Tag Archives: #California

Sunrise at the Benicia Bridge with Ektachrome—August 1993.

A few weeks ago on Tracking the Light, I described my early experiences with Kodak’s Ektachrome LPP (a warm-tone emulsion with subtle color rendition), of which I received a free-sample from Kodak back in August 1993.

See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2020/10/06/kodak-lpp-a-tunnel-motor-and-a-camel/

Among the other photos on that roll, was this view exposed shortly after sunrise of Amtrak’s Los Angeles-bound Coast Starlight crossing Southern Pacific’s massive Benicia Bridge near Martinez, California.

Full frame scan of a 35mm Ektachrome LPP slide exposed in August 1993.

I had loaded the film into a second-hand Nikkormat FTN that I fitted an f4.0 Nikkor 200mm telephoto.

This slide sat in the dark until I scanned it on October 6, 2020.

Much enlarged crop of the same slide to better show Amtrak’s Coast Starlight.

Tracking the Light Posts every day!

Kodak LPP; A Tunnel Motor and a Camel.

In the summer of 1993, I attended an event in San Francisco hosted by Kodak to debut a new Ektachrome slide film. As part of the event, Kodak gave everyone a sample of LPP, a warm-tone emulsion with subtle color rendition.

I had recently bought a Nikkormat FTN from a co-worker, and promptly loaded the camera with the new film.

It was mid-August, when I climbed to the top of a hill over-looking Southern Pacific’s Cal-P route with a view of Suisun Bay/Carquinez Straits and the stored navy ships anchored there.

SP eastward freight led by a Tunnel Motor and a leased Conrail C32-8.

Curiously, this SP westward freight had a Conrail C32-8 in consist. This was one of ten built as test beds for Conrail in summer 1984 and routinely operated on the Boston & Albany route through the 1980s. They were known as ‘camels’ because of their hump-back appearance. It was odd to see such a familiar locomotive so far from home.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Searchlights and a Tunnel Motor at Cabazon

Here’s a classic from my Kodachrome file: Southern Pacific SD40T-2 8378 West ascending Beaumont Hill on the Sunset Route at Cabazon, California on January 30, 1994.

I had Kodachrome 25 loaded in my Nikon F3T, which was fitted with an f5.6 Tokina 400mm lens.

My focus point was not on the front of the locomotive, but rather on the searchlight signal to the right of the train. Since the signal was the emphasis of the photo, you may wonder why I didn’t move a little closer to make it appear larger. The reason is simple: I wanted to include the ‘Cabazon’ sign on the signal relay cabinet, which identifies the location and was key to the interlocking.

Just in case you are curious, the second locomotive in the train consist is a Conrail SD40-2.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Smoky Sunrise Caliente

Four years ago fires in the hills around California’s Central Valley contributed to the high level of particulates in the air.

This made for a stunning smoky sunrise at the Caliente horseshoe on the former Southern Pacific crossing of the Tehachapis.

I was set up near the crossing of Cal Bodfish Road to make this backlit view of a northward BNSF intermodal, one of three, that were threading their way toward Bakersfield.

Exposed with my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 18-135mm Fujinon lens.

Tracking the Light posts Daily!

August 3, 2016—Pacific Surfliner at Gaviota.

In Spring 1994, I’d exposed some Kodachrome 25 slides of Amtrak’s Coast Starlight crossing the steel tower supported trestle at Gaviota, California.

On August 3, 2016—four years ago today—I returned with my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera and captured an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner crossing the same bridge.

I made contrast and saturation adjustments in Lightroom as part of my final scaled image for presentation here.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Walong, California July 30, 2016.

On this day four years ago, I re-visited the former Southern Pacific crossing the Tehachapi mountains.

At Walong, popularly described as the ‘Tehachapi Loop’—where in the 1870s SP’s chief engineer William Hood applied this spiral arrangement to gain elevation while maintaining a steady gradient—I photographed this BNSF eastward intermodal train. (train direction is by timetable, not the compass.)

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with an 18-135mm Fujinon zoom, I made this photograph with the lens set to 21.6mm in order to take in most of the helical track arrangement. Exposure was f8 at 1/500 of a second at 200 ISO.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Valley Transportation Authority-May 2008.

California Dreamin’—Working with Fujichrome late in the day on a Sunday afternoon in May 2008, I exposed this long telephoto view of a Valley Transportation Authority light rail train.

VTA Light Rail is the operator of the San Jose, California-area light rail system.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Santa Fe at Cadiz, Calif.

On January 22, 1991, I exposed this Kodachrome of an eastward Santa Fe doublestack train with brand new GE-built DASH8-40BW diesels in the lead wearing fresh warbonnet paint.

I was traveling with SP dispatcher JDS on an epic exploration of the old Needles District in the Mojave Desert.

For this photo he lent me his Nikon 300mm lens. I still recall the very smooth focus of that amazing piece of glass. At the time the longest lens I owned was a 200mm.

This photo appeared in Trains Magazine many years ago.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Southern Pacific at Troy, California—July 1991.

I’d left San Francisco in the wee hours of the morning and drove to the Sierra.

In the early hours of July 14, 1991, an SP eastward freight ascending Donner Pass had stalled near Alta. This resulted in a pair of following eastward freights being held; one at Colfax and one near Alta.

This was the second of two following freights, which developed its own difficulties at Gold Run when the train went into ‘emergency’.

I made the most of SP’s difficult time, by photographing the procession of trains at various points on The Hill (as Donner was known).

As the summer sun approached midday, I drove to Troy, where I’d previously scoped out this high vantage point with a commanding vista.

My project for the day was to find ways of suitably using the harsh high light in the Sierra, conditions that had been vexing me.

This was among my more successful images. Working with my old Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron, I exposed Ilford FP4 that I later processed using Edwal FG7 developer. At the back was a two unit helper. The sounds of EMD 645 diesels toiling in ‘Run-8’ (full throttle) was impressive and not soon forgotten.

Many of my other images from the day were exposed on Kodachrome 25, some using a circular polarizing filter as a means to mitigate the effects of Sierra high light. I’ll save those for another day.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Subscribe using the form toward the bottom of this post.

Geneva Street Car House—SF MUNI.

I liked the old Boeing-Vertol LRVs. (Light Rail Vehicles).

The shape of the cars lent well to photography.

The San Francisco cars reminded me a the old orange creamsicle frozen treats.

Back in December 1990, I made this view of a Boeing car leaving the Geneva Street car house for a run on the M-Ocean line. I was working with my old Nikkor f4.0 200mm lens on my F3T loaded with Kodachrome 25.

I made great use of that lens, but sold it in 1996 when I bought my 80-200mm zoom. In retrospect, I made better photos with the fixed 200mm.

Tracking the Light Posts daily!