Category Archives: Rail transit marathon

Leipzig Tram Square

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.

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New Trams: April 2002

Although Dublin’s new LUAS tram system would not commence operations for another two years, in April 2002 the first batches of Alstom Citadis trams had already arrived.

I was invited on a tour of the Red Cow depot as a member of the Irish Railway Record Society, and made this view of tram 3013, which at the time was a ‘short’ three-section tram.

Recently I scanned this negative along with numerous other images exposed on the same roll of film. It’s amazing how much has changed over the last twenty years in Ireland.

LUAS Red Cow Depot, Contax G2 photo, April 2002.

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Trams in Graz

In January 2012, I was visiting Graz, Austria with Stephen Hirsch and Denis McCabe.

I made this photo of trams meeting on a pedestrianized street in the ciry center using my Canon EOS 7D.

Below are two versions of the same image.

Camera jpg

The top image is the in-camera JPG, scaled for internet.

The bottom is my interpretation of the camera RAW file with adjustments to exposure, contrast, color temperature and color saturation implemented with Adobe Lightroom to improve the scene.

Interpreted RAW image adjusted in Lightroom.

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Blue Line at Aquarium

Two weeks ago, Kris and I visited the New England Aquarium before taking a spin on the Blue Line to Revere Beach.

I made this photo at Aquarium using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camara.

I exposed in ‘A’ (automatic) mode using RAW which produces an NEF file.

Scaled, but unadjusted NEF file converted to JPG for internet presentation.

Unadjusted, the NEF file appears dark. This is because the A mode metering compensates for the artifical lighting in an effort to hold detail in the highlights.

To make a pleasing photo, it is necessary to adjust the file in postprocessing to modify contrast, exposure and color balance/color temperature.

This shows the same NEF file following adjustments.

I have included a screen shot of the Adobe Lightroom work-window to demonstrate where I moved the slide controls to make the necessary adjustments.

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Green Line Government Center

On our travels around Boston two weeks ago, Kris and I changed trains at MBTA’s Government Center station.

40 years ago I photographed MBTA’s PCCs squeeling through these subterranean tunnels. Those cars are largely a memory, as are the Boeing-Vertol ‘LRVs’ that replaced them.

So on the most recent visit to MBTA’s Green Line, I made these photos of more modern trolleys in the arificial light of the subway tunnels using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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Views from the Orange Line

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.

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Chinese Orange Line Cars at North Station

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.

Old cars at the New North Station Orange Line station.
The new CRRC Orange Line subway cars.

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LUAS at Museum

Seven Years ago: on the evening of September 14, 2014, an inbound LUAS Red Line tram makes a stop at Museum on its way to the Dublin City center.

I made this photo by placing my Lumix LX7 on the footpath to steady the camera for a comparatively long-exposure, while proping up the lens with the lens cap to obtain the desired level.

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Five Years ago at Santa Ana

On August 4, 2016, I spent a little while at the Metrolink station in Santa Ana, California on the old Santa Fe photographing passenger trains coming and going.

As modern adapted stations go, Santa Ana is cool.

This view was made from the footbridge over the tracks. I was putting my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera through its paces.

Working with Lightroom, I made adjustements to color temperature, contrast and color saturation to improve this Fuji RAW file. I wanted to make the most of the California color palate.

Metrolink F59PHi 877 works at the back of train 687.

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Sodium Vapor Light-Six Years Ago

On the evening of August 2, 2015, I made these photos of Dublin’s LUAS trams gliding along Benburb Street near Heuston Station, just a short walk from my old apartment at Islandbridge.

These are unaltered JPGs scaled from larger JPGs made by my old Lumix LX7 digital camera. I set the white balance to ‘auto’ and let the camera make the color temperture adjustment internally.

One of the nice things about digital photos is that every file has a date stamp, so when I want to find a photo from exactly six years ago, the process of locating it is relatively straightforward.

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Ten Years Ago in Munich.

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.

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Stuttgart, Germany June 1999.

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?

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Bordeaux—Five Years Ago.

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.

Lumix LX7 camera generated JPG with the VIVID color profile, scaled fro internet presentation.
Lumix LX7 RAW file interpreted using Adobe Lightroom; shadows lightened, level improved, and color balance adjusted. Note the hue of the tram.

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April 22, 2016.

Five years ago I spent the day exploring the modern tram system centered on Valenciennes, France.

This is a model system that was built and equipped by Alstom.

FujiFIlm XT1 photo.

This was my second visit to this moderately sized French town and its immediate suburbs.

Lumix LX7 photo.

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Lisbon Metro Seven Years Ago

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!

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LUAS Over the LIffey—3 April 2011.

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.

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Emirates Ad Tram at Suir Road

In May, 2012, I made this Fujichrome slide of a Dublin LUAS Red Line tram covered in an Emirates advertising livery.

The in-bound tram had paused for its Suir Road station stop. This was located about a 10-12 minute walk from my old Dublin apartment.

Fujichrome Provia 100F exposed in Dublin in May 2012.

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Vienna, Austria September 2008

It was on the afternoon of 9 September 2008, when I made this image of the Wiener Lokalbahn tram sheds in Vienna.

At the time I had visions of writing a book about the lost Hapsburg Empire that once spanned much of central and eastern Europe.

Denis McCabe and I visited Vienna at the tale-end of a whirlwind trip that had taken us around the Czech and Slovak Republics.

I made this view on Fujichrome, which I scanned last night using my Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

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San Diego Trolley

In June 2008, I traveled from Los Angeles to San Diego to research and photograph my book titled Railroads of California (Published by MBI-Voyageur Press in 2009).

I traveled over most of the San Diego Trolley system, during which time I made several dozen photos of the cars including this one near downtown San Diego.

I was working with a pair of Canon EOS 3s. This was was loaded with Fujichrome and fitted with a 200mm Canon lens.

Today, looking back on San Diego from frozen New Hampshire, it seems like a long way away and a long time ago.

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Brussels PCC Tram-1996

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.

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'.
K25 color slide exposed using a Nikon F3T with f1.8 105mm lens. Slide scanned digitally and adjusted in Lightroom. May 1996.

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SEPTA PCC 1980

In August 1980, on the return from Los Angeles, my family and I visited Philadelphia for a few days.

This was the view from our hotel room.

Working with my vintage Leica 3A rangefinder, I exposed this photo of an inbound SEPTA PCC car working the No. 10 route as it approached the Trolley subway portal off 36th street.

I was working with Kodachrome 64 slide film. The window glass and summer haze contributed to a cyan tint.

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Girard Ave—January 21, 2014.

On this day seven years ago, a snow storm hit Philadelphia.

My brother and I went out into the snow to photograph SEPTA’s No. 15 trolley on Girard Avenue and run a few errands.

I made this image using my Canon EOS 7D with 200mm fixed Canon telephoto lens.

f4 at 1/500 sec with 200mm f2.8 lens. Photo adjusted from Canon camera RAW (CR2) using Adobe Lightroom.

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Yellow Cars-Gold Line

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.

In-camera JPG using ‘Veliva’ color profile.
DNG file converted from Fuji RAW using Iridient X-Transformer.Notice the superior shadow detail.

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Tram and Goggles at Plzen

On a whirlwind trip around the Czech Republic in September 2008, I made hundreds of photos in dozens of places in just a few days. A dozen years later I’m still sorting and scanning them.

Catching railway vehicles on different levels makes for photos with added interest. 

Which is the subject here? The tram in the foreground, the train in the distance, or perhaps the station itself?

It was the afternoon of September 5, 2008, when photographer Denis McCabe and I were photographing at Plzen hlavni nadrazi (Plzen main station) that exposed this Fujichrome slide using a Canon EOS-3.

Ceske Drahy (Czech Railways) class 754 diesels have the nickname ‘Goggles’.

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Kodak Kodak Kodak (on the side of a Tram)

In May, 2000, I made this photograph of a Tatra tram (advertising Kodak film) on the streets of Prague using a Nikon F3T that was fitted with a Nikkor 24mm lens and loaded with . . .

Fuji Sensia II!

Just for the record, on a visit to Fuji, Japan, I photographed a 1067mm gauge freight train on Kodachrome.

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New York Subway—November 1998.

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.

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Poznan Four WHeeler

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.

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Leipzig tram and Hbf.

An afternoon rain in June 2001 had made for a bright gloss at the Leipzig, Germany Hauptbahnhof.

Working with my N90S, I’d exposed this Fujichrome view of a tram in front of the impressive façade of what was once Europe’s largest railway station.

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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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Baltimore Light Rail on Election Day.

On November 3, 1992, my brother Sean and I visited Baltimore, Maryland.

Working with my old Nikon F3T with an f4.0 200mm Nikkor lens, I exposed this Kodachrome slide of the Baltimore Light Rail .

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