.

A UP distributed power unit (radio controlled remote) works at the back of a unit coal train passing the historic town of Pacific, Missouri in August 2011. Canon 7D digital image processed in Adobe Lightroom.

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Compare: RAW versus Camera-Profiled JPG

On August 28, 2014, I made this photo of a down InterCity Railcar on Irish Rail’s Quad Track near Clondalkin in west suburban Dublin.

I was photographing with my Canon EOS7D fitted with a prime f2.8 200mm lens.

I had the camera set up to simultaneously expose a Hi-Res RAW and a color-profiled JPG file using the Canon pre-programed ‘Standard’ setting. (Recorded to the file as ‘sRGB IEC61966-2.1’)

Normally, I’d make adjustments to the RAW file.

In this case, I’ve opted to display the two files without adjustment for point of comparison.

Canon JPG with camera ‘Standard’ color profile: ‘sRGB IEC61966-2.1’
Canon camera RAW (CR2 file).

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August 28, 2012

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

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

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

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BNSF Switcher in Seattle, Washington.

On our way back from Tokyo in April 1997, my dad and I stopped over in Seattle, Washington.

Although I was in a haze of Jet lag from the long flight, we rented a car and drove around . Near the downtown, we set up to make photos of the waterfront trolley line, which at that time served Seattle. The trolley tracks were parallel to BNSF tracks. While waiting for the trolley, this BNSF switcher and caboose came by.

The switcher, according to published rosters, was a former Great Northern EMD SW1200 built in Spring 1957. So at the time of the photo, the locomotive was 40 years old. I wonder what became of it?

The slides sat in the little green Fujichrome box until this morning, when I opened it up and scanned this image.

After scanning a hi-res TIF image, I imported the file into Adobe Lightroom and made some adjustements to improve color balance, exposure and contrast.

The top image is my scaled by unadjusted scan, the bottom image reflects my adjustments.

Scaled, but unmodified scan.
Adjusted scans

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Something Random and Familiar

I was looking for something else and I found a box of Fujichrome slides: on it was written ‘VRS’. Nothing more.

Inside are a bunch of gems from early 1998. Photographer Mike Gardner and I had made a trip to Rutland, Vermont where we photographed a Vermont Rail System local freight that worked a Clarendon & Pittsford job to a quarry.

This was just a few weeks before I made my first trip to England and Ireland. Months later when I returned from across the Atlantic, this box of slides sat on my desk. I don’t think I ever look at it. None of the slides are labled and they are all in numerical order.

Today, it has special significance to me. Leading the train is Clarendon & Pittsford GP38 number 203.

That’s former Maine Central 255, now Conway Scenic 255. It is the locomotive I see almost every day! Back then it was just another red VRS EMD diesel.

I scanned the slide using a Nikon LS5000 scanner driven by VueScan software. I scanned as a high-res TIF file then imported into Adobe Lightroom for some minor adjustments.

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Union Pacific Station-Caliente, Nevada.

I made this photo of the old Union Pacific station at Caliente, Nevada in March 1997. Photographer Mel Patrick and I had been following the Los Angeles & Salt Lake route west from Utah.

Not far from Caliente we’d discovered one of the tires had developed a serious defect. It wasn’t flat, but it was about to be!

We arrived in town too late to visit the local mechanic, so stayed overnight across from the station. Before sunrise, I went over to the railroad and exposed a series of Fujichrome slides of the UP station using my Nikon F3T that I’d fitted with Mel’s 16mm full-frame fisheye.

This unusual lens lent itself to photos like this one.

I’ve only visited Caliente once in my life.

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Tie Train Passes the Station.

Almost every train on Conway Scenic Railroad stops at the North Conway Station.

It is extremely unusual train that passes the station without stopping

Yesterday, while serving in the capacity as ‘Manager on Duty,’ I cleared Work Extra 252 into North Conway from Conway, and granted it permission to drop its caboose at the North Yard before continuing West.

I made this selection of photos as vintage GP38 252 worked passed the 1874 station.

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Ballast Extra at Echo Acres.

On Conway Scenic Railroad, the first public grade crossing east of North Conway is Echo Acres.

Since the whole railroad is arranged on the timetable, trains are either moving east or west regardless of the compass.

I knew that Extra 573 was on the move west of West Side road, and I figured I could beat it to the crossing.

It was hot and hazy, and I made the most of the scene using using my Nikon Z6 with 80-200mm lens, while snapping a slide with my Nikon F3 with 50mm lens.

All the photos below were made digitally with my Nikon Z6.

Z6 with 80-200mm lens set at 200mm f9 1/320 sec.
Z6 with 80-200mm lens set at 200mm f9 1/250 sec.

Z6 with 80-200mm lens set at 200mm f9 1/320 sec.

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Looking West at Sunset

I’m in the final phases of my book Union Pacific and its Predecessors.

Among the photos I’ve been sifting through are images I exposed on film between 1990 and 2016.

I made this Fujichrome slide looking west along Union Pacific’s Chicago & North Western east-west mainline west of of Ashton, Illinois on the evening of November 10, 2008.

I was traveling with fellow photographer Marshall Beecher and we caught this Union Pacific train in the final glow of daylight.

At the time I was working with a pair of Canon EOS-3 film cameras.

This morning I scanned the slide using a Nikon LS-5000 digital scanner powered by VueScan software and imported the TIF file into Adobe Lightroom for scaling and color adjustment to be presented here.

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Morning Light at Conway, NH.

Among the challenges of summer photography on a tourist railroad is that train operations tend to be focused during the middle of the day when the light is comparatively harsh.

Generally speaking, the passengers appear to be more focused on eating breakfast during the early morning, so we schedule the trains for later in the morning. The first train boards at 9:15 am.

The other day, we sent out a work Extra more than an hour ahead of the scheduled Conway train in order for the work crew to get ballast and ties loaded onto the train at Conway before the first passenger train arrived. This made good use of time, and provided me with some photographic opportunities.

I made these photos of the Work Extra at Conway before 9am using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

Occasionally I’m asked about the schedules for the work trains. Unfortunately my answers aren’t very helpful. By definition, a ‘Work Extra’ doesn’t have a schedule. These trains typically have to stay out of the way of the regular passenger excursions. They are called ‘as-required’, and move about the railroad as it suits the crews to get their work done. Plans change quickly and so it can be difficult to know when and where the trains will be more than a few hours or minutes in advance.

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Valley Crew Portraits

Recently, Conway Scenic Railroad invested in new employee uniforms.

Yesterday, I made a few portraits of the Valley crew on the platform of the North Conway station, shortly before the train was ready to board for Sawyers River.

These photos were exposed as NEF Raw files using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm zoom, and processed in Adobe Lightroom to adjuste highlight and shadow detail, over all color temperature, and sky detail.

The advantage of the Nikon NEF Raw is that it captures an enormous volume of data.

I posted versions of these photos to the company’s social media to help promote the railroad.

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Is this pole a nuisance?

The other day at White River Junction, Vermont, I made this photo of the Vermont Rail System yard office and GP38 204 using my Lumix LX7.

I like the classic style railroad building and vintage diesel, but I’m not sure about the pole. Would this photo be better without the pole, or does it lend context and relevance to the image?

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Two Ways to Make a Panorama

Standing at the south end of the platform at White River Junction, Vermont, I envisioned a panoramic image that would show the station and the locomotives parked to either side of the station.

I wanted to convey the sense of Junction, while making use of the nice afternoon sunlight.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I used the ‘panoramic’ function in ‘scene mode’, which allowed me to make a panoramic composite. Moving the camera from right to left while holding the shutter down makes for a sequence of image that are then sewed together in-camera using a preprogramed algorithm .

Lumix LX7 panoramic composite image at White River Junction, Vermont.

Then I set the camera with a 16:9 aspect ratio and made a single frame, which I then cropped manually to give it a panoramic look.

This second method provided better compositional control and is free from the computer generated artifacts associated with composite images, but isn’t as sharp as the composite.

Cropped version of a single 16:9 aspect ratio image aimed at better featuring the locomotives, station, and clouds.

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Connecticut Trolley Museum-August 13, 2022.

Over the last 45 years, I’ve made countless visits to the Connecticut Trolley Museum at East Windsor.

Last Saturday, Kris and I paid a visit to the museum, in part to experience this classic interpretation of a early twentieth century New England electric railways, and to meet with Daryl Mundis of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society (as described in Sunday’s post).

I made the photos below working with my Lumix LX7.

Lumix RAW files were adjusted in Adobe Lightroom to correct for exposure, contrast, and color temperature.

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Amtrak 448 catches the Glint in Palmer.

Yesterday evening at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts in time-honored tradition, Kris and I rolled by Amtrak 448—the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited

I made these photos with my Lumix LX7. Working from the camera RAW, I made necessary adjustments in Lightroom to control highlight detail, color balance and contrast.

August 12, 2022.
August 12, 2022.

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Southern Pacific on the West Valley

In 1991, Southern Pacific was still routing through freight over its West Valley route between Tehama and Davis, California.

Photographer Brian Jennison and I were on our way to photograph streamlined steam locomotive 4449 at Redding on August 31, 1991 (featured yesterday on TTL), when we intercepted a westward SP freight working its way along the West Valley route.

Although we were a little tight on time for the steam locomotive, we decided to make the most of this fortuitous find, and photographed the freight twice, once just south (timetable west) of Willows, California and again 15 minutes later near Delavan.

This was one of just a few SP trains that I photographed on the West Valley route that was sold off a couple of years later to a short line start-up called California Northern. I revisited this territory in 2003 and again in 2005, to photograph and travel on California Northern’s local freight.

Photos were exposed on black & white film with a Leica M2 fitted with 50mm Summicron, and cropped slightly for effect.

Although 31 years after I made this image, the subject matter resonates with me more than ever, in my opinion, I released the shutter just a moment too soon. I wish I’d centered the locomotive between the signals.
Looking timetable East at Delavan, California. I also made a color slide at this location when the freight got closer.

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