Tag Archives: Brattleboro

Glistening Water—New England Central on the move at Brattleboro, Vermont.

At 8:08 AM on April 27, 2018, New England Central 611 was on the move south from Brattleboro, Vermont.

Bright hazy sunshine made for excellent conditions for photography.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto, I exposed this view looking across the Connecticut River backwater south of Brattleboro yard.

By cropping the sky, featuring the locomotives in the top third of the frame, and allowing the natural patterns of glistening water to occupy most of the image, I create visual tension that keeps your eye scanning the photo. I chose a broadside view to feature the locomotives, each of which is of a different length; SD40T-2, SD40, and SD45 (three of my personal favorites).

To make the most of this contrasty scene, I imported the Fuji RAW file into Lightroom and made minor adjustments to highlight and shadows to improve the appearance of the image, then slightly boosted saturation to make for a more pleasing photograph.

NECR freight  611 was on the move toward Palmer, Massachusetts and a bright morning on hand, so the chase was on!

More photos to follow!

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New England Central 611—Two Exposures.

Picking the best exposure is an important part of photography.

Today with modern metering, computer guided exposure aids (program modes) and automatic lenses, most photographers don’t spend a lot of time worrying about exposure details.

It might surprise some Tracking the Light readers that in most instances I set my exposures manually, and I only use camera metering in an advisory capacity (In other words I look at the camera meter but don’t necessarily accept its advice).

While I often use my Lumix LX7 in ‘A’ mode, I routinely over-ride the camera’s exposure advice using manual controls. With my FujiFilm XT1 and Canon digital cameras (and film cameras), I almost always set my exposure manually.

Last week, working with my FujiFilm XT1 I made these views of New England Central freight 611 working south of Brattleboro, Vermont. The stunning scenic setting of the Connecticut River backwater combined with dramatic morning cross-lighting and a dark background makes for an excellent illustration of a difficult lighting situation.

Here, many camera automatic modes might grossly overexpose the scene in a misguided attempt to compensate for the dark background.

I’ve metered manually and gauged exposure using the camera’s histogram (set up to show the distribution of pixels in regards to exposure.) I’ve offered two variations here, exposed 1 full stop apart.

A ‘stop’ is a standard increment of exposure. The amount of light reaching the sensor or film doubles/halves with each change of one stop. So going from an aperture setting of f4 to f5.6 (one stop) cuts the light by half. Likewise, a shutter speed change from 1/250 to 1/500 will also cut the amount of light by half.

The darker image was exposed at f5.6 at 1/400th of a second at ISO 400; while the lighter image was exposed at f4 at 1/400th of a second at ISO 400. (In other words the only the aperture setting was changed.)

FujiFilm XT-1 with 90mm lens set at: f5.6 at 1/400th of a second at ISO 400
FujiFilm XT-1 with 90mm lens set at: f4 at 1/400th of a second at ISO 400

Both exposures are acceptable, but you may have a preference for one versus the other. The photos here have not been altered for density, color balance or color temperature  in post processing; both are scaled versions of the camera produced JPGs.

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Portrait of New England Central 3476.

Last week I made this digital portrait of New England Central 3476 using my FujiFilm XT1 with f2.0 90mm lens.

Soft cross lighting combined with a wide aperture made for pleasing photographic conditions to picture this engine against a backdrop of  Vermont colorful autumn trees and distant New Hampshire hills.

The locomotive was working New England Central’s Brattleboro (Vermont) to Palmer (Massachusetts) turn freight, job 611, and was among many images I exposed that day.

This old EMD-built locomotive has a long history, having worked for Southern Pacific and Union Pacific before coming east to New England. I wonder if I crossed paths with it up on Donner Pass, in the Tehachapis, or on former Rio Grande lines in Colorado and Utah?

Brattleboro, Vermont.

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Frosty Branch, Brattleboro.

On this morning in early February, hoar frost had covered everything in the Connecticut River Valley near Brattleboro.

New England Central 611 was switching at the south-end of Brattleboro Yard.

In this view I focused on a frosty branch rather than the train.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 Mirrorless digital camera.

Tracking the Light is on auto-pilot while Brian is traveling.

New Material should appear daily.

Brattleboro in the Snow: Documenting the Documenting.

Last week I traveled with fellow photographer Mike Gardner to Brattleboro, Vermont to make images of the New England Central Railroad.

In this view, I photographed Mike photographing the train as it works the south end of Brattleboro yard.

Filtered morning sun, snow and hoar frost all added to the atmosphere.

This was exposed on Ilford HP5 using a Leica IIIA with 50mm Summitar lens—the camera & lens combination with which I made thousands of photos between 1977 and 1986.

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Boston & Maine, Brattleboro, on this day 31 Years Ago.

My Leica was loaded with Kodachrome 64 on December 28, 1985. I was traveling with Brandon Delaney. First we photographed Boston & Maine local freight ED-4, seen here just north of the Brattleboro yard.

31 years ago today; December 28, 1985.

Later in the day we caught road freight CPED coming down from it’s interchange with Canadian Pacific. This was a big freight led by 5 or 6 GPs and we followed it all the way to East Deerfield yard.

K64 was an excellent film, but tended to have a magenta bias, as evident in this wintery view. Also, I found that the sky tended to reproduce a bit lighter than other films. By mid-1986, I’d largely switched to K25 for my color work.

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I’ll be Writing for Trains Magazine.

Beginning with the February 2017 issue (expected toward the end of December), I’ll be featured in a regular opinion column for Trains Magazine.

This is a new and exciting opportunity for me. With it I hope to explore a range of topics over the coming months

The idea for a regular Brian Solomon column came about as result of my conversations with Editor Jim Wrinn and Assistant Editor Brian Schmidt who were intrigued by my comparisons between European and North American railroading.

Unlike Tracking the Light, which is focused largely on photography, my Trains columns will be aimed at the railroad industry, its operations and practices.

I’ll be writing narratives that draw from my knowledge of history and technology. My hope to is to both entertain and inform, while also offering unusual perspectives on railroads.

I've been contributing to Trains Magazine since 1984. My first published photo in Trains featured this Mass Bay RRE excursion that had operated from Boston to Brattleboro, Vermont on February 25, 1984. The photo that appeared in the magazine was an angle of the Amtrak F40PHs on the south end of the train in the Brattleboro yard; by contrast these views were of the train shortly after it arrived at Brattleboro station. All were exposed using my old Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar.
I’ve been contributing to Trains Magazine since 1984. My first published photo in Trains had featured this Mass Bay RRE excursion (that had operated from Boston to Brattleboro, Vermont on February 25, 1984). The photo that appeared in the magazine was an angle of the Amtrak F40PHs on the south end of the train in the Brattleboro yard; by contrast these views were of the train shortly after it arrived at Brattleboro station. All were exposed using my old Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar.
Although it was sunny at New London, by the time we'd reached Brattleboro it was raining very hard. I got soaked making my photographs. At the time I was senior at Monson Jr.-Sr High School, and David P. Morgan was still Trains Editor-in-Chief.
Although it was sunny at New London, by the time we’d reached Brattleboro it was raining very hard. I got soaked making my photographs. At the time I was senior at Monson Jr.-Sr High School, and David P. Morgan was still Trains Editor-in-Chief. Ironically, the original negative that was published in Trains, remains among my missing photographs. Hopefully it may resurface one of these days. This pair of images were from my ‘out-takes’, and I only recently rediscovered them. 

Tracking the Light will continue to post everyday!

Amtrak’s Vermonter at Brattleboro.

It’s Amtrak’s Vermonter in Vermont (although those hills in the distance are across the Connecticut in New Hampshire.)

On June 18, 2016, Amtrak P42 number 106 leads train 57, the southward Vermonter. This view is from a parking lot immediately south of the passenger platform in Brattleboro. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.
On June 18, 2016, Amtrak P42 number 106 leads train 57, the southward Vermonter. This view is from a parking lot immediately south of the passenger platform in Brattleboro. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.

Vermont’s relatively clear air and elevation compensate for the harsh visual effects associated with summer high light (when the sun is nearly directly overhead).

On June 18, 2016, Pat Yough and I were exploring locations on the Connecticut River line in preparation for photographing the Amtrak Exhibit train that was on display in Claremont (see: Amtrak Display Train-Claremont Junction, New Hampshire; June 18, 2016. [http://wp.me/p2BVuC-46w]), and was expected to make a run south toward Springfield, Massachusetts later that day.

Stay tuned for some of those views!

Tracking the Light explores railway photography every day.