Tag Archives: Amtrak

Washington Union Station in the Rain.


On Saturday evening, December 15, 2018 we had almost 45 minutes to wander around the platform at Washington Union Station as Amtrak changed engines on train 19, the Crescent bound for New Orleans.

Rain, mist and artificial light made for some atmosphere.

I exposed these views hand-held using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. 

I’m uploading the photos live from the train at Charlottesville, Virginia for a scheduled posting on Tracking the Light on Sunday morning December 16, 2018.

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Live from Amtrak’s Crescent.

Live from Amtrak’s Crescent.

This evening we boarded Amtrak’s Crescent, train 19,at Wilmington, Delaware. 

Although, dull and about to drizzle, I made this late afternoon photos at the former Pennsylvania Railroad station using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1.’

Lumix LX7 photo at Wilmington, Delaware.
Amtrak train 156; Lumix LX7 photo at Wilmington, Delaware.
Amtrak ACS64 651 on train 156; Lumix LX7 photo at Wilmington, Delaware.
Train 161 at Wilmington, Delaware. Lumix LX7 photo.
Wilmington, Delaware. Lumix LX7 photo.
Amtrak’s Crescent at Wilmington. FujiFilm XT-1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
Viewliner sleepers on Amtrak’s Crescent at Wilmington. FujiFilm XT-1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
Hall of mirrors! FujiFilm XT-1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit. 

I’ve adjusted the camera RAW files in Lightroom to boost color saturation and contrast in an effort to improve the overall appearance of the photos.

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Inky Gloom at Wilmington, Delaware.

Last night a damp inky gloom greeted us as we alighted from Amtrak’s Vermonter at the former Pennsylvania Railroad station at Wilmington, Delaware.

A SEPTA Silverliner V electric multiple unit set sat on the opposite platforms waiting to depart for Philadelphia.

I made several exposures with my Lumix LX7. Working with the RAW files in Lightroom, I maximize the amount of visual information in the photos by lightening shadows and darkening highlights while adjusting contrast and color saturation.

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Engine Change at New Haven.

It’s the ‘blue hour’ at New Haven, Connecticut.

Amtrak’s Vermonter is one of a few trains that still changes engines at New Haven, as result of it running through from non-electrified territory to the north.

In the case of Amtrak 55, the common GE-built P42 diesel (number 192) was exchanged for a Siemens-built ACS-64 high-voltage electric. 

Amtrak added a coach to the front of the train too. A wise move considering how crowded this train is.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1, I set the camera to ISO 1600 and the white balance to ‘auto’, and made some photos from the platform during our 24-minute pause at New Haven Union Station.

Many years ago, my late friend Bob Buck recalled to me a story of a child gazing out the window at the steam, smoke and wires, “Pa, is this hell?” “No son, this is New Haven!”

Video uploaded from my iPhone.

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Posting Live from Amtrak Train 55!

I’m traveling toward Wilmington, Delaware aboard Amtrak Train 55, the southward Vermonter. 

The train is now approaching its station stop at Meriden, Connecticut.

It was announced that from Hartford the train was completely sold out. Thus demonstrating that old adage no one rides trains anymore because they’re too crowded!

I exposed these photos with my FujFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens.

As we roll along, the files were downloaded to my MacBook using Image Capture software, scaled for internet using Lightroom, and uploaded via Amtrak’s WiFi to WordPress for presentation on Tracking the Light.

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Views from the Lake Shore Limited at Rochester, New York.

View from Amtrak 48 at Rochester’s new station. 

Heading east on the back of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited,  I exposed these views from the dutch doors of Silver Splendorat Rochester, New York on its cross country journey.

Photographer, Otto Vondrak caught us at the Rochester station,  a place much changed from my visits here in the 1980s.

A westward CSX local meets Amtrak in Rochester, New York. Lumix LX7 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo of a westward CSX local freight.

FujiFilm XT1 photo of a westward CSX local freight.

CSX local at Goodman Street Yard in Rochester. FujiFilm XT1.
Amtrak 48 at Goodman Street Yard, Rochester, New York.

Seeing the ‘new’ Rochester from the windows of the train was a bit surreal.

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Chicago Metra in Transition—November 2018

In recent months, Chicago Metra has been painting its older EMD diesels in a modern livery.

My first experience seeing these old engines in new dress was approaching Chicago Union Station on Amtrak number 4.

I made these views ‘on the fly’ from the dutch door of former Burlington Vista Dome Silver Splendor(nee Silver Buckle) that was rolling over old home rails on the last lap of the run from Los Angeles.

I worked with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a 18-135mm zoom lens, which gave me necessary compositional flexibly as the scenes rapidly changed.

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BNSF on the move in Missouri.

Rolling east on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, I made a variety of photos of BNSF freights from the train as we crossed Missouri on the way from Kansas City to Chicago.

Here we have one view from a Superliner, one from the dutch door of Silver Splendor and one from that car’s panoramic dome.

Over taking an eastward freight as viewed from Silver Splendor’s dome. FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo from the dutch door. A BNSF westward stack near Bosworth, Missouri.

Along the Mississippi near Ft Madison, Iowa, the view from an Amtrak Superliner. FujiFilm XT1 photo.

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Kansas City: Amtrak, a Dome and a Streetcar!

I’d never experienced Kansas City by rail before.

This was just a brief visit, a mere layover while Amtrak no4Southwest Chiefchanged crews and dropped off and collected passengers.

I made photos of the car I’d been traveling in: former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Budd Vista-Dome Silver Splendor (nee: Silver Buckle).

I like the contrast between the 1956-build streamlined dome and the nearly new Siemens Charger diesel-electric.

Kansas City Icon; FujiFilm XT1 photo.

Crew change for No.4 at Kansas City. FujiFIlm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

Old and new: FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

The modern streetcar was a surprise. I’d forgotten that Kansas City had recently re-adopted this classic form of transport.

Soon we were rolling east toward Chicago!

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Amtrak’s Southwest Chief Sunrise at Argentine, Kansas.

Two weeks ago Amtrak’s Southwest Chief greeted a frosty sunrise at BNSF’s sprawling Argentine Yards, west of Kansas City.

I made these digital photographs from the dome and vestibule of Silver Splendor,the former CB&Q Vista-Dome in which I was traveling cross-country.

A rosy sunrise tints my perspective; it sure made this famous yard look like a neat place.

BNSF westbound at Argentine Yard.

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Dusk at Raton, New Mexico.

These days the only regular trains to use the old Santa Fe Raton Pass crossing are Amtrak 3 and 4, the Southwest Chief. The days of helpers over the three percent are all but a memory.

This day two weeks ago: Arriving on No.4, we had more than ten minutes at Raton to stretch our legs and take in the mountain air.

I used the opportunity to make some twilight images of Silver Splendor, the Budd-built Vista-Dome that I was traveling on.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and Zeiss 12mm Touit lens, I exposed several views in the blue glow of evening. Dusk is a great time to balance the light inside the passenger car with outside illumination.

f2.8 1/15th of a second, ISO 1600.

f3.6 1/15th of a second, ISO 1600.

f3.2 1/15th of a second, ISO 1600.

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Semaphores on the Santa Fe—Five Photos.

Between Albuquerque and Raton Pass (on the New Mexico-Colorado state line) I counted three bastions of Union Switch & Signal style-T2 upper quadrant semaphores on our journey over the former Santa Fe in Vista-Dome Silver Splendor.

I watched the blades drop from the vertical as we passed—a scene I’d not witnessed for many years.

The view of a semaphore dropping from ‘clear’ to ‘stop and proceed’ as seen from Vista Dome Silver Splendor on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

Lumix LX7 photo near Las Vegas, New Mexico.

East of Las Vegas, New Mexico. FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

In 2018, these signals represent the last large collections of active semaphores on any North American mainline.

The Style T2 was detailed in my book Classic Railroad Signals in a sidebar titled ‘Sante Fe Semaphores Survive in New Mexico’ by John Ryan and the late John Gruber.

Classic Railroad Signals was published by Voyageur Press in 2015. It is available at:

https://www.quartoknows.com/books/9780760346921/Classic-Railroad-Signals.html?direct=1

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‘Santa Fe All the Way!’ Arizona Sunrise Rolling East on the BNSF Transcon.

Last week, I awoke to sunrise east of Flagstaff, Arizona riding in Budd Vista Dome Silver Splendor as it traveled east on Amtrak no.4, the Southwest Chief.

The luxurious 1956-built stainless steel dome is a classic car from America’s streamlined era.

It was on its way to a new home on the East coast after years being based in California.

The pleasure of traveling in a Vista Dome is enjoying its comfortable elevated panoramic view of the passing scenery. An added bonus on BNSF’s former Santa Fe Transcon is the unceasing parade of freights.

Sunrise on the Santa Fe east of Flagstaff, Arizona on November 18, 2018. Notice the headlight of an approaching BNSF freight.

Sunrise on the Santa Fe east of Flagstaff, Arizona on November 18, 2018.

Overtaking an eastward BNSF freight east of Dennison, Arizona. 90mm view.

Rolling east at Winslow, Arizona. 90mm view from Silver Splendor.

These images were exposed digitally using my FujiFilm X-T1. Some of the photos were adjusted in post processing to compensate for the dome’s tinted glass.

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Tracking the Light Extra: Fullerton by Night—Dome Car on the Southwest Chief.

Saturday evening, November 17, 2018, Amtrak’s Southwest Chief—train number 4—made its scheduled station stop at Fullerton, California, its first after departing Los Angeles Union Station.

Budd Vista Dome Silver Splendor  was in consist on its big trip east.

The dome was met by some of its California fans who waited trackside to see it off on its journey.

Silver Splendor was making the trek to its new home on the East Coast after many years entertaining travelers in the West.

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, train no.4, pauses at Fullerton, California.

Former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Budd-built Vista Dome on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief at Fullerton, California on November 17, 2018.

Fullerton, California.

A view East on the old Santa Fe at Fullerton. Seven hours earlier I’d been making photos from that footbridge.

I exposed these views hand-held using my FujiFilm X-T1.

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Palms, Sun and Glass: Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center.

I prefer the term  ‘Anaheim Station’.

Last week, working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens, I exposed these digital photos of one of California’s most modern, and most impressive railway stations.

This is such an impressive looking building that I drove past it while I was trying to find it!

Slightly diffused mid-morning sun made for nearly ideal lighting to make the most of this facility.

Would front lighting make for a better photo?

Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center is abbreviated ‘ARTIC’.

Backlit diffused sun with overhead skylights made for a difficult exposure.

View with a 12mm Touit lens.

Footbridge to go from the station building to the Metrolink platforms.

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, train 1565, paused at Anaheim. 12mm Touit view.

Do you have any favorites?

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Vermonter Crosses the Connecticut at Windsor Locks

On the afternoon of November 14, 2018, I exposed this view from the east bank of the Connecticut River looking across toward Windsor Locks as Amtrak’s northward Vermonter crossed the circa 1906 New Haven Railroad-built bridge.

To help balance the contrast and better retain detail in the sky, I used an external graduated neutral density filter made by Lee Filter.

This is a 0.9ND or three stops grad filter.

In addition, I adjusted the camera RAW file to maximize highlight and shadow detail, control contrast and improve saturation.

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Amtrak Lake Shore Limited—Autumnal Scene at West Warren.

Sometimes the classic view is too good to pass up.

The other day clear sunny skies led Mike Gardner and me to West Warren, Massachusetts to catch Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited passing the old mills along the Quaboag River.

This is a scene I’ve often photographed.

Here I worked with my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens with the camera set for a Velvia color profile.

Amtrak train 449, the Lake Shore Limited, as seen passing West Warren, Massachusetts in November 2018.

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Trains Podcast: Conversations with Brian Solomon, Episode 8

Conversations with Brian Solomon, Episode 8

Brian Solomon sits down with Trains’ passenger columnist Bob Johnston and retired Amtrak engineer Craig Willett to talk about the national passenger carrier. This is the second in a multi-part conversation that began in Episode 2.

Take a listen on the Trains Magazine website:

http://trn.trains.com/photos-videos/2018/09/conversations-with-brian-solomon.

Chris Guss, Trains’ Brian Schmidt, Bob Johnston and Craig Willett in the Kalmbach recording studio in August 2018. Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1.

Amtrak’s Cardinal on the old Chesapeake & Ohio in Virginia.

Amtrak Capitols passenger train on the Union Pacific at Pinole, California in May 2008.

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Modern American Railroading in Soft Light.

Here’s a thoroughly today scene: An Amtrak Midwest Siemens Charger at Milwaukee’s Intermodal Terminal.

Diffused afternoon sun works well with the geometry of the station’s architecture and the curves and lines of the Siemens Charger.

Using my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 12mm Zeiss Touit, I opted for a skewed angle that accentuates this modern scene.
In post processing, I adjusted contrast and color balance.

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Cabbage Pan on the old Milwaukee Road

In the mid-1930s, Milwaukee Road introduced its high-speed streamlined Hiawatha on its Chicago-Milwaukee-Twin Cities route where elegant purpose-built shrouded 4-4-2 and 4-6-4 Alco steam locomotives whisked trains along in excess of 110mph.

Today, Amtrak’s Hiawathas have Siemens Chargers on the Milwaukee end, and former F40PH Control-Cab/baggage cars, known as ‘Cabbages’ on the Chicago-end.

While Amtrak provides an excellent corridor service, today top speed is just 79mph.

I can’t help but think that as a nation we’ve lost the plot on this one.

We went from elegant, fast steam streamliners to this?

Panning my Fujifilm XT1 plus 27mm lens in parallel with Amtrak’s fast moving Hiawatha has allowed for the effect of speed and motion. ISO 200, 1/125thof a second. Note: that my shutter speed wasn’t especially slow.

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High ISO: Sturtevant Station at Dusk in the Rain.

Heavy rain had given the ground a lacquer-like gloss.

Chris Guss and I had arrived at Sturtevant, Wisconsin to roll by an Amtrak train. (Featured the other day in: FIRST ENCOUNTER: AMTRAK CHARGER.

While waiting for the northward train. I made a series of photographs of Amtrak’s relatively new Sturtevant station. I’ve always liked the effect of a twilight sky, when the blue light of evening nearly matches the intensity of electric lighting.

Fujifilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit at ISO 2000.

greater color saturation and contrast applied in post processing.

Here, I worked with my Zeiss 12mm Touit lens. This is flat-field lens, so keeping the lens level, minimizes perspective distortion.

I was without my small tripod, and I used the camera handheld at a low angle. To make use of the reflections of the station in the parking lot.

I set the ISO to 2000. Here are two post-processing variations of the Camera RAW file that feature different contrast curves.

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First Encounter: Amtrak Charger.

I was curious to experience one of these new locomotives.

The Siemens-built Charger is powered by a Cummins diesel and has a European appearance.

Among their Amtrak assignments is the Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha corridor.

I waited on the platform at the new Sturtevant, Wisconsin station. The eerie blue glow of the locomotive’s LED headlights could be seen reflecting off the rails long before the train arrived at the station.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit, I set the ISO to 6400 and panned the train arriving at 1/30thof a second at f2.8.

To better balance the color and keep contrast under control, I modified the camera RAW file in Lightroom to produce this internet suitable JPG.

Here’s a screen shot of the camera-produced JPG with EXIF data for comparison.

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Four Quadrant Gates in Michigan City.

Sorry, this is not a pretty picture.

Here we have a potpourri of necessary clutter; a patched well-traveled road, various electrical poles and lines, the cooling tower for a power station, a signal-relay cabinet, a stray street light, and of course an Amtrak P42 Genesis diesel of the much-maligned industrial design.

Not pretty; but portrays a four-quadrant grade crossing gate protecting the highway an Amtrak train from Chicago crosses.

Exposed digitally using a Panasonic Lumix LX7. ISO 200 f3.2 1/1000th second. Image processed from camera RAW using Lightroom.

But this is Northern Indiana, not Tehachapi.

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Vermonter in the Rain.

We got soaked!

I’d checked my phone; Amtrak 55 had departed Brattleboro, Vermont a few minutes behind the advertised, but was moving southward at a good clip.

Mike Gardner and I had inspected locations around East Northfield, Massachusetts and settled on the view from an overhead bridge near the ballast pit at Mount Hermon.

Earlier in the day we’d missed New England Central 611 (yes, this happens!) and so we weren’t taking any chances.

In position, camera in hands we were poised and ready for the train.

And then the sky opened up. ‘It can’t rain any harder!’

OH YES IT CAN!!!

The rain eased, the train came into view, and we exposed our photos.

90mm, f3.2 1/500 at 400 ISO

Soft light, mist and condensation, and a lack of harsh reflections from the midday sun (hidden by layers of cloud), contribute to an atmospheric scene.

It was worth the dampness!

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Dusk and Telephoto: or Summer 2018 with Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited Part 3.

NOTE: This post originally appeared on July 17, 2018, but owing to unknown technical faults the photos would not display properly. There should be four images displayed below with captions.

Tracking the Light is about process and not every photograph is a stunning success.

This post is part of my on going series of exercises photographing Amtrak’s Boston Section of the Lake Shore Limited that is running with extra sleepers as result of the temporary suspension of the New York section owing to Penn-Station repair.

Last week, my father and I drove to West Warren, Massachusetts, this time to photograph the eastward train, Amtrak 448.

The benefit of West Warren is the relatively open view with identifiable features. As mentioned previously, summer photography on the Boston & Albany has been made difficult by prolific plant growth along the line that has obscured many locations.

In this instance, I worked with two cameras; my old Canon EOS-7D with 100-400mm zoom, and my FujiFilm X-T1 with f2.0 90mm fixed telephoto.

Admittedly, the Canon combination isn’t the sharpest set up, but it allows me to play around with a very long telephoto.

Exposed at ISO 1250 f5.6 1/125th of a second using a Canon 7D with 100-400 images stabilization zoom lens set at 400mm.

This view shows the headend, and the collection of Viewliner sleepers and a diner at the rear of the train, plus B&A milepost 75, but I missed the focus, and overall it suffers from low depth of field and poor sharpness owing to a variety of factors including high ISO and motion blur. Not a calendar contender!

The X-T1 is very sharp, especially when working with the fixed (prime) lens.

Same train, same evening, same location; shorter, sharper and faster telephoto lens. But is this a better photo? The whole train is shown, but the image prominently features junk in the background. I’m not thrilled about this one either despite better technical quality.

Complicating matters was that it clouded over shortly before the train arrived, reduced the amount of available light. Details are in the captions.

Trailing view from the same overhead bridge at West Warren. Here a slightly shorter focal length lens may have better suited the scene. The biggest challenge is the overgrowth along the right of way that obscures the curve to the east and clutters the foreground limiting the view of the waterfall and river, etc. Over the last couple of years this location has really grown in.

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Lightening the Lake Shore—July 9, 2018.

This image was an afterthought.

Monday July 9, 2018, my father and I wandered to East Brookfield, Massachusetts to photograph Amtrak’s eastward Lake Shore Limited.

 Working on Fujichrome slide film, I first exposed a sequence of photos of the train coming through the switch at CP64 using my old Canon EOS3 with 400mm lens. Those slides remain latent (unprocessed) because I haven’t finished the roll yet.

Then at the last moment I decided to make this image using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens

This JPG, scaled  from the RAW file, represents the photo as exposed. It is unaltered in terms of exposure, contrast, color temperature, etc.

The difficulty is the extreme exposure difference between backlit sun on tracks at CP64 and the inky shadows on the line immediately to the east. Since my exposure was set for the sunlit sections, the shadow areas were underexposed.

The alternative was to expose for the shadows and let the highlights blow out (lose data), which would make for a lighter train, but less data captured.

In post processing, I worked with the Fuji RAW image, lightening the shadows, while adjusting color temperature and contrast. I’ve presented three images.

The darkest photo (above) is a JPG made without adjustment; the lighter two represent variations in post-processing adjustment.

If nothing else, these photos demonstrate the great dynamic range possible with the Fuji X-T1 digital camera.

Image 2: I’ve lightened and adjusted the RAW file.

Image 3: This version was further adjusted in Lightroom to control highlights, shadows and contrast while warming the color temperature to make a more presentable image.

Personally, I’m curious to see how my slides turn out!

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Amtrak, Nose Glint, Sleepers, and a Waterfall.

This summer Amtrak 448/449, the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited, is the onlysection of the Lake Shore Limited!

 Construction at Penn-Station New York has encouraged Amtrak to cancel the New York section of this popular train, and reassign its Viewliner sleeps to the Boston section.

A clear afternoon had me searching for locations. My first choice was the Tennyville Bridge in Palmer (Rt 32 bridge), but a large quantity of freight cars in Palmer yard discouraged me. My next choice was the field east of Palmer off Rt 67, but I vetoed this place because of excessive brush.

Brush and trees are real problem this time of year along the old Boston & Albany. Not only do the obstruct views of the tracks, but they cast impenetrable dark shadows.

So, I ended up at my standard fall back location at West Warren. Although, I’ve photographed Amtrak 449 here dozens of times, it had several advantages.

It’s a relatively short drive; it has elevation and an unobstructed view of the line from both sides of the tracks; its east-west orientation makes for nice early afternoon lighting; and the waterfall and mills make for an iconic and readily identifiable backdrop.

So, West Warren it was. Again.

I made this sequence with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens.

West Warren, Massachusetts is an iconic location on the old Boston & Albany.

By the time Amtrak train 449 reached me, the sun had crossed over to the northside of the tracks. Notice the unfortunate nose-glint’ reflecting off the front of the engine. I tempered this in post processing with an adjustment to the highlight-level.

Here’s the three Viewliner sleepers at the back of the train.

Two difficulties; the nosy angle of the sun made it difficult to get an acceptable broad side angle on the train, so the three sleepers at the back are visually marginalized. Secondly, the wedge angle of the Amtrak P42 front-end kicked back the sun with harsh ‘nose glint’.

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Amtrak 157—Four Photos.

Train 157 is Amtrak’s Sunday-only Springfield, Massachusetts to Norfolk, Virginia run.

Refurbished Amfleet offer a comfortable classic ride.

Amfleet diner.

At New Haven, Amtrak 157 paused to change from a diesel to an electric locomotive. I used the opportunity to make a few photos.

The New York skyline as viewed from the Hell Gate bridge.

On my trip,I traveled only as far as New York Penn-Station and made these photos with my Lumix LX-7. Here the train is both transport and subject.

The lightweight Lumix is an ideal camera for urban imaging. Its small size, innocuous appearance and ease of use makes it a perfect travel camera.

It has an extremely sharp Leica lens, simultaneously exposes RAW and JPG file formats, offers manual aperture control among a variety of exposure adjustments.

It’s largest drawback is the lack of a long telephoto zoom.

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Overexposed at 150 mph!

My goal was to stop Amtrak’s Acela Expressat speed.

I wanted to use the fastest shutter speed, so I dialed in a wide aperture on my Lumix LX-7.

However, I was using the aperture priority ‘A’ setting, and when I ‘opened up’, I inadvertently overexposed, because the maximum shutter speed possibly on this camera is 1/2000thof a second, and the correct shutter speed/f-stop combination for my wide aperture was probably closer to 1/4000thof a second.

Whoops.

The result is an overexposed digital RAW file.

That means I let in toomuch light. Not only is the tonality too bright, but I’ve suffered data loss in the highlight areas.

This is a Jpg made from the unadjusted RAW file. In other words I’ve not made an effort to correct for over exposure.

Working with the RAW file in Lightroom, I was able to adjust my exposure, and recover some of the highlight detail lost in the in-camera Jpg.

The result is pretty good.

Working in Lightroom, I’ve adjust the RAW file to compensate for over exposure, and made the image appear more-or-less as it did at the time of exposure.

So why bother getting the exposure right if you can adjust the photo after the fact?

Data.

Ideally, when a photo is exposed properly the RAW file should capture the maximum amount of information. When a photo, such as this one, is overexposed it suffers from data loss. Although the correction looks presentable, the bottom line is that the file has less data than if it had been correctly exposed.

So while you can ‘fix it’ after the fact, it pays to get right on site—when you can.

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Amtrak’s Vermonter with American Flags.

This is a grab shot; I didn’t have time to do what I intended (and the sun went in).

We arrived at the small cemetery at West Northfield, Massachusetts minutes before Amtrak 56 (northward Vermonter).

 The brush along the railroad has recently been cut. Unfortunately, a brush cutting/removal machine was awkwardly (as in non-photographically) positioned by the tracks, foiling my intend angle for a photo. I was going to try ‘plan b’.

I’d heard the crew call ‘Approach’ for East Northfield, I was hoping for time to swap to a wide angle lens, when I saw the headlight.

No time: so instead, I hastily composed this vertical view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

The front of the locomotive is nearly centered. I wonder if I should have let it move a bit more to the left for a more effective composition?

I like the American flags, placed for Memorial Day. I wonder about my placement of the front of the locomotive relative to the gap in the brush. Should I have let the locomotive continue a few more feet to the left?

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Retrospective in 3 Photos: Amtrak E60s in the Early 1980s.

In my early days, picturing former Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electrics was one of my main photographic interests.

I held Amtrak’s newer E60 electrics is disdain.  These modern, boxy electrics appeared to be supplanting the GG1s. For me they lacked the historic connections, the elegant streamlined style, and the character of the GG1. They were bland and common.

I may not have been fond of the E60s. But I always photographed them. They were part of the scene, and important elements of modern operations.

Recently I rediscovered these E60 photos along with some other long-missing black & white negatives.

Amtrak E60 972 leads a westward/southward train at the PATH (Husdon & Manhattan) station in Harrison, New Jersey on a gray wintery afternoon in 1981.

Kodak Tri-X processed in Microdol-X.

The view from my grandparents’ balcony in Co-op City in The Bronx overlooked Amtrak’s former New Haven Railroad Hell Gate Bridge route. I made this view using a Leitz 200mm Telyt telephoto lens attached to a Visoflex reflex viewfinder. Although klutzy, this lens arrangement allowed me to attach the telephoto lens to my Leica 3A. Focusing on moving subjects was a challenge. I made this view hand-held and while I nailed the focus  my level was completely off. I corrected the skew in post processing.

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When East is West: Two Trains at the Junction.

I’ve been making photos at the Junction at East Northfield since the 1980s.

The other day, on the third visit in two weeks to this iconic New England location (where New England Central’s line connects with Pan Am Railway’s Conn River route), I had a reckoning.

It occurred to me that railroad timetable ‘East Northfield’ is actually north and west of the town of Northfield, Massachusetts.

How is this possible?

Some Highway maps show railroad ‘East Northfield’ in West Northfield.

This timetable location has been called ‘East Northfield’ since the steam era,  and the present NECR sign reflects this historic geographic incongruity.

New England Central’s northward 611 (running from Palmer to Brattleboro) holds south of the junction at East Northfield for Amtrak 56, the northward Vermonter, led by P42 number 59. (Don’t get me started on train numbers versus engine numbers!)

Amtrak 56 accelerates away from the junction at East Northfield, clearly identified by the New England Central sign at left. Back in the old days, there was a railroad station on the right side of the tracks, and that was the ‘East Northfield Station’.

After Amtrak 56 completed its station stop at Brattleboro and cleared railroad location at West River, NECR’s dispatcher gave northward freight 611 permission to proceed. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm lens.

No doubt at some point in the future, the geography will be retro-actively re-written to accommodate this oversight on the part of historic railroad timetable writers. What will they make of my captions!

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Acela Express Cross-Lit on the Draw.

Yes, I’m trying to pick a title that will get you to read this post.

I could call it ‘Fast Train on the Bridge’ or ‘Amtrak on the New Haven’, or ‘What? NO! Not Westport, Again!’ Or perhaps the accurate, if opaque, ‘Trailing View over the Saugatuck.’

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens. To make this photo work, I had to carefully mind the shadows from catenary poles so they didn’t appear to intersect the sloping face of the Acela Express train set.

In late April, I made this trailing view of a Boston-bound Acela Expresstilting train crossing the former New Haven Railroad draw bridge at Westport, Connecticut.

By working from the outbound Metro-North platform in the evening, I cross lit the train for dramatic effect and to better show the infrastructure.

Cross-lighting, is when the main light source (the sun in this case) primarily illuminates only the facing surface of the subject, while the  surfaces are bathed in shadow. This presents a more dramatic contrast than three-quarter lighting, which offered relative even illumination across the subject.

Cross-lighting is often most effective for railroad photography when the sun is relatively low in the sky. In this instance the compression effect that results from the long telephoto lens works well with the cross lit train.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens. To make this photo work, I had to carefully mind the shadows from catenary polls so they didn’t appear to interect the sloping face of the Acela Expresstrain set.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

 

 

Dynamic Photo: German Electric on the Shore Line.

Amtrak Siemens-built ACS-64 ‘Cities Sprinters’ are the standard electric locomotives for Regional and Long Distance services operating on the Northeast Corridor.

I made this view of Amtrak 160 blasting through the station at Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

For my raw and unmodified composition I gave the camera a slight tilt that makes for a more dynamic image of the fast electric in action.

My original composition features a slight angle intended to better convey speed and motion.

Purists might flinch at my altering of the level, so I’ve ‘corrected’ the photo in post processing and offer the more ‘normal’ view as well.

Here’s the revised image, ‘corrected’ in post processing.

Who said you can have your cake and eat too?

Which version do you prefer?

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March 2018 Trains Magazine Features My Photo of Amtrak 611.

I was pleased to learn the my wintery photo of Amtrak ACS-64 611 was selected for the cover of the March 2018 issue of Trains Magazine.

Using my Canon EOS 7D and a telephoto lens, I exposed this view on a visit to Branford, Connecticut with Patrick Yough just over three years ago.

On January 10, 2015, Amtrak ACS-64 No. 611 leads train 161 westward at Branford, Connecticut.

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Amtrak in the Snow; f9 and be there.

Running errands again.

Amtrak 449 was only 2 minutes late leaving Worcester.

I stopped in at CP83 in Palmer between tasks (I had to mail a letter and visit the bank).

Signals lit westbound; first all red, then a high green on the main track.

“Clear signal CP83 main to main”

f9.0 1/500th of second at ISO 400.

With my ISO preset to 400, using the histogram in the camera, I set my exposure as follows; f9.0 1/500th of a second.

I like my snow white; but not blown out (over exposed).

F7.1 1/500th at ISO 400.

F7.1 1/500th at ISO 400.

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