Category Archives: railroads

An Unusual Scene: MBTA at South Station, Boston December 2017.

I made this night photo at South Station with my Lumix LX7.

Recently I was looking through a MENSA puzzle book that contains nearly impossible puzzles. It inspired me to post this image.

This is an unusual scene for Boston. Keen observers of MBTA operations should be able to spot what makes this an uncommon view. What’s at my back is an important clue.

Do you know what makes this an uncommon photo?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Housatonic at Housatonic—Revisited!

In June 2016, I posted on Tracking the Light some views of the Housatonic Railroad at Housatonic, Massachusetts (located along the Housatonic River).

See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2016/06/14/housatonic-railroad-at-housatonic-an-example-of-contrast-control/

In November 2017, I returned to this location in advance of the approaching northward Housatonic freight NX-12 that featured two early 1960s-era GP35s in the lead followed by 32 cars (28 loads, 4 empties) and another GP35 at the back.

I find the railroad setting here fascinating. The combination of the traditional line with wooden ties and jointed rail in a setting of old factories, freight house and passenger station makes for a rustic scene out of another era.

Working with a Nikon F3 with 50mm lens I made a series of black & white photos on Kodak Tri-X. And, I also exposed a sequence of digital color photos using my FujiFilm X-T1.

Freight house at Housatonic, Massachusetts. Exposed on Tri-X with a Nikon F3 fitted with a 50mm Nikkor lens. Film processed in Kodak D76 1-1 with water for 7 minutes 20 seconds at 68F.
Freight house and factories, looking north from the westside of the tracks. In today’s railroad world, this scene is decidedly rustic. 
Digital color photo exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1. RAW File processed in Lightroom with contrast adjustment to improve shadows and highlights.
Tri-X black & white photo of Housatonic Railroad freight NX-12 working northward.
Digital color photo exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1. RAW File processed in Lightroom with contrast adjustment to lighten shadows and control highlights.
Tri-X photo with 50mm lens.
Digital color photo exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1. Fuji Velvia color profile; camera Jpg scaled for Internet.
Digital color photo exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1. Fuji Velvia color profile; camera Jpg scaled for Internet.

Tracking the Light posts daily!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connecticut River Crossing—Contrast Adjustment.

Last week I exposed this view of New England Central 611 (Brattleboro to Palmer) crossing the Connecticut River at East Northfield, Massachusetts.

New England Central 611 crosses the Connecticut River at East Northfields, Massachusetts. Exposed with a Fuji Film XT1.

To compensate for the back lit high-contrast scene, I made a few necessary adjustments in post processing.

Working with the Camera RAW file, I applied a digital graduated filter across the sky and locally lowered highlight density, while altering the contrast curve and boosting saturation.

I then made global adjustment to contrast and saturation across the entire image, while brightening the shadow areas. The intent was to better hold detail in the sky.

To make this possible, it was necessary to expose for the sky, and allow the train and bridge to become comparatively dark. I did this knowing I’d make adjustments after the exposure.

For more detail on this photographic technique see: Irish Rail 085 with Ballast Train at Sunset—lessons in exposure and contrast adjustment. 

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday!

Eclectic Diesel Consist Crosses the Road.

The real topic is about how to use a wide angle lens when faced with a backlit subject.

Last week, while photographing Conrail Shared Assets freight CA11, Pat Yough and I were faced with finding suitable locations for the northward run. Complicating our challenge was the clear blue sky, which resulted in harsh back lighting at most locations.

Our train had an unusual consist of four diesels, led by one of CSX’s new SD40E3 ‘Eco’ units, but also featured one of Norfolk Southern’d former Conrail SD80MACs (third unit out).

We scoped several locations and ultimately settled on a broadside view near Penns Grove, New Jersey where the railroad crosses Perkintown Road.

To make the most of this setting, I opted to use the large tree by the side of the road as compositional frame, and exposed a series of images with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Tuoit.

Conrail Shared Assets freight CA11 works northward at Perkinstown Road near Penns Grove, NJ.
A variation of the previous image; one of more than a dozen digital images I exposed as the train worked across the road crossing.

This extremely sharp lens allows for exceptional clarity in backlit situations. In post processing I lightened shadows and nominally reduce the contrast to minimize unpleasant qualities associated with back lighting.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

Photographing SEPTA’s Rarest Electric at Jefferson Station, Philadelphia

SEPTA has a small fleet of electric locomotives; seven are AEM-7s (kin to Amtrak’s now retired fleet), one is a similar model ALP44 built by ABB Traction in 1996.

This one SEPTA ALP44 carries the road number 2308. It is among the regional rail operator’s most elusive locomotives. NJ Transit also operated ALP44s, but these have been out of service for a number of years.

Last week (November 2017) I was in the right place at the right time and caught 2308 arriving at Temple University (station) with a train destined for Thorndale. I boarded and traveled to Jefferson Station (formerly called Market East), where I made these images using my Lumix LX7.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

Soon SEPTA will be receiving a fleet of new Siemens-built electrics, so I would assume that old 2308 is on borrowed time.

Recognizing rare equipment is part of making interesting railway images.

Is SEPTA’s 2308 the modern-day equivalent of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s DD2 electric (a rarely photographed, one-of-a-kind machine that looked similar to PRR’s common GG1)?

 

Tracking the Light posts Daily.

Bright Sun on CSX at Palmer.

The other morning I noticed the points at CP83 in Palmer on CSX’s former Boston & Albany line were set for the controlled siding.

Since CSX’s local freight B740 from West Springfield, Massachusetts often arrives at Palmer in mid-Morning, I thought it was likely I could make some photos.

Bright autumn sun in this classic location made for excellent conditions.

I didn’t have to wait long at the South Main Street overpass, when I heard the short freight dropping down grade toward the Palmer diamond.

I made this sequence using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm Fujinon lens.

CSX local freight B740 takes the controlled siding at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts. This will allow B740 to access the leads to Palmer yard and make its interchange.
The classic view of B740 arriving in Palmer. Trains on the controlled siding make for a more pleasing angle to photograph because they are further from south side of the cutting. October morning sun is pleasing light.
Is this view too close?
Trailing view looking toward the Palmer yard.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

Exploring Repurposed Railway Vestiges in County Down; 8 new photos.

Here’s another instance where I was working with two cameras and two very different photographic media.

My Lumix LX7 is an easy tool to capture images digitally, while the Leica IIIa I carry requires a bit more work and yields a very different result using traditional 35mm black & white film.

Newcastle, County Down is a classic sea-side resort on the Irish Sea at Dundrum Bay.

It’s been many years since the old Belfast & County Down Railway branch line saw activity, yet the station-building survives.

Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using a Leica IIIa with 35mm screw mount Nikkor lens. Film processed in Agfa-mix Rodinal Special mixed with water at a ratio of 1 to 31 at 68F for 3 minutes. Negatives scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
Colour view exposed digitally using a Lumix LX7. Notice how the Lidl logos jump out at you in the colour views.
Flowers work better in colour than in black & white.
A sidelight view of the old station building showing old railway fencing. Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using a Leica IIIa with 35mm screw mount Nikkor lens. Film processed in Agfa-mix Rodinal Special mixed with water at a ratio of 1 to 31 at 68F for 3 minutes. Negatives scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.

A couple of weeks ago, Honer Travers brought me on a tour of rural County Down and was keen to point out the old Newcastle Station and nearby railway hotel.

Today, the old station has been repurposed to house a Lidl market, while the old railway hotel remains as a resort hotel (sans railway traffic).

Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using a Leica IIIa with 35mm screw mount Nikkor lens. Film processed in Agfa-mix Rodinal Special mixed with water at a ratio of 1 to 31 at 68F for 3 minutes. Negatives scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
Does this colour view work better?
The automobiles are part of the scene. Lumix LX7 view.
The old station as seen in context with the surrounding buildings and streets.

My intent was to document these historic structures in their present roles.

 

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day

 

 

 

Two Too Many Twos at Connolly?

Sometimes a number catches my attention.

The other day I made two photos of Irish Rail 02 22222 arriving at Connolly Station, Dublin.

If I hadn’t had my Lumix LX7 with me and ready to go, I might have been too late to make this photo. And that would have been too bad.

Irish Rail 02 22222 at platform 5, Dublin’s Connolly Station. Lumix LX7 photo.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Lena, Illinois Follow Up: Mysteries and Questions Resolved.

My twin posts focused on Lena, Illinois drew considerable interest and answers.

Regarding the monster eastward Canadian National freight; the actual number of cars carried on this one train was 280 (plus three leading locomotives and a lone DPU). That’s a real whopper at 1,144 axles (24 are the locomotives)!

A number of Tracking the Light readers wrote to me about the unusual GREX drawbar connected maintenance train. I’ve compiled these below into a brief essay.

Dusk view of the GREX Slot Train at Lena, Illinois.

The curious maintenance train was built by Georgetown Industries (a spinoff of Texas-based Georgetown Railroad), which uses the GREX reporting marks. This train is described by the manufacturer as a Self-Powered SlotMachine® and commonly as ‘slot train’ which is designed to distribute materials. Instead of conventional gondolas, this is in effect a string of permanently connected articulated gondolas with the ends removed.

Since there are no bulkheads between cars an excavator can be used to traverse the entire length to load or unload material. The train is especially useful when a railroad is faced with limited track access time or locations that are inaccessible by road. One application is to dump ballast between the rails on ‘skeletonized’ track.

Articulated gons behind the locomotive.

One flaw with the train is that the solid draw bar and articulated connections between cars make it impossible to set out a car in case of defect.

The Slot train’s power is a relatively new creation and appears to be based on LORAM’S boxy power unit.  Georgetown has several Slot train sets that work at various places around the country, the machinery is still being evaluated or leased an as of yet, these trains are a rare sight on American rails.

Dusk view of the GREX Slot Train at Lena, Illinois.

Another Georgetown creation is its Dump Train, which is a series of drawbar-connected hoppers featuring a conveyor belt running under the length of the train and a swing out conveyor belt at the unloading end to deliver aggregate line-side. The style of construction gives the train a nearly European appearance.

Meet with the odd-maintainance train..

Vestige of the Chicago & North Western.

In July (2017), John Gruber and I visited the old Chicago & North Western at Jefferson Junction, Wisconsin. I was surprised to find that the railroad’s old mailbox remained.

It has been more than 22 years since the old C&NW was absorbed by Union Pacific. In 1995 at the end of C&NW’s independent operations I’d made photos of this same mailbox, which for me served as a symbol of the railroad.

Now it’s a faded vestige of another era. More than just the paint has changed.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 18-135mm lens.
Lumix LX7 photo at Jefferson Junction, Wisconsin.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Views From the Cab—where vantage point matters.

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to make some views from a diesel locomotive cab.

I’m no stranger to cab-rides, but this recent trip allows me to illustrate a few ways of illustrating this great vantage point.

I’ve made no effort to hide where these photos were made from; so by including the locomotive nose or framing the tracks in the locomotive’s front windows I’ve made my vantage point obvious. I was on the engine as it rolled along.

All three views were made with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens.

Exposed a 1/60th of a second which allowed a slight blurring of the scenery and tracks to help convey motion with rendering the whole seen as a sea of blur.
Exposed a 1/60th of a second which allowed a slight bluring of the scenery and tracks. Framing is a great way to infer a vantage point while making for a more interesting image by adding depth.
So, do you prefer one window, or two?

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day

 

Norfolk Southern at Mexico, Pennsylvania.

No, we are not ‘south of the border.’

This is a location along Norfolk Southern’s old Pennsylvania Railroad Middle Division west of Harrisburg between Thompsontown and Mifflin.

A couple of weeks ago, Pat Yough and I were re-exploring this busy route and these images were among my views from that effort.

Here are three photos from a sequence that I made of Norfolk Southern symbol freight 21A as it approached the grade crossing at Mexico.

Image 1: Norfolk Southern 21A roars west at Mexico, Pennsylvania. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.
Image 2: A slightly closer view of Norfolk Southern 21A  at Mexico, Pennsylvania. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.
Image 3: Closest of three views of Norfolk Southern 21A  at Mexico, Pennsylvania. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.

Which of these do you like best?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

 

 

Take A Ride on SEPTA—July 2017.

This is my variation of the old ‘Take a Ride on the Reading’, since SEPTA is part Reading. (That’s the old Reading Company.)

SEPTA’s also part Pennsy—the late great Pennsylvania Railroad.

Buy Independence Pass on the train, and ride transit all day to your heart’s content.

Most of these photos (but not all, see captions) were made using my Lumix LX-7 compact digital camera over the course of a few days wandering around Philadelphia last week.

I’ve found that this low-key image-making device is great for urban environments. It’s small & light, easy to use, flexible & versatile, features a very sharp Leica lens, makes a nice RAW file and a color profiled JPG at the same time, and, best of all: it’s reasonably inconspicuous and non-threatening.

Lumix LX7 photo at SEPTA’s Philadelphia Airport station. The train goes directly to the terminals, no mussing about with people movers or bus connections. Hooray for SEPTA!
Exposed at West Trenton with my Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Suburban Station Center City Philadelphia. Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Chestnut Hill West, Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo
Lumix LX7 photo at Chestnut Hill East.
Buses work the 23 route, which at one time was America’s longest City Street Car line.
Lumix LX7 photo
Market-Frankford Subway. Lumix LX7 photo
Broad Street Subway at City Hall. Lumix LX7 photo

Tracking the Light posts daily!

SEPTA Silverliner IVs  on the Northeast Corridor—July 2017.

A half-century ago Pennsylvania Railroad’s common MP54 ‘owl-eyed’ electric multiple units plied its electrified lines largely unnoticed despite most serving for 40-50 years in daily traffic

Today’s equivalent are SEPTA’s Silverliner IVs that were built between 1974 and 1976 for Philadelphia-area electric suburban operation on former Pennsylvania Railroad and Reading Company lines.

Considering that these workhorses are now more than 40 years old, they are well worthy of attention from photographers. Many similar cars employed by NJ Transit have already been retired and scrapped.

I photographed this two-car SEPTA set at Levittown, Pennsylvania on July 7, 2017 using my FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera.

Tracking the Light posts daily.

Old Reading RDCs at Reading & Northern’s Reading Outer Station, Reading Pennsylvania.

Just checking to see if you are reading this correctly.

Last weekend, July 8 and9, 2017, Patrick Yough and I made trips to Reading, Pennsylvania to photograph and travel on Reading & Northern’s former Reading Company Budd RDCs.

I grew up with the old ‘Budd cars’ and it was neat to see these machines on the roll again.

Budd introduced it’s self-propelled ‘Rail Diesel Car’ in 1949, and sold them to many railroads across North America. These cars were most common in the Northeast, and the Reading Company was among the lines that made good use of them in passenger service.

I exposed these views using my FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Tuoit lens.

Reading & Northern operates these RDCs in periodic excursion service on its lines in eastern Pennsylvania.
A new tower, and a really antique signal made for nice props for the RDCs at Reading Outer Station.
Reading & Northern operates these RDCs in periodic excursion service on its lines in eastern Pennsylvania.

 

Tracking the Light is on Auto Pilot while Brian is Traveling.

Geneva Tram in Traffic.

A Geneva tram near Cornavin Station. FujiFilm X-T1 Photo.

I made this view in Geneva, Switzerland in April 2017. A tram waits in morning traffic. By using a telephoto perspective, I’ve compressed the scene and exaggerated the effect of the traffic jam.

Tracking the Light is on AutoPilot while Brian is traveling.

Close and Closer—Compositional Considerations: New England Central at Vernon, Vermont.

Mike Gardner and I had driven up from Palmer, Massachusetts with a plan to intercept New England Central’s morning freight 611 that runs south weekdays from Brattleboro, Vermont to Palmer and back.

As we crossed the Massachusetts-Vermont state line at East Northfield, we heard 611 approaching.

Having photographed trains here before, we opted to make our first set in a farmer’s field right off the road.

I exposed these two views with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm adjustable zoom lens.

On this morning I was delighted to find a unified orange locomotive consist.

Of these two images, one closer than the other, I’ve strategically positioned the orange locomotives in the frame.

Almost a ‘stardard view’. Compare the relative size of the barn with the train.
This wide-angle view alters the perspective on the locomotives a bit.

Considering the various elements—locomotives, barn, fields left and right and a pastel sky above—Which of these photos do you prefer?

Tracking the Light posts daily

 

 

Three Quarter Light; CSX’s Q012 Intermodal freight at East Brookfield

On June 28, 2017, I made a sequence of digital photos of CSX’s Worcester, Massachusetts-bound intermodal freight symbol Q012 passing CP64 (dispatcher’s control-point 64 miles west of Boston) at East Brookfield.

This was one of several exposures made with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Using a 135mm focal length, I’ve aimed to show the freight passing the remains of the small yard at East Brookfield.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

 

Hidden Treasure: 19th Century Stone Arch over Stony Brook.

It always surprises me when I find some vestige of former times that I’ve managed to overlook.

Last week my on the advice of Felix Legere, we explored the old Nashua, Acton & Boston Railroad right of way near Forge Village east of Ayer, Massachusetts.

This 24-mile 19th century railroad was among the lines melded into the Boston & Maine system. In 1875, it carried three passenger trains daily between Nashua and Concord Junction. Near Forge Village it crossed the Stony Brook railroad and a trolley line on an overpass.

The NA&B was an early casualty of Boston & Maine retrenchment and abandoned about 1925.

Today, part of the right of way is maintained as Tom Paul Rail Trail. Felix led our expedition to the railroad’s vintage stone arch bridge over Stony Brook (for which the Stony Brook Railroad was named).

Bridge over Stony Brook. Exposed on Kodak Tri-X using a 50mm Summitar.
Looking east.
View made with 12mm Zeiss Touit.

I made the color photos with my FujiFilm X-T1, and the black & white with a Leica IIIa with 50mm Summitar lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Railfan’s Bridge at East Deerfield—my First Farewell.

The old McClelland Farm Road bridge over the Boston & Maine tracks at the west end of East Deerfield Yard (near Greenfield, Massachusetts) has been a popular place to photograph trains since the steam era.

Known colloquially as the ‘Railfan’s Bridge,’ this vantage point has been featured in articles in TRAINS Magazine Railpace, and other popular literature for decades.

I first visited with my father and brother in the early 1980s, and have made countless photos here, many of which have a appeared in books, calendars, and of course on Tracking the Light.

My friend Tim coined it the ‘waste too much film bridge’ in the early 2000s, owing to our propensity to make an excessive number of photos as Guilford freight trains switched in the yard.

Although hackneyed and perhaps over frequented, it’s been a great place to catch the sunrise, make photos of the locomotives and freight cars, and work the evening glint.

At times, I’ve seen as many as 30 photographers here, all vying for position.

Imagine my surprise last month, when Tim and I arrived to photograph the elusive and much followed Pan Am Railways office car train, expecting to find a wall of lenses, and instead realized that we were the only photographers on site!

In the evening glow, Pan Am Railway’s prized former Canadian National FP9s lead the company office car train off the Deerfield Loop track at the west end of East Deerfield Yard. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
. You can see that the trees have been cut in preparation for the heavy works, expected to begin shortly. Lumix LX7 photo.
How many thousands, or tens of thousands, of photos have been exposed from this vantage point over the decades? FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

I used this opportunity to make some photos of the old bridge, soon to be replaced by a new span located 40 feet to the west.

Why is this my first farewell? Simply, the bridge isn’t yet gone. After it is, perhaps I’ll post a ‘final farewell’.

 

I wonder how the new vantage point will compare?

 

Tracking the Light!

Railroad Station at Bellows Falls, Vermont.

Three freight railroads, plus Amtrak share the tracks at Bellows Falls. Yet on the morning of my visit last week not a wheel was turning.

I worked with the cosmic morning light to make a few photos of the old station building and the railway environment.

Not all great railway photos need trains. And Tracking the Light is more about the process of making railway photos than simply the execution of ‘great train pictures’.

Fog and sun; Those specks in the sky are birds.

For these images I worked with my Lumix LX7 (color digital photos) and a Leica 3a with screw-mount 35mm focal length Nikkor lens (black & white photos exposed on Kodak Tri-X and processed in Ilford Perceptol).

 

I have my favorites. Can you guess which these are?

 

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Vermont Rail System—Cuttingsville Trestle, June 2017.

June 7, 2017 was a rare crystal clear day. Paul Goewey and I headed north to Vermont to retrace the path of the old Rutland Railroad, and retrace our own footsteps.

Many years earlier, we had made a similar trip to this railroad to photograph Maine Central RS-11 802 that had been loaned to the Green Mountain Railroad for the run from Bellows Falls to Rutland.

Where our 1983 adventured occurred in November on a gloomy gray day that soon turned snowy, this most recent trip benefitted from very fine conditions.

As we drove toward Rutland on Vermont Highway 103, we recalled the details of the earlier trip

In Rutland we located VRS freight 263 that was getting ready to depart. Positioning ourselves on the grade to Mount Holly we waited. Once the freight passed our first spot we entered in its pursuit, as one does, to make more photographs.

On the right Paul Goewey makes a digital photograph of Vermont Rail System GP40-2 303 working upgrade with train 263. Although I also exposed a black & white image, I made this digital photo using a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens. Working with the RAW file in Lightroom, I altered shadow areas, increased saturation, and made other nominal adjustments aimed at improving the image quality for presentation on the internet.

Among the spots we preselected was this view of the Cuttingsville Trestle. I selected an angle similar to that featured by famous photographs made in Rutland Railroad days by accomplished photographer Jim Shaughnessy.

I’ve included the technical details in my caption above.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Sunset, CP83 Palmer, Massachusetts—June 7, 2017

It’s that time of year when the setting sun aligns with CSX’s  old Boston & Albany at Palmer, Massachusetts.

I made these views using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

The camera’s color profile was set to ‘Velvia’ mode. White balance at ‘A’ (automatic). While I exposed both a  Camera RAW and Jpg simultaneously, these views are strictly camera-produced Jpg files scaled for internet presentation.

FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens. Exposure = 1/500 f7.1. Auto white balance.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 at f13 1/500th of a second at ISO 400.

Gauging my exposure with the in-camera matrix meter, I set the aperture and shutter speed manually leaning toward ‘under exposure’ to ensure good highlight detail.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Orange Locomotives on the Roll—611 works North.

New England Central’s 611 works from Brattleboro to Palmer and return.

The other day, Paul Goewey and I intercepted this freight on its northward run.

A former Conrail SD40 was in the lead, and a recently painted Providence & Worcester DASH8-40B was trailing. Two out of three locomotives wore Genesee & Wyoming’s corporate livery.

Then the sun came out.

We drove to a preselected location north of Barretts, Massachusetts and I made these photos with my FujiFilm X-T1.

To make for a more interesting composition, I positioned my camera to include the overhanging branch. The juxtoposition of the branch, clouds and train make for a nice triangular arrangement that is more interesting to look at the than just a train crossing a field. But would this work if the locomotives were black or dark green?
611 is often a very long freight.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

July 2017 Trains Magazine features Brian Solomon’s column on pages 16-17.

In July 2017 TRAINS, I look back at the effects and consequences of the Beeching Era on British Railways. Take a look on pages 16-17!

I’ve illustrated this discussion with a photo I made on the preserved Great Central Railway in 2004. This was part of a sequence exposed on Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO100) color slide film (Tracking the Light tie-in).

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

New England Central—Southward with 608 on May 17, 2017.

Earlier in the month I’ve highlighted various photographic adventures with New England Central 608 (freight that works from Willimantic, Connecticut to Palmer and back). Today’s post focuses on the southward journey.

Over the years, I’ve photographed many trains climbing the former Central Vermont Railway grade over State Line Hill, and beyond into Connecticut, so this chase is old hat for me.

Yet, I’m always looking for a new angle, or to place today’s train in a classic setting that I may have captured years ago.

These views are all from the morning of May 17, 2017 and exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Do you have any favorites?

New England Central 608 at Bunyan Road in Monson, Massachusetts.
New England Central 608 from Academy Hill/Main Street Monson, Massachusetts.
New England Central 608 at Stateline looking toward Monson, Massachusetts.
New England Central tracks at Stafford Springs, Connecticut.
Tight telephoto view of NECR 608 at Stafford Springs, Connecticut.
South of Stafford Springs, Connecticut.
New England Central 608 viewed from the Track 9 Diner in Willington, Connecticut.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

MBTA Gone Retro—Looking Back at Park Street.

Yesterday’s post featured contemporary views of MBTA’s Park Street Station in Boston. See: http://wp.me/p2BVuC-4Pk

Today’s post goes back in time.

I made this view of an Arborway-bound PCC car about 1980. I’d exposed the photo using my old Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar, probably on Tri-X processed in Microdol-X.

I  scanned this from a print I made back in the day. During that period (1978-1982) I often traveled with my father to Boston and I made a lot of photos of MBTA transit operations. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep precise notes on this print.

Here’s one of the photos displayed yesterday for comparison.

Green Line streetcars use the upper level at Park Street.

Tracking the Light posts every day!

Making use of a dull Morning—Another Take of 608.

So, if I called this Stafford Springs, Connecticut Part 3, would you be interested.

In truth, this is less about Stafford and its morning freight train and more about lighting and technique.

In two previous posts [see: New England Central at Stafford Springs, Connecticut—Again, and Going Against the Grain  I’ve detailed my efforts at photographing New England Central 608 working through Stafford Springs in harsh morning sunlight. This post depicts the same train on a dull morning, but also in black & white (Sorry Dave Clinton, but it has to be done).

I’m using the same camera-lens combination; a Leica IIIa with a screw-mount f3.5 Nikkor 35mm lens. This time loaded with Ilford HP5. My process is about the same as in my earlier post New England Central at Stafford Springs, Connecticut—Again.

This time, I processed it using Ilford Perceptol developer diluted 1:1 with water; after fixing and rinsing, negatives were toned in a 1:9 selenium solution for eight minutes, rewashed and scanned.

 One small change; in this instance, I gave the film a little more toning than previously, which should make for slightly more silvery highlights. This is a subtle change, and probably barely perceptible on internet presentation.

New England Central 608 at Stafford Springs at 7:20am on May 10, 2017 ; exposed using a Leica IIIa with f3.5 Nikkor 35mm lens at f4.5/f5.6 1/200th second on HP5.
A slightly closer view of New England Central 608 at Stafford Springs. I’ve made this on at a slightly lower angle.

Compositionally, I’ve made an effort to include the village and not just focus on the locomotives.

I’m by no means done with this project, and I’ll continue to post with more photos and insights over the coming weeks. (Including some color views to please Dave and others morally opposed to black & white).

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

New England Central at Stafford Springs, Connecticut—Again.

Call this ‘Part 2’—More hard light.

A few days ago, I displayed black & white photos I made at Stafford Springs, Connecticut in hard morning sunlight. See: Going Against the Grain.

Where the earlier images used an unusual film type (Foma Retropan), today’s image was made on Ilford HP-5, but with some special processing.

On May 9, 2017, New England Central freight 608 works timetable northward through Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Exposed on Ilford HP-5 using a Leica IIIa fitted with a Nikkor f3.5 35mm lens. Film was processed in Ilford Perceptol developer diluted 1:1 with water; after fixing and rinsing, negatives were toned in a 1:9 selenium solution for six minutes, then rewashed and scanned. The sky area received some localized exposure adjustment in post-processing, while there was some overall contrast adjustment to improve the appearance of the image.

In both posts, black & white photos feature New England Central 608 (a freight that runs between Willimantic, Connecticut and Palmer, Massachusetts) passing downtown Stafford Springs shortly after sunrise.

Today’s image was exposed from Main Street in Stafford on the opposite side of the tracks from the earlier photos, which provides a different perspective on the train and village.

Part of this exercise is aimed at demonstrating black & white photographic technique, however I’m also hoping to show how different angles at the same location can result in significantly different photos.

Also, that it’s possible to make interesting photos in difficult lighting situations, if you apply a creative approach to your photography.

I’m done here yet! To be continued on another day.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

 

 

 

 

Going Against the Grain.

Sometimes, I push the limits.

The other morning in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, I exposed this view of New England Central’s northward freight that runs daily from Willimantic, Ct., to Palmer, Massachusetts.

The train was coming hard out of a clear morning sun. Using a Leica IIIA fitted with a Nikkor 35mm screw-mount lens, I exposed this view on Foma Retropan 320.

Retropan is a comparatively coarse grain emulsion that offers a distinctly different range of tones than expected with Ilford HP5, Kodak Tri-X, or other black & white films in the same sensitivity range.

It also produces a characteristic halo-effect in bright highlight areas.

I processed the film more or less as recommended using Foma’s specially formulated Retro Special Developer, and then scanned it with an Epson V750 Pro flatbed scanner. I made minor adjustments to contrast in Lightroom.

As I anticipated, my results from this experiment are more pictorial than literal.

A photo of the setting at Stafford Springs, Connecticut.
New England Central’s freight with EMD diesels working long-hood first at Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Retropan’s halo effect combined with the large amounts of flare from the sun hitting the front element of the lens contributes to this interpretive image.

Tracking the Light posts something different every day.

Steam at Bray Head on Easter Monday.

Sometimes the railway photo isn’t about the train.

I made this pair of photos at Bray Head, County Wicklow, Ireland on Easter Monday 2017.

Railway Preservation Society engine No 4 was working trips from Dublin to Graystones, so I made the trek out along the head to capture these timeless views.

Although I made a few digital images, I prefer these black & white photos.

These were exposed on Ilford HP5 using a Leica IIIA and processed in Perceptol (1:1 for 14 minutes at 69 degrees F). No toning. Although, I think a dip in selenium would improve the contrast a bit.

Tracking the light posts every day.

Boston & Albany Program May 6th.

Boston & Albany freight house at Palmer, Massachusetts, photographed using a Rolleiflex Model T on Verichrome Pan black & white film in October 1985. Copyright Brian Solomon.

This Saturday, May 6, 2017, I will present a variation of my Boston & Albany program to the New York Central System Historical Society convention, to be held at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel, in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

I am listed as the guest speaker and my illustrated talk will begin at about 7pm. This will feature material from the Robert A. Buck collection, and images from the lens of William Bullard (early 20th century photographer), as well as a selection of my own work on the B&A, which spans more than 40 years.

For information on the convention and registration forms see the New York Central System HS website:  www.NYCSHS.org 

or

www.NYCSHS.net

Boston & Albany’s Worcester signal tower shortly before demolition. Copyright Brian Solomon.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Paris Gare de Lyon

For my money Paris Gare de Lyon is the coolest station in France.

Here’s just a few views from my brief visit earlier this month.

All were exposed using my Lumix LX7. Film enthusiasts fear not! I also made some colour slides of this iconic railway terminal.

Read more about railway stations, buy my book Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals published by Voyageur Press.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

 

 

SNCF’s TGV; Brussels to Milan

A couple of weeks ago, I found good deal on-line for a 1st Class SNCF ticket from Brussels Midi to Milan via Paris.

It was an early start from Brussels. I enjoyed some fast running, a quick change at Lille Europe, and an hour and half to navigate my way across Paris.

I made these photos of the train journey with my Lumix LX7.

Brussels Midi just before sunrise.
Gliding along at speed near the Belgian-French frontier.
Lille Europe high-speed station.
I traveled on this TGV Duplex between Lille and Paris Gare du Nord.
Upstairs on the TGV Duplex.
Paris Gare du Nord.
The longest and final leg of my TGV journey was between Gare de Lyon and Milan on this multi voltage TGV set.

Tracking the Light posts daily

Dublin Loop Line in Infrared.

Here’s a few more views exposed on Rollei 35mm Infrared film. These portray Irish Rail’s Loop Line Bridge over the River Liffey in Dublin.

Exposed on Rollei Infrared B&W film using Nikon F3T with 24mm Nikkor lens and 25A filter.
Exposed on Rollei Infrared B&W film using Nikon F3T with 24mm Nikkor lens and 25A filter.
Exposed on Rollei Infrared B&W film using Nikon F3T with 24mm Nikkor lens and 25A filter.

Tracking the Light is on Auto Pilot while Brian is traveling.

 

Narrow Gauge Monochrome—A Different Approach.

Five alternative views of Ireland’s Bord na Mona railway.

Here I’m trying something different: Working with an old Leica IIIa fitted with an ancient screw-mount Nikkor 35mm lens, I exposed some Fomapan 100 black & white film.

Instead of my normal process, I opted to soup the film in Ilford Perceptol. I mixed the stock solution from powder. Recommended development time was 8 minutes, but I cut this to 6 minutes, then after complete processing (stop, fix, hypo-clear and wash) I toned the negatives with a 1-9 Selenium solution to boost highlights (and then rewashed).

It was my first time working with Perceptol; overall I was pleased with the results, which yielded fine grain, broad tonality and a somewhat softer over-all image than what I’d been getting using ID-11.

This camera-lens-film-developer combination seems to have worked well with the rustic Bord na Mona narrow gauge industrial railway. I’ve opted to display a handful of the dozen or so monochrome images I exposed that day.

Tracking the Light takes a different approach today.