Madison, Connecticut: until June 2016, I’d never made a photo there in my life, and as it turns out I was there twice inside of a week.
This isn’t really a coincidence; having scoped the location on June 7th, I returned a few days later to make the most of light on the long days.
I exposed these views from the Shore Line East station of Amtrak’s westward (southward) Acela train 2173 flying along the former New Haven Railroad Shoreline route.
For this angle, I employed my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Tuoit and a graduated neutral density filter (to retain sky detail). My shutter speed was 1/1000th of a second.
I had the motor drive set on ‘CH’ (continuous high), a setting I descriptively call ‘turbo flutter.’ This automatically exposes a burst of images in rapid succession.
Normally there’s only nominal differences between the frames, but in this situation the train’s rapid motion combined with my super-wide angle perspective resulted in considerable changes in the relative placement of the head-end.
Also, as it turns out, 1/1000th isn’t fast enough to stop the action. Maybe next time I’ll try 1/2000th.
Reporting live from Amtrak train 54, The Vermonter, on June 27, 2015. During our engine change at New Haven—electric locomotive 914 was replaced with Genesis diesel 102—I made photos of Amtrak’s Boston-Washington Acela Express, train 2253 arriving at New Haven.
No engine change needed for the Acela express! The total elapsed time on the platform was just two minutes.
Imagine the time savings for the Vermonter if it ran with a dual-mode diesel-electric—electric, such as the Bombardier locomotives used by NJ Transit!
Photos exposed with my Lumix LX7.
Tracking the Light post new material every single day!
Friday nights trackside represents a tradition going back more than three decades. Back in the day, Bob Buck would hold court at his Tucker’s Hobbies in Warren, Massachusetts, then we’d head down to Palmer for dinner and afterwards convene at the old railroad station to watch trains pass in the night.
I’d make photographs.
A group of us have maintained the tradition and still meet in Palmer some Fridays. However, a few weeks back Rich Reed offered a suggestion, “Lets do something different. How about we meet in Worcester, and I’ll drive everyone to Mansfield where we can watch the Acela blast by at 150mph.”
We opted for one of the long days of June, and proceeded to plan.
As we all recalled later on, even this idea had originated with Bob Buck. Back in the 1980s, Bob would take a summer evening and drive a group of us to the old New Haven Shoreline route.
Sometimes Bob would bring us to Readville, other times Mansfield, or Attleboro. We’d variously meet with locals, including Dave Clinton and Bob Karambelas, who’d show us new locations and share railway information. On at least one occasion we visited Edaville and traveled on the narrow gauge.
At the end of this June 2015 evening we made a toast to the memory Bob Buck—the man who brought us all together and for years shared the railroad with us.
A little while ago, I changed from Amtrak 493 to Amtrak 93. In the the ten minute interval, a Metro-North train arrived from Grand Central and Amtrak Acela (train 2154) made its station stop at the adjacent platform.
The good news, Amtrak 93 is very well patronized, with at least 40 passengers transferring from the shuttle. The bad news, I’m wedged into train 93 which was already pretty crowded. Yet it beats driving on I-95! (And is cheaper too).
Back in 1991, my brother Sean and I explored the former Pennsylvania Railroad electrified mainline between Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia. I recalled from that visit that the long tangent at Marcus Hook offered some interesting views and the potential for evening glint.
Earlier this month (January 2015) we returned to this location. SEPTA maintains a ground level station that provides easy access.
I like the location for several reasons: it is open, which allows late sun to reach rail level; there’s a long tangent and signals, that provide advance warning for trains; Amtrak’s trains can travel at top speeds; and it is relatively easy to get around obstructions such as poles and wires than might interfere with photography.
We arrived in time for a flurry of activity just as the sun was setting. These images were exposed using my Canon EOS 7D, but I also made a few images on Fuji Provia 100F using my old Canon EOS 3.
My first digital Camera was a Panasonic LX3 that I bought in late 2009 on suggestion of my digital photography advisor, Eric Rosenthal.
At the time, I’d planned to use the camera as a light meter, to make supplemental photos, and to photograph in social situations where having an email ready photo quickly was an advantage.
In the first few months, I occasionally used this camera for railway action photos, but for the most part I continued to rely on my Canon EOS-3s for important situations.
I gradually concluded that the LX3 was a fantastic image-making tool. For the next five years I carried this camera everywhere. I exposed more than 64,000 images with it. I’d still be using it, except it broke! (Some observers suggest that I wore it out) The digital display at the back of the camera stopped functioning reliably.
My father lent me his LX7 for a few weeks, and I quickly concluded that I needed one.
Overall it is a much better camera.
On the downside, it is nominally larger.
On the plus side:
1) It is easier to use.
2) When set up properly there’s virtually no delay in making an image from the time the shutter is released.
3) It cycles much faster.
4) It has a better lens, which lets more light in and has a longer telephoto setting.
5) It offers a variety of features that allow for more creative images, including: a built in neutral density filter; an automatic High Dynamic Range mode that rapid blends three images in a sophisticated manner.
6) It has a traditional aperture ring.
7) It has a built in level that can be displayed on the screen.
8) It has the option of an external digital viewfinder.
Over coming weeks, I’ll continue to discuss the virtues (and drawbacks) of these various cameras. Incidentally, recently Panasonic announced another new camera, the LX100, which looks to be even better than the LX7.
I used my trip on Amtrak 475/175 as an opportunity to make a few photographs. While I had some bigger cameras in my bag, I exposed all of these images with my Lumix LX3.
I boarded shuttle train 475 at Berlin, Connecticut just as the sun was setting. By the time I arrived in New Haven, only a faint blue glow remained of daylight.
I didn’t have a tripod with me, so I used the station signs and other available flat surfaces on the platform to steady the camera. To avoid camera shake, after composing my image, I set the self timer to 2 seconds and press the shutter button.
Also, I overexposed each image by 1/3 to 2/3s of a stop to compensate for the prevailing darkness.
The trip was uneventful. Amtrak is my preferred means for navigating between cities in the Northeastern USA.