Tag Archives: #Boston & Maine

Pan Am Sunset

On March 4, 2007, an eastward Pan Am Railways freight rolled through Greenfield, Massachusetts at sunset.

Maine Central 505 was one of the first Guilford Rail System locomotives to be rebranded in Pan Am paint. This was dressed in a livery similar to that once used on Pan Am Airways jet planes. Most of the later Pan Am painted locomotives were dressed in a darker navy-blue shade.

I exposed this photo on Fujichrome and scanned it with a Nikon LS5000 scanner powered by VueScan 9.8.22 software, then adjusted and scaled the hi-res TIF with Adobe Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily—sometimes twice!

F-Units and Dome—2017

On the theme of F-units and Budd Vista domes, I thought I’d offer these views from May 2017.

I was looking through the digital archives for a photo from May 19th, and I found that for whatever reason, I’ve rarely photographed trains on May 19th! May 18th on the other hand seems to be a be popular day in my files.

So, on May 18th, 2017, I’d followed a Pan Am Railways Office Car Special on the Connecticut River Line with Tim Doherty.

We caught this classy train at variety of interesting locations.

The two F-units, known as ‘The Sisters,’ had served Conway Scenic Railroad from the mid-1990s until about 15 years ago when they were traded to Pan Am for GP38 252 and GP35 216.

I made these images using my first Fuji XT-1.

Pan of Pan Am’s OCS at North Hatfield, Mass. FP-9s and a former Wabash Budd Vista Dome.
Pan Am Railways’s Budd Vista Dome ‘BlueBird,’ likely named for the famous Wabash streamliner, is pictured passing the old yard tower at the West End of Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield Yard. May 18, 2017.

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Signaling Relic at Plymouth

Yesterday, we paused at Plymouth, New Hampshire to document a surviving example of a Union Switch & Signal lower quadrant semaphore on the former Boston & Maine’s Boston, Concord & Montreal route.

I’m sure there is a story about how this relic from the early years of automatic block signaling has survived in place on this rarely used former B&M route.

The signal is long out of service and likely a vestige of passenger services on this once important route. Signals of this type were typically used to protect following moves. In this configuration, the signal was was designed to display three aspects for two block protection in Automatic Block Territory.

Photos exposed using a Lumix LX7.

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Fortuity at Greenfield—January 2023

I’ve been photographing trains around Greenfield, Massachusetts for more than 40 years.

Sometimes there have been long waits. Sometimes I got lucky.

Saturday, Kris and I were driving south on I-91. I asked, “would you like to stop by East Deerfield Yard”

She said “ok!”, so we jumped off the Interstate at Route 2, and took the roundabout (traffic circle) and headed east. At that moment I saw containers rolling east on the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg line.

“That’s 22K, the NS intermodal train”.

We zipped over to East Deerfield Yard—located railroad timetable east of Greenfield—where I had just enough time to make these photos using my new Nikon Z7-II.

Nothing fancy, but these are lucky shots. I was delighted!

I always like it when luck prevails!

Norfolk Southern-Pan Am Southern symbol freight 22K at East Deerfield Yard.

With these ‘in the bag’, we drove to the Connecticut River bridge for more photos. Why waste a lucky day?

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Covered Wagons—Crew and Photographers.

A week ago Saturday (January 7, 2023), Kris and I participated and observed in Mass Bay Railroad Enthusiasts’s Covered Wagons in the Snow, a trip I helped plan and organize.

Previously, I presented photos of the train. Here, I’m displaying photos of the train crew, Mass-Bay’s car hosts, and a few of the dozens of photographers that participated.

All photos were exposed using my Nikon Z6 and Z7-II digital cameras.

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Boston & Maine F7As-Variation on a Theme

The other day there was nice afternoon light in the yard at North Conway, NH. The 470 Club’s famous pair of F7As were positioned on the Short Track in front of Conway Scenic’s 1874 passenger station building and the passenger consist was out on the branch which made of a nice photo opportunity.

I made this series of three-quarter roster-style views, making slight changes to my angle to alter foreground and background. Among the items I was trying to include were the station building and the flags in the distance, while also paying attention to the clouds and making slight exposure adjustments.

All were made with my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

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Willey Brook Bridge

One of the photographic highlights of last Saturday’s 470 Club trip was the stop at the famous Willey Brook Bridge in Crawford Notch.

To accommodate the train’s passengers, I helped organize two photo runbys at this iconic location.

Since several passengers asked to photograph from the ‘sunnyside’ of the bridge, I walked them across the tracks and called the train into position for the second runby.

I made this selection using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens, and also exposed several color slides using a Nikon F3 film camera.

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470 Club Annual Trip—F7s at North Conway

Saturday, October 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad operated the annual 470 Club autumn charter.

This year the train was assigned the club’s pair of former Boston & Maine F7A diesels Nos. 4266 and 4268, which are painted in the classic General Motors designed maroon and harvest gold livery.

I was asked to draft the trip schedule and assist with arranging photo stops for the train on its journey.

I made this group of photos of the F’s and the special train at North Conway using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens

During the course of the day, the special ran to Conway over the former Boston & Maine Conway Branch, and then west over Crawford Notch to Fabyan, New Hampshire on the former Maine Central.

The weather was outstanding with ‘wall to wall’ sunshine from dawn to dusk.

More photos to follow over the coming days.

View from the cab of 4266.
f22 1/60 sec at ISO 200, lens set to 24mm. The small aperture allows for the sunburst effect.

Boston & Maine 4268 some uncommon angles.

Sunday, May 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad’s Special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer, brought more than 100 guests up to Crawford Notch and enabled them to make photos at various places along the line.

In my capacity as Manager of Marketing & Events, I helped to organize the trip, and traveled on the head-end to work with the crew to select photo stops and spot the train.

A secondary condition of this role was that in several intances I was able to make uncommon views of the train, often in situations I needed to climb down from the lead locomotive ahead of final positioning or during other aspects of the operation.

Among the 400 photos I exposed that day were these views of recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268. All of these images were exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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F-Units on the Mountain—Maroon & Gold Part 2

Sunday, May 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer over Crawford Notch, NH.

This was the first time recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268 made a trip over the Mountain Division for Conway Scenic Railroad, and the first time that Conway Scenic had the two B&M F7As working in multiple with former Maine Central GP7 573.

All three were painted in the classic EMD-designed maroon & gold scheme.

It is rare that Conway Scenic operates three diesels in multiple.

The weather cooperated nicely.

I helped organize the photo stops and run-bys and traveled on the head-end in both directions.

Conway Scenic advertises boarding times rather than departure times. This train boarded at 9am, and departed 2 minutes ahead of schedule. We performed 8 special photo stops in addition to the normal run around at Crawford Station. The train arrived back at North Conway almost an hour ahead of its target. In other words, it was an extremely successful trip.

I made more than 400 digital images and haven’t had time to look at most of them. Last night, the day had caught up with me before I could go through my images. Today Conway Scenic has another special trip.

More Boston & Maine F7A photos to come in later posts!

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Blue Sky and Blue Diesels at North Adams Six Years Ago

On this day six years ago—February 18, 2016— Mike Gardner and I photographed a westward Pan Am Railways freight that was tied down at North Adams, Massachusetts awaiting a re-crew.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

The Pan Am blue SD40-2s made for interesting subjects. I felt that this shade of blue looked good in the winter sunlight.

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Boston & Maine 202 westbound at Greenfield

On November 10, 1985, I had my father’s Rollei loaded with Verichrome Pan black & white 120-size roll film.

Using the camera with the 645-size insert, I photographed Boston & Maine GP38-2 201 leading one of Maine Central’s former Rock Island U25Bs on a westward freight working the Fitchburg route at Greenfield, Massachusetts.

I scanned the negative with my Epson V600 flatbed scanner, then imported the scan into Adobe Lightroom to make a series of contrast and exposure adjustments, while elimintating dusk specs to improve the negative.

I liked the stark quality of Verichrome that made it well suited to November in New England

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F from an F

Yesterday, Saturday October 23, 2021, Conway Scenic Railroad hosted 470 Club’s annual autumn trip.

This was led by former Maine Central GP7 573 and former Boston & Maine F7A 4266 with Conway Scenic’s GP35 216 at the back for assistance.

I assisted with planning and executing photo stops. However, I had some other work to do on the way up the mountain, so I rode in the cab of 4266 (trailing westbound).

The 470 Club had arranged to display its other F7A, 4268 on the North Conway turntable. This locomotive rarely sees the light of day. It is a treasured antique that is undergoing a full operational restoration and has spent most of the last year in stall four of the North Conway roundhouse.

As we were departing North Conway, I made this unusual view of 4268 from the cab window of 4266 using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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Rare Move on Willey Brook Bridge.

Yesterday (October 8, 2021), the 470 Club collected its latest acquisition from the New Hampshire Central interchange at Hazens in Whitefield, NH.

The 470 Club had taken possesion of Boston & Maine GP9 1741 (later Springfield Terminal 72). This was collected by the club’s 4266, an active former B&M F7A, which towed the GP9 east.

On its journey to North Conway, New Hampshire, this short train crossed the famous Willey Brook bridge at Crawford Notch at about a quarter to two eastern time

I made this photo for the Conway Scenic Railroad using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera from a vantage point on some rocks high above the bridge.

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Slug Set at Rices—February 1985.

In February 1985, my old pal TSH and I made a big adventure of chasing Guilford’s GP40-2 slug set (300-100-301) that was leading a westward empty coal train.

We picked this train up at East Deerfield Yard (near Greenfield, Massachusetts) and followed it west toward the Hoosac Tunnel.

TSH drove, I navigated and when we stopped line side, I made black & white photos using my Leica IIIA loaded with Ilford FP4 that I’d bulk loaded into reusable cassettes from a 100ft roll.

I exposed this view at the Rices interlocking along the Deerfield River near Charlemont, Massachusetts.

Today, this scene is very much overgrown, and the interlocking is long gone. For me the photo invokes the thrill of the chase on a cool stretch of the old Boston & Maine.

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EDRJ at Zoar—Rangefinder Slide

Working with my Contax G2 Rangefinder fitted with a Zeiss 28mm Biogon, I made thisa color slide at Zoar, Massachusetts on the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg Line.

Photographer Pat Yough and I had started the day(February 13, 2005) at Guilford’s East Deerfield Yard, where at daybreak symbol freight EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction) was being readied for its westward journey.

We followed the freight west, using the lightly traveled road to the Hoosac Tunnel to reach Zoar.

February 13, 2005.

A few days ago, I’d posted a view of this same train on its approach to the East Portal. See:

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2021/08/29/same-bridge-different-day/

Lately, I’ve been scanning my older slides. This is stored in a metal Logan box along with 500-600 select Guilford Rail System/Pan Am Railways photos exposed between 1998 and 2018.

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Misty Morning at East Portal

October 1, 2004: in time-honored fashion, I followed a westward Guilford Rail System freight from the yard at East Deerfield to the east portal of the Hoosac Tunnel.

The river valleys were filled with autumn mist. I arrived at the grade crossing near the tunnel portal several minutes ahead of the freight (symbol WARJ).

As the roar of the EMD diesels grew closer, morning sun began to clear the mist making for cosmic lighting effects.

I exposed a series of Fujichrome slides using a Nikon F3 fitted with f2.8 180mm lens. I calculated my exposure manually using a Minolta Mark4 light meter, as I typically did with the F3.

I scanned these slides last night using an Epson V600 scanner with Epson Scan 2 software.

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Pssst! Wanna buy a Railroad Station?

Last week I learned, much to my surprise, that the old Boston & Maine station at Berlin, NH is still standing. So yesterday (31 July 2021), Kris Sabbatino and I drove to the east side of this old New Hampshire milltown to investigate.

I made these photos from the street using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

I’ve seen stations in better shape than this one. Also, it has been without regular passenger service for about 60 years. The tracks have been lifted and its a long walk from the center of town. But it has a ‘For Sale’ sign out front! (If you are interested).

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Boston & Maine Station at Laconia, NH

A few weeks ago, Kris and I visited the former Boston & Maine station at Laconia, NH.

I’d seen a postcard view of this Romanesque classic and wondered if it still stood, so on an unrelated errand to Laconia we took the time to look for the old building, which, as it turned out, wasn’t hard to find.

A bonus was the ‘Burrito Me’ restaurant at one end! later in the day, I went in and ordered burritos for the two of us, which we consumed under the awning of the old building.

I made these photos using my Lumix LX7.

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Woodsville—Classic Chrome

On October 8, 1992, I made this Kodachrome 25 slide of the old Boston & Maine station building at Woodsville, NH.

Although a relatively subtle quality, notice that the verticals are parallel with the sides of the photo. This was made possible by working with a Nikkor 35mm PC (Perspective Control) lens. This had an adjustible front element used to keep vertical lines from visually falling away from the film plane (when the camera was kept level).

I miss my old PC lens, which I sold in 1997.

The line in front of the Woodsville Station was lifted in the mid-1990s.

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Clear Day at Moat Brook

Among the most pictured locations on Conway Scenic’s former Boston & Maine Conway Branch is the wooden pile trestle at Moat Brook.

This stream is named for the Moat Mountains compass west of the railroad.

A few weeks ago during my bridge inspection with Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates, I carefully studied the bridge and its environs, considering how to best find a different angle on the bridge.

It occurred to me: while the bridge is often photographed, the stream itself is not. The reason is simple: much of the year there is very little water in the stream.

Last week Thursday and Friday were very wet. But Saturday was clear and sunny.

I walked the line and secured a new vantage point compass east of the famous bridge and along the swollen stream, where I captured the returning Valley train led by GP35 216 with engineer Tom Carver at the throttle.

These photos were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens,

I posted variations of these images on Conway Scenic’s Facebook page to assist with promotion of the popular Valley train on its Conway run.

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NHV on LPP—October 1993.

During the summer of 1993, Kodak had introduced a new flavor of Ektachrome slide film with a rating of 100 ISO and a warm color balance.

I bought a few rolls for use imaging trains with New England autumn foliage.

On October 6th of that year I drove to Groveton, NH to intercept the NHV local that worked the old Boston & Maine line toward Whitefield.

It was raining and dark when I pictured the train ambling along a few miles south of Groveton.

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Farleys Revisited.

As we raced east on Rt2 in pursuit of Pan Am Southern’s ED-8, I kept my eye open for the turn that lead down to the railroad location on the old Boston & Maine known as ‘Farleys’.

I thought back to that February morning, 35 years ago, when working with my father’s Leica, I exposed the final frame on a roll of Kodachrome 64 of an eastward Boston & Maine loaded Bow coal train meeting the westward POPY (Portland to Potomac Yard) at Farleys.

While ED8 wasn’t quite as thrilling as that rolling meet, it was pretty neat to soak in the sight and sounds of this 106-car freight grinding up the grade toward Erving.

I exposed this photo using my Nikon Z6 with an aim to adjust the RAW (NEF) file to maximize the data presented so as to compensate for the excessively contrasty scene.

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Pan Am Southern and Searchlights

On Saturday afternoon, a Pan Am Southern freight departed East Deerfield yard eastbound for Ayer, Massachusetts.

Kris Sabbatino and I drove to Lake Pleasant crossing in Montague to intercept the train.

I opted for an unorthodox framing to feature the General Railway Signal searchlight signals that survive at this location.

Once standard on the Boston & Maine, these now antique signals are become increasingly rare and well-worthy of photographing.

Images exposed using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens. Nikon NEF RAW file processed using Adobe Lightroom.

Below the cab, NS has stenciled ‘ACSES PTC’ to indicated the types of advanced signaling that this locomotive is equipped to work with. Installation of these modern signaling systems have largely coincided with the replacement of legacy signaling, including traditional searchlights such as those pictured here.

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Maplewood—Second Visit

Last Autumn Kris Sabbatino and I paid a visit to old Boston & Maine Maplewood Station near Bethlehem, New Hampshire.

This old railway station has been abandoned for nearly a century.

Last weekend we paid a brief second visit to make photos in the stark wintery landscape.

Below are three versions of a RAW (NEF) file exposed using my Nikon Z6.

JPG scaled from unadjusted NEF file. In other words, there were no corrections to the appearance of the image.
Adjusted JPG; color temperature warmed; contrast reduced, shadows lightened, highlights darkened.
Scaled adjusted JPG; color temperature cooled, contrast increased, highlights darkened, shadows darkened.

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East Deerfield—Nice Light, No Trains.

Sunday, January 24, 2021, on the drive back to the White Mountains, we diverted to the old Boston & Maine yard at East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

It was my most recent visit to this hallowed ground of New England railroading, a place where I’ve photographed countless hundreds of trains over the last four decades.

It was Kris Sabbatino’s first visit.

Winter evening light made for some wonderful photographs.

These images were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens using the Velvia color profile. Other than scaling for internet presentation, I made no alternations to the camera Jpgs.

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Then & When: Rices 15 Years Apart.

In scanning my vintage Kodachrome slides, I found two color views at Rices near Charlemont, Massachusetts that I exposed nearly 15 years apart.

The top view was made looking east from a Mystic Valley Railroad Society excursion to the Hoosac Tunnel in May 1982. We had just over taken a short Boston & Maine local freight heading for North Adams. Interestingly this was my first photo at Rices.

The second photo was made of an empty coal train following a late-season heavy snow in April 1997.

Exposed on Kodachrome 64 using a Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar in May 1982.
Kodachrome 25 exposed with a Nikon F3T fitted with an 80-200mm Nikkor Zoom lens. April 2, 1997.

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Steam Over the Saco.

The book High Green and the Bark Peelers describes this then-new bridge (built c1949) which had replaced a traditional wooden covered bridge.

The other day, I walked along the banks of the Saco River in Conway, NH to make this view of Conway Scenic Railroad’s 7470 on its northward run in freshly fallen snow.

The original image was exposed as NEF (Raw file) with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. I imported the file into Adobe Lightroom to make nominal adjustments to color, exposure and contrast. This allowed me to make the most of the directional winter lighting.

Although a largely monochromatic scenic, this is actually a full color photograph. Perhaps I should return one of these days with a film camera?

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Boston & Maine’s Slug Set on the West End.

Much to my disappointment, When I told my non-railroad friends that ‘I caught the B&M Slug Set on the road,’ they didn’t match my enthusiasm. (1)

But on June 29, 1986, my pal TSH and I made a morning project of chasing Guilford’s AYRP (Ayer, Massachusetts to Rouses Point, New York) from East Deerfield Yard to the east portal of the Hoosac Tunnel.

We caught this at Wisdom Way in Greenfield, then near Buckland west of Shelburne Falls, then at 10:30am, we caught up to AYRP when it was held for an eastbound at Rices interlocking near Charlemont. Here, I made several photos on Kodak 120 Professional Tri-X using my dad’s Rolleiflex Model T.

I scanned these negatives the other day. Most had never been printed.

Buckland, Massachusetts, June 29, 1986.
Rices, near Charlemont.
Rices, near Charlemont, Massachusetts.

Footnote 1. A slug set is a locomotive arrangement where by a powered diesel is coupled with a heavily weighted unpowered unit fitted with traction motors for additional tractive power. Boston & Maine built one such combination where a pair of GP40-2s powered a homemade ‘slug.’

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Old View of Old East Deerfield Railfan’s Bridge.

On the morning of June 29, 1985, I exposed this black & white photo of the McClelland Farm Road bridge over Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield Yard.

This is the famed ‘Railfan’s Bridge’, which was then a very popular place to make photos and watch trains.

Over the years on Tracking the Light I’ve featured many views of this bridge and its replacement being built.

Exposed using a Rolleiflex Model T with 75mm f3.5 Zeiss Tessar on Kodak Professional 120 Tri-X (rated at ISO 320) using a 645-sized ‘super slide insert’.

I processed the film in Kodak D76, and yesterday I scanned the now 34 year old negative using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

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November Sun—Boston & Maine 4268.

Low, clear November sun presents great light for color railroad photographs.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1, I made these photos yesterday (November 29, 2020) of Boston & Maine F7A 4268 that is under restoration at North Conway by members of the 470 Club.

I exposed a few using my 12mm Zeiss Touit, and others with my Fujinon f2.0 90mm (prime telephoto.) All are in-camera JPGs with the Velvia color profile (scaled and watermarked for internet).

12mm Zeiss Touit.
12mm Zeiss Touit.
12mm Zeiss Touit.
12mm Zeiss Touit.
90mm telephoto
90mm telephoto

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Something Spooky for Halloween!

Lost in the woods of northern New Hampshire is this relic of an era—all but lost to time.

The long-abandoned Maplewood Station served resort traffic on Boston & Maine’s Bethlehem Branch, a short railway built as narrow gauge in the late 19th century and later converted to four foot eight and a half inches.

By the 1920s, New England railroading was already in decline, and this branch was one of the earliest class I abandonments. Yet the old station building survived.

On the advice of Wayne Duffett, Kris Sabbatino and I made a foray into the forest to find this hollow spectre of railroading, languishing like a sad old ghost, and soon to crumble back into the earth.

I made these digital photos variously using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit and Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Nikkor zoom.

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Wednesday Work Extra

Last Wednesday, October 14, 2020, Conway Scenic operated a work extra to Conway to assist with preparations for the annual Pumpkin Patch event being held for the next three weekends.

The train was organized with relatively little advanced notice, and the only available locomotive was former Boston & Maine F7A 4266, owned by the 470 Club. Our other locomotives were out on passenger assignments or out of service awaiting repairs or maintenance.

Since the cab of the locomotive was facing railroad timetable west, the decision was made to use a caboose as a shoving platform and the train reversed from North Conway down the former B&M branch to Conway.

I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. Fuji RAW files were converted to DNG files using Iridient X Transformer and then imported into Adobe Lightroom for final adjustment.

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Conway Scenic Conway Way Freight—11 images.

Last Saturday, September 5, 2020, the second of our Railfan photo freights operated from North Conway to Conway on the former Boston & Maine Conway Branch.

We stopped the freight at several locations during the journey, and made a pick up at Conway.

I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with my 18-135mm Fujinon Zoom lens. Unfortunately, upon arriving back at the North Conway yard, my lens suffered a failure with the linkage inside the lens that controls the range of view, leaving me to work with my Canon EOS 3 film camera for the remainder of the evening.

I’m presently assessing lens/camera replacement alternatives.

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