September 23, 1984; crisp autumn sunlight made for some nice light to capture a southward Central Vermont freight crossing the Boston & Albany at Palmer, Massachusetts.
I was working with Kodak Tri-X, which I was learning to process in D-76, rather than Microdol-X. D-76 offered broader tonality, but resulted in somewhat coarser grain. Complicating matters, my process time was a bit longer than necessary and I tended to over agitate, which resulted in denser negatives than I’d like.
Despite the minor processing flaws, I scanned the negatives last week and made minor corrections in post processing to yield better results.
Friday, September 17, 2021, Kris and I photographed a southward New England Central freight at State Line Crossing on the boundary between Monson, Massachusetts and Stafford, Connecticut.
Later the same day, I located a print of a black & white negative of a southward Central Vermont Railway freight at the same location exposed c1984.
Since I located the black & white photo after making the contemporary view, the modern photos do not represent an effort to recreat the earlier image. Instead they show how my views of trains at this location have evolved over the last 37 years, and how the trees have grown!
Back in the mid-1980s, I’d often catch Central Vemont’s southward road freight arriving at Palmer, Massachusetts. This would operate overnight from St. Albans, and typically arrive in the morning.
On this occasion, 444 was lead by a colorful mix of locomotives including Grand Trunk Western GP38 5808 and a couple of GTW GP9s, a CV GP9, and a Canadian National M-420.
I must have been so enthralled by the array of motive power that I didn’t mind my exposure. My original slide is about 2/3s of a stop over exposed. Which means the photograph is too light.
Back in the day, I’d instantly reject an image of this quality as ‘unsuitable’ for projection. Although, I labeled the slide, I filed it away with my ‘3rds’, where it was protected from the light for more than 34 years.
I scanned it the other day using a Nikon Coolscan5000 digital scanner, making a multiple pass scan to extract the most amount of data possible in a 4000 dpi scan, then imported the TIF file into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.
The actual adjustment required to correct for over exposure required just a few seconds of my time. Using the histogram as a guide, I lowered the exposure, set the black and white limits and exported as a JPG for presentation here.
Below is the unadjusted scan, followed by my exposure adjusted scan.
In 1986, my pal TSH and I had been comparing the differences between Kodachrome 25, Kodachrome 64, and Fujichrome 50 slide film.
It was early during this trial period that I made this photo of Central Vermont’s southward freight 562 with Grand Trunk Western 5808 in the lead ascending State Line Hill in Monson, Massachusetts passing the old Zero Manufacturing plant on Bliss Street.
I was very much impressed by the colors in this image when it was returned to me from Kodak, and the appearance of this slide and other K25 images contributed to my decision to adopt this emulsion as my standard slide film.
New England Central Railroad (NECR) began operations of the former Central Vermont route in February 1995. Initially, it ran the railroad with a small fleet of largely former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio GP38s numbered in the 9500-series.
In 1998, NECR was in the process of renumbering these locomotives into the 3800-series, which logically echoed their model type.
In October 1998, photographer Mike Gardner and I spent a morning photographing the southward 608 on its run from Palmer, Massachusetts to New London, Connecticut. The lead engine displayed its new 3800-series number, but the trailing engine still had its old number.
Many of the GP38s have carried these 3800-series numbers ever since that time.
Exposed on Fujichrome using a Nikon N90S with Nikon f2.8 80-200mm AF zoom lens. The freight is crossing the Yantic River at Yantic, Connecticut.
I needed a topic for today’s Tracking the Light, so I reached in to a sorting file of un-scanned slides and found this photo: Surprise!
On October 13, 2004, photographer Mike Gardner and I chased New England Central Railroad’s 608 south from Palmer, through my hometown of Monson, Massachusetts.
This is a chase I’ve done countless times over the last 40 years, but just because you’ve done something before, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to find a new angle on it.
At Robbins Road in Monson, I made this dramatic trailing view of the train’s locomotives. Here we have a selection of NECR GP38s roaring away in ‘Run-8’—maximum throttle on the tooth of the grade.
The train was moving 10-12 mph, producing a rush of engine exhaust along with traction motors blowers blowing to keep the motors cool. (And prevent them from over heating) These blasts of hot air, combined with the wind from the train’s approach and passage, plus and sand from the sanders to maintain adhesion all helped stir up the ballast and fallen leaves.
It was a good chase and I wish I was there now!
I scanned the photo using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 and VueScan software. My initial scan produced a 4000 dpi TIF file, which I then imported to Lightroom in order to scale it for presentation here.
June 2020 Trains Magazine features my 8-page article on New England Central.
On February 5, 1996, I exposed a series of Kodachrome 25 color slides of New England Central 9529 switching at Palmer, Massachusetts.
The railroad later renumbered its engines from the 9500-series to the 3800-series, but in 2020 a few of its now geriatric GP38s still work the line in the 1995-era Conrail-applied New England Central start-up paint.
25 years in the same blue and yellow scheme. While not a world record, it is still pretty impressive.