Working with my Nikon Z6 set to ISO 8000, I made these photos yesterday afternoon to document the progress on the HO-scale interpretation that I’m building with Kris Sabbatino in New Hampshire.
Since my last update several weeks ago, I’ve put down a lot more track, wired up significant portions of the railroad, and begun the task of fixing the track in place which includes laying down ballast.
Also, we have continued to acquire freight cars, mostly Reading Company hoppers. Construction is still very much in the railroad structural phase, the task of building mountains and towns is in the future!
Rather than work with a tripod, and make slow-ISO photos with very long shutter speeds and small aperture (for greater depth of field), I took the easier approach by simply boosting the ISO on the Z6.
Perhaps on my next round of photos I’ll dig out a tripod!
Five years ago, I traveled on the second leg of a two-day Irish Railway Record Society diesel rail tour. We had laid over at Killarney, and in the morning a select portion of the group made a round trip to Tralee and back, before heading eastward for a circuitous trip back to Dublin.
It was a gray Irish day, raining and spitting snow.
Ken Fox was our driver from Killarney in the morning, and Class 076 was our locomotive.
Traveling on the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland Cravens carriages afforded me some great views from the train as we made our way through the lush Spring countryside.
These digital images were exposed using my Fujifilm XT1.
Last week on our ascent of New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch with Conway Scenic Railroad’s Work Extra 573, we encountered several minor obstacles.
Near milepost 84, about a mile from the summit, an ice fall had blocked the line.
Our crew set out to quickly remove it and then we were on our way again.
The lighting was flat and cold when I exposed these photos with my Nikon Z6. Keep in mind that if the sky had been clear, this portion of the railroad would have been in deep shadow, conditions that may have made for more contrast and thus more difficult lighting conditions.
I adjusted the camera NEF (RAW) files using Lightroom to improve the overall appearance of the photographs.
It was ten years ago today that I exposed this digital image of a Dublin LUAS tram gliding over the River Liffey on the Sean Heuston Bridge (formerly Kings Bridge).
At the time, I was working with my first, and only, digital camera, a Panasonic LX3 that I purchased primarily to use as a light meter to aid my film photography and to make social photos of my friends.
I soon learned that the Lumix was an exceptional image making machine and came to use it on almost a daily basis.
On March 31, 2021, I joined Conway Scenic’s ‘Work Extra 573’ that departed North Conway, NH in the morning to open the Mountain Division over Crawford Notch.
This was the first train over Crawford Notch since last November.
In this view west of the siding at Sawyers, the train has stopped for the crew to remove fallen branches that had fouled the gauge.
I exposed the above photo using my FujiFilm XT-1 with 16-55mm Fujinon zoom, and converted the RAW file to DNG format using Iridient X-transformer. I then adjusted this file with Adobe Lightroom to bring in sky detail, lighten shadows, reduce contrast, and improve color saturation.
Over the course of the day-long trip, I exposed more than 300 individual photos using two cameras, while recording more than an hour of video for the company archives.
On a whirlwind trip to Belgium, France and Germany in Spring 1999, I made this long telephoto image of the high-speed Thalys departing Brussels Midi for Paris.
I was working with my original Nikon N90S that I’d bought secondhand from Mike Gardner two years earlier fitted with a Tokina 400mm fixed telephoto that I bought from Doug Moore in the early 1990s.
Most unusual was I was working with a short-lived slide film emulsion sold as Fujichrome MS 100/1000 that offered variable ISO through push/pull processing.
I’d rated this film at ISO 200, which gave me an extra stop over the Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO 100) that I normally used. Fuji offered processing for this film that came with a special mailer on which you would tick a box to select the desired ISO for processing.
The lighting was also unusual: it had been raining, but shafts of diffused sun light were peaking through heavy fast moving clouds.
The effect of the 400mm lens compressed the complex array of track on approach to the busy Brussels terminal.
Two weeks ago on our northward journey, Kris Sabbatino and I paused at Wells River to photograph the Vermont Rail System freight that we had been shadowing.
Over the years I’ve photographed the former Boston & Maine routes around Well River on various occasions several times, but until this most recent trip, I never managed to catch a train in motion on this infamous span.
Infamous because, back in 1984, this bridge had been damaged and effectively shut the line to traffic until it was repaired.
Exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
Tracking the Light is a Daily Blog on Railway Photography.
On the evening of November 27, 2003, I used my old Contax G2 rangefinder to expose this Fujichrome Sensia color slide of Irish Rail’s Nenagh Branch train departing Roscrea, County Tipperary.
This was toward the end of regular locomotive hauled trains on the branch. A few weeks later Irish Rail’s 2700-series diesel railcars would assume most of the runs on this branch, although locomotives with sets Cravens carriages would still occasionally make an appearance on the line into 2004.
Last Monday, March 8, 2021, Kris Sabbatino and I, followed New England Central’s southward 611 freight.
I drove us to my old standby location at East Northfield, where the NECR line toward Palmer, Massachusetts and New London, Connecticut diverges from the old Boston & Maine Connecticut River line (now operated by Pan Am Southern).
As the train approached I exposed a series of photos using my Nikon Z6.
I’ve displayed two variations of the same image.
The top image is a camera generated JPG with color set to Nikon’s Vivid profile.
The bottom image I created from the NEF RAW file in Adobe Lightroom by manipulating color, contrast, and saturation to emulate my FujiFilm XT1’s in-camera ‘Velvia’ mode.
My Nikon Z6 Mirrorless camera is an amazing tool for capturing images.
It has a tremendous ability to capture detail across a broad dynamic range.
Its RAW (NEF) files allow for a high degree of exposure latitude and post processing adjustment.
It’s unadjusted files are the closest to ‘true’ color of any camera that I have owned.
And yet, it is almost too much detail. But without the supersaturated punch that I’ve come to accept from my other digital cameras, notably my Fuji X-series.
On Monday, Kris Sabbatino and I photographed New England Central’s 611 arriving at Brattleboro, Vermont under a clear polarized blue dome. A near perfect morning, and yet contrasty with crusty snow on the ground and deep dark shadows cast along the sides of the locomotives.
I exposed for the snow to retain highlight detail with an expectation of making post processing adjustments to the NEF files with Adobe Lightroom.
My goal was to eye-up (estimate) the adjustment of my RAW files in order to emulate the richly saturated color profile automatically provided by my Fujifilm XT1 JPGs. This was an unscientific approximation without benefit from a detail study of the Nikon’s histogram in comparison with the Fuji’s.
I’ll plan on making a more critical project by working with these types of comparisons at a later date.
As we raced east on Rt2 in pursuit of Pan Am Southern’s ED-8, I kept my eye open for the turn that lead down to the railroad location on the old Boston & Maine known as ‘Farleys’.
I thought back to that February morning, 35 years ago, when working with my father’s Leica, I exposed the final frame on a roll of Kodachrome 64 of an eastward Boston & Maine loaded Bow coal train meeting the westward POPY (Portland to Potomac Yard) at Farleys.
While ED8 wasn’t quite as thrilling as that rolling meet, it was pretty neat to soak in the sight and sounds of this 106-car freight grinding up the grade toward Erving.
I exposed this photo using my Nikon Z6 with an aim to adjust the RAW (NEF) file to maximize the data presented so as to compensate for the excessively contrasty scene.
After photographing Pan Am Southern’s eastward ED8 passing searchlight signals at Lake Pleasant (See Monday’s Post), the chase was on!
Kris Sabbatino and I rolled eastward after the 106 car freight as it ascended the grade up the valley of the Millers River.
At Millers Falls, Massachusetts, we paused at the overhead bridge near the center of town that spans both former Boston & Maine and Central Vermont lines (now operated by Pan Am Southern and New England Central respectively) for a dramatic photo looking into the the afternoon sun.
Working with my Nikon Z6, I made a sequence of coming and going photos as the train roared by.
Later, I adjusted exposure, contrast and color using Adobe Lightroom to make for more pleasing images.
We continued after the train making more photos along the way!
Yesterday, Saturday March 6, 2021, Kris Sabbatino and I visited White River Junction, Vermont.
Hard crusty snow covered the ground under a bright polarized sky. Visually appealing conditions, but contrast and difficult to capture.
Key to making successful snow photos is exposing for the snow correctly.
If the snow is overexposed (too light), detail is lost and it becomes an amorphous white blob. If it is underexposed, then the snow will be rendered gray and other elements of the scene appear too dark.
Most automatic camera metering does not recognize snow and has a inherent bias to render it as gray instead of white, which if left unattended at the time of exposure will result in an underexposed file.
For this photo, I exposed manually. I gauged my exposure from experience, and allow the meter to read 2/3s of a stop over exposure. This still renders texture in the snow, but allows for easy corrections for the rest of scene in post production.
Below I display two versions of the camera RAW file exposed with my Nikon Z6 (NEF format). The top is the scaled but unmodified file. The bottom has been adjusted to make the most of the data recorded and lighten shadow areas while correcting color balance.
This Kodachrome slide has languished in the darkness for 32 years.
I’d followed a westward empty Conrail coal train through New York’s Canisteo Valley on the evening of April 7, 1989.
It had been an overcast day with laden clouds. Yet traffic had been heavy on Conrail’s former Erie Railroad lines in western New York.
At the time Conrail was routing coal empties west from Hornell via the old Erie main line that went through Alfred and Andover, then operated as the Meadville Line.
West of Hornell this route ascended a steep grade that brought heavy trains to a crawl.
In the fading light of that April evening, I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide along Canacadea Creek. If I recall correctly, my shutter speed was about 1/30th of a second.
Why such a slow film?
That is what I had in my Leica M, and so I made do.
Here are two versions of the scanned image. The first is scaled but unmodified. The second is a heavily modified image to make the most of the extremes of Kodachrome’s capturing ability while adding drama to the scene.
In December 1982, my father and I visited the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Hoboken Terminal on the Hudson River waterfront opposite Manhattan.
I thought this ancient decaying relic of the Golden Age of American railways was just about the most fascinating place on the planet.
Rotten, yet grand, elusive, yet filled with intrigue. I exposed a series of Kodachrome slides using my 1930s era Leica 3A with Sumitar lens.
There’s no doubt; I was born in the wrong era. At age 16, my interests lay in the world decades before my birth.
Lackawanna Terminal has been tidied up since that day. Today, one of the old DL&W electric multiple unit cars serves as Conway Scenic Railroad’sdining car Chocorua, while another former DL&W car is coach 3202 Hurricane Mountain. Oddly enough, I write this in the shadow of Hurricane Mountain in North Conway, New Hampshire.
I scanned the slide portrayed here just a little while ago. I offer two versions. One is a scaled RAW scan without interpretation, the other is an ‘improved’ version of the same scan. I lightened this, adjusted the contrast and color temperature.
It was a wintery weekend a few weeks ago, when Kris Sabbatino and I briefly revisited the forlorn former Grand Trunk station along Genesee & Wyoming’s St. Lawrence & Atlantic at Groveton, New Hampshire.
I made these digital studies using my Nikon Z6 digital camera, and processed the files for color and contrast in Adobe Lightroom.
On December 13, 2014, Pat Yough and I visited Reading & Northern’s former Reading Company main line near Auburn, Pennsylvania where the former Pennsylvania Railroad Schuylkill Branch crossed on a through truss bridge.
Working with my Canon EOS-7D fitted with a 100mm lens, I exposed a sequence of Reading & Northern’s 4-6-2 Pacific number 425 that was leading a Christmas excursion toward Schuylkill Haven.
This is among the scenes that inspired me to recreate the Reading Company in HO scale.
I paid a visit to the Ontario Midland at Sodus, New York on a windy October day in 1987.
The sky was a tumble with autumnal clouds blowing off Lake Ontario with occasional patches of blue sky.
I made this view on Kodachrome 25 slide film with my Leica M2 and 50mm Summicron.
I’d missed a wink sun on the Alco RS-11 by a few moments.
I wonder why I didn’t wait a little while to see if it would have come out again?
Below are three versions of the photo. The first is my uncorrected scan, the second and third are variation with corrections to exposure, contrast, saturation and color balance implemented with Adobe Lightroom.
A few days ago on my walk to the North Conway station where I work, I made this sunrise sunburst of Conway Scenic’s Budd Vista Dome Rhonda Lee.
The secret to making this type of photo is manually selecting a very small aperture (in this case f22) with a wide-angle lens (16mm in this case), while allowing the sun to intersect a dark area (station roof).
It is also helpful to have a relatively dark sky, in this situation against a polarized winter sky.
I’ve made good use of this effect over the last few months where stark winter weather has given me plenty of opportunities for sunburst.
Incidentally, this image was made without the benefit (or detraction) of external filters. Nor was it substantially modified in post processing.
It was a lovely Spring morning in Claremorris, County Mayo, when I made this telephoto trailing view of the empty Irish Rail Ballina Branch train approaching the yard.
Finding a ‘mixed pair’ of 121/181 diesels on the passenger train was a rare event by 2006, and certainly worthy of my attention.
Irish Rail 075 that had been assigned to work the branch passenger train had failed at Ballina day or two previously, and the older EMDs were borrowed from their freight assignment to fill in.
I exposed this Fujichrome slide using my Nikon F3 with a short telephoto, probably a 105mm, from the road bridge west of the Claremorris Station.
I scanned the slide last night using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner set to 3200 dpi. Then I made nominal color/contrast corrections in Adobe Lightroom before scaling the image for internet presentation.
It was a dull Friday afternoon in mid June 2005, when DH and I were exploring locations along the Cork Road (Dublin to Cork) between Mountrath, Co Laois and the top of Ballybrophy Bank.
We’d stopped in sight of the tracks on a lightly traveled dirt road, and were cleaning the car, when off to the east we heard the distant drumming of a class 071 in Run-8 (full throttle).
Irish Rail’s class 071s are mid-1970s era EMD diesel-electrics, built with Dash-2 technology and powered with 12-cylinder 645E3 (turbocharged) engine. Their sound is distinctive.
I grabbed my Nikon F3 loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO). As the Friday-only ‘Down Kerry’ (Dublin Heuston to Tralee) came into view, the sun peaked out from a thick overhead cloud-bank. Irish Rail 072 was driven by Irish Rail’s Ken Fox, who recognized us and gave a few friendly blasts of the hooter (horn).
As the train passed on its ascent toward Ballybrophy, the sound intensified—a characteristic of the doppler effect. We could hear the aged EMD until Ken shut off at the top of the bank—several miles distant.