Category Archives: Tips and Technique

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Redstone Special

Panoramic composite photo of RDC 23 at Pudding Pond in July 2019.

One of the hidden gems of the Conway Scenic Railroad is their ‘Redstone Line’.

This is the former Maine Central Mountain Division trackage that runs compass east from Mountain Junction near Intervale, New Hampshire.

This summer I had several opportunities to catch RDC number 23 Millieworking Friday afternoon specials to Redstone.

I’m now 4,000 miles from Redstone, but this weekend will be a very rare opportunity to travel the full length of Conway’s Maine Central trackage on a special run scheduled to depart North Conway at 9am.

This special Notch Train will run to the Saco River Bridge east of Redstone and then proceed back west to Mountain Junction and continue all the way over Crawford Notch to the west-end of Conway Scenic trackage at Hazens near Whitefield.

It will also be an opportunity to catch steam locomotive 7470 on the branch and over the mountain.

I’ll have to have one huge telephoto to catch the action from Islandbridge (in Dublin!!)

See: https://www.conwayscenic.com/events/

RDC 23 on the Redstone Line at Pudding Pond in North Conway.


RDC 23 near Redstone in July 2019.
Redstone line along North Conway’s North-South road.

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Using the Amtrak App to Save Time

I was having dinner last night at Palmer’s Steaming Tender. I wanted to photograph Amtrak’s eastward Lake Shore Limited and hoped only to invest the minimum amount of time away from my meal.

I brought up Amtrak’s App on my iPhone and clicked the ‘status’ icon, then entered ‘Springfield’ in the slot for ‘station’ and under ‘train number’ I entered ‘448’ (the number for the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.

The first time I did this, it estimated 448 departing about 4 minutes late. So I checked again in ten minutes. By that time 448 had departed Springfield about 7 minutes late.

I then switched to the asm.transitdocs.com site that offers a ‘live map’ of Amtrak and VIA Rail trains across the continent, and clicked the window for 448. Among the features of this app is that it will show you the actual speed of the train at the time of its last update. The program updates about every five minutes.

I learned that about four minutes after departing Springfield Station 448 was traveling just under 60 mph (it’s maximum allowed speed on the Boston & Albany to Palmer).

From experience, I know that it takes 448 about 18 minutes to reach Palmer from Springfield if nothing unusual occurs. So 15 minutes after its Springfield-departure, I excused myself from dinner and casually walked to my preferred location near the diamond at the westend of the station.

I waited about 30 seconds and the train passed.

This was the photo I exposed using my Lumix LX7.

Amtrak 448 at Palmer, Massachusetts on August 25, 2019.

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Busy Afternoon at Palmer, August 22, 2019.

Yesterday I met fellow photographer Mike Gardner at the Steaming Tender restaurant in the old Palmer Union Station for lunch.

I had iced tea and the Reuben.

Except for the New England Central switching all was quiet for the first couple of hours.

Just after 2 pm, I said “Let’s head outside, I have a feeling it’s all about to happen.”

Luck, intuition or experience, call it what you like.

At first the trains didn’t favor the light. A New England Central local crossed the diamond northbound. CSX B740 was working deep in the old Boston & Albany yard. The Mass-Central came down from Ware long-hood first. Then everything stalled.

“I’ll bet everything is waiting for the Lake Shore.”

At 3pm Amtrak 449, the westward Lake Shore Limited appeared at the east end of the long tangent on the old Boston & Albany. On queue Mike announced, ‘Headlight!’

I made a series of photos of enthusiasts on the old station platform rolling the train by.

After the Lake Shore, the illusion of a lull continued, and most everyone else got bored and left. CSX B740 had pulled up and was poised waiting for signal. Mike and I decided to hold on. And sure enough 15 minutes behind the Lake Shore was a westward CSX freight—Q427.

After this passed, B740 pulled ahead through CP83 and then reverse back into the yard, meanwhile the Mass-Central was getting ready to head back north again.

All in all in was a very successful day in Palmer. But the keys to our success were timing and patience. If you left after the Lake Shore rolled west, you missed most of the show.

Amtrak 449 westbound.
CSX Q427.
CSX B740.
Massachusetts Central 1751 with interchange traffic.

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Conrail at Olean—November 6, 1988.

Yesterday I scanned this 30 year Kodachrome  25 slide using a Nikon Coolscan5000 operated with VueScan 9.6.09 scanning software.. 

The unmodified scan is a bit on the dark side. I’d been chasing Conrail ELOI (Elkhart to Oak Island) eastbound on the former Erie Railroad on typically dull western New York November day.

Many of my photos from that chase were exposed on black & white film using my father’s old Rollei Model T. At least one of those appeared in CTC Board as a Conrail new illustration back in the day.

When I reached Olean, I wanted to feature the crossing with the former PRR route to Buffalo, which was then also a Conrail secondary main line, and I made this panned view of ELOI’s lead locomotive crossing the diamonds.

I exposed this at f5.6 1/30 second to capture the motion of the locomotive.

Unmodified scan, except for scaling for internet presentation (the original is about 110MB).

After scanning, I imported the slide into Lightroom and made a variety of corrections to improve the appearance of the image. This included slight cropping to improve the level; color correction, lightening of the shadow areas and over-all contrast control.

I’ve include both the unmodified scan and corrected image here.

Corrected scan outputted as a JPG file for internet.

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Conrail BUOI at West Cameron, New York.

In Autumn 1988, I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide of Conrail’s BUOI (Buffalo, New York to Oak Island, New Jersey) rolling through the Canisteo Valley near West Cameron, New York.

During the late 1980s, the Canisteo Valley was among my favorite venues for photographing Conrail freights.

This is among the legions of Conrail slides that I considered for my upcoming book ‘Conrail and its Predecessors’.

I’m entering the final stages of photo selection and have begun the captioning process.

This is the same scan, but here I’ve lightened the image and warmed it slightly for improved internet presentation.

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30 Years Ago at Rockville Bridge.

It was a bright and hazy August 1989 morning, when my old pal TS Hoover and I set up on the east bank of the Susquehanna River to capture this view of the famous former Pennsylvania Railroad Rockville Bridge.

I made this Professional Kodachrome 25 (PKM) slide using my old Leica M2 with a 90mm Elmarit.

It was just one of many Conrail photographs exposed on one of our great adventures in the 1980s!

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Rhonda Lee Summer Sunset.

Last night, August 8, 2019, I traveled on Conway Scenic’s Dinner Train for the second evening in a row.

The purpose of my trip was in preparation for some more involved filming in the coming days.

However, when we arrived at Bartlett, New Hampshire we were greeted by a stunning summer sunset, I reached for a camera. Well, actually three cameras. I reached for three cameras.

I then arranged with conductor Derek Palmieri to make a few photos.

Budd Vista dome  Rhonda Lee (née Silver Splendor) has only been recently re-lettered and made for a fine sight catching the summer sunset.

These images were the products from my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens.

I also exposed a few images with my Lumix LX7. I’m sure someone will groan when they read that I made black & white views on Ilford HP5 with a Nikon F3.

You’ll have to wait for the film photos, as it might be a few weeks before I have the time or facilities to process them.

Bartlett is one of my favorite places to catch Conway Scenic, and it seems I’m here almost every day, by road or by rail!

Don’t forget, today August 9, 2019, I’ll be signing books on Conway Scenic’s 1330 (130pm) Valley Train to Conway, and at the North Conway Station from 230 to 5pm!

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In the Shadow of Mount Washington.

For viewers on Facebook, you’ll need to click the link to Tracking the Light to get the view of the mountain.

Last night in the fading glow of a summer’s evening, Conway Scenic’s Adam Bartley and I made video and still of photos of the railroad’s Dinner train that was out on a demonstration run.

Adam worked the company video camera, while I used my Lumix, Fuji, Canon and Nikon cameras to make film and digital photographs.

Our final set for the evening was looking west at Intervale, where we caught the returning train led by former Maine Central 252, a classic GP38 and veteran locomotive on the line. I set my photograph to capture Mount Washington, New England’s tallest peak, looming large above the train.

These images were exposed using my Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. RAW files were adjusted for contrast, exposure, color balance and color saturation in post processing using Lightroom.

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Book Signing Next Week!

One week from today, I’ll be signing books at the Conway Scenic Railroad!

Book Signing: Meet the Author!

On Friday August 9, 2019, I’ll be conducting an ‘on-train and at-the-station’ book signing on the Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway, New Hampshire.

I’ll be traveling on the 130pm train to Conway with a pen in hand, and then visiting the Brass Whistle Gift Shop in the North Conway station from about 230pm until 5pm

Notice the author’s shadow? Friday, next week I’ll be at this station signing books from 2:30pm to 5pm. Where is this? North Conway, New Hampshire! That’s Friday August 9, 2019.
Platform view at Conway Scenic’s North Conway station exposed last night, August 1, 2019. Next Friday, August 9, 2019, I’ll be at this station signing books!

The Conway Scenic’s Brass Whistle Gift shop has a host of my titles for sale and ready to be signed by me.

My titles for sale will include:

Vintage Diesel Power

Electromotive E units & F units

Streamliners

Railway Guide to Europe

Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals

GE & EMD Locomotives

Classic Railroad Signals

I only do a couple of book signings a year, so this is a great opportunity to travel on Conway Scenic’s Valley Train and buy a signed book!

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Sunrise at Cookshire, Quebec.

The other day on the Conway Scenic, I was telling film student Adam Bartley about a photograph I’d exposed on the former Canadian Pacific at Cookshire, Quebec.

I have relatively few photos on the old CP line in Quebec east of Montreal, and this one is one of my favorites.

I made it with very little set up time, and using something less than my sharpest lens.

This appeared as a full page image on page 102 of Railway Photography, a book authored with the late John Gruber in 2003. We dedicated the book to the memory of our friend the artist Ted Rose, who had passed away the previous year.

Here’s the un-edited caption I supplied to my publisher for the photo:
Get up early and be ready to photograph: if you’re not there. you won’t get the shot. Photographers George S. Pitarys and Brian Solomon spent several days in January 1998 photographing Iron Road Railways’ Quebec Southern. On the last morning of the trip, they hit the road well before sunrise and followed an eastbound train in the sub-zero gloom. This exposure was made at Cookshire, Quebec at sunrise. The clouds that made for the rosy morning glow would soon prevail leaving for a flat gray day. Sometimes your first shot of the day is your best. photo by Brian Solomon
Nikon N90S; Fuji Provia 100 (RDP)

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Pudding Pond Posed Panoramic.

If you are not viewing this on post on Tracking the Light, you’ll need to click the link or you’ll miss the panoramic photo.

This is the single-frame conventional view of RDC 23 Millie at Pudding Pond.

Last Friday (July 19, 2019), we traveled on Conway Scenic Budd-built RDC 23 Millie east toward Redstone, New Hampshire on the former Maine Central. On the return we paused at Pudding Pond so that I could make some photographs.

Once I was off the car, by arrangement it moved forward so the front of the RDC was catching the sunlight.

In addition to conventional photos, I also made this panoramic composite using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera. The camera has a panorama preset that requires you to make an even sweep across the scene while holding the shutter release. The camera sews together the images and outputs them as a completed panorama.

Panoramic composite view at Pudding Pond exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

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Every Day is Sunny in North Conway . . .

 . . . except when it rains!

Tracking the Light posts Daily, rain or shine!

Last week at North Conway, New Hampshire hot humid afternoon gave way to rain forest-like torrential rains.

In the twilight of early evening, I exposed this raining view using my Lumix LX7 handheld.

The slight blurred effect is a combination of the cascading downpour and relatively slow shutter speed. For me the combination of heavy rain, dusk, and slight camera blur makes for a painterly effect that helps transcend the decades.

The Gateway Cut at Crawford Notch.

Near the summit of the former Maine Central Mountain Division at Crawford Notch, the line passes through a deep rock cutting in a natural low point in the mountains known as the Gateway.

Conway Scenic’s normal operations of its Notch Train to Crawford’s Station finds the train passing the Gateway at the peak of high sun. In other words,  one of the most difficult times for photography using natural lighting.

Fires in the West resulted in particulate matter and haze, which last week provide a great degree of diffusion, making these condition an ideal time to catch the Notch Train on its uphill run.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I exposed this view from the railroad east end (compass south) of the famous cutting. Having locomotive 1751 in the lead was an added bonus.

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Card Read Error!

These are not the words I want to see at the back of my camera screen.

Let’s back up:

Yesterday, after traveling to the top of New Hampshire’s Cannon Mountain via the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway with my friends, I made a series of cosmic photos of the surrounding scenery.

However, during my photography all of a sudden as I was reviewing photos the words ‘Card Read Error!’ came up on my camera screen.

This is bad news: it means that the recording media has been damaged or corrupted. 

When this happens to you, don’t panic, but follow these instructions:

1) DO NOT attempt to expose more photos using the damaged card. Doing so can greatly complicate your future ability to retrieve the images that you’ve already exposed.

2) Turn your camera off.

3) Take the card out of the camera.

4) Replace the card with a fresh spare. (I always carry two or three spares with me).

5) Test the camera using the spare card. If it seems to work as normal, you can probably resume photography. If it doesn’t, there may be a more complicated problem.

6) Before downloading, do not ‘format’, ‘erase’ or take any action that will add/subtract information / data to or from the card.

7) Later, when you are home, attempt to download your card using an external device. In my case I have a card reader that inserts into my MacBook using a USB port.

8) After you successfully download the card, put it aside and mark it ‘defective’. Once recording media goes bad it is unwise to continue to use it. Buy a new card.

In my situation, I waited until evening, I first downloaded the new card that I’d inserted into my after the first card went bad. Only after all the photos from the new card were successfully downloaded and backed up on an external hard drive, did I began downloading the images from the damaged card.

I was lucky and all my images were downloaded with relative ease. I marked the suspect card ‘BAD’ and put it away. I will not use the card again. If I could not download the card using my normal software, I’d have to go through a more complicated procedure to attempt to retrieve missing photos.

Incidentally, camera-recording cards are only designed for short-term storage. I routinely download my cards nightly. While, I hold on to the cards for future re-use, I do not use them for long-term storage.

I suggest that all digital and digitized images be stored in triplicate and in different places. Further, since all hard drives will eventually go bad, it is wise to periodically re-backup data on new media. At least once a year I back up older files on new hard drives and check to make sure that files transfer successfully.

This is among the images that was recorded on the defective card in my FujiFIlm XT1. I was able to retrieve it without too much difficulty, but I was careful not to interfere with the storage media in the field in a panicked attempt to search for photos or continue my photography with the defective media.

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Mountain Division—Bartlett Sunset.

Wednesday evening July 10, 2019, I made this sunset view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s dinner train at Bartlett, New Hampshire.

The dinner train uses largely the same consist as the railroad’s Notch Train, but operates in the evening from North Conway to Bartlett and return.

Owing to the extreme exposure contrast between the darker areas of the car’s undercarriage and the highlights in the sky, I carefully balanced my exposure using the camera’s histogram to retain the maximum amount of detail, and later adjusted the RAW file in Lightroom in post processing to allow for the most pleasing image.

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Budd Car Sunset.

FujiFilm camera JPG with color profile ‘Velvia’.

The other evening I exposed this trailing view of Conway Scenic’s RDC number 23, Millienear Glen-Jackson on its evening run up to Attiash .

On of the best kept secrets among Conway’s scheduled trains are its RDC runs for Attitash that depart North Conway on select evenings at 6pm.

I like the RDC, a typical Budd Car, that was common to New England passenger services when I was growing up in the 1970s and early 1980s.

For this photo, I was working with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm prime telephoto. The camera color profile was set to Velvia (see photo above), but ultimately I worked with the camera-RAW file in Lightroom to adjust color temperature, contrast and saturation (see photo below).

Jpg file created from adjusted camera-RAW.

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