Last week, Irish Rail operated a late IWT liner that departed Dublin in the evening, instead on its normal mid-morning path.
A group of my friends went to Cherry Orchard in the west Dublin suburbs to capture this relatively unusual move. While waiting for the freight, I made views of the evening passenger parade.
The sky was clear of clouds and sun was aligned with the Cork line making some interesting possibilities of glint and silhouette photographs.
In the 1990s, I exposed hundreds of images in this type of dramatic lighting conditions. The characteristics of Kodachrome 25 slide film made it well suited to glint photographs and I had my K25 exposures refined to a high art.
Glint photographs are more difficult to capture digitally, and I find that I have to control contrast and use digital masks/digital applied graduated neutral density filters in post processing to obtain the results that I expect.
Key to this exercise is underexposing a raw file sufficiently to retain detail in the sky and glinty areas of the image, than lighten shadows while making localized highlight adjustments in post processing.
A few days ago, I stood with Colm O’Callaghan and Ciarán Cooney at the foot bridge near Cherry Orchard west of Dublin.
The most elusive of all Irish Rail trains was on the move. To the uninitiated, the spoil train might seem a fool’s prize, but to the regular hunter and the connoisseur of the obscure, catching the spoil train is about as good as it gets.
As we waited the weather deteriorated. By the time the train came into view we had just about the worst possible lighting: heavy cloud directly overhead but bright bland sky in the distance and no way of minimizing the horizon. In other words, the lighting was too flat on the subject, but way too contrasty (and bright) in the distance.
With black and white film, I’d have over-exposed my negative by ½ to 1 full stop and then carefully processed it by under-developing by about 30 percent. (Shortening up my time). Then I’d selenium tone the negative, and when printing plan on some intensive dodging and burning. In the end, I have a series of dodgy looking prints that I’d probably never show to anyone, except under duress.
Instead, I exposed this image digitally using my Panasonix LX7. Gauging exposure with histogram, I ignored the advice of the camera meter, and did my best to avoid clipping the highlights, while avoiding total under-exposure.
Then, using Adobe Lightroom I experimented by trying replicate the scene using digital manipulation. Each of the following photos represent various attempts of making something out what would ordinarily go into the bin (trash).
The first photo is the un-manipulated RAW, the others show various degrees of adjustment.
This time last week (Thursday March 21) I was getting ready to fly to Brussels. My bag was packed; my passport and tickets were organized. Then word came over the telegraph that an 071 was to work Irish Rail’s second Dublin-Ballina IWT Liner (International Warehousing and Transport)
As previously mentioned on Tracking the Light (see: Irish Rail at Clondalkin, February 21, 2013), Irish Rail runs a weekday container train between Dublin and Ballina. On Thursdays, traffic demands a second Dublin-Ballina train.
In recent months, Irish Rail has largely assigned its common 1994-1995 General Motors 201-Class diesels to this freight service, and the older General Motors 071-Class have only worked it infrequently. So, when I heard that Irish Rail 075 was on the train, I was keen to make some photos.
I had two hours before I needed to aim for Dublin Airport—plenty of time. On the downside, the weather wasn’t so cooperative. It was overcast, very windy, and spitting rain. Not my favorite conditions, but I’ll make photos in just about any circumstances. So, when my friend Colm O’Callaghan suggested we make the effort, I grabbed my travel bag and cameras and headed out the door.
This would require only a very short wait, or so we thought! When we arrived at Cherry Orchard, an industrial area in the west Dublin suburbs, the telegraph informed us that the second IWT was still in the yard at the North Wall. In other words, it hadn’t left yet, and was still at least 20 minutes away. An hour ticked by. In the mean time we caught the Ballina-Dublin ‘up IWT’ liner with a 201-class.
Then my phone rang; a client needed a photo immediately. A difficult proposition considering that the photo was buried on a hard-drive that I hadn’t planned to access for another week! My plans changed, I had to head home and address this request before making for the airport. My two-hour cushion had just been eroded. Still no IWT liner, and time was running out.
We gave up and were about to leave, when the telegraph came to life: the IWT had passed Islandbridge! It was on its way and not far off. Unfortunately, a clattering of passenger trains preceded it. Another 10 minutes gone. Finally, we heard the approaching roar of a 12-645 turbocharged diesel! Our perseverance paid off: 075 with the ‘down IWT’.
I dashed home, sent off the requested photo, then made for Dublin Airport on the 747 Airport Bus. Stay tuned for my photographs of Belgian railways . . .
The program begins at 1900 (7pm) upstairs at the Exmouth Arms, 1 Starcross Street, LONDON NW1, (advertised as a 5 minute walk from London’s Euston station). A nominal donation of £3.50 is asked of non-IRRS members (members £2.50)