Five years ago, I was poised at the army bridge near Mosney over the old Great Northern line to photograph the, then new, Belmond Grand Hibernian on its run from Dublin to Belfast.
This luxury tour train made weekly tours of the Irish network in season.
Irish Rail class 201 number 216 was painted to match Belmond’s train set, and was routinely assigned to the train.
Belmond’s choice of a dark navy blue made for challenging photos in conditions other than bright sun. In photos, this shade of blue often appeared almost black, and when lightened using post processing software tended to shift green.
In this view, I selectively lightened the front of the locomotive, and applied minimal lightening to the shadow areas of the entire scene. I’ve attempted to retain the true color of the train as best I can.
Over the years, I have often featured New England Central GP38 3850 on Tracking the Light. I was reminded of this on Tuesday with the spectacular photos of its failure on State Line Hill that appeared on social media, Tuesday.
Yesterday, I featured a night photo this locomotive
Yesterday I learned through social media that New England Central 3850 suffered a main generator fire while climbing State Line Hill (located in my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts.)
Over the last 26 years, I’ve made countless photos of this antique EMD diesel-electric at work and at rest.
While I cannot predict the future, I know that often with older diesels, a main generator failure may represent the kiss of the scrapper.
When it came to New England Central in 1995, 3850 carried the number 9531, which is how I picture it in the December 1996 view below.
I made this photo at Palmer, Massachusetts using a mix of artificial lighting, including electronic strobe for fill flash, and my original Fujichrome slide is strongly tinted.
I scanned this slide using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner driven by Epson Scan 2 software. Working from a high-resolution TIF file, I initially scaled the photo without corrections.
Then, working with slider controls in Adobe Lightroom, I implemented a variety of color corrections, plus contrast and exposure adjustements to overcome flaws with color balance and exposure. Below are both results for point of comparison.
Tracking the Light is a Daily Photoblog focused on railroads.
NI Railways had a minimalist presence in Derry, Northern Ireland when I visited there on 5 April 2002.
The railway station consisted of a 1960s-era bus shelter style building and a single platform serving two tracks, situated flush with the River Foyle.
I made these photos while boarding an NIR 80-class railcar bound for Belfast.
My camera was a rugged Contax G2 Rangefinder fitted with 45mm Zeiss Planar lens and loaded with Kodak Tri-X black & white film. I used a red filter to alter the black & white tonality and boost contrast.
For me the film’s contrast and stark spring lighting was well-suited to the minimalist railway infrastructure.
Working with my Contax G2 Rangefinder fitted with a Zeiss 28mm Biogon, I made thisa color slide at Zoar, Massachusetts on the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg Line.
Photographer Pat Yough and I had started the day(February 13, 2005) at Guilford’s East Deerfield Yard, where at daybreak symbol freight EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction) was being readied for its westward journey.
We followed the freight west, using the lightly traveled road to the Hoosac Tunnel to reach Zoar.
A few days ago, I’d posted a view of this same train on its approach to the East Portal. See:
I made this Fujichrome slide of the New England Central yard at Palmer, Massachusetts in January 1998—just a few weeks before embarking on my first trip to Ireland
The subtle duo-chromic hues and stark winter landscape make for a simple frame for what I find a visually complicated image.
Carefully observe the unorthodox use of selective focus.
Where a common solution for a focus point might have been on the nose of the locomotive, instead I aimed at the distant truss bridge at the south-end of the yard, while leaving the tracks in the foreground slightly blurred.
The use of lighting selective provides silhouettes.
Texture in the tracks, trees and sky, add complexity.
In 1997, I still kept one camera loaded with Kodachrome 25.
At the end the day on August 6th during a visit to Vermont, Mike Gardner and I paused at the Bellows Falls station for a few photos.
Working with a Nikon F3T, a 24mm Nikkor wideangle lens, I made this Kodachrome slide of the setting sun reflecting off the rails of the diamond where Green Mountain Railroad crossed New England Central.
There are certain types of lighting siutation where Kodachrome really shined! And this is one of the them.
Sawyers siding is just west of the 4th Iron Bridge over Sawyer River.
Sunday Aug 29, 2021, Conway Scenic operated two trains from North Conway to Sawyers to run around. The first was the regularly scheduled Valley train, on its daily run that boards at North Conway at 1230pm.
The second, which ran about an hour later, was a charter for New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu. This carried ‘white flags,’ which by the rulebook indicates an extra train operating by train order without an assigned schedule.
I made these photos of the charter at the east end of the Sawyers siding with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera. Both were processed using Adobe Lightroom to boost shadow detail, warm color temperature, and increase color saturation.
Tracking the Light is a blog that focuses on the process of railroad photography, and how certain techniques produce different results. Light, angle and season play an enormous role in the end result.
In yesterday’s Tracking the Light, I featured a misty autumn-morning view of a westward Guilford Rail System freight crossing the bridge over the Deerfield River on approach to the east portal of the Hoosac Tunnel.
Today, I’m featuring a photo exposed a few months later (February 2005) of another westward freight crossing the same bridge: winter versus autumn; south side of the bridge versus the north; and later in the morning. Another difference was my choice of lens: 45mm on the winter view; 180mm on the autumn.
In addition, I’ve included two slightly different versions of the February 2005 photo, as well as one of the photos from yesterday’s post for point of comparison.
This freight was EDRJ, which Pat Yough and I followed all the way to the Hudson River and beyond!
Both images were made from a scan of the same slide, which had been exposed on Fujichrome film using a Contax G2 rangefinder with 45 mm Zeiss lens.
Yesterday at Conway Scenic we turned GP35 216 on the turntable.
Now the high short hood is facing south.
This directional change was performed for operational reasons, but has also opened up a variety of photographic possibilities, especially on the return run of Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer from Crawford Notch.
I made these views in the North Conway, NH yard using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.
Over the years I’ve used a great variety of Camera-film combinations.
In 2009, I largely worked with a pair of Canon EOS-3s loaded with Fujichrome.
On an October trip to photograph along the old Erie Railroad, I had one of my EOS-3s fitted with a Canon 100-400mm. The morning of the 6th, I caught Western New York & Pennsylvania’s HNME (Hornell, New York to Meadville, PA) arriving a Meadville.
A dozen years earlier I’d photographed the same Montreal Locomotive Works diesel working the Cartier Railway in Quebec using Nikon cameras loaded with Kodachrome.
I wonder how I might capture this scene today with my current camera combinations?
Irish Rail class 141 number 167 glides over the River Liffey at Islandbridge, Dublin.
I made this view from my old apartment at Islandbridge in December 2005.
Although I had just recently purchased a Canon EOS3, I was still working with my old Nikon F3s, which is what I used to expose this view on Fujichrome.
At the time there were still a number of class 141/181 General Motors diesels working for Irish Rail.
Over the years, the trees and other obstructions gradually hemmed in my view of the tracks, so that by the time I left more than a dozen years later, it was more difficult to obtain an uncluttered photo of a train crossing the Liffey from the apartment.
On December 28, 2005, toward the end of Irish Rail’s final beet season, I stood on the western shore of the Barrow, where I aimed a Nikon F3 fitted with a 180mm f2.8 lens and loaded with Fujichrome toward the multiple span Pratt truss that crosses the river.
NI Railways 112 (on loan to Irish Rail) worked east across the span at about 5mph with a train of four-wheel empty beet wagons.
Last night I scanned the nearly 16-year old slide using my Epson V600 scanner at relatively high resolution (3200 dpi) then imported the resulting TIF file into Lightroom.
The RAW scan exhibits a minor red tint. To compensate I made a variety of changes. First I moved the black point to the limit of data loss with the aid of the histogram. This adjusted the tonal range of the slide, then I worked with green-magenta and blue-yellow color correction sliders to balance the color, while paying close attention to hue in the shadow areas.
Finally I made some nominal contrast and saturation changes to make for a more pleasing image before outputting as a medium resolution JPG crafted for optimum internet presentation.
Below is the unadjusted JPG along with my final adjusted JPG for comparison. Since every computer screen is slightly different and provide varied interpretations of my images.
the proof of success for my adjustments may be in the color prints that I have yet to make.
In addition, I’ve also included a screen shot of the Lightroom control panel so that you may see how I’ve moved the sliders to improve the scan.
On a day trip to Cork City (Ireland) in April 2002, I made this photo using my Contax G2 rangefinder on Kodak Tri-X.
I had the camera fitted with a 45mm Zeiss lens. Key to the image tonality was an orange filter, which gives the photo a contrasty snap with lots of texture in the sky while lightening the rendiition of the shade of orange paint on the class 201 diesels.
I’d processed the film using a custom mix of Ilfotec HC.
To scan the film, I used my Epson V600 flatbed scanner with Epson Scan 2 driving software. I made nominal adjustments to contrast using Adobe Lightroom.
This represents another experimental series of scans with my V600 and recently downloaded Epson Scan 2 (188.8.131.52) software.
I’d purchased my Epsom V600 about 2011 to replace an earlier Epson V500 scanner that had suffered a failure. Until recently I was using the original Epson software to drive the V600. The other night I decided to upgrade the software and install it on a more modern & much faster Apple MacBook Pro.
Although Epson’s Scan 2 software appears to have been on the market for a while, I’d just discovered it the other day. More to the point, I’ve found that it vastly improved my scans. This scanner-driver software combination offers greater clarity, exceptional sharpness, and runs faster and more consistently which allows the same scanner to perform noticeably better than with the earlier Epson driver.
I’d exposed this medium-formet Kodak Tri-X 400 ISO black & white film using my Rollei Model T, while exploring Austria’s Semmering Pass with photographer Denis McCabe in August 2003. On a warm afternoon we waited out a thundershower at the station shelter in Breitenstein.
I’d processed the film after my return to Dublin using Ilfotec HC liquid developer which offered broad tonal range and very fine grain.
The other day I uploaded Epson Scan 2 to drive my ten-year old Epson V600 scanner.
I decided to make a few test scans and selected this Fujichrome color slide I exposed of a San Jose-bound Cal Train at Bayshore, California on August 13, 2009.
I was delighted with high-quality scan using this improved scanner-driver combination. I imported the TIF file into Adobe Lightroom to make minor adjustments to color and contrast in order to improve the Web-presentation.
I’ve only photographed Baldwin diesels a few times.
The most memorable was back on April 3, 1993. I was traveling with fellow photographer Brian Jennison, and we made a morning of following this Sierra Railroad Baldwin on its run from Oakdale into the Sierra foothills toward Jamestown, Califronia.
Near Chinese Camp, we hiked to this shallow cutting, where I used my Nikon F3T fitted with a 105mm f1.8 lens to expose a Kodachrome sequence of the antique diesel leading a train of Southern Pacific wood chip cars .
This Baldwin made a characteristic low RPM chortle, unlike any modern diesels.
On an afternoon in August 2009, I stood atop a parking garage near Jack London Square in Oakland, California where I made this view featuring an Amtrak Capitols train against a backdrop of the city’s sprawling port facilities.
I was working with a Canon EOS3 fitted with a 100-400mm zoom lens to expose a Fujichrome slide. This was several months before buying my first digital camera.
During my five week stay in California that year I exposed more than 80 rolls of color slide film. Many of my photos featured scenes around San Francisco Bay. At the time I envisioned writing a book on San Francisco, but I didn’t get sufficient interest from my publishers at the time to move that proposal forward.
On our drive from North Conway to Massachusetts last month, Kris and I stopped over at Bellows Falls, Vermont .
Amtrak’s Vermonter had yet to resume operation. New England Central’s line had been washed out to the south at Putney. While, Vermont Rail System’s Green Mountain Railroad (former Rutland Railroad) seemed quiet.
With my Lumix LX7, I exposed these photos of the Bellows Falls Station, the tunnel beneath downtown, and the Grist Mill Museum near the tunnel.
I created these JPGs from the camera’s RAW files using Adobe Lightroom, where I adjusted the color, contrast and saturation to make for more pleasing images, which more closely resembled what I perceived on the day.
Three years ago on August 5th, John Gruber dropped me off at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station where I photographed Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service before boarding a train for Chicago Union Station. There I changed for the eastward Lake Shore Limited.
I made these images using my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit.
Last week I learned, much to my surprise, that the old Boston & Maine station at Berlin, NH is still standing. So yesterday (31 July 2021), Kris Sabbatino and I drove to the east side of this old New Hampshire milltown to investigate.
I made these photos from the street using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.
I’ve seen stations in better shape than this one. Also, it has been without regular passenger service for about 60 years. The tracks have been lifted and its a long walk from the center of town. But it has a ‘For Sale’ sign out front! (If you are interested).
I’ve been reviewing 40 years worth of Amtrak photos for an article I’m writing for a German magazine.
In the mix of old chromes was this 2003 view of the eastward Lake Shore Limited east of milepost 129 between Chester and Middlefield, Massachusetts on CSX’s old Boston & Albany mainline.
Relatively few of Amtrak’s P42 Genesis diesels were painted in the short-lived Northeast Direct livery, making this a relatively unusual photo.
Working with a Nikon fitted with an f2.8 180mm telephoto, I was trying to make the most of a heavily backlit situation in early October. In situations like this I’d typically use my notebook to shield the front element of my lens to minimize the effects of flare. Backlighting autumn foliage helps accentuate the colored leaves.
On this day Amtrak was the booby prize; I was really after the Ringling Brothers Circus Train that was coming east from Selkirk Yard. And that photo is stored in a different file.
Yesterday (26 July 2021), the White Mountains were obscured by hazy smoke that had settled upon the Mount Washington Valley as a result of raging forest fires in the West.
The sun was out, but an eerie gauzy brownish-fog was lingering in the low-lying areas filtering the light.
Working with my Nikon Z6, I made these photos in the smoky light of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley Train coming up the Hill from Conway. This was a stark contrast to the similar images I made last week of the Valley train arriving at North Conway.
During a whirlwind trip to Italy in April 2017, I spent a day around Florence (Firenze) photographing and taking notes for my book Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.
On this trip I was traveling very light and only brought two cameras: my wee Lumix mark 2 (a Panasonic LX7) for digital, and Nikon F3 with 35mm and 135mm lenses to expose film.
At Firenze Statuto I made this sequence with the LX7 of a passing FS ETR1000 high speed passenger train on its way out of town. Once on the Direttissma this train will accelerate up to 186mph, but here the train is traveling at a more conservative speed.
The original Italian Direttisma was the world’s first purpose-built high speed railway, predating the Japanese Shinkansen by a half century.