Category Archives: Tips and Technique

Amtrak Shuttle Crossing the Connecticut River—February 6, 2019.

Last February the Connecticut River was swollen.

I made this telephoto view of a northward Amtrak shuttle (running from New Haven, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts) using a Nikon F3 with a 105mm lens and loaded with Fuji Acros 100 black & white film.

I like the way the Amtrak train glints in the morning sun.

To maximize tonality and detail, I used a split-development process, first soaking the film in a very dilute mixture of Kodak HC110, then using a more concentrated mix of Rodinal for primary development.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Coming and Going with New England Central at Northfield, Massachusetts.

Stark winter light suits black & white photography.

Back in January (2019), photographer Pat Yough and I made a day of photographing New England Central between White River Junction, Vermont and Leverett, Massachusetts.

Among the trains we photographed was freight 611, the Brattleboro to Palmer turn.

I made these views near Northfield, Massachusetts on Fuji Acros 100 black & white film using a Nikon F3 with 50mm lens.

To maximize tonality and detail, I used a split-development process, first soaking the film in a very dilute mixture of Kodak HC110, then a more concentrated mix of Rodinal.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Surprise at Ballinasloe—Three Photos.

I really wasn’t expecting what I saw! (Click on Tracking the Light to see the whole story and photos).

It was the second time in as many months that I arrived by train at Ballinasloe, County Galway.

In September, the reason for my arrival was to photograph the Steam Dreams excursion operating with Railway Preservation Society of Ireland engine number 4.

See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2019/09/14/steam-on-the-midland-at-ballinasloe/

Last week, Ballinasloe was to be the jumping off point for the latest of my Bord na Mona adventures (to be covered in Tracking the Light in the future).

Irish Rail’s Galway line wouldn’t be an operation characterized by variety. Except for the very occasional excursion, the vast majority of movements consist of the common 22000-series Intercity Railcars (ICRs).

So, when I positioned myself at the Dublin end of the down platform, my intent was to document the ICR that I’d arrive upon with Ballinasloe’s handsome Midland Great Western Railway station.

Why was the up-home signal green? We’d just crossed the up-Galway at Athlone.

As the 0735 Dublin to Galway train pulled away, I was startled and surprised to see a pair of 2800-series railcars ready to depart up-road. What was this?

After I made my photos, it occurred to me that this was the weekly equipment transfer for the Ballina Branch. Ah, yes. And perhaps, I should have known.

I’m happy that I had camera in hand to picture this relatively unusual movement. Sometimes, even when you think you know what to expect, something sneaks up and surprises you!

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—THREE PHOTOS—LUAS Vodafone Tram at Dundrum

The impressive cable-stayed suspension bridge at Dundrum is one of my favorite places to picture Dublin’s LUAS Green Line.

A week ago, I timed my arrival at Dundrum to coincide with the passage of the Vodafone advertising tram that wears a colourful temporary livery.

There was perhaps 10 minutes left of sun in the Irish winter sky.

Photos exposed using my Lumix LX7

At left is the old Dundrum railway station—LUAS Green Line operates over portions of the old Harcourt railway line.

Tracking the Light posts daily!

Bord na Mona Sunset

Literally and figuratively.

Friday, it was officially announced that Ireland’s Electrical Supply Board (ESB)  intends to close the Lough Ree and Shannonbridge power stations at the end of 2020.

This doesn’t bode well for the Bord na Mona narrow gauge systems that exist largely to supply these stations with fuel.

A couple of weeks ago on a visit to the Lanesborough system I made this sunset view of an empty train returning to the bog for reloading.

Lumix LX7 photo.

I’ve made dozens of trips over the years to photograph Bord na Mona’s narrow gauge railways. While in recent years, it’s been understood that these railways were on borrowed time, I still find sad that they will soon be without their primary traffic.

These are fascinating and wonderful railways with lots of charm and photographic potential.

In 2020, I hope to continue photographing the systems around Lanesborough and Shannonbridge, as well as some of the other Bord na Mona narrow gauge railways.

Tracking the Light  Posts Daily.

Cork’s Kent Station: Three Views on Tri-X.

During October’s Cobh Rambler tour, I made these views at Cork’s Kent Station on Kodak Tri-X black & white film.

The tour was operated by Railway Preservation Society of Ireland in conjunction with Irish Rail.

Kent’s curved Victorian train shed makes for a fascinating venue to photograph a modern railway in action, while the inclement weather on the day translated well with the traditional media.

I processed the film using a customized split development process consisting of  Kodak HC110 presoak mixed 1-200 followed by primary development using Ilford ID11 1-1. The negatives were scanned using an Epsom V500 flatbed scanner with some minor final adjustment using Lightroom.

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Cobh Rambler: A Dozen Monochrome Portraits.

Last month while traveling on Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Cobh Rambler, I exposed two rolls of Kodak Tri-X using a Nikon F3.

This week I processed and scanned the film. Black & white film suited the gloomy dark and very wet weather.

Among my favorite images from the day were photos I made of my friends and railway staff on the trip.

Thanks to everyone at RPSI and Irish Rail who made this trip a rewarding experience and a photographic success!

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More Adventures with the Ash Train!

Tuesday last week, my arrival at Sallins, County Kildare by Irish Rail suburban train was merely a jumping off for a much more productive photographic endeavor.

See yesterday’s post,  SUBURBAN TRAINS PASS AT SALLINS.

So Tuesday last week, I met fellow photographer Aiden McDonald outside Sallins and traveled by road for another visit to Bord na Mona’s Lanesborough narrow gauge network. This was my fourth foray in 2019 photographing on this wonderful industrial railway, and my second in less than a week.

My first visit to Lanesborough was more than six years ago and of all the Bord na Mona systems, it is my favorite.

We lucked out and met the empty ash train immediately on crossing the line near Derraghan More, County Longford.

It was bright and sunny and followed the train all the way back toward the Lough Ree Generating Station.

This was just the warm up and for the next six hours we were treated to almost non-stop action on one of Ireland’s coolest little railways.

A meet with a pair of empty trains returning to the bog for reloading.

Sadly this is an Indian Summer for the system, both literally and metaphorically. Word to the wise: time is running short.

Photo adjusted with digitally applied ND Grad using Light Room. A bit heavy handed here by my normal standards of adjustment, but possibly necessary for a more successful image.
Leading the ash train was one of the last locomotives on the Lanesborough system still working in the older Bord na Mona paint livery. This photo also benefits from wee bit of digital adjustment to the sky.

These photos were made using my FujiFilm XT1.

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Model Railway Exhibition at Blackrock.

Last Sunday, 27 October 2019, I traveled to Blackrock College in suburban Dublin to attend the South Dublin Model Railway Club ‘Model Railways and Hobbies Exhibition’.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I made a few dozen photos of the trains, displays, presenters and attendees. Below is a selection.

Often when photographing model railways I work with comparatively slow shutter speeds. In some circumstances this allows for greater depth of field, in others it helps convey a sense of motion.

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Spooky Retro Special.

Tonight is Halloween.

Last night I processed a roll of Rollei 80S Retro that I exposed last summer.

The timing was apropos.

I made these images using my Nikon F3 with f1.8 105mm lens. My cousin Stella was visiting from the West Coast and we were exploring spooky graveyards in Western Massachusetts.

You may wonder why I waited nearly four months to process the film. Was it an infusion of Irish spirits and pucas that lent inspiration?

No, it was actually simpler than that. My preferred developer for Rollei 80S Retro is Rodinal and in Dublin I keep a healthy volume of this antique solution on hand. So I brought the film with me from America for processing in Dublin. However, distractions and writing have kept me occupied for weeks and I just got to souping the film last night!

I have an adjusted recipe for this very unusual film that yields stunning results.

Rollei 80S Retro will provide superb tonality, super fine grain, and a deep rich black when processed properly.

I’ll be posting more view to my Instagram account over the coming hours and days. See my photos on Instagram at: briansolomon.author

Tracking the Light looks to the Dark Side Tonight!

Making the Most of a Magnificent Bridge.

Last week it was dull and cloudy in Dublin. I was on a quest to find a bag for my vacuum cleaner, and was wandering shops and shopping centres on Dublin’s North Side.

During this quest, I called into the Hugh Lane art gallery on Parnell Square.

Now, I had no illusions of finding a bag for a Henry Hoover there. Instead, I wanted to gaze upon the paintings. You know, as you do.

Entering one of the galleries, a painting of a bridge immediately arrested my gaze. However, rather than merely wandering up to it, I first looked at the selection all around it.

This one painting stood tall among the rest. As it turns out it was a Monet of London’s Waterloo Bridge.

According the description, Monet had rented accommodation near the bridge, and painted this one bridge more than 40 times. Now that impressed me.

Also, in this painting, Monet opted to portray a dull, misty morning, when the combined effluence of smoke, steam, and pollution mixed with the mist to diffuse the light adding depth and mystery.

A few days later, I was in Drogheda, County Louth, where I aimed to picture Irish Rail’s immense Boyne Viaduct.

No mist and smog for me this day. But one bridge image tends to inspire another.

So here we have the down Enterprise Dublin to Belfast. (But that’s not the train I aimed to picture in Drogheda).

Next time in London, I’ll endeavor to photograph Waterloo Bridge. Although I doubt I can do it justice.

Oh, just in case your curious, I never found a bag for my Henry Hoover! These seem to be very elusive items in the Irish Republic, apparently.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Great Northern Railway Compound at Laytown Viaduct.

Saturday, 26 October 2019, Railway Preservation Society of Ireland ran a series of trips using Great Northern Railway (Ireland) compound 4-4-0 number 85. on old home rails.

This presented ideal opportunities for photography.

Too often steam locomotives are operated mid-day in high light, which present poor conditions for photography. Saturday’s trips benefitted from low late October sun and cool conditions.

I set up at Laytown where late afternoon sun illuminated the viaduct over an Irish Sea estuary.

The clouds were a nuisance, with dark shadows covering the scene until moments before the locomotive charged northward across the bridge toward Drogheda.

I exposed this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Thanks to everyone at Irish Rail and RPSI for making Saturday’s steam trips a success!

See: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

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CinCinnati Union Station—17 Years ago.

I was driving from Madison, Wisconsin to Roanoke, Virginia on October 25, 2002.

I stopped at Cincinnati to make photographs of Fellheimer & Wagner’s art deco masterpiece: Cincinnati Union Station, a railway station inspired by Helsinki’s Main Station.

This was among the photos I made on Fuji Acros 100 using my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with the super wide-angle flat-field 16mm Hologon. I featured this station in my book Depots, Stations & Terminals, published by Voyageur Press.

Seventeen years ago! Gosh!

Tracking the Light is like the Energizer Bunny!

Dusk on the Corridor—October 25, 1991

Twenty eight years ago on this day, my brother Sean and I made a survey of the former PRR electrified mainline south (timetable west) of Philadelphia.

Rather than literal interpretations, I was aiming for something more interpretive.

I’d bought a roll of Kodak Ektachrome 160 slide film. This featured a ‘tungsten balance’ designed to work with incandescent lamps and so featured a very cool color temperature, which accentuates the effect of dusk.

My notes from the day are nearly 4,000 miles away, so I can’t tell you which suburban platform on which we were standing when I made this time exposure of a rapidly approaching Amtrak train in the blue glow of the evening.

What I remember most from that evening was a sky filled with migratory birds, chirping, singing and squawking as they flew by.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday, sometimes more than once!

Experimenting with A Lumix LX100.

For me the Lumix100 poses an imaging quandary.

It is an excellent tool. The camera is compact, well-built, packed with features, and has a superb lens that contributes to stunning image quality.

Fota Island, Cork.
Midleton, Co. Cork.

My difficulty with the camera is fitting it into my arsenal of imaging tools.

The LX100 lens range is lacking compared with my other cameras. It is fine for photos exposed in the ‘normal’ range. Its zoom spans the range from 24 to 75mm. In my younger days that range would have been enough to offer me virtually everything I needed for my photographic vision.

I’ve been spoiled by wider and longer lenses. These days, I want to push the range of view just a little further. I often see images that are beyond the range offered by the LX100.

That says more about the way I photograph than about the LX100.

As readers of Tracking the Light are aware, I carry a Lumix LX7 with me just about everywhere. While the LX100 is unquestionably a better camera, the LX7 suits me better for three reasons: 1) it is very compact and light weight, so fits nicely in my jacket pocket 2) it is comparatively inexpensive so when I wear it out or destroy it, I’m not out of pocket for a huge replacement sum. 3) The LX7’s zoom lens covers my vision more closely.

That said, I’m now coveting an LX100 because it is such a fantastic image making tool. Also, because its narrow zoom range limits my comfort zone, it will force me to make better photographs and consider compositions that otherwise I might not see.

But that is just speculation now. Last week, I gave back the borrowed LX100 to Denis McCabe who had lent it to me. I made about 500 photographs with the camera during the week I had it in my camera bag. As I write this Denis and his LX100 camera on are a grand adventure to the far side of the globe.

I’m still sifting through my LX100 images. There’s many more.

Carrigaloe, Cork.
Glounthaune Village, Cork.
Irish Rail Mark4 interior.

Tracking the Light Explores Photography Everyday!

Leaves at Frankenstein Trestle

Last June, while working with the Conway Scenic Railroad I exposed this view of fresh green foliage at the Frankenstein Trestle on the line over New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch.

I was working with an antique Nikon FTN Nikkormat with a Nikkor f1.8 105mm lens.

I like the ‘fast’ 105 because it allows for very shallow depth of field at its widest aperture, while offering exceptional sharpness on the area of focus.

This effect is especially appealing as a contrast to many modern digital systems that offer razor sharp images with great depth of field in most circumstances. Focus, like other qualities, may be most effective when applied judiciously.

I exposed this image on Ilford HP5 400ISO 35mm black & white film. I hand processed the film. After a presoak with very dilute HC110 for about 5 minutes, I introduced my primary developer, Ilford ID11 developer mixed 1 to 1 with water,  for 6 minutes and 15 seconds at 70F. By raising the temperature slightly and using a relatively dilute solution I controlled contrast while increasing shadow detail.

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Lumix LX100 Second Test

A few years back I tested a LUMIX LX100 digital camera.

I very much liked the camera, but had just invested in a FujiFilm XT1.

I’ve recommended the LX100 to several photographers.

This week, Denis McCabe, who acted on my advice purchased an LX100 and has been getting very good results with it. He has lent me his camera for further evaluation.

On Friday, 11 October 2019, I traveled by Irish Rail to Portarlington and exposed these photos as a test.

More tests and analysis to follow!

On Friday, 11 October 2019, I traveled by Irish Rail to Portarlington and exposed these photos as a test of an LX100 digital camera.

Tracking the Light aims to post Daily

Through the Mists of Rhein!

One September 2019 morning on Germany’s Rhein, clear skies were obscured by a thick mist hugging the river. As the warm rays of the rising sun graced the tops of the nearby hills, the mist cleared, which made for some cosmic lighting.

I exposed these photographs digitally using my FujFilm XT1. But I also exposed a few colour slides using a Nikon F3 with 105mm lens.

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St Stephens Green View

The view from Dublin’s St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Plaza  The Food Village  food court is among the best vistas to picture LUAS trams in the city centre.

This offers an elevated view of the St Stephens Green prominently featuring the Fusiliers Arch on the Grafton Street side of the park.

I like the view because it was featured on an early 19th century hand-tinted postcard the also included trams, albeit those of the previous lineage. (The Dublin city centre was without trams from the 1940s until 2004 when LUAS commenced operations).

The S-bend in the tram route seen here was opened as part of the Cross City Green Line extension a couple of years ago.

The other day I met fellow photographer Mark Healy for serious image making discussion over a cup of tea while waiting to photograph some of the LUAS advertising trams that now prowl the Green Line route.

I exposed these photos using my Lumix LX7. The challenge of this location is obtaining a satisfactory image through the window glass. I used a very wide aperture, which offers low depth of field to minimize the effect of the glass.

Tracking the Light is a Daily railway-photography Blog.

The Power of the Dark Side—Sankt Goarshausen.

Sometime, long ago, back in film days someone concluded that three-quarter sun made for the most desirable lighting conditions for locomotive photos.

While its true that in many instances low, three-quarter sun will yield a pleasing result, this is but one lighting solution, and not always the most effective for every setting.

Whoa! WAS that blasphemy?

In September, we hiked into a vineyard south of Sankt Goarshausen, Germany. Blue skies and high thin clouds gave us soft directional lighting with an elevated view of the Right Bank line on the Rhein. In the distance a castle loomed above the river-side Sankt Goarshausen village.

Opting for the dark side presented better contrast that helps visually distinguish the train from the landscape. In this situation because the setting is so visually complex and compelling it helps to make the train stand out, since the train was intended as our subject.

Sure, we could have visited this place earlier in the day, but would that have yielded more effective images?

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BETTUNNEL: Trailing Telephoto View.

This place presented a composition and lighting challenge.

To obtain a satisfactory and balanced telephoto view that emphasized the classic tunnel portal at DB’s Bettunnel near Sankt Goar, we found that midday sun offered effective lighting.

A trailing view of an IC passenger train places the locomotive at the right side of the tunnel portal.

However, the sloped angle of the DB class 101 electric had a tendency to reflect the sunlight in a less than ideal way.

I compromised in post processing by adjusting the highlight values in the camera RAW file, to bring it more in line with the rest of the scene.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Steam and Diesels at Connolly Station Dublin-7 photos!

After photographing Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s private charter crossing the Liffey in Dublin, and catching the train with the TESCO painted Red Line tram at Gardiner Street, I walked briskly to make more photos of the train arriving at Connolly station.

Steam locomotive number 4 was unhooked and sent to Connolly shed, while Irish Rail 082 took its place to bring the RSPI Cravens across to Inchicore Works.

I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1.

Nothing sweeter than a wink of sun. A colourful collection of Irish Rail EMDs at Connolly.
Just a few frames remaining on my card, so make each one count!

The camera battery was flashing red and my storage card was alarmingly low on pixels. Where were my film cameras? Not with me at Connolly.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Castle and Trains.

Crossing from Sankt Goarshausen to Sankt Goar, Germany on a Rhein ferry offered for some stunning views of the river’s left bank (the west side).

Atop the hill overlooking the valley is the impressive Schloss Rheinfels.

DB’s busy double track left bank mainline runs on a shelf along the Cliffside, above street level in Sankt Goar, and well below the castle.

Mittelrheinbahn Siemens-built railcar glides northward along the Rhein.

I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Are they photos of a castle with a train; or are they train photos that feature a castle?

And yes, there’s a view of the tracks from the castle.

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Curious Convergence—TESCO Tram and RPSI Cravens In Dublin

Sunday’s Railway Preservation Society of Ireland excursion paused on Dublin’s Loop Line waiting for a clear signal to enter Connolly Station.

I had just exposed views of the train crossing the River Liffey.

(see Monday’s Tracking the Light; http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2019/09/23/sunday-steam-charter-crosses-the-river-liffey/).

Photographer Jay Monaghan and I were walking toward Connolly to meet the train when this over and under scenario unfolded.

LUAS Red Line Tram in the TESCO supermarket wrap came around the bend having just made its stop at Bus Aras to present a rare juxtaposition with RPSI’s Cravens.

I made these photos with my Lumix LX7 before proceeding to Connolly to get steam locomotive number 4 arriving.

The lessons from this exercise:

1) Sometimes the most unusual photographic opportunities unfold when the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

2) Always have a camera ready for those unexpected moments.

3) Keep going, don’t give up, there’s might be another opportunity!

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Rail-freight Viewed From the City Wall.

Perched high in a 13thcentury stone tower on the Oberwesel city wall, I made this photograph of a container boat navigating up river on the Rhein as a northward freight of GATX tank cars rolls by behind a Bombardier Traxx electric.

The combination of two very busy railways, a busy water way and a medieval town set in a supremely picturesque setting make Oberwesel, Germany among my favorite places to photograph trains.

On this visit the pesky fluffy clouds tended to stay out of the way of the sun, which had been an annoyance on previous visits.

In the course of just a few hours, I exposed weeks worth of photographs. Although this view minimizes the wall itself, I made plenty of photographs of Oberwesel and its architecture.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Tracking the Light posts Daily!

Sunday Steam Charter Crosses the River Liffey.

Yesterday, Sunday 22 September 2019, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland operated a private charter from Dublin Connolly station to Graystones, County Wicklow and return.

For more on RPSI excursions see: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Photographer Jay Monaghan and I made a run on the LUAS into the Dublin city centre to intercept the return leg, and exposed views of the excursion crossing the Loop Line Bridge.

Congestion at Connolly resulted in the train holding for platform space, giving us time to leg it over to the station for more views. Stay tuned!

Lumix LX7 photo. RAW file adjusted for contrast and localized exposure control, exported as a JPG for internet viewing.
FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm lens. RAW file adjusted for contrast and localized exposure control, exported as a JPG for internet viewing.

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It Looks Like A Model.

The other day I focused my FujiFilm XT1 down on a passing DB Cargo AG Class 187 electric as it rolled south along the Rhein south of Lorch, Germany.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm prime telephoto; ISO 400, f2.2 1/640. Panned with locomotive. Camera JPG file without adjustment or modification.

This soft-lit shallow-focus panned view with a simple background makes the modern Bombardier electric seem like an HO-scale model.

It isn’t. It is a full-size machine and I really was standing there along the Rhein.

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The Last Wink of Sun at Oberwesel.

Last night (Wednesday, 18 Sept 2019), we waited in anticipation along the Rhein at Oberwesel as the sun was about to disappear from view behind a hillside.

The right bank of the Rhein has a busy double track railway, which all day long had been flowing with freight trains and the occasional Stadler railcar in local passenger service.

At times the freights rolled on each other’s blocks, passing every three to four minutes.

However as the final rays of sun tickled the cliffs and ships glided up and down the river, we wondered if a train might exit the Ross Stein tunnel allowing us to make use of the low and fading sun. We were near nearly ready to depart, when  this freight burst into view.

I had my Lumix LX7 at the ready and exposed these photos.

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Steam Crew at Mallow

Last Saturday (7 September 2019) I made this classic view of the steam crew with locomotive 85 at Mallow, County Cork.

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s former Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) compound 4-4-0 85 had been assigned to work the annual Steam Dreams tour and was running around its train.

While the locomotive garnered most of the attention, here I focused on the men who operate it.

Classic?

Yes. This photo follows in a long tradition: Since photography was invented we’ve been making images of steam crews with their engines.

Exposed digitally using my Lumix LX7.

Learn more about the RPSI and their excursion operations: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com/whats-on

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Killarney Sunset

Sometimes the best photo opportunities happen when everyone else is at dinner.

Last Friday I had an errand on the station platform at Killarney, County Kerry that kept me there late.

For a few minutes the sun colored the sky in shades of yellow, orange and magenta.

I made these views using my Lumix LX7. They were the best photos of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s train that I got all day!

Tracking the Light Catches the Sunset! (But not every day).

Decades of Difference: A Compound and an ICR.

My first visit to Killarney was in February 1998. It was dark and damp.

It was my among first encounters with a class 201 diesel.

By contrast, Friday, 6 September 2019, Killarney was warm and pleasant.

The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Cravens led by 4-4-0 Compound no. 85 was in the sidings, having arrived earlier from Dublin with annual Steam Dreams excursion. A scheduled Irish Rail train was just arriving.

I like the contrast between the steam locomotive and the ROTEM built InterCity Railcar. There’s more than 70 years between the two train designs , yet they co-exist on the same modern railway.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday.

Enterprise 201 Leads Cravens at Connolly.

Friday morning, 6 September 2019, I took position at the far end of Dublin Connolly Station platform 4 to photograph RPSI’s Empty Cravens arriving from the Inchicore Work in preparation for boarding and departure of the annual Steam Dreams excursion. (More on that tomorrow!).

I wanted to make both long telephoto and wide angle views of the train. To accomplish this I could use my FujiFilm XT1 with a telephoto and then switch to my Lumix LX7 as the train approached.

However, for the sake of convenience instead I opted to work exclusively with the XT1 for this sequence, and fitted the camera with a 18-135mm zoom lens.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.

There’s no one ‘right’ way to execute an image (or images) but different equipment choices will produce varied results.

One reason for my using the XT1 for the whole sequence was a function of the lighting conditions. My Panasonic Lumix LX7 is an excellent camera in many respects. However, I’ve found that it has a slightly narrower dynamic range, probably owing to smaller file size.

In many situations this subtle difference doesn’t matter, but with Friday’s lighting, I wanted to be able to pull in sky detail in post processing, and from past experience the XT1 RAW files leave more to work with than those from the LX7.

Tracking the Light Focuses on Details Daily!

Classic chrome: Cumbres & Toltec Mikado.

I count this portrait view (vertically oriented photo) among my classic steam Kodachromes and i’ve published it in several books over the years.

I exposed it at Chama, New Mexico in September 1996 using my old Nikon F3T.

This was among many photos I’d made on a big western trip with my old pal TSH..

Despite its charms, that night we abandoned the Cumbres & Toltec to drive to Tennessee Pass to photograph Southern Pacific heavy freights on America’s highest mainline grade the following morning.

At the time I had my doubts about leaving the narrow gauge steam, but SP’s line was about to become Union Pacific and within a year traffic would be diverted elsewhere. Steam still rules on the narrow gauge but the rails over T-pass have been quiet for more than 20 years.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Belmond at Blackhorse—Lessons in Light

Yesterday, the final day of August 2019, I joined fellow photographer Paul Maguire in photographing Belmond’s  Grand Hibernian on its run from Heuston Station over the Branch to Connolly (before it continued on to Belfast).

We selected a vantage point on Dublin’s Blackhorse Avenue and timed visit to minimize the waiting.

In short order flange-squeal emanating from the Phoenix Park Tunnel announced the approach of Belmond’s train before it came into sight.

I opted to use a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens in order to include the castle-like McKee Barracks on the west side of the line.

Bright sun made for a contrasty scene.

082 leads Belmond’s Grand Hibernian at Blackhorse Ave in Dublin. File adjusted.

I mitigated the visually distracting effects of excessive contrast, I adjusted the camera RAW files using Lightroom. Simply by using the program’s ‘sliders’, I lightened shadows, tempered highlights, and locally adjusted exposure in the sky to allow for better detail in the clouds. I also warmed the colour-balance, while making a slight increases in overall saturation. The adjustments took less than a minute of my time.

The light was rapidly changing and shortly after the train passed a cloud eclipsed the sun. I’ve included an unadjusted image of the clouded scene to show the difference in light levels.

Unadjusted and uncompensated camera JPG file to demonstrate the relative change in lighting as result of a cloud eclipsing the sun. I could have ‘opened up’ (let more light in by adjusting the aperture and/or shutter speed) but I exposed manually for this stark contrasty view instead. Don’t squint, there’s no train in this one!

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BUOI in the Snow, Future CP Adrian.

Although it was more than 25 years ago, it really doesn’t seem so long since I made this Fujichrome Velvia slide of Conrail’s BUOI (Road freight from Buffalo to Oak Island) along the former Erie Railroad in the Canisteo Valley.

I’d followed the train east from Rock Glen, New York. Steady snow made for slippery road conditions so I took it easy.

Here I’d caught up with the train, which had reached the newly created siding east of Adrian, that would soon become ‘CP Adrian’ (CP for dispatcher Control Point).

Work was under way at the time, but the new color light signals hadn’t been commissioned and the old semaphores that had governed movements under rule 241 (current of traffic) remained in place, but deactivated.

Working with my Nikon F3T and 105mm lens, I exposed this view as the train waited for permission to proceed east.

Velvia was a finicky film and it was tough to nail the exposure in some conditions Getting the snow exposure right was tricky, but since the train wasn’t moving I made a bracket—in other words I exposed several slides with slight exposure variations. You can see that it was relatively dark by the illumination in the number boards on 6118.

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