Tag Archives: CSX

Busy Afternoon at Palmer, August 22, 2019.

Yesterday I met fellow photographer Mike Gardner at the Steaming Tender restaurant in the old Palmer Union Station for lunch.

I had iced tea and the Reuben.

Except for the New England Central switching all was quiet for the first couple of hours.

Just after 2 pm, I said “Let’s head outside, I have a feeling it’s all about to happen.”

Luck, intuition or experience, call it what you like.

At first the trains didn’t favor the light. A New England Central local crossed the diamond northbound. CSX B740 was working deep in the old Boston & Albany yard. The Mass-Central came down from Ware long-hood first. Then everything stalled.

“I’ll bet everything is waiting for the Lake Shore.”

At 3pm Amtrak 449, the westward Lake Shore Limited appeared at the east end of the long tangent on the old Boston & Albany. On queue Mike announced, ‘Headlight!’

I made a series of photos of enthusiasts on the old station platform rolling the train by.

After the Lake Shore, the illusion of a lull continued, and most everyone else got bored and left. CSX B740 had pulled up and was poised waiting for signal. Mike and I decided to hold on. And sure enough 15 minutes behind the Lake Shore was a westward CSX freight—Q427.

After this passed, B740 pulled ahead through CP83 and then reverse back into the yard, meanwhile the Mass-Central was getting ready to head back north again.

All in all in was a very successful day in Palmer. But the keys to our success were timing and patience. If you left after the Lake Shore rolled west, you missed most of the show.

Amtrak 449 westbound.
CSX Q427.
CSX B740.
Massachusetts Central 1751 with interchange traffic.

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CSX Before the Storm.

Monday afternoon, August 19, 2019 was hot and humid as I rambled through Massachusetts’ Quaboag Valley completing errands.

Driving west on Route 20, I reached the flying junction with Route 67, where I saw the head-end of CSX Q264 roar below me with two modern GEs in the lead.

The train had a good roll-on, so I knew it was making a run for the grade up through Warren. I diverted from my path west, and drove post haste east on Route 67 to find a location to picture this eastward freight.

In the afternoon there aren’t a lot of options. The old B&A has become unpleasantly overgrown with brush, and the back lit summer sun doesn’t offer a flattering  portrayal of modern GE diesels.

I opted for the overhead bridge at West Warren, where I made these views with my Lumix LX7.

Although it was still sunny, I could see the storm approaching from the west. Shortly after I arrived home there was lightning, thunder and a violent deluge.

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No DPU (mid-train remote control locomotive) on this train. Just about a mile and a half of loaded auto racks bound for the East Brookfield & Spencer at East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

CSX Eastbound at East Brookfield: Two Views.

As a follow-up to recent posts on CSX’s Boston Line, I offer this pair of photos of an eastward Intermodal train passing CP64 in East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

I’d photographed this train arriving in Palmer [CSX: EARLY MORNING INTERMODAL—FIVE VIEWS AND THE SPIRIT OF RAVENNA, then zipped up to West Warren to intercept a westbound [CSX West Warren Waterfall- http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2019/07/02/csx-west-warren-waterfall/].

Knowing I had a few minutes while east and westward trains made their meet at CP79 east of Palmer, I explored locations at Warren and West Brookfield. I concluded that summer-time brush along the line made many of my traditional photo locations un-workable.

So, I went over to East Brookfield, where the overhead bridge offered a clean view of the tracks. One photo was exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 the other with a Lumix LX7.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Lumix LX7 photo.

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CSX-West Warren Waterfall.

Exposed with a FujiFilm XT-1 with 27mm pancake lens. RAW file adjusted using Lightroom to create a Jpg for digital presentation. Photo at West Warren, Massachusetts along the former Boston & Albany route.

 

 Last Tuesday, June 25, 2019, I’d photographed an eastward CSX intermodal train at Palmer, Massachusetts that took the controlled siding at CP83 and then eased up to the east end of the siding at CP79.
 
I took a chance and drove expeditiously to West Warren in anticipation of a westward freight. I was rewarded for my efforts.
 
The lighting was tricky but colorful. The sunrise was heavily tempered by clouds rolling in from the west.
 
To make the most of the contrasty scene, I used a Lee graduated neutral density filter over the front of my lens to reduce exposure in the sky, and then underexposed the entire scene by about two thirds of a stop. I used the in-camera histogram to gauge my exposure by aiming to obtain minimal loss of detail in highlight and shadow areas. To the eye, my RAW files seem a little dark, but this is by intent.
 
In post processing, I lightened shadow areas while controlling highlights in an effort to replicate scene as I saw it.
 
Such are the challenges with modern photography. With black and white film, I would have exposed for the shadows and printed for the highlights, but that technique won’t work with digital photography. Where black & white film could hold great detail in dense highlights, but suffered from thin and detail-less shadow regions, digital sensors have the opposite sensitivity range.
 
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CSX: Early Morning Intermodal—five views and the Spirit of Ravenna.


Tuesday Morning (June 25 2019), I made my way to Palmer, Massachusetts to see how fared the old Boston & Albany.

Not long after I arrived at the old freight house location (the building was unceremoniously demolished by Conrail 30 years ago), I heard ‘Limited Clear CP83’ on my scanner. This transmission indicated that a train was about to take the controlled siding.

Modern six-motor GEs (an Evolution and a Tier IV—standard CSX road power on the Boston Line) rolled east with a short intermodal train, probably Q012 or Q022.

The trailing locomotive was CSX’s Louisville & Nashville heritage locomotive, identified by a tiny L&N logo on the cab and ‘Spirit of Ravenna’ in script. Lucky bonus to catch that in Palmer!

I made my photos at the west end of the yard, working with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto lens and my Lumix LX7.

This was just the beginning of the morning’s photography.

Stay tuned!

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CSX Q263 at Palmer, Massachusetts.

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I have a zillion photographs in Palmer, Massachusetts.

‘Zillion’ inferring an undetermined non-specific large quantity.

So why chase CSX’s Q263 down the Valley?

Silly question!

We arrived at the site of the old Boston & Albany freight house at the west end of Palmer yard just in time to catch Q263 (empty autorack train from East Brookfield) passing Mass-Central’s local freight.

I made these views with my Lumix LX7.

Memory Card Full! (Read On)

Those dreaded red letters in my view finder!

So, there we were, poised and waiting . . . .

Mike Gardner and I had photographed CSX’s loaded autorack train Q264-21 (as featured with ‘DPU’ the other day on Tracking the Light) and were waiting for the crew to take the empty autorack Q263-23 west.

For more than an hour we waited at milepost 67 in Brookfield, Massachusetts.

As recommended, I made several test shots with my Fujifilm XT1 as the lighting conditions changed.

Test shot.

Then finally Mike announced ‘HEADLIGHT!’

I exposed a test burst of photos CSX Q263-3 in the distance and then . . .

OH NO!

[insert expletive here]

With a 32GB card, I can store hundreds of images. So many that I forget to even check how many I have left. And so at this critical moment, I’m left pixel-less.

The last frames in a burst of three . . . Had I only checked to see how many frames were left. You know I had a spare card (several) in my camera bag. Poor show, Brian.

Well, thankfully I had my Lumix LX7 around my neck and so managed a close-up photograph anyway. But there’s a lesson for you in this story. And for me too!

Lumix LX7 photo. The irony in this lesson is that I think I made a better photo with the Lumix.

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Autos East with Mid-Train Locomotives: CSX Q264 at CP79—3 Digital Photos.


In recent months CSX has adopted the practice of using distributed power on the former Boston & Albany.

Distributed power is essentially the application of radio-remote controlled locomotives positioned deep in a freight train and/or at its end to reduce drawbar stress and improve starting and braking characteristics with very long/heavy trains.

The concept dates to the 1960s, but much improved radio-controlled remote technology was introduced by GE-Harris in the 1990s where it has become standard operating practice, and the remote locomotives being known as distributed power units (DPUs)

Still, to me it seems like a novelty on the Boston & Albany route.

Yesterday (May 23, 2019), I made my first photographs of a CSX train with a DPU working east of Palmer.

Mike Gardner and I caught Q-264 (the loaded autorack train destined to East Brookfield) from the field of Route 67 near CP79.

By B&A standards, this was an enormous train for just two modern GE diesels.

I exposed these photographs using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 lens.

Head-end of CSX Q264 east of Palmer, Massachusetts.
Autoracks on the roll.
Mid-train DPU working hard on the grade up to Warren.

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Palmer, Massachusetts—Track Changes soon! (Four views on Tracking the Light)


On the way back from some errands this morning (May 18, 2019), I stopped at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts


Although not a wheel was turning, I was fascinated to discover some brand new points waiting for installation near the famous ‘diamond’ crossing (where CSX crosses New England Central) .

Using my Lumix LX7 digital camera I made these views of what appear to be a power derail.

Stay tuned!

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CSX Q264 Meets Sunrise at East Brookfield.


This is a follow up to last week’s post: February Sunrise and Headlight on the Horizon. (see: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2019/02/06/february-sunrise-and-headlight-on-the-horizon/).

A week ago, on Wednesday February 6, 2019, Paul Goewey and I caught CSX’s Q-264 rolling through CP64, the interlocking at East Brookfield near the train’s terminus on the East Brookfield & Spencer Railroad (the local short line switching railroad that unloads the autoracks for regional distribution).

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 90mm lens, I exposed this view at ISO 800.

I also made a grab shot with my Lumix LX-7.

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February Sunrise and Headlight on the Horizon.


This morning, February 6, 2019, my photography began with this westward view at CP64 in East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

‘Headlight!’ I announced, as I watched the sun tickling the distant hills.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Paul Goewey and I anticipated the passage of an eastward CSX autorack train.

Sometimes the thrill of photography is that distant twinkle on the horizon and wondering how it will play out.

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Palmer, Massachusetts—CSX B740: Three GP40-2s and calendar lighting.


Some weeks ago, I had a few minutes before running an errand. I stopped in at CP83 near the old Palmer Union Station.

My timing was nearly perfect. Not long after I arrived, I heard a familiar roar to the west.

The air was clear, and the sounds of EMD 645 diesels were resonating as they worked eastbound.

I thought, ‘must be the B740’ (the CSX local freight that typically arrives in Palmer about mid-morning to work the interchange.)

I walked up to the South Main Street bridge. As the train approached Palmer, it enters a short down grade, so the roar quieted. This change in pitch might confuse a novice visitor, who might become discouraged at the very moment a train is about to pass.

Sure enough, after a couple of minutes, CSX B740 rolled into view and took the switch at CP83 onto the controlled siding.

Perfect low and clear December sun over my left shoulder made for a calendar scene.

I exposed these views using my FujiFilm XT1.

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CSX at Smithton, Pennsylvania: JPG versus RAW.

Here’s an archived digital view I made in the summer of 2011 at Smithton, Pennsylvania along CSX’s former Baltimore & Ohio mainline.

Bad luck, just as this eastward freight came into view, a fair weather cloud muted the afternoon sun. I made a sequence of photos with my Canon EOS 7D.

This is the un-manipulated camera JPG file, scaled for internet presentation. Notice the bluish color balance, the bleached looking clouds and sky, and relatively flat contrast on background trees.

Working with Lightroom, I re-worked the image starting with the camera RAW file. Unlike the camera Jpg which is compressed, the RAW file contains greater amounts of information than maybe immediately evident.

By making nominal adjustments in post processing, I was able to create a more pleasing photograph. I worked on the sky, locally bringing in highlight details in the clouds by moving the highlight slider control to the left, which scales back the relative brightness of the highlight areas.

On a global level (for the whole file), I brightened shadows, warmed the color balance, increased saturation and adjusted contrast.

Lastly, I focused on the train and made very slight (subtle) adjustments to the exposure by lightening and changing contrast.

For comparison, I’ve included both the unaltered in-camera JPG and two versions of the altered camera RAW file.

This is my first version of the adjust RAW file. I felt it was a bit too warm and still too dark, so I made further adjustments as seen in the my second version below.

Here’s my second version of the adjusted RAW. I made a few subtle changes to improve the overall appeal of the image.

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CSX on this day Five Years Ago-November 2, 2013.

Five years ago today, I made this view of a westward CSX autorack train on the old Boston & Albany near mp 67 from Route 148 in Brookfield, Massachusetts.

This was exposed digitally using my Canon EOS 7D with a fixed focal length 200mm ‘prime’ lens. This view is the camera produced JPG, scaled for internet presentation.

November 2, 2013.

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Old Signals: My Last Photos?

I was running a few final errands before heading to the airport.

CSX had been working on making CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts compliant with positive train control requirements, which has coincided with commissioning new signal hardware.

By the time I return, the old signals will likely have been retired and the new system up and working.

Crossing the South Main Street bridge in Palmer, I spotted a New England Central local working the diamond, and a CSX intermodal train (Q022) waiting to the west.

This gave me enough time to set up and made a few final photos of the transitional arrangement at CP83 in Palmer.

Old signals to the left, new heads on the right; CSX Q022 holds to the west of the Palmer diamond.

A moment of sun as Q022 begins to pull forward. Modern signaling equipment is in the silver box at right.

Working with an 18-135mm zoom lens gave me needed flexibility to adjust the focal length as the train pulled forward.

Changeable lighting made for patches of direction sun under a partial blanket of cloud. I tried to use these sunny spots to my best advantage since the train was moving slowly through the interlocking.

 

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New Signals at Dusk—working with high ISO.

Saturday evening I used my FujiFilm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit to photograph CSX’s westward Q437 (Framingham, Massachusetts to Selkirk, New York) at Palmer, Massachusetts passing the new signals at CP83.

They’ve yet to be activated and the new signals are in place alongside the Conrail-era signals installed in 1986.

It was dusk and the light was fading fast. I pushed the camera ISO to 2500, and exposed this action shot at 1/250th of a second at f2.8.

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Amtrak, Nose Glint, Sleepers, and a Waterfall.

This summer Amtrak 448/449, the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited, is the onlysection of the Lake Shore Limited!

 Construction at Penn-Station New York has encouraged Amtrak to cancel the New York section of this popular train, and reassign its Viewliner sleeps to the Boston section.

A clear afternoon had me searching for locations. My first choice was the Tennyville Bridge in Palmer (Rt 32 bridge), but a large quantity of freight cars in Palmer yard discouraged me. My next choice was the field east of Palmer off Rt 67, but I vetoed this place because of excessive brush.

Brush and trees are real problem this time of year along the old Boston & Albany. Not only do the obstruct views of the tracks, but they cast impenetrable dark shadows.

So, I ended up at my standard fall back location at West Warren. Although, I’ve photographed Amtrak 449 here dozens of times, it had several advantages.

It’s a relatively short drive; it has elevation and an unobstructed view of the line from both sides of the tracks; its east-west orientation makes for nice early afternoon lighting; and the waterfall and mills make for an iconic and readily identifiable backdrop.

So, West Warren it was. Again.

I made this sequence with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens.

West Warren, Massachusetts is an iconic location on the old Boston & Albany.

By the time Amtrak train 449 reached me, the sun had crossed over to the northside of the tracks. Notice the unfortunate nose-glint’ reflecting off the front of the engine. I tempered this in post processing with an adjustment to the highlight-level.

Here’s the three Viewliner sleepers at the back of the train.

Two difficulties; the nosy angle of the sun made it difficult to get an acceptable broad side angle on the train, so the three sleepers at the back are visually marginalized. Secondly, the wedge angle of the Amtrak P42 front-end kicked back the sun with harsh ‘nose glint’.

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Palmer’s Rare Move—June 22, 2018.

Here’s the follow up to my June 25thposting Palmer’s Busy Bright Morning [https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5Az].

A lone loaded auto-rack was spotted in CSX’s Palmer Yard.

CSX’s local freight B740 had arrived from West Springfield Yard.

B740’s crew discussed arrangements with the dispatcher to reverse out of the yard (westward) with the auto-rack on the interchange track and then pull forward onto the controlled siding at CP83.

CSX B740 shoves back on the interchange track at Palmer, Massachusetts.

The reason for this was to avoid using the normal freight connection from the controlled siding into the yard because of the length of the auto rack was at risk of derailing over the tight switches.

The crossover at CP83 from the interchange track to the controlled siding was installed in 1995 to facilitate Amtrak’s Vermonter, which was then operating via Palmer and changed directions here to go between CSX and New England Central’s route on its Springfield, Massachusetts-St Albans, Vermont portion of the run.

The passenger crossover at CP83 has been rarely used, since Amtrak’s Vermont returned to the more direct routing in December 2014 (running north of Springfield on the Boston & Maine Connecticut River line via Greenfield to East Northfield).

CSX’s crewman lines the switch for the controlled siding on the now rarely used crossover. Notice the rust on the rail.

CSX B740 pulls forward through the crossover and will soon head east on the Boston & Albany to East Brookfield. Notice how the CSX crewman on the ground is illuminated by the sun shinning through the gap between the locomotives and the auto rack.

It was a fortuitous situation to catch this rare move in nice morning sun.

B740 then continued east to East Brookfield, where CSX autoracks are unloaded on the East Brookfield & Spencer.

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Palmer’s Busy Bright Morning—four new photos.

The day dawned clear and bright. I spent an hour at CP83 in Palmer making good use of the light. The railroads cooperated and supplied a parade of eastward trains, and these favored the sun for classic views.

I’ve made countless thousands of photos at Palmer, Massachusetts, but it’s always nice to keep the files fresh.

CSX eastward intermodal—probably Q012—passes the signals at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm telephoto lens.

New England Central GP38 3845 works a local freight on the interchange track.

NECR 3845 shoves back.

Moments after New England Central’s local disappeared from view, CSX’s B740 arrived with cars for interchange. (exposed at f5.0 1/640 ISO 200)  It was about this time that things got interesting! Stay tuned for more.

Soon the scene is likely to change since CSX is installing new equipment for its positive train control signaling, and this will likely result in new signal hardware in place of the Conrail-era signals installed during single-tracking in 1986-1987.

Then something unexpected happened, and by shear luck I caught a rare move! Stay tuned for Part 2.

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CSX Intermodal on the Edge of Spring.

On my way through Palmer, Massachusetts, I noticed New England Central’s northward 608 blocked at the diamond crossing with CSX’s Boston Line.

That was a good indication that a CSX train might be close.

After a very short wait this eastward CSX intermodal train came into view. It was probably Q012;‑one of several daily trains that runs to Worcester for unloading.

The trees are still bare, but the sun was bright. In just a few more days the trees will begin to leaf, the grass will become green, and Spring will be in the air.

Exposed digitally with my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 90mm Fujinon telephoto. I’ve composed the image to take in the old Union Station, now Palmer’s Steaming Tender restaurant, while positioning the lead locomotive between the control signals at CP83, and keeping the horizon in view.

Mid morning light in Palmer, Massachusetts, April 2018.

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CSX in the Snow.

Just an ordinary winter’s day at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts last month.

I made this view of CSX’s B740 using my Lumix LX7 .

Exposing for snow can be tricky. Remember the camera doesn’t know what’s supposed to be white.

One of the advantages of digital photography is the ability to check the exposure on-site. Although this scene had a tricky exposure, I was able to gauge my result at the time of exposure.

Consider the dynamic range of exposure in the this image: note the headlights on the locomotive (which appear brighter than the snow on the ground) and the sky (which is slightly darker than the snow).

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CSX Stack Train at Mine Dock Park—January 13, 2018.

On this visit to Mine Dock Park along New York’s Hudson River, I focused on a southward CSX doublestack container train. In the wide-angle view I made use of ice floes in the river as a compositional aid.

Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 fitted with an 18-135mm lens.

Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 fitted with an 18-135mm lens.

Compare these frosty views with the autumnal images made from atop the nearby rock cutting in my earlier post: CSX on the Hudson at Mine Dock Park—November 18, 2016.

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Four Angles on the Same Freight—L427.

Mike Gardner and I stopped in at Hinsdale, Massachusetts and found CSX L427 (Portland, Maine via Pan Am to Selkirk< New York) stopped on the old Boston & Albany mainline waiting for a crew change.

This had a cool all-EMD locomotive consist; SD60M, SD40-2, SD60M. On a line that tends to be dominated by GE diesels, this symmetrical EMD arrangement is unusual.

We took the time to make photos from a variety of angles.

From the gazebo in Hinsdale, Massachusetts.

Hinsdale.

It brightened up briefly for this classic three quarter angle.

I actually exposed more than a dozen photos, but I like these the best.

Why settle for one view when you can have many?

Icy Morning with CSX Q022—Variations on a Location

It was a bitterly cold morning just after sunrise when I made these views looking across a field off Route 67 east of Palmer, Massachusetts (near CP79, the control point 79 miles west of South Station, Boston, that controls the switch at the east-end of the control siding at Palmer.)

All were made from the same vantage point.

I was working with two cameras. My FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm telephoto, and my Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake.

The exposure, color profiles and color temperature of the cameras were set up differently, which explains the slight difference in overall density and tint.

Do you have a favorite? And why?

Digitally exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a 90mm telephoto.

Digitally exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.

Digitally exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.

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Classic Angle at the Diamond.

I knew it as the Boston & Albany and Central Vermont diamond in Palmer (diamond describes the shape of rails made by the angled level crossing of the two lines). I made my first photos at this location before I entered 6th grade.

Fast forward to January 2, 2018. I stepped out of the car at Palmer and with the crisp winter air I could hear a train approaching eastbound.

So often my ears have alerted me to a train. In this case the two-cycle roar of classic EMD 645 diesels.

I ambled toward the diamond and made these views. Over-the-shoulder light, with rich mid-morning sun, at a readily identifiable location; nearly perfect.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm lens, I exposed a sequence of images designed to mimic the angle I’d used here many years earlier.

There are more trees here now than in years gone by. Yet I’d made vertical views here before to emphasize the signal.

CSX GP40-2s lead B740 eastbound over the famous diamond.

CSX local freight B740 was carrying cars of pipe to be interchanged at Palmer Yard with the Mass-Central. That gave an a idea for the following day.

 

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Retro Local Freight—CSX B740

Back in the early 1980s, Conrail routinely assigned GP40-2s to road freights on the Boston & Albany. Back then I ignorantly dismissed the GP40-2s as ‘boring’. (But, I made photos anyway).

Today, being older and wiser and having a greater appreciation for locomotives of all kinds, I look back fondly on those olden times.

Luckily, I don’t have to go too far to find GP40s on the move. CSX still assigns vintage GP40-2s (albeit modernized) to the Palmer, Massachusetts local freight, symbol B740. (On the old Boston & Albany).

I see these locomotives as classics, yet still earning their keep, and wearing modern paint.

Exposed digitally; metered manually, ISO 400, f7.1 at 1/500th of a second.

Telephoto view of CSX B740 at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts.

Last week when I exposed these views of CSX B740 at CP83 near the old Palmer Station, it was bright, but partly overcast midday with diffused high sun. Snow on the ground helps lighten the shadows—Decent, if not perfect, conditions for photographing locomotives.

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Final Photo of 2017.

This was the last photo I exposed in 2017.

It was about 4 degrees Fahrenheit at East Brookfield, Massachusetts, when I made this view at 9:38pm on December 31st looking west toward CP64.

The signal had just changed from all red (stop) to red over flashing green (Limited Clear) on the main track.

I exposed the photograph with my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens with the camera mounted on a Gitzo tripod.

Using the ‘A’ mode with aperture set to f2.8, the exposure value boosted by about 2/3rds of a stop, and ISO set to 400, my effective shutter speed was about 5 seconds. A length of time that seems like forever when you are standing alone in the dark with an icy wind in your face.

I checked my exposure and focus and thought to myself ‘good enough’. Which means that if it were warmer, I’d make another image.

This image is a scaled version of the camera-produced Jpg. I did not alter contrast, exposure, sharpness or make other visual corrections during post processing.
Some purest somewhere may someday examine my file and determine that it was made in 2018, and it would have been If I was in Ireland. I don’t bother recalibrating my camera’s clock when I switch time zones. It’s just one of those things.

CSX’s Q007 was lined west. But opted not to wait for it.

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CSX at Warren, Massachusetts—Lessons in Composition Revisited—Six views.

Yes, I’ve done this before.

Warren, Massachusetts is a favorite place to photograph, but also a tricky one.

I used Warren as an example for a similar compositional conversation in Trains Magazine, published about two years ago and  featured photo of Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited.

Yesterday (December 29, 2017), I arrived in Warren just in time to set up and catch CSX’s late-running Q264 (loaded autoracks for East Brookfield) race up the grade and pass the recently restored former Boston & Albany station.

Using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens, I exposed a burst of images.

I’ve selected three of these, and then annotated versions of the image that I like the best so that you may benefit from my compositional considerations.

I prefer this view over the two closer images. I think the composition works better (as illustrated in the annotated versions) and it emphasizes the station, which personally I find more interesting than the train.

This view was made seconds after the one above. Although the train is closer, most of the interesting elements of the old station have been obscured.

This is a nice photo of CSX’s Q264, but it could be anywhere on the Boston & Albany line. Why bother going to Warren if the station and town are cropped?

There’s no correct answer to composition; in this instance I prefer the more distant view of the train because it better features the old passenger station and the town of Warren; here’s why I feel the composition works:

Important, yet subtle compositional elements at work. Look at the position of the locomotive cab where it visually intersects the station building. It does this as cleanly as possible, without obscuring the dormer window or resulting in visual confusion. The similar color of the locomotive cab and clock tower make for interesting counterpoint. What if the tower was red brick and the locomotive cab was blue?

Here I’ve highlighted several areas of interest. These are points that naturally attract the eye and are focal points to the composition,  providing both  interest and balance.

Here’s is general outline of the composition. The trees provide visual support and context, but are not central subjects. Would this image work as well without them?

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CSX near Washington Summit.

Western RailRoad of Massachusetts; Boston & Albany; New York Central System; Penn Central; Conrail; CSX.

CSX is the current operator of the Boston & Albany route.

I made this photo earlier this month of train Q263 westbound at Muddy Pond approaching Washington Summit .

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens.

In recent years CSX freight volumes over the B&A route have been declining.

Saturday (December 16, 2017), we learned that Hunter Harrison, CSX’s Chief Executive Officer passed away.

I can’t help but wonder what will become of the B&A, and how Hunter’s controversial strategies have affected this route in the few months he was at the reigns of CSX.

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Bright Day on the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines—6 New Digital Photos.

It’s nice to have the sunshine.

Last week, Pat Yough and I explored Conrail Shared Assets former Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines south of Paulsboro, New Jersey.

I made these views with my FujiFilm XT1 and 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens.

This was entirely new territory for me. Pat drove, while I helped navigate using an old DeLorme atlas and my iPhone.

Among the highlights was CSX 1707, one of its relatively new SD40E3 ‘Eco’ locomotives.

Looking northward at Pedrickstown, New Jersey.

Conrail Shared Assets freight CA11 at Pedrickstown, New Jersey.

Conrail Shared Assets freight CA11 at Pedrickstown, New Jersey.

Conrail Shared Assets freight CA11 at Carneys Point, New Jersey.

Conrail Shared Assets freight CA11 at Carneys Point, New Jersey.

CSX SD40E3 number 1707 led Conrail Shared Assets 1707 on the northward journey.

In addition to these digital images, I also exposed a few black & white negatives and some color slides with my Canon EOS-3 and 40mm pancake lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

CSX Freight Rolls on the Reading; Two cameras, Four photos.

I made these views of a CSX freight operating on the former Reading Company in Philadelphia. My vantage point was from the sidewalk on the road bridge near the Strawberry Mansion Bridge over the Schuylkill.

The day was bright, but partially overcast, which benefitted my photography since bright sun would have resulted in a difficult and unflattering high-contrast situation.

This northward freight was moving slowly, allowing me to work with two digital cameras and expose a series of images as it went by.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

A wider view from the same vantage point exposed with my Lumix LX7.

The lighting post provides a hint as to the location ‘City of Phila.’ Lumix LX7 photo.

Trailing telephoto view with the FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom. This offers some interesting roof detail of the General Electric diesels hauling the train.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

 

 

 

Bright Sun on CSX at Palmer.

The other morning I noticed the points at CP83 in Palmer on CSX’s former Boston & Albany line were set for the controlled siding.

Since CSX’s local freight B740 from West Springfield, Massachusetts often arrives at Palmer in mid-Morning, I thought it was likely I could make some photos.

Bright autumn sun in this classic location made for excellent conditions.

I didn’t have to wait long at the South Main Street overpass, when I heard the short freight dropping down grade toward the Palmer diamond.

I made this sequence using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm Fujinon lens.

CSX local freight B740 takes the controlled siding at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts. This will allow B740 to access the leads to Palmer yard and make its interchange.

The classic view of B740 arriving in Palmer. Trains on the controlled siding make for a more pleasing angle to photograph because they are further from south side of the cutting. October morning sun is pleasing light.

Is this view too close?

Trailing view looking toward the Palmer yard.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

From the Negative File: CSX’s former Boston & Albany.

On July 22, 2017, I made this unusual view of CSX Intermodal train Q012 on the old Boston & Albany mainline at West Warren, Massachusetts.

July 22, 2017; CSX at West Warren, Massachusetts, exposed on Kodak Tri-X.

What’s unusual about it?

Not only was it made on Kodak Tri-X black & white film using an 80-year old Leica camera body fitted with a 21mm Super Angulon lens, but my processing was non-standard.

After a pre-soak with a miniscule amount of developer, I gave the film it’s primary development in Ilford Perceptol stock mixed with water 1-1 for 8 min 30 seconds at 69 F. Following development, stop, fix1, fix2, and thorough rinse, I treated the still wet film in selenium toner mixed 1 to 9 with water for 8 minutes.

The selenium toner gives the negatives a slightly lavender hue while increasing the highlight density to provide a silvery sheen. This involves an ion-exchange with the silver halide in the film which offers a secondary benefit of greater long term stability.

After toning, I re-wash negatives for at least 10 minutes.

For internet presentation here, I scanned the dried negatives on an Epson V750 flatbed scanner at high-resolution TIF files, then imported the files to Lightroom for final adjustment, dust removal and scaling. (My TIF files are far too large to upload on Word Press for internet).

Instead of scanning the negatives in black & white, I scanned them in color which retains the purple tint of the selenium toner for effect.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily

Early Bird Gets the Worm or, as the case may be, the New England Central local freight!

During the long days of July, I made a point of being up and OUT as early as there was light in the sky.

Those trains that go bump in the night in Winter have a bit of light on them in July.

I made this view before 6 am of the New England Central local crossing the Palmer diamond. The popular Steaming Tender restaurant is located in the old Palmer, Massachusetts Union Station station at left.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with f2.0 90mm lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

Day and Night at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts.

All to often I find myself in Palmer, Massachusetts.

It’s probably not what you think though.

Yes, I make railway photos there.

By often I arrive at CP83 only because I’m passing through. I might be on the way to the bank, or to get a haircut, or maybe do a bit of shopping.

In the daylight instance pictured I was about to cross the South Main Street Bridge with a financial transaction in mind, when I spotted a railway enthusiast poised with camera in hand.

I had my Lumix LX7 with me, so made a quick diversion. It was nearly 11am, and about the time that CSX’s Q022 often rolls east. Stepping out of the car, I immediately sensed that my guess was correct. I could hear the freight approaching the home signal for the Palmer diamond at CP83. Need I describe what happened next?

Lumix LX7 view of CSX’s Q022 passing CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts. (CP83 is the railroad location-name  for the interlocking in Palmer, which is just over 83 miles west of Boston South Station.)

Less than 12 hours after the daylight view I made this photo of the signals at CP83 illuminated by the headlight of westward intermodal freight Q007.

It helps to have a tripod.
CSX Q007 rolls westward at CP83 in Palmer; at the right is the popular Steaming Tender restaurant.

Some hours later, I’d met Rich and Joyce Reed for dinner in Palmer, and as per a long standing Friday night tradition we reconvened after the meal at CP83. How different this place looks at night!

After a little while the signals cleared and CSX’s Q007 came into view. I made these time exposures of the westward Q007 passing the signals at CP83.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!