Category Archives: Tips and Technique

Conrail at Milepost 119

Here’s a photo from my black & white archives that I’d completely dismissed. I’d exposed it at Huntington, Massachusetts in March 1985.

There were a few of problems with this image that irked me.

The first was cosmic. Moments before I release the shutter, a cloud coverd the front of the train. That sort of thing used to drive me nuts.

The second was strategic. I’d released the shutter a little earlier than I’d like, leaving the train just a bit distant. I didn’t have a motor drive in those days, and typically would wait for the decisive moment to take my photo.

The third was a chronic failing from my Leica 3 days. I tended to photograph slightly off level, leaving most of my photos annoyingly tilted.

All of these flaws are now easily overcome using Adobe Lightroom.

I altered the exposure and contrast to correct for the obscured sun, while bringing in sky detail partially lost to over exposure. I cropped the photo to minimize the foreground, and this pleasantly altered the composition to feature the code lines to the right of the locomotives and milepost 119 on the left. Lastly, I leveled the image, a task that take now about 2 seconds.

Looking at this photo now, I find that I’m very pleased with it. It has aged very well. The minor flaws don’t bother me, since these were easily corrected, while the overall subject fascinates me. It is the time machine I needed today.

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Here’s the original, unaltered image for comparison.

Crossing Tender Bangor, Maine

During a week-long vacation to coastal Maine in July 1983 to visit my grand parents, I was given the keys to the family Ford for the day. On the recommendation of my friend Bob Buck, I visited a host of interesting railroad locations in Maine.

My forth stop was at Bangor, where I photographed the Maine Central yard and a local freight switching there using my Leica 3A.

The negative for this black & white image had resided in a marked envelope until last week when I finally scanned it.

In 1983, my photographic processing abilities were rudimentary, and frankly I wasn’t very good at developing black & white film. Only recently, I was able to overcome some of the technical failings in this image by adjusting the scan I made using Adobe Lightroom.

Adjusted and altered scan at Bangor Yard. Photo expsoed in July 1983.
Version ‘B’ with additional adjustments.

Unlike some of my photos displayed on Tracking the Light that only receive minor corrections to tweak contrast or exposure, in this image I needed to make some fairly substantial corrections to contrast and exposure, while eliminating a host of spots.

There’s virtually nothing in this scene remaining today, and now manned crossings are nearly extinct.

Just for comparison, this is an un-modified version of the same scan (scaled for internet presentation). Hard midday backlighting made for a difficult photo, poor processing on my part made it worse. Yet, the subject matter is interesting.

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Palmer Yard—Spring 1985

Another choice image from my recently scanned roll of Ilford FP4 exposed in Spring 1985.

I made this view with a 50mm lens looking timetable west at the west end of Conrail’s old Boston & Albany yard in Palmer, Massachusetts. I had driven in behind Howlett’s Lumber to photograph a Sperry rail defect detection car that was stored near the B&A freight house.

Just about everything in this scene has changed. The freight house was demolished in Janaury 1989. The large building at right beyond burned down some years later. The code lines were removed after the B&A was re-signaled in 1986-1987.

I’ve posted two versions of this photo. The top is my unaltered and uncorrected scan. The bottom reflects a series of nominal adjustments using Adobe Lightroom.

Unadjusted sca&W negative. Back in the day, I suffered from a propensity to tilt my camera to the right, leaving many fine photos flawed by being off-level. I also had a tendency to over process my negatives, which led to ‘white skies’ and excessive highlight contrast.

In this view, I leveled the image by rotating it about 2 degrees clockwise. I then adjusted sky density and contrast and make overall changes to image contrast and density to improve tonality and detail..

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Steam Twilight—7470 on the Three Percent.

Last night (December 30, 2021) Conway Scenic Railroad took 0-6-0 number 7470 for a test run.

The locomotive with crew and mechanics operated within the North Conway yard limits to the ‘Bottom of the Hill’ and returned up the three percent grade to North Conway station.

This was the first run of the steam locomotive since its repairs, and the first time it has been under steam since January (2021).

I was making a video sequence using my Nikon Z6. The camera allows for medium-resolution Jpg still photographs to be captured simultaneously with video.

This 1 MB image was exposed early in my extended video sequence. Minor adjustments to exposure and contrast were implemented in post processing.

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GP38-2 with WInter Sky . . .

. . . Sky ‘enhanced’, that is.

The other day on a brief visit to Palmer, Massachusetts,Kris and I paused for a minute to make a photo of this Buffalo & Pittsburgh GP38-2 at the New England Central’s former Central Vermont yard. (Both NECR and B&P are part of the Genessee & Wyoming family.)

I thought of the countless photos that I’ve made of locomotives here over the last 45 years. Yet, I had never seen this locomotive here before. (Or certainly not in its current guise anyway.)

I made the image toward the end of daylight. Rich winter light graced the late afternoon sky, while the locomotive was largely bathed in shadow.

Lumix LX7 photo. I arranged my composition to show more than just the locomotive, but also feature the road, yard tracks, freight cars, and of course the clouds. To minimize the effects of some distracting glint on therighthand number board on the locomotive, I took the photo from a relatively low angle.

To make for a more pleasing image, I balanced the highlights and shadows and made adjustments to color temperature and contrast using Adobe Lightroom. The Sky Mask tool sampled this work. I felt my initial edit was a bit heavy handed so I toned it down a bit for presentation here.

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West Slope Glint

I made these glint images looking west from the Railfan’s Overlook at Cassandra, Pennsylvania toward the November evening sunset.

The trick to successful glint images is correctly exposing for the highlights in order to retain sufficient detail.

Another trick is to select a ‘daylight’ white balance, rather than using an automatic white balance setting.

Westward Norfolk Southern intermodal train passes Cassandra, Pennsylvania on the West Slope of the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line grade over the Allegheny Divide.
Helpers at the back of a westbound double stack train.

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Blowin’ Snow

Yesterday morning (December 9, 2021) it was 11 degrees F when I arrived at the North Conway Roundhouse.

I was part of a crew to take a light engine west on the Mountain Division to clear crossings.

On the way out to our engine, I paused to make this photo of Matt H clearing snow from the turntable.

And yes, it was as cold as it looks!

Photos exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.

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Sunset at Duncormick, Co. Wexford

In July 2003, I exposed a single frame of 120 size Tri-X looking toward the old Duncormick Station on Irish Rail’s lightly used South Wexford line.

I’d processed the film in Ilfotec HC shortly after the time of exposure. The other day I scanned this photo along with other images on the roll.

Working with Adobe Lightroom 5.0, I made use of the ‘select sky’ feature under the ‘New Mask’ option (located at the righthand side of the control panel and indicated with a pixilated circle icon) to make the sunset sky more dramatic.

Previously, I would have achieved a similar effect by creating a linear gradiation mask to make my adjustments.

The advantage of the ‘select sky’ mask is that it neatly segregates the sky area from the rest of the image and allows for a cleaner adjustment while requiring less work on my part.

In this case, to make the sky appear more dramatic, I used the ‘clarity’ slider, moving to the right (+) which increases the constrast without a substantial loss of detail.

Below are both the unaltered scan of the original black & white negative, and my adjusted version. In addition, I’ve included a screenshot of hte Adobe Lightroom control panel.

Unadjusted reversed scan from the original 120-size black & white negative. This was scaled for internet presentation.
Adjusted scan with ‘select sky’mask feature used to improve the sky contrast.
Adobe Lightroom 5.0 control panel. Notice the position of the Clarity slide while in the ‘create new mask’ -‘select sky’ mode.

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Beware of Trains

In July 2003, I made this 2/14 inch sqaure black & white photo at Limerick Junction, Co. Tipperary using a Rollei Model-T twin lens reflex.

Working with a relatively slow shutter speed, I allowed the train to blur as it passed the signals at the Dublin-end of the platform.

At that time Limerick Junction was controlled by a mix of tradititional mechanical signals and more modern color lights.

The sign makes the photo.

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Southern Pacific at Bealville

In January 1991, I traveled with Southern Pacific Dispatcher JDS to the Tehachapis in Southern California.

Working with my Leica M2 loaded with Kodak 5063 (35mm Tri-X) black & white film, I made this photo of the helpers on the back of loaded unit coal train SNTA-C (Skyline Mine to Trona, California Coal) passing the signals at Bealville.

At the time, I was experimenting with Edwal FG7, a liquid developer that yielded high-contrast and fine grain while producing a deep black.

The other day, I scanned several rolls from this trip and others to Southern California and then processed the scans with Adobe Lightroom.

Below are two versions of the same image. The top is the unadjusted scan, the bottom reflects changes to contrast and exposure aimed a producing a more pleasing image.

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Santa’s Holiday Express

Yesterday, Friday November 26, 2021, Conway Scenic began operating its annual Santa’s Holiday Express.

It was a wet & dreary debut, but well attended.

I was focused on the details of the operation; the schedule, the decorations, and the narrations.

I traveled on the first run to Conway, and made photo of Santa’s arrival.

At Conway Scenic, Santa Claus rides in the caboose.

I’ll bet S. Kip Farrington would have something to say about that!

At Conway, I made photo of Santa waving from the railroad’s vintage former Central Vermont wooden body caboose using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Z-series zoom lens.

After exposure, I modified the NEF RAW file using Adobe Lightroom.

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When Amtrak 2 leads No. Eight at Dusk.

I was afraid that if I called this post ‘Empire Builder Part 2’ it might get lost in the shuffle.

Last Saturday (November 13, 2021) Kris and I waited for Amtrak’s westward Empire Builder at Duplainville, Wisconsin.

I wanted to catch it passing the vintage GRS Searchlights that date from the Milwaukee Road era.

Dusk is one of the most effective time to photograph searchlights.

One of the great benefits of modern digital cameras is the ability to stop the action in low light. For these photos I had the ISO set to 1600, which allowed me a 1/640th second shutter speed.

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Trams in Graz

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

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

Below are two versions of the same image.

Camera jpg

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

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

Interpreted RAW image adjusted in Lightroom.

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Window on Killarney

September 30, 2016, on the advice of Ken Fox, I traveled to Killarney for an unusual convergence.

Rail Tours Ireland’s Emerald Isle Explorer and the Belmond Grand Hibernian—Ireland’s only two high-end tour trains were both scheduled to arrive at Irish Rail’s Killarney on the same afternoon.

I made my photos and then returned to Dublin on-board Irish Rail’s regularly scheduled train that was worked with one of the common Hyundai-ROTEM Intercity Rail Cars (ICRs).

I made this view on board the ICR using my Canon EOS 3 with 40mm pancake lens loaded with Ilford HP5 processed.

I processed the film in Kodak HC110 mixed 1-64 with water at 68f for 4 mins. Later I toned the processed negatives in a Selenium solution mixed 1-9 for 9 minutes. This last step boosted the highlight detail to give a silvery glisten.

Negatives scanned with an Epson Perfection V600 flatbed scanner.

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Blue Line at Aquarium

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

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

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

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

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

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

This shows the same NEF file following adjustments.

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

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200mm Backlit of the Valley

Recently I bought a Nikkor f2.8 70-200mm Z-series lens for my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

After more than a year of experiementing with the Z6 by putting the camera through its paces, I decided I really needed a longer zoom to compliment the 24-70mm lens that I’d been using on the Z6.

The other day, I made this view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Valley Train arriving at North Conway from Conway, New Hampshire using the new lens.

The lighting was strongly backlit, which helped illuminate the late-season autumn foliage, but made for some harsh shadows.

To compensate in the photo displayed here, I worked with the Nikon NEF RAW file in Adobe Light room to lighten the shadow areas and darken the highlights to help reduce the contrast in the over all image.

I also warmed the color balance and slightly increased the saturation, and made a very slight crop at the lower lef to remove a visual distraction.

Compare the modified photo above with the version below. The lower photo is from the same file but without modification (except for scaling necessary for internet presentation) so that you can see effect of my changes.

Enlarged section of the NEF RAW file.

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The DART—April 2003

In April 2003, I was traveling on rail-tour returning to Dublin from Belfast, when I made this pacing view of an Irish Rail DART suburban electric train rolling along on an adjacent track.

I was working with my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 28mm Zeiss Biogon, and loaded with Fuji Neopan 400 black & white film.

This is among the photos that I intend to present tonight (October 21, 2021) to the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts at Malden, Massachusetts.

By working with a comparatively slow shutter speed, I was able to convey the sense of motion.

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Sugarbeet Crossing at Carrick-on-Suir

Late October traditionally represented the start of Irish Rail’s sugarbeet season. This was among the most intensive freight operations in Ireland and saw up to seven laden trains daily operated from the beet loading point at Wellingtonbridge, Co. Wexford to the processing factory near Mallow in Co. Cork.

In November 2005 halfway through the final sugarbeet season, I made this photo of laden and empty trains crossing at Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary.

Standing on the footbridge in the station, I working with a Nikon F3 loaded with Fujichrome. One of my favorite lenses at this time was a manual focus Nikkor f2.8 180mm, which saw good use during beet season.

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Two Angles on Willey Brook

The former Maine Central Mountain Division is known for its Willey Brook Bridge that appears to cling to the side the rocks on Crawford Notch in New Hampshire’s White Mountains

This October on two occasions—ten days apart, I photographed Conway Scenic Railroad’s westward Mountaineer on its ascent of Crawford Notch as it crossed this iconic span.

In the first view, I stood line-side just east of milepost 84 and looked back toward Willey Brook.

For the second photo, I took a position well below the bridge, just off Route 302.

I used the same camera-lens combination for both photos: my Canon EOS7D digital camera with a Canon f2.0 100mm telephoto lens.

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Fine Foliage at the Gateway

Over the last ten days I’ve made several trips over Crawford Notch to capture Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer with the autumnal leaves.

I exposed this image from atop the Gateway cutting using my Nikon Z6 Mirrorless camera with f4.0 Nikkor Z 24-70mm zoom lens.

Backlit autumn leaves tend to appear more vivid as the sunlight illuminates the leaves like colored bulbs.

The classic Maine Central yellow was based on the yellow-orange color of the autumnal foliage.

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Digital Dawn—November 8, 2008

On November 8, 2008, Chris Guss lent me his Canon 50D and we explored the greater Chicago rail scene making photos.

It was one of my earliest experiments with digital photography.

I made this photo of Chicago Metra commuter trains tied up at Kenonsha, Wisconsin.

About a year later I finally acquired my first digital camera.

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CSX on Velvia

May 4, 2007, I was just back from England. Not yet over my jet lag, I drove in the Berkshires of Massachusetts to photograph CSX freights on the former Boston & Albany.

I made this view west of the rock cut at milepost 129, on the 1912 line relocation between Chester and Middlefield, Massachusetts.

A westward freight was led by an SD70MAC.

I’d exposed the photo using my Contax G2 rangefinder loaded with Fujichrome Velvia 50.

Although Velvia is an extraordinarily sharp film that offers tremendous dynamic range and deep rich colors, I’ve often found this to be difficult emulsion to expose properly.

The original slide is about 1/2 stop under exposed, which means its a bit too dark.

To correct for this flaw, I scanned the original using an Epson V750 flatbed scanner and imported the scan into Adobe Lightroom where I lightened the midtones, adjusted shadows, and corrected the color balance to compensate for excessive red/magenta in the processed chrome.

Below is the unadjusted scan (for comparison) and two versions of the corrected slide scan.

My unadjusted scan for comparison. This image is too dark and sufferes from a strong red/magenta bias.
This my first color corrected and exposure adjusted image.
My final adjusted scan. Notice the juxtoposition of the clouds with the shadowed bushes on the lower right. Both are key elements to my composition aimed to augment the dynamics of the locomotives.

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Mountaineer at the Girders

Foliage season has begun in the White Mountains.

On Wednesday, I shadowed Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer on its ascent of Crawford Notch.

Ironically, one of the most dramatic unobstructed views of the line can be obtained directly off Route 302, the road which runs parallel to the railroad in the Mount Washington Valley.

I exposed this photo of the Mountaineer on ‘the Girders’ bridge near the scenic vista pull-off at Crawford Notch using my Nikon Z6 digital camera. I processed the camera’s NEF file using Adobe Lightroom to lighten shadows and correct the color temperature, while nominally boosting saturation.

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Correcting Conrail

I’m not suggesting a fix for Conrail or its aftermath, just a few adjustments to a 24-year old Kodachrome slide.

Two weeks ago, I located this slide in my collection and scanned with with an Epson V750 flatbed scanner driven by Epson Scan 2 software.

This portrays an eastward Conrail freight on the Boston & Albany near West Warren, Massachusetts, where the railroad crosses the Quaboag River. I’d exposed it on May 5, 1997.

In my view the photo is imperfect: The level is seveal degrees off, I’d missed the reflection in the river, the lighting is a bit high and harsh, my exposure was about one half stop too dark, and the processing left the image with a red-magenta tint.

I can’t fix the lack of reflection, but I addressed most of the other imperfections using Adobe Lightroom. In less than ten minutes, I was able to import, correct and export the improved image.

For comparison, I’ve included both the uncorrected scan (scaled for internet) and my corrected photograph.

Scaled, but uncorrected scan of the original Kodachrome slide.
Corrected scan.

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GP35 Works East at Warren

There was a thrill of listening to an eastward freight ascending the Boston & Albany grade on approach to Warren, Massachusetts and wondering what locomotives would round the corner.

In February 1984, I was in my final term of high school. It was a warm weekend morning when I visited Bob Buck’s Tucker’s Hobbies. Bob advised me of an approaching Conrail freight and I walked briskly to the Route 67 bridge east of the old passenger station, where I made this photo.

The freight was led by an eclectic collection of EMD and GE diesels. It was one of only a very few times that I caught a GP35 leading a freight on the Boston & Albany.

Exposed on Kodak black & white film using a Leica IIIA.

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Amtrak at the Vernon Backwater

Immediately south of the old Central Vermont Railway yard at Brattleboro, Vermont is a causeway across the Vernon Backwater of the Connecticut River.

This is another old favorite place of mine to picture trains on the move.

Today, brush growing on the causeway poses a visual challenge. Where years ago the causeway offered an unobstructed view of a train, today, careful positioning is necessary to avoid cropping the front of the locomotive as it works its way south over the man-made fill.

The other day Kris and I visited this location, arriving just a few minutes before Amtrak’s southward Vermonter was expected.

I made this photo using my Nikon Z6.

I scaled the in-camera JPG using Lightroom, without making modifications to density, color temperature, contrast, or color balance.

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Grand Hibernian—17 September 2016

Five years ago, I was poised at the army bridge near Mosney over the old Great Northern line to photograph the, then new, Belmond Grand Hibernian on its run from Dublin to Belfast.

This luxury tour train made weekly tours of the Irish network in season.

Irish Rail class 201 number 216 was painted to match Belmond’s train set, and was routinely assigned to the train.

Belmond’s choice of a dark navy blue made for challenging photos in conditions other than bright sun. In photos, this shade of blue often appeared almost black, and when lightened using post processing software tended to shift green.

In this view, I selectively lightened the front of the locomotive, and applied minimal lightening to the shadow areas of the entire scene. I’ve attempted to retain the true color of the train as best I can.

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LUAS at Museum

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

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

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Misty Mountaineer

Yesterday (September 9, 2021) I traveled on the headend of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer to Crawford Notch in order to calculate train timings for this month’s timetable change.

Among my jobs at the railroad, in addition to Marketing, is that of timetable planner.

When we reached the old Maine Central station at Crawford, I climbed down from the locomotive to make a few photos from the ground, then boarded again for the run-around.

All photos were made using my Nikon Z6 and processed using Adobe Lightroom.

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The End for an Old GP?

Yesterday I learned through social media that New England Central 3850 suffered a main generator fire while climbing State Line Hill (located in my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts.)

Over the last 26 years, I’ve made countless photos of this antique EMD diesel-electric at work and at rest.

While I cannot predict the future, I know that often with older diesels, a main generator failure may represent the kiss of the scrapper.

When it came to New England Central in 1995, 3850 carried the number 9531, which is how I picture it in the December 1996 view below.

I made this photo at Palmer, Massachusetts using a mix of artificial lighting, including electronic strobe for fill flash, and my original Fujichrome slide is strongly tinted.

I scanned this slide using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner driven by Epson Scan 2 software. Working from a high-resolution TIF file, I initially scaled the photo without corrections.

Then, working with slider controls in Adobe Lightroom, I implemented a variety of color corrections, plus contrast and exposure adjustements to overcome flaws with color balance and exposure. Below are both results for point of comparison.

This is a scaled JPG of the uncorrected scan which reflects how the original slide appears to the eye. Compare this with a partially color corrected version below.
Above is my first color-corrected scan aimed at better representing the colors of the locomotive as they would have appeared to my eye at night. Although imperfect, it is an improvement over the original slide.
Here’s an alternative version aimed at further reducing the green tint from the mercury vapor light and reducing overall contrast. This is closer to the way the scene would have looked.

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NIR-Derry 5 April 2002

NI Railways had a minimalist presence in Derry, Northern Ireland when I visited there on 5 April 2002.

The railway station consisted of a 1960s-era bus shelter style building and a single platform serving two tracks, situated flush with the River Foyle.

I made these photos while boarding an NIR 80-class railcar bound for Belfast.

My camera was a rugged Contax G2 Rangefinder fitted with 45mm Zeiss Planar lens and loaded with Kodak Tri-X black & white film. I used a red filter to alter the black & white tonality and boost contrast.

For me the film’s contrast and stark spring lighting was well-suited to the minimalist railway infrastructure.

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Ballast Train

The unusual moves; the uncommon train; the special unscheduled and unexpected operation. These are what fascinate me about railroads.

On most days, Conway Scenic operates its selection of normally scheduled excursion. By contrast it’s work trains are comparatively rare.

Yesterday, September 3, 2021, Conway Scenic’s former Maine Central GP7 No. 573 ran light to from North Conway to Conway to collect a pair of ballast cars that were expected to be loaded.

After lunch the engine returned with the ballast cars to North Conway where it ran around and proceeded back to Conway.

I was on-hand to make these photos using my Nikon Z6.

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Same Bridge—Different Day

Tracking the Light is a blog that focuses on the process of railroad photography, and how certain techniques produce different results. Light, angle and season play an enormous role in the end result.

In yesterday’s Tracking the Light, I featured a misty autumn-morning view of a westward Guilford Rail System freight crossing the bridge over the Deerfield River on approach to the east portal of the Hoosac Tunnel.

See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2021/08/28/misty-morning-at-east-portal/

Today, I’m featuring a photo exposed a few months later (February 2005) of another westward freight crossing the same bridge: winter versus autumn; south side of the bridge versus the north; and later in the morning. Another difference was my choice of lens: 45mm on the winter view; 180mm on the autumn.

In addition, I’ve included two slightly different versions of the February 2005 photo, as well as one of the photos from yesterday’s post for point of comparison.

This freight was EDRJ, which Pat Yough and I followed all the way to the Hudson River and beyond!

Compare this view with the verson below.- 45mm lens.

February 13, 2005. In the above photo I made slightly different adjustments in post processing in regards to color temperature and exposure.

Both images were made from a scan of the same slide, which had been exposed on Fujichrome film using a Contax G2 rangefinder with 45 mm Zeiss lens.

Here’s the comparison view that was posted with yesterday’s (August 28, 2021) Tracking the Light. Fujichrome with 180mm lens, October 2004.

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Nostalgia for a Bad Slide.

Languishing in my Miscellaneous Railroad Seconds file (Bad Slides) from 1982-1983 was this back lit winter view of the Central Vermont Railway yard in Palmer, Massachusetts.

I’d exposed this Kodachrome 64 slide using my old Leica 3A fitted with 50mm Sumitar.

This is a technically flawed photo. It is considerably off-level. The exposure is slightly on the dark side. The composition is a bit loose. And the color is decidedly magenta owing to a processing abnormality on the part of Kodak.

As an exercise, I decided to scan the slide and import into Lightroom to see if I could improve it.

I’ve included the unadjusted scan. A screen shot of the adjustment window. And, my final adjusted image.

My unadjusted scan.
Leveled, cropped, color and contrast corrected scan.

Screen shot of the Adobe Lightroom work window showing the degree of change during an early edit of my ‘Bad Slide’. I ended up taking out even more magenta.

I ended up wondering how I might photograph this scene today, using my most modern cameras. Also I wonder, is my ‘bad slide’ really all that bad? It may mean little to random viewers, but it conjured up in my memory the Palmer Yard of my youth. There’s a pair of idling Central Vermont Alco RS-11s, and in the distance the train they had recently delivered. Just about everything in the photo reminds me of how exciting I found railroading when I was 13.

Would a ‘better’ photo convey the same feeling for me?

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Chocorua Dam on Ektachrome

In the villiage of Chocorua in Tamworth, New Hampshire is an historic mill dam.

I made this atmospheric view of the Chocorua Dam last October on Kodak Ektachrome 100. Using a comparatively slow shutter speed shows movement in the water.

A couple of weeks ago I scanned the color slide with my Epson V600 scanner. Final presentation for viewing here required nominal adjustment in Adobe Lightroom.

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Meadville viewed with a Canon.

Over the years I’ve used a great variety of Camera-film combinations.

In 2009, I largely worked with a pair of Canon EOS-3s loaded with Fujichrome.

On an October trip to photograph along the old Erie Railroad, I had one of my EOS-3s fitted with a Canon 100-400mm. The morning of the 6th, I caught Western New York & Pennsylvania’s HNME (Hornell, New York to Meadville, PA) arriving a Meadville.

A dozen years earlier I’d photographed the same Montreal Locomotive Works diesel working the Cartier Railway in Quebec using Nikon cameras loaded with Kodachrome.

I wonder how I might capture this scene today with my current camera combinations?

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