Tag Archives: Amtrak

From the Window of Train 61.

In August 1984, I was traveling overnight on Amtrak’s Montrealer—train 61—from its Canadian namesake to Washington D.C. Approaching Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, I made this view with a Leica 3A rangefinder. The camera was fitted with an antique uncoated 50mm Elmar, which resulted in images with broad tonality, but low contrast.

Exposing through Amtrak’s windows further reduced contrast and sharpness, but the effect is almost ethereal and dreamlike. Gliding along, I was witnessing mid-1980s railroading the way I like to remember it.

A Conrail freight was crossing the elevated High Line. While in the yard sat several sets of ‘Capitolliners’—the original Budd-built ‘Metroliner’ cars that had been rebuilt and were serving the Keystone corridor to Harrisburg.

I remember the Metroliner cars in the 1970s when they worked their namesake highspeed services between New York and Washington, but this is one of the few photos I made of the cars as ‘Capitolliners’, which today makes it special. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been re-reseaching the ground-breaking Metroliner for my new book on Amtrak equipment.

Almost daily, I see these old Metroliner cars which still work to Harrisburg, but now as neutered (unpowered) control cabs on the Keystone trains. Today, they are now among the oldest Amtrak cars in regular revenue service.

Central to this photo I made through the window of Train 61 are the sets of Capitoliner multiple units.

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Stormy Sunset—July 10, 2024

Last night a stormy sunset filled the western sky. Thunderstorms were raging to the North and West of Lancaster, Pa.

Kris and I drove by my standard location along Jefferson Drive. Amtrak Keystone 620 was just getting ready to depart Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

We paused so I could made a few photos using my Lumix LX7. Using the ‘Scene Mode’ feature, I selected ‘Night mode’ to make better use of the low evening light. This blends a series of images exposed during a synchronized burst.

I’ve included the camera info in the last frame which lists all the tech data imbedded in the photo.

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Failed Diesel and an Electric to the Rescue!

Saturday afternoon, Kris and I were having lunch at the Speckled Hen in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, when my old friend Dan Howard forwarded me a text with a photo of Amtrak 42 (eastward Pennsylvanian) crossing the Rockville Bridge with a Norfolk Southern GE in the lead exposed about an hour earlier.

We didn’t know the details, but it appeared that Amtrak’s GENESIS P42 (that normal leads the train) had failed. I realized that it was unlikely that the NS locomotive would continue east because it probably didn’t have compatible signaling equipment, but that Amtrak was likely to assign an ACS-64 electric to haul the train to Philadelphia.

We were a little late learning this, and when I checked the tracker (asm.transitdocs.com) train 42 was already east of Harrisburg. Yet, we still had time to finish lunch and check a few locations. My favorite spots at Gap were back-lit.

When I checked the tracker a second time, I saw that 42 wasn’t making great eastward progress, so we backtracked west to Leaman Place in Paradise, Pa. Not only did we make it there in time to catch train 42 with an ACS-64 leading the failed diesel, but Amtrak Keystone train 670 was about three minutes behind it!

Photos exposed using a Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

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Anticipating Changes

On our recent visit to Windsor Locks, Connecticut, I made a series of photographs of an Amtrak Sunday-only Springfield to Washington DC train making its station stop.

In the relatively near future this entire scene is expected to change. Amtrak’s P42 diesels are reaching the end of their useful lives, and Amtrak’s Amfleet replacement cars are on order. Plans have also been made to build a new and improved station for Windsor Locks about a mile north of the present station.

The present Windsor Locks station is pretty basic. It lacks amenities, features just a short platform, and is scenically bereft. Yet, I’ve made many photos here over the last forty years.

Documenting change is more than just making pretty pictures.

These views were exposed digitially using my Nikon Z digital cameras.

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Amtrak 101

Is there room for subtlety and allusion?

I could make a lot of this photo.

Kris, Seamus-the-dog and I arrived at the Farmington River in Windsor, Connecticut just a few minutes before Amtrak’s southward train 143 (from Springfield, Massachusetts) was due to cross the former New Haven Railroad bridge over the mirror-like waters.

In the lead was Amtrak P42 GENESIS 101.

A couple of weeks ago, I signed the papers for my next book which will tell the story of Amtrak through its equipment. This will be more than a nuts and bolts analysis of Amtrak motive power, although I’m hoping to cover a lot of detail.

Just remember, the mirror image of 101 is 101.

Note to regular TTL viewers: Yesterday’s Post ‘Brief Visit to a Familiar Place’ was experiencing some technical difficulties. I received a variety of concerned comments that the photos were not appearing as expected. Word Press appears to have resolve the problem. You may re-check this post at: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/brief-visit-to-a-familiar-place/

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Elizabethtown, PA.

It was a fine warm evening when Kris, Seamus-the-Dog and I visited Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad station at Elizabethtown, PA. According to Kurt Bell, railroad historian, PHMC’s Railroad Collections Archivist and an Elizabethtown resident, the station building dates to 1915, and is situated on a late 19th century line relocation on a high fill.

Kris and I had checked the station on a rainy day a few weeks earlier.

Amtrak has be undertaking a rebuilding of its Harrisburg Line, and there was evidence of this work as well as a variety of track equipment, including a multi-section Loram machine—possibly a rail vac, used for ballast work. The days of the old wooden ties on the main tracks are coming to a close.

I timed our visit to catch westward Amtrak Keystone train 667.

This was running on the near track to avoid the on-going work on the opposite track, which is typically used for westward movements.

Digital images exposed using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm and Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom.

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Pennsylvanians in High Sun

I was hoping to time it right to get the eastward and westward Amtrak Pennsylvanians (trains 42 and 43) passing one another at Bird-in-Hand.

In truth this is a more aesthetic exercise during the winter months when the light is low and the air is crisp. But not all photo opportunities present themselves in the perfect light.

As it turned out the two trains passed by within 90 seconds of one another, so there was no ‘running meet’ for me on this day.

All photos exposed with my Nikon Z7-II. NEF-RAW files adjusted in post-processing using Adobe Lightroom.

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Electric in Motion

I like Amtrak’s Siemens Cities Sprinters—the ACS-64s.

These are powerful, sharp looking and fast!

We had a moment, and I knew an Amtrak Keystone train 651 was less than five minutes away and closing quickly. So we paused along the old Main Line at Bird-in-Hand, Pa.

I don’t where ‘Bush,’ Pennsylvania is, but I wasn’t willing to risk trying to get there to find two ACS-64s on the move when I knew one was so close. (Sorry, it’s ‘bad-pun Thursday’!)

Using my Nikon Z7-II, I exposed a burst of photos as the train raced by trying to make up time as it approached its Lancaster station stop. ACS-64 number 668 was working in ‘push’-mode at the back of the consist.

Below are two of my favorites from this effort. These are scaled from the NEF-RAW capture without alterations to exposure, contrast or color.

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Pink Tree-Part Three

I made another attempt a scoring a westward Amtrak Keystone passing a blossoming tree on Jefferson Drive in Lancaster, PA.

In my first attempt at this location, my efforts were foiled by a passing pickup truck that altered my composition and confused the Nikon’s autofocusing system. See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/amtrak-pink-tree-blossoms-fail/

I did much better with my second effort, which featured Norfolk Southern’s local freight on the New Holland Branch (which is adjacent to Amtrak’s electrified line). See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/flowering-tree-part-2-crescent-cab/

For this third effort, I reduced the size of my autofocus point and relocated it so it would not be affected by road traffic.

I also adjusted the zoom outward to provide a wider angle of view.

Although a car snuck into the photo at the last moment, at least the camera remained focused on Amtrak. This was more successful than my first attempt, but not as pleasing as my second effort. Time was running out for the pink blossoms, but I wasn’t done with this project yet!

Amtrak & Pink Tree Blossoms—Fail!

Spring is a beautiful time of year in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Beautiful blossoming trees can be seen all along the roads and highways.

Finding trees near the tracks is more of a challenge, but not far from our apartment are some of the most rail-proximate photographable specimens .

Sometimes what seems so easy, proves difficult.

Last Monday, I planned to catch a westward Amtrak Keystone passing a beautifully blossoming tree along Jefferson Drive.

I set up a few minutes ahead of the train. However just as the westward train raced into view (cabcar first, ACS-64 electric at the rear), a pickup truck entered the scene. Not only did this truck present a distracting element in my composition, but as the truck passed it threw off the autofocus on my Nikon Z7-II. It changed the center of focus from the train to an indiscriminate point.

This all happened in the blink of an eye. By the time, I recognized there was a problem, it was too late to fix it.

The resulting images were something less than satisfactory. So I knew, I’ll have to try this again . . . .

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Harrisburg Station

The former Pennsylvania Railroad Station at Harrisburg, Pa., is the western terminus of Amtrak’s Keystone service, and also served by the Pennsylvanian that continues on to Pittsburgh.

This is a comparatively important Amtrak Station, which retains much of its classic charm. It is a clean, well used facility, however, I was surprised by the relative dearth of services and facilities in and around the station.

Last week, I made these photos of the historic structure with my Nikon Z7-II, and then adjusted the NEF RAW files with Adobe Lightroom.

My friend Dan Cupper had arranged for me visit several facilities in Harrisburg that were preserved by the Harrisburg Chapter of the NRHS, and those photos will appear in up-coming Tracking the Light posts. Stay tuned . . .

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Keystone with Blossoming Trees

Sunday afternoon, Kris & I went for a wee drive. This was neatly planned to coincide with the passing of a westward Amtrak Keystone at Jefferson Drive in Lancaster.

For a week, I’d been eyeing the Spring blossoms on decorative tress along Jefferson drive, but was discouraged by the ‘Irish’ weather we seem to have brought back with us.

Since Sunday was bright and clear, I recognized the time was ripe to make the most of the light and the trees.

Photos were exposed of Amtrak Keystone 665 on its approach to Lancaster, PA.

Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm lens.
Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm lens.
Nikon Z7-II with 70-200mm lens.

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Amfleet Article in May Trains Magazine

Among the magazines waiting in our post box upon our arrival back in Lancaster, PA, was the May 2024 Trains Magazine.

Pages 49-50 featured my monthly travel column. I focused on Amtrak’s Amfleet in a personal retrospective titled ‘Last chance to ride Amfleet.’

Below is a short list of out-takes from the photos I selected for my May column.

These were exposed with my various Lumix LX-cameras.

Lumix LX3. Amcafe at New Haven, Connecticut.
Amcoaches at Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Exposed with 16:9 aspect ratio.
Quiet car on Amtrak 95.

Snow and Moonlight at Leaman Place.

The combination of a low ceiling, a bright moon and the blanket of snow covering the ground made for interesting evening light.

While there really wasn’t enough light to stop a fast moving Amtrak Keystone, I felt the ambient lighting conditions were still conducive to photography.

I set up my Bogen tripod in the snow and attached to it my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series lens.

After a few test photos at ISO 200 to check my angle and lighting, I set the ISO to 2000 and waited fo the Keystone to zip by at speed.

The final pair of photos were exposed a f4, for 1.6 seconds with the lens set to 24mm.

Test photo, ISO 200, f4.0 15 seconds..
ISO 2000, f4, for 1.6 seconds
ISO 2000, f4, for 1.6 seconds

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Two for One at Christiana

Fortune was with us on Saturday.

After lunch, we drove the back way over to Christiana, Pa., where I hoped to catch Amtrak 670 in the afternoon sun.

The tracks are oriented on a south-north alignment at Christiana, which makes it a good place to photograph eastward train on a sunny day, if you mind the shadows.

Where Keystone 670 was pretty much ‘on the advertised,’ Amtrak 42, the eastward Pennsylvanian had fallen down a bit, and was just a few minutes behind.

So for the effort of one eastward train, we caught two! One electric and one diesel.

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Look Ma No Pans!

High winds on Tuesday resulted in some unusual activity on Wednesday.

Norfolk Southern’s New Holland Branch is a line that runs near (and ultimately connects with) Amtrak’s electrified former Pennsylvania Railroad Harrisburg Line. At Jefferson Drive in Lancaster, the lines are in sight of one another. While I was waiting for NS’s branch local, I was surprised by late running Amtrak Keystone that passed under wire with a P42 diesel leading an ACS-64 electric with its pantographs down.

I was out of position to photograph the eastward Amtrak train, but I made my photos of the Norfolk Southern freight (for a later post). Afterward I made a few inquiries to learn about Amtrak’s situation.

From my understanding the high winds on Tuesday had damaged the overhead lines in the Philadelphia area. To keep its trains running, Amtrak assigned P42s in the lead. Give credit to Amtrak for doing what was needed to get trains over the road!

Later in the day, during the lunch hour, Kris and I went trackside at Bird-in-Hand, Pa., where we caught westward Amtrak 643 Keystone running ‘behind the advertised’ with a P42 at the Harrisburg-end and an ACS-64 with its pans down on the Philadelphia end.

I made these images using my Nikon Z7-II. The NEF RAW files were adjusted for contrast, exposure and saturation in post processing.

Amtrak 643 at Bird-in-Hand, Pa.
Amtrak 643 at Bird-in-Hand, Pa.
Amtrak 643 at Bird-in-Hand, Pa.

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Amtrak 643 at Gap

After days of gray cloudy skies the sun emerged. Kris and I paused at Gap, Pa., to roll by Amtrak’s westward Keystone, train 643. This was operating cab-car first with an ACS-64 electric at the back of the consist.

Working with my Nikon Z7-II and 24-70mm zoom set to 70mm, I exposed a series of images. I cropped these in post processing to emphasize the horizontal perspective.

70mm view, f4.5, 1/1250 second, ISO 200.
70mm view, f4.5, 1/1250 second, ISO 200.
70mm view, f4.5, 1/1250 second, ISO 200.

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Out of the Mist at Windsor Locks.

Amtrak 494 was running a bit behind the advertised when we arrived the ‘station’ in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

I had time to set up my tripod, make an assessment of the lighting conditions, and frame up my photo before the train came into view.

The two car shuttle from New Haven made a very brief stop. I exposed this sequence using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens set at ISO 8000.

After just a moment the train was on its way toward Springfield, Massachusetts.

ISO8000, f4 1/125 second.
ISO8000, f4 1/200th second.

More than 38 years ago, I made a black & white photo of an Amtrak painted Budd-SPV2000 stopping here. See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/spv2000-at-windsor-locks-may-1985/

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Square Mount—January 1, 1980

I made comparatively few color photos prior to 1980 and I have precious few ‘square mount’ Kodachrome slides.

On January 1, 1980, I traveled with my family from The Bronx, New York back to our home in Monson, Massachusetts. On the way, we stopped at New Haven, Connecticut to take a look at Amtrak GG1 4935 that had been repainted into the Raymond Loewy designed PRR scheme.

Using my old Leica 3A rangefinder I made this Kodachrome color slide of a Chevy pickup truck parked next to the antique electric locomotive.

I don’t know what became of the pickup but today the old GG1 is preserved and displayed at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, Pa. I’ve featured this locomotive in several recent Tracking the Light posts.

This Kodachrome slide was exposed 44 years ago!

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Slowing for the Curve at Gap

Amtrak Keystone 666 was slowing for the restrictive curve at Gap, Pa.

Siemens ACS-64 electrics were fore and aft. White lights forward, red at a rear.

Working with my Nikon Z mirrorless cameras, I exposded this coming and going sequence as the train glided east toward Philadelphia.

Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm zoom.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm zoom.
Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm zoom.
Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm zoom.

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Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian Crosses the Conestoga

Not far from our Lancaster apartment, Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line to Harrisburg crosses the Conestoga River on an impressive multiple-span stone arch bridge.

Fellow author and photographer, Dan Cupper had shown me how to reach this bridge before Kris and I relocated. Since our move last Spring I’ve paid several visits to the western bank of the river, but I hadn’t caught Amtrak’s diesel-hauled Pennsylvanian here until the afternoon of Halloween Day.

The combination of late-season foliage, polarized sun and relatively clear autumn air, made this an ideal time to picture the train on the bridge. I checked various angles along the riverbank before deciding upon this place to make my images.

Amtrak train 42, the eastward Pennsylvania crosses the Conestoga on October 31, 2023.

Photos exposed using a Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

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Sunset on the Susquehanna—a few views of the old PRR bridge at Havre de Grace, Maryland.

On our brief visit to Havre de Grace, Maryland in mid-October, I made these views of Amtrak’s late-running train No., 120 gliding across its early Twentieth Century bridge over the Susquehanna River. Leading the train was ACS-64 No. 633.

This antique bridge fascinates me. It’s an old-school pin-connected deck truss. And it’s an impressive imposing structure for its size and length. Word to the wise: get your photos because it is soon to be replaced!

While nothing lasts forever, I’ll miss this old bridge when its gone.

I aimed to get the Amtrak electric passing the rising moon.
Adobe Lightroom work window showis the details of this image.
I like this telephoto view, which best captures the immense size of the old bridge.

I made these photos with my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom.

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Nice Light on Amtrak 642 in Veteran’s Paint.

Of Amtrak’s 70 Siemans ACS-64 electrics, only No. 642 wears the special paint scheme that honors American veterans.

Thanks to Dan Cupper for alerting me that Amtrak 642 was working Keystone train 652, which I caught passing Gap, Pennsylvania.

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Amtrak’s Crescent Under Wire

The Crescent is Amtrak’s daily long-distance train that connects New York City with Atlanta and New Orleans.

Nearly five years ago, my father and I traveled overnight on the Crescent between Wilmington, Delaware and New Orleans as part of a three-day Amtrak epic that began at Windsor Locks, Connecticut and concluded at Houston, Texas.

During mid-October, Kris and I spent the afternoon following the Susquehanna River down to Perryville, Maryland. I navigated our way to the MARC commuter rail station from memory. (I’d last stopped there in 1992). This is situated along Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad’s Northeast Corridor. Upon arrival, I saw there was a train coming, alerted Kris and grabbed my Nikon Z6 to make telephoto views.

As the train approached, I made this sequence of digital images, while Kris filmed its passing with her phone. It was the southward Crescent with Viewliner sleepers and diner at the back.

Crosslit late autumn sun made for dramatic images as the train braked for the slow order over the Susquehanna River bridge. The challenge was capturing the light on the train between shadows from the electrification supports. (Tip: It helps to have a rapid release setting to take bursts of images.)

Another train was approaching from the far side of the river. But I’ll save that for a later post.

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Susquehanna Bridges viewed from Port Deposit

In late October, Kris & I drove down the east bank of the Susquehanna to Port Deposit, Maryland. This historic town offers some magnificent views of the river.

The four bridges in the picture from closest to furthest are: Interstate 95, CSX’s former Baltimore & Ohio, US Highway 40, and Amtrak’s former Pennsylvania Railroad bridge that runs between Perryville on the east bank to Havre de Grace on the west bank.

I made this photo with my Nikon Z6 and 70-200mm Z-series zoom set at 200mm. I wonder what I could do here with an even longer telephoto lens?

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Keystone at Bird-in-Hand

Bird-in-Hand is a classic Pennsy Main Line location.

The 1920s-era grade separation with concrete stairwells over Pennsylvania Route 340 is largely intact.

The once four-main railroad snakes through a gentle curve, which can make for a dynamic setting. I caught eastward Amtrak Keystone 670 shortly after its Lancaster, Pa., station stop.

The zebra striped cab-car works well in the autumnal scene.

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Amtrak 448 at the Warren Crossovers—1983.

This was a just a routine scene from 40 years ago: Amtrak’s eastward Lake Shore Limited (Boston section) train 448 at the Warren Crossovers.

Back in the days when Conrail’s former Boston & Albany was still operated as a traditional directional double-track mainline (under rule 251), there were manual cross-overs at strategic locations, including Warren, Mass.

Historically (pre-1960), the Warren Crossovers also served the Warren Yard and the long unsignaled eastward running track from West Warren that had allowed slow moving freights to keep out of the way of faster eastward trains.

These crossovers were removed after Conrail installed TCS signals and single-tracked the B&A east of Palmer in 1986.

I made these photos on Kodachrome using my Leica 3A during the second week of October 1983.

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Indian Summer for GE’s Genesis™

Amtrak’s General Electric Genesis™ diesels are reaching the end of their useful lives.

Yet, as of this writing in October 2023, these 1990s-vintage diesels still regularly work the Pennsylvanian between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

During the high midday light of summer, I didn’t expend time to photograph the passage of the Pennsylvanian, Amtrak trains 42 and 43, which normally pass one another not far from where we now live in Lancaster, PA. However, last week, I picked a bright afternoon to photograph both trains at Gap, similar to what I had done back in January.

Amtrak train 43—the Pennsylvanian—westbound at Gap, PA.
Amtrak train 43—the Pennsylvanian—westbound at Gap, PA.
Amtrak train 43—the Pennsylvanian—westbound at Gap, PA.
Amtrak train 43—the Pennsylvanian—westbound at Gap, PA.
Amtrak train 42—the Pennsylvanian—eastbound at Gap, PA.
Amtrak train 42—the Pennsylvanian—eastbound at Gap, PA.

Both trains were captured using my Nikon Z7II with 24-70mm Nikkor Z-series zoom.

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Stainless Steel, Platinum Mist and the Silver Lining to a Puffy Cloud.

Amtrak Keystone 650 was running a wee bit behind the advertised.

I was set up at Leaman Place, east of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

There had been brilliant bright sun light— and there still was all around me—but in the interval between when the train was scheduled to pass my location and when it actually raced by, a puffy cloud had found its way between me and the sun.

There’s an (unmentionable) phrase for this.

Anyway, my going away (trailing) views made use of the softened directional light, which treated the metallic train nicely.

I made these photos with my Z7II and 24-70mm lens set at 40mm; ISO 200, f4 1/1600th sec.

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Amtrak 915 in Delaware

In the fading of sun of December 22, 1992, I made this Kodachrome slide of Amtrak AEM-7 915 slowing for its Newark, Delaware station stop on its way toward Philadelphia and New York’s Penn-Station. In the distance is a Conrail local freight.

Nikon F3T with Nikon f4.0 200mm lens.

Working with glint light was always a challenge. And I’d made a series of exposures of the train. This is probably my darkest; f8 1/125 with K25.

Greatly enlarged section of the same scanned slide.

On Wednesday, I stopped by the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania to continue research for my next book, and paused to make these contemporary photos of old 915 using my Lumix LX7.

I also featured 915 then and now photos on Tracking the Light back in April. See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/amtrak-915-1981-and-2023/

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Two Main Track

On directional double track, trains proceed on signal indication in the current of traffic. On Two Main track, both tracks are signaled in both directions, which allows trains to proceed on either track in either direction on signal indication.

Last week, I made these views of the westward Amtrak Keystone train 647 on the close track at Leaman Place, PA. From what I could ascertain, it had run around another train on the far track near Parkesburg.

While this move was fully signaled, I thought it was comparatively unusual in that it was the first time I’d seen a regularly scheduled Amtrak westbound using the near track at this location. This made for photo opportunities that I might not have considered if the train was on the far track.

I made this motor drive sequence using my Nikon Z7-II with 24-70mm lens.

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Stopping 649 with 1/2500th second

Crisp evening light.

Amtrak Keystone 649 was two minutes down from the advertised and cruising to make up time to reach its Lancaster, PA station stop on schedule.

I made this view at Leaman Place using a Nikon Z7II with 24-70mm lens, my shutter was set to 1/2500th of a second.

My drive was set to ‘turbo flutter’. As the train approached, I made this burst of images.

ACS-64 610 leads Amtrak Keystone 649 at Leaman Place, PA.

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Sunset and a Clear aspect at Greenfield

The days are getting shorter. You can see it in the evening sky.

Yet, the sunsets are vivid.

I’ve been looking for ways to better feature the color position light signal at milepost 64.5 near Greenfield in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

I made this view with my Nikon Z7-II and Nikkor Z-series 70-200mm lens of Amtrak Keystone train 653 racing west by the signal. This train had Amtrak’s ACS-64 electrics at both ends; locomotive 621 was leading westbound; and 668 was at the back.

I’d guess that something was amiss with the former Metroliner cab car at the westend of the train.

In this instance because the signal is the subject, I picked a trailing angle and selected a slower ISO setting and comparatively slow shutter speed to allow the train a little bit of motion blur, while keeping the signal sharp.

When I try this again, I may zoom in tighter on the signal.

ISO 200, f3.5 at 1/160th second. 70-200mm lens set to 98mm.
ISO 200, f3.5 at 1/320th second. 70-200mm lens set to 98mm.

This is just a cropped and adjusted view of the photo at center above. However, it approximates how large I’d like to frame the signal in a future image.

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Contrasts at Gap

Amtrak Keystone 656 departed Lancaster, PA on time.

We drove to intercept it along the Main Line at Gap.

This time of year evening trains at Gap are coming directly out of the sun. This can be a challenge or a feature, depending on how you make your photographs.

I like to work with contrasty evening light. In my black & white film days, I’d adjust the contrast in the processing and use a relatively weak (dilute) solution of a highly active developer at comparatively high temperature with minimal agitation.

With my Nikon Z cameras I can achieve similar results in color with post-processing adjustments of the RAW files in Lightroom.

Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens. Exposure; f6.3 at 1/2000th second, ISO 200.
Adobe Lightroom work window showing the position of slider corrective controls. (Ignore the prefix ‘auto’ before each slider control).
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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Electric, Steam and Diesel in 45 minutes!

Last Thursday morning, I photographed four trains in 45 minutes. Three were scheduled.

I caught eastward and westward Amtrak Keystone trains at Gap, Pennsylvania, then made a short drive over to the Strasburg Rail Road, where I waited for the 10am scheduled excursion to Leaman Place. As this steam hauled train approached Blackhorse Road, I could hear a second horn to the west.

I surmised that Strasburg’s local freight might be following the excursion. My guess was close; Strasburg’s SW8 diesel was leading a ballast hopper toward Leaman Place where it would clear for the excursion to return.

I can’t recall any time in the recent past in America where I caught electric, steam and diesel trains over such a short span of time.

Photos exposed with my Lumix LX7.

Amtrak Keystone train 646 eastbound near Gap, PA. Lumix LX7 photo.
Trailing view of Amtrak Keystone train 646 eastbound near Gap, PA with ACS-64 665 at the rear of the consist. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Amtrak train 641 working cab car first rolls through Gap, PA. ACS-64 667 electric is working at the back of the train.
Trailing view of Keystone 641 with ACS-64 667 electric as it passes Gap, PA. Lumix LX7 photo.
Strasburg Rail Road 2-6-0 number 89 crosses Blackhorse Road with the 10am excursion. Lumix LX7 photo.
Strasburg 89 up close and personal!
Strasburg Rail Road’s former New York Central SW8 leads a ballast car eastbound at Blackhorse Road.
Trailing view of Strasburg Rail Roadl SW8 8618 eastbound at Blackhorse Road.Lumix LX photo

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