Another tip: So when selecting the appropriate Big Bus Dublin, it is helpful to find a relatively empty tour. Not only will the give you the best seat in on the bus (up top, at the back), but also great freedom to move around to capture the best angles.
The first bus of the day tends to be crowded, while I found those mid afternoon to have ample space.
Here’s an interesting way to make elevated views of Dublin’s trams: ride at the back of an open-top tour bus.
Kris and I bought 48-hour tickets for the Big Bus Dublin, which provides a half-hourly hop-on hop-off service.
This was primarily a way for us to play tourists in Dubln, but I quickly found that it offered an excellent means to photograph the LUAS.
We traveled on three different types of buses. The variety that was most effective allowed me to shoot over the railing at the very back of the bus. Some of the more modern coaches didn’t have this feature, so you should choose your bus carefully.
I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera with a 24-70mm zoom.
Yesterday evening (September 22, 2022), I made a few photos of Dublin’s LUAS trams using my Nikon Z6.
It had been raining much of the day but about 6pm the sun came out, making for some interesting but high contrast scenes.
Back in the old days I’d have worked with black & white film to make the most of this type of lighting, and controlled the contrast chemically. Now, I’m applying contrast controls digitally to my Nikon’s NEF (RAW) files using Adobe Lightroom.
Yesterday (September 13, 2022) I returned to Goves, where the old Maine Central Mountain Division ducks under Route 302 east of Bartlett, NH, to again photograph Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer on its westward run to Crawford Notch.
The other day in my Tracking the Light Post, ‘Poles and Wires Conundrum,’ I described my compositional frustrations with this location.
Working with my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens, I selected a slightly lower position that was a bit closer to the tracks.
On this attempt, the Mountaineer had two units and seven cars, which made for a more photogenic train. Also, it was brightly overcast, which helped to minimize the poles and wires, and I opted for a tight crop.
April 22, 1997: I ascended a footbridge over a busy Tokyo thoroughfare to make photos of the rarely captured Tokyo trolley.
Where most of the railway lines in Japan are meter-gauge, the Tokyo Trolley is unusual because it was an early use of 4 ft 8.5 inch gauge train in Japan. The other big users of ‘standard gauge’ in Japan are the Shinkansen routes.
In yesterday’s post, I described the compositional challenges of poles and wires near Bartlett, NH. Compare those images with the sea of poles and wires in this view!
Exposed on Fujichrome Velvia50 using a Nikon N90S with an AF f2.8 80-200mm Nikkor zoom lens.
Working with my Lumix LX7 last month, I made a variety of photos of St. Lawrence & Atlantic 394 coming down from the border crossing at Norton, Vermont.
When I first attempted to download the SD card from the Lumix, I noticed a serious problem with several of my files.
Portions of the files suffered from corrupted data, with large portions of the image area scrambled.
However, when I viewed the photos in camera, there was no sign of this problem.
Normally, I take the SD card out of the Lumix and used a card reader to couple the card to my MacBook Pro. Then I download the files using a program called ‘Image Capture version 8.0’. Once downloaded, I then upload select images into Lightroom. This saves the files which creates a secondary backup, while allowing me to organize the photos and make scaled and corrected copies.
After a bit of fussing, I decided that what I had suffered wasn’t a write error to the card (which is a very serious problem), but rather a card read error. In otherwords all the information was safely stored my SD card and it was getting corrupted during the downloading process.
What, I ended up doing was using Lightroom to download the card directly. Then I used Lightroom to output my originals in DNG format which I stored in a folder along with the rest of my August Lumix files.
Below, I show the corrupted files as I original saw them (scaled for internet), then the unadjusted DNG files (scaled); and finally my adjusted DNG files.
The lesson: don’t panic if you suffer from corrupted files. Your data may still be recoverable. [Just don’t erase or format the card.]
Friday, September 2, 2022, former Maine Central GP38 252 led the Valley train on its return run from Conway.
I made this view from the roof of the North Conway Station using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens.
I set the camera Color Profile to ‘VI’ (Vivid), the white balance was at ‘Auto,’ and the exposure to ‘A’ (aperture priority). I selected f6.3, the camera metering selected 1/500th of a second. I had the lens full extended at 200mm. I was working with the NEF (RAW) file setting.
Adobe Lightroom enables me to apply the camera’s preset color profile to the NEF file while making adjustments to the file. Below are two versions. The top image is basically out of the camera and without modifications except for scaling, the bottom reflects minot adjustments to color temperature, shadow and highlight density, and a slight adjustment to the sky.
I’m not entirely satisfied with the image, so I’ll try it again sometime. Maybe with a slightly longer lens and different lighting.
Yesterday (September 3, 2022), Kris and I stopped in at Conway, NH to observe the arrival of the morning train led by steam locomotive 7470.
This is the last weekend of regularly scheduled steam service for the summer season and I wanted to make a few photos and catch up with steam locomotive engineer Wayne Duffett.
I made these photos of the 7470 and crew at Conway using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom. By working with the variable focal length telephoto I was able to quickly compose images of the crew and their locomotive.
All images were exposed in the NEF (RAW) format, imported into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment, and exported as JPGs for internet display.
Last week , I made this view of St. Lawrence & Atlantic’s train 394 as it worked the yard at Island Pond, Vermont.
There was a bit of an evening sunshower as photographed across the glistening waters of Back Pond. The town’s larger namesake pond, complete with Island, is on the other side of the tracks beyond the trees.
On our way back from Tokyo in April 1997, my dad and I stopped over in Seattle, Washington.
Although I was in a haze of Jet lag from the long flight, we rented a car and drove around . Near the downtown, we set up to make photos of the waterfront trolley line, which at that time served Seattle. The trolley tracks were parallel to BNSF tracks. While waiting for the trolley, this BNSF switcher and caboose came by.
The switcher, according to published rosters, was a former Great Northern EMD SW1200 built in Spring 1957. So at the time of the photo, the locomotive was 40 years old. I wonder what became of it?
The slides sat in the little green Fujichrome box until this morning, when I opened it up and scanned this image.
After scanning a hi-res TIF image, I imported the file into Adobe Lightroom and made some adjustements to improve color balance, exposure and contrast.
The top image is my scaled by unadjusted scan, the bottom image reflects my adjustments.
Almost every train on Conway Scenic Railroad stops at the North Conway Station.
It is extremely unusual train that passes the station without stopping
Yesterday, while serving in the capacity as ‘Manager on Duty,’ I cleared Work Extra 252 into North Conway from Conway, and granted it permission to drop its caboose at the North Yard before continuing West.
I made this selection of photos as vintage GP38 252 worked passed the 1874 station.
Standing at the south end of the platform at White River Junction, Vermont, I envisioned a panoramic image that would show the station and the locomotives parked to either side of the station.
I wanted to convey the sense of Junction, while making use of the nice afternoon sunlight.
Working with my Lumix LX7, I used the ‘panoramic’ function in ‘scene mode’, which allowed me to make a panoramic composite. Moving the camera from right to left while holding the shutter down makes for a sequence of image that are then sewed together in-camera using a preprogramed algorithm .
Then I set the camera with a 16:9 aspect ratio and made a single frame, which I then cropped manually to give it a panoramic look.
This second method provided better compositional control and is free from the computer generated artifacts associated with composite images, but isn’t as sharp as the composite.
On October 13, 2003, I exposed this color slide of Canadian Pacific SD40-2 at Binghamton, NY using my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 16mm Zeiss Hologon.
This was a flat field super wideangle lens that corrected for barrel distortion and other lens artifacts typically associated with very wide lenses. However, it was important to kept the film plane level or other types of distortion would alter the shapes of the subjects photographed.
When I started producing Tracking the Light a decade ago, my thought was to offer very detailed essays focused on photographic technique, processes, and how to make the most of specific pieces of equipment.
My format has since morphed into something less detailed and more visual.
I often carry my Lumix LX7 digital camera because it is compact, lightweight and yet has the ability to make exceptionally sharp photos that I can use in books and magazines.
Yesterday, I made these images with the LX7 of Conway Scenic steam locomotive 7470. I used some photos for the company Facebook page and hope to use them in advertising.
Although these photos were scaled, what you see here are the in-Camera JPGs without significant alteration to color, contrast, exposure or sharpness.
If I were working with a different digital camera system, how might that have changed my results?
Yesterday, I also exposed some Ektachrome of 7470 using my 30-year old Nikon F3 with f1.8 105mm lens.
On July 27, 2015, my Finnish friends and I made a brief foray across the border into Sweden. Among our destinations was the yard and station at Lulea, where I photographed a number of electric trains, including this Rc6 on a sleeping car set that will run overnight to Stockholm.
I made this photo using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera that has an adjustible rear-panel display that allowed me to hold the camera very close to the ground.
A low angle is a technique for making a locomotive appear larger than life and was often used by early 20th century action photographers to capture steam locomotives in action.
On my July 2015 visit to Finland, my host Markku Pulkkinen did an excellent job of finding interesting railway subjects.
Early in the morning on July 26, 2015, we set up on the outskirts of Oulu to catch VR T5220, a freight forwarding iron ore mined in Russia to a Finnish plant. The freight wagons were Russian, the locomotive is a VR Group class Sr2 electric of Swiss design.
I had just purchased my first Adobe Lightroom for my then-new Apple MacBook Pro and was beginning to learn how to use this tool to make the most of my Fuji RAW files.
This was a revelation as the programs sliders made it easy to make adjustments to shadow and highlight detail, as well as color temperature and color balance corrections, which help make for much better photos when used judiciously.
I’m now working with a more advanced version of Lightroom with this I created two JPGs created from the Fuji RAW file. The top was scaled without any adjustements; the bottom reflects adjustments to color temperature, saturation, plus highlight and shadow area changes. Notice the difference in the detail to the sky.
In July 1994, I was on a grand adventure driving from California to Wisconsin to begin a new job at Pentrex Publishing.
I had several weeks to make the drive and plotted a course designed to inspect and photograph railways along the way.
Three years earlier my pal TSH and I had visited the Montana Rail Link where were spent a morning making photos on Winston Hill east of Helena. Movements on this former Northern Pacific line was still protected by General Railway Signal upper quadrant semaphores.
So on July 10, 1994, I revisited Montana’s Winston Hill. Among my photos that day was this one made as part of a sequence showing a westward BN freight descending toward Helena.
I was working with my Nikon F3T loaded with Kodachorme 25 and fitted with a Nikkor 35mm PC (perspective control lens) and a circular polarizing filter.
At the time, I would apply the polarizer to better balance the contrast between shadows and highlights in back-lit situations on bright sunny days. Notice the effects of the clouds and back lit foreground flowers.
Among the challanges of this arrangment is that it reduced the working ISO of the film from 25 to about 8 (which is extremely slow. Today, I typically work with ISO 200 or higher in digital format).
In this situation a motion blur benefits my illustration, as it shows a ‘clear’ signal ahead of the westward train.
On July 1, 1995, I spent the day with Sean Graham-White who had organized a visit at Belt Railway of Chicago’s sprawling Clearing Yard on the southside of Chicago in order to research a detailed article for Pacific RailNews.
At the time, I was associate editor of the magazine and living in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Toward the end of the day, I made this silhouette looking west using my Nikon F3T with 200mm f4.0 Nikkor telephoto. Kodachrome 200, was a grainy film that allowed me to use a faster shutter speed. Notice the plane on approach to Chicago’s Midway Airport.
The inspiration for this image was a photo exposed about 29 years earlier by John Gruber that had appeared on the cover of Trains Magazine.
I made a three-pass scan of this image last night using our recently refurbished Nikon LS-5000 slide scanner controlled by VueScan software.
Yesterday, I received back our Nikon Super Cool Scan 5000 slide scanner from CTS Services which had performed necessary servicing.
Among the first slides I scanned after taking the scanner out of the box was this June 30, 1994 view of Union Pacific’s Bend Turn on the Oregon Trunk near Gateway, Oregon.
I’d been following the freight on its northward run and this slide was among the final images of made of the train that day, exposed on Kodachrome 25 slide film using my Nikon F3T with 35mm PC (perspective control) lens.
I’ve been scouring my Union Pacific photos for consideration as illustrations for a book that I’m writing on Union Pacific and its Predecessors (CNW, DRGW, MP, SP, WP etc) for Kalmbach.
I made this view in the blue light of dusk on an April evening in April 1997 at Tokyo’s busy Shinjuku Station.
At the time it was the busiest railway junction station in the world, handling more daily passengers that even London’s famous Clapham Junction.
I have used this photograph and others from my 1997 visit in a variety of publications over the last 25 years.
I exposed the photo on Fujichrome with my Nikon N90S mounted on a tripod. I was emulating a style of railway photography popular in the the Japanese magazines at the time which used the extreme blurring of a train through a scene to infer motion.
Eleven years ago, I made this end of daylight view on the longest day of the year at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts.
CSX’s westward freight Q423 had stopped to change crews. In those days, Q423 ran from Worcester, Mass., to Selkirk, NY. I cannot recall why the crew was on short time.
I made the exposure using my Canon EOS-7D at 6400 ISO at 1/3 second, f3.5 using a prime 28mm lens.
The Canon 7D is an excellent camera. I’ve had mine for a dozen years and exposed thousands of digital photos with it. It’s higher ISO settings are weak compared with modern cameras. Here the 6400 ISO setting appears relatively pixelated. Yet at the time I was delighted to the ability to use such a fast ISO setting at the twist of a dial.
A week ago Kris and I visited the crossing at Tarratine, west of Rockwood, Maine where we waited for the eastward Canadian Pacific freight number 132.
This remote crossing bisects the track in a sweeping curve in the forest. We waited here for quite some time. Finally, I heard the distant sound of laboring General Electric diesels. And then, finally, a distant whistle.
I set up with my Nikon Z6 fitted with a f2.8 70-200mm Z-series zoom. When the train came into view, I exposed a series of digital images and made a pair of color slides on Ektachrome.
The slides remain latent (unprocessed), but here are a few of my digital images.
Some my regular viewers on Tracking the Light have expressed interest in seeing more photos of the freight cars behind the locomotives. So I’ve included a few of those images too.
Later that night, Kris and I returned to this same crossing where we made a series of night photographs of the westward freight. Those will be featured in another posting.
Last week, after another wait in the rain near the East Outlet Bridge on Canadian Pacific’s Moosehead Sub, I decided to forego the bridge, and try a different location nearer to Greenville Junction, Maine. So, Kris and I drove toward Harford Point, where there is a nice sweeping curve east of a shallow rock cut.
We had inspected this spot last year, and had waited there about an hour for the eastward train before giving up. (That was in June 2021, and ultimately on that day we saw the train and photographed it further west).
On this year’s visit to Harford Point, the lighting was soft owing to cloudy conditions. Light rain had put a gloss all over the foliage and tracks.
While waiting, I had a brief chat with one of the locals near the grade crossing, who reassured me that we had not missed the train. And not long after we set up, we could here CP’s eastward 132 whistling for a crossing to the west.
As the freight came into view, I made this sequence using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens. In post processng, I made some minor adjustments to contrast, shadow density, sky detail, color temperature and saturation.
Tracking the Light Explores Photography Every Day!
During Conway Scenic Railroad’s special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer, I traveled on the head end to help position the train, while making photos for the company archive.
While the train was discharging passengers at the site of the Mount Willard section house near Crawford Notch, NH, I was across the ravine to the east, set up to photograph the special crossing the famous Willey Brook Bridge (also known as the Willey Brook Trestle).
I made several dozen photos over the course of several minutes, trying to make the most of this photo opportunity. Below is a selection of similar compositions. Why so many? It is impossible to know exactly how a photo may be considered for publication in the future and I’ve learned from experience that it helps to position the subject in a variety of ways within the frame of the viewfinder.
Five years ago, on June 7, 2017, I was traveling with my long-time friend and photographer Paul Goewey. We were photographing Vermont Rail System’s Green Mountain Railroad freight 264, and caught this train passing the former Rutland Railroad passenger station at Chester, Vermont.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, I recall watching Steamtown run around their excursion train at this location, although I don’t think I made any photos at that time.
On this day, I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera, which allows me to simultaneously save a photo file as both a JPG and as a camera RAW (RAF). At the time of exposure, I profiled the JPG in-camera using Fuji’s built in Velvia color slide film profile setting. . While in post processing, I custom profiled the RAF image by making minor adjustments to contrast, color temperture and saturation using Adobe Lightroom, and then created a JPG for internet presentation.
Below, I offer both the in-camera JPG with Velvia color and my own adjusted file. Both images were created digitally. I did not crop the image area or make changes to sharpness.