Category Archives: photography

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited in the 1980s.

Amtrak 448 approaching milepost 84 in Monson, Massachusetts. March 1986.

On March 16, 1986, I hiked west of milepost 84 on Conrail’s Boston & Albany route to photograph Amtrak train 448, the eastward Lake Shore Limited(Boston section).

This was just a few months before Conrail single tracked the line between Springfield and Palmer, Massachusetts.

I was keen to document the Boston & Albany’s line that passed through the northern reaches of my home town, Monson, Massachusetts, in the railroad’s traditional directional double track configuration.

This lone image is part of my much more extensive project to document the Boston & Albany route on film.

I exposed the photo on 120 roll film using my father’s Rollei Model T. In May 2019, I scanned the negatives using an Epson V750 flatbed scanner. For presentation here, I adjusted contrast and exposure using Lightroom.

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Steam and Smiles: 7470 on the Move!

Yesterday, Friday June 14, 2019, Conway Scenic Railroad fired up locomotive 7470 (its former Grand Trunk 0-6-0) and assigned it to an afternoon run down the old Boston & Maine line to Conway.

This was its first revenue run on a scheduled train in many years.

There were surprisingly few people around to witness the event.

Railroad President David Swirk took the throttle on the return run which arrived under sunny skies. His grin from the cab beamed liked that of the Cheshire Cat!

Today the plan for 7470 was to display this engine at Conway for an event.

Photos exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.

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First Trains of the Season at Crawford Notch.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 12mm lens, file adjusted for contrast using Lightroom.
Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 90mm lens, file adjusted for contrast using Lightroom.

Monday June 10, 2019, Conway Scenic Railroad operated an employee-special to Crawford Notch in preparation for commencement of its regularly schedule excursions, which began the following day.

Trains to Crawfords station from North Conway, New Hampshire operate on supremely scenic and steeply graded former Maine Central Mountain Division.

Last used for regularly scheduled freight in 1983, this route has been a highlight of Conway Scenic’s excursion program since the mid-1990s.

I made these views at Crawfords station of Monday’s excursion using my FujiFilm XT1. Compare the relative perspective offered by a wide-angle versus that with a medium telephoto from a distance.

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Conway Scenic’s Notch Train—low and wide.

The other evening I made this view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Notch Train at North Conway, New Hampshire.

I wanted to make the most of the low sun, while featuring the railroad’s former Maine Central GP38 and the lower quadrant semaphore at the south-end of the yard.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with my super wide angle (12mm) Zeiss Touit, I used the camera’s adjustable rear display to compose my image while holding it at arm’s length close to the ground.

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Archival Materials on the International Space Station—update.

NASA photo of CTech archival media on the ISS.

Last month on Tracking the Light (See: ARCHIVING, RESEARCH AND A NASA LAUNCH.) I wrote about a project that I’ve been involved with to develop very long term archival digital storage media. 

Last week NASA forwarded a photograph (above) of our media on the International Space Station, where it is being exposed to various types of radiation as part of testing. 

Among the requirements of these tests was that the materials be delivered to NASA using ground transport to avoid unnecessary exposure to gamma rays and etc, prior to the beginning of the tests that began with the launch in May 2019. 

As a result, my father and I traveled by train across country to deliver materials to our NASA contacts in Houston, Texas. These were carried in a specially designed box for storage on the International Space Station. We traveled on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, Crescentand Sunset Limited. At all times the box was in our sight.

Richard Solomon holding the special case containing CTech archival media for testing on the ISS with Malcom Simpson near Houston, Texas.

Amtrak’s Sunset Limited at Beaumont, Texas on the way to Houston.


Amtrak’s Sunset Limited at Houston.

Summary of my earlier Tracking the Light Post:

Several years ago my concerns over the lack of long-term archival storage for my growing collection of railroad photographs (and those of my fellow photographers) led me to begin working with scientists at Creative Technology LLC, including my father Richard Jay Solomon, Clark Johnson Jr., and Eric Rosenthal, in order to find a means of preserving photography, especially digital photography, by using proven technologies.

This evolved into a much larger project aimed at preserving and storing all digital media using silver technology—similar to that used to make photographs.

NASA took an interest in Creative Technology’s concept and offered to send examples of Creative Technology’s storage media to the International Space Station to test its ability to withstand the rigors of the space environment.

CTECH/WORF-NASA Press Release

Can data survive in space over extremely long times and multiple human generations? The possibility of human colonies on other planets may ultimately depend on just such data stability. Now, a patented innovative long-term archival data storage system created by a Delaware-based firm will be tested on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2019 for up to a year. 

The system developed by Creative Technology LLC (CTech) of Hockessin, DE, is called WORF, for Write Once, Read Forever. WORF applies a century-old tested archival media for photography in a completely new way for storing high-density computer data in perpetuity. Inherently secure, low-cost technology is used for WORF that cannot be hacked or altered. WORF media can be used to store critical DNA and healthcare records, financial information and contracts, family photos and records which need to preserved for multiple human generations.

NASA’s ISS test will determine if WORF-stored data can survive a hostile space environment during long-term space missions, such as the mission to Mars and beyond. Today, conventional media, such as hard drives, magnetic tape, and solid state memory, are vulnerable to decay and bit rot due to gamma and cosmic rays and age deterioration. 

WORF media is a green technology which can be stored for long periods in normal room environments without excessive energy for cooling or maintenance, opening up a new opportunity for storing secure data for extended periods of time without the need for energy. 

CTech is a group of technologists with over 300 years collective experience in human perception, image capture & display, photosensitive media, data storage & compression, and video and telecomm applications and technology. CTech sponsors have included NSA, the Naval Research Lab, the Office of Naval Research, NASA, & DARPA. 

All media used today have to be continually replicated and authenticated in order to be readable even in less than one human lifetime, and that process alone incurs new errors each time the data is copied. WORF avoids that problem, saving enormous labor and energy costs over long periods. 

Copyright 2019 – All rights reserved – Creative Technology, LLC

https://techport.nasa.gov/view/94998

Contact:
Eric Rosenthal, 732-580-9555 eric@creative-technology.net 

See: 

http://www.creative-technology.net/CTECH/WORF_NASA_Press_Release.html

Quiet Evening on The Mountain

At the end of May 2019, I paused briefly at Crawford Notch, New Hampshire to expose some photos in the evening light of the former Portland & Ogdensburg (Maine Central) Crawfords station.

This classic resort station is now seasonally served by Conway Scenic Railroad, and that season is about to begin!

Stay tuned!

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Conway Scenic 7470 Awakes From Hibernation.

On June 1, 2019, after several years of slumber, Conway Scenic Railroad’s 0-6-0 7470 made its first steps, moving under its own power around the railroad’s North Conway , New Hampshire yard.

The sights and sounds of this former Grand Trunk 0-6-0 have delighted visitors and residents of North Conway since the early 1970s, so having the locomotive back under steam represents a milestone event for the railroad’s 2019 operating season.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

Among the challenges of photographing excursion railroads is working with high-summer light. Operations favor the schedules of the majority of the visiting public, and during summer often this tends coincide with the dreaded midday sun.

Black steam locomotives make for an extra challenge as the drivers and other reciprocating gear tend to be masked by the inky shadows of the highlight.

In this circumstance high-thin clouds diffused high-sun and resulted in better contrast than on a completely clear day. Working with my RAW files in Lightroom I made further adjustments to shadow areas in order to make my images more appealing.

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Maine Central 573 at Bartlett—Two Days, Two Photos.

Here’s two photos of Conway Scenic Railroad’s former Maine Central GP7 573 running around the Valley Trainat Bartlett, New Hampshire on the old Mountain Division.

One was made from the train on a cloudy day, the other from the road near the section house as the engine was cutting off from the train.

Some contrasts: Cloud versus sun; vertical versus horizontal; traditional versus interpretative; road versus rail.

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Some viewers commented that they were unable to see the ‘cloudy’ photo. For this reason, I’ve rescaled and re-uploaded a version of the original vertical photo plus an EXTRA horizontal image from the same sequence.

By the Balls!

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.

Yeah, it’s a cliché.

But so what.

So, there I was in Whitefield, New Hampshire last week for the first time since the early 1990s, and the old Ball signal was basking in the evening sun.

Once a common variety of signal in New England, often used where one line crossed another, the Ball signal is all but history now.

Whitefield’s Ball is the last on a common carrier, but the lines are so infrequently used that the old signal has virtually no function other than serving as an historical decoration.

However, it’s not the only surviving Ball signal  in New Hampshire. The Balls that once protect Waumbek  Junction (near Whitefield in Jefferson) are now displayed at North Conway, and will soon feature in Tracking the Light.

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Near the End of the Line.

Last week, I made these photos of disused former Boston & Maine tracks north of Littleton, New Hampshire.

This had been B&M’s line that ran from Wells River, Vermont via Bath and Littleton to Whitefield, New Hampshire.

The section from Littleton to Woodsville and Wells River had been abandoned and lifted in 1996.

Abandoned railways make for forlorn photographs, that are sad yet compelling.

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Rails Along the Old Connecticut River.

North from White River Junction the former Boston & Maine line runs toward Wells River and Newport, Vermont.

It’s been nearly a century since B&M conveyed the line north of Wells River to Canadian Pacific, but I’m old enough to remember B&M operations White River to Wells River, although I don’t have many photos to show for it.

Last week I followed Vermont Rail System’s freight operating northward from White River Junction. Unfortunately for photos, many of my preferred locations were suffering from excessive vegetation.

Here’s a few photos exposed digitally. More to come.

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Two Railroads at the Junction—panoramic composite

Click on Tracking the Light for the full view!

Last week, I made this panoramic composite using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm fixed-focal length (‘prime’) telephoto.

New England Central on the left; Vermont Rail System on the right; the station at White River Junction between them.

By ‘composite’, I mean that the camera exposed numerous single frame images as I swept across the scene and then assemble them internally using pre-programmed software. This feature is offered by both my XT1 and Lumix LX7 digital cameras.

If you would like to board a train from White River Junction for a leisurely ride along the river on June 15th:
http://massbayrre.org/Trips/GreenKnightTrain.htm
Photography encouraged!

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New England Central 437 Works White River Junction.

Last week, I made these photographs of New England Central 437 and Buffalo & Pittsburgh 3000 working a local freight at White River Junction, Vermont.

Old 437 wears some tired looking Florida East Coast paint, revealing its former owner.

This local made numerous passes of the old station, making for ample photographic opportunities.

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Bellows Falls ‘Dusty Diamond’ Found!

Several days ago, I posted a view of a dusty diamond in the Bellows Falls, Vermont yard that I exposed way back in 1978. Tracking the Light readers wrote in and wondered if this disused section of track survived, and one suggested that it did still exist.

So, the other day, I stopped over in Bellows Falls while driving northward and searched for the old diamond at the southeast area of Vermont Railway’s former B&M/Rutland yard.

I’ll admit that I drove over the section of  track in question before I finally spotted it, well buried in dirt and partially covered by a puddle.

Making matters difficult, was that in my youthful focus on the diamond, I completely cropped the building next to it, which if I had included in my earlier photo, would have made finding the location easier.

Below are several comparison views plus a scan from the original slide.

Site of the ”dusty diamond’ in May 2019. This is as close of an angle as could manage and is nearly a direct comparison. Keep in mind the 1978 view was made in late autumn and in the afternoon, while the above photo was exposed on an overcast morning.
1978 view at Bellows Falls.
Close-up view of the diamond, which has been nearly absorbed by the road since my 1978 photograph.

An overall view showing the factory building at left. Apparently this factory didn’t impress me at age 12, and I completely omitted it from my 1978 view. It would have made a good reference point had I included it.

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Conrail Classic: Caboose Rolls West.

Check out my selection of Conrail photos on Flicker at:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/163833022@N05/n8ua9g

Conrail westward freight passing the old Boston & Albany station at Warren, Massachusetts. Notice the old freight house at the left. Today there’s a lot more vegetation around the railroad than back in 1984.

On April 18, 1984, I was photographing Conrail’s Boston & Albany at Warren, Massachusetts, an activity that undoubtedly coincided to a visit with my friend Bob Buck at Tucker’s Hobbies.

Early in the afternoon, I caught a westward train with three (then new) SD50s rolling by the old Boston & Albany Warren station.

This was in double-track days, when Conrail still operated train in the current of traffic in accordance with rule 251 and the long established automatic block signals that protected movements on the line.

Cabooses were still the norm on through freights, but not for much longer. Within a few months caboose-less freights would become standard practice on the B&A route and across the Conrail system.

I made this view on Kodak 5060 safety film (Panatomic-X) using my 1930s-era Leica 3A with 50mm f2.0 Summitar lens. I processed the film in the kitchen sink using Kodak Microdol-X and then made the unfortunate choice of storing the negatives in a common paper envelope, which is where they remained until last week.

Panatomic-X. Now if there was one great black & white film, that was it. Slow as molasses, but really great film. It was rated at 32 ISO (or ASA as it was called in those days) and tended to result in some thin negatives, but it gave great tonality, fine grain, and scans very well.

I’m glad I have these negatives, ignored and stored inappropriately for all these years. If only there was still a Conrail, cabooses on the roll, and Bob Buck at Tucker’s Hobbies to tell you all about it!

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Check out my selection of Conrail photos on Flicker at:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/163833022@N05/n8ua9g

Tracking the Light Extra—Conway Scenic 7470 Fire Lit.

Tracking the Light is on location at North Conway, New Hampshire.

For the first time in more than four years Conway Scenic 0-6-0 7470 (former Grand Trunk) has a fire in its boiler.

Gordon Lang, who on August 3, 1974 was the first to light a fire in 7470 on Conway Scenic, did the honors again just after 3pm today (May 31, 2019).

The locomotive was last steamed in January 2015, and after months of restoration and repair will soon be moving again under its own power.

I made these photos of 7470 using my FujiFilm XT1 with a 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

Irish Rail at Sligo; Techniques for Improving a Dark Slide.

Scaled, but otherwise unadjusted scan.

On April 23, 2000, I exposed this view of Irish Rail 072 with Mark 2s at Sligo.

It was a typical overcast Irish day.

Working with Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO 100), my result was a slightly underexposed colour slide, common with these unflattering lighting conditions.

To improve the photograph, I scanned the original slide at very high resolution (4000 dpi) using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 digital scanner and outputted the file as a hi-res TIF.

I then imported the TIF into Lightroom and made a few minor changes to contrast, colour balance, and exposure that I feel make for a much-improved photograph.

Adjusted scan.

While I can output the adjusted file as a TIF, the resulting file size is much too large for presentation on this site. Instead, I’ve made a pair of low-res JPG’s specifically sized for internet presentation here. One is scaled from the un-adjusted original scan, the other is my improved scan.

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Contrast and density tweaked for internet viewing on social media.

MBTA Glinty Green Line at Coolidge Corner.

At the end of the day (no, really, like the sun was setting and everything) photographers Pat Yough, Tim Doherty and I set up at Coolidge Corner on MBTA’s Green Line Beacon Street route.

Soft golden glint made for some nice light.

I made these images with my Lumix LX7 in RAW format, imported the files into Lightroom where I made adjustments to lighten the shadow areas and soften the contrast, then exported as small Jpg files for internet presentation here.

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The Challenges and Lessons of Main Line Steam—July 2019

My author’s advance copy of July 2019 Trains Magazine just arrived.

Page 17 features my discussion of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s success with operating regular steam excursions on the mainline and what American operators might learn from RPSI’s example.

I’ve spent 21 years photographing and traveling with the RPSI which has made for a rewarding and enlightening experience.

Here’s the cover of July 2019 Train which features Union Pacific’s world famous 4-8-8-4 ‘Big Boy’.

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Amtrak Heritage Locomotive and the Waterfall.

Exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens.


Yesterday, Saturday May 24, 2019, I re-visited West Warren, Massachusetts to photograph Amtrak 449 (Boston section Lake Shore Limited) with the old mills and mill dam along the Quaboag River.

I was delighted to find that the scruffy trees and brush that had grown up on the north-side of the line had been cleared away, opening up a vista that I haven’t seen in more than 15 years.

Also, Amtrak was running about 40 minutes late, which combined with a thin layer of cloud to diffuse the afternoon sun, allow for a satisfying view on the north side of the tracks.

Locomotive 145 wearing 1980s-era ‘heritage paint’ was in the lead.

Reminder: Tracking the Light will be undergoing site maintenance and there may be delays to service. (Sorry no bus!).

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A Lousy Slide from a Hazy Day at Enola.

Kodachrome 64 color slide exposed in 1981 scanned and adjusted in 2019.


In August 1981, my family and I set off to Pennsylvania in our 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser.

Among our holiday adventures was arriving at Enola on a sweltering hot afternoon.

The consensus was to find a place to stay. I wanted to see the famous railroad yard. The solution proved to be a motel called the ‘Summerdale Junction Inn’ (or something like that) which overlooked Conrail’s sprawling former Pennsylvania Railroad yards.

We requested a room trackside.

While the rest of the family relaxed by the pool, I attempted to make photos from the motel window using my father’s Leica M3 fitted to a Visoflex with 200mm Telyt.

At the time I was delighted to see so many locomotives, including a great many former PRR E44 electrics which had been recently stored owning to Conrail’s decision to discontinue its electric freight operations (long complicated story that will be addressed in my upcoming Conrail book).

This isn’t a great photo. There’s too many wires, too many bushes and the hazy light was less than ideal.

Glad I have it though. I may consider it for the book. Unless youhave a better view of all the stored electrics!

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Autos East with Mid-Train Locomotives: CSX Q264 at CP79—3 Digital Photos.


In recent months CSX has adopted the practice of using distributed power on the former Boston & Albany.

Distributed power is essentially the application of radio-remote controlled locomotives positioned deep in a freight train and/or at its end to reduce drawbar stress and improve starting and braking characteristics with very long/heavy trains.

The concept dates to the 1960s, but much improved radio-controlled remote technology was introduced by GE-Harris in the 1990s where it has become standard operating practice, and the remote locomotives being known as distributed power units (DPUs)

Still, to me it seems like a novelty on the Boston & Albany route.

Yesterday (May 23, 2019), I made my first photographs of a CSX train with a DPU working east of Palmer.

Mike Gardner and I caught Q-264 (the loaded autorack train destined to East Brookfield) from the field of Route 67 near CP79.

By B&A standards, this was an enormous train for just two modern GE diesels.

I exposed these photographs using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 lens.

Head-end of CSX Q264 east of Palmer, Massachusetts.
Autoracks on the roll.
Mid-train DPU working hard on the grade up to Warren.

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Diamond in the Dust.


Here’s another photo from the darkest depths of my archives, hidden away for decades and scanned on Monday.

From a technical standpoint it is not a great photo. It was never meant to be.

I exposed this view in 1978. I was aged 12 and the diamond on a curved section of track caught my interest so I photographed what I saw. The making of this image is not more complicated than that.

As I remember it: this view shows some disused industrial/yard trackage on the periphery of the former Boston & Maine/Rutland yard in Bellows Falls, Vermont. I exposed the photo on trip to visit Steamtown and Bellows Falls with my family. I seem to remember insisting that my parents stop the car so I could make the picture.

I’m happy that I had the foresight to expose this photo, but I wish that I could have documented this odd scrap of track in a more effective way. Yet that’s a lot to ask of a 12 year old with a camera!

Not every photo wins a prize, but some age better than others!

Exposed on Kodak Ektachrome 200 using a Leica 3A with an f2.0 50mm Summitar lens.

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Archiving, Research and a Nasa Launch.


You might ask, ‘what does this have to do with railway photography?’

Nothing. And Everything.

Everything? YES.

Several years ago my concerns over the lack of long-term archival storage for my growing collection of railroad photographs (and those of my fellow photographers) led me to begin working with scientists at Creative Technology LLC, including my father Richard Jay Solomon, Clark Johnson Jr., and Eric Rosenthal, in order to find a means of preserving photography, especially digital photography, by using proven technologies.

This evolved into a much larger project aimed at preserving and storing all digital media using silver technology—similar to that used to make photographs.

NASA took an interest in Creative Technology’s concept and offered to send examples of Creative Technology’s storage media to the International Space Station to test its ability to withstand the rigors of the space environment.

Nasa photograph. SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket launch on May 3, 2019

Creative Technology test materials that I helped create were launched via a SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket on May 3, 2019 and docked at the International Space Station on May 6th.

This brings the Creative Technology concept closer to a commercial manifestation.

Nasa photograph of the Dragon module approaching the International Space Station on May 6, 2019.

When the materials are returned in several months time, Creative Technology can further the analysis of the storage medium which hopefully will facilitate NASA’s application of this technology for long-term data storage among other applications.

Below is Creative Technology’s press release detailing the invention and its promise.

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NASA International Space Station  Will Test Innovative Data Storage System to Preserve Vital Human Records

Can data survive in space over extremely long times and multiple human generations? The possibility of human colonies on other planets may ultimately depend on just such data stability. Now, a patented innovative long-term archival data storage system created by a Delaware-based firm is being tested on the International Space Station (ISS) for up to a year. 

The system developed by Creative Technology LLC (CTech) of Hockessin, DE, applies a century-old tested archival media for photography in a completely new way for storing high-density computer data in perpetuity. Inherently secure, low-cost technology is used that cannot be hacked or altered. CTech’s archival media can be used to store critical DNA and healthcare records, financial information and contracts, family photos and records which need to preserved for multiple human generations

NASA’s ISS test will determine if data on CTech’s media can survive a hostile space environment during long-term space missions, such as the mission to Mars and beyond. Today, conventional media, such as hard drives, magnetic tape, and solid state memory, are vulnerable to decay and bit rot due to gamma and cosmic rays and age deterioration. 

CTech’s media is a green technology which can be stored for long periods in normal room environments without excessive energy for cooling or maintenance, opening up a new opportunity for storing secure data for extended periods of time without the need for energy. 

CTech is a group of technologists with over 300 years collective experience in human perception, image capture & display, photosensitive media, data storage & compression, and video and  telecomm applications and technology. CTech sponsors have included NSA, the Naval Research Lab, the Office of Naval Research, NASA, & DARPA.

All media used today have to be continually replicated and authenticated in order to be readable even in less than one human lifetime, and that process alone incurs new errors each time the data is copied. CTech avoids that problem, saving enormous labor and energy costs over long periods.

Contact:

Eric Rosenthal, 732-580-9555‬

eric@creative-technology.net

Meet at the Diamond!

Conrail’s SBSE (South Braintree to Selkirk) works west as Central Vermont local 561 waits to cross the Palmer diamond on the morning of June 25, 1985. This was 13 months before Conrail single-tracked its former Boston & Albany between Palmer and Springfield.

Or should I say ‘A diamond meet’? This slide sat for more than 33 years in a box.

At the time of exposure it didn’t seem remarkable; just a back lit view of Conrail B23-7s and Central Vermont Railway GP9s at the Palmer, Massachusetts diamond.

This was a common every day occurrence and the locomotives were among the most frequently seen in the Palmer area in 1985.

I didn’t have the best lens and my exposures were lacking refinement.

Conrail’s SBSE (South Braintree to Selkirk) works west as Central Vermont local 561 waits to cross the Palmer diamond on the morning of June 25, 1985. This was 13 months before Conrail single-tracked its former Boston & Albany between Palmer and Springfield.

Adjusted version of the above scan; color and contrast corrected for internet viewing.

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Turbo Blasted!


Is this a bad photo? It isn’t what I hoped to get.
 
On January 9, 1986, I braved arctic conditions at Conrail’s Dewitt Yard in East Syracuse, New York to make photos in the snow.
 
In addition to Conrail views, I exposed two black & white photos of an Amtrak turbo train running from Niagara Falls to Grand Central Terminal.
 
The head on view is a bit distant, and my trailing exposure was exposed prematurely.
 
My only excuse is that my hands were numb with cold.
 
Worse! I seem to have misplaced my detailed notes from the day, so all I have is abbreviated notes on my negative sleeve and a few print captions to work from.
Poor show, me.
 
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Heuston Station at Sunset_Lessons in Glint.

Adjusted TIF file.


In 1998 on a visit to the Irish Railway Record Society Dublin premises, I took a few minutes to photograph from the far end of platform five. I recall, that at the time, this area was accessible without the need to pass through the main station nor transit a ticket barrier. This was four years before construction of platforms six, seven and eight.

Working with a Nikon F3T fitted with an old non AI f2.8 135mm lens, I exposed this Fujichrome Sensia (ISO 100) colour slide of a two-piece 2600 ‘Arrow’ departing Heuston for Kildare.

The Spring evening sun was setting on the north side of the tracks and heavy particulates in the air made for a red-orange tint.

I exposed the slide for the highlights by carefully examining the overall lighting situation with my handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe light meter and setting the camera manually. This prevented gross overexposure and loss of highlight detail, while making for a relatively dark slide.

Recently, I made a multiple pass scan using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 operated with Vue Scan software, and then imported the high resolution TIF into Lightroom to adjust shadow areas for greater visual detail.

My intent was not to negate the effect of shadows, but simply to reduce the impenetrable inky effect and allow for better separation in the darker areas.

This is the scaled but otherwise unadjusted TIF scan file for comparison–converted to JPG for internet presentation.

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Irish Rail 225 Crosses Gardner Street in Dublin.


It was just an ordinary day when I made this impromptu view of Irish Rail 225 working a Mark 3 push pull set on Dublin’s Loop Line crossing over Gardner Street Lower.

What was common in 1998 seems pretty neat today. I’m glad I exposed the slide!

To make the most of this photograph, I scanned the slide using a Nikon Super Scoolscan5000 then imported the TIF file into Lightroom for contrast and exposure refinement plus colour balance and colour temperature adjustment.


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NEW ENGLAND CENTRAL Elephant Style—Four GP38s Lead 608—Two Slides from 2004.

New England Central 608, working from Palmer, Massachusetts to Willimantic, approaches Mansfield Depot, Connecticut on October 11, 2004.

For today’s Tracking the Light, I fished out a pair of slides I made back in October 2004 during a chase with New England Central 608 south from Palmer, Massachusetts.

On that day the freight was led by four GP38s, all facing southward, and I was seeking a location to capture this unusual event. (For the record, out of the photograph, there was a fifth GP38 in consist facing north).

Although imperfect, owing to clutter and brush in the foreground, I selected this elevated view north of Mansfield Depot.

I scanned the slides last night in preparation for this post. I don’t think they’d ever been out of the box before. Luckily I’d recorded the date and particulars on the slide box which saved me have to scan through my notebooks from 15 years ago.

I do recall that a friend of mine was visiting from across the pond and he was impressed by the ‘colletion of GMs’ as he called them, working that morning’s train.

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Palmer, Massachusetts—Track Changes soon! (Four views on Tracking the Light)


On the way back from some errands this morning (May 18, 2019), I stopped at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts


Although not a wheel was turning, I was fascinated to discover some brand new points waiting for installation near the famous ‘diamond’ crossing (where CSX crosses New England Central) .

Using my Lumix LX7 digital camera I made these views of what appear to be a power derail.

Stay tuned!

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MBTA Green Line at Cleveland Circle.


Last Saturday evening (May 11, 2019), I exposed these digital photographs of Boston’s MBTA Green Line.

At this location three routes effectively converge which makes it an ideal location for shops and car storage.

Decades ago I’d photograph MBTA’s classic PCCs here. With in a few years of my making those images the PCCs were all but banished to the Red Line Mattapan-Ashmont extension. The PCC’s have since become an icon of that route.

Soon MBTA’s streetcar fleet will undergo another transition that will make last week’s photos seem historic.

Tracking the Light posts daily!

Last Saturday evening (May 11, 2019), I exposed these digital photographs of Boston’s MBTA Green Line.

Mass-Central along Route 181 in Palmer.


On the way toward the interchange in Palmer, Massachusetts, Massachusetts Central’s former Boston & Albany Ware River Branch follows and crosses state Route 181.

So often I have driven this way.

Catching a train here isn’t especially difficult since it runs southbound most weekday afternoons, but making a photo without any highway traffic in the way can be really challenging.

All it takes is one truck or a school bus to pull up to the crossing at the last minute and the whole scene changes, and usually not for the better!

On this May day, we were lucky!

Tracking the Light Posts Today and Everyday!

Irish Rail 129 Leads the Friday Norfolk Liner at Kildare.


May Friday Freight.

Years ago among the treats of Friday freight operations in Ireland were the extra moves. One of my favorites was Friday’s Dublin-Waterford Norfolk liner, which tended to get unusual locomotives and operated down-road midday.

On this day, the train had been held in Kildare during a spell of bright sunshine, but when it finally got the signal to proceed down-road clouds dimmed the scene.

Working with a Nikon N90s and a borrowed 300mm lens I exposed this Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO) slide of Irish Rail 129 leading the Norfolk liner through the crossovers west of Kildare station. This was way back in May 2001—18 years ago!


Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

CT Rail, Farmington River and Fishermen.

Last Thursday, May 9, 2019, photographer Mike Gardner and I set up at the former New Haven Railroad stone arch viaduct over the Farmington River at Windsor, Connecticut to catch CT Rail ‘s southward commuter train number 4407 .

When we arrived a line of a half dozen fishermen were in position on the south bank of the river.

Shortly before the train was due to pass, most of them concluded fishing and began to pack up.

It turns out that the Farmington River bridge is more famous as a place to fish than as a place to picture trains. There’s a plaque about the fishing and everything! Who knew?

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with a 12mm Zeiss Touit.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!