On June 30, 2014, Pat Yough and I arrived at SEPTA’s Wayne Station minutes before sunset. We’d already spent a productive afternoon and evening catching the evening rush-hour on the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line.
I was interested by the ‘around the corner’ light effect west of Wayne. The nearest eastward SEPTA train was half an hour away. Thankfully, this Amtrak Keystone arrived before the sunset.
For this image, I’ve cropped the leading former Metroliner cab car, and focused on the trailing AEM-7 and Amfleet coaches. The AEM-7s are running on borrowed time and I was happy to make this simple graphic image of one of the old electrics.
Calculating exposure wasn’t easy. My initial guess for exposure was about a stop too bright. I manually dialed the f-stop downward as the train entered the frame and the glinting sun reflected back towards me.
I’ve made many images like this on slide film. Kodachrome was a particular good means of capturing the glint effect. Its combination of a black & white film base (using a traditional silver halide grain structure) plus a wide exposure latitude tended to produce excellent results.
This day, Pat exposed a slide on Fujichrome, but I was limited to using my digital cameras.
The Great Lakes can produce dramatic climatic effects, especially at dawn and dusk.
On this day, I drove west from Rochester through torrential Spring rains. However, it was dry when I reached Niagara Falls, the line of showers having stayed well south of Lake Ontario.
I made this image of Amtrak trains laying over in the Niagara Falls yard as the sun was rising above a dark and stormy sky. The lighting was totally surreal, like a scene from the cover of a science fiction novel.
In the distance, in what I believe was the former Lehigh Valley yard, was hundreds of stored 50 foot box cars lettered in the blue and white “I Love NY” scheme.
Here’s my trick: to reduce undesirable flare, I shaded the front element of the lens using the extendable lens shade and my notebook, while I calculated exposure manually, using a handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell in its ‘reflected light’ mode. I made several exposures before the light changed.
I used the light meter to carefully gauge the amount of light reflecting off the Amfleet passenger cars to avoid loss of highlight detail, while allowing the shadow areas to appear comparatively dark. This was a judgment call on my part that resulted in a more dramatic image.
Fortuitous Encounter with the Highest Numbered P42.
On June 26, 2012, I was changing trains at New Haven, Connecticut while on my way to Philadelphia. I’d come in on the Springfield-New Haven shuttle. This was a push-pull set consisting of a former Metroliner cab car and an Amfleet coach pushed by Amtrak 207.
While on the platform I made a few images of this General Electric locomotive using my Lumix LX3 and my dad’s Leica M4 (loaded with Fuji Acros 100 black & white film).
It was only later that it occurred to me that 207 is the highest numbered Amtrak Genesis P42.This nominal fact doesn’t make the photos any better, but I thought it was interesting and significant. Firsts and lasts have been long be marked by railway photographers.
What impressed me about 207 was that it was relatively clean and the paint was in good shape. This is a contrast with many of Amtrak’s P42s that have a battle-worn appearance.