Among the challenges of summer photography on a tourist railroad is that train operations tend to be focused during the middle of the day when the light is comparatively harsh.
Generally speaking, the passengers appear to be more focused on eating breakfast during the early morning, so we schedule the trains for later in the morning. The first train boards at 9:15 am.
The other day, we sent out a work Extra more than an hour ahead of the scheduled Conway train in order for the work crew to get ballast and ties loaded onto the train at Conway before the first passenger train arrived. This made good use of time, and provided me with some photographic opportunities.
I made these photos of the Work Extra at Conway before 9am using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.
Occasionally I’m asked about the schedules for the work trains. Unfortunately my answers aren’t very helpful. By definition, a ‘Work Extra’ doesn’t have a schedule. These trains typically have to stay out of the way of the regular passenger excursions. They are called ‘as-required’, and move about the railroad as it suits the crews to get their work done. Plans change quickly and so it can be difficult to know when and where the trains will be more than a few hours or minutes in advance.
On Wednesday April 6, 2022, I traveled with Train Master Lacey and Conductor Weimer on GP38 255 from North Conway to Conway, New Hampshire and back.
This was the first locomotive over Conway Scenic Railroad’s Conway Branch since the end of the 2021 Holiday season. My last trip over the line was a test run with steam locomotive 7470, where I used the opportunity to videotape the engine crossing the Moat Brook Bridge.
On our April 6th trip, we collected Easter decorations stored in the Conway freight house for distribution along the line as part of the annual Easter Egg hunt for the benefit of children traveling on the Easter Bunny Express.
I assisted with the collection and positioning of the eggs along the line, while documenting the opening move. Rusted rail conditions meant that we approached each highway crossing ‘prepared to stop and flag’.
It was a gorgeous sunny day and well suited to photography with my Nikon Z6 fitted with 24-70mm Z-series zoom!
Among the most pictured locations on Conway Scenic’s former Boston & Maine Conway Branch is the wooden pile trestle at Moat Brook.
This stream is named for the Moat Mountains compass west of the railroad.
A few weeks ago during my bridge inspection with Wayne Duffett of TEC Associates, I carefully studied the bridge and its environs, considering how to best find a different angle on the bridge.
It occurred to me: while the bridge is often photographed, the stream itself is not. The reason is simple: much of the year there is very little water in the stream.
Last week Thursday and Friday were very wet. But Saturday was clear and sunny.
I walked the line and secured a new vantage point compass east of the famous bridge and along the swollen stream, where I captured the returning Valley train led by GP35 216 with engineer Tom Carver at the throttle.
These photos were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens,
I posted variations of these images on Conway Scenic’s Facebook page to assist with promotion of the popular Valley train on its Conway run.
Yesterday, November 25, 2020, we brought a light engine to Conway, NH to help decorate Conway Scenic Railroad for the holiday season.
At Conway, as we were finishing our decorating, I set up to capture the scene with my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens, I heard the characteristic honk!-honk!-honk! of migrating geese . . .
I quickly repositioned and readjusted my zoom to incorporated the V-formation of the birds.
After I arrived back in North Conway, I downloaded the files to my MacBook Pro and adjusted this one to post it on Conway Scenic Railroad’s Facebook page and for transmission to the Conway Daily Sun for an up-coming article.
Last Wednesday, October 14, 2020, Conway Scenic operated a work extra to Conway to assist with preparations for the annual Pumpkin Patch event being held for the next three weekends.
The train was organized with relatively little advanced notice, and the only available locomotive was former Boston & Maine F7A 4266, owned by the 470 Club. Our other locomotives were out on passenger assignments or out of service awaiting repairs or maintenance.
Since the cab of the locomotive was facing railroad timetable west, the decision was made to use a caboose as a shoving platform and the train reversed from North Conway down the former B&M branch to Conway.
I made these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. Fuji RAW files were converted to DNG files using Iridient X Transformer and then imported into Adobe Lightroom for final adjustment.
Most of the year, Conway Scenic Railroad’s historic freight cars quietly reside in the railroad’s North Yard, although few cars, such as our ballast hoppers are assigned to maintenance service.
Today, Saturday September 5th, we plan to operate a pair of demonstration photo freights for our scheduled Railfan’s Day event.
In preparation, we needed to spot cars at key locations in order to make pick-ups, just like a traditional local freight. In conjunction with this work, we needed to position two flatcars used for our weekly work train, and I wanted to scope locations and remove brush.
Working with former Boston & Maine F7A 4266 and our GP35 216 we gathered cars and make our positioning moves.
Today’s photo freights should be led by 4266 plus former Maine Central GP7 573 which share the traditional EMD-inspired maroon and gold paint scheme.
These are among the photos I exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 (scaled for internet presentation). I also made a few color slides for posterity.
Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time studying railway imagery, observing and analyzing hundreds of thousands of individual photos.
Among the most striking are the works of Japanese photographers.
Some of their most successful photos cleverly use focus and depth of field to place the railway in its environment. In some situations this is accomplished with a single image; in others with a sequence of photos.
Last week, I emulatted the style embraced by my Japanese counterparts to produce this sequence of images at the Swift River Bridge on Conway Scenic Railroad’s Conway Branch.
Here I’m working with three primary subjects; the truss bridge, Budd rail diesel car Millie and a flowering tree. All were exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.
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