Category Archives: Tips and Technique

Sunday’s Surprise.

I needed a topic for today’s Tracking the Light, so I reached in to a sorting file of un-scanned slides and found this photo: Surprise!

On October 13, 2004, photographer Mike Gardner and I chased New England Central Railroad’s 608 south from Palmer, through my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts.

This is a chase I’ve done countless times over the last 40 years, but just because you’ve done something before, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to find a new angle on it.

At Robbins Road in Monson, I made this dramatic trailing view of the train’s locomotives. Here we have a selection of NECR GP38s roaring away in ‘Run-8’—maximum throttle on the tooth of the grade.

The train was moving 10-12 mph, producing a rush of engine exhaust along with traction motors blowers blowing to keep the motors cool. (And prevent them from over heating) These blasts of hot air, combined with the wind from the train’s approach and passage, plus and sand from the sanders to maintain adhesion all helped stir up the ballast and fallen leaves. 

It was a good chase and I wish I was there now!

I scanned the photo using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 and VueScan software. My initial scan produced a 4000 dpi TIF file, which I then imported to Lightroom in order to scale it for presentation here.

June 2020 Trains Magazine features my 8-page article on New England Central.

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Spring at the Swift River Truss; Focus, Perspective and Composition—Four photos.

Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time studying railway imagery, observing and analyzing hundreds of thousands of individual photos.

Among the most striking are the works of Japanese photographers.

Some of their most successful photos cleverly use focus and depth of field to place the railway in its environment. In some situations this is accomplished with a single image; in others with a sequence of photos.

Last week, I emulatted the style embraced by my Japanese counterparts to produce this sequence of images at the Swift River Bridge on Conway Scenic Railroad’s Conway Branch.

Here I’m working with three primary subjects; the truss bridge, Budd rail diesel car Millie and a flowering tree. All were exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

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Rochester & Southern—Example of a Multiple Pass Scan.

This morning working with a Nikon Super Coolscan5000, I scanned this vintage Kodachrome 25 color slide.

This is a scaled version of the original scan without post processing color or contrast adjustment.

I used Hamrick’s VueScan software which allows me considerable control over the scanning process.

This has the ability to make a multiple pass scan that can obtain greater detail from highlight and shadow areas by scanning the same image several times and combining the scans.

It has a color setting specifically tailored to Kodachrome film and allows white balance fine-tuning.

VueScan work window for controlling color and exposure during scanning. Notice that I’ve used the Kodachrome profile.

VueScan Input control window where I have selected ‘Fine mode’, 3 samples, and multiple exposure features. I outputted the scan as Tif file at 4050dpi, then scaled in post processing for internet presentation.

This is a much enlarged section of the unadjusted raw scan (scaled for internet).

In post-processing, I used Lightroom to make fine adjustments to improve color balance and contrast before scaling for internet presentation.

I made the original photograph on April 19, 1989, showing a northward Rochester & Southern freight with former New York Central GP40s crossing a road at Scottsville, New York.

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Southern Pacific at Troy, California—July 1991.

I’d left San Francisco in the wee hours of the morning and drove to the Sierra.

In the early hours of July 14, 1991, an SP eastward freight ascending Donner Pass had stalled near Alta. This resulted in a pair of following eastward freights being held; one at Colfax and one near Alta.

This was the second of two following freights, which developed its own difficulties at Gold Run when the train went into ‘emergency’.

I made the most of SP’s difficult time, by photographing the procession of trains at various points on The Hill (as Donner was known).

As the summer sun approached midday, I drove to Troy, where I’d previously scoped out this high vantage point with a commanding vista.

My project for the day was to find ways of suitably using the harsh high light in the Sierra, conditions that had been vexing me.

This was among my more successful images. Working with my old Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron, I exposed Ilford FP4 that I later processed using Edwal FG7 developer. At the back was a two unit helper. The sounds of EMD 645 diesels toiling in ‘Run-8’ (full throttle) was impressive and not soon forgotten.

Many of my other images from the day were exposed on Kodachrome 25, some using a circular polarizing filter as a means to mitigate the effects of Sierra high light. I’ll save those for another day.

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Washington Metro and Tower K.

It was a gray December 1997 day when I exposed this telephoto view of a Washington DC Metro train and Union Station’s Tower K using my Nikon N90s with f2.8 80-200 Nikon zoom lens.

Really it was the rows of colored position light signals displaying ‘stop’ that caught my attention.

Although the f2.8 8-200 lens offered convenience, and was both fast and sharp, it had its failings. When used wide open it tended to vignette slightly (darker exposure in the corners), but more serious was that it made me visually lazy. Instead of seeking the best vantage point and an optimal composition, I could get a pretty good angle by merely adjusting the focal length of the zoom.

My film was Fujichrome Provia 100F.

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The Curse of Wires!

Sometimes electrical wires are placed in inconvenient positions.

In this photograph from a highway overpass near Port Cartier, Quebec, road-side electrical cables resulted in an unfortunate visual obstruction to what would otherwise be an ideal vantage point looking toward the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.

I made this image on my photography adventure to the Cartier Railway with George Pitarys and Bill Linley in July 1997.

A loaded iron ore train was headed from the mines toward the port for trans-loading on to ships. Low evening light accentuated the hues of the water in the distance. The distant searchlights and ship on the water provide added interest.

Although imperfect, I exposed the slide anyway.

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Conway Scenic 7470 Gone Retro—August 2019.

Last night, I was inspecting scans of some black & white negatives from last summer that are stored on my hard drive.

These are some photos from a Sunday morning in early August at North Conway, New Hampshire of locomotive 7470.

All of these are from a roll of Fuji Acros 100, exposed with a Nikon F3 with 50mm lens and processed with split-bath/multi-stage development using a weak bath of HC110 followed by Rodinal for primary development.

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Revisiting my 1992 Whitefield Photo.

My April 3rd, 2020 post featured a Kodachrome slide that I’d exposed at Whitefield, New Hampshire back in October 1992.

At the time I made that image, Whitefield was on the periphery of my photographic territory. I was visiting New England from California where I’d been living for more than three years. I arrived at Whitefield to inspect the famous ball signal, and I was fortunate to catch the New Hampshire & Vermont working with an Alco RS-11.

I never thought that I might be based in New Hampshire in 28 years time and that Whitefield would be in easy reach.

Looking back, I find it fascinating to locate these old chromes and revisit the locations today. It’s a pity that there is much less activity on some lines now. So while the tracks remain at Whitefield, there is virtually no traffic and train movements are exceptionally rare.

Last week photographer Kris Sabbatino and I paused at Whitefield so that I could make a ‘now’ view at the same spot as my 1992 photo. Using my iPhone to access Tracking the Light, I brought up my April 3rd posting and used that to help re-establish my earlier vantage point. The tracks remain in place, although it doesn’t appear that anything has used them in recent times and the crossing protection has been removed.

However, except for the ill-fated Alco RS-11, most of the remaining elements of the scene are still in place.  

My friend Dan Howard researched the RS-11 and reported, ‘it went to the Lake State Railway where it became their 1195 and was subsequently scrapped.’


I used my Lumix LX7 to approximate the angle of the 1992 slide, which was exposed with my old Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron.

I’ll need to try this again, since the lighting was flat in my contemporary view, and my positioning was only about 98 percent correct.

Complicating this comparison is that my notes from the day are in Monson, Mass., which has me guessing on some details.

There I am at the historic spot. Thanks to Kris Sabbatino for the guest Tracking the Light image.

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My SD Card Disintegrated!

My Lumix LX7 gets a lot of use. I carry it with me everywhere. Last week while filming training videos at Conway Scenic, I’d been using it to make still photos. However, on Wednesday when I went to download the card to my Macbook, the unexpected occurred.

I removed the card from the Lumix and went to insert it into my card reader. When I did this the plastic split and crumbled and the card broke into several pieces!

This was a first for me!

I tried to reassemble the card and get it back into the card reader, but this didn’t work well enough to allow my computer to read the data stored on the card.

I’ve had pretty good luck with SanDisk SD cards, and this was the first time one broke into pieces.

Then I thought I’d try something a bit riskier. I closely examined the remaining pieces of the card (several bits and crumbs had fallen away, including a number of the dividers on the contact portion of the card), and I returned the card to the Lumix. My concern was that I might not be able to get the pieces out again.

Here’s my attempt at putting the car back together.

I have a cord that allows me to connect the Lumix directly to the MAC. Locating the cord was part of the challenge, and I was hoping this wasn’t among accessories I may have left in Dublin. However after a thorough search, I located the elusive cord and plugged the Lumix in.

To my delight, I was able to check the card on the camera and ultimately successfully download all of the images stored on the defective card.

Conway Scenic GP7 573 on the bright morning before the SD card disintegrated.

The lessons from this disaster:

1) SD Cards are fragile.

2) You can retrieve the data from a broken card even when the plastic disintegrates.

3) It helps to have more than one means of retrieving data from your SD card.

4) Using a cord to directly download the card to the computer puts less stress on this ephemeral media storage system.

5) Always back up your SD Cards and download them often.

6) Always carry spare SD cards.

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Genesee & Wyoming Alco RS-1.

Working with a Calumet 4x5in camera, I exposed this single frame of black & white film (probably Kodak Tri-X) at the Genesee & Wyoming shops in Retsof, New York on February 10, 1988.

The old RS-1 was stored out of service at the time in its bicentennial paint.

I tray processed the film in a diluted solution of Kodak D76.

Several years ago I scanned this image and dozens of other 4×5 black & white photos using an Epson V750 scanner.

This image, while scaled, represents the unadjusted 4×5 scan.

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SPV2000 at Windsor Locks May 1985.

I made this photograph at Windsor Locks, Connecticut showing a southward Amtrak SPV2000 making its station stop.

The Budd SPV2000s only worked this Amtrak ‘branch’ for about six years and during that time they were rarely photographed.

Lets just say, I’ve seen more of my own photographs of these cars on the Springfield-New Haven run than all other published views of the cars. (And I only have a few photos).

It’s too bad. I thought the cars looked pretty cool. And they were fun to ride on. Plus, you never knew when one might show up hauled by an Alco RS-3 or some other locomotive!

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Wrestling with a Tripod in the Rain.

New York’s Canisteo Valley was among my favorite places to photograph in the late 1980s. The lure of the Erie Railroad and the old Union Switch & Signal Style S signals had captivated my interest.

On the morning of July 19, 1988, my old pal TSH and I were on one of our annual summer rail-photo adventures. We had started before dawn, and picked up a westward Conrail OIBU rolling though the Canisteo toward Hornell, New York.

Trains moved right along on the former Erie Railroad mainline and racing ahead of it in a Dodge Dart, I parked and leaped out of the car at a preselected location at milepost 320 (measured from Jersey City) and began to set up my photograph.

I was working with equipment I borrowed from my father. The Leica M2 loaded with PKM (Kodachrome 25 professional) was mine, but the 200mm Telyt mounted with a bellows on a Leica Visoflex viewfinder and positioned on a antique Linhof tripod were his.

In our hasty chase, I’d cut my set up time too fine. It was lashing rain and I was struggling to set up and level the tripod, while trying to focus the camera using the Rube Goldburg Visoflex arrangement. My exposure was about f4 1/8 of a second.

Conrail’s BUOI came into view before I had time to refine my composition: this imperfect photo was the result. I recall the frustration of fighting with the equipment as the roar of the train intensified and the rain obscured my vision.

Let’s just say, that at the time I wasn’t impressed with my image. I’d cropped too much of the foreground and the whole image is off level. So for 30 years, it sat in the Kodak yellow cardboard slide box that it had been returned to me from lab in.

Last year, I scanned it. Ironically, this damp-day silhouette closely captures the spirit of Conrail’s Canisteo Valley that had captivated my photographic interest. The reflection of the headlight on the glossy codelines is the finesse that I didn’t manage to capture in most of brighter-day photography.

I’m glad I didn’t throw the slide away.

This morning I cropped and leveled the image in an effort to correct for my failings in 1988. I’m not sure I improved it any.

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Geneva Street Car House—SF MUNI.

I liked the old Boeing-Vertol LRVs. (Light Rail Vehicles).

The shape of the cars lent well to photography.

The San Francisco cars reminded me a the old orange creamsicle frozen treats.

Back in December 1990, I made this view of a Boeing car leaving the Geneva Street car house for a run on the M-Ocean line. I was working with my old Nikkor f4.0 200mm lens on my F3T loaded with Kodachrome 25.

I made great use of that lens, but sold it in 1996 when I bought my 80-200mm zoom. In retrospect, I made better photos with the fixed 200mm.

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Tokyo April 1997

My preferred camera-lens combination in 1997 was a Nikon N90s with Nikkor 80-200 zoom lens.

This versatile set up gave me great flexibility. At the time I was still exposing both Fujichrome and Kodachrome slide film, but was leaning more and more toward Fujichrome.

Ironically, in retrospect I found that camera flexibility doesn’t necessarily produce the best photos. I think this is because the zoom lens allowed me to quickly adjust the focal length and perspective, I didn’t spend the time to properly scrutinize the scene for the best possible image. This not a fault with the equipment, but in how I was using it.

This photo of JR trains crossing an overpass in Tokyo reminds me when I felt the N90S, 80-200mm lens and Fujichrome Provia gave me limitless photographic potential. Maybe it still does?

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Chrome at Bad Schandau

It was on a misty May 2009 morning that I exposed this Fujichrome slide of a tram in the village of Bad Schandau in Germany’s Elbe River Valley.

This was just a few months before I purchased my first digital camera and when I still exposing lots of color slide film.

Yesterday I scanned this slide using an Epson V750 scanner and then processed the file using Lightroom.

Below are two Lightroom Jpgs. The top is uncorrected, the bottom reflects digital tidying up for internet presentation.

Specifically, I adjusted the gamma for better contrast by putting the darkest regions at the toe of the curve (far left) and moving the highlights to the top of the curve (far right) while increasing contrast in the middle range. I reduced the amount of magenta and increased the yellow for better color balance, and applied a small degree of digital sharpening for edge effect. (This doesn’t actually make the photo sharper, but it looks sharper on screen). Lastly, I made a nominal correction for level by slightly rotating the image (which crops it).

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Snow Train Arriving.

Conway Scenic Railroad 1751 leads the evening Snow Train over the Post Office crossing at North Conway last week.

Conway Scenic is operating Snow Trains between the North Conway Station and Attitash through February 29th.

Exposed in February 2020 using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.

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Frosty Dawn

Last week the lights were lit on Gertrude Emma—Conway Scenic Railroad’s 1898-built Pullman open-end observation car—when I made this early morning view at the North Conway station.

Exposed using a Lumix LX7 mounted on a Bogen tripod.

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Toronto Transit Commission—Two Photos from Ten Years Ago.

In February 2010, I visited Toronto, Ontario with photographers Pat Yough and Chris Guss.

It was extra cold, but we made some stunning photos in the clear frosty light.

These view of TTC CLRVs (Canadian Light Rail Vehicles) were exposed using a Canon EOS-3 and Fujichrome slide film.

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Snow Train Day and Night

On Tuesday February 18, 2020 it snowed most of the day at North Conway, New Hampshire.

Through out the day the Conway Scenic Railroad was operating its new Snow Trains between its famous North Conway station and Attitash in Bartett.

I made these views of the Snow Train set led by former Maine Central GP7 573 paused between runs at the North Conway B&M station.

Both were exposed using a Lumix LX7.

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Snow Trains—The First Day.

Some times plans don’t materialize as expected.

The day dawned with an arctic claw. This made for an azure sky, but was a tad difficult on the fingers.

I thought I’d be showing photos of RDC Millie in the New Hampshire snow.

Instead, I have some photos of former Maine Central GP7 573 pulling a four car consist as Conway Scenic’s Snow Train.

That turned out to be a good thing for the railroad and resulted in some unusual winter photos. The larger train accommodated the swell of passengers that arrived to travel.

For these photos I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

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Cupid’s Express under the Stars.

Last night (February 14th) I traveled on the head-end of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Cupid Express dinner train that ran over the old Maine Central Mountain Division toward Bartlett.

When the train paused for the engineer to change ends (we had a locomotive positioned at each end of the train to avoid the need to run around), I exposed a few photos.

It was clear, very cold and the stars were bright. You can see my footprints in the foreground snow.

The train was a success and was completely sold out.

Exposed with a Lumix LX7 at f1.4 for 13 seconds, ISO 100. Camera mounted on a Bogen tripod. I made some minor adjustments to exposure and color saturation in post processing.

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O’Connell Street in the Rain.

Dublin November 4, 2019:.I was heading to Drumcondra to meet the lads for an evening of railroad photography.

At O’Connell Street, I needed to change from one bus to another.

It was dusk.

The swollen winter sky opened and a cold rain cascaded down like a tsunami.

Working with a Nikon F3 fitted with a 50mm lens and loaded with Rollei Retro 80S, I made a single exposure.

This is it.

There’s something about the split composition, the depth afforded by the exceptional glossy wet evening, the shadowy figures with umbrellas, and the looming bus that works for me like few photos emanating from my camera in a long time. 

Since mid-November, I’ve had this as the opening photo on my Facebook page.

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Boeings on Duboce.

In 1990, this was just around the corner.

One October evening I set up on Duboce Avenue in San Francisco with my then new F3T and 35mm PC lens (perspective control lens, which allows for movement of the front element) and made this view using Kodachrome 25 color slide film.

Difficult to believe that was nearly 30 years ago!

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Memory Full!

When I’m working with film I keep a sharp eye on how many photos I expose, and work judiciously as I approach the 36th frame.

But with digital, too often the potentially vast numbers of photos that I can save to a card leads to my complacency. So, despite having had hundreds of exposures at my disposal, at an inopportune moment after releasing the shutter the dreaded ‘Memory Full!’ message appears at the back of the camera along with a snide sounding ‘beeep!’

I had this misfortune a couple of weeks back when in pursuit of the southward Vermont Rail System freight near Wells River, Vermont.

Luckily, I’d just captured the train in motion.

However, since I’d planned out a series of locations, and I needed to proceed post haste to my next spot. I didn’t have the time to root around and locate another SD Card for my FujiFilm XT1 (poor planning on my part), so I went immediately to ‘Plan B’. (the back up plan).

That involved working with my Lumix LX7 and a Nikon F3 (loaded with black & white film) cameras, both of which are excellent tools.

The film remains in the camera, so I’ve opted to present the Lumix Photos here.

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Barnet Road-Barnet, Vermont.

I’ve looked at this location several times over the years. Here, Barnet Road crosses the Connecticut River and the railroad south of the old station-location at Barnet, Vermont.

Either the light didn’t suit photography, or there was no train around.

On January 28th, 2020, I had ample time to set up since the southward Vermont Rail System freight I was following had stopped to switch at Barnet. 

I scoped a couple of different angles from the road bridge, and at the last minute settled on this view.

I exposed this sequence of photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

This view was panned slightly, which allows for a greater sense of motion while retaining sharpness on the leading locomotive.
Trailing view from the same bridge as the photos above.

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Monochrome: Steam in the Snow on Czech Film

During last month’s Steam in the Snow event at the Conway Scenic Railroad sponsored by the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts, I made a lot of digital photos and some video footage in my capacity as the railroad’s Manager, Marketing and Events.

But that wasn’t all.

Working with my Nikon F3 and a 50mm lens, I also exposed some Fomapan 100 Classic black & white film.

I first sampled this film on a trip to the Czech Republic in October 2016. I like the tonality and classic black & white appearance of this emulsion when processed in Ilford ID11 1-1. To boost shadow detail, I let the film pre-soak in a very weak bath of HC110 and Kodak Photoflo before primary processing.

Here’s a sample of my images.

Coming up soon, Conway Scenic will be running more trains in the snow. The railroad plans to run seven round trips a day from February 15th to 29th using Budd RDC number 23 Millie. The first trip departs North Conway at 730am and trains will run every 90 minutes to Attitash.

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Slovakian Beer Tram at Dusk.

Occasionally I aim for theme convergence.

I’ve been running a series featuring 100 transit cities and a few days back I features a tram in Berlin advertising beer. Yesterday, I discussed photography at dusk. So today, I’m featuring a beer advertizing tram at dusk in the eastern Slovakian city of Kosice.

A purist might call me out on the fact that this tram is preserved and inactive in the photo, therefore might not qualify as a legitimate transit image. I do, however, have slides of Tatra trams working Kosice streets. I’ll need to locate and scan them.

This photo was exposed on Fujichrome with conventional daylight balance. I made no color correction or alterations in scanning or post processing.

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Dusk at East Northfield.

It is unlikely you will find ‘East Northfield’ on most maps of Massachusetts, since this is a railroad location that doesn’t reflect local geography.

Not withstanding these directional peculiarities, East Northfield (as so-identified by New England Central’s sign) is a classic railroad location and a favorite place to photograph trains. Located on the Massachusetts-Vermont state line, this is where New England Central meets Pan Am’s Boston & Maine Connecticut River line from Greenfield.

On Friday, January 24, 2020, my friends, fellow photographers, Tim and Pat and I converged at the junction to make photographs of New England Central’s northward 611.

Here the train was held for a few minutes while Amtrak’s northward Vermonter made its Brattleboro station stop. Operational considerations typically find freights holding south of East Northfield until Amtrak is north of ‘West River’ (a railroad location situated north of Amtrak’s Brattleboro station).

The light was fading fast. So working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm prime telephoto, I exposed a series of images to make the most of the tinted low lighting.

The first view was made with an auto-white balance setting. The second two using a daylight preset that results in the camera capturing more of the blue-spectrum of dusk.

Auto white balance; no post processing color correction.
Daylight white balance without post processing corrections.

This exposure was made a few minutes later and reflects the approach of evening after the amount of light had diminished. It was also made using the ‘Daylight’ white balance preset.

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Sacramento Light Rail; Two Chromes.

I’ve made numerous photos of Sacramento California’s Regional Transit District light rail system, all of them on film.

Here are two scans from color slides that were exposed nearly 19 years apart.

In November 1989,I exposed this pan of a light rail car near the California State Capitol building.
This elevated view of a light rail train at Florin Road, south of downtown Sacramento was made on Fujichrome using a Canon EOS3 with a 24mm lens.

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New England Central on the Roll!

After departing Greenfield, where I’d had the fortuity to catch a westward Pan Am empty grain train (Thursday’s posting on Tracking the Light), I drove to Millers Falls, Mass. My friends Tim and Pat were photographing the northward New England Central 611 turn on its run from Palmer back toward Brattleboro, Vermont.

I phoned Pat when I arrived at Millers Falls. “Where are you?”

“We’re in South Amherst, 611 is passing Amherst now.”

That was just the information I needed.

I knew it would be cutting it a bit fine (in other words; with the wind a my back, I’d barely make it) but I was going to try to run against this freight and intercept it at Leverett (north of Amherst on the old Central Vermont).

I’m no novice at following trains on this line. I recall a spirited chase of CV freight from Amherst to Millers Falls back in Spring 1986!

I had a clear shot to Leverett (I didn’t get stuck behind a school bus). I pulled in, grabbed my FujiFilm XT1, jumped out of the car and listened.

I could hear multiple 16-645E3 diesels working in run 7 or 8. They were very close.

I needed to change lenses and had just enough time to switch from a 27mm pancake lens to my fixed focal length ‘prime’ 90mm telephoto.

As I set my exposure, the freight roared around the bend! I exposed a burst of images and then laid chase back north again. At one point, I gazed in my rear-view and saw that my friends were behind me. Classic train chase!

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Luck, Wisdom Way, and an Empty Grain Train!

Last week, I exited I-91 at Greenfield, Massachusetts with a vision of nipping over to Pan Am’s East Deerfield Yard—an old haunt that I hadn’t visited in a while.

As luck would have it, I never made it to the yard. Driving east I spotted former CSX GE DASH8-40Cs working west. It was an empty grain train! A prize indeed.

With no time to spare, and working from memory, I navigated post haste to Wisdom Way—a choice overpass on the former Fitchburg Main Line where I’ve made countless photos over the years.

I arrived in just enough time to set my exposure and capture this elusive freight as it passed in and out of dappled sun.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Not bad for a spontaneous catch. Soon I was on my way in another direction aiming to intercept New England Central 611 on its northward run.

Stay tuned for the results of that adventure!

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Boston & Maine Station at Ely, Vermont with Cotton Candy Sky.

On Friday January 24, 2020, I made a series of photos of the former Boston & Maine station at Ely, Vermont.

These views were made looking south toward White River Junction and show the station in partial silhouette against a wintery cotton-candy sky.

I exposed them in RAW using my Lumix LX7 and processed the files using light room to make the most of the dramatic sky.

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Amtrak Vermonter on THe Move!

Earlier this month I exposed this view of Amtrak train 57 on the move crossing a fill on the Connecticut River Backwater just south of Brattleboro, Vermont.

There was soft directional lighting with a textured sky. To better balance the exposure I worked with an external graduated neutral density filter positioned over the front element of the lens with the darkest portion of the filter ever the sky.

I’m not entirely satisfied with the results, but the filter helped.

Luckily, I also exposed a black & white photo that I hope to process with my next batch of film!

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Mexico City Streetcars—My Fleeting Glimpse.

December 30, 1979.

Forty years ago I had a fleeting glimpse of Mexico City’s streetcar system.

By the time of my December 1979 visit, all of the traditional streetcar lines in the downtown area were out of service. However, PCC cars remained in service on a pair of peripheral lines on the south-side of the city that connected at the end of a Metro Line.

I regret not having the opportunity to travel on the trolleys, but at least I got to see and photograph them.

This is one of my only color photos of Mexico City streetcars. I’d mounted the slide in glass, which didn’t do the emulsion any favors and resulted in unsightly moiré patterns (rainbow-like interferences). First I scanned the slide through the glass as seen here, then I very carefully removed the film from the glass and rescanned it. See below.
This is the same Kodachrome slide after removal from the glass mount. I cleaned the emulsion and rescanned the image. This scan is cleaner, sharper and largely free from the distracting artifacts caused by the glass, yet a few defects and stains remain. I’d go back and make the photo again, but I think the setting has likely changed in the last 40 years!

For me this sunset view of Mexico City street trackage is a symbolic photograph, and yet one that has haunted my imagination for decades. Technically speaking it is a poor photo; under exposed and the last frame on a roll of Kodachrome with the right side effectively cropped by the tape used during processing. I’ve cleaned up the slide a little for better presentation here.

Sometimes those scenes we only glimpse stick in our imagination more than those that we were immersed in. Do you remember that 1960s song recorded by Vashti Bunyan ‘Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind’?

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