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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
When I was a young child my family lived in Newton Centre, an historic suburb of Boston located on the old Boston & Albany Highlands Branch, a railroad that had been converted into a trolley line in 1960.
As a five year old, I’d watch MBTA’s PCC cars pass though, typically operated in multiple sets of two and three cars.
The old B&A railroad station was a relic from former times.
On Saturday, May 11, 2019, after dropping my father on the Logan Express bus for a trip to Portugal, I met some fellow photographers and we visited MBTA’s Newton Centre station on the Green Line.
This was the first stop on our photography of MBTA’s trolley car system.
It was a rare sunny day, and I made these digital photos of the trolley cars as they rolled between Boston and Riverside.
In late April, Mike Gardner and I made visit to the old graveyard at West Northfield, Massachusetts (south of the junction at East Northfield on the old Boston & Maine), to photograph Amtrak 56 (the Vermonter) on its way to St Albans, Vermont.
Light cloud softened the afternoon sun, which was slightly back-lit at this location for a northward train. To make the most of the old stones and put the entire train in the picture, I opted for my 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.
I made minor adjustments to the RAW file in Lightroom to present better contrast in the JPG image presented here.
On May 10, 2007, I coordinated a team of 37 photographers to document a full day’s worth of North American railway activity from Nova Scotia to southern California and from the Pacific Northwest to southern Florida in what became a book titled The Railroad Never Sleepspublished by Voyageur Press. (The book is now out of print and may be collectible).
I’d selected May 10thbecause of the historic significance of the day. Not only was America’s First Transcontinental Railroad completed on this day in 1869, but several over significant railroads events occurred on this day, including the famous speed run of New York Central 999 west of Batavia, New York in 1892.
On May 10, 2007, I played an active role in making photographs and coordinated with Genesee Valley Transportation to ride a locomotive on their former New York Central Falls Road (now Falls Road Railroad) and boarded the train at Lockport, New York.
My aim was to make photos of the crew to capture the feeling of an active short line railroad. Hal Reiser shadowed the train making photos from the ground, and at one point collected me so I could also make trackside views.
On 10 May 2005, I exposed this color slide of Irish Rail’s Claremorris Liner from Claude Road in Dublin.
This was toward the end of an era; Irish Rail would only move kegs of beer by rail for another year or so after this image was exposed.
At the time I was working with an F3T fitted with a 180mm lens to make the most of the glinting kegs as the train worked west into the setting sun. To minimize flare, I shaded the front element of my lens with my trusty notebook.
Monday, May 6, 2019, we set up at the classic location on the bridge at the junction East Northfield, where the New England Central and Boston & Maine lines come together, immediately south of the Vermont-Massachusetts state line.
Paul Goewey, John Peters and I had convened in Palmer and traveled north along the New England Central hoping to catch 611 on its southward run toward Palmer, which it does most weekday mornings.
We caught it several times, as pictured in Tracking the Light on May 7, 2019, before proceeding to this location.
Elevation and soft morning sun made for an excellent setting to picture the train in action. I made these views using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.
We didn’t rest here, and continue south with the train to make more photographs.
In the early 1990s, Southern Pacific’s Donner Pass was the domain of EMD Tunnel Motors—distinctive six-motor locomotives specifically configured for the route to better accommodate the difficulties operating in tunnels and snow-sheds at high altitudes.
So finding matched sets of modern General Electric four-motor diesels (such as those pictured here) leading freights proved to be highly unusual in the greater scheme of daily operations.
I made this photo in June 1992 at Yuba Pass. Although it has appeared in several places, including Pacific Rail News, I thought it was timely to present it on Tracking the Light. Friday, May 10, 2019 will be the 150th anniversary of the completion of America’s ‘First Transcontinental Railroad’ of which the original Donner Pass crossing was a key component.
This image was exposed on Kodachrome 25 using a Nikon F3T with 35mm PC lens. To compensate for the inky shadows, I made a multi-pass scan using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 and then imported the hi-res TIF file into Lightroom for adjustment. What you see here are both the unaltered scan and the adjusted versions, both scaled as Jpgs for internet presentation.
Yesterday, May 6, 2019, my old friends Paul Goewey, John Peters and I made a foray to Brattleboro to intercept New England Central’s 611 on its southward run to Palmer. We didn’t have to wait very long!
At Vernon, we paused to make photographs. I’ve always been partial to the view with the farm and the unusually tall tree.
The morning sun was lightly dappled by clouds making for some slight diffused light. Working with a Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1, I made a series of photographs as the freight roared passed. Soon we continued our pursuit, aiming to make more photos in the lush Spring greenery and low morning sun
In continuing the celebration of the 150 anniversary of completion of America’s First Transcontinental, I present this view of a ‘Kodachrome’ painted Southern Pacific ‘Tunnel Motor’ on Donner Pass.
In the mid-1980s, Southern Pacific and Santa Fe anticipated merger and so painted their respective locomotives in a bright yellow and red merger livery, similar to those colors once used on the familiar Kodak Kodachrome film boxes.
A few locomotives were lettered for the proposed new railroad, SPSF. Executives felt certain the merger would be approved.
The Interstate Commerce Commission wasn’t impressed and refused the merger, twice, so ‘SPSF’ came to mean ‘shouldn’t paint so fast.’
I made this view of an eastward SP train at milepost 140 near Colfax, California on the ascent of Donner Pass on February 9, 1990, using a Leica M2 and, yes, Kodachrome film!
It was one of the last trains I photographed with an SP locomotive in the lead with full-lighting package (headlight, oscillating headlight, red oscillating light and class lights) and dressed in the Kodachrome scheme. By 1990, both of these features were on the wane.
In the spirit of the first Transcontinental 150thanniversary celebrations, I’m posting these views that I made at Newcastle, California on an exploratory trip over Southern Pacific’s Donner Pass in November 1989.
I was perched atop the tunnel, railroad-east of where the line crosses Interstate-80 on its ascent from Roseville Yard to Donner Summit. The roar of EMD 645 diesels made for a great sound show as the train disappeared into the tunnel below me.
Although not my most memorable photos on Donner, these were among the very first that I made. Thousands more followed over the years.
It was raining in Dublin, but clear and bright in Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford on 13 December 2003 when we visited to observe Irish Rail’s sugar beet operations.
Working with a Rollei Model T that I’d bought in San Francisco a few weeks earlier, I exposed a sequence of 120-size black & white photos on Kodak Tri-X of NI Railways 112 (on long-term loan to Irish Rail) that was shunting four-wheel sugar beet wagons for loading.
To obtain greater shadow detail and superior overall tonality, I rate the film at ISO 200 (one stop slower than the advertised 400 ISO) and processed it in a dilute bath of Ilfotec HC high-contrast developer.
For presentation here, I scanned the negatives last week using an Epson V750 flatbed scanner and then scaled/sized the TIFs for internet viewing.
You could make wall-size prints from the original negatives.
In late April, after an interlude to photograph Amtrak 56, the northward Vermonter, Mike Gardner and I resumed our photo chase of New England Central’s northbound 611 (Brattleboro, VT to Palmer, Massachusetts and return), that would soon follow Amtrak’s train on it way north toward Brattleboro.
We arrived at the west end of the old Central Vermont Railway bridge over the Connecticut River (near the junction with Pan Am’s Boston & Maine at East Northfield) shortly before the freight crossed it.
Mike assumed a position at the classic location on the south side of the bridge, while I improvised with a view on the north side.
Why photograph from the ‘dark side’?
In this instance, I feel that the north side of the bridge offers a superior view of the setting, while cross lighting the train adds a sense of drama.
A visit to Irish Rail’s Carlow station on the shortest day of 2003, yielded some classic black & white photos, including these two views. The Cravens were working a scheduled service from Waterford to Dublin.
Working with a recently acquired Rollei Model T (the third such cameras I’d used over a 30 year span), I exposed a single roll of 120-size Fuji Neopan 400. The Rollei made a large square negative, which I really liked.
At the time my choice process for this film was using Agfa Rodinal Special (R09) at a ratio of 1 to 31 parts with water for about 3 mins 45 seconds. In this case I selenium toned the negatives for improved highlight detail.
Final presentation here included scanning using an Epson V750 flatbed scanner and some minor adjustments to contrast and cropping with Lightroom.
If this image seems familiar, it is because it’s been published on several occasions, first in Passenger Train Journal issue 210 in the mid-1990s.
It is among my favorite view of the San Francisco Muni light rail.
Working with my old Nikon F3T and a 200mm f4 lens, I made this photo of an in-bound L-Taraval car (worked by a 1970s-era Boeing-Vertol LRV) as it crested Ulloa Street on its way down toward West Portal in early December 1990.
The remarkable consideration is that this is a Kodachrome 25 slide. My shutter speed was about 1/60thof a second. When I lived in San Francisco, I had an un-cropped hand-printed Type R print of this scene pinned to my wall.
Gare Luxembourg is Luxembourg’s primary passenger railway hub. This impressive station hosts trains from Belgium, France and Germany as well as those from Luxeumbourg’s own railway, known by the initials CFL .
CFL is the abbreviation for the state railway undertaking;
Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois.
CFL has textbook perfect track; and from my brief experience its trains were clean and operated to time.
Gare Luxembourg is a wonderful example of classic Golden Age railway station architecture that has been tastefully modernized in the latest European styles.
Luxembourg is among the countries featured in my book; Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe. See Kalmbach Hobby Store:
The early 20thcentury pin-connected deck truss over the Millers River at its namesake Millers Falls, Massachusetts is one of my favorite places to picture New England Central freights.
On our chase of New England Central last week (Thursday April 25, 2019) photographer Mike Gardner and I arrived at Millers Falls several minutes ahead of 611 on its return run to Bellows Falls, Vermont from Palmer, Massachusetts.
We set up on the sidewalk of the Route 63 highway bridge over the river. For these views I opted for a more southerly position on the road bridge in order to feature budding trees that indicates the arrival of Spring in the Millers valley.
Working with my Lumix LX7, I exposed several digital views as the train’s leading locomotives eased over the antique spans. To me, the SD45/SD40 style locomotives seem out of proportion with the steam era bridge, which of course is half the attraction, long may it last!
See page 12 of the June 2019 TRAINS Magazine for my monthly column, where in this issue I investigate perceptions of Precision Scheduled Railroading. Read it! You might be surprised.
I illustrated my column using a photo I made in January of a tail-end DPU (radio controlled remote locomotive) working an empty coal train on Canadian Pacific’s former Milwaukee Road mainline at Duplainville, Wisconsin. I exposed this with my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.
I also podcast twice a month on Trains: see Sound Cloud for a complete listing of episodes:
On 6 April 2019, I was working with a 1980s-vintage Nikon F3HP fitted with an even older Nikkor 24mm lens to expose this view of Irish Rail 219 in ‘push-mode’ at the back of Dublin-bound Mark4 set at Kildare
This slide was among the photographs I exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100F on an excursion to Kildare with Paul Maguire and Jay Monaghan to photograph the Waterford-Portlaoise Saturday steel train (seen in the distance at Kildare station).
I digitized the slide using an Epson Perfection V750 flatbed scanner and imported the TIF file into Lightroom for final adjustment and outputted a scaled JPG for presentation here.
Several weeks ago on Tracking the Light I published a digital view of this same train, exposed moments after I made this slide.
After photographing New England Central’s southward 611 at Three Rivers, Massachusetts, photographer Mike Gardner and I worked northward scoping photo locations, while the 611 crew swapped its southward train at Palmer for its northward consist.
(New England Central 611 is the weekday turn that runs from Brattleboro, Vermont to Palmer and back.)
We inspected angles at Cushman north of Amherst and at other locations, but settled on the open area off Depot Road in Leverett, Massachusetts near the site of the old Central Vermont station.
I opted for a low angle to feature some fresh green grass in the foreground, using my 12mm Zeiss Touit fitted to my FujiFilm XT1 using the adjustable rear panel display to hold the camera close to the ground. (No, I’m not lying on the ground).
The combination of the very wide angle lens and low viewpoint helps accentuate the size and shape of New England Central’s locomotives.
The lead locomotive began its career as an EMD SD45 with classic angled (or ‘flared’) air-intakes at the back.
Although during the course of re-building, the locomotive had its 20-cylinder 645 engine swapped for a less powerful 16-cylinder 645 diesel, the machine still has its an impressive profile.
Soon we were hot in pursuit of 611, racing northward on Route 63 to our next location.