Welcome to Tracking the Light

 

Welcome to Brian Solomon’s Exploration of Railway Photography!

Tracking the Light posts new material daily.

Köln Hbf in August 1998, exposed on Ilford HP5.
Köln Hbf in August 1998, exposed on Ilford HP5.


A few words from the author:

I’ve been making railway photographs since the days of black & white film and Kodachrome slides. This passion, this obsession—I inherited from my father and it’s something I share with many friends.

This is more than a casual pursuit; for the last 20 years, I’ve earned the majority of my income as a result of railway publishing, a career that blends my knowledge of railways with photography and writing skills. One project at time (although often over-lapping), as an author and photographer I’ve participated in more than 60 books. I enjoy sharing photographs, the stories behind them, and how I made them with my friends and readers.

I highlight the tools, tricks, techniques and other means of making  compelling images.

Approaching Minersville, Pennsylvania. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
CNJ 113 approaching Minersville, Pennsylvania. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Amtrak_Acela_2250_Levittown_DSCF8613-2

Pan Am Southern train 206 crosses the Connecticut River at East Deerfield, Massachusetts on the evening of July 10, 2014.
Pan Am Southern train 206 crosses the Connecticut River at East Deerfield, Massachusetts on the evening of July 10, 2014.
Irish Rail 088 leads the HOBS near Islandbridge in Dublin on July 30, 2014. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Irish Rail 088 leads the HOBS near Islandbridge in Dublin on July 30, 2014. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Genesee & Wyoming's New England Central.
Richard J. Solomon (at left) exposes a short video clip as New England Central job 610 passes Stafford Springs, Connecticut on October 28, 2013. Canon EOS 7D fitted with 20mm lens.

A few words from the site’s author:

I’ve been making railway photographs since the days of black & white film and Kodachrome slides. This passion, this obsession—I inherited from my father and it’s something I share with many friends.

This is more than a casual pursuit; for the last 20 years, I’ve earned the majority of my income as a result of railway publishing, a career that blends my knowledge of railways with photography and writing skills. One project at a time (although often over-lapping), as an author and photographer I’ve participated in more than 60 books. I enjoy sharing photographs, the stories behind them, and how I made them with my friends and readers.

I highlight the tools, tricks, techniques and other means of making  compelling images.

GP40s in fall color.
On October 9, 2004, Vermont Rail System freight 263 is near the summit of the old Rutland Railroad near Mt Holly, Vermont.
Metro North conductor gives train 6538 the highball at Green's Farms, Connecticut, November 2015.
Metro North conductor gives train 6538 the highball at Green’s Farms, Connecticut, November 2015.
Railway train with water
On July 24, 1997, a Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia freight rolls west at Cape Jack along the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.
TTC Streetcar Toronto.
TTC Streetcar at corner of King and Queen Streets, Sunnyside, Toronto, February 8, 2010.
Digital image exposed with a Lumix LX-3 set at ISO 80.

See: Toronto, February 8, 2010.

GO Transit.
Eastward GO Transit trains near Sunnyside at sunset on February 8, 2010. Canon EOS-3 with 100-400 zoom; Fujichrome RVP-100. See: Toronto, February 8, 2010.
Southern Pacific 4449—Lima 4-8-4, passes Hooker Creek, California in 1991.
Exposed on Kodachrome 25 slide film with a Nikon F3T fitted 35mm PC lens.

There is no one ‘correct’ way to make photographs, although there are techniques that, once mastered, tend to yield pleasing results. I hope to expand upon those themes in these internet essays by telling the stories behind the pictures, as well as sharing the pictures themselves.

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Tracking the Light is a work in progress;  I typically add new material on a weekly basis or as events and image present themselves.

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Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens set at ISO 400, f9 at 1/500th of a second. White balance set to ‘daylight’ to avoid allowing the camera to balance for sunset conditions which would have minimized the reddish-orange effect of sunset.
Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens set at ISO 400, f9 at 1/500th of a second. White balance set to ‘daylight’ to avoid allowing the camera to balance for sunset conditions which would have minimized the reddish-orange effect of sunset.
New England Central GP38 3850.
New England Central’s southward freight approaches Mansfield Depot, Connecticut. Digital photo exposed using Canon 7D with f2.8 200mm lens; ISO f5.6 at 1/1000 second.
Searchlight signal at Brookfield, Wisconsin exposed with a Nikon F3T with f1.8 105mm lens on Fuji Provia 100 film.
Searchlight signal at Brookfield, Wisconsin exposed with a Nikon F3T with f1.8 105mm lens on Fuji Provia 100 film.
Trailing view of R&N's no-GP30 disguises the true nature of the day's excursion. This could easily pass as a R&N freight. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
Trailing view of R&N’s no-GP30 disguises the true nature of the day’s excursion. This could easily pass as a R&N freight. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

New_York_Subway_Lexington_Ave_P1350610

LUAS Dublin.
LUAS on Abbey Street. Four Courts. October 2013. Exposed with Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Blue Bird
Mass-Central 1751 leads the northward freight at Forest Lake, north of Thorndike, Massachusetts on October 24, 2013. Canon 7D photo.
It's what they call a 'hail mary shot.' New England Central 611 rolls north at East Northfields, Massachusetts in a fading glimmer of October sun. Photo processed digitally to lower contrast, increase saturation, and improve color balance. X-T1 photo Exposed on October 29, 2015 at East Northfield, Massachusetts.
It’s what they call a ‘hail mary shot.’ New England Central 611 rolls north at East Northfield, Massachusetts in a fading glimmer of October sun. Photo processed digitally to lower contrast, increase saturation, and improve color balance. FujiFilm X-T1 photo Exposed on October 29, 2015 at East Northfield, Massachusetts.

35 thoughts on “Welcome to Tracking the Light”

  1. I took my first K25 35mm image of Erie Delaware Division Style “S’s” n 1972, but my Dad got a couple of me with T.O. Double armed MP 169-1 “HF” in August of 1964, while in absolute pristine condition.

    By 1979 I’d switched to a Pentax 6x7cm for Semaphore imagery and when K 64/120 appeared in 1986 I used that film exclusively until the it’s discontinuance in the mid-late ’90’s. That despite the $1.00 per image cost at that time (~$6 in today’s money) and then for mostly paired 3D images of insitu semaphore settings (no action possible so no trains for those.)

    Jerry MacElroy Erie, later EL and finally Conrail Supt. of Signals lived right off Rt17 at MP 169-1 about a mile up that due east back road. Back in 1980, he assisted me with the obtaining of a complete and full height standard “ERIE Style S” formerly located just east of Deposit, N.Y. (MP175-2) at a total cost of $100 “For Permission to Enter the Property” which I still have, as well as a genuine 1908 version (the Erie had quite a few of the first version west of Binghamton as the road didn’t really wait until 1910 as you’ve suggested) and another one off the Susquehanna at Passaic, N.Y. (Over Rt. 22). Then too there’s that double armed NYO&W Style B the only one that survives off that road……. all now out here in California.

  2. Hello there,

    On October 8th, 2016 my organization is hosting a Rails event in Michigan. I am pretty keen to have someone speak on the war effort, WWI, and the American Railroads. Might you suggest someone?

  3. Hi,
    Saw your article in the 1-2016 issue of Trains on “Reading the Lights”. I have a question and would like to send you 3 images taken on the NS in North Ridgeville,OH. They are of an X signal that blinks red every 3 or 4 seconds. I have asked this question to “Ask MR” and “Trains”. I have had no reply and DO understand that they get many requests. Seeing this article, which was VERY good, I am hoping that you could answer my question on what these signal are for.
    THANK YOU! Joe Kurilec,MMR

  4. Hi Brian

    I would love to use one of your photos in a case study I am doing. We have done some work for Irish Rail, but need a photo that best reflects where we worked.

    Let me know what’s involved.

    Many thanks

    Nuala

  5. Great shots Brian, Jaw-drop camera work.. I’m here in Dublin, found you accidentally (the beauty & perpetual mystery-tour surprise of the ‘net)
    It was that killer evening shot of the TTC streetcar at Queen & King that brought me to your site. I know Toronto. (T.O.) The colors & light in that shot are arresting. Some amazing spontaneity in your shots here on your site, & some of them, maybe because of the inherent nature of long-distance rail travel, are lonely-looking.
    Then your Dublin Luas shots caught me by surprise. Us Dubliners tend to abbreviate or anthropomorphise our services/amenities, so a growing number are referring to using a Luas ( gaelic word meaning speed,velocity) as ”catchin’ a Daniel day..” (Lewis) or ”..jumpin’ a Jerry Lee..”

  6. A new insight gained by finding your sight. Thank you!
    Not just the dramatic, but the every day is inspiring.

    Train people seek out trains – your images bring out all the meaning, the smells, the sounds…

    I’ve been fortunate to grow up in the north-east US and traveled elsewhere in the world, where trains were and still are the arteries of transportation for people and commerce. Even in death, the old, abandoned iron mine railways continue to connect people with the landscapes they live in.

  7. Very nice work, Brian. I was with a mutual friend in the Berkshires photographing Conrail about 20 years ago and you came walking down the track. I should be able to keep in touch in a more suitable manner as a subscriber.

  8. Hi Brian,
    I’m delighted to have discovered your website just now. Found it in the Erie-Lackawanna listserv. Grew up on the Erie in western NY.

    regards, Brian Rogers

    1. Glad you enjoy the site. Erie is one of my favorite subjects, having only known it from the Conrail-era forward. I’ll post more Erie relatied photos from time to time. Cheers, Brian S.

  9. Love what I have seen of your work. Thanks for supporting Bill with his new store. I did a lot of consignment with Tuckers and will continue with Bill.

    Bob got us into the model train business, which we operate as Springfield Southern Hobbies. We miss him still. Russell and Bill have become good friends. About once a month, we are in the store, bringing Bill our latest finds.
    Love his sense of humor and knowledge. More often than not, he can turn something ugly into something that sells for us. Hope to see you at the shop or at a show. We also have a facebook page under the name listed above.

    John and Michelle

  10. Hi Brian: I am a volunteer in the Used Book Store at IRM. Your books come to us as donations from people who have bought your books when new. Your books are very popular and have generated a lot of revenue for the museum. Thank you, and stop and visit with us some time. We are open Wednesdays and weekends during the season.

  11. Good Morning Brian

    I would like your permission to post some of you photos, with a photo credit to you, on my ‘Ribbons Of Steel’ board on Pinterest.

    Cheers
    Bill Shattuck

  12. Good writing, photos of an area we miss. In the 70s I worked in a state of the art electronics plant in Nashua built in a 100+ year old textile mill and could look out my office window to see a B&M switcher heading up the Hillsboro branch. Sure wish I had used my Minolta SLR a lot more

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Railway photography by Brian Solomon

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