Tag Archives: Connecticut

New Haven on New Years Eve—It Ain’t Pretty, but it’s busy!


Many years ago, my old pal T.S. Hoover and I would make a project of photographing the old New Haven Railroad during the holiday season.

This past New Years Eve (December 31 2018), I maintained this tradition, although that wasn’t my intent!

I was transferring from Amtrak 405 from Springfield to Amtrak 195 from Boston. Let’s just say the Boston train wasn’t holding to the advertised and I had ample time to wander around and make photographs of the passing action.

New Haven isn’t pretty,  high level platforms combined with a plethora of poles, catenary masts, catenary, signs, garbage, stray wires and other visual clutter hasn’t improved this classic setting, but there’s a great variety of equipment on the move.

Shoreline East lurking on left, CT Rail Hartford Line on right; FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
CT Rail Hartford Line train. Lumix LX7 photo.
Shoreline East train with a former Amtrak P40 at the back departs eastward for Old Saybrook. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Metro North M8s on left, old M2s on the right. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens..

No GG1s, RDCs, FL9s, E8s or other relics that made this a fascinating place when I was a teenager. For that matter there weren’t any E60s, AEM-7s, F40s or SPV-2000s either.

Boston-bound Acela Express. Lumix LX7 photo.

Boston-bound Acela Express. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

And finally, train 195! Hooray! Lumix LX7 photo.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Stafford Springs and New England Central 608: Part 2.


On Wednesday, December 12, 2018, I revisited the scene at Stafford Springs, having made photos there two days earlier.

In fact, I’ve been photographing trains passing this Connecticut village since the early 1980s, but I find it always helps to try to look at an old place with fresh eyes.

I like the arrangement of old brick buildings, the tracks along the creek/old mill race, and other elements characteristic of southern New England.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens, I exposed these views of New England Central 608 on its return journey from Palmer to Willimantic.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

CTrail 6695 on the Move.

On the evening of December 4, 2018, I panned CTrail train 4461 led by engine 6695 at the new Berlin, Connecticut station.

Berlin is brightly lit and makes for a good vantage point to watch and photograph passenger trains on the Hartford Line.

To make this pan photo, I set the shutter speed at 1/30thof second, fixed a point in my view finder and moved my camera and body in parallel with the train in a smooth unbroken motion as it arrived at the station.

New Haven bound Trail 4461 arrives at Berlin, Connecticut on December 4, 2018.

Panning is a great means to show a train in motion.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Berlin at Night.

Last night, November 12, 2018, my father and I paid a visit to the new Berlin, Connecticut station to collect a visitor from Amtrak 412.

The train was running behind the advertised, which gave me time to make a few photos of the well-lit modern facility.

Ground level view of the new Berlin, Connecticut station. I steadied the Lumix LX7 by resting it on the curb stones.

Amtrak train 412 pauses to let off two passengers at Berlin. Wide-angle view with a Lumix LX7.

Amtrak train 412 pauses to let off two passengers at Berlin. Slightly tighter view.

Pan of the Amtrak P42 diesel working at the back of train 412.

I featured Berlin back in June at the time of the CTrail Hartford Line commuter train start up.

See: TEN photos: All-New Berlin Station—Connecticut, that is!

Also see: Berlin, Connecticut Revisited.

These photos were exposed using my resuscitated Lumix LX7. I worked in RAW and adjusted the files in post processing to optimize highlight and shadow placement, present more pleasing contrast, and improve color saturation.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

 

 

Hey! I Thought This Train Seemed Familiar!

I experienced the new CT rail Hartford Line commuter train for the first time on Saturday.

CT rail in Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

I had this distinct sense of Déjà vu.

Then I reviewed the cover of my new book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

Wow! It’s like a German train at Berlin. Berlin, Connecticut, that is.

A German electric multiple unit graces the cover of my book.

CT rail 6400 crosses an old stone arch bridge at Windsor, Connecticut on Sunday June 17, 2018.

DB and CFL (Luxembourg Railways) EMUs working together on the famous Hanging Viaduct in Germany’s Mosel Valley.

I’m commenting on the paint liveries, not the equipment or the services.

Tracking the Light Posts EVERY day!

 

If you haven’t seen it, check out my latest book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01304

New CT Rail Hartford Line Commuter Trains—First Day in Eight Photos!

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1, I exposed more than 100 photos of the new Connecticut commuter rail service on the Hartford Line.

There’s nothing like the first day.

Train rides were FREE.

Springfield, Massachusetts on June 16, 2018.

Springfield, Massachusetts on June 16, 2018.

Springfield, Massachusetts on June 16, 2018.

 

Amtrak 461 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

Yesterday, June 16, 2018 the long awaited CT Rail Hartford Line Commuter service commenced.

My father and I traveled on the first train from Berlin, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts. It was a bright clear morning.

Contrast was a challenge, and for some of these photos I imported the camera RAW image into Light Room for exposure, color balance and exposure adjustment.

Amtrak 460 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

CT Rail 6653 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

CT Rail 6653 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

CT Rail 6654 at Berlin, Connecticut on June 16, 2018.

 

If you haven’t seen it, check out my latest book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/book/01304

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

 

 

Tracking the Light EXTRA: CTRail Free Train Ride Today!

Today, June 16, 2018, the long awaited CTRail service began public operation on the Springfield-Hartford-New Haven Line.

Free rides were on offer on both the new CTRail trains and some Amtrak services.

CTRail staff at Berlin supplied complimentary tickets!

My father and I traveled on the first northward train (CTRail 6400) between the new station at Berlin, Connecticut and Springfield. The train was very well attended!

More free train rides are available on the route tomorrow (Sunday June 17, 2018).

CTRail’s first public forward run, train 6400, makes its stop at Berlin, Connecticut. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.

The view near Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

I made many photographs over the course of the day and I’ve yet to look at all of them. Stay tuned for more tomorrow!

See: http://www.hartfordline.com

Tracking the Light posts EVERY Day! (Sometimes twice!)

 

 

New England Central in the Snow.

Sun and freshly fallen snow makes for a nice setting.

New England Central job 608 was making its way from Palmer back to Willimantic with about 20 cars of freight.

In the lead was one of the railroad’s original GP38s, still wearing the classic blue and yellow livery that was applied to these locomotives at the time of New England Central’s start-up in 1995.

I made this view at Plains Road south of Stafford, Connecticut.

Although much of the location was shadowed, a shaft of sun on the grade crossing made for photo opportunity with a telephoto lens. I stood back a bit to allow for slight compression effect owing to the longer focal length, and aimed to frame the leading locomotive between the crossing signals.

This distant view shows how the light was falling on the scene. I set my camera to ‘turbo flutter’ (motor drive at ‘continuous high’) and exposed a burst of images when the locomotive approached the window of sunlight on the crossing.

I set my focus point slightly off-center to hit the locomotive square in the nose.

FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens set at 104mm (equivalent to a 156mm focal length on a traditional 35mm film camera). ISO 200, f7.1 1/500th of a second.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Connecticut Trolley Museum Winterfest—2017.

Snow, crisp cold air, and lots of decorative holiday lights: that’s the attraction of Connecticut Trolley Museum’s Winterfest.

Here’s a tip (two really): When making photos in this environment it helps to have a good solid tripod. And, if you going to bring a tripod that uses a clip-on system to attach the camera to the tripod head, IT REALLY HELPS to make sure you have your clip!

Last night, I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm X-T1 firmly mounted on a Gitzo Trip. I planned my visit to the Connecticut Trolley Museum to coincide with sunset, so that I could make use of the last of daylight before the inky black of night set in.

Connecticut Company car 1326 in the Tunnel of Lights. FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens.

Connecticut Company car 1326 in the Tunnel of Lights. FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens.

Connecticut Company car 1326 in the Tunnel of Lights. FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens.

Boston Elevated Railway car. FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens. RAW File with Tungsten light balance, shadows boosted in post processing.

Boston Elevated Railway car. FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens.

Boston Elevated Railway car. FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Boston Elevated Railway car. FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Connecticut Company 1326 with FujiFilm X-T1 and 27mm pancake lens.

I experimented with my camera’s pre-programmed color temperature settings while also trying various Fuji film color profiles. With one or two images, I adjusted the RAW files to make the most of the scene.

By the time I was done with my first round of photography my fingers were pretty numb.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday.

Housatonic Railroad at Canaan Union Station—November 2017.

A little more than a month after the events of 911, the historic Canaan, Connecticut Union Station was destroyed by fire.

Thankfully the classic structure has since been reconstructed and today it stands along the Housatonic Railroad line where the old Central New England route once crossed.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens set at 98mm.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a 90mm Fujinon prime lens.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a 90mm Fujinon prime lens.

I made these photos last week on a visit to Canaan. Sometimes it helps to be in position at a sunrise and watch how the light changes as the sun climbs into the sky.

I featured the old Canaan Union Station in my book Railroad Stations published by MetroBooks in 1998.

For more information on the station see: https://canaanunionstation.com/history/

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

 

Tracking the Light EXTRA: Three Photos Live from Amtrak 55 The Vermonter

I’m posting live from Amtrak 55, the southward Vermonter south of Berlin, Connecticut on July 6th, 2017.

Below are three views from the Lumix LX7, processed from RAW files using Lightroom while traveling on the train.

Amtrak train 55, the southward Vermonter arrives at Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Lumix LX7 photo adjusted from a camera RAW file in Lightroom to improve sky detail, lighten shadows and increase saturation.

Inside Amtrak number 55 near Windsor, Connecticut.

Windsor station; not a stop for the Vermonter. Lumix LX7 photo.

Tracking the Light Posts Everyday!

(Sometimes TWICE!)

Going Against the Grain.

Sometimes, I push the limits.

The other morning in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, I exposed this view of New England Central’s northward freight that runs daily from Willimantic, Ct., to Palmer, Massachusetts.

The train was coming hard out of a clear morning sun. Using a Leica IIIA fitted with a Nikkor 35mm screw-mount lens, I exposed this view on Foma Retropan 320.

Retropan is a comparatively coarse grain emulsion that offers a distinctly different range of tones than expected with Ilford HP5, Kodak Tri-X, or other black & white films in the same sensitivity range.

It also produces a characteristic halo-effect in bright highlight areas.

I processed the film more or less as recommended using Foma’s specially formulated Retro Special Developer, and then scanned it with an Epson V750 Pro flatbed scanner. I made minor adjustments to contrast in Lightroom.

As I anticipated, my results from this experiment are more pictorial than literal.

A photo of the setting at Stafford Springs, Connecticut.

New England Central’s freight with EMD diesels working long-hood first at Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Retropan’s halo effect combined with the large amounts of flare from the sun hitting the front element of the lens contributes to this interpretive image.

Tracking the Light posts something different every day.

Berlin, Connecticut Revisited.

This is a follow up to my Tracking the Light post of December 23, 2016, where I explained that on Wednesday December 21, 2016, Otto Vondrak sent me the sad news that the old station at Berlin, Connecticut had been gutted by fire.

This was reported as a ‘total loss.’

I generally avoid accidents, derailment sites, and fires. However, a few weeks ago, I decided I should take a look at the remains of the Berlin station before the scene was made unrecognizable.

This was not an easy photo to make. I have a lot of happy memories of this place. Exposed in January 2017 on film using my Nikon F3.

Here’s the Berlin Station’s arched window as it appeared in September 2004.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light posts daily.

Shore Line East at Clinton, Connecticut.

Last summer, fellow photographer Pat Yough and I made a project of exploring the old New Haven Shoreline route between New Haven and Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

We decided that some of the locations we investigated on summer evenings, would have better lighting on a winter afternoon.

So on January 29, 2017, we re-visited the Shore Line East station at Clinton, Connecticut and photographed a processions of trains.

Here’s a view of Shore Line East train number 3645 working west with a locomotive painted for the old New Haven Railroad.

This colorful engine was a bonus since many Shore Line East trains run with old Amtrak Genesis P40 diesels in faded Amtrak colors.

Exposed with a Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.

Amtrak 163 at Old Saybrook, Connecticut—January 29, 2017.

For a change, I thought I’d present a three-quarter lit view of a nice clean train on a clear sunny January afternoon. (If you are viewing on Facebook, be sure to click the link to Tracking the Light to see the un-cropped image).

Often on Tracking the Light I detail unusual or uncommon photographic techniques. I’ve discussed how to make pan photographs, how to work with graduated neutral density filters, how to expose at night or in very low light.

I made this at Old Saybrook. Pat Yough and I were wandering around Connecticut after the BIG Railroad Hobby Show, and we paused here to catch Amtrak 163 led by clean ACS-64 635.

Nothing fancy about this photo, although I’ve include the relevant details in the caption, just in case you are curious.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens; set at 43.9mm (equivalent to a 66m focal length in 35mm SLR terms). ISO 200, f7.1 at 1/500th of a second. Metered manually using the center weighted camera meter. Both shutter speed and aperture were set manually. Color profile is Fuji’s Velvia (a built-in camera preset). Other than scaling for internet presentation, I made no color correction, contrast, exposure or gamma adjustments to the camera-output JPG file.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Amtrak’s Berlin Station Destroyed by Fire.

The old New Haven Railroad station at Berlin, Connecticut was a local favorite. Until recently, it was among the last small staffed Amtrak stations with an historic structure in southern New England.

My friend, and Tracking the Light reader, Bill Sample was a regular Amtrak Station Agent at Berlin. For me Berlin was like stepping back to that earlier era, when the small town station was the portal for travel. Bill would often help me plan trips and buy the most effective ticket for my travel plans.

The station itself was a gem. The interior retained characteristics of an early twentieth century station, complete with chalkboard arrival and departure information and rotating ceiling fan.

In recent months, the old Berlin station had been closed as part of double-tracking between Hartford and New Haven and related station renovations and construction of high-level platforms. The old building was to be integrated into a modern facility designed for more frequent service.

Wednesday (December 21, 2016), Otto Vondrak sent me the sad news that the old station had been gutted by fire. Media sources reported that the building was a ‘total loss.’

These Lumix LX3 digital photos show the building as I remember it in recent years.

Lumix LX3 photo.

Lumix LX3 photo.

Berlin was once an important junction with diamond crossings.

The photographic lesson is: never take anything for granted no matter how familiar it is. Someday it may be gone without warning.

Tracking the Light posts daily.

Ghostly Remains of a Cedar Hill Hump Yard—November 18, 1984; Four Photos.

 

On this date 1984, my friends and I explored the ruins of New Haven Railroad’s Cedar Hill Yard (near New Haven, Connecticut).

In its heyday this vast facility had been a main gathering point for carload freight, and one of the largest yards in New England.

We were fascinated by this relic of the earlier age, when New England was a major manufacturing center and freight moved primarily by rail.

By 1984, Conrail still had a presence at Cedar Hill, but this was just a shadow of former times.

I exposed these images using my Leica 3A with 50mm Leitz Sumitar.

Here I’ve corrected the level, as at that time I had the unfortunate habit of tilting my camera 3-5 degrees off level. These days both my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 digital cameras have built in view-finder levels. Great features for modern cameras!

cedar_hill_yard_nov_18_1984brian_solomon_663062

View from an old hump tower. What better month to photograph an abandoned yard than November?
View from an old hump tower. What better month to photograph an abandoned yard than November?

An old 40ft New Haven Railroad boxcar that still had its New Haven markings. A fascinating relic.
An old 40ft New Haven Railroad boxcar that still had its New Haven markings. A fascinating relic.

Stark ruins of an industrial age.
Stark ruins of an industrial age.

Today Tracking the Light looks back!

New England Central at Stafford Springs—August 23, 2016.

The familiar sound of 645 thunder down in the valley spurred me into action.

A southward New England Central freight was climbing Stateline Hill in Monson, Massachusetts. This is an old routine (and yes, I’ve written about this before.)

When I hear a train coming through Monson, I have a few minutes to get organized. In this instance, a brilliant clear blue dome with nice morning light was the deciding consideration.

En route, I heard the southward train get its ‘paper’ (radio–issued track authority) to proceed toward Willimantic, Connecticut. In this instance, I was alerted to the location of the train; south of milepost 55 (near the Massachusetts-Connecticut state line).

I headed for my preferred spot in downtown Stafford Springs, Connecticut south of milepost 49.

FujiFilm XT1 digital photo.
FujiFilm XT1 digital photo.

One advantage of Stafford Springs is that the railroad makes an east-west twist through the village on its otherwise north-south run. This favors the morning light for a southward train.

The other advantage is Stafford’s quaint and distinctive New England setting.

Here's the trailing view that shows the village.
Here’s the trailing view that shows the village.

Photos exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1

Tracking the Light posts everyday!

Tracking the Light Extra—Connecticut Trolley Museum.

This afternoon on the way to catch Amtrak 57, the southward Vermonter, my dad and I stopped in for a visit to the Connecticut Trolley Museum at East Windsor for old time sake.

Three cars were on the line today. We went for a spin on a vintage 1902 Brill-built open car.

Connecticut_Trolley_Museum_P1480731

Connecticut_Trolley_Museum_P1480739

Connecticut_Trolley_Museum_P1480744

Connecticut_Trolley_Museum_P1480750

Connecticut_Trolley_Museum_P1480755

Connecticut_Trolley_Museum_P1480756

These photos were exposed using my Lumix LX7, downloaded to my laptop on board Amtrak 57, manipulated in Lightroom, and then uploaded to Tracking the Light courtesy of Amtrak’s WiFi. From my camera to the world: a demonstration of the miracles of modern technology.

(A contrast with my black & white processes).

 

Tracking the Light posts at least once per day!

 

 

Connecticut’s Shore Line Trolley Museum—June 19, 2016.

 

Back in the day, summer always meant that my father would bring my brother and me to one of the New England Trolley museums. Back then we’d ride back and forth and Pop would read the Sunday newspaper.

I’d make photos with my Leica.

This year for Father’s Day, I brought Pop to Connecticut’s Shore Line Trolley Museum located near East Haven, Connecticut. We used to know this as the Branford Trolley Museum (it is operated by the Branford Electric Railway Association).

FujiFilm XT1 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo. Pop remembers Johnstown Traction Company 357 from its days in Pennsylvania.
Lumix LX7 photo. Pop remembers Johnstown Traction Company 357 from its days in Pennsylvania.

Pat Yough, visiting from Pennsylvania, joined us and we all made photos. Turns out that fathers are admitted free of charge on Father’s Day. So that was a bonus.

Pop used his vintage Rolleiflex, which prompted a comment from the motorman,

“You’re still using film?”

Pop responded, “Sure, and you’re still running a trolley. Today is my ‘retro day’”.

They even had an old IRT Subway car on the move. (Pop said, “these aren’t ‘old’, I remember when they were new!”).

Lumix LX7.
Lumix LX7.

NYC subway car interior. Exposed with a Leica 3A with 21mm Super Angulon. HP5 processed in HC110.
NYC subway car interior. Exposed with a Leica 3A with 21mm Super Angulon. HP5 processed in HC110.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

Connecticut Company 775.
Connecticut Company 775. Exposed with a Leica 3A with 21mm Super Angulon. HP5 processed in HC110.

Exposed with a Leica 3A with 21mm Super Angulon. HP5 processed in HC110.
Exposed with a Leica 3A with 21mm Super Angulon. HP5 processed in HC110.

An unlike combination; streetcars from Atlanta, Georgia and Montreal, Quebec. Exposed digitally with a FujiFilm XT1.
An unlikely combination; streetcars from Atlanta, Georgia and Montreal, Quebec. Exposed digitally with a FujiFilm XT1.

Tracking the Posts Daily.

Amtrak’s Montrealer at South Norwalk, Connecticut—30 years ago today.

On June 25, 1986 at 7:18 am, a trio of Amtrak AEM-7s lead the Southward Montrealer (Montreal, Quebec to Washington D.C.) over Metro-North at South Norwalk.

My pal, T.S.H. and I were trackside from 6:50 am. Our primary objective was to catch the venerable former New Haven Railroad FL9s on the move.

Three AEM-7 electrics lead Amtrak's Montrealer. All pantographs are up. Now, how cool is that?
Three AEM-7 electrics lead Amtrak’s Montrealer. All pantographs are up. Now, how cool is that?

Exposed on June 25th 1986 using a Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss 75mm Tessar lens, loaded with Kodak 6043 (120 size Tri-X); f5.6-f8 (f6.3) 1/500th of a second. Processed in D76.
Exposed on June 25th 1986 using a Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss 75mm Tessar lens, loaded with Kodak 6043 (120 size Tri-X); f5.6-f8 (f6.3) 1/500th of a second. Processed in D76.

The Budd-built Heritage Fleet always looked nice behind the AEM-7s.
The Budd-built Heritage Fleet always looked nice behind the AEM-7s.

The late running Montrealer was an added bonus. We knew this as ‘The Bootlegger’—a prohibition-era term relating to the train’s cross-border activities.

Today, this photograph seems doubly appropriate because Amtrak’s AEM-7s made their farewell trip just a week ago.

 

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

 

 

 

 

Amtrak Acela at Speed; when one thousandth of a second isn’t fast enough.

Madison, Connecticut: until June 2016, I’d never made a photo there in my life, and as it turns out I was there twice inside of a week.

This isn’t really a coincidence; having scoped the location on June 7th, I returned a few days later to make the most of light on the long days.

I exposed these views from the Shore Line East station of Amtrak’s westward (southward) Acela train 2173 flying along the former New Haven Railroad Shoreline route.

For this angle, I employed my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Tuoit and a graduated neutral density filter (to retain sky detail). My shutter speed was 1/1000th of a second.

I had the motor drive set on ‘CH’ (continuous high), a setting I descriptively call ‘turbo flutter.’ This automatically exposes a burst of images in rapid succession.

Normally there’s only nominal differences between the frames, but in this situation the train’s rapid motion combined with my super-wide angle perspective resulted in considerable changes in the relative placement of the head-end.

Amtrak Acela 2173 at Madison, Connecticut.
Amtrak Acela 2173 at Madison, Connecticut.

Amtrak Acela 2173 at Madison, Connecticut.
Amtrak Acela 2173 at Madison, Connecticut.

Amtrak Acela 2173 at Madison, Connecticut.
Amtrak Acela 2173 at Madison, Connecticut.

Also, as it turns out, 1/1000th isn’t fast enough to stop the action. Maybe next time I’ll try 1/2000th.

Tracking the Light Posts New Photos Daily.

Canaan Union Station—10 June 2016

Like the legendary Phoenix, Canaan Union Station has been reborn from its own ashes.

I photographed the original gothic revival station at Canaan, Connecticut  in March 1997.

Sometime after  I made my 1997 images, a terrible fire consumed much of the classic board and batten style building.

This morning (10 June 2016)  I made these images at Canaan of the largely restored station.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1.

Tracking the Light posts every day.

 

 

Ghost of the route of the Ghost Train; When ‘Airline’ meant Railroad!

 

The old Boston New York Airline Railroad was a 54-mile line that connected Willimantic and New Haven, Connecticut.

This was built decades before the first aeroplane made its first flight. In theory it offered a direct route between its namesake points, but in practice it wasn’t really all that straight and itself never reached Boston or New York.

It did however, serve as part of a through route for New York & New England’s premier Boston-New York Express, which in its heyday in the 1880s-1890s was famous for its use of passenger cars that were painted gloss-white.

It was known as the ‘White Train’ or to residents along the line that saw it pass in the night as the ‘Ghost Train.’

Exposed digitally with a FujiFilm X-T1.
Exposed digitally with a FujiFilm X-T1.

Today the old Airline is a hiking trail. I made this photo west of Willimantic.

Maybe there’s a true ghost train that passes on windless winter nights?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Westward Shore Line East at West Haven—Nice Light but too Much to Caption!

I used to say that with Conrail operations you needed a score-card to figure out what was going on, and by the time you figured out there was too much information to put on a slide mount.

It hasn’t become any easier: Here were have the former New York, New Haven & Hartford electrified four-track main line. New Haven was absorbed by Penn-Central in 1969 (although Penn-Central itself was created from the merger of Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central in 1968). PC collapsed financially and resulted in Congress creating the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail).

However, during this time ownership of the Northeast Corridor (comprised in part by the New Haven mainline) was separated from Conrail, with most of the Boston to Washington route conveyed to Amtrak. Except portions of the electrified line west of New Haven that were instead conveyed to the states of Connecticut and New York.

[Clarification: In the aftermath of Penn-Central bankruptcy, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority assumed financial responsibility for the New York portion of suburban services, with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (C-Dot) supporting Connecticut operations on former New Haven Lines—details from my book Railroad Family Trees published by Voyageur Press.]

Yet, initially Conrail continued to provided freight and suburban operations. When Conrail exited the commuter business at the end of 1982, Metro-North assumed suburban operations.

So what’s this? Oh, well this is a former Amtrak P40 (technically a General Electric GENESIS— Series 1, model DASH 8-40BP) working for Shore Line East, which is another Connecticut sponsored passenger operator. Today SLE operates diesel-powered suburban trains between New London and New Haven. A few of these services continue west under wire to Stamford.

However, not all trains carry passengers. (Trains are moved empty to be in position for loading).

Also, as a tribute to the old New Haven Railroad, some SLE equipment is lettered New Haven using the traditional font and livery.

The result is we have an empty diesel-powered passenger train underwire on the former New Haven, partially lettered for the former New Haven.

So for a caption we could try:

Ex-Amtrak P40 (DASH8-40BP) 834 leads westbound Shore Line East train 1169 (deadhead) under wire at West Haven on Metro-North’s former New Haven Railroad mainline at 3:53 pm on January 29, 2016.

Thanks to Pat Yough for the train numbers!

Ex-Amtrak P40 (DASH8-40BP) 834 leads westbound Shore Line East train 1169 (deadhead) under wire at West Haven on Metro-North’s former New Haven Railroad mainline at 3:53 pm on January 29, 2016.
Ex-Amtrak P40 (DASH8-40BP) 834 leads westbound Shore Line East train 1169 (deadhead) under wire at West Haven on Metro-North’s former New Haven Railroad mainline at 3:53 pm on January 29, 2016.

Westbound Shore Line East train 1169 (deadhead) under wire at West Haven on Metro-North’s former New Haven Railroad mainline at 3:53 pm on January 29, 2016.
Westbound Shore Line East train 1169 (deadhead) under wire at West Haven on Metro-North’s former New Haven Railroad mainline at 3:53 pm on January 29, 2016.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Metro-North, South Norwalk, Connecticut—September 7, 1989.

Looking back at seven slides.

Sometimes a review of ‘out-takes’ will reveal a few gems. This is a lesson in how the passage of time can make the commonplace more interesting.

On the morning of September 7, 1989, I spent several hours around South Norwalk, Connecticut, making photos with my Leica M2 on Kodachrome 25 slide film. My primary subject was the old New Haven Railroad and the passage of Metro-North and Amtrak trains.

Since that time, the Metropolitan series cars that once dominated Metro-North’s suburban service have been all but replaced. But back then many of these cars still had a relatively new sheen to them.

More striking have been changes to the South Norwalk station. The scene is very different. Among the changes has been construction of a large multistory parking garage, which now occupies the space to the north of the station.

Grand Central bound Metro-North train approaches South Norwalk on September 7, 1989.
Grand Central bound Metro-North train approaches South Norwalk on September 7, 1989.

South Norwalk station as it appeared on the morning of September 7, 1989.
South Norwalk station as it appeared on the morning of September 7, 1989. Today, the scene is complete changed.

Notice the sheen of the stainless steel on this Metropolitan-serie electric car.
Notice the sheen of the stainless steel on this Metropolitan-series electric car.

A view from the street looking north toward the old New Haven electrified line.
A view from the street looking north toward the old New Haven electrified line.

Looking toward New Haven Connecticut.
Looking toward New Haven Connecticut.

Yet, I also made a few photos of the town and passing road vehicles, which help give a flavor for South Norwalk in the late 1980s now more than a quarter century gone.

The street had its fair share of interest too.
The street had its fair share of interest too.

Wheels said the bus.
Wheels said the bus.

The best of the photos from this morning are held in a different file, and these are merely what I deemed at the time as ‘extras.’

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

New Haven at New Haven, Connecticut; Gauging the Passage of Time.

Stop for a moment and gauge the passage of time and your relative perception of it.

I made this photograph about 1980. I’d been fascinated by the New Haven Railroad, and what I saw here I viewed then as a relic of times long gone.

The old railroads such as the New Haven were those that my dad had photographed back in the days of sunny Kodachrome.

At the time, I made this view of old New Haven cars at New Haven, Connecticut, I was 13. Conrail was then only 4 years old (formed on April 1, 1976), yet for me even its predecessor, Penn-Central was already a foggy memory.

Looking back now, to me it doesn’t seem so long ago that Conrail vanished (Its operations ended in 1999). And yet, for point of comparison Conrail been gone almost four years longer (17 years) than I’d been alive at the time I made the photo.

What is interesting? What seems old?

These old New Haven ‘washboard’ multiple units were only about 26 years on the property (built new c1954). I thought they were ancient. Yet, now in 2016 how are old the few surviving Metropolitan sets? Well into their 40s!
These old New Haven ‘washboard’ multiple units were only about 26 years on the property (built new c1954). I thought they were ancient. Yet, now in 2016 how old are the few surviving Metropolitan sets? Well into their 40s!

In a high-school math class, I once remarked to my teacher, Mr. Ed Lucas, “Time and your perception of time are in inverse proportions to each other. The more time you experience, the faster it seems to go by.”

He replied, “That’s awfully profound for someone your age!”

Before Christmas, I related this story over dinner. However, I was stunned to learn a little more than a week later that Ed Lucas passed away on New Years eve.

It doesn’t seem so long since I sat in his class, and yet in another way it also seems like the dawn of time (or my perception of time)!

Tracking the Light Looks Back.

New Posts every day.

Classic Chrome: Amtrak train 88 catches the Glint at Green’s Farms, November 8, 2015.

I love a great sunset glint opportunity. Last autumn, I revisited this spot at Green’s Farms, Connecticut with Pat Yough and George W. Kowanski.

While I exposed a number of views digitally, for this image I used my Canon EOS 3 with 100mm lens. As the train glided toward me I exposed a sequence of color slides on Fujichrome Provia 100F.

I scanned the slides using a Epson V750 Pro flatbed scanner and adjusted the TIF files in Lightroom for final presentation here.

It is imposable to anticipate how this image will looks on your individual computer screen/device, but I can say it sure looked stunning on the big screen projected by a Leica lens!

Amtrak train 88 catches the glint at Green’s Farms at 4:15pm on November 8, 2015. Provia 100F.
Amtrak train 88 catches the glint at Green’s Farms at 4:15pm on November 8, 2015. Provia 100F.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Tracking the Light Special Post: Live From Amtrak 173.

I boarded at New Haven Union station and I’m on my way to Wilmington, Delaware. This is my first-ever Amtrak trip to Wilmington.

New Haven Union Station about 1:24 pm on Thursday October 15, 2015. Lumix LX7 photo.
New Haven Union Station about 1:24 pm on Thursday October 15, 2015. Lumix LX7 photo.

Tonight, Thursday, October 15, 2015, I’ll be presenting an illustrated talk on railways in Ireland and Britain to the Wilmington Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

I’ll be showing original 35mm color slides that span 18 years worth of photographic adventures.

According to the Chapter’s website:
The Wilmington Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society meets at 7:00 PM on the third Thursday of each month (except August and December) at the Claymont Community Center, on Green Street in Claymont, Delaware.

For directions and additional information see: http://www.wilmingtonnrhs.com/meetings.htm

Amtrak prefers the archaic non-standard plural spelling for the common rubber-tired motor-vehicle. LX7 photo.
Amtrak prefers the archaic non-standard plural spelling for the common rubber-tired motor-vehicle. LX7 photo.

Boston-bound Acela Express departs New Haven. LX7 photo.
Boston-bound Acela Express departs New Haven. LX7 photo.

Amtrak train 173 arrives at New Haven about 7 minutes behind schedule. LX7 photo.
Amtrak train 173 arrives at New Haven about 7 minutes behind schedule. LX7 photo.

CitiesSprinter 604 catchs the sun.
CitiesSprinter 634 catchs the sun.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Tracking the Light Special: Change at New Haven—June 25, 2015; 6 photos!

Amtrak’s Springfield-Hartford-New Haven shuttle, train 495, arrived in New Haven. We had just a few minutes to make photos before train 95 (Boston-Newport News) arrived early behind new ACS-64 624.

Amtrak 495 with a push-pull set on track 4 in New Haven. Lumix LX7 photo.
Amtrak 495 with a push-pull set on track 4 in New Haven. Lumix LX7 photo.

Amtrak 495 at New Haven. Lumix LX7
Amtrak 495 at New Haven. Lumix LX7

On an adjacent track, a set of old Metro-North multiple units were ready for their final journey.

These old MUs have served for many years, but will carry passengers no more—fair the well old MUs! Lumix LX7
These old MUs have served for many years, but will carry passengers no more—fare-thee-well old MUs! Lumix LX7

Amtrak 95 arriving at New Haven Fujifilm X-T1 photo.
Amtrak 95 arriving at New Haven Fujifilm X-T1 photo.

Richard J. Solomon with 611 shirt at New Haven, Connecticut at 8:41 am on June 25, 2015.
Richard J. Solomon with 611 shirt at New Haven, Connecticut at 8:41 am on June 25, 2015.

WiFi on the train allows for uploads to Tracking the Light on the go! Fujifilm X-T1 digital photo.
WiFi on the train allows for uploads to Tracking the Light on the go! Fujifilm X-T1 digital photo.

Tracking the Light posts new photos every day!

Check: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

Tracking the Light Special: Live from Amtrak 495!

It is 8:00 am on Thursday, June 25, 2015 and my father and I are riding Amtrak 495 toward New Haven, Connecticut where we’ll change for train 95 from Boston.

We are on our way to New York City for an expert tour of the New York subway system.

Amtrak 495 arriving at Windsor Locks on June 25, 2015. Lumix photo.
Amtrak 495 arriving at Windsor Locks on June 25, 2015. Lumix photo.

Richard J. Solomon on board train 495. . Lumix photo.
Richard J. Solomon on board train 495. Note 611 T-shirt. Lumix photo.

Richard J. Solomon checks Tracking the Light on his smart phone. Live from Amtrak 495! Lumix photo.
Richard J. Solomon checks Tracking the Light on his smart phone. Live from Amtrak 495! Lumix photo.

Tracking the Light posts new photos every day!

Special Tracking the Light Post: On the Roll with Amtrak 493.

It’s a nicer day to be on the train. A few minutes ago I boarded Amtrak train 493 (Springfield-New Haven shuttle connection to train 93).

Amtrak sign at Windsor Locks. Just a short platform with a shelter.
Amtrak sign at Windsor Locks. The ‘station’ is just a short platform with a shelter.

Tight view of Amtrak P42 number 111 leading train 493 as it approaches Windsor Locks, just before 11 am today.
Tight view of Amtrak P42 number 111 leading train 493 as it approaches Windsor Locks, just before 11 am today.

Passengers boarding. Three got on here, including myself. Another 5-6 passengers boarded at Windsor, and a good few at Hartford.
Passengers boarding. Three got on here, including myself. Another 5-6 passengers boarded at Windsor, and a good few at Hartford.

Old school Amfleet; rock solid and comfortable, but the windows are kind of small. Standard Amtrak equipment.
Old school Amfleet; rock solid and comfortable, but the windows are kind of small. Standard Amtrak equipment.

I exposed these photos with my Lumix LX7, scaled them on-board the train using my MacBook and uploaded them on Amtrak’s free WiFi.

As I write this the train is approaching Berlin, Connecticut.

Stay tuned for more updates over the coming days!

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

Please share Tracking the Light!

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

Conrail Crossing the Connecticut at Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

I considered leaving out the second ‘Connecticut,’ but for the sake of clarity I’ll risk sounding redundant. The real topic is the nearly tragic tale of the photograph itself.

I’d pulled this Kodachrome slide from my old box of ‘3rds’— my category meaning ‘just above garbage’. In otherwords, if I got tight for space, I’d pitch it.

For years I wondered what had happened to this slide!
For years I wondered what had happened to this slide!

In August 1987, I’d made several trips to photograph Conrail’s New Haven to Selkirk (symbol NHSE) on the former New Haven Railroad New Haven—Springfield line.

The challenge of this project was that the train departed Cedar Hill Yard (near New Haven) very early in the morning. If I recall correctly, it went on duty there about 3am. My strategy was either to drive past the yard in Hartford to see if it was there, and then pick a location for a photograph, or simply set up and wait.

On this day, August 18, 1987, I was waiting on spec. I’d figured, at least I’d catch a few of the southward Amtrak trains, and if Conrail’s NHSE didn’t show up, I’d head off elsewhere.

After selecting my spot by water level, and after Amtrak’s Bankers went south, I was rewarded by a pair of SD40-2s leading a very long NHSE. The light was nearly perfect and I exposed several frames of Kodachrome 25.

When the slides came back I was sorely disappointed. These had two flaws: the color had shifted red (often a problem with Kodachrome that was too close to its expiry date); but worse, the images were off level (tilted). The second problem was especially galling because I’d featured the river so prominently.

Into the ‘3rds’ bin! At that time I could go back to Windsor on any given day and repeat my effort. Except that I didn’t.

Years went by. I remembered the morning of the photograph and I recalled exposing the slides. In searching, I’d found slides of NHSE from other days. But this image was missing, as were quite a few other images from the same period.

Finally, I found it again, and quite by accident. In looking for photos for a book project (Conrail, probably), I opened the big box of ‘3rds’ to see what was inside . . . and, isn’t it amazing to see how slides improve with age?!

Now with desktop scanning and post-processing technologies, the job of adjusting color balance and cropping to improve level are remarkably easy.

And there’s a lesson in photography (well two, really).

 Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

Please share Tracking the Light!

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

Westport Sunset.

Five images of Metro-North on January 10, 2015.

Long ago I noticed that the curve of the line and angle of the winter setting sun at Westport, Connecticut can make for some nice glint light.

It helps to have a very cold day with a clear sky above. New York City produces ample pollution to give the evening light a rosy tint.

Although I’ve found that glint photos tend to look more effective on slide film, I made these digitally. I also exposed a few slides, but we’ll need to wait to see the results.

Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.5 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.
Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.5 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight. This front lit exposure made for my gauging point for the back lit ‘glint’ photo of the train departing the station. (Below).

Here I need to stop down about a full stop from the head on view. The metallic sides of the Metro-North multiple unit reflected more light than initially anticipated and I needed to compensate on the spot by using my in camera meter to gauge the lighting. The trick is not to over do it. If I stopped down too much, I'll lose shadow detail and the image will appear too dark. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f5.6 at 1//1000th of a second. White balance set at daylight.
Here I need to stop down about a full stop from the head on view (above). The metallic sides of the Metro-North multiple unit reflected more light than I initially anticipated and I needed to compensate on the spot by using my in camera meter to gauge the lighting. The trick is not to over do it. If I stopped down too much, I’ll lose shadow detail and the image will appear too dark. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f5.6 at 1//1000th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

The front lit sign at Westport made for a good place to make a test exposure. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.0 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.
The front lit sign at Westport made for a good place to make a test exposure. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.0 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f3.5 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.
Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f3.5 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight. Here I’ve opened up about a third of a stop compared with the original test photo (Westport sign). I changed the aperture setting manually from f4.0 to f3.5 let more light reach the sensor; I was using the camera in ‘M’ mode, which allowed me to set both aperture and shutter speed manually, without the camera making any adjustments. This is important for getting well exposed glint photos.

The glinting sides of the old grime coated multiple unit are slightly less reflective than the newer cleaner train. Also the angle of the sun is lower. By fixing the white balance at the daylight setting, I can retain the rosy sunset coloration. If I'd used the auto setting, this would have canceled some of the effect of sunset, and I don't really want to do that.
The glinting sides of the old grime coated multiple unit are slightly less reflective than the newer cleaner train. Also the angle of the sun is lower. By fixing the white balance at the daylight setting, I can retain the rosy sunset coloration. If I’d used the auto setting, this would have canceled some of the effect of sunset, and I don’t really want to do that. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.0 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

Exposing for glint takes a bit of practice. My general rule of thumb is that the exposure for a front lit photo is approximately the same as glint at the same location. However, if a a reflective surface kicks back the sun, it will be necessary to stop down a little (probably a half to a full stop).

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

Please share Tracking the Light!

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

Amtrak Special at Windsor, Connecticut—Part II

Telephoto View of today’s Amtrak Special crossing the Connecticut River.

See my earlier post on Tracking the Light for a panoramic view of the same train. Half an hour before the special crossed the bridge there was sunlight, but by the time the train arrived the clouds had rolled in.

Amtrak 822 leads an inspection train with one of the Pan Am business cars behind the locomotive. Exposed with a 100mm lens fitted to a Canon EOS7D.
Amtrak 822 leads an inspection train with one of the Pan Am business cars behind the locomotive. Exposed on Wednesday November 12, 2014 using a 100mm lens fitted to a Canon EOS7D.

Amtrak_Special_Windsor_Ct_3_IMG_9693

Tracking the Light post new material every day!

 

 

 

TRACKING THE LIGHT Special Post: On the Way to Spencer—Part 1

Tuesday May 27 at 5:10pm: I’m on board Amtrak 475. I boarded at Windsor Locks, Connecticut, I’ll change trains at New Haven. I’ve got an overnight stay planned for near Trenton, New Jersey.

My window on Amtrak 475.
My window on Amtrak 475.

Tomorrow, I’ll continue with fellow photographer Pat Yough to Charlotte, North Carolina. On Thursday we’ll be attending the Streamliners gathering at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer.  (see: http://www.nctrans.org/Events/Streamliners-at-Spencer-(1).aspx).

This promises to be an excellent opportunity to photograph a great variety of restored classic diesels. I’m looking forward to seeing the Alco PA. I’ve written a great deal about this model, yet I’ve never seen one! It will be great to see 611 again.

And, I’ll finally get to see one of the Pan Am executive F-units! (Seems like when ever these run in New England, I’m either in Ireland, Chicago, or someplace over the hills and far away.)

I’ll be posting updates! Stay tuned to Tracking the Light for more photos!

Amtrak 475 approaches its station stop at Windsor Locks, Connecticut at 4:25pm, May 27, 2014. Exposed using my father's Lumix LX-7. Photo sent from this train using Amtrak's WiFi.
Amtrak 475 approaches its station stop at Windsor Locks, Connecticut at 4:25pm, May 27, 2014. Exposed using my father’s Lumix LX-7. Photo sent from this train using Amtrak’s WiFi.

Tracking the Light posts new material every day!

 

Enhanced by Zemanta