Tag Archives: #Conway Scenic Railroad

Frankenstein-Two Years Ago Today.

Step back to September 28, 2020. I had just bought my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. The foliage was turning, and I hiked up to the famed Frankenstein Trestle to catch the Mountaineer on its ascent of Crawford Notch.

This photo is among my favorites from 2020. I have used it extensively to promote Conway Scenic Railroad. It has appeared in various magazines and newspapers. The railroad sells refrigerator magnets featuring this image in the North Conway Brass Whistle Gift Shop, and we had monochromatic hoodies made up as well.

Saturday, September 17, 2022, Conway Daily Sun featured the photo on the cover of the newspaper.

The photo was exposed with my Z-series 24-70mm zoom set at 26mm, aperture at f4; camera shutter speed to 1/1000th of a second. I made adjustments to shadows, highlights and color temperature and saturation using Adobe Lightroom.

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Brian & Kris’s Wedding Extra-Lumix Jpgs

On Saturday, September 17, 2022, I’d arranged with Conway Scenic’s operating department to take Budd RDC-23 Millie on a special trip for our wedding guests.

We boarded at the North Conway grade crossing as the regularly scheduled Sawyer River excursions boarded at the station platform on the adjacent tracks.

I served as motorman, Rob Flannigan as conductor. We had more than 27 guests on board.

The weather was perfect; bright sun and blue skies.

Since our train was not operating on a schedule, we ran as an ‘extra’ and carried white flags, as per rulebook 34.

Our first stop was at the Moat Brook bridge, where we let guests off to make photos. We also stopped at the Swift River Bridge and at the Conway freight house.

Many of our closest friends and family were on board, including several long-time Tracking the Light readers. My friend Chris Guss made some drone photos of the event.

It was a lovely day for a train ride! In addition to these digital photos exposed with my Lumix LX7, I made seveal Fujichrome Provia 100F color slides.

My friends posed for photos with Millie.
Re-boarding near Moat Brook.
Photo stop at the Swift River Bridge.

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Poles and Wires Conundrum

Assemblies of poles and wires can make or break a photo location.

I’ve been flummoxed by the location on the former Mountain Division known as Goves, where the railroad ducks under Rt 302 on the way to Bartlett.

This is one of a scant few overpasses on the Conway Scenic Railroad. What makes the location difficult are several sets of road-side wires that run both parallel and perpendicular to the railroad line.

Wires and poles can create visually distracting elements that can disrupt a composition . Especially difficult are very heavy black cables in this scene that are thoroughly distracting and difficult to minimize.

Yesterday, I photographed the westbound Conway Scenic Mountaineer at Goves and the poles and wires ended up bisecting the scene in various awkward ways.

Below I’ve included two sets of photos, the top image in each set shows the uncropped image; the bottom in each set shows selective cropping aimed at minimizing the effect of the poles and wires.

Full-frame, without cropping.
Full-frame, without cropping.

252 from the Roof

Friday, September 2, 2022, former Maine Central GP38 252 led the Valley train on its return run from Conway.

I made this view from the roof of the North Conway Station using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom lens.

I set the camera Color Profile to ‘VI’ (Vivid), the white balance was at ‘Auto,’ and the exposure to ‘A’ (aperture priority). I selected f6.3, the camera metering selected 1/500th of a second. I had the lens full extended at 200mm. I was working with the NEF (RAW) file setting.

Adobe Lightroom enables me to apply the camera’s preset color profile to the NEF file while making adjustments to the file. Below are two versions. The top image is basically out of the camera and without modifications except for scaling, the bottom reflects minot adjustments to color temperature, shadow and highlight density, and a slight adjustment to the sky.

I’m not entirely satisfied with the image, so I’ll try it again sometime. Maybe with a slightly longer lens and different lighting.

Unmodified file with camera profiled color & etc.
Adjusted version of the same file shown above. Changes to color temp, shadow and highlights, and sky

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Telephoto of Steam!

Yesterday (September 3, 2022), Kris and I stopped in at Conway, NH to observe the arrival of the morning train led by steam locomotive 7470.

This is the last weekend of regularly scheduled steam service for the summer season and I wanted to make a few photos and catch up with steam locomotive engineer Wayne Duffett.

I made these photos of the 7470 and crew at Conway using my Nikon Z6 with 70-200mm Z-series zoom. By working with the variable focal length telephoto I was able to quickly compose images of the crew and their locomotive.

All images were exposed in the NEF (RAW) format, imported into Adobe Lightroom for adjustment, and exported as JPGs for internet display.

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New Hampshire Chronicle Visits Conway Scenic

Last week Senior Producer Mary-Paige and camera-man Joel visited Conway Scenic Railroad to film the musical duo Eastwood Station.

Ben and Danny of Eastwood Station have been paying weekly visits to the railroad to play railroad songs.

I spent the day documenting the TV crew’s visit and assisting with their safe access to the railroad, which included a trip to Sawyer River and back.

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To the Border!

Last week I was on a mission from Conway Scenic.

The railroad’s new dome was on the move and expected to cross the border from Canada in the early evening.

I drove to the border station at Norton, Vermont to meet St. Lawrence & Atlantic/St Lawrence & Quebec’s eastward (southward) freight 394 that was in transit from Richmond, Quebec.

Norton is where the US Border Patrol conducts their inspections.

I met the train, and with permission, made a few photographs to document the event. Luckily the train was relatively early and it was still daylight at the time of the crossing.

The whole event went very smoothly.

It was very exciting to see the ‘new’ car. This Budd Vista Dome was built in the 1950s for Northern Pacific’s North Coast Limited and has a long history.

Stay tuned . . . . .

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Something Random and Familiar

I was looking for something else and I found a box of Fujichrome slides: on it was written ‘VRS’. Nothing more.

Inside are a bunch of gems from early 1998. Photographer Mike Gardner and I had made a trip to Rutland, Vermont where we photographed a Vermont Rail System local freight that worked a Clarendon & Pittsford job to a quarry.

This was just a few weeks before I made my first trip to England and Ireland. Months later when I returned from across the Atlantic, this box of slides sat on my desk. I don’t think I ever look at it. None of the slides are labled and they are all in numerical order.

Today, it has special significance to me. Leading the train is Clarendon & Pittsford GP38 number 203.

That’s former Maine Central 255, now Conway Scenic 255. It is the locomotive I see almost every day! Back then it was just another red VRS EMD diesel.

I scanned the slide using a Nikon LS5000 scanner driven by VueScan software. I scanned as a high-res TIF file then imported into Adobe Lightroom for some minor adjustments.

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Maine Central 252 at West Side Road.

Wednesday (August 24, 2022) I was running errands around North Conway-Conway, New Hampshire. Between stops, I paused for a few minutes at West Side Road to catch the 9:30am Conway train on its return to North Conway.

This featured former Maine Central GP38 252, a locomotive that isn’t often assigned to the Conway run.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I exposed this view as a RAW digital file, then processed the data using Adbe Lightroom to make the most of the image.

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Tie Train Passes the Station.

Almost every train on Conway Scenic Railroad stops at the North Conway Station.

It is extremely unusual train that passes the station without stopping

Yesterday, while serving in the capacity as ‘Manager on Duty,’ I cleared Work Extra 252 into North Conway from Conway, and granted it permission to drop its caboose at the North Yard before continuing West.

I made this selection of photos as vintage GP38 252 worked passed the 1874 station.

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Ballast Extra at Echo Acres.

On Conway Scenic Railroad, the first public grade crossing east of North Conway is Echo Acres.

Since the whole railroad is arranged on the timetable, trains are either moving east or west regardless of the compass.

I knew that Extra 573 was on the move west of West Side road, and I figured I could beat it to the crossing.

It was hot and hazy, and I made the most of the scene using using my Nikon Z6 with 80-200mm lens, while snapping a slide with my Nikon F3 with 50mm lens.

All the photos below were made digitally with my Nikon Z6.

Z6 with 80-200mm lens set at 200mm f9 1/320 sec.
Z6 with 80-200mm lens set at 200mm f9 1/250 sec.

Z6 with 80-200mm lens set at 200mm f9 1/320 sec.

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Morning Light at Conway, NH.

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.

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GP7 on the Work Extra

The other morning was bright and clear in North Conway, NH.

Locomotive 573 (a former Maine Central GP7) was put to work on Conway Scenic Railroad’s work train.

The work train ran from North Conway to Conway to load ballast and ties.

I made this photo at the Golf Course crossing in North Conway using my Nikon Z6 digital camera with 24-70mm zoom lens.

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Two August Angles on the Afternoon Train

Conway Scenic Railroad’s afternoon train returning from Conway is one of the best to photograph during the summer.

Two days in a row this week, I caught this train as it approached its station stop at the North Conway Station.

Conway Scenic Railroad’s afteroon train climbing toward North Conway station on Wednesday August 3, 2022.
This the same consist as the above train, just 24 hours later. Exposed August 4, 2022.

Both images were exposed using my Nikon Z6.

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Railroad Details

Yesterday, I wandered around the station at North Conway seeking detail images of the property to post to social media to help promote Conway Scenic Railroad.

The ‘station’ being more than just the building, but the whole property where the railroad conducts its business.

Photos made with a Nikon Z6 digital camera.

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Lumix and the Locomotive

Does equipment make a difference?

When I started producing Tracking the Light a decade ago, my thought was to offer very detailed essays focused on photographic technique, processes, and how to make the most of specific pieces of equipment.

My format has since morphed into something less detailed and more visual.

I often carry my Lumix LX7 digital camera because it is compact, lightweight and yet has the ability to make exceptionally sharp photos that I can use in books and magazines.

Yesterday, I made these images with the LX7 of Conway Scenic steam locomotive 7470. I used some photos for the company Facebook page and hope to use them in advertising.

Although these photos were scaled, what you see here are the in-Camera JPGs without significant alteration to color, contrast, exposure or sharpness.

If I were working with a different digital camera system, how might that have changed my results?

Yesterday, I also exposed some Ektachrome of 7470 using my 30-year old Nikon F3 with f1.8 105mm lens.

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Musicians on the Train

The musical duo Eastwood Station was visiting Conway Scenic Railroad again last week.

In addition to their public performances, I arranged for them to travel on the 0930 train to Conway (boarding at 9:15am), in order to film them for a music video.

I made these photos using my Nikon Z6 to help publicize their appearances at North Conway and on the trains.

At the bottom of this post I’ve attached a short video clip of the duo and CSRR conductor Jeff. Hopefully the technology will cooperate and you’ll be able to hear them sing!

Conductor Jeff sings ‘all Aboard!’

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Ballast Train at the Gateway-July 2022

Earlier in the week, Conway Scenic operated a ballast train with GP35 216 to Crawford Notch and then worked its way east through the famous Gateway cut and over the Girders bridge.

There was cosmic lighting, with low clouds scraping over the tops of the mountains with shafts of sunlight reaching the ground.

To gain necessary elevation, I climbed up into the Gateway cut, following in the footsteps of generations of previous photographers.

I exposed these photos using my Nikon Z6.

Steam on the Conway Branch!

Yesterday morning (July 23, 2022), Kris and I timed our visit to Allens Siding Road to perfectly coincide with the operation of Conway Scenic Railroad steam locomotive 7470 on the 915am Conway train.

I’d scoped this location out the day before (featured in yesterday’s post) just make sure it was the best place to picture the steam locomotive working.

We arrived a minute before the eastbound train passed. (Conway Scenic timetable 34 predicates all movements on a east-west axis. Conway being the further station East and Hazens being the furthest west, without consideration for the compass).

After the eastward train passed, we had about a 20 minute wait for the return.

Engineer Wayne Duffett made a good show climbing the grade west from the Swift River Bridge.

All photos were exposed using my Nikon Z6 with a 24-70mm Z-series zoom and adjusted for contrast and color balance using Adobe Lightroom.

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Clear Morning at Allens Siding Road

I’d been meaning to get some photos of Conway Scenic Railroad’s former Maine Central GP38 255 working New Hampshire’s Conway Branch in red paint.

The railroad acquired this pure Maine Central GP38 from the Vermont Rail System last autumn, and in recent weeks it has been the regular locomotive for the Valley Train, which makes three Conway trips.

The plan is have this locomotive painted in a neo-Maine Central scheme, similar to its sister GP38, number 252, which also serves Conway Scenic, so time may be getting short to get good photos of it in the red scheme.

These photos were exposed with my Nikon Z6 digital camera, but I also made a exposures on Ektachrome slide film for posterity.

I wonder, will the posterity even care about a red GP38 on the Conway Branch?

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Turntable Survey

Yesterday, TEC Associates came to survey and measure Conway Scenic Railroad’s North Conway turntable and the table’s ring rail in preparation for repairs to the vintage equipment.

The former Boston & Maine North Conway turntable is a rare surviving example of a pneumatically actuated turntable and is equipped with air reservoirs that are designed to be filled from the locomotive’s airbrake system.

I made the top three images with my Nikon Z6 fitted with an old Nikkor AI f1.8 105mm lens; the fourth image was exposed with using an f4.0 24-70mm Series Z zoom fitted to the the Z6.

f1.8 105mm
f1.8 105mm
f1.8 105mm
24-70mm Z-Series zoom lens.

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Workin’ on the railroad; Ballasting the Mountain

A few weeks ago, I accompanied the Conway Scenic Railroad ballast train on its journey up the Mountain.

I had multiple things on my agenda: we needed a accurate accessment of where ballast was needed for future trips; I wanted to inspect the limits of some recent slow orders; I’m looking to rework the company Timetable and was checking various aspects of the right-of-way; and I wanted to photograph the ballast train crew at work.

Many years ago, I traveled with a branch line ballast train in Ireland, where the locomotive driver said to me, “My crew, they’re allergic to work!”

Nothing could further from the truth with Conway Scenic’s work train crew. Dumping stone is a physically taxing job and not for the faint of heart. Our guys put 110 percent of effort into the job and earn every dime of their pay.

By contrast, all I had to do was run along with the train, make notes and expose digital photos—a few of which I’ve posted here.

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Steam on the Radio

Yesterday, July 1, 2022, I organized a broadcast at Conway Scenic Railroad by Lakes FM 101.5 and the Hawk 104.9 FM. In conjunction with this, I invited Ben and Danny of the band Eastwood Station to play some original music, and asked Conway Scenic general manager Dave Swirk if he could bring out steam locomotive 7470 to sound its whistle live on air.

It was a very successful day at North Conway!

In between radio spots, I made these photos with my Nikon Z6, some of which I put up on the railroad’s facebook, while recording the musicians and steam locomotive with digital video.

The railroad hopes to have the steam locomotive out of the roundhouse and under steam for display and training over the 4th of July weekend.

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7470 Under Steam

For Father’s Day, Sunday June 19, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad brought steam locomotive 7470 out of the roundhouse under steam for display and training.

Presently, Conway Scenic is training a new generation of firemen to help work on the locomotive.

More than 600 people came down last sunday to see the locomotive. This engine should be on display again today, Saturday June 25, 2022.

I made these photos with my Nikon Z6 digital camera for display on the company’s Facebook and Instagram pages and for distribution to the media.

The railroad hopes to operate this 101-year old 0-6-0 type locomotive this summer in exursion service.

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Ballast Train at Girders

There’s a certain satisfaction in repetition with a variation on a theme.

On October 1, 2021, I posted a view of Conway Scenic’s Mountaineer crossing the Girders Bridge at Crawford Notch, NH. See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2021/10/01/mountaineer-at-the-girders/

On Monday, May 30, 2022, I photographed the company ballast train at almost precisely the same place. In these views Conway Scenic GP35 216 works upgrade with three loaded ballast cars plus rider coach 6743.

I made these recent photos using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens. Working with the camera RAW files, I made adjustments to color and contrast using Adobe Lightroom.

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Boston & Maine 4268 some uncommon angles.

Sunday, May 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad’s Special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer, brought more than 100 guests up to Crawford Notch and enabled them to make photos at various places along the line.

In my capacity as Manager of Marketing & Events, I helped to organize the trip, and traveled on the head-end to work with the crew to select photo stops and spot the train.

A secondary condition of this role was that in several intances I was able to make uncommon views of the train, often in situations I needed to climb down from the lead locomotive ahead of final positioning or during other aspects of the operation.

Among the 400 photos I exposed that day were these views of recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268. All of these images were exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera.

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F-Units on the Mountain—Maroon & Gold Part 2

Sunday, May 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad operated its Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer over Crawford Notch, NH.

This was the first time recently restored Boston & Maine F7A 4268 made a trip over the Mountain Division for Conway Scenic Railroad, and the first time that Conway Scenic had the two B&M F7As working in multiple with former Maine Central GP7 573.

All three were painted in the classic EMD-designed maroon & gold scheme.

It is rare that Conway Scenic operates three diesels in multiple.

The weather cooperated nicely.

I helped organize the photo stops and run-bys and traveled on the head-end in both directions.

Conway Scenic advertises boarding times rather than departure times. This train boarded at 9am, and departed 2 minutes ahead of schedule. We performed 8 special photo stops in addition to the normal run around at Crawford Station. The train arrived back at North Conway almost an hour ahead of its target. In other words, it was an extremely successful trip.

I made more than 400 digital images and haven’t had time to look at most of them. Last night, the day had caught up with me before I could go through my images. Today Conway Scenic has another special trip.

More Boston & Maine F7A photos to come in later posts!

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Spring Portraits on Conway Scenic

During the past few weeks, I’ve made portraits of Conway Scenic’s employees at work preparing for the Spring season.

This selection was exposed using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera and processed using Adobe Lightroom.

Many of these photographs have been used to decorate the company’s Facebook Page.

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USA Today Northeast Go Escape

Part of my advertising campaign for Conway Scenic Railroad’s 2022 season includes a full page ad in USA Today’s Northeast Go Escape. The ad features two photos that I made for the railroad.

I exposed the view on Frankenstein Bridge in September 2020. This is now one of my most viewed images having appeared in dozens of ads, as well as billboards and brochures.

I made this image using my FujiFilm XT1 and converted the Fuji camera RAW into DNG format using Iridient before making necessary adjustments in Lightroom.

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Six Lumix Views of Branch Ballast Extra

Yesterday, Thursday May 5, 2022 was a beautiful bright day in Conway, New Hampshire.

I traveled with the ballast train, which was the only train moving over the Conway Scenic Railroad.

Since the train made a number of stops to drop stone, I had ample opportunity to make photographs.

I exposed these views with my Lumix LX7, but also made a few photos of the lads working the train using my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera. I’m saving the Z6 photos for a later post.

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Work Extra at Puddin’ Pond

Another in my ballast train series.

Yesterday, April 22, 2022, Conway Scenic Railroad operated a Work Extra on the Redstone Line to Pudding Pond to dump ballast.

I traveled with the train and used my Panasonice Lumix LX7 to document the work.

This was the first time since the railroad acquired former Maine Central GP38 255 that it worked out the Redstone Branch as far east as Pudding Pond.

The significance of this foray east was that old 255 would have routinely worked Maine Central freights on this same section of track between the late 1960s and the early 1980s.

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Opening the Line to Conway

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!

Conway Scenic Railroad GP38 255 positioned at the old Boston & Maine freight house in Conway, NH. The Easter Eggs have been hung from the handrails in prepartion for distribution along the line.
Conductor Weimer with locomotive 255.
Passing my billboard photo at Conway. I made the image of Conway Scenic’s 573 at Milepost 64 back in the Spring of 2019.
Conductor Weimer flags Highway 16 in Conway village.
The view at Moat Brook.

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Extra 255 at Frankenstein

On Monday, March 28, 2022, Conway Scenic began the process of clearing the former Maine Central over Crawford Notch.

Last year, the railroad reached the summit on March 31st, which was something of a early record for Conway Scenic. In a normal year, the line might remain closed through April.

Former Maine Central 255, a GP38 acquired from the Vermont Rail System late last year, was chosen to make the clearing run West.

Where last year I traveled on engine 573, this year I pursued the first train on the road, and departed about two hours after it left the North Conway yard.

The crew on first movement over the line west of Attitash (the limits of Snow Train operation) expects to find obstructions. During the winter fallen trees, rocks and ice accumulation routinely block the line.

I knew Extra 255 was west of Bartlett, so at various places beyond Bartlett, I inspected the track. Near the Arethusa Falls grade crossing, I contacted the engine crew via train radio to find their location.

They had made it as far as the rock cutting west of the Frankenstein Bridge, where the engine was blocked by a significant ice fall.

I hiked up to the bridge and made photos of the engine returning east.

One of the privileges of working for Conway Scenic is the ability to request a lift back down hill. The brief engine ride saved me another half mile hike in freezing temperatures. When I got back to my car it was just 23F.

This was the first rail movement across Frankenstein of 2022.

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Snow Train at Attitash

On the last weekend of Snow Train, I traveled on the headend of the first Saturday departure with engineer Wayne Duffett.

When we arrived at Attitash, New Hampshire, which is the western terminus of Snow Train, I hopped off Conway Scenic’s GP38 255.

Since Conway Scenic doesn’t normally run west of Attitash until much later in the season, the line was still covered with snow beyond the limits of the railroad’s excursion operation.

I used the opportunity to show the train with the Attitash ski area in the distance to the right.

Exposed Digitally using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm Nikkor lens.

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GoPro on the Loco

During the last week I was using a GoPro camera to film the view from New Hampshire’s Conway Scenic Railroad Snow Train.

The railroad had fitted a clamp with the GoPro mounting device in order to attach the camera to the locomotive and cars in order to get unusual visual angles of the train in motion.

On one occasion I traveled with the miniature camera to make sure it was filming and didn’t get knocked from the train during the course of its journey.

In another instance, I was satsified with the camera’s position, and let it make the full round trip to Attitash and back. This even caught me in the act of photographing the train from the ground.

Look closely, the GoPro is attached above the lefthand ditchlight on Conway Scenic Railroad 255. (See below).
Extreme enlargement to show the placement of the GoPro on locomotive 255.

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Frozen Saco at Milepost 64

The other day, I exposed this sequence of digital photos while traveling on Conway Scenic’s Snow Train along New Hampshire’s Saco River on the former Maine Central Mountain Division near milepost 64.

Snow Train has only three more days of scheduled operations before it concludes its 2022 season, and I’ve been trying to make the most of the frozen landscapes before the train finishes.