Category Archives: Rail transit marathon

Blur Beneath the Bay Bridge

On September 16, 2009, I exposed this Fujifchrome slide using a Canon EOS-3 mounted on a tripod. I used a long shutter speed for motion blur.

A San Francisco Muni Breda Light rail car was rolling along the Embarcedero beneath the famous San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which once carried tracks as well as the highway.

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Valley Transportation Authority-May 2008.

California Dreamin’—Working with Fujichrome late in the day on a Sunday afternoon in May 2008, I exposed this long telephoto view of a Valley Transportation Authority light rail train.

VTA Light Rail is the operator of the San Jose, California-area light rail system.

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Sunday’s Surprise.

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.

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Rotterdam Tram at the Cube Houses.

In August 2014, I made a day trip to the famous Dutch port city of Rotterdam, where I made this view of an Alstom Citadis tram passing the famous Cube Houses-one of the city’s architectural icons.

Although many of photos I made in Rotterdam were exposed digitally, for this view I used my Canon EOS3 with 40mm lens to expose Fuji Provia100F color slide film.

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BRNO, Czech Republic.

In April 2005, I visited the Czech city of Brno with Denis McCabe and the late Norman McAdams.

Working with a Nikon N90S with f2.8 180mm Nikkor lens, I exposed this Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO 100) slide of a tram as it approached the stop near the main railway station.

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Washington Metro and Tower K.

It was a gray December 1997 day when I exposed this telephoto view of a Washington DC Metro train and Union Station’s Tower K using my Nikon N90s with f2.8 80-200 Nikon zoom lens.

Really it was the rows of colored position light signals displaying ‘stop’ that caught my attention.

Although the f2.8 8-200 lens offered convenience, and was both fast and sharp, it had its failings. When used wide open it tended to vignette slightly (darker exposure in the corners), but more serious was that it made me visually lazy. Instead of seeking the best vantage point and an optimal composition, I could get a pretty good angle by merely adjusting the focal length of the zoom.

My film was Fujichrome Provia 100F.

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Pittsburgh Light Rail October 1992.

On October 12, 1992, my father and I traveled on the Pittsburgh Light Rail, traversing both the 47 Shannon and Drake Shuttle routes where vintage PCC cars still roamed. Both lines are now defunct. Later in the day, my brother Sean and I revisited these lines by road to make a few more photos.

On that trip, I exposed this Kodachrome slide with my Nikon F3T fitted with a 35mm perspective control lens.

While I was aiming to fill the frame with the rarely photographed PCC car, in retrospect I wished that I’d allowed a little more space around the streetcar.

I’m happy to have made this photo, since it was my only photographic adventure with the Pittsburgh PCCs.

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Olomouc, Czech Republic

It was a dreary wintery morning in January 2009, when I exposed this view of PCC-derived Tatras meeting on the streets of Olomouc, Czech Republic.

I was traveling with photographers Tim Doherty and Denis McCabe on a whirlwind post-Christmas tour of central Europe that began and ended in Prague.

I was working with Fujichrome color slide film using a Canon EOS-3 with a 100mm f2.0 lens

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Rental Tram Hoboken? It’s not what you think!

In February 1999, I made a day trip from Brussels to Antwerp, Belgium.

While in Antwerp, I took the number 2 tram to its terminus at Hoboken.

You mean there’s another Hoboken Terminal? In a manner of speaking, yes. But no copper clad Bush train sheds at this one.

When I saw this PCC departing for central Antwerp, I was amused by the National Car Rental advertisement at the back of the car. That same day I expose a view of a similar tram advertising ‘Diesel’ apparel.

Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO) with an Nikon N90S probably fitted with a 80-200 Nikon zoom.

Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO) with an Nikon N90S probably fitted with a 80-200 Nikon zoom.

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See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

Brussels Trams at Schaarbeek: 1999 and 2017.

Here are two views made at the tram terminal in Schaerbeek/Schaarbeek in Brussels. The top was exposed on Fujichrome with my Nikon N90S in 1999, the bottom using a Lumix LX7 in April 2017.

The building in the background is the old SNCB railway station house, now part of the Train World railway museum complex.

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Six Years Ago: Ponte Dom Luis 1

The Ponte Dom Luis 1 is one of two magnificent Eiffel bridges spanning the Douro in Porto, Portugal.

On this day (April 5th), 2014, I worked with my Canon EOS 7D to make this photograph of a Eurotram crossing the bridge.

Porto is a remarkable and extraordinarily picturesque city.

Fellow photographer Denis McCabe and I were exploring Porto during a week-long photographic journey around Portugal. While the weather was good in the south of the country, it was foggy, raining and overcast in the north.

Portugal is among the countries prominently features in my book; Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe by Kalmbach Books see:

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/search?q=brian+solomon+Railway+guide+to+Europe

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Budapest-July 19 2007.

The Hungarian capital has a wonderfully complex transit system mixing heavy railways, with metro lines, funicular railways, urban street trams, and interurban trams.

On a visit in July 2007, I exposed this Fujichrome of a route 49 tram passing below a MAV (Hungarian state railways) arched bridge.

It was extraordinarily warm that day.

This was one of the last rolls I exposed using my Contax G2 rangefinder. Not long after returning to Dublin, the camera developed a serious fault and I stopped using it.

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Zagreb August 2003.

Yesterday, when I read about the Magnitude 5.4 earthquake that shook Croatia, I thought back to the pleasant few days I spent on my first trip to the Croatian capital Zagreb in August 2003.

During that trip, I exposed this Fujichrome slide of a tram in Whirlpool a advertising livery near the Zagreb main railway station.

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Geneva Street Car House—SF MUNI.

I liked the old Boeing-Vertol LRVs. (Light Rail Vehicles).

The shape of the cars lent well to photography.

The San Francisco cars reminded me a the old orange creamsicle frozen treats.

Back in December 1990, I made this view of a Boeing car leaving the Geneva Street car house for a run on the M-Ocean line. I was working with my old Nikkor f4.0 200mm lens on my F3T loaded with Kodachrome 25.

I made great use of that lens, but sold it in 1996 when I bought my 80-200mm zoom. In retrospect, I made better photos with the fixed 200mm.

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Amtsterdam May 26, 1996.

My father and I traveled from Brussels to Amsterdam by train on May 26, 1996. Shortly after arriving at Amsterdam Centraal, I exposed this color slide of a tram paused in front of the station.

On the front of the tramcar is a bit of graffiti which annoyed me at the time. This bit of marker seemed to spoil the scene.

Later in the day, we traveled by tram to the end one of the lines, just to see what was there. It was like Legoland.

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December 31, 1994—Chicago.

I made this view at the CTA’s Clark-Lake Station on the rarely photographed Chicago subway.

The Loop is often pictured, but not the lines underground.

My brother and I had spent the day exploring Chicago and it was nice to get out of the cold.

I used an FLW color-correction filter to compensate for the green cast produced by the artificial lighting underground.

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Bytom Four-wheeler.

On a trip to Poland in August 2006, I made a few photos of the four-wheel trams at Bytom.

At the time these were some of the last traditional four-wheel trams in regular revenue service and represented a carry-over from an earlier era.

For me, it was an opportunity to photograph one of Europe’s most obscure transit lines. Thanks to Michael Walsh of the Irish Railway Record Society for recommending this location.

I made this view using a Nikon F3 loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO).

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Elegant Paint at Okayama.

On April 24, 1997, my father and I paid a brief visit to Okayama, Japan, arriving and departing the same day by Shinkansen.

Okayama had a compact two-prong streetcar system with colorfully painted street cars (it seemed that each car was in a different livery).

Traditional colors on this modern boxy car.

Kodachrome in Fuji-land!

I made these photos with my Nikon N90S.

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Chrome at Bad Schandau

It was on a misty May 2009 morning that I exposed this Fujichrome slide of a tram in the village of Bad Schandau in Germany’s Elbe River Valley.

This was just a few months before I purchased my first digital camera and when I still exposing lots of color slide film.

Yesterday I scanned this slide using an Epson V750 scanner and then processed the file using Lightroom.

Below are two Lightroom Jpgs. The top is uncorrected, the bottom reflects digital tidying up for internet presentation.

Specifically, I adjusted the gamma for better contrast by putting the darkest regions at the toe of the curve (far left) and moving the highlights to the top of the curve (far right) while increasing contrast in the middle range. I reduced the amount of magenta and increased the yellow for better color balance, and applied a small degree of digital sharpening for edge effect. (This doesn’t actually make the photo sharper, but it looks sharper on screen). Lastly, I made a nominal correction for level by slightly rotating the image (which crops it).

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Paris Metro Line 6

In March 1999, I made a day trip to Paris from Brussels on the Thalys.

Among my visions for the day was to duplicate views of Metro Line 6 with the Eiffel Tower similar to those that my father made back in 1960.

Working with my Nikon N90S, I exposed this wideangle view from above the banks of the Seine.

While the sun was out, dark clouds would soon pelt hail across the Parisian landscape.

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Hudson-Bergen Light Rail on Film

On January 13, 2015, Jack May and I explored NJ Transit’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system to make photographs.

Fujichrome slide scanned using a Nikon Coolscan 5000 scanner.

I made this view on Fujichrome Provia100F using my Canon EOS 3 with a 40mm pancake lens—a winning combination for contemporary Transit photos with historical format continuity. (A fancy way of saying, I exposed photos of streetcars on film back in the day, and I still do!).

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Port Authority-Trans Hudson

Exchange Place—1982.

As a teenager living in rural Monson, Massachusetts, I thought Jersey City was a fascinating urban wonderland.

It was gritty, dirty, decayed and very urban with lots of  history.

A virtual playground!

I made this photo at Exchange Place station on the Port Authority Trans-Hudson former Pennsylvania Railroad controlled Hudson & Manhattan rapid transit route between New York City and New Jersey terminals.

As a photograph it isn’t my finest, but I feel I captured my sense of wonder about PATH.

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Toronto Transit Commission—Two Photos from Ten Years Ago.

In February 2010, I visited Toronto, Ontario with photographers Pat Yough and Chris Guss.

It was extra cold, but we made some stunning photos in the clear frosty light.

These view of TTC CLRVs (Canadian Light Rail Vehicles) were exposed using a Canon EOS-3 and Fujichrome slide film.

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Boeings on Duboce.

In 1990, this was just around the corner.

One October evening I set up on Duboce Avenue in San Francisco with my then new F3T and 35mm PC lens (perspective control lens, which allows for movement of the front element) and made this view using Kodachrome 25 color slide film.

Difficult to believe that was nearly 30 years ago!

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Vintage Green Line.

I had about five hours before I needed to catch a flight from Logan, so I checked my bags and went into Boston.

My goal was to photograph the old MBTA Green Line elevated near North Station before it was closed and removed.

This was way back in June 1999—More than 20 years ago.

Today this portion of the old elevated is just a memory.

Exposed with a Nikon on Fujichrome.

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Slovakian Beer Tram at Dusk.

Occasionally I aim for theme convergence.

I’ve been running a series featuring 100 transit cities and a few days back I features a tram in Berlin advertising beer. Yesterday, I discussed photography at dusk. So today, I’m featuring a beer advertizing tram at dusk in the eastern Slovakian city of Kosice.

A purist might call me out on the fact that this tram is preserved and inactive in the photo, therefore might not qualify as a legitimate transit image. I do, however, have slides of Tatra trams working Kosice streets. I’ll need to locate and scan them.

This photo was exposed on Fujichrome with conventional daylight balance. I made no color correction or alterations in scanning or post processing.

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