Category Archives: photography

Irish Rail 222—The Bishop.

Many Irish Rail locomotives have nicknames. Engine 222 is ‘The Bishop’ or ‘Bishop Tutu’, which is an allusion to its number.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve caught this locomotive at many places across the Irish network.

Irish Rail 222 working push-pull set at Cherryville Junction on 20 September 2002. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon.
10 June 2006; An electrical power cut at Westport, County Mayo had required the use of portable generators at the station. In addition to the discordant cacophony at the normally peaceful location, this had resulted in some unusual moves to get trains positioned properly, such as this view of 222 with Mark 3s beyond the station to the West.

See: DAILY POST: Timber and General Motors, June 10, 2006 

Irish Rail 222 works a Dublin to Cork Mark4 set nearing Kent Station, Cork.
Now officially 02-10222. The Bishop basks in the evening sun at Heuston Station in Dublin.
Working the IWT liner from Dublin to Ballina, at my all to often photographed location at Islandbridge in Dublin. Exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1.

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First Encounter: Amtrak Charger.

I was curious to experience one of these new locomotives.

The Siemens-built Charger is powered by a Cummins diesel and has a European appearance.

Among their Amtrak assignments is the Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha corridor.

I waited on the platform at the new Sturtevant, Wisconsin station. The eerie blue glow of the locomotive’s LED headlights could be seen reflecting off the rails long before the train arrived at the station.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit, I set the ISO to 6400 and panned the train arriving at 1/30thof a second at f2.8.

To better balance the color and keep contrast under control, I modified the camera RAW file in Lightroom to produce this internet suitable JPG.

Here’s a screen shot of the camera-produced JPG with EXIF data for comparison.

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EMDs on the Roll! Conrail-Era SD60M.

Gosh, I remember when 6798 was NEW and blue. This is among Conrail-era SD60Ms still at work on Norfolk Southern.

To make for a more dramatic locomotive action photo, I’ve taken a low angle medium-telephoto view.

Notice how the angle features the wheels on rails, allowing you to see below the locomotive.

Engine exhaust blurs the wires beyond, demonstrating the engines are working.

By focusing on the locomotives; I’ve cropped most of the following freight, more than a mile of it in tow.

Exposed at LaPorte, Indiana on Norfolk Southern’s former New York Central Water Level Route mainline. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto. ISO 200, f5, 1/500thsecond; JPG image processed from camera RAW file using Lightroom; contrast and exposure adjusted globally and locally to improve visual impact.

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Documenting the Common: Norfolk Southern Double-stacks at CP485.

Norfolk Southern’s Water Level Route is among the busiest freight routes in the East.

It features a continual parade of trains; long freights led by common modern diesels.

Here a cookie-cutter General Electric Evolution-series works east with a double stack train, ducking under the South Shore line at CP485 near Burns Harbor, Indiana.

Isn’t this freight the modern day equivalent of a New York Central freight led by F7s; or a generation earlier by a common Central H-10 Mikado?

Freight trains are about freight and I’ll often make photos of the consist.

But does it matter that I exposed this image? Where does it fit in the BIG picture?

I was pleased when I made this view. Chris Guss and I had enough time to set up, but didn’t wait long. I recalled a photo made more than 20 years ago in this same territory; Mike Danneman and I spent a snowy February morning photographing Conrail. Those photos are looking better all the time.

The common deserves to be recorded.


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Four Quadrant Gates in Michigan City.

Sorry, this is not a pretty picture.

Here we have a potpourri of necessary clutter; a patched well-traveled road, various electrical poles and lines, the cooling tower for a power station, a signal-relay cabinet, a stray street light, and of course an Amtrak P42 Genesis diesel of the much-maligned industrial design.

Not pretty; but portrays a four-quadrant grade crossing gate protecting the highway an Amtrak train from Chicago crosses.

Exposed digitally using a Panasonic Lumix LX7. ISO 200 f3.2 1/1000th second. Image processed from camera RAW using Lightroom.

But this is Northern Indiana, not Tehachapi.

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Curiosity of Northern Indiana: Some call it ‘the Chicken’.

The reference is a pronunciation of the Chesapeake & Indiana’s reporting marks; CKIN.

Chris Guss and I had hoped to catch this curious short line railroad on the move.

No such luck. But we did make some photographs of their General Motors-built locomotives near their interchange with CSX at Wellsboro. Some of these wear Southern Railway style paint.

Southern’s been gone since the 1980s so it’s a flashback to see these colors again.

If only I’d been more awake! I’d just traveled overnight on Amtrak 449 (Lake Shore Limited) from Worcester, Massachusetts.

Photos exposed on a overcast July morning using a FujiFilm XT1; files adjusted digitally for contrast and exposure to maximize highlight and shadow detail.

Union Mills, Wellsboro, Indiana.


High hazy sunlight in Northern Indiana with black locomotives makes for a photographic challenge.

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Indiana Harbor Belt Gen-Set at Burns Harbor, Indiana.

Mainline applications for Gen Set diesels are comparatively rare.

A gen set is a computer-optimized multiple-engine diesel electric designed for very  low emissions, and typically used for switching.

Indiana Harbor Belt gen-set works east at Burns Harbor, Indiana.

In July, Chris Guss and I chased this eastward IHB freight.

Although it was a dull afternoon, the locomotive’s brilliant orange paint made for a dramatic subject.

Working with a short telephoto, I aimed to emphasize the unusual shape of the Gen Set locomotive, panning it slightly to offset the cluttered industrial background.

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Irish Rail Workhorse Diesel; The Unremarked 221 in four photos.

Here’s four views of Irish Rail 221; two film, two digital; two orange, two green & silver; two with passenger, two with freight; one in snow, three without; but all showing this machine on the move.

221 leads the down Dublin-Cork liner at Ballybrophy on 25 March 2005. Exposed on Fujichrome Velvia 100F using a Nikon F3 with 180mm lens.

This is part of my on-going series depicting Ireland’s class 201 diesel electrics to mark my 20 years photographing in Ireland. Photographic details in the captions.

Irish Rail 221 leading Mark 3 carriages at Kildare on a damp summer day in 2005. Exposed on Fujichrome Velvia 100F using a Nikon F3 with 180mm lens.
Freshly painted 221 (with expanded number) leads the down IWT liner (Dublin to Ballina container train) at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin. Exposed digitally using a FuijFilm XT1 with 90mm Fujinon telephoto lens. Notice the effect of scale with the monument visually positioned over the locomotive. The date of exposure was 21 September 2017.
Irish Rail 221 in the snow at Islandbridge in Dublin on 28 February 2018. Exposed digitally with a FujiFilm XT1 and 27mm pancake lens.

Question: do head-on telephoto views portray the shape of the 201-class effectively?

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Worcester Union Station—Architectural Classic.

I remember when Worcester Union Station was a ruin.

It was restored to its former glory during the late 1990s, and today is the terminal for MBTA services to Boston over the the old Boston & Worcester (later Boston & Albany/New York Central route).

I wrote about this station in relation to the building it replaced in my book Depots, Stations & Terminals.

The old Worcester (Massachusetts) Union Station was a solid Romanesque structure designed by architects Ware & Van Brunt. It was demolished to make way for Samuel Huckel’s new Worcester Union completed in 1911.

I exposed these views in July using my Lumix LX7.

A view from Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited at platform level.

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South Shore Revisted

Last week, Chris Guss and I revisited the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend street trackage at Michigan City, Indiana.

This classic vestige of interurban railroading always makes for interesting photos.

My father, Richard J. Solomon first visited the South Shore at Michigan City back in 1958.

My first trip over the line was 26 years later.

I exposed this sequence of an afternoon eastward electric train using my FujiFilm XT1 with prime 90mm telephoto. I was playing with the focus.

At Michigan City the tracks are the subject.
In this view I’ve focused on the train. If the sun had been out, this would have been a harshly lit afternoon image.

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New Signals at Dusk—working with high ISO.

Saturday evening I used my FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit to photograph CSX’s westward Q437 (Framingham, Massachusetts to Selkirk, New York) at Palmer, Massachusetts passing the new signals at CP83.

They’ve yet to be activated and the new signals are in place alongside the Conrail-era signals installed in 1986.

It was dusk and the light was fading fast. I pushed the camera ISO to 2500, and exposed this action shot at 1/250th of a second at f2.8.

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Telephoto and Wide Angle of EDRJ at Rices.

Rices at Charlemont, Massachusetts used to be an interlocking, where the Boston & Maine’s line went from double to single track.

Back in the 1980s, I’d catch meets here between eastward and westward freights.

Much has changed.

Not only was the interlocking decommissioned and later removed, but almost all evidence of it, including the old signal bridge are now gone. Trees and brush have grown up between the railroad and the river, and trees along the road are taller than ever.

This now makes for a pretty challenging setting.

At some point I’ll present ‘then and now’ views, but these photos demonstrate telephoto and wide angle photos of the same train from the same vantage point.

There was nice afternoon light on Pan Am’s EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction) so I settled on my traditional location, which still gets a bit of sun late in the day.

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Brian Solomon Guest Host on Trains News Wire August 3, 2018

Yesterday, August 3, 2018, I was invited by Trains Magazine’s Steve Sweeney to co-host the weekly recorded News Wire video program.

This was a thrill and an honor.

You can watch the video at:–a

Thanks to Steve and Kalmbach’s Diane for the broadcast!

Brian Solomon and Steve Sweeney preparing to broadcast on August 3, 2018.

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Hump-set in the Rain.

The sky opened up as the East Deerfield hump set was crossing the Connecticut River bridge at the east end of Pan Am Railway’s East Deerfield Yard.

I thought the effects of the cascading rain added atmosphere to the scene.

90mm Fujinon telephoto view.

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New England Central at Hospital Road—Two Views.

Far and Near, which do you prefer?

Both views were exposed on a soft morning at Hospital Road in Monson, Massachusetts of New England Central freight 608 on its northward run to Palmer.

Working with a 90mm fixed telephoto lens, I made a distant view that better shows the train in the curve, followed by a tight view focused on the locomotives.

Other features include the distant signal to the Palmer diamond and milepost 64 (measured from New London, Connecticut).

I set my exposure manually to avoid under exposure as a result of the camera meter reading the bright locomotive headlights.

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Bus Meet on Digital Black & White.

Here’s something different. I had my FujiFilm X-T1 set up to record monochrome with a digitally applied red filter to alter the tonality.  Working with a Zeiss 12mm lens, I made this view at Arlington, Massachusetts of two MBTA buses passing on Massachusetts Avenue.

This digital black & white image is unaltered from the camera-produced JPG except for scaling for internet presentation.

How does this black & white compare with film?

It is a lot easier, but is it better?

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The Big Bore.

In New England, ordinary people with virtually no knowledge of railroads are aware of ‘The Tunnel’.

They’ll ask me, ‘Have ya been up to that Housantonic Tunnel?’ Or comment, ‘That Hoosick Tunnel, by North Adams, it’s the longest in the world, Right?’

I’d like to speak with an etymologist, or someone with a deeper understanding of the evolution of New England names. I’ll bet that Hoosick, Housatonic and Hoosac all have the same root, but I’m more curious to know about how and when the variations in spelling originated.

But, it’s really the tunnel that interests me; 4.75 miles of inky cool darkness, occupied by legends, stories and ghosts and serving a corridor for trains below the mountain.

The other day, Mike Gardner and I made a pilgrimage up to New England’s longest tunnel; Boston & Maine’s famous Hoosac. (Please note correct spelling).

While waiting for westward freight EDRJ, that was on its way from East Deerfield, I exposed these photos with my FujiFilm XT1.

Telephoto view to draw in the East Portal.

The portal can’t be too dark, but the shafts of sunlight streaming down can easily be over exposed. As a result, I exposed for the light, than adjusted my RAW files in post processing to make for a more balanced image. This isn’t ‘fixing the photo,’ it’s maximizing the data capture and adjusting it for the most pleasing result.

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Live from the Lake Shore Limited: Train 449.

Just a few views from Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited westbound.

I boarded at Worcester heading west toward Chicago.

The photos were made with  my Lumix LX7, uploaded to my laptop, scaled in Light Room, and then using Amtrak’s WiFi uploaded to Tracking the Light.


449 arrives at Worcester.
Amfleet II.
Refueling at Albany-Rensselaer.

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Vermonter in the Rain.

We got soaked!

I’d checked my phone; Amtrak 55 had departed Brattleboro, Vermont a few minutes behind the advertised, but was moving southward at a good clip.

Mike Gardner and I had inspected locations around East Northfield, Massachusetts and settled on the view from an overhead bridge near the ballast pit at Mount Hermon.

Earlier in the day we’d missed New England Central 611 (yes, this happens!) and so we weren’t taking any chances.

In position, camera in hands we were poised and ready for the train.

And then the sky opened up. ‘It can’t rain any harder!’


The rain eased, the train came into view, and we exposed our photos.

90mm, f3.2 1/500 at 400 ISO

Soft light, mist and condensation, and a lack of harsh reflections from the midday sun (hidden by layers of cloud), contribute to an atmospheric scene.

It was worth the dampness!

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Irish Rail 220; Here and There, North and South, Freight and Passenger, Then and Now.

Five views of Irish Rail 220.

Of the Irish Rail class 201 diesels, number 220 is well represented in my collection! Let’s just say I had lots of photos to pick from, both on film and with digital.

Any favorites among these?

April 2000, I found Irish Rail 220 at Belfast Central. Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia II using a Nikon.
In August 2005, 220 leads Mark 2 carriages toward Connolly Station as viewed from Old Cabra Road in Dublin. The shadowy cut made for a contrasty slide.
In 2014, I caught 220 working the down IWT Liner west of Kildare from the main road over pass. Exposed using my Canon EOS 7D with telephoto lens.
In 2015, I caught 220 working the up-IWT Liner (International Warehousing and Transport container train heading toward Dublin port) passing the station at Hazelhatch on the quad track near suburban Dublin.
It was a fine October day at Cork’s Kent Station when I exposed this view of 220 with a Mark IV set.

In each of the images, I’ve made nominal adjustment to exposure, contrast and colour balance.

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High Light and Shadows on the Staten Island Railway.

Believe it or not, some of my railway trips are not centered around photography.

But I always have a camera.

Earlier this month, I revisited the old Staten Island Rapid Transit, today called New York Metropolitan Transport Authority’s Staten Island Railway.

Honer Travers and I had traveled on the famous Staten Island Ferry—the best free ride in New York?—and continued south to New Dorp on the train.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I made these photos during our trip, which was during the middle of the day, during the harshest midday summer light.

New Dorp, Staten Island.
New Dorp, Staten Island.
New Dorp, Staten Island.
St. George terminal, Staten Island.

To help minimize contrast and better hold detail in highlight and shadow areas, I worked with the Lumix RAW files to produce these internet-friendly (scaled) JPGs.

The RAW file captures greater amount of information than the camera produced JPG, but it takes some interpretation to make use of it.

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Trash Train at Sandwich.

Not to be confused for ‘trash talk’.

Mass Coastal’s loaded unit trash train crosses a salt marsh at Sandwich, Massachusetts.

This was a grab shot. Total set up time: about 7 heartbeats.

Zoom lens set at 55mm; exposure f5.6 1/500th second ISO 200. File scaled in Lightroom for internet presentation. Both RAW and JPG files were exposed together, but this image is scaled using the in-camera JPG with a ‘Velvia’ color profile.

The lessons:

  • Think fast.
  • Have your camera on your lap.
  • Keep it set and ‘ready to go’.
  • Avoid centering the train.

Exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom.

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Buzzards Bay Bridge Two Views—Working with a Wide Angle.

The former New Haven Railroad lift bridge over the Cape Cod Canal is an imposing structure that dwarfs everything around it.

I exposed these views using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit flat field super-wide angle lens.

To expose the second image, I extended the XT1’s rear display angling it upward and then looked down to it while holding the camera as close to the water as I dared in order to obtain a more dramatic view.

Among the benefits of the XT1’s display system is the built-in level, which I find very helpful when trying to keep the bridge level with the water.

Using the level with the rear display makes it much easier to make these close to the water photos. Back in the old days, I just had to guess!

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Variations on a Theme: Irish Rail 219 at the same place, again.

I’ve often heard railway photographers dismiss an opportunity with the excuse, ‘I already have that there.’

I’m guilty of this too.

However, everyday is different; locomotives and locations are only two elements that make a a successful railway action photograph.

Weather, lighting, angle to the tracks and the focal length of your lens all play important roles in the end result. Also consider the cleanliness of the locomotive and the variations in consist.

There was a period where Irish Rail 219 regularly worked the Dublin-Ballina IWT liner freights. When I’m in Dublin it is relatively easy for me to reach my standard location and catch the IWT on its down-road journey. In fact I often do this on my morning walk, or on the way to the supermarket.

5 March 2014; exposed using my now defunct Lumix LX3.
It was a few months later, in August of 2014, that I made this sunny day view using my new Lumix LX7. It helps to have a clear bright day and a clean locomotive.
I’ve moved a little bit west of my usual spot and working with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with 18-135mm zoom with an external grad filter that I was using to improve the sky detail. I’m positioned a little higher here too. Unfortunately, this angle brings in more urban clutter.

Yet, it got to the point where if I knew that 219 was working the IWT, I wouldn’t bother with another photo of it in my standard location. (And yes I have it at other places too.)

Which of the three is your favorite?

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Cape Glint Captured Digitally!

I made these trailing views of Cape Cod Central’s Dinner Train at Sagamore, Massachusetts in the final minutes of direct sun.

The broad open channel of the Cape Cod Canal adjacent to the railroad plus an open area with minimal shadowing caused by line-side brush and structures made for an ideal place to capture the low-evening sun reflected off the classic passenger cars.

I exposed a burst of photos with my Fujifilm XT1 digital camera with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom set at approximately 50mm.

Exposed at f22 1/125th second at ISO 200. Camera RAW file adjusted in Lightroom to control contrast and maximize highlight detail with slight balancing/lightening of shadows.
Next frame in the sequence. Exposed at f22 1/125th second at ISO 200. This is the camera produced JPG with Velvia color profile, and except for scaling for internet was without post-processing altering or adjustment.

Exposed at f22 1/125thsecond at ISO 200. Raw file adjusted in Lightroom to control contrast and maximize highlight detail with slight balancing/lightening of shadows.

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Nature and the Old Caboose.

This old wooden body Delaware & Hudson caboose is on display at West Barnstable, Massachusetts.

The decaying wood, peeling paint, combined with encroaching foliage and low evening sun made for some fascinating studies.

Now relics of an earlier era, cabooses were once standard equipment at the back of North American freight trains.

FujiFilm XT1 with a 18-135mm Fujinon. Exposed for light areas at the end of the caboose.
FujiFilm XT1 with a 18-135mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens. Aperture set at f22 (minimum opening) to give the sun a ‘star burst’ effect. File adjusted in post processing to lighten shadow areas.

I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1, using a Zeiss 12mm Touit and 18-135mm lenses. (Details in captions).

While the decay is what attracted me, I wonder if you think if this same caboose would make for more interesting photos if it was completely restored?

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Classic Chrome—Portrait view: High-Hood 30 Years Ago Today!

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At 1133am on July 22, 1988, I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide east of Norwalk, Ohio.

This was part of a big adventure; my old pal TSH and I were spending two weeks on the road photographing trains.

We were driving my 1975 Dodge Dart, and had plenty of Kodachrome. (And I had some 120 T-Max 400 for the Rolleiflex too).

An early morning start on the old B&O west of Fostoria was pure excitement. Several hours later we visited the big yard at Bellevue, Ohio on the old Nickel Plate Road. When we saw this freight departing to the east we made chase.

Neither of us has a clue as to where we were going, our maps were inadequate, but we embraced the spirit of the chase and found this overhead bridge.

The freight was working the old Wheeling & Lake Erie route and the diesels labored hard in the summer heat. My notes indicate this was Hartland Hill.

Click! I made this Kodachrome slide with my Leica M2 with my dad’s 90mm Tele Elmarit; my exposure was f4.5 1/250.

The freight was at a crawl and we chased on, catching it several more times before we made a wrong turn and lost track of it near Wellington.

I can still feel the thrill of that blind chase 30 years ago today. TSH and I are still pals and we still make trips together.

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Irish Rail 218—Sunny Days and Cloudy Days.

Old Irish Rail 218 is a versatile machine as shown in the three views exposed over the years near Heuston Station.

In recent years, 218 has often worked the Dublin-Cork Mark 4 passenger sets, as well as liner freights and performed the occasion stint in permanent way service.

Irish 218 is ready to head down road at Heuston Station in Dublin in summer 2000. It’s along side 204 and 233. Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO) using a Nikon N90S.
On 11 September 2016—15 years after the infamous day—Irish Rail 218 works a Mark 4 set toward Cork. This view is from my often utilized location at Islandbridge Junction. Exposed as a RAW file with my FujiFilm XT1 and adjusted for contrast in Lightroom.
Cloudy days yield opportunities too! On 27 February 2018 Irish Rail 218— now displaying its modified long number—leads a panel train into Dublin’s Phoenix Park tunnel. The next day  snow blanketed  Dublin and surrounding areas causing travel chaos.

Of the 201 class locomotives, 218 is another machine that ranks with numerous photos in my collection.

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Tracking the Light turned Six on July 19th!

I missed the anniversary!

On July 19, 2012 I posted the first installment of Tracking the Light.

You can view this original post here.

Screen shot of the First Tracking the Light installment from July 19, 2012.

I spent most of yesterday traveling and making photos and forgot all about this milestone.

Tracking the Light should post every day!

Signals in Transition.

Over the last few weeks, CSX has been installing new signaling in Palmer in conjunction with preparation for Positive Train Control.

Hooded traffic light configuration color-light signal heads have been installed to replace the Conrail-era triangular pattern light signals.

The Conrail-era signals were activated in July 1986 when the single-tracking of the Boston & Albany between Palmer and Springfield. The interlocking at Palmer was then designated CP83.

Lumix LX7 photo at Palmer, Massachusetts.
Looking north on the New England Central toward the Palmer diamond. New signals at left. Canon EOS7D with 100-400mm lens.
New and old signals at dusk at CP83. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
Amtrak 448 splits the signals at CP83 in Palmer. Dusk is a good time to photograph signals since the ambient light levels more closely match those of signal lamps. FujiFilm XT1 photo.
After nearly 32 years of service these old signals will soon be retired. FujiFilm XT1 photo.

CSX’s new signals haven’t been activated yet and I’ve been making photos of the transitional between old and new hardware.

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Misty Day at Crawford Notch.

It’s not often that I visit New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch.

Last month, Honer Travers and I made the journey from North Conway up the fabled Maine Central Mountain Division on the Conway Scenic Railroad.

It rained most of the way up, but this is such a wonderful stretch of railroad we didn’t mind. It was nice to see the old Maine Central in person again.

At the Notch I made these digital photos using my FujiFilm X-T1 and Lumix LX7 digital cameras. Not every photo can be made on a sunny day.

Lumix LX7 view.
Lumix LX7 view.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
Looking east toward North Conway and Portland. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
There’s that old Maine Central 252! Hey, I remember that beast. I caught it at Mechanicville, NY on a B&M freight  way way back in 1984!

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Do you see a Sunset?

Over the last few days many viewers (myself included) have experienced problems with Tracking the Light posts.

The reasons for these difficulties were both beyond my understanding and my control.

I’m sorry if this has caused you a problem.

As of this morning, the difficulty appears to have been resolved.

As a test, below I’ve inserted two versions of photo . If both do not appear on your screen/device there is still a problem.

So, do you see a sunset? If not, there remains a serious fault in the system I’ve used to present Tracking the Light.
Smaller and unmodified version of the above image.

I’m reminded that the internet is still a work in progress and doesn’t always perform as hoped. Thanks to Eric Rosenthal, Richard Solomon, and everyone who offered assistance yesterday.

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Dusk and Telephoto: or Summer 2018 with Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited Part 3.

NOTE: This post originally appeared on July 17, 2018, but owing to unknown technical faults the photos would not display properly. There should be four images displayed below with captions.

Tracking the Light is about process and not every photograph is a stunning success.

This post is part of my on going series of exercises photographing Amtrak’s Boston Section of the Lake Shore Limited that is running with extra sleepers as result of the temporary suspension of the New York section owing to Penn-Station repair.

Last week, my father and I drove to West Warren, Massachusetts, this time to photograph the eastward train, Amtrak 448.

The benefit of West Warren is the relatively open view with identifiable features. As mentioned previously, summer photography on the Boston & Albany has been made difficult by prolific plant growth along the line that has obscured many locations.

In this instance, I worked with two cameras; my old Canon EOS-7D with 100-400mm zoom, and my FujiFilm X-T1 with f2.0 90mm fixed telephoto.

Admittedly, the Canon combination isn’t the sharpest set up, but it allows me to play around with a very long telephoto.

Exposed at ISO 1250 f5.6 1/125th of a second using a Canon 7D with 100-400 images stabilization zoom lens set at 400mm.
This view shows the headend, and the collection of Viewliner sleepers and a diner at the rear of the train, plus B&A milepost 75, but I missed the focus, and overall it suffers from low depth of field and poor sharpness owing to a variety of factors including high ISO and motion blur. Not a calendar contender!

The X-T1 is very sharp, especially when working with the fixed (prime) lens.

Same train, same evening, same location; shorter, sharper and faster telephoto lens. But is this a better photo? The whole train is shown, but the image prominently features junk in the background. I’m not thrilled about this one either despite better technical quality.

Complicating matters was that it clouded over shortly before the train arrived, reduced the amount of available light. Details are in the captions.

Trailing view from the same overhead bridge at West Warren. Here a slightly shorter focal length lens may have better suited the scene. The biggest challenge is the overgrowth along the right of way that obscures the curve to the east and clutters the foreground limiting the view of the waterfall and river, etc. Over the last couple of years this location has really grown in.

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I recall as a kid watching television when all of a sudden the program would end and a test pattern would appear with the phrase ‘Please Stand by—We are Suffering Technical Difficulties.’

That’s where were are today with Tracking the Light.

For reasons beyond my understanding or control the pictures in my posts are not appearing. I’ve done nothing differently.

I’m open to suggestions if anyone knows how to correct this fault. The cause of the problem and its solution remain a mystery to me.

A related issue is that I can no longer reply to comments.

Thank you for your patience!


Tracking the Light hopes to post daily!


Brian’s Visual Puzzle in THREE photos: Mystery Revealed!

Yesterday I received a correct guess to the conundrum I’d posted as Brian’s Visual Puzzle in THREE photos on July 11, 2018.

History ( and knowing that history) was key to solving the problem, since the answer wasn’t visible in any of the three photos.

To make things a bit more difficult, I didn’t caption the images, however I did offer an array of hints to assist with solving the problem.

I had several very thoughtful guesses, some of which were quite interesting.

Michael Walsh, a regular Tracking the Light viewer, was the first to submit the correct answer along with his explanation.

This is what he wrote:

I reckon the theme may be Pan Am Railways.

 The first picture shows the Pan Am building on Park Avenue in New York, which stands behind Grand Central Station. The name, colours and logo of the defunct Pan American World Airways were purchased by Guilford Rail System in 1998 and applied to their rail New England operations in 2006.

Park Avenue, New York City in December 1982 showing the Pan Am building a top Grand Central Terminal. Pan Am Railways takes its name from the old Airline.

 The third picture is of exceptional interest. It shows 1926-built combination car 16 of the Springfield Electric Railway, now preserved at the Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor CT. The 6.5 mile long Springfield line became a subsidiary of the Boston and Maine and was later de-electrified. In 1983, it became part of Guilford, along with the B&M.

Springfield Terminal number 16 is preserved in Connecticut. Under Guilford Springfield Terminal an important part of operations and many locomotive were letter for Springfield Terminal.

 The second picture is of North Conway station, on the Conway Scenic Railway. North Conway was near the north end of a lengthy B&M branch from Rochester NH, which connected with the Mountain Division of the Maine Central at Intervale, 7 miles beyond North Conway. The B&M branch and the MC Mountain Division were abandoned by Guilford, but some 50 miles, comprising portions of both lines, survive as the Conway Scenic Railroad.

The former Boston & Maine station at North Conway, New Hampshire. Boston & Maine and Maine Central are primary components of Pan Am Railways.

Michael’s answer is spot on: I have just one small correction and a comment; the north end of B&M’s Conway branch (pictured) was sold before Guilford acquired the B&M. I mention this because in each of the three photos, the subject predates their respective company’s role with Pan Am Railways (just to make the puzzle extra tricky).  Also, Springfield Terminal has played an important role in operations across the Guilford/Pan Am Railways system.

Thanks to everyone who submitted guesses!

Pan Am Railways has been routinely featured on Tracking the Light over the last six years.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!


Tonight! July 16 2018— Slide Show and Book Signing at the 16 Acres Branch Library in Springfield, Massachusetts.

St. Saphorin, Switzerland.

At 615pm on Monday July 16 2018, I’ll be giving a slide presentation on European Railway Travel. This will be  immediately followed by a book signing for my new Railway Guide to Europe published this year by Kalmbach Books.

The Springfield City Library 16 Acres Branch Library is located at 1187 Parker Street in the 16 Acres area of Springfield.

For details on the library see:

Details on Library events:

Questions call:  Reggie Wilson 413-263-6858

Click here for details on: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.