Category Archives: Tips and Technique

Boston & Maine 4268 in the Sun: FujiFilm JPG versus Iridient Processed RAW

Last week, Conway Scenic Railroad temporarily evicted former Boston & Maine F7A 4268 from stall 4 at the North Conway, NH roundhouse where the locomotive has been undergoing an operational restoration by the 470 Club (that also owns sister F7A 4266 which is operational at CSRR).

Saturday morning (November 21, 2020) brilliant late-autumn presented excellent light to photograph this relic of mid-20th century dieselization. B&M 4268 was originally an EMD demonstrator and features the builder’s less-common ‘passenger pilot’, which makes it distinctive among B&M’s F-unit.

I made these photos using my FujiFilm X-T1 with recently acquired 16-55mm Fujinon lens. After exposure, I converted the camera-RAW files to DNG format using Iridient X-Transformer software, which does a more effective job of transforming these files for conversion by Adobe Lightroom, than either Lightroom itself or other image processing software.

After conversion, I imported the DNG files into Lightroom and made some minor adjustments to color temperature, contrast, and highlight/shadow detail plus saturation.

Below are examples of the in-camera FujiFilm JPG (using Velvia color profile, and a comparison DNG file converted from RAW using the Iridient software.

All photos were then scaled and exported using Lightroom. 

Scaled and watermarked but otherwise un-modified JPG file exposed with the Velvia color profile using my FujiFilm XT1.
Camera RAW file converted to a DNG file using Iridient X-Transformer and then imported into Lightroom for adjustment to color temp, contrast, and exposure)
Scaled and watermarked but otherwise un-modified JPG file exposed with the Velvia color profile using my FujiFilm XT1.

Camera RAW file converted to a DNG file using Iridient X-Transformer and then imported into Lightroom for adjustment to color temp, contrast, and exposure)

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday!

Shinkansen on Frame 39.

Working with slide film had its perils. Normally, I used 36 exposure roles.

However, I’d carefully load my manual cameras and try to squeeze as many photos out of each rolls as possible.

This was risky, because often the last frame would get ruined in processing. So, I typically save that final frame for something less important, but still interesting.

On April 23, 1997, my father and I waited on a Shinkansen platform at Nishi Akashi west of Osaka. I made a few photos of this passing Series 300 Series highspeed train as it blasted by at approximately 186mph.

Working with my old Nikon F3T, I exposed this final frame on a roll of Fuji Provia 100 as the train passed me at speed. In processing, Fuji cut the last little bit of the slide (to the left of the train). 

For years this slide sat in a box, unworthy of slide shows. I scanned it yesterday. Below are two versions. One is full frame, the other is cropped.

Full-rame JPG scan of frame 39 showing the effect of the cut. Nishi Akashi, Japan.
Cropped scan of the same slide.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Rabbit at Dusk

DB (Germany Railways) class 218 diesel hydraulic locomotives are known as ‘Rabbits’ because of the rabbit ear appearance of their exhaust stacks.

Once a very common type, the Rabbits have been on decline for more than a decade.

On January 17, 2007, photographer Denis McCabe and I caught this Rabbit at the Bavarian town of Buchloe, where two non-electrified lines converged.

Working with my Canon EOS 3 with 24mm lens, I made this photo on Fujichrome.

A few minutes ago I scanned the slide with a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 and imported the TIF file into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment and scaling.

The TIF was made at 4000dpi and the file is about 115MB. By contrast the scaled and adjusted JPG is just under 1 MB, which makes it practical to present via the internet here.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Yellow Cars-Gold Line

Using my FujiFilm XT1, I made this photo on First Street when visiting Los Angeles in August 2016.

I was pleased to catch then-new cars working the Metro Rail Gold Line light rail line.

Below are two variations. The top is the in-camera JPG, using the ‘Velvia’ color profile. The second view I converted from Fuji RAW to DNG format with Iridient X-Transformer (a specialized 3rd party software aimed at producing superior results with Fuji RAW files) before importing into Lightroom for final adjustment.

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

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Amtrak at 150 mph!

At Mansfield, Massachusetts, Amtrak’s Acela Express trains are allowed up to 150 mph.

The other day, Kris Sabbatino and I stopped by the former New Haven Railroad Shoreline Route to witness these high-speed trains in motion.

We caught Amtrak train number 2167 (Boston -Wash D.C.) approaching maximum speed.

This gave a short blast before passing the MBTA station platforms, which provided a few seconds advance warning.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 set for ‘Turbo-flutter’—what I call the fast motor drive ‘continuous high’ setting—I exposed a burst of three digital images as the train raced by.

My shutter was set to 1/2000th of a second.

I converted the RAW files using Iridient X-Transformer image conversion software that makes these into DNG files for adjustment by Adobe Lightroom.

Below are the three closest images in sequence.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Guilford 252 in 1997

Back in July (2020), I posted a photo of Guilford Rail System 252 under the title ‘Unexpected Surprise’. See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2020/07/23/unexpected-surprise/

The significance of the locomotive is that Maine Central 252 (pictured) is now owned by Conway Scenic, where I now work as the Manager of Marketing.

Today’s TTL photograph portrays the same train, Guilford’s EDLA (East Deerfield to Lawrence, Massachusetts) a little later on the same May 1997 evening.

After photographing it near Farleys, Mike Gardner and I had continued east on Route 2.

Here on the Wendell-Erving town line, I had aimed to recreate a photo that I’d made with photographer Brandon Delaney a dozen years earlier, when I caught an eastward train from the same spot. In that earlier photo a derelict barn was standing to the left of the road.

In this view all the remained of the barn was the foundation.

I offer two variation of the same photo. The top is a straight scan without post processing adjustment to contrast, color etc. The second features my processing to improve the appearance of the image.

May 16, 1997.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

November Work Extra—Six Photos

Yesterday, November 3, 2020, Conway Scenic Railroad operated a work extra on its Conway Branch.

I followed this train by road and exposed photos along the way using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm Fujinon lens.

Working with the camera RAW files, I used a program called Iridient X-Transformer to convert the files to a DNG format before importing these into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Contrasty Kodachrome

Often I consider my Kodachrome slides among my finest photographs.

By not always.

In the mid-1990s, Kodachrome went through an unsettled phase and the film didn’t perform as well as it had in the late 1980s early 1990s. The reasons for these changes may be a discussion for another day.

On April 11, 1997, I joined photographers Mike Gardner and George Pitarys on a productive chase of New England Central’s southward freight, number 608.

At Willimantic, Connecticut, I made this photo along the river by some old thread mills (some since demolished).

April light can be challenging. Harsh contrast combined with a yellowish tint from air pollution makes for a raw ‘brassy’ quality that Kodachrome didn’t reproduce well.

Scaled scan, otherwise unadjusted for color, contrast, sharpness etc.

I scanned this slide a little while ago and then imported the TIFF file into Adobe Lightroom, which I used to soften the contrast, lighten the shadows and correct the harsh color rendition. See adjusted version below

It isn’t perfect, but then again the lighting on the day wasn’t ideal.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Tram and Goggles at Plzen

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

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

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

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

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

Tracking the Light is a Daily Rail-Photography Blog.

Belfast, Maine—1980-1997-2020

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw last month when Kris Sabbatino and I re-visited Belfast, Maine.

In 1980, my father and I paid two visits to Belfast, one of which involved a train ride to Burnham Junction and back on the Belfast & Moosehead Lake freight. On those trips I made photos of B&ML’s yard and roundhouse on black & white film using my Leica IIIA.

In August 1997, I revisited Belfast, and found the B&ML yard intact, but ghostly quiet.

I’d read that the good citizens of Belfast despised the railroad yard and its environment and that they had evicted the railroad that the city had once owned.

I was shocked of how completely this quaint delightful compact railroad yard along the Belfast waterfront had been so totally erased from the scene. It has been replaced with a sandy parking lot.

I was unprepared because I had not brought with me the photos from my earlier visits. I found it very difficult to recall exactly where I had stood. The landmarks I knew existed only in my head.

The tracks, the structures, the trains and the character of the environment that I seen in my earlier visits were now gone.

Sadly, I’ll need to return again with my earlier photos in hand and attempt a more accurate series of ‘then and now’ images.

The views below are looking north. My attempts to recreate the roundhouse scenes looking west are not good enough to reproduce here.

August 1980
August 1997
September 2020
September 2020

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Helsinki Airport Train—three digital interpretations.

Going back over my Fuji digital files from 2015, I’ve selected this image of a VR Group Stadler railcar working the then-new Helsinki Airport train at Leinelá, Finland.

Below are three interpretations of the same image exposed using my FujiFilm XT1. The first is the In-camera JPG without color correction or alteration except for scaling and watermark.

The second is the Fuji RAW file imported and adjusted strictly using Lightroom.

The third is the Fuji RAW file first converted using Iridient X-Transformer and then imported into Lightroom where I implemented the same color and contrast corrections.

One minor difference with this Iridient interpretation is that I turned off the the feature that automatically corrects for lens distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting. So this gives a slightly less invasive digital interpretation and a truer sense of the visual information as recorded by the sensor.

FujiFilm X-T1 in-camera JPG.
Fuji RAW file interpreted by Lightroom with my color and contrast adjustments.
Fuji RAW file converted to a DNG file using Iridient X-Transformer and then imported into Lightroom. Same color and contrast adjustments as the Lightroom converted RAW file above (2nd photo). However there are no digitally applied corrections for lens distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting. Iridient will correct for these lens characteristics but I opted to turn the correction feature off for this comparison.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Swiss Stadler at Champery.

The ability to improve my interpretation of Fuji RAW files using Iridient X-Transformer made me curious to re-examine some of my Fuji photos from years gone by.

I selected a photo that I made on trip to Switzerland with photographer Denis McCabe in April 2017. This image was made at the Champery terminus of a TPC branch that extends into the Alps from Aigle. 

Here I’ve presented a comparison between the Lightroom interpreted RAW (scaled and converted to JPG for internet presentation) and the same file converted into a DNG file using Iridient X-Transformer. Since it is difficult to appreciate the improved sharpness when viewed on a small scale, I’ve enlarged a portion of each image that focuses on the LED lamps and rivets on the then new Stadler railcar.

The final image was derived from the Iridient converted DNG and involved nominal adjustments to color balance, color temperature, contrast and saturation that are aimed a making a more pleasing final photograph.

Unmodified Fuji RAW file imported into Lightroom and exported as a Jpg.
Enlarged crop of the above Fuji RAW file.

This image is derived from the same Fuji RAW file but converted into a DNG file by Iridient X Transformer before being scaled as a JPG file in Lightroom. There were no changes to color, contrast or level.
Enlarged detail of the Iridient converted file. Notice the improved clarity around the lights, rivets and small writing on the side of the railcar as compared with the Lightroom interpreted RAW above.

Final processed photograph using the DNG file converted from Fuji RAW and then adjusted for color balance, color temperature, contrast, saturation and level in Lightroom before being outputted as a JPG for internet presentation.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Fujinon 16-55mm X-Mount Lens

Last month my 18-135mm Fujinon zoom for my XT1 digital camera suffered a failure.

To replace this lens, I’ve bought a secondhand 16-55mm f2.8 Fujinon X-mount zoom.

Although it has a shorter range, this is a better lens overall,

It arrived last Friday (October 23, 2020).

I’ve been testing it over the last few days, and thus far I’m very pleased with the results.

I’ve found it to be very sharp throughout the range. It has excellent color and seems largely free from aberrations. It has manual aperture control and is easy to control.

Below is a selection of images that I’ve made with it of Conway Scenic’s Valley Train.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Nature with the Nikon Z6

Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with my new Nikon Z6.

Last weekend, Kris Sabbatino and I spent the afternoon photographing along the headwaters of the Saco River in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire.

Among the useful features of this camera is the adjustable rear display and touch screen, which combine with easily adjustable focus points makes low angle close focus photography.

Below is small selection of my nature photos from last weekend.

Tracking the Light posts everyday and sometimes twice!

First Snow!

The highlight of yesterday’s 470 Club Special Autumn Express to Fabyan, New Hampshire was the dusting of snow on late season foliage at Crawford Notch.

I arranged for a photo stop at the site of the Mount Willard Section House where we performed a photo ‘run by’ over the famous Willey Creek Bridge.

I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

RAW files were converted to DNG format with Iridient X-Transformer and then processed using Adobe Lightroom to adjust color temperature, saturation and contrast,

Tracking the Light Post Daily!

Wednesday Work Extra

Last Wednesday, October 14, 2020, Conway Scenic operated a work extra to Conway to assist with preparations for the annual Pumpkin Patch event being held for the next three weekends.

The train was organized with relatively little advanced notice, and the only available locomotive was former Boston & Maine F7A 4266, owned by the 470 Club. Our other locomotives were out on passenger assignments or out of service awaiting repairs or maintenance.

Since the cab of the locomotive was facing railroad timetable west, the decision was made to use a caboose as a shoving platform and the train reversed from North Conway down the former B&M branch to Conway.

I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. Fuji RAW files were converted to DNG files using Iridient X Transformer and then imported into Adobe Lightroom for final adjustment.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Foliage at Mp79 and Iridient Comparison.

Yesterday, October 15, 2020, I made a late season foliage photo of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer descending from Crawfords at milepost 79 near the Arethusa Falls grade crossing.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 90mm prime telephoto, I set the ISO to 1000. I needed relatively high sensitivity because I was working in the shadows of the trees and mountain side and wanted a sufficiently fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the train, while using a smaller aperture to minimize headlight bleed.

Then I imported the Fuji RAW files directly into Adobe Lightroom for processing, while making a comparison set of files by importing them first into Iridient X-Transformer which converts the files to a DNG format and then imported these into Lightroom.

As previously described on Tracking the Light, the Iridient software does a superior job of interpreting the Fuji RAW files.

See comparisons below.

Fuji RAW file processed by Adobe Lightroom and adjusted for color balance and saturation in post processing.
Fuji RAW file processed by Iridient X-Transformer and adjusted for color balance and saturation in post processing.
Close up of the Fuji RAW processed by Adobe Lightroom.
Close up of the Fuji RAW processed by Iridient X-Transformer. Notice the superior clarity of hard edges and better definition at the edge of the headlights.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

New York Subway—November 1998.

On a visit to New York City in 1998, my father and I made a trip on the Flushing Line of the New York Subway.

I exposed these photos using Fuji Sensia II (100 speed slide film) with my Nikon N90S.

Last week I digitized the slides using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 scanner powered by VueScan software.

To make the most of the dark contrasty images I opted for multiple pass scans—a feature offered by VueScan that is similar in concept to the HDR setting used my some modern digital cameras—that blend several scans of the same image at different exposure values into one file to maximize shadow and highlight detail.

After exposure, I adjusted the scans using Adobe Lightroom and outputted these images with watermark for internet presentation.

Tracking the Light posts Every Day!

October Rainbow

Last week on my way to work at the North Conway, NH station, a magnificent rainbow graced the morning sky.

Rainbows are often fleeting, lasting only a few moments, yet this one hung in the sky for about a half an hour.

I made these photos using my new Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

After exposure I downloaded the camera and imported the camera RAW files (NEF) into Adobe Lightroom for processing.

I made nominal adjustments to color temperature, contrast and color saturation, then output the files as scaled JPGs while adding my watermark.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Storm Light at Bartlett—October 10, 2020.

I arrived at Bartlett, NH, several minutes ahead of Conway Scenic’s train 162, the eastward Mountaineer. The sky was chocolate.

Then as the train approached the crossing with Rt302 west of town, the clouds parted to bathe the scene with strong rays of afternoon autumn sunlight.

I made photos with both my Nikon Z6 and my FujiFilm XT1 (with 27mm pancake lens).

This image was exposed with the Fuji.

I converted the Fuji RAW using Iridient software to make a DNG file, which I then imported into Adobe Lightroom for final adjustment.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Gang Mills Sunset—Fixing a Chrome.

On November 24, 1998, photographer Mike Gardner and I were wrapping our photography for the day, having spent it following the old Erie Railroad mainline in New York state. A railroad then operated as part of Conrail’s Southern Tier District.

Just after sunset, we were visiting the old bridge (since removed) over the east end of the Gang Mills Yard (near Corning, New York). A bit of evening ‘drop under’ sun had tickled the clouds pink, when a headlight appeared to the west.

Working with my Nikon N90S with 80-200mm lens, I made a sequence of photos on Kodachrome 200 of the passing Conrail piggyback train. This film offered speed, but it was difficult to work with. Not only was K200 grainy, but it had a fairly narrow expose latitude as compared with either Fuji Sensia or Kodachrome 25. 

At the time I made the slide, I’d exposed for the sky, aiming to retain the texture and color, but as a result the tracks and train were a bit under exposed. Last night, I made a multiple pass scan from a slide in the sequence. Then in post processing, I lightened the foreground, while adjusting color and contrast for a more pleasing image, yet one that hopefully looks like it was exposed on Earth, and not on Mars.

Below are two comparisons. The first is the unadjusted scan (scaled for internet), the second is my adjusted scan.

Unadjusted scan of a Kodachrome 200 slide.
Kodachrome slide scanned using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 and adjusted in Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Kodak LPP; A Tunnel Motor and a Camel.

In the summer of 1993, I attended an event in San Francisco hosted by Kodak to debut a new Ektachrome slide film. As part of the event, Kodak gave everyone a sample of LPP, a warm-tone emulsion with subtle color rendition.

I had recently bought a Nikkormat FTN from a co-worker, and promptly loaded the camera with the new film.

It was mid-August, when I climbed to the top of a hill over-looking Southern Pacific’s Cal-P route with a view of Suisun Bay/Carquinez Straits and the stored navy ships anchored there.

SP eastward freight led by a Tunnel Motor and a leased Conrail C32-8.

Curiously, this SP westward freight had a Conrail C32-8 in consist. This was one of ten built as test beds for Conrail in summer 1984 and routinely operated on the Boston & Albany route through the 1980s. They were known as ‘camels’ because of their hump-back appearance. It was odd to see such a familiar locomotive so far from home.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

New Camera with Old Lens: trying out the FTZ Adaptor.

When I bought my Nikon Z6 a few weeks ago, the camera package came with a 24-70mm zoom (designed for the Nikon mirrorless system) and an FTZ adaptor that allows a variety of older lenses to be fitted to the Nikon mirrorless digital cameras.

This adaptor was among the attractions of the Z6 system, because it will allow me to experiment with a variety of my older lenses.

Saturday evening, I fitted my Nikkor f2.5 105mm telephoto to the Z6 and traveled with my girlfriend and photography partner Kris Sabbatino to the dam and park in Chocorua at Tamworth, New Hampshire.

Long ago, I learned that it is best to test a new equipment combination in a relaxed, non-pressurized photographic environment; in other words, NOT when a train is approaching at speed. The park was a perfect place to play with my new set up.

My old lens has manual focus and manual aperture controls, which requires greater attention than the 24-70mm. The camera’s viewfinder has a colored focusing aid to assist with manual focus lenses (when optimal sharpness is reached the focused area is highlighted in red), yet picking a focus point is still pretty tricky.

Also, the lens has older coatings that were designed to produce the best color with film, and are different than the coatings optimized to work with the digital system. This results in somewhat softer color rendition.

The lens is a very sharp piece of glass, and when used wide open (f2.5) allows for photos with very shallow depth of field.

Below are a few examples.

Soon, I’ll begin testing my other older lenses and try photographing some railroad subjects.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Crawford Notch—Line-side and from the Cab.

The railroad takes on different characters when view from line-side versus that when view from from the locomotive cab.

The perspectives and impressions you get when standing on the ground are very different than the views from a locomotive cab in motion.

Part of this is the difference in elevation. Part is where you can safely stand in relation to the railroad and how lineside obstructions alter your view.

Over the last few weeks and months I’ve made various headend and walking trips on the old Maine Central Mountain Division.

Among the most interesting places is the area east of Crawford Notch, New Hampshire.

Below are two views exposed three days apart from the same location near milepost 83 looking west. One is from the ground of Conway Scenic Railroad’s train 162—the eastward Mountaineer, the other from the headend of the westward train. 

Exposed with a Nikon Z6 fitted with 24-70mm lens.
Exposed with a Nikon Z6 fitted with 24-70mm lens.

Tracking the Light posts Daily!

Conrail at Twin Ledges—27 Years Ago.

On October 3, 1993—27 Years Ago Today—I made this Kodachrome slide of a Conrail eastward freight on the former Boston & Albany.

I’d set up with a Nikkormat FTN fitted with a Nikon AF28mm lens.

I wanted to exemplify the deep rock cuttings and so made use of the afternoon shadows.

The lit marker lamps on the lead locomotive was an unusual and unanticipated detail that make this photo more interesting.

Twin Ledges is a pair of rock cuts on a double S-bend in the Berkshires timetable west of the old Middlefield Station on the Boston & Albany mainline.

Kodachrome 25 slide scanned using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 powered by VueScan software. Tif file adjusted using Adobe Lightroom and scaled for internet.

My late friend Bob Buck of Warren, Massachusetts, had first shown me this iconic location in 1982, and I’ve made countless visits back to this spot over the years.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Rhonda Lee Glints at Bartlett

Thursday evening (October 1, 2020), Adam Bartley and I photographed Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer at Bartlett, NH.

Budd-built Vista Dome Rhonda Lee (originally Burlington’s Silver Buckle) was the at the back of the train.

This momentarily caught the glint of the evening sun as it crossed Albany Avenue near the old freight house.

I made this view using my Nikon Z6 digital camera with 24-70mm zoom lens.

Budd Vista Dome ‘Rhonda Lee’ at Bartlett.

This image was recorded using the Z6’s JPG setting with Vivid color profile. I scaled the file without editing using Adobe Lightroom

Tracking the Light posts Daily!

Frankenstein with the Nikon Z6

Monday September 28, 2020, I made the hike up to Frankenstein to photograph the westward Mountaineer crossing the famous trestle in peak autumn color.

This was also one of my first tests with the new camera photographing a moving train.

Among the features of the Z6 is the ‘heads-up’ display in view finder that allows for me to observe a histogram while I’m making photographs.

After exposure, I imported the Nikon NEF (camera RAW) file into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.

The sensor in the camera captures an enormous amount of data. To make the best use of this requires a bit of interpretation.

Specifically, I used a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter in the sky to better display highlight detail. I also lightened shadow areas, while making subtle color temperature changes.

While I have made these types of adjustments with my other digital cameras, I was impressed by the level of detail and the subtlety of the colors displayed in the Nikon file.

This camera-lens combination allows for exceptional sharp images. I’ve enlarged a small portion of the file without adjustment for comparison.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Vintage EMD’s meet at the North Yard.

For the last few days, Boston & Maine F7A 4266 has been parked in Conway Scenic’s North Yard at North Conway, New Hampshire.

Last week I thought this might make for a classic juxtaposition with the returning Valley train from Bartlett led by former Maine Central GP7 573.

Both locomotives are painted in a classic EMD-designed livery, popular on B&M and Maine Central in the 1940s and 1950s. The gold and maroon nicely mimic the hues of fading New England foliage.

I made these views with my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. Hazy autumn afternoon light offers bright low contrast illumination that suits the subjects of the photos.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Taking a Chance on Sunset at Bethel, Maine.

In the 1990s, I chased the glint with Kodachrome in my cameras.

Sometimes on the remote chance of getting a one in a 10,000 shot, I’d set up on some lightly used section of track in the golden hour on the off chance that I’d be rewarded.

My chances were better than the lottery

Sometimes I got lucky.

Last Saturday, September 26, 2020, I was driving around western Maine with Kris Sabbatino. We stopped near Bethel to get bottles of water at a convenience store. Ahead of me in line was a woman who spent $81 on a six pack of beer and lottery tickets.

Personally, I feel that lottery tickets are a waste of money. Although my grandfather had phenomenal luck with cards and lottery tickets and sometimes won.

Instead of spending money on the lottery, we took a slight detour to the old Grand Trunk tracks. This is now Genesee & Wyoming’s St. Lawrence & Atlantic. Operations are infrequent and largely nocturnal. The number of daylight trains through Bethel in a year can be counted on one hand. This year I’ve been aware of only three.

Despite these remote odds, I set up in the glint light and waited for a few minutes.

I was only rewarded with this sunset view of empty tracks. Yet my odds of success were far better than the lottery and I saved money on the tickets.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 fitted with 90mm prime telephoto.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Foliage at 4th Iron.

On Friday evening, September 25, 2020, I exposed this digital photograph on the former Maine Central Mountain Division at 4th Iron using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.

There are four iron bridges between Bartlett and Sawyers along the Saco River. The easiest to photograph is 4th Iron, which not only can be seen from Highway 302—that runs parallel to the railroad—but even has its own parking area complete with a sign ‘4th Iron’.

I liked the spot because of the bright red trees on both side of the Sawyers River.

The train pictured is Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer that was returning from Fabyan to North Conway, New Hampshire.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Up Close with Pan Am 345

Last Sunday, September 27, 2020, while following Pan Am Railway’s SAPPI-3 with Kris Sabbatino, I made this close-up view of the train led by GP40 345 on the Hinckley Branch near Waterville, Maine.

I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit. For post-processing, I imported the camera RAW in to Iridient to produce a DNG file, which I then imported into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.

As previously explained on Tracking the Light, Iridient software has a superior means of interpreting the Fuji RAW files for adjustment. However, the difference is very subtle and can be best noticed on extreme enlargement.

Which leads to a photographic quandary: is there really value in making image of superior quality if only a handful of viewers can appreciate the difference?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Martin Stream—File Comparison

Today, I am posting three variations of the same image file.

This is from Sunday’s chase of Pan Am Railway’s SAPPI-3 and pictures the freight crossing Martin Stream near Hinckley, Maine.

The bucolic setting was side lit–a condition that presents a contrast challenge. I made the image using my FujiFilm XT1 with 28mm pancake lens.

Recently, and on the advice of my old pal TSH, I purchased Iridient software, which offers a different interpretation of the FujiFilm RAW files.

Below are examples of the in-camera FujiFilm JPG (using Velvia color profile), a DNG file converted from the Fuji RAW by Adobe Lightroom, and a comparison DNG file converted from RAW using the Iridient software.

All were then scaled and exported using Lightroom. I made identical color and contrast corrections to the two DNG files. (My interpretation, not Fuji’s)

My intent is to compare the Iridient processing with Adobe’s. The Camera JPG is a third reference.

Since this is one of my first experiments with the Iridient software, I cannot claim to be a master of working with it.

I’ve labeled each image below.

FujiFilm in-camera JPG using Velvia color profile. This was scaled for internet presentation with no alternations to color balance, color temperature or contrast.
Fuji Camera Raw converted to DNG by Adobe Lightroom and adjusted for color balance, color temperature and contrast.
Fuji Camera Raw converted to DNG by Iridient and then imported to Adobe Lightroom for color balance, color temperature and contrast correction (same settings as above).

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Lancaster, New Hampshire.

In late July 2020, Kris Sabbatino and I were returning from a wander around far northern Vermont, when we paused at Lancaster, New Hampshire.

This was shortly before sunset. I had HP5 loaded into a Nikkormat FTN.

I made these images using ambient light, then processed the film using a custom tailored two stage development recipe:

Before primary processing, I presoaked the film in HC110 diluted 1-300 for 6 minutes; then for primary development I used Ilford ID11 1-1 at 70F for 7 minutes, followed by ‘stop’, ‘first fix’ ‘2nd fix,’ 1st rinse, Permawash, 2nd rinse and final wash.

I scanned these negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Classic Kodachrome—VIA Rail RDCs at Dorval, Quebec.

In August 1984, I was on a big solo rail adventure. Among the places I visited by train was Montreal.

My friend Brandon Delaney had recommended Dorval as a place to watch trains. Here, double-track Canadian Pacific and Canadian National mainlines ran parallel to each other and there was a continuous parade of freight and passenger trains.

On August 14th, I traveled out on commuter train from Windsor Station and spent several hours soaking up the action.

Among the trains I photographed was this eastbound VIA RDC set on the CN heading for Central Station.

I’d positioned myself where the codelines crossed from the north-side to the south-side of CN’s line. This was my clever compositional trick that makes for a more interesting photograph by focusing the eye toward a secondary horizon.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

September 6th: Mountaineer on the Fill—Two variations.

After Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer arrived at North Conway, New Hampshire on Sunday September 6, 2020, I picked a new spot in the golf course adjacent to the big fill (on approach to Conway Scenic’s yard) to catch the train as it was being stowed for the evening.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I exposed this view in RAW and then processed the file in Adobe Lightroom.

I made two variations of the processed image.

The top has lower contrast; the bottom features higher contrast and increased saturation (see the screen shot of the Lightroom work window below)

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Searchlights and a Tunnel Motor at Cabazon

Here’s a classic from my Kodachrome file: Southern Pacific SD40T-2 8378 West ascending Beaumont Hill on the Sunset Route at Cabazon, California on January 30, 1994.

I had Kodachrome 25 loaded in my Nikon F3T, which was fitted with an f5.6 Tokina 400mm lens.

My focus point was not on the front of the locomotive, but rather on the searchlight signal to the right of the train. Since the signal was the emphasis of the photo, you may wonder why I didn’t move a little closer to make it appear larger. The reason is simple: I wanted to include the ‘Cabazon’ sign on the signal relay cabinet, which identifies the location and was key to the interlocking.

Just in case you are curious, the second locomotive in the train consist is a Conrail SD40-2.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!