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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.)
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 1/125thsecond at ISO 200. Raw file adjusted in Lightroom to control contrast and maximize highlight detail with slight balancing/lightening of shadows.
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.
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.
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.
The X-T1 is very sharp, especially when working with the fixed (prime) lens.
Complicating matters was that it clouded over shortly before the train arrived, reduced the amount of available light. Details are in the captions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.