Among the desirable qualities of the Rolleiflex Model T was its square format.
While in my early years of using a Rollei I tended toward overuse of the 645 Superslide insert which provided a rectangular negative. I later decided that I preferred the basic square.
In June 2001, I traveled to Germany with a Rollei T, and exposed numerous 120 rolls of black & white film.
In Leipzig, I made this image of a tram on Fuji Neopan 400. I processed this roll using a mix of Agfa Rodinal Special. Unfortunately, I slightly overprocessed the negatives, a problem easily corrected after scanning, using Adobe Lightroom to adjust contrast and shadow density. The end result offers broad tonality.
Last Thursday evening, October 21, 2021 (10-21-2021), as we rode north on MBTA’s Orange Line I snapped digital photos from the window of the train looking down on MBTA’s former Boston & Maine lines radiating from Boston’s North Station.
We paced an outward commuter train for about a minute.
This reminded me of similar efforts photographing trains through the glass when I was a teenager.
Thursday, October 21, 2021, I had my first experience with MBTA’s new Orange Line subway cars built by Chinese firm CRRC in Springfield, Massachusetts.
It was odd for me because the ‘Old’ cars were delivered when I was in High School. I recall going on a Orange Line shop tour in 1983 with my old friend Dan Howard to see the ‘New Cars’ (now the ‘Old’ Cars). This had been organized by the Mystic Valley Railway Society.
Kris and I were on our way to Malden, Massachusetts so that I could give a talk on Tracking the Light to Mass Bay Railroad Enthusiasts at the old Pearl Street Station.
I made these orange line images using my Nikon Z6 mirroless digital camera.
On this day, May 16, 2011, I exposed this telephoto image of a number 20 tram in Munich, Germany.
I was working with my Canon EOS7D with a fixed 200mm f2.8 telephoto.
Notice the unusual point-work on the tram track in the foreground.
Selective focus made possible by the relatively wide aperture with a long focal length lens helps direct the eye to the primary subject, allowing for other elements of the scene to remain slightly out of focus.
I made a brief visit to Stuttgart during a trip to Germany and Switzerland in 1999.
On my first afternoon in Stuttgart, I exposed this Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO 100) color slide of a classic tram ascending away from the city center. Notice the effects of cross lighting. (The sun is to the left of the camera).
At the time I was working with an N90s with 80-200mm zoom lens, my standard camera combination for the period.
I’ve found that different types of equipment lend to different sorts of compositions. I wonder what images I would have made in Stuttgart if I could have carried the Nikon Z6 that I own today?
It was a clear pleasant afternoon in Bordeaux, France on April 29, 2016, when I made this photo of a wireless Alstom tram using my first Lumix LX7 digital camera.
I was visiting this elegant French city on business with my father.
Bordeaux opted for a ground-based power supply for its modern tram system in historic areas of its city center.
Below are two variations of the same photo. The top is the camera produced JPG (scaled for internet without adjustment), the bottom is my interpretation of the camera RAW file with adjustments made using Adobe Lightroom.
On this day (April 6th) 2014 I exposed a sequence of digital images of the Lisbon Metro (no, not Lisbon, New Hampshire) using my Lumix LX3.
Although I was soon to replace my trusty Panasonic Lumix LX3 with the more advanced and flexible LX7 model, I feel that in many ways the end-picture quality of the LX3 was preferable over the that from the LX7.
Recently, through the kindness of Tracking the Light reader Wm Keay, I now have in my possession my third LX7, which makes it my forth Lumix digital camera.
I’m looking forward to the next round of photos from the ‘wee Lumix’—long may it serve me!
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.
I exposed this color slide on a visit to Brussels with my father in May 1996.
I carried two cameras on that trip. My primary body was a Nikon F3T that I bought new from Nikon in 1990. My secondary camera was second hand Nikkormat FTN with an outer covering of red leather. I called it ‘my red Nikkormat’.
Back then, I’d usually load Kodachrome 25 in the F3T, and Fujichrome 100 in the Nikormat. I exposed film in both cameras manually using a handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe light meter to calculate exposure.
Using my FujiFilm XT1, I made this photo on First Street when visiting Los Angeles in August 2016.
I was pleased to catch then-new cars working the Metro Rail Gold Line light rail line.
Below are two variations. The top is the in-camera JPG, using the ‘Velvia’ color profile. The second view I converted from Fuji RAW to DNG format with Iridient X-Transformer (a specialized 3rd party software aimed at producing superior results with Fuji RAW files) before importing into Lightroom for final adjustment.
On a visit to New York City in 1998, my father and I made a trip on the Flushing Line of the New York Subway.
I exposed these photos using Fuji Sensia II (100 speed slide film) with my Nikon N90S.
Last week I digitized the slides using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 scanner powered by VueScan software.
To make the most of the dark contrasty images I opted for multiple pass scans—a feature offered by VueScan that is similar in concept to the HDR setting used my some modern digital cameras—that blend several scans of the same image at different exposure values into one file to maximize shadow and highlight detail.
After exposure, I adjusted the scans using Adobe Lightroom and outputted these images with watermark for internet presentation.
I’ve always found railway maintenance equipment interesting: often functional antiques, no longer suitable for revenue work get cascaded into maintenance duties.
As a kid, I was fascinated by the Boston’s bright orange Type 3 streetcars that had been converted into snow plows. For me these were the relics of an earlier era.
So, I was delighted when on a visit to Poznan, Poland in 2000, I found a vintage four-wheel tram in maintenance service,. I made a few photos using my Nikon F3 loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO).
This fortuitous encounter was the only time I caught a four-wheel tram in Poznan.
I needed a topic for today’s Tracking the Light, so I reached in to a sorting file of un-scanned slides and found this photo: Surprise!
On October 13, 2004, photographer Mike Gardner and I chased New England Central Railroad’s 608 south from Palmer, through my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts.
This is a chase I’ve done countless times over the last 40 years, but just because you’ve done something before, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to find a new angle on it.
At Robbins Road in Monson, I made this dramatic trailing view of the train’s locomotives. Here we have a selection of NECR GP38s roaring away in ‘Run-8’—maximum throttle on the tooth of the grade.
The train was moving 10-12 mph, producing a rush of engine exhaust along with traction motors blowers blowing to keep the motors cool. (And prevent them from over heating) These blasts of hot air, combined with the wind from the train’s approach and passage, plus and sand from the sanders to maintain adhesion all helped stir up the ballast and fallen leaves.
It was a good chase and I wish I was there now!
I scanned the photo using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 and VueScan software. My initial scan produced a 4000 dpi TIF file, which I then imported to Lightroom in order to scale it for presentation here.
June 2020 Trains Magazine features my 8-page article on New England Central.