Friday evening I heard a locomotive whistling for Route 302 near White Mountain Oil. This was former Maine Central 573 on its return from Attitash. Our crew had taken it west to clear the line after more than 5 inches of snow had fallen.
When they reached the old Post Office crossing near the North Conway, NH station, they paused.
I looked out my office window in the North Tower of the station and thought, ‘that’s a nice scene, and some nice evening light.’ And so grabbed my FujiFilm XT1 and set the ISO to 3200 and popped off a few digital photos.
Nothing fancy, just a few photos at dusk from my office window.
Snow fell on North Conway starting the evening of February 1, 2021 and kept on falling for a full day. This was a heavy wet snow that settled like concrete. There was over a foot on the ground by the time it was all done, and over 18 inches in some places.
On Wednesday, February 3rd, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its first plow extra of the season.
I made this photograph at the North Conway station as the plow was being readied for its trip west to Attitash.
Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera. RAW file convert to DNG format using Iridient X-Transformer and adjusted with Adobe Lightroom.
Yesterday, I exposed a few photos of Conway Scenic Railroad’s work train unloading cut trees at Kearsarge in North Conway, NH as part of materials that I was preparing for story about the railroad in the Conway Daily Sun.
The railroad has been cutting dead and dangerous trees along its lines and storing the timber at the Kearsarge siding on the Redstone Line.
This operation is parallel to the North-South Road in North Conway which used as a bypass for highway traffic through town.
I like photographing this lightly used former Maine Central line because it runs just a few blocks from my apartment in town.
Photos exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm Fujinon lens.
Yesterday morning, I photographed Conway Scenic’s Snow Train as it crossed the River Road bridge in North Conway, NH bound for Attitash.
The sun was directly behind the train, and if working with conventional theory for railroad photography I might have dismiss these lighting conditions as unworkable.
Instead, I opted for a sunburst silhouette. Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 16-55mm Fujinon zoom lens, I set the aperture manually to f22 (the smallest setting). By using the smallest lens opening, I caused diffraction of the direct sunlight that results in the sunburst effect. This is enhanced by filtering the sunlight through the tree branches against a clear blue sky. I adjusted my exposure to maximize the sun burst, which resulted in underexposure of the main subject, which is GP35 216 leading the Snow Train.
After exposure, I walked back to my office at the North Conway Station to adjust the image for final presentation. First I converted the Fuji RAW file using Iridient X-Transformer, and then imported this into Adobe Lightroom. I lightened the overall exposure, while lowering highlights to make the most of the sunburst, then lightened the shadow areas to brighten up the train. Finally, I boosted overall image saturation to make sky seem more blue, and lowered contrast to lower the impact of the photograph.
These adjustments required less time than the five-minute walk from River Road to the North Conway Station.
On Saturday, January 2, 2021, I limited my photo arsenal to just three cameras.
For this view of the Conway Scenic Railroad’s Winter Steam crossing the Saco River at ‘Second Iron,’ I was used my Nikon Z6.
I made some nominal modifications to the camera raw file (NEF) using Adobe Lightroom. Specifically, I lightened the shadow areas, brought down the highlights, while whitening the whites to help separate the steam from the sky and keep the snow looking clean and fresh. I also slightly increased saturation since the RAW capture appeared a bit dull.
Locomotive 7470 was reversing over the bridge after making its first run-by for the photographers on the trip.
Yesterday, I presented images scaled directly from the Camera produced JPG files.
To make the most of the images presented in today’s post, I imported my Fuji RAW files into Iridient X-Transformer for conversion into the DNG format, and then imported the DNG conversions into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment.
As previously described on Tracking the Light Iridient X-Transformer does a superior job of interpreting the data captured in RAW by the Fuji X-series camera than simply importing the RAWs directly into Lightroom.
Using the Lightroom sliders I made nominal adjustments to contrast, color temperature, and exposure in order improve the interpretation of the photographs.
Yesterday—January 2, 2021—I traveled on Conway Scenic’s Water Train, ‘Work Extra 573,’ that cleared the line of snow and carried the tank car filled with 5,000 gallons of water to refill the tender of steam locomotive 7470.
This was the support train for the main event. Winter Steam was Conway Scenic’s first steam excursion of the new year. Locomotive 7470, the railroad’s former Grand Trunk Railway 0-6-0, followed the Water Train by about an hour, running to from North Conway, New Hampshire to Sawyers and back.
Sawyers is the siding on the old Maine Central Mountain Division located immediately timetable west of 4th Iron, where the railroad crosses Sawyer River.
I made all of these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.
In October (2020), I made this view of the former Maine Central twin-span truss over the Saco River near Glen, NH, while traveling eastbound on the headend train #162 Mountaineer.
This is favorite bridge of mine, but a difficult one to photograph satisfactorily from track side. As a result most of my best photos have been from the engine.
I exposed this using my Canon EOS 3 loaded with Ilford HP5 black & white film. I processed this in a customized split development process using a presoak of Kodak HC110 mixed 1-200 at 68F for 5 minutes 30 seconds, followed by primary development using Ilford ID-11 stock mixed 1-1 for 6 minute 30 seconds at 68f. This technique facilitates exceptional dynamic range and superior overall tonality.
After processing, I scanned the negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner, and made final adjustments to the scan in Adobe Lightroom.
Monday afternoon, Conway Scenic operated a work train out along the Redstone Branch in North Conway, NH.
After the train left the yard, I walked from my office in the North Conway station a few blocks east to the North-South Road that runs parallel to the Redstone line to make a few photos of the train on the branch.
The next day I sent them to the Conway Day Sun.
Yesterday, December 16, 2020, I was greeted by my photo on the front page of the paper! (Complete with credit and quote).
So I went back over to the newspaper’s offices to make a few photos of the newspaper boxes with the railroad in the distance, and then gave a copy to Dave Swirk, president & general manager of the railroad. I posed him in front of steam locomotive 7470, and then posted this to our facebook.
If all goes well, 7470 may be next up for its day in the Sun!
All photos were made using a FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55 Fujinon zoom lens.
Last Wednesday, I organized an extra train on Conway Scenic to film for an upcoming television segment.
On the way west we paused at ‘Patch’s’ (a convenience store near Glen, New Hampshire).
While the train was paused, I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 16-55mm lens. I then converted the camera RAW files to DNG format using Iridient X-Transformer and made contrast and color adjustments in Adobe Lightroom.
Last October (2020), I traveled on a rainy day to Crawford Notch on the head-end of Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer.
To make the most of the moody autumn conditions, I exposed a roll of Ilford HP5 35mm black & white film.
Last weekend I processed this using my split development method in order to maximize detail in highlights and shadows, while providing for rich tonality.
The specifics are as follows: presoak in a dilute bath of HC110 (1-200) for 5 minutes 30 seconds at 69F with minimal agitation, then main development in Ilford ID-11 1-1 for 6 minutes and 30 seconds agitating using three gentle inversions every 60 seconds. Followed by stop (30 seconds); first fix (2 minutes 30 seconds) and second fix (2 minutes 30 seconds); first rinse (3 minutes); Permawash (3 minutes); second rinse (10 minutes in continuous running water), then final rinse of distilled water with a drop of Photo flo. Dry and scan.
Other than scaling for internet, I made no alterations to tonality or exposure in postprocessing.
On October 17, 2020, Conway Scenic Railroad operated the annual 470 Club Special. This ran from North Conway to Mountain Junction, then made a side trip down the Redstone Branch to Pudding Pond, before proceeding west over Crawford Notch to Fabyan, New Hampshire.
I helped organize the photo stops.
In addition to the digital color photographs previously displayed on Tracking the Light (and in the pages of Trains Magazine), I exposed a roll of Ilford HP5 black & white film using a vintage Nikkormat FTN.
Yesterday (Sunday, December 6, 2020), I processed the film using my custom-tailored split development technique that I’ve previously detailed on Tracking the Light). This is intended to give the film broad tonality when scanning for internet presentation.
After processing, I scanned the negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner driven by Epson software. These scans were scaled using Adobe Lightroom without any adjustment to contrast, exposure, or sharpness.
Among the hundreds of 35mm slides returned to me from the processing lab the other day was this Kodak Ektachrome E100 slide of Conway Scenic Railroad 573 and 4266 leading the 2020 Railfan’s Day photo freight that I helped organize.
September 5, 2020 was a perfect clear day with rich blue sky and warm late-summer sun.
In addition to a great number of digital photographs, I also exposed color slides for slide shows and to keep for posterity.
With slides I get the best of both worlds; analog archival material and a scannable transparency that is easily digitized for internet presentation.
I scanned the slide using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 scanner, set to 4000 dpi and a ‘White Balance’ color profile.
Below I’ve attached the VueScan control window that shows my various manual settings; the RAW uninterpreted scan of the slide, and the adjusted scan after I altered shadow and highlight contrast and other parameters in Adobe Lightroom.
Saturday, November 14, 2020, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its final Mountaineer of the 2020 operating season. As scheduled, this ran from North Conway to Crawford, Notch, New Hampshire and return.
Historically CSRR ceased operations over Crawford Notch earlier in the season.
I used this rare late-season move over the former Maine Central Mountain Division to make some unusual photos. Bare leaf-less trees allow for views that are unobtainable during the summer and early autumn.
During the course of the operating season, I’d made several head-end trips and Hyrail inspections of the line to look for angles. Some of the finest locations I found are a long way from public highways.
For this photo of eastward train 162, I climbed to an elevated point, and used my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.
On November 9, 2020, Conway Scenic Railroad operated a special Mountaineer for the benefit of its employees and their guests. This used a foreshortened consist and departed earlier than normal, It proceeded west under clear sunny skies where it made a stop at Bartlett, NH to pause for passengers and to collect catered meals.
Upon arrival at Crawford Station, GP35 216 ran around, while we had the opportunity to make photos. After this short stop, the special then proceeded eastbound and made a second stop at the site of the Mount Willard Section House-onetime home to the famous Evans Family.
Here I made a number of unusual photos while the train was tied down on the Willey Brook Bridge.
All photos were exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.
Where better to photograph a train on Halloween than Frankenstein trestle?
This afternoon, Kris Sabbatino and I ventured to this iconic landmark to catch the eastward Conway Scenic Mountaineer.
Mount Washington seen to the right of the train was covered in fresh autumn snow.
The bridge is named for the nearby cliffs, which were named not for the characters of Mary Shelley’s fictional story, but rather for the family of German artists that painted landscapes of the Mount Washington Valley in the 19th Century.
Old Millie is Conway Scenic’s Budd RDC. This car is a former New Haven Railroad RDC built back in 1952.
Earlier this week Millie had finished its 92-day inspection and needed to go for a test run before she enters service next week on the Valley run.
My parents were visiting from Massachusetts, so a group of us including Kris and Sharon Sabbatino and Conway Scenic’s Train Master and Road Foreman of Engines, Mike Lacey, went for wander with Millie down the Conway Branch.
We stopped on the way down and again on the way back.
If all goes to plan, Mille will be working the 1115 Conway and 1245 Bartlett trains Monday – Thursday up until Thanksgiving.
I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 Mirrorless camera.
Yesterday, October 15, 2020, I made a late season foliage photo of Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer descending from Crawfords at milepost 79 near the Arethusa Falls grade crossing.
Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 90mm prime telephoto, I set the ISO to 1000. I needed relatively high sensitivity because I was working in the shadows of the trees and mountain side and wanted a sufficiently fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the train, while using a smaller aperture to minimize headlight bleed.
Then I imported the Fuji RAW files directly into Adobe Lightroom for processing, while making a comparison set of files by importing them first into Iridient X-Transformer which converts the files to a DNG format and then imported these into Lightroom.
As previously described on Tracking the Light, the Iridient software does a superior job of interpreting the Fuji RAW files.
The railroad takes on different characters when view from line-side versus that when view from from the locomotive cab.
The perspectives and impressions you get when standing on the ground are very different than the views from a locomotive cab in motion.
Part of this is the difference in elevation. Part is where you can safely stand in relation to the railroad and how lineside obstructions alter your view.
Over the last few weeks and months I’ve made various headend and walking trips on the old Maine Central Mountain Division.
Among the most interesting places is the area east of Crawford Notch, New Hampshire.
Below are two views exposed three days apart from the same location near milepost 83 looking west. One is from the ground of Conway Scenic Railroad’s train 162—the eastward Mountaineer, the other from the headend of the westward train.
On Friday evening, September 25, 2020, I exposed this digital photograph on the former Maine Central Mountain Division at 4th Iron using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
There are four iron bridges between Bartlett and Sawyers along the Saco River. The easiest to photograph is 4th Iron, which not only can be seen from Highway 302—that runs parallel to the railroad—but even has its own parking area complete with a sign ‘4th Iron’.
I liked the spot because of the bright red trees on both side of the Sawyers River.
The train pictured is Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer that was returning from Fabyan to North Conway, New Hampshire.