Tag Archives: Canon EOS 7D

Savanna, Illinois Revisited—June 24, 2010.

On a blustery winter morning I find it nice to look through photos made on warm summer afternoons.

In June 2010, I had just bought my Canon EOS 7D DSLR (digital single lens reflex) and made an extended drive around the Midwest to visit friends, gather materials for a book, and test the camera. This went on for several weeks.

On the afternoon of June 24th, I revisited familiar territory along the Mississippi River at Savanna. Not yet fully trusting the digital camera, I exposed a number of slides from the top of the bluff.

A BNSF double stack container train works along the former Burlington main line near Savanna, Illinois. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100-400mm lens set at 150mm. ISO 200.
A BNSF double stack container train works along the former Burlington main line near Savanna, Illinois. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100-400mm lens set at 150mm. ISO 200.
Trailing view of the same stack train; exposed my new EOS 7D with 400mm lens set at 235mm. ISO 200.
Trailing view of the same stack train; exposed my new EOS 7D with 400mm lens set at 235mm. ISO 200.

I made this pair of images from river level of an eastward BNSF double stack was headed toward Chicago.

Of the two, I much prefer the second photo. For me this better portrays the railroad in its environment with a variety of secondary subjects to add interest.

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Pan Am and the Hawk.

Compositional challenges in four photos.

The other day I was at the old ‘waste too much film’ bridge at Pan Am’s East Deerfield Yard near Greenfield, Massachusetts. An eastward freight was about to proceed into the yard when a hawk landed atop the code lines.

This tightly cropped image was made from the in-camera jpg. If nothing else, I know that my 200mm lens is sharp at f11! That's something, anyway.
This tightly cropped image was made from the in-camera jpg. If nothing else, I know that my 200mm lens is sharp at f11! That’s something, anyway.

Here was an opportunity for an interesting image of the bird and a train in the distance. My intention was make a visual juxtaposition between the two subjects. An interesting concept, but one fraught with technical difficulties.

I faced several problems. The bird was too distant to make for a substantial subject using my longest lens. Furthermore there was too great a distance between the bird and the train to allow both to be in relative focus when using my 200mm telephoto lens. (An even longer lens would have acerbated this problem).

To allow for greater depth of field (relative focus) I upped the ISO on my Canon 7D to 800, which allowed me to set a smaller aperture (f11).

This doesn't really work, does it? It's neither a great shot of the hawk nor an acceptable image of the train.  Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 800 f11 at 1/250th of a second handheld.
This doesn’t really work, does it? It’s neither a great shot of the hawk nor an acceptable image of the train. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 800 f11 at 1/250th of a second handheld.

The larger f-number indicates a smaller aperture opening, while this lets in less light to sensor, it increases the depth of field (thus my need to increase the ISO to allow using a relative quick shutter speed to minimize camera shake). Often when photographing trains I want to use a smaller f-number to help offset the train from the background, but not in this case.

Also, some clouds obscured the sun. This had the dual unfortunate effects of flattening the light and allowing the bird blend into its background, while reducing the amount light on the scene to make an already difficult exposure more problematic.

There were several other problems. Most notably was the effect of the under-growth along the code lines that visually obscured the locomotives in the distance. If I moved to the left to get around the brush, the bird and train no longer had a workable juxtaposition.

Ideally, If I could have been about 10-15 feet higher, I might have been able to make this concept work, but there was no way to gain elevation. In this case I simply exposed the photo with the brush and hoped for the best.

Another difficulty was getting the bird to cooperate. I’m not fluent in Hawkese. But I wanted the bird to turn its head, otherwise it might just seem like a feathered blob, so I made some ‘tsking’ sounds to attract its attention.

Then the locomotive engineer throttled up and the dull roar of dual EMD 16-645E3 diesels startled the bird (or otherwise annoyed it) and it flew away. In the meantime I repositioned to make a series of more conventional photos of the freight train.

On the plus side, as the freight approached, the sun came out making for some photographic possibilities. The train was moving slowly, allowing me to change lenses and exposed a sequence of both digital and film photographs.

Pam Am 352 acclerates toward East Deerfield Yard with a heavy freight. As the train approached the sun came out. Yea! Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Pam Am 352 acclerates toward East Deerfield Yard with a heavy freight. As the train approached the sun came out. Yea! Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
I made this tighter view, while intentionally offsetting the freight to feature the old searchlight style signal on the left. These old signals are rapidly being replaced with modern hardware. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
I made this tighter view, while intentionally offsetting the freight to feature the old searchlight style signal on the left. These old signals are rapidly being replaced with modern hardware. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
As the train got closer, I swapped lenses between my EOS 3 (loaded with Provia 100F) and my EOS 7D digital camera. I made this view digitally with the 7D and 100mm lens. Where's the bird now?
As the train got closer, I swapped lenses between my EOS 3 (loaded with Provia 100F) and my EOS 7D digital camera. I made this view digitally with the 7D and 100mm lens. Where’s the bird now?

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Midleton, Co. Cork on Film and Digital.

October 7, 2014.

A few years ago, Irish Rail rebuilt its Youghal Branch between Cobh Junction and Midleton. After decades of inactivity, this route now enjoys a regular interval passenger service. I find it fascinating that this long closed railway is again alive with trains.

A year ago, on a previous visit to Cork, I tried some photos at this location near the Midleton Station. However, it was a flat dull morning and my results weren’t up to par.

So a few weeks ago, Irish Rail’s Ken Fox drove me back to this spot, and on this visit it was bright an sunny. Moments before the train arrived, a thin layer of high cloud momentarily diffused the sunlight, which complicated my exposure.

As the 2600-series railcar approached, I made several digital images with my Canon EOS 7D and 200mm lens and a single Fujichrome color slide using my Canon EOS 3 with 40mm pancake lens.

Digital image made with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with 200mm lens.
Digital image made with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with 200mm lens.
Exposed Fujichrome Provia 100F with Canon EOS 3 with 40mm pancake lens.
Exposed Fujichrome Provia 100F with Canon EOS 3 with 40mm pancake lens. This image looks great projected on the screen.

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Kansas City Southern’s Dodger.

McElhany, Missouri

It was the afternoon of August 16, 2011, Chris Guss and I were on a three day visit to Kansas City Southern’s north-south mainline. We were chasing the ‘Dodger’—what I’d call a local freight—led by freshly painted GP38 in the revived ‘Southern Belle’ scheme. This locomotive was originally Penn-Central 7800.

We set up on this grade south of Neosho. I worked with my Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens and Canon EOS 3 with 200mm and Fujichrome. This view was made with the digital camera.

Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens set at 127mm; exposed at ISO 200 f6.3 1/500 second.
Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens set at 127mm; exposed at ISO 200 f6.3 1/500 second.

What impressed me most about the ‘Dodger’ was its crew’s exceptional efficiency. They wasted no time when switching. There are lessons to be learned from these guys!

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Irish Rail’s Cobh Branch.

My Whirlwind Tour—October 2014.

I made this photo of an inbound 2600 series railcar on the afternoon of October 6, 2014 near the church at Glounthaune, Co. Cork. Exposed with a Lumix LX7 and modified in post-processing.
I made this photo of an inbound 2600 series railcar on the afternoon of October 6, 2014 near the church at Glounthaune, Co. Cork. Exposed with a Lumix LX7 and modified in post-processing.
A similar view of another 2600, this one exposed using my Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. This photo is unadjusted, except for scaling.
A similar view of another 2600, this one exposed using my Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. This photo is unadjusted, except for scaling. I use different camera/lens combinations to alter my perspective. Compare these two images at Glounthaune, exposed only minutes apart, but with different cameras and slightly different angles.

Irish Rail operates an excellent and well-patronized service on its Kent Station to Cobh line. In conjunction with this service are trains running on the recently reopened line to Midleton. Yesterday’s post focused on Cobh Junction, Glounthaune, where the lines divide.

In yesterday's post, I focused on a series of sunrise images exposed overlooking Cobh Junction. For this view, made minutes before sunrise, I used my Canon EOS 7D with 100mm telephoto. By raising the ISO and using the lens nearly wideopen (f2.0) I was able to stop the action despite relatively low light. For the sunrise, I used by Fujichrome slide film and digital photography.
In yesterday’s post, I focused on a series of sunrise images exposed overlooking Cobh Junction. For this view, made minutes before sunrise, I used my Canon EOS 7D with 100mm telephoto. By raising the ISO and using the lens nearly wideopen (f2.0) I was able to stop the action despite relatively low light. For the sunrise, I used both Fujichrome slide film and digital photography.
Glounthaune Station at Cobh Junction was just a short walk away. I made this image from the footbridge at the station to show the yellow signal with a feather (indicating a diverging route with the next signal at 'danger' [red]). A Midleton-bound railcar was signaled to depart the station, but needed to wait for an inbound train before it could proceed to Midleton.
Glounthaune Station at Cobh Junction was just a short walk away. I made this image from the footbridge at the station to show the yellow signal with a feather (indicating a diverging route with the next signal at ‘danger’ [red], seen in the distance). A Midleton-bound railcar was signaled to depart the station, but needed to wait for an inbound train before it could proceed to Midleton.
Here's my view with the Lumix LX7 of the Midleton railcar departing Glounthaune. There was excellent ridership from this station in the morning.
Here’s my view with the Lumix LX7 of the Midleton railcar departing Glounthaune. There was excellent ridership from this station in the morning.

Irish Rail’s Ken Fox gave me a personal tour of the line, driving me by road to best spots and advising me on train times, the history of the railway, and his personal experiences with the line.

While the equipment on the line consists largely of the 1990s-built 2600-series diesel railcars, the frequency of trains and the great scenery along the line, make for ample photographic opportunities.

I’m always looking for a new angle, but also to recreate the angle I used in older photos. I’d made my first images on the Cobh branch back in 1999, and since then the line had been re-signaled among other changes.

Irish Rail 2612 approaches its station stop at Carrigaloe, County Cork. Exposed with Canon EOS 7D.
Irish Rail 2612 approaches its station stop at Carrigaloe, County Cork. Exposed with my Canon EOS 7D.
Looking across Cork harbour toward Passage West, which was served by a narrow gauge suburban line until the 1930s. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Looking across Cork harbour toward Passage West, which was served by a narrow gauge suburban line until the 1930s. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Lumix LX7 view of a 2600 along Cork harbour at Carrigaloe.
Lumix LX7 view of a 2600 along Cork harbour at Carrigaloe.
Trailing view from a hillside at Carrigaloe.
Trailing view from a hillside at Carrigaloe.
Irish Rail 2612 makes its station stop at Rushbrook, County Cork on its way to Cobh. I had time to swap lenses and make a few colour slides while the train dropped off its passengers. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Irish Rail 2612 makes its station stop at Rushbrook, County Cork on its way to Cobh. I had time to swap lenses and make a few colour slides while the train dropped off its passengers. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Same train and location as above, but using my 40mm pancake lens.
Same train and location as above, but using my 40mm pancake lens.
Cobh Station.
Cobh Station.
Irish Rail display at Cobh Station. Lumix LX7.
Irish Rail display at Cobh Station. Lumix LX7.
A railfan dog gazes with enthusiasm as a 2600 series railcar roars out of Cobh on its way back to Kent Station, Cork. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
A railfan dog gazes with enthusiasm as a 2600 series railcar roars out of Cobh on its way back to Kent Station, Cork. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Afternoon view looking compass west at Cobh Junction toward Glounthaune Station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Afternoon view looking compass west at Cobh Junction toward Glounthaune Station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Having bright sun for the duration of our photography on October 7th was a great benefit.

Thanks Ken!

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All Quiet at CP83

Looking Toward Winter.

As the warmer greener season (some call it ‘summer’) fades, I thought it would be time for a reminder of the colder whiter months coming.

 Canon EOS 7D photo, exposed with a 28-135mm AF lens at f7.0 1/250th of second, ISO 200.

Canon EOS 7D photo, exposed with a 28-135mm AF lens at f7.0 1/250th of second, ISO 200.

On February 8, 2011, I exposed this snowy photo at my all-too-familiar location at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts.

Not a wheel turning but plenty of snow; even the popular Steaming Tender restaurant was closed at that moment.

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Settle & Carlisle—Part 1.

One of the Most Visually Stunning Railways

Britain’s famed Settle & Carlisle is among the great railway lines. Its superb engineering and stunning natural settings, combined with a history of dramatic lighting effects as a result of the surrounding topography have long made this a popular setting for railway photographers.

Many years ago I rode over the line on a trip from Haworth to Arnside via Carlisle, but until a couple of weeks ago, I’d never properly photographed the railway.

My old buddy and fellow railroad photographer, TSH and I used a hired car to explore this fascinating section of railway line. We started near Garsdale and worked our way back toward Settle.

A Leeds-bound class 158 DMU hums along the Settle & Carlisle towards Garsdale in August 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.
A Leeds-bound class 158 DMU hums along the Settle & Carlisle towards Garsdale in August 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo, August 2014.
Old station buildings at Dent on the Settle & Carlisle in August 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Old station buildings at Dent on the Settle & Carlisle in August 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
As predicted, an EWS coal train led by a General Motors-built Class 66 diesel near Dent. Dappled sun illuminates the valley beyond. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
As predicted, an EWS coal train led by a General Motors-built Class 66 diesel near Dent. Dappled sun illuminates the valley beyond. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens, August 2014.

I’ve often heard that this line carried a bit of freight, and my investigations prior to arriving there indicated we should have seen about 6-7 freights during the course of the day. We saw one EWS coal train. That was all. Thankfully, the regular passenger service operated about every two hours, so at least there was some movement over the line. Bad luck, as they say.

The scenery and engineering was sufficiently impressive to compensate for the comparative dearth of traffic and I made dozens of photographs using film and digital photography.

A northward railcar works toward Dent. Canon EOS 7D.
A northward railcar works toward Dent. Canon EOS 7D.
In the evening, a class 158 emu approaches its station stop at Ribblesdale. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
In the evening, a class 158 emu approaches its station stop at Ribblesdale. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Stay tuned for more S&C views tomorrow!

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The Marble City Rolls in the Evening—Part 3

A Long Delay Results in an Unexpected Opportunity.

We waited at milepost 17 near Sallins for the return of locomotive 461 with Railway Preservation Society Ireland’s The Marble City rail tour from Kilkenny.

After a bit of a delay, I’d became curious and tried phoning people on the train. After a few phone calls I learned that tragedy had delayed the excursion.

It was reported that Irish Rail’s regular Intercity train from Waterford was involved in a fatality on the line and the steam special was stranded at Athy while the Gardai (An Garda Síochána is the Irish name for Ireland’s national police force) conducted an investigation.

I was told by an RPSI member on the train that it would be at least 8pm before the train was on the move.

Lumix LX7 view of the line looking toward Dublin.
Lumix LX7 view of the line looking toward Dublin.

Instead of giving up and returning to Dublin, fellow photographer Hugh Dempsey and I opted to remain trackside. After all, only the Waterford trains were affected, so there would be plenty moving to photograph. And there’s the element of curiosity, just how late would the train be?

I took the opportunity to update some local people who had turned out to watch the steam special of its misfortune.

Later, a local man took pity on our prolonged wait, and dropped down to us with cups of hot tea and biscuits (cookies). In the mean time there was some nice evening light to photograph the ordinary procession of Irish Rail trains.

The Cork-Dublin Mark4 works toward Dublin with a 201-class diesel locomotive at the back. This meets an ICR working downroad. Canon EOS 7D photo.
The Cork-Dublin Mark4 works toward Dublin with a 201-class diesel locomotive at the back. This meets an ICR working downroad. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Experimenting with the pan technique I exposed this view of a downroad ICR at milepose 17. With the same types of trains running every few minutes in the evening, I had lots of opportunity to try different angles. Lumix LX7 view.
Experimenting with the pan technique I exposed this view of a downroad ICR at milepose 17. With the same types of trains running every few minutes in the evening, I had lots of opportunity to try different angles. Lumix LX7 view.
A blast of evening sun illuminates an old CIE 20 foot container along the line. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
A blast of evening sun illuminates an old CIE 20 foot container along the line. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
An uproad ICR at milepost 17. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
An uproad ICR at milepost 17. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
An uproad ICR catches a wink of evening sun.  Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
An uproad ICR catches a wink of evening sun. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Finally, at 9:18pm I got word that The Marble City with 461 had reached Cherryville Junction and was making its dash for Dublin—some four hours behind schedule.

The light was fading fast when I made this view of an uproad Irish Rail ICR at milepost 17. What could expect of the steam special?
The light was fading fast when I made this view of an uproad Irish Rail ICR at milepost 17. What could expect of the steam special?

It passed us just before 10pm, which made for a rare summer evening view of an Irish steam special. Most RPSI trips run in daylight! Using film I’d have been out of luck, but thanks to advances in digital photograph I was able to make a distinctive image.

Exposed at 9:51pm on July 27, 2014 with a Canon EOS 7D with f2.0 100mm lens, set at ISO 3200 1/80th of a second at f2.0. White balance set for ‘daylight.’ To keep the locomotive sharp, I panned slightly. I processed the camera RAW file in Photoshop to lighten the image slightly and improve contrast.
Exposed at 9:51pm on July 27, 2014 with a Canon EOS 7D with f2.0 100mm lens, set at ISO 3200 1/80th of a second at f2.0. White balance set for ‘daylight.’ To keep the locomotive sharp, I panned slightly. I processed the camera RAW file in Photoshop to lighten the image slightly and improve contrast.

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TRACKING THE LIGHT: Canadian Pacific Local on the Milwaukee Road.

Freshly Painted GP38-2s on Jointed Rail at DeForest, Wisconsin

June 23, 2010—four years ago today—John Gruber and I followed CP Rail’s local freight from Madison toward Portage on a secondary line of the old Milwaukee Road.

Locomotive 4509, an Electro-Motive Division GP38-2 built in 1974, had endured the various changes in ownership and re-branding of the railroad, from Milwaukee, to Soo Line, and finally to CP Rail. Now, in 2014, this locomotive is 40 years old. Is it still working the former Milwaukee?

Canadian Pacific 4509 limps along on rough jointed track near DeForest, Wisconsin on June 23, 2010. I was using a long telephoto (200mm) lens and I opted for a low angle to accentuate the effect of the jointed track. Train speed was about 10 mph. My exposure was f10 at 1/250th of a second at ISO 200.
Canadian Pacific 4509 limps along on rough jointed track near DeForest, Wisconsin on June 23, 2010. Using a long telephoto (200mm) lens, I opted for a low angle to accentuate the effect of the jointed track. Train speed was about 10 mph. My exposure was f10 at 1/250th of a second at ISO 200.

At the time of this photograph, I had just purchased my Canon 7D two weeks earlier and I was learning how to make the most of its technology. It took me about six-months to find ways to make optimum exposures using the built in histogram.

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Tomorrow: In the Shadow of Dracula!

 

Tracking the Light Corners Pan Am Railways Number 1

No Escape this Time!

To compensate for bad luck, and a series of bad timings, I made it a point to photograph Pan Am Railways executive F-unit at Spencer.

What?

Just about every time Pan Am Railway’s has run their glossy metallic blue F-units, I’ve either been in the air, out of the country, and/or at least a thousand miles away and traveling in the wrong direction.

Not this time. Not at Spencer. No, I knew I’d get a photo! Two or three, maybe, and in color!

I realize that PAR-1 may not have been the chief attraction of the Streamliners at Spencer event, but I  was very happy to finally see this New England resident up close and in person!

PAR 1 and Southern Railway 6133 bask in the morning light at Spencer, North Carolina. Lumix LX-7 photo.
PAR 1 and Southern Railway 6133 bask in the morning light at Spencer, North Carolina. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Cab detail of F9A PAR-1 exposed with my Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Cab detail of F9A PAR-1 exposed with my Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
The logo that once graced globe-encircling Boeing 747s decorates PAR 1.
The logo that once graced globe-encircling Boeing 747s decorates PAR 1.

For more Streamliners  photos, click here to reach Tracking the Light’s Streamliners at Spencer page.

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Streamliner Noir

On the Darker Side of Spencer!

Part of the attraction of North Carolina Transportation Museum’s Streamliners at Spencer event was the pre-arranged night photograph sessions. Large industrial scale flood lamps were arranged to provide roughly even lighting on locomotives that had been arranged and spotted specifically for photography.

A look at the darker side of night photography! A view of Spencer shops exposed with a Lumix LX-7.
A look at the darker side of night photography! A view of Spencer shops exposed with a Lumix LX-7.

I’ve often worked on the darker side of photography, and this was no exception. While I took advantage of the ‘arranged’ lighting to make standard views of the equipment. I made a special effort to go beyond the obvious.

Here I worked in the shadows, using the lights in a more interpretive way. I sought out scenes of the shops and facilities that were part of the background.

Crime scene or photoline?  The local constabulary provided security at the event. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
Crime scene or photoline? The local constabulary provided security at the event. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
This view of Norfolk & Western 611 caught my eye. At the time there must have been 75 people with tripods set up for the 3/4 angle. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7.
This view of Norfolk & Western 611 caught my eye. At the time there must have been 75 people with tripods set up for the 3/4 angle. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7.
Rain made for a nice shiny gloss but made the difficult process of making photos in the dark even more complicated. Keeping water off lenses in the dark isn't easy. At least with digital photography, instantaneous feed back allowed me to know when droplets had spoiled a clean view (or added an extra effect). Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
Rain made for a nice shiny gloss but made the difficult process of making photos in the dark even more complicated. Keeping water off lenses in the dark isn’t easy. At least with digital photography, instantaneous feed back allowed me to know when droplets had spoiled a clean view (or added an extra effect). Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
Silhouettes with Lackawanna painted F3s. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Silhouettes with Lackawanna painted F3s. Lumix LX-7 photo.

The challenge was trying to stay out of the way of the photo lines to avoid the ire of those with a front-lit view.

On one of the evenings there was a thunderstorm, which made matters extra challenging!

After I made this image, I relaxed on the bench. Fortunately there weren't many people set up on my side of the light. Lumix LX-7 photo.
After I made this image, I relaxed on the bench. Fortunately there weren’t many people set up on my side of the light. Lumix LX-7 photo.
This angle reminded me of a Jim Shaughnessy photo exposed in the 1950s. Lumix LX-7 photo.
This angle reminded me of a Jim Shaughnessy photo exposed in the 1950s. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Here I was mostly working with the ordinary sodium vapor lights, with the lights for the night photo event only providing secondary illumination by coloring the sky. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Here I was mostly working with the ordinary sodium vapor lights, with the lights for the night photo event only providing secondary illumination by coloring the sky. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Hard glint on the Norfolk Southern business train. Keeping the lights out of the frame is part of my technique. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Hard glint on the Norfolk Southern business train. Keeping the lights out of the frame is part of my technique. Lumix LX-7 photo.
Spencer round house.
Spencer round house.
Ghostly view of the old shops.
Ghostly view of the old shops.
Spencer, North Carolina—the village across the street from the old Southern Railway shops.
Spencer, North Carolina—the village across the street from the old Southern Railway shops.

See my Streamliners at Spencer page for more photos of the event.

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Daily Post: Snow Exposure Quandry

Pan Am 310 East of Shelburne Falls

I exposed this image of Pan Am Railways GP40 310 leading MOED on the afternoon of February 17, 2014. By any measure this scene posed a difficult exposure.

Canon 7D in-camera Jpg of Pan Am Railways 310 east of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. To my eye, this image appears too bright. Had it been a color slide I'd say it was about a half stop 'over exposed.' This Jpg was created using the Canon's picture style profile called 'landscape' (one of several built in Jpg picture styles).
Canon 7D in-camera Jpg of Pan Am Railways 310 east of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. To my eye, this image appears too bright. Had it been a color slide I’d say it was about a half stop ‘over exposed.’ This Jpg was created using the Canon’s picture style profile called ‘landscape’ (one of several built in Jpg picture styles).

The locomotive is a dark blue, while the scene posed a full range of tones from bright white snow to deep shadows. The train was moving, and there was little time for exposure bracketing.

Using the camera’s histogram, I’d made a test exposure before the train came into the scene, and then made a series of images focused on the composition.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D, I always expose simultaneous Jps and Camera RAW files. Most of the time the in Camera hi-res Jpg proves acceptable, and simply archive the RAW files for the future.

However, in this instance when I got home, I found that the in-camera Jpg appears to bright to my eye. I re-checked the camera’s histogram for that file and confirmed that the image was exposed correctly.

Histogram.
This is the information displayed at the back of the camera. The histogram is just about ideal. The bulk of the exposure is at the center of the graph and there is virtually no clipping of shadow or highlight areas. (See my earlier post on snow exposure for graph interpretation.)

In previous posts I’ve explained that with modern digital imaging old-school film-based assessments of ‘under’ (too dark) and ‘over’ (too light) exposure do not allow for the most accurate way of selecting exposure. (see: Snow Exposure—Part 1)

Instead of using the image at the back of the camera, or even the photo on my home computer screen, to judge exposure, I use the histogram. This graph allows me to select an exposure that maximizes the amount of information captured by the camera on-site.

In this case, although the Camera processed Jpeg seemed too bright (over exposed), the camera RAW file was perfect.  Since the problem was in the camera’s translation of the RAW to Jpeg, the solution was simple:

I converted the RAW to a Jpeg manually, which produced a result that matched the scene. This retained excellent highlight detail in the snow, produced a pleasing exposure for the side of the locomotive and hills beyond, while retaining good shadow detail in the tree at the left.

Here's the camera RAW file. This has not been interpreted by in-camera processing to conform to a pre-established 'picture style'. The result is perfectly exposed. I simply converted the file to a Jpg manually and scaled it for display here. I did not adjust exposure, contrast, or color. In other words its was an easy fix: there was never really a problem with the file, on with my perception of how the 'landscape' style Jpg had interpreted the image.
Here’s the camera RAW file. This has not been interpreted by in-camera processing to conform to a pre-established ‘picture style’. The result is perfectly exposed. I simply converted the file to a Jpg manually and scaled it for display here. I did not adjust exposure, contrast, or color. In other words it was an easy fix: there was never really a problem with the file, only with my perception of how the ‘landscape’ style Jpg had interpreted the image.

I did not manipulate or adjust the file except to scale the image and convert it to a Jpg for presentation. (the RAW file is far too large to up-load effectively).

For more on snow exposure see:

Photo Tips: Snow Exposure—Part 1

Photo Tips: Snow Exposure–Part 2 Histograms

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Daily Post: Snow Along The Canal, Birds in Flight, A Tram

A Moment in Time, November 28, 2010.

This was my Christmas card for 2010.
This was my Christmas card for 2010.

It doesn’t snow in Dublin very often, and when it snows it rarely stays on the ground for long. It had started snowing heavily overnight on November 28, 2010 and when I awoke, there was a fresh blanket of snow all over everything.

I made the most of morning. Among the locations I selected was along the LUAS tram line that follows the Grand Canal.

A man was feeding the birds and these were circling. Using my Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens, I made a series of photos of an inbound LUAS Citadis tram heading toward the city center from Tallagh.

The birds in flight make an already unusual situation even more interesting. They add depth and life to a cold and frosty scene. The tram itself is almost incidental. Yet we can follow its progress along the canal, its tracks gradually descending in the distance.

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Tomorrow: A visit to County Mayo!

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DAILY POST: BNSF SD70ACE at Enola, Pennsylvania.

 Location and Locomotive.

Tight view of BNSF Railway SD70MAC 9261 at Norfolk Southern's Enola Yard. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
Tight view of BNSF Railway SD70MAC 9261 at Norfolk Southern’s Enola Yard. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.

Fifty years ago, it would have been pretty neat to see a Burlington GP30 at Pennsylvania Railroad’s Enola Yard. Yet for the context of that photo to be fully appreciated, it would help to have the location of the locomotive implied in the image.

A few weeks ago, Pat Yough and I were driving by Norfolk Southern’s Enola Yard and spotted this SD70ACE. These days, BNSF locomotives on Norfolk Southern and CSX are not unusual occurrences. Not in Pennsylvania anyway.

After a tight image of the locomotive, I stood back and made a few views intended to convey location.

It’s not what you see, but the images made of what you see.

The sign at the left conveys location and provides a bit of information about safety conditions at Enola. Canon EOS 7D.
The sign at the left conveys location and provides a bit of information about safety conditions at Enola. Canon EOS 7D.
In this view the sign is the subject, and the locomotive just a decorative background. Canon EOS 7D.
In this view the sign is the subject, and the locomotive just a decorative background. Canon EOS 7D.

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Daily Post: Brussels August 2013

Old World Charm and Modern Trams.

Tram in Brussels.
Flexity tram at Place Royale. Exposed with my Lumix LX3 in August 2013.

The Belgian cities have admirable tram networks. By far the most extensive is that in Brussels. Here tram routes crisscross the city. While long sections of tram subway now serve central Brussels, there’s still lots of street running.

Modern Bombardier-built ‘Flexity’ articulated trams dominate the fleet. Yet there’s still some variety of older cars, including articulated PCCs.

For this segment, I’ve largely focused on the more modern cars as they offer the greatest contrast with Brussels’ eclectic old world architecture.

I have mixed feelings about the gold and silver livery. While more subdued than the gaudy colors used in some cities, it tends to look a bit grimy, especially in dull light.

I explored a theme of  contrasting Brussels' old architecture with its modern trams. Lumix LX3 photo.
I explored a theme of contrasting Brussels’ old architecture with its modern trams. Lumix LX3 photo.
One of Brussels' older trams lurks beyond the fountain. Lumix LX3 photo.
A tram lurks beyond the fountain. Lumix LX3 photo.
Brussels.
This tram was wrapped in an advertising livery. It offered a change from the gold and silver that dominates the modern fleet. Exposed with my Canon EOS 7D.
Twilight glow near Place Royale, Brussels.  Canon EOS 7D.
Twilight glow near Place Royale, Brussels. Canon EOS 7D.
This number 94 car is headed for the Tram Museum (in service, not preservation—not just yet, anyway!). Canon EOS 7D.
This number 94 car is headed for the Tram Museum (in service, not for preservation—not just yet, anyway!). Canon EOS 7D.
Sunset in Brussels. Reminds me of a scene from the cover of a fantasy novel . . .
Sunset in Brussels. Reminds me of a scene from the cover of a fantasy novel . . .

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Daily Post: Westward Freight in Wink of Sun

CSX Q427 Claws Upgrade at Chester, Massachusetts.

For me the old Boston & Albany West end is hallowed ground. This was the first true mountain mainline in the modern sense. The line was surveyed in the mid 1830s and by 1839 trains were working over Washington Summit.

Over the last 30 years I’ve made countless trips to photograph this line and it remains one of my favorites. Yet, I rarely come up here in the winter.

On Friday, February 7, 2014, my father and I went up to Huntington to catch Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited, train 449. Not far behind was CSX’s Q427.

This freight runs daily between Portland, Maine and Selkirk, New York via Ayer and Worcester, Massachusetts. This day it had a pair of General Electric Evolution-Series diesels of the type that have come to characterize modern freight operations on the Boston & Albany route.

Since the train wasn’t making great speed, we pursued it on Route 20, stopping to make photos at opportune locations. At CP 123 (where the line goes from single track to two-main track) Q427 met an eastward freight holding at the signal. We continued upgrade ahead of the train.

I remembered that there’s a gap in the hills at Chester which allows for a window of sun on the line that lasts late in the day. So we zipped ahead of the train.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D and 200mm lens, I exposed a series of vertical images of CSX Q427 (Portland to Selkirk) as it passed through a window of afternoon sun.
Working with my Canon EOS 7D and 200mm lens, I exposed a series of vertical images of CSX Q427 (Portland to Selkirk) as it passed through a window of afternoon sun.
The dappled light on the trees and the dark shadowed hillside beyond made for a dramatic painterly back drop, while tree shadows on the foreground snow minimized the effects of glare and provided texture.
The dappled light on the trees and the dark shadowed hillside beyond made for a dramatic painterly back drop, while tree shadows on the foreground snow minimized the effects of glare and provided texture.

At Chester, Pop set up his tripod to make a hi-resolution video of the train climbing. I positioned myself with my Canon EOS 7D with a telephoto lens to make use of the window of sun against a dark background.

As the train grew closer I also exposed more conventional views with my Lumix LX3. The heavy train took more than two minutes to pass.

Lumix LX3 photo showing the whole scene.
Lumix LX3 photo showing the whole scene.

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 Tomorrow: step back 30 years with a visit to West Springfield.

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DAILY POST; West Warren Contrasts; 2010 and 2013

Difficulties of Photographing in the Spring and Summer.

That’s just what you want to read about right now, isn’t it!. Gosh, those awful warm months with the long days, soft sunlight and thick foliage.

Well, here I have two views, both made at about the same location off Route 67 in West Warren, Massachusetts at approximately the same time of the morning. Both views show a CSX eastward freight.

On July 31, 2010, an eastward CSXT intermodal train works the former Boston & Albany at West Warren, Massachusetts. At the time heavy line-side brush made photography challenging. Canon EOS 7D.
On July 31, 2010, an eastward CSXT intermodal train works the former Boston & Albany at West Warren, Massachusetts. At the time heavy line-side brush made photography challenging. Canon EOS 7D.
This sequence of photos was made at almost exactly the same location, but after CSXT performed undercutting work and brush cutting along the Boston & Albany route. These views were exposed on the morning of May 10, 2013.
This sequence of photos was made at almost exactly the same location, but after CSXT performed undercutting work and brush cutting along the Boston & Albany route. These views were exposed on the morning of May 10, 2013.
Slightly closer view that nearly approximates the position of the train in the July 31, 2010 photo.
Slightly closer view that nearly approximates the position of the train in the July 31, 2010 photo.

The first was exposed on July 31, 2010; the second two views were made on May 10, 2013. While I’ve used one of these views in a previous post (see: Quaboag Valley in Fog and Sun, May 10, 2013 ), I thought these made for an interesting contrast with the earlier image.

The primary difference is that in the interval between 2010 and 2013 CSXT cut the brush along the Boston line and performed undercutting work at West Warren. This is just one of many locations that benefited visually from such improvements.

A secondary difficulty about photographing when foliage is at its summer peak is selecting the optimum exposure. In the 2010 image, I took a test photo and allowed for some nominal overexposure of the locomotive front in order to retain detail in the foliage. I then made a nominal correction in Photoshop during post processing to make for a more pleasing image.

This is the 'unprocessed' camera-produced Jpg to show the slight 'over exposure' on the locomotive front.
This is the ‘unprocessed’ camera-produced Jpg to show the slight ‘over exposure’ on the locomotive front.

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Tomorrow: CSX in the snow!

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DAILY POST: Trains Meet on a Summer Morning at Cassandra, Pennsylvania.

Pleasant Morning on the West Slope.

In contrast from the iced grip of winter, these photographs were made on June 30, 2010. This was a gorgeous warm summer’s morning; birds twittered the tree branches as the sun light streamed through a gauzy haze to burn away the dew.

I arrived early at the famed ‘Railfan’s Overlook’ to make photographs in the early light of day. In the distance, I could hear the thunder of a heavy train climbing east toward the Allegheny Divide at Gallitzin.

NS unit coal train with Evolution at Cassandra IMG_1734

Norfolk Southern’s busy former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline rarely disappoints, and this morning it was alive with trains.

Using my Canon EOS 7D, I worked the glinting sun to its best advantage as an eastward Pennsylvania Power & Light coal train clawed into view. As it worked the grade, a westward RoadRailer led by former Conrail locomotive glided down grade.

At the back of the coal train were a pair of freshly painted SD40Es making a classic EMD-roar as they worked in run-8 (maximum throttle).

How I wish I was enjoying a warm June morning on the West Slope right now!

 

 A Norfolk Southern coal train, likely destined for Pennsylvania Power & Light’s Strawberry Ridge plant, works west at Cassandra, Pennsylvnia. Canon EOS 7D with 24mm lens, exposed at f4 1/250th second, ISO 200. Back lit morning sun highlights the grass in the foreground.

A Norfolk Southern coal train, likely destined for Pennsylvania Power & Light’s Strawberry Ridge plant, works west at Cassandra, Pennsylvnia. Canon EOS 7D with 24mm lens, exposed at f4 1/250th second, ISO 200. Back lit morning sun highlights the grass in the foreground.

Coal train at Cassandra IMG_1742

Westward Norfolk Southern RoadRailer at Cassandra, Pennsylvania on June 30, 2010. The morning sun has caught the front element of my lens making for a bit of flare. Notice how this fogs the shadow areas and warms up the scene. Hollywood film-makers love this effect.
Westward Norfolk Southern RoadRailer at Cassandra, Pennsylvania on June 30, 2010. The morning sun has caught the front element of my lens making for a bit of flare. Notice how this fogs the shadow areas and warms up the scene. Hollywood film-makers love this effect.
I've stepped back into the shadow of a tree to control lens flare and stopped down my exposure to allow for better highlight detail on the sides of the RoadRailer. The result is a starker less atmospheric image.
I’ve stepped back into the shadow of a tree to control lens flare and stopped down my exposure to allow for better highlight detail on the sides of the RoadRailer. The result is a starker less atmospheric image.
Morning glint illuminates the helpers at the back of coal train. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens, set at 120mm and at f5.0 1/500, ISO 400.
Morning glint illuminates the helpers at the back of coal train. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens, set at 120mm and at f5.0 1/500, ISO 400.

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Interested in learning more about locomotives and viewing more stunning photographs? See my book: Classic Locomotives published by Voyageur Press.

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Daily Post: Amtrak Cities Sprinter Revenue Run, February 7, 2014

 Photos of Amtrak’s Latest.

Yesterday (February 7, 2014), after several months of testing, Amtrak’s new ACS-64 Siemens built ‘Cities Sprinter’ locomotive 600 made its first revenue run on Amtrak train 171 (Boston to Washington).

My dad and I went to Milford, Connecticut on the North East Corridor to catch the new electric. Pop made some B&W photos with his Leica M3 from the east end of the platform. I worked the curve at the west end with my Canons.

I popped off a couple of slides with the EOS 3 with a 100mm telephoto, and exposed two bursts of digital images using the Canon 7D with 20mm lens.

 

Brand new Amtrak electric 600 leads train 171 (Boston to Washington) at Milford, Connecticut at 10:56am February 7, 2014.  Canon 7D with 20mm lens. f4.5 1/2000th second, ISO 200.
Brand new Amtrak electric 600 leads train 171 (Boston to Washington) at Milford, Connecticut at 10:56am February 7, 2014. Canon 7D with 20mm lens. f4.5 1/2000th second, ISO 200.
Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.
Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.
Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.
Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.

Amtrak_171_ACS_64_engine_600_at_Milford_trailing_1_IMG_4213

Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.
Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.

By the way the 20mm on the 7D has a field of view equal to about a 35mm lens on a traditional 35mm film camera.

The new electric sure looked nice! I’ll be keen to see the B&W photos and slides when they are processed.

After 171 passed, I made a few photos of a Metro-North local, then Pop and I went over to inspect the recently opened Metro-North station at West Haven, where we made a few photos of passing trains.

Did you get to see Amtrak’s latest electric?

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Daily Post: Railcar Graffiti

Sayre, Pennsylvania, August 2010.

Sayre, Pennsylvania, August 2010.
Sayre, Pennsylvania, August 2010.
Sayre, Pennsylvania, August 2010.
Sayre, Pennsylvania, August 2010.

Watching trains today, it seems that graffiti is omnipresent. Hardly a freight passes without heavily tagged cars in consist.

Railcar graffiti isn’t a recent phenomena. Traditional chalked tags have appeared on cars for generations. I recall photographing a tag that read ‘Edward Steichen knew’ back in the mid-1980s, and I first noticed spray-painted graffiti on the New York Subways in the 1970s.

Yet, the proliferation of large colorful spray-painted murals and haphazard spray tagging has only become widespread on mainline trains in the last couple of decades.

While freight cars are the most common canvases, I’ve see locomotives and passenger cars tagged as well.

Nor is the phenomena isolated to the United States. Train graffiti is a worldwide occurrence. I’ve photographed heavily tagged trains in Poland, Belgium, and (wouldn’t you guess?) Italy! (Among other places).

Almost every photographer I’ve met has an opinion on graffiti.

Would you like to leave a comment? Tracking the light is interested in your opinion(s). See the comments section toward the bottom of the page.

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Tomorrow: Tracking the Light features a summer morning Norfolk Southern’s former PRR at Cassandra, Pennsylvania. Don’t miss it!

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DAILY POST: Vermonter at Dusk


Ethereal View at Millers Falls, January 2014.

Tim Doherty asked me a few weeks back, “Have you ever tried a shot from the north side of the Millers Falls high bridge?” I’d looked a this several times, but was discouraged by the row of trees between the road and the railroad bridge.

Amtrak
Amtrak‘s northward Vermonter crosses the Millers River on January 12, 2014.

So, on January 12, 2014, at the end of the day (light), Tim and I went to this location with the aim of making images of Amtrak’s northward Vermonter crossing the aged Central Vermont span.

 

As there was only a hint of light left, I upped the ISO sensitivity of my Canon EOS 7D and I switched the color balance to ‘tungsten’ (indoor incandescent lighting which has the same effect as using tungsten balance slide film (such as Fujichrome 64T), and so enhances the blue light of the evening.

 

A call to Amtrak’s Julie (the automated agent) confirmed the train was on-time out of Amherst. Running time was only about 20 minutes (a bit less than I thought) but we were in place, cameras on tripods, several minutes before we heard the Vermonter blasting for crossings in Millers Falls.

The result is interpretive. The train’s blur combined with view through the trees and the deep blue color bias makes for a ghostly image of the train crossing the bridge.

Click to see related posts: Dusk on the Grand CanalAmtrak Extra, Millers Falls, Massachusetts, October 22, 2013

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DAILY POST: Amtrak Heritage P40 at West Warren, Massachusetts!


Light! Camera! Action!

Here we have an instance where everything came together nicely.

Amtrak heritage locomotive
Amtrak 449 at West Warren, Massachusetts, 2:03pm January 24, 2014. Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 40mm pancake lens exposed at ISO 200 f5.6 1/1000th of a second. Camera RAW file converted to a Jpeg in Adobe Photoshop.

On Friday January 24, 2014, I’d got word that Amtrak’s heritage locomotive number 822 was working the westward Lake Shore Limited, train 449

This was the second time in a ten-day span that I’d be alerted to a heritage locomotive on this run. As noted in my January 18, 2014 post, Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited, the weather wasn’t cooperative on my previous attempt at catching an Amtrak heritage locomotive.

By contrast on January 24th it was clear but very cold. I opted to make the photo at West Warren, where it’s nice and open and there’s a distinctive landscape.

Normally, Amtrak 449 passes East Brookfield at 1:30pm, and Palmer about 1:50pm. West Warren is roughly halfway between them, so I aimed to be there no later than 1:35pm

As it happened, 449 was delayed on Charlton Hill and passed more than 15 minutes later than I’d anticipated. Other than resulting in my nose getting a bit cold, this delay produced little effect on the photograph.

I opted for a traditional angle because I wanted to feature the locomotive as the primary subject this scenic setting. I picked a spot on the road bridge over the Quaboag River where I could make a view that included the old mills and waterfall, as well as a side view as the train got closer.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 40mm pancake lens, I set the motor drive to its fastest setting, and exposed three bursts of images as the train rolled east on CSXT’s former Boston & Albany mainline.

Since the camera’s buffer will quickly become saturated when making multiple photos in rapid succession, I was careful to wait until the train was nearly where I wanted it in each of the three sets.

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Amtrak_822_on_449_West_Warren_tight_view_IMG_4061
This tighter view offers a clean perspective on the equipment. I was aiming to feature both the heritage painted locomotive and the ancient baggage car. Word to the wise; get the old baggage cars while you can, they won’t be around forever.

Have you had luck catching Amtrak’s heritage locomotives?  Do you have a favorite? Let me know! There’s a venue for comments on this blog, scroll down.

 

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Daily Post: Busy Morning at West Trenton


Photographing on the former Reading Company.

 The word was out that Norfolk Southern’s Pennsylvania Railroad painted heritage locomotive was to work a detoured stack train over CSX’s Trenton Subdivision to avoid a scheduled engineering project at Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Pat Yough and I planted ourselves at the West Trenton, New Jersey SEPTA station in anticipation. A number of other enthusiasts had similar plans, so there was plenty of company.

Railroad station
Former Reading Company station at West Trenton, New Jersey on the morning of January 19, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.
Railway station detail.
Detailed view of West Trenton station. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
West Trenton station's build date is carved in stone. Lumix LX3 photo.
West Trenton station’s build date is carved in stone. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA
A SEPTA train for Philadelphia’s Airport pulls into the West Trenton station. CSXT’s unit oil train K040 with BNSF locomotives waits in the distance. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
CSXT oil train.
After the SEPTA local departed, CSXT KO40 led by BNSF 9688 and 5523 rolls southward through West Trenton. This section of the old Reading demonstrates how freight and passenger traffic can coexist on the same line. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
CSXT symbol freight Q439   works south behind mixed consist of GE and EMD locomotives. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
CSXT symbol freight Q439 works south behind mixed consist of GE and EMD locomotives. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Switchers have become relatively rare items on modern railroads so I made this grab shot of CSXT 1137 as it rolled by. Lumix LX3 photo.
Switchers have become relatively rare items on modern railroads so I made this grab shot of CSXT 1137 as it rolled by. Lumix LX3 photo.
A SEPTA Silverliner V waits to enter West Trenton Station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
A SEPTA Silverliner V waits to enter West Trenton Station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

 

The much anticipated Norfolk Southern detour I5T, (running as CSXT B100-19) works northward through West Trenton. At the back of the train are a pair of NS diesels to aid with reverse moves necessary for the detour arrangements. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
The much anticipated Norfolk Southern detour I5T, (running as CSXT B100-19) works northward through West Trenton. At the back of the train are a pair of NS diesels to aid with reverse moves necessary for the detour arrangements. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

The former Reading station building at West Trenton is now privately owned (and serves a non-railroad function), while the platforms remain active for SEPTA’s regularly scheduled passenger trains to Philadelphia.

When we arrived, morning clouds were giving way to sun. A pair of westward CSX trains was holding just west of the electrified zone and the radio was alive with activity.

In a little more than an hour we caught three SEPTA trains and four freights. This kept me and my three cameras pretty busy. My goal was not just to photograph the trains, but to capture these trains in this classic railroad environment.

Norfolk Southern 8102 was in clean tuscan-red paint at it trailed at the back of nearly two-miles of double stacked containers. Canon EOS 7D with 100 mm lens.
Norfolk Southern 8102 was in clean tuscan-red paint at it trailed at the back of nearly two-miles of double stacked containers. Canon EOS 7D with 100 mm lens.
Trailing with of NS I5T (CSXT B100-19) passing the West Trenton tower.
Trailing with of NS I5T (CSXT B100-19) passing the West Trenton tower. Canon EOS 7D.
CSXT empty oil train K041 works northward behind the detoured stack train. BNSF locomotives make a bit of color in this otherwise drab New Jersey scene. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
CSXT empty oil train K041 works northward behind the detoured stack train. BNSF locomotives make a bit of color in this otherwise drab New Jersey scene. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

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See related posts:  Exploring SEPTATake a Ride on the ReadingPhiladelphia’s Reading Terminal Revisited

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SPECIAL POST: SEPTA in the Snow

Afternoon and evening, January 21, 2014.

SEPTA in snow
SEPTA local arrives at Overbrook on the way to Thorndale. Canon EOS 7D photo.

This morning dawned with a blood-red sunrise. Something about a red sky in the morning?

What I’d call ‘winter’ has been given all sorts of new fancy names. Probably the most absurd is the ‘polar vortex.’ Next up is the term handed to today’s precipitation: ‘bombogensis.’

Call it what you like. By about 2:30 pm today 6 inches of snow was improving photography all over Philadelphia, and by 5 pm there was 8-10 inches was making for interesting images.

My brother Sean and I spent the afternoon in Philadelphia making photos of SEPTA and snow accumulation while running errands. Falling and drifting snow made for some dramatic photography opportunities.

SEPTA in the snow
Inbound SEPTA multiple unit approaches Overbrook Station. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Late-running Amtrak Keystone service crosses over at Overbrook. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Late-running Amtrak Keystone service crosses over at Overbrook. Canon EOS 7D photo.
SEPTA number 10 trolley takes the corner at Lansdowne Avenue. Canon EOS 7D photo.
SEPTA number 10 trolley takes the corner at Lansdowne Avenue. Canon EOS 7D photo.
SEPTA trolley
SEPTA number 10 glides along in the snow on the afternoon of January 21, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.
PCC trolley
A vintage PCC in Route 15 service ambles along snow-covered Girard Avenue. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Trailing view of a SEPTA PCC on Girard Avenue, on January 21, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Trailing view of a SEPTA PCC on Girard Avenue, on January 21, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Snow exposure I always tricky. My basic rule of thumb is to use the camera meter to set a gauging point, then open up (over expose) by 2/3s to a full stop above the camera meter. Using the histogram on the back of the camera, I then fine tune my exposure depending on the setting.

I detailed how to interpret the histogram for snow exposures in an earlier post. Click to see: Photo Tips: Snow Exposure–Part 2 Histograms

Cleaning the sidewalks on Viola Street at dusk. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Cleaning the sidewalks on Viola Street at dusk. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Former Pennsylvania Railroad position light signal shows a 'stop' aspect. January 21, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Former Pennsylvania Railroad position light signal shows a ‘stop’ aspect. January 21, 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.

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SEPTA train.
An inbound SEPTA MU arrives at Overbrook on the evening of January 21, 2014. Despite the snow, this service was on schedule. Canon EOS 7D photo.
PRR main line.
Former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line looking east at dusk. Canon EOS 7D photo.

 

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See related posts:  Exploring SEPTATake a Ride on the ReadingPhiladelphia’s Reading Terminal Revisited

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TRACKING THE LIGHT NEWS FLASH: Photos of Philadelphia Schuylkill River Bridge Derailment.


Monday Afternoon; January 20, 2014.

View from I-76; a crane attends to a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill RIver Bridge derailment. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
View from I-76; a crane attends to a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill River Bridge derailment. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

The news media reported that early this morning (January 20, 2014), an oil train destined for Philadelphia derailed while crossing the Schuylkill River.

The derailment occurred near I-76 and within sight of Center City.

This afternoon, my brother and I were on our way through Philadelphia, and I had the opportunity to make photos from the car as we passed the derailment site.

Traffic was very slow on I-76, and I ample time to make snapshots with my Canon EOS 7D. On our way back, the clean up efforts continued, so I made a few more images.

It pays to have a camera at the ready to capture events such as this one.

View from I-76; a crane attends to a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill RIver Bridge derailment. Canon EOS  7D with 100mm lens.
View from I-76; a crane attends to a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill River Bridge derailment. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
View from I-76; a crane attends to a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill RIver Bridge derailment. Canon EOS
View from I-76; a  derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill River Bridge derailment. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
View from I-76; a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill River Bridge derailment. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
View from I-76; a derailed sand hopper at the site of the January 20, 2014 Schuylkill River Bridge derailment. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

 

Derailment_on_Schuylkill_River_Bridge_IMG_0990

Dusk on January 20, 2014, clean up crews attend to derailed cars on the Schulykill River Bridge. ISO 6400, Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Dusk on January 20, 2014, clean up crews attend to derailed cars on the Schulykill River Bridge. ISO 6400, Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

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DAILY POST: Exploring SEPTA

January 2014 Philadelphia Photo Exercise

SEPTA_Map_IMG_3911

For me, SEPTA is one of the most photogenic American big city transit systems. Sure, other cities have their charms, but Philadelphia has a lot going for it; variety, accessibility, interval services on most routes, real time displays at stations, visual cues to its heritage, interesting and varied equipment and etc.

On January 16, 2014, my brother Sean and I, spent an afternoon and evening wandering on SEPTA’s rail systems making photographs. I had a minor agenda to ride a few pieces of the network I’d not yet traveled on.

I worked with two cameras; Lumix LX3 and Canon EOS 7D, but traveled relatively light (no film body or big telephotos)

Lumix LX3 photo.
Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA has a App that shows schedules, train times & etc. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA has a App that shows schedules, train times & etc. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA Airport station
Philadelphia is one of the few North American cities with direct heavy rail airport connections. Trains run every half hour with stations at each terminal. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA.
Afternoon sun catches an outbound Silverliner V at University City. A CSX freight rolls overhead on the Highline. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

All of the lines we traveled were well patronized (some at standing room only) and yet everything seem to run to time. SEPTA’s staff were friendly and helpful. (Especially when we were running for trains).

SEPTA
SEPTA SIlverliner V interior. Built by ROTEM. Lumix LX3 photo.
End of the line at Elwyn.
End of the line at Elwyn.
Silverliner V at Elwyn. The line used to continue to West Chester.
Silverliner V at Elwyn. The line used to continue to West Chester. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA railroad station
Old Pennsylvania Railroad station at Clifton-Aldan.
End of the Sharon Hill trolley line. Lumix LX3 photo.
End of the Sharon Hill trolley line. Lumix LX3 photo.
69th Street terminal at Upper Darby. Outbound trolleys for Media and Sharon Hill. Lumix LX3 photo.
69th Street terminal at Upper Darby. Outbound Kawasaki trolleys for Media and Sharon Hill. Lumix LX3 photo.
Norristown High Speed Line at 69th Street. Lumix LX3 photo.
Norristown High Speed Line at 69th Street. Lumix LX3 photo. Contrast adjusted in post processing to improve the overall appearance of the image.