On August 5, 1984, my late friend Robert A. Buck gave me an unforgettable tour of the Bangor & Aroostook in central Maine.
Among the stops on our trip was a brief visit to the disused tower at Lagrange. If you look to the right you can see Bob and his famous green van through the weeds.
I exposed this photo on Kodak Plus-X using an old Leica 3A with a Canon f1.8 50mm screw-mount lens. I processed the film in Kodak Microdol-X and stored the negatives for 35 years in an envelope. Last month I scanned the negatives using an Epson V750 scanner.
For me this one image of the Bangor & Aroostook really conveys the spirit of a railroad in motion and captures the lay of the land of coastal Maine.
What makes a great railroad photo? It has to be more than just a picture of an interesting train.
Brandon Delaney was driving his Toyota sports car and I was leaning out the window with my Leica as we paced the northward Searsport Turn. I made this image as we passed a grade crossing at Prospect, Maine.
The great rolling ribbon of Highway 174 is one of several visual threads that helps tie the photo together and makes for added interest. The electric poles and grade crossing signals are cool elements too.
This isn’t just a railroad photo of a GP9 on the move, but an image showing a train in motion crossing a distinctive landscape.
It was on the evening of August 5, 1984 that I exposed this photo in the tradition of Richard Steinheimer, Jim Shaughnessy and the legendary Mr. Link.
I’d admit it was a long day, but that never stopped me. Bob Buck and I had set out from Tenants Harbor, Maine in the morning. As per tradition, we’d called into Northern Maine Junction and signed releases with the Bangor & Aroostook.
The railroad was very friendly and advised us of a northward freight heading to Millinocket. This had an F-unit in consist (number 42, just in case you needed to know).
We spent our daylight hours making photos along the way.
Then in the evening we returned to Northern Maine Junction.
My father had lent me a large Metz electronic photo strobe. I was perfecting my night flash technique, where I’d carefully blend existing light with strategically placed strobe bursts.
I was particularly interested in Bangor & Aroostook’s rare BL2 diesels.
This view focuses on engine 54, while the famed American Railfan, engine 557 that had been repainted into its as-built scheme, lurked in the darkness beyond.
A few key pops with the flash sorted that out.
Did you know that Tracking the Light posts something different everymorning?
I exposed this black & white photograph on December 31, 1986. An eastward Conrail freight was rolling through Springfield (Massachusetts) Union Station.
I intentionally selected a relatively slow shutter speed to allow for motion blur.
Today, the scene has completely changed.
What to me seemed like a timeless scene back in 1986 is now a much dated image.
The buildings behind the freight cars are gone. The old 11-storey Hotel Charles was demolished decades ago, while in December 2014, the long closed baggage rooms and signal tower area of Springfield station were cleared away as part of a pending redevelopment of the facility.
Even the old 50-foot boxcars are rapidly becoming scarce. This once standard vehicle is being supplanted by more modern cars with larger capacity. Anytime you see an old-50 foot car on the move (or waiting in the yard) it is certainly worth a photograph or two. Don’t wait.