Tag Archives: CSX

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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CSX on the Move at West Trenton, New Jersey.

A week ago, July 7, 2017, Pat Yough and I were photographing at West Trenton, New Jersey. I made this view with my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 27mm Pancake lens.

This is compact, lightweight lens designed for the Fuji X-series mirror-less digital cameras. With the sensor on my X-T1 the 27mm lens has the equivalent field of view offered by a 41mm lens on a traditional 35mm film camera.

In other words it offers a slightly wide-angle perspective that is comparable to the natural field of view of the human eye.

Here I’ve carefully positioned the cab of the leading locomotive between the gap in the trees to make for a clearer composition. Classic three-quarter lighting and camera angle combine for a traditional view with a nearly traditional angle of view.

I caught CSX symbol freight Q-301 rolling toward Philadelphia on the old Reading Company. My exposure was f4 1/1000th of a second at ISO200.

 

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Three Quarter Light; CSX’s Q012 Intermodal freight at East Brookfield

On June 28, 2017, I made a sequence of digital photos of CSX’s Worcester, Massachusetts-bound intermodal freight symbol Q012 passing CP64 (dispatcher’s control-point 64 miles west of Boston) at East Brookfield.

This was one of several exposures made with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Using a 135mm focal length, I’ve aimed to show the freight passing the remains of the small yard at East Brookfield.

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Foggy Morning, Palmer, Massachusetts.

Yesterday, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, I arrived in Palmer at about 5am. Although there was clear blue dome above me, a blanket of mist had filled the Quaboag Valley. This was just beginning to clear, when I heard CSX’s westward freight Q427 (Portland, Maine to Selkirk, New York) approaching.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 27mm pancake lens, I exposed several bursts of digital images as the train rolled by the old Palmer Union Station (now the popular Steaming Tender Restaurant).

CSX freight Q427 (Portland, Maine to Selkirk, New York) passes CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens at f3.2 1/500th of a second at 200 ISO. Photo scaled from an ‘in-camera’ Jpg made with Fuji’s Velvia color profile.
In this image, I manipulated the Camera RAW file using Lightroom. I lightened the shadow areas, specially on the locomotive. I also electronically applied a graduated neutral density filter to selectively control highlights, contrast and color saturation in the to 40 percent of the image. Compare this image from June 28, 2017,with the photo below, that I’d made here a week earlier (and previously presented on Tracking the Light.)
Originally posted on June 21, 2017: CSX Q019 at Palmer, Massachusetts. I’m pushing the limits of digital image date-capture: Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with Zeiss 12mm Touit and Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter (to hold sky detail and color saturation). RAW file adjusted in Lightroom to control highlights, shadows and overall exposure, plus color saturation (boosted).

Consider that this is a lesson in lighting: even when you photograph trains at the same location, at the same time of day (but on different days) the results can be significantly different as result of ever changing lighting conditions.

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CSX Q422 at Palmer, Massachusetts

These days most of CSX’s scheduled through car-load freights tend to traverse the east end of the old Boston & Albany during darkness.

True, there’s a couple of intermodal trains, and Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited during the day, but if you want to see an old-school freight train in daylight you’ll have a long wait.

Early in the morning of June 23, 2017, I went over to CP83 (control point 83 miles from South Station) on spec to see if I could catch some freight on the move.

I have a sixth sense or really good hearing (or both), because I stepped out of the car, and I could hear a distant freight with GE diesels laboring toward Palmer.

I fitted my FujiFilm X-T1 with my fast (f2.0) 90mm lens and walked up to the South Main Street bridge, where I’ve made hundreds of photos over the years.

As the train approached, I realized that it wasn’t an intermodal train, as I expected, but a carload freight. It was CSX’s Q422 (Selkirk, New York to Worcester, Massachusetts).

At 5:29am I made these photos with my camera set to ISO 800, f2.2 1/250 second handheld. The ability to raise the ISO to a faster (more sensitive) setting combined with my fast telephoto lens allows for photos like this one.

ISO 800, f2.2 1/250 second handheld.
ISO 800, f2.2 1/250 second handheld.

In my old Kodachrome 25 days, my exposure with my Nikon F3 and f2.8 135mm lens (offering an equivalent focal length to the 90mm with the small sensor on the X-T1) would have been: f3.5 at ¼ second. The resulting image of this moving train would have been dramatically different.

 

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Making Sunrise—CSX near Palmer, Massachusetts.

Since 1986, the interlocking east of Palmer at the east-end of the dispatcher’s controlled siding has been known on the railroad as ‘CP79’ which describes it as a ‘control point (remote control power switches and signals) 79-miles west of Boston’.

Friday, morning (June 22, 2017), I anticipated a westward freight just after sunrise, and set up looking across the farmer’s field west of CP79, looking toward the rising sun.

Working with an external graduated neutral density filter, I carefully exposed a sequence of photos, including pictures with the train. Then working with the camera RAW files in Lightroom, I manipulated contrast, exposure, color temperature and color balance, to make for better balanced more pleasing photos.

With extreme lighting conditions I find that post processing is a necessary, if tedious, part of the photographic process.

Below are my results.

Here’s the equipment: FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens. It is fitted with an externally mounted Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter with an aftermarket filter holder. I can rotate the filter left or right, and adjust it up and down in order to meet my specific requirements. The 0.9 filter works out to be about 1 full stop at its darkest.
In anticipation of the westward CSX train, I made a series of photos to show changes in the lighting. The interesting part of the scene is also the most difficult part to make a acceptable exposure.
Changing lighting conditions makes for added challenges.
CSX Q009 rolls west toward Palmer, Massachusetts.

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Summer Solstice Special.

It was an early sunrise this morning; ruby red with feathered clouds.

Sunrise in Monson, Massachusetts on June 21, 2017. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. Camera-JPG, no changes in post processing except to scale the image for internet presentation. That’s the sky how it looked this morning.

After catching the early glow, I wandered to Palmer, Massachusetts to make a few photographs along the old Boston & Albany route.

Although quiet during midday, CSX’s B&A route sees an intermodal train each way within about an hour or two of sunrise. Patience paid off.

Here’s a sample from this morning’s efforts (June 21, 2017).

CSX Q009 approaches CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts. Exposed with a Canon 7D with 100-400mm zoom lens.
CSX Q009 at Palmer, Massachusetts. I’m pushing the limits of digital image data-capture: Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with Zeiss 12mm Touit and Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter (to hold sky detail and color saturation). RAW file adjusted in Lightroom to control highlights, shadows and overall exposure, plus color saturation (boosted).
A BNSF locomotive was trailing on the Q009. It’s rare that I’ve photographed a BNSF locomotive on the B&A route.
CSX Q009 tail-end at Palmer, Massachusetts. Exposed with a Canon 7D with 100-400mm zoom lens.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with Zeiss 12mm Touit and Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter (to hold sky detail and color saturation). RAW file adjusted in Lightroom to control highlights, shadows and overall exposure, plus color saturation (boosted).
CSX intermodal train Q022 works east at Tennyville in Palmer, Massachusetts. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100-400mm zoom lens.
CSX Q022 passing below the ‘Tennyville Bridge’ (Route 32) in Palmer, Massachusetts. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 Fujinon lens.
Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 Fujinon lens.

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Sunset, CP83 Palmer, Massachusetts—June 7, 2017

It’s that time of year when the setting sun aligns with CSX’s  old Boston & Albany at Palmer, Massachusetts.

I made these views using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

The camera’s color profile was set to ‘Velvia’ mode. White balance at ‘A’ (automatic). While I exposed both a  Camera RAW and Jpg simultaneously, these views are strictly camera-produced Jpg files scaled for internet presentation.

FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens. Exposure = 1/500 f7.1. Auto white balance.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 at f13 1/500th of a second at ISO 400.

Gauging my exposure with the in-camera matrix meter, I set the aperture and shutter speed manually leaning toward ‘under exposure’ to ensure good highlight detail.

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CSX at Palmer-Low angle gives the appearance of a model railroad photo.

Using my FujiFilm X-T1, I tilted and extended the rear display screen so that I could hold the camera close to the ground. By doing this I photographed from an unusual perspective with a telephoto lens.

Since the angle is very low, the foreground is blurred, and the verticals are kept perpendicular to the horizon, the effect makes the photo appear like those often made of model railroads.

One of the circumstances that made this image possible, was a complete lack of automobiles in front of the old Palmer (Massachusetts) Union Station—now the popular Steaming Tender Restaurant.

CSX GP40-2s, working local freight B740, reverse through the points at CP83 during a switching move in May 2017.

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Whose Railroad is this?

An old favorite photo location is the Connecticut River bridge at East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Earlier this month, photographer Mike Gardner and I caught two freights crossing this traditional span within just a few minutes of each other.

The first was eastward autorack train symbol 28T operating to Ayer, Massachusetts with Norfolk Southern locomotives. A few minutes later, Pan Am freight POED (Portland to East Deerfield) worked west with recently acquired former CSX General Electric DASH8-40Cs.

Autorack (Norfolk Southern symbol 28T) works east across the Connecticut River. Exposed using a Lumix LX-7. RAW file modified for contrast and color using Lightroom.
Pan Am’s POED with former CSX DASH8-40C diesels. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Pan Am’s POED with former CSX DASH8-40C diesels. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Historically this was the Boston & Maine’s Fitchburg line; B&M was melded into the Guilford system in the 1980s and in the mid-2000s . Today, Pan Am and Norfolk Southern are partners in operating Boston & Maine lines west of Ayer as Pan Am Southern.

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Drop Under Light—CSX Q424 at Mitteneague (West Springfield).

A dreary evening at Mitteneague in West Springfield, Massachusetts was briefly brightened by a wink of drop under sun.

Luckily for me, at the very moment the trees in the distance were illuminated by this unexpected golden glow, I heard CSX’s Selkirk to West Springfield manifest freight Q424 approaching.

I exposed these trailing views with my 90mm f2.0 Fujinon lens.

Below are two variations of each image; one is a JPG made from the RAW without interpretation, the other is an adjusted file to represent what I saw at the time of exposure.

This is a scaled JPG made from the Camera RAW file without interpretation. Compare this with the adjust file below.
Image 2: To make for a more realistic and pleasing image, I adjusted the RAW file in Lightroom. Specifically I lightened the shadows while adjusting the blacks, alter the overall gamma (using the Clarity slider), and made a nominal increase in saturation. All changes were made globally (to the entire file).
Scaled, but otherwise un-adjusted JPG made from camera RAW.
Image 4: File adjusted in post processing using the same settings as the earlier image in the sequence (image 2).

Camera RAW files only represent the information (data) collected by the camera sensor, and rarely display an image as the scene actually appeared, thus the need for interpretation/adjustment during post processing.

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Pan Am Railways’ ‘New’ DASH8-40Cs.

Back in 1989, the DASH8-40C was the latest offering from General Electric. In April that year, I photographed some glistening Conrail units at Buffalo’s Bison Yard. Some months later I was delighted to catch a freshly painted CSX DASH8-40C working on the old Baltimore & Ohio at Deshler, Ohio.

Fast forward to 2017; reports of Pan Am’s recent acquisition of 20 former CSX DASH8-40Cs has interested New England railroad observers. I’ll admit, I find it strange that these locomotives causing such a stir.

On Thursday January 5, 2017, fellow photographer Mike Gardner and I visited Pan Am’s East Deerfield Yard (located near Greenfield, Massachusetts).

Upon our arrival, we saw road freight EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction) getting ready for its westward journey. In the lead was a pair of the ‘New’ DASH8-40Cs.

I learned that this was the first run of these locomotives since arriving on Pan Am a few days earlier. Not to waste an opportunity we geared up for some photography.

And, yes, among the trains we photographed that day was EDRJ (always a favorite train to catch on the scenic westend of the old Boston & Maine). We followed it all the way to Eagle Bridge, New York, ‘new’ GEs in the lead.

Below are a few of the photos I made using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera. While we made the most of these old ‘new’ locomotives, in truth we probably would have photographed Pan Am’s EDRJ regardless of its motive power.

Still, I’ll be keen to see these old goats painted in Pan Am blue and white.

DASH8-40Cs glint in the morning sun at East Deerfield Yard.
EDRJ works upgrade along the Deerfield River at Zoar, Massachusetts.
EDRJ ambles along near Pownal, Vermont.
Sun and clouds color the sky near North Pownal, Vermont.

Approaching Petersburg Junction near the New York-Vermont state line.

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CSX Rolling West after Sunrise.

Over the last 39 years I’ve exposed countless hundreds of photos of trains rolling through Palmer, Massachusetts. But that’s not stopped me from continuing the exercise.

Friday, December 23, 2016, I was at CP83 near the Steaming Tender restaurant, when the signals lit up: high green on the mainline for a westward move. That was my cue to get ready.

The previous day I’d gone fishing through the camera cabinet and found an old Nikkormat FT. Perfect! I loaded this up with some HP5 and set out making photos old school. It had been 20 years since I last worked with Nikkormat. I fitted it with a vintage Nikkor 24mm lens.

With this antique in hand I set up a shot by the old Palmer Union Station (Steaming Tender) using the building to partly shade the rising sun. I’d misplaced my handheld lightmeter, so I used my Lumix LX7 to help gauge the exposure.

This was a tricky, I wanted the sun light to be set apart from the skylight and normally this requires a bit of underexposure. But I didn’t want the front of the locomotives to become completely opaque. Ideally, I’d want there to be some detail in the shadows.

As the headlight of a westward freight appeared to east I was still dithering over my exposure. Ultimately I settled on f11 1/500th of a second.

CSX symbol freight Q427 rolls through Palmer on the morning of December 23, 2016. Exposed on Ilford HP5 with a Nikkormat FT and 24mm lens. Notice how I’m just letting the sun peak past the station building. A small aperture (f11) aids with the starburst lighting.
I’ve always like the glint effect, and so I made this view of the second locomotive as it rolled by at 30mph. I realize that photographing the second locomotive at speed is a non-standard approach, but it makes for a nice image, does it not?

The trick to bring up the shadow detail was more a result of my processing technique. I needed to retain enough detail in the negative to work with, but once that was established on site, the rest of the work was with the chemistry.

I’ve described this a few times in recent months, but I’ll mention it again:

Before the main process, I prepare a ‘pre-soak’. In this case, I used a Jobo semi-automated processing machine with continuously reversing agitation.

My ‘presoak’ bath consisted of about 200ml of water at 74 degrees F (pardon my mixing of measurement standards) with a drop of Kodak HC110 (about 2-3 ml of developer solution), plus some Kodak Photoflo.

I let film presoak for about 3-4 minutes. Long enough to let the emulsion swell and for the minimal quantity of developer to become completely exhausted. This has the effect giving the shadow areas proportional more development than the highlights, while getting the processing reaction going.

For my main developer, I used Kodak D76 mixed 1-1 with water at 69F for 9 minutes. (This is less than the recommended time of about 11 minutes).

Afterwards I scanned the film using an Epson V750 at 4800 dpi. The photos presented here are scaled in Lightroom from my hi-res files.

A cropped detailed view of the front of the leading locomotive. This view is intended to show that there is reasonable detail in the shadow areas. If I want to I can enhance the shadow contrast in post processing.

No good? Don’t like it? No problem, I can go back and try it all over again!

Tracking the Light Discusses Photography Every Day!

Black & White-Morning Light: CSX at Gardner, Massachusetts.

But wait, CSX doesn’t serve Gardner. True. However on this day in mid-November 2016, I photographed a pair of CSX GE Evolution-series diesels leading Pan Am Southern freight 287—an empty auto rack train from Ayer.

These days, passing locomotives don’t necessarily reflect either the owner or operator of the train they lead.

CSX diesels work Pan Am Southern at Gardner, Massachusetts.
CSX diesels work Pan Am Southern at Gardner, Massachusetts.

Dappled morning sun augmented the effects of a textured sky and late season foliage. I opted to make this image using my Leica 3A with 35mm Nikkor Lens loaded with Ilford Pan-F (ISO).

This film offers fine grain and broad tonality. I’m not yet expert at processing this emulsion. Previously I used Ilfosol with mixed results. This time I tried Kodak D76 mixed 1:1 (stock solution with water).

If my process was completely successful my negatives would scan perfectly without need of electronic post processing adjustments. This example provided a good starting point, but to make for the most pleasing image, still required local and global contrast control.

By the way, digital photographers may relax; I also exposed several frames with my FujiFilm X-T1–Just in case.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

There’s Nothing Like a Clear Morning—Careful Navigation Scores the Shot.

The other morning I was aiming for a haircut. I arrived early and the barber wasn’t open yet, but I noticed an eastward CSX intermodal train on the old Boston & Albany that was slowing for the Palmer diamond.

I was on Route 20, about a mile west of Palmer, Massachusetts. I turned the car around, and immediately proceeded east in pursuit. (Haircuts can wait). However, road works at the New England Central bridge over the road caused me a critical delay.

Although the intermodal train was likely blocked, I wasn’t making any progress either, and I still had all of Palmer to get through in morning traffic. As a result, I took a detour and cut over the mountain using Old Warren Road—a favorite shortcut of Bob Buck’s that he showed me many years ago.

This saves several miles, but doesn’t follow the tracks.

As a result, I was able to be in place at West Warren several minutes ahead of the train. After exposing these views I retraced my steps and returned to my original mission!

 

 Lumix LX7 photo at West Warren, Massachusetts.

Lumix LX7 photo at West Warren, Massachusetts.
 Lumix LX7 photo at West Warren, Massachusetts.

Lumix LX7 photo at West Warren, Massachusetts.

Tracking the Light posts every day.

Fog over Palmer; CSX Intermodal crosses the New England Central.

Saturday after Thanksgiving I met visiting photographer Finbarr O’Neill at CP83 in Palmer, Massachusetts to give him a tour of the area.

The day was foggy, but shortly after we arrived a CSX intermodal train (probably Q012) slowed for the New England Central crossing.

csx_q012_palmer_p1550721

csx_q012_palmer_p1550722

I made these images using my Lumix LX7. To make for a more pleasing final image, I made nominal adjustments to contrast and exposure using Lightroom.

Tracking the Light posts Daily.

Happy Thanksgiving from Tracking the Light!

 

Here’s an appropriate seasonal view that I made of New York’s Hudson Valley from Breakneck Ridge last week using my Lumix LX7.

I’ve often made photos in November in the Hudson Valley, where the autumn foliage tends to hold longer than elsewhere in the region.

Look carefully across the glinting waters of the Hudson River and you'll see the subtle silhouette of a northward CSX unit tank train (probably discharged crude oil cars) winding its way along the old West Shore line. Lumix LX7 photo.
Look carefully across the glinting waters of the Hudson River and you’ll see the subtle silhouette of a northward CSX unit tank train (probably discharged crude oil cars) winding its way along the old West Shore line. Lumix LX7 photo.

Tracking the Light posts on Holidays!

CSX on the Hudson at Mine Dock Park—November 18, 2016.

The sun was just rising over Bear Mountain, when I arrived at Mine Dock Park located on the west shore of the Hudson near Fort Montgomery, New York.

I set up on CSX’s River Line, historically New York Central’s ‘West Shore’ route. At first the signals were all red. Then after a bit the northward signal cleared to ‘medium approach.’

I concluded that a northward train would be taking the siding, thus in all likelihood it would be making a meet with a southward train. I secured an elevated view from the rock cutting north of the public crossing.

About 45 minutes elapsed and then a northward train took the siding as signaled. Six minutes later, this southward CSX autorack freight came gliding down river. I exposed a series of digital images with my Lumix LX7. The sun was perfect and the late autumn foliage on the trees made an already picturesque scene even better.

A southward CSX auto rack train hugs the Hudson at Mine Dock Park. Lumix LX7 photo.
A southward CSX auto rack train hugs the Hudson at Mine Dock Park. Lumix LX7 photo.
The train was moving relatively slowly, which allowed me to zoom out (to a wider focal length) as it approached. Which of the two views do you prefer? A southward CSX auto rack train hugs the Hudson at Mine Dock Park. Lumix LX7 photo.
The train was moving relatively slowly, which allowed me to zoom out (to a wider focal length) as it approached. Which of the two views do you prefer?  Lumix LX7 photo.

Nothing tricky or complicated here; it was just a matter of being in the right place for the action and paying attention to the signals.

Tracking Light aims to post new material Everyday!

25 October: 50 Photos to Mark the Day

All 50 photos were exposed on 25 October, albeit in different years.

Shamokin, Pennsylvania; October 25, 1959. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon
Shamokin, Pennsylvania; October 25, 1959. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon
Port Clinton, Pennsylvania; October 25, 1959. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon
Port Clinton, Pennsylvania; October 25, 1959. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon
Reading Ramble in Pennsylvania; October 25, 1959. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon
Reading Ramble in Pennsylvania; October 25, 1959. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon
Reading Ramble in Pennsylvania; October 25, 1959. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon
Reading Ramble in Pennsylvania; October 25, 1959. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon
Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 1985.
Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 1985.
Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 1985.
Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 1985.
1985_cr-track-gang-palmer-10-25-85-solomon-photo-x1000280
Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 1985.
Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 1985.
Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 1985.
Newark, Delaware, October 25, 1991.
Newark, Delaware, October 25, 1991.
Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, October 25, 1991.
Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, October 25, 1991.
Near Eddystone Pennsylvania, October 25, 1991.
Near Eddystone Pennsylvania, October 25, 1991.
Near Eddystone Pennsylvania, October 25, 1991.
Near Eddystone Pennsylvania, October 25, 1991.
D-Tower Grafton, West Virginia Near Eddystone Pennsylvania, October 25, 1992.
D-Tower Grafton, West Virginia, October 25, 1992.
East Grafton, West Virginia, October 25, 1992.
East Grafton, West Virginia, October 25, 1992.
Amtrak's Capitol Limited approaching Cumberland, Maryland on October 25, 1993.
Amtrak’s Capitol Limited approaching Cumberland, Maryland on October 25, 1993.
Amtrak's Capitol Limited approaching Cumberland, Maryland on October 25, 1993.
Amtrak’s Capitol Limited approaching Cumberland, Maryland on October 25, 1993.
CSX near Falls Cut, Pennsylvania on October 25, 1993.
CSX near Falls Cut, Pennsylvania on October 25, 1993.
CSX near Falls Cut, Pennsylvania on October 25, 1993.
CSX near Falls Cut, Pennsylvania on October 25, 1993.
Conrail near Middlefield, Massachusetts on October 25, 1996.
Conrail near Middlefield, Massachusetts on October 25, 1996.
Conrail near Middlefield, Massachusetts on October 25, 1996.
Conrail near Middlefield, Massachusetts on October 25, 1996.
Conrail west of Chester, Massachusetts on October 25, 1996.
Conrail west of Chester, Massachusetts on October 25, 1996.
Vermont Rail System equipment on passenger special over New England Central near Stafford Springs, Connecticut, October 25, 1998.
Vermont Rail System equipment on passenger special over New England Central near Stafford Springs, Connecticut, October 25, 1998.
Cincinnati Union Station on October 25 2002.
Cincinnati Union Station on October 25 2002.
Cincinnati Union Station on October 25 2002.
Cincinnati Union Station on October 25 2002.
Cincinnati Union Station on October 25 2002.
Cincinnati Union Station on October 25 2002.
Sunrise at Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 2009.
Sunrise at Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 2009.
Sunrise at Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 2009.
Sunrise at Palmer, Massachusetts October 25, 2009.
East Brookfield, Massachusetts, October 25, 2009.
East Brookfield, Massachusetts, October 25, 2009.
CSX Q264 at East Brookfield, Massachusetts, October 25, 2009.
CSX Q264 at East Brookfield, Massachusetts, October 25, 2009.
CSX Q264 at East Brookfield, Massachusetts, October 25, 2009.
CSX Q264 at East Brookfield, Massachusetts, October 25, 2009.
CSX Q168 at Charlton Depot, Massachusetts, October 25, 2009.
CSX Q168 at Charlton Depot, Massachusetts, October 25, 2009.
Islandbridge Junction, Dublin, Ireland on 25 October 2011.
Islandbridge Junction, Dublin, Ireland on 25 October 2011.
Islandbridge Junction, Dublin, Ireland on 25 October 2011.
Islandbridge Junction, Dublin, Ireland on 25 October 2011.
CSX empty ethanol train near Brookfield, Massachusetts on October 25, 2013.
CSX empty ethanol train near Brookfield, Massachusetts on October 25, 2013.
CSX empty ethanol train near Brookfield, Massachusetts on October 25, 2013.
CSX empty ethanol train near Brookfield, Massachusetts on October 25, 2013.
Old Boston & Albany yard at East Brookfield, Massachusetts on October 25, 2013.
Old Boston & Albany yard at East Brookfield, Massachusetts on October 25, 2013.
Amtrak train 71 at Hyde Park, Massachusetts on October 25, 2014.
Amtrak train 71 at Hyde Park, Massachusetts on October 25, 2014.
Amtrak train 71 at Hyde Park, Massachusetts on October 25, 2014.
Amtrak train 71 at Hyde Park, Massachusetts on October 25, 2014.
MBTA's Matapan-Ashmont line on October 25, 2014.
MBTA’s Matapan-Ashmont line on October 25, 2014.
MBTA's Matapan-Ashmont line on October 25, 2014.
MBTA’s Matapan-Ashmont line on October 25, 2014.
MBTA's Matapan-Ashmont line on October 25, 2014.
MBTA’s Matapan-Ashmont line on October 25, 2014.

2014_mbta_matapan_ashmont_pcc_cedar_grove_vert_p1090897

MBTA's Matapan-Ashmont line on October 25, 2014.
MBTA’s Matapan-Ashmont line on October 25, 2014.

2014_vert_w_fence_img_9484

Amtrak 449 at Auburndale, Massachusetts on October 25, 2014.
Amtrak 449 at Auburndale, Massachusetts on October 25, 2014.
Amtrak 449 at Auburndale, Massachusetts on October 25, 2014.
Amtrak 449 at Auburndale, Massachusetts on October 25, 2014.

And a final four exposed today, 25 October 2016:

Irish Rail 231 departs Heuston Station with the 0900 to Cork. 25 October 2016.
Irish Rail 231 departs Heuston Station with the 0900 to Cork. 25 October 2016.
Irish Rail 29000-seres train passes Seapoint, Dublin on 25 October 2016.
Irish Rail 29000-seres train passes Seapoint, Dublin on 25 October 2016.
Irish Rail training special passes Seapoint, Dublin on 25 October 2016.
Irish Rail drivers training special with preserved Cravens passes Seapoint, Dublin on 25 October 2016.
25 October 2016.
25 October 2016.

Tracking the Light is Daily.

 

CSX Intermodal catches the First Rays of Sunshine—Middlefield, Massachusetts.

Last May (2016), I made this view of an eastward CSX stack train descending the old Boston & Albany grade over Washington Hill.

I was just east of the old Middlefield Station (long defunct), where my late friend Bob Buck had exposed some classic images of B&A’s A1 Berkshires.

A hill behind me blocks the rising sun, until after 6:30am in May. I could hear the train descending as the first rays of sun tickled the iron. Morning clouds waft across the sky making for inky shadows.

Exposed using a Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.
Exposed using a Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light is on auto pilot.

Tracking the Light attempts to post daily! (even when plagued by technical faults, internet outages, and an ambitious travel schedule).

 

CSX at Warren, Massachusetts—27 August 2016.

A lesson in ‘turbo-flutter.’

It was a sunny Saturday morning and the old Boston & Albany mainline was quieter than a rural Polish branch line.

Finally about 10:30 am Mike Gardner and I heard distant stirrings of an eastward freight.

We made our way to Warren, Massachusetts.

The long days of summer have resulted in the B&A route becoming unfortunately brushed in. Much of the line is largely obscured by bushes, trees and undergrowth, which make railway photography difficult.

The old Boston & Albany station at Warren remains one of my favorite surviving structures on the line; it harks back to a time when the railroad was the principle corridor for commerce in the region. Recently it has been restored.

Here we made our photographs.

A few strategic shafts of sunlight illuminate the line. I set my FujiFilm XT1’s shutter release dial to ‘CH’ (continuous high—the setting I casually refer to as ‘turbo flutter’) and waited as the train approached.

When it neared the shafts of sunlight, I held the shutter down and exposed a rapid burst of digital images, knowing that at least of one of them would place the front of the locomotive in full sun.

This satisfied my desired composition to juxtapose CSX’s modern General Electric diesel with the 1890s-era railway station building.

To demonstrate the effect of ‘turbo flutter’ as a compositional exposure tool, I’ve displayed the below sequence of images. In practice my camera exposed about three times as many photos. (Frame numbers are sequential)

frame 3427
frame 3427
frame 3429
frame 3429
frame 3434
frame 3434
frame 3439
frame 3439
frame 3441
frame 3441

Since the real cost of making a burst of exposures is very small, in this situation, I’ll happily make as many images as I need to in order to produce the photo I want. Later, if I choose, I can throw away the unsatisfactory images to save space on my hard drives.

Tracking the Light is Daily.

Beacon Park Final Farewell—August 2016.

My last view. (Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler and Google Plus viewers may need to click on Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light to see the big picture).

This former Boston & Albany freight yard was the site of some my earliest photographic efforts.

My last-ever view of Boston's Beacon Park yard. Exposed using a Lumix LX7 and processed with Lightroom to adjust framing and contrast.
My last-ever view of Boston’s Beacon Park yard. Exposed in late-August 2016 using a Lumix LX7 and processed with Lightroom to adjust framing and contrast.

Several years ago, in a deal with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, CSX agreed to close its Boston yard to open the property for redevelopment. As a result, its intermodal yard at Worcester was expanded to accommodate the lost capacity.

The result is that Boston now has virtually no through rail-freight service. The trickle of remaining CSX rail-freight traffic is handled by a local from Framingham, Massachusetts. Container (and piggyback) traffic is accommodated by road.

Many years ago, Boston was a major freight hub, and Beacon Park was a very busy place—those days have long since passed.

For the last few years, the tracks at Beacon Park have sat disused and rusted.

Presently, track gangs are salvaging what remains of the old yard.

Someone, somewhere will declare ‘progress’.

Ironically, I exposed this view from a bus on the Mass-Turnpike Extension, the highway that more than 50 years ago assumed operation on considerable chunks of former Boston & Albany right of way.

Tracking the Light is Daily.

 

Palmer, Massachusetts—The Visual Quandary of the North Side of the Tracks.

In the longer months, there’s nice morning sun on the north side of the tracks at Palmer, Massachusetts and this seems to offer a potentially good vantage point.

There are several interesting structures here: including the former Union Station (now the Steaming Tender restaurant) and the old Flynt building (painted grey and lavender with fluorescent pink trim).

Yet I’ve found that placing a train in this setting rarely yields a satisfactory composition.

Here’s the on-going compromise; using a wide-angle perspective if I place the train far away, it tends to get lost in the scene. And, yet when it’s too close it obscures the old station building. The Flynt building either dominates on the right, or ends up cropped altogether. A telephoto view here presents its own share of complications.

The other day, I turned on to South Main Street in time to see the CSX local freight (symbol B740) west of the New England Central diamond (crossing). This gave me just enough time to park the car, walk briskly across the street, set my exposure and use my FujiFilm XT1 to make this sequence of photos.

CSX local freight B740 has a pair of vintage GP40-2 diesels. To the left of the train is the old Palmer Union Station.
CSX local freight B740 has a pair of vintage GP40-2 diesels. To the left of the train is the old Palmer Union Station.
This closer view obscures the station.
This closer view obscures the station.
The trailing view lack a sense of place. I know this CP83 in Palmer, but really it could be anywhere. It does offer a good view of the antique diesels and the signals, so that's something.
The trailing view lacks a satisfactory sense of place. It is  CP83 in Palmer, but it could be anywhere. Yet, it does offer a good view of the antique diesels and the signals, so that’s something.

Not bad for grab shots, but they still suffer from my visual quandary as described.

Puzzling through these sorts of vexations is part of my process for making better photos. Sometimes there’s no simple answer, but then again, occasionally I find a solution.

In the meantime I present my photos as work in progress.

Brian Solomon’s Tracking the Light is a Daily Blog.

Palmer, Massachusetts Then and Now; 1984-2016.

Conrail SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester at Worcester, Massachusetts) makes a drop at Palmer, Massachusetts on Ma7 6, 1984.
Conrail SEPW (Selkirk to Providence & Worcester at Worcester, Massachusetts) makes a drop at Palmer, Massachusetts on May 6, 1984.

I exposed these two views from almost the same angle on the South Main Street Bridge in Palmer, Massachusetts.

In 1984, Conrail operated the old Boston & Albany, and the main line was then a directional double track route under rule 251 (which allows trains to proceed in the current of traffic on signal indication).

SEPW has stopped on the mainline, while the headend has negotiated a set of crossovers to access the yard and interchange. That’s the head end off in the distance.

I made this 1984 view on Plus-X using a Leica fitted with a f2.8 90mm Elmarit lens.

The comparison view was exposed on July 25, 2016 using  a Lumix LX7 set at approximately the same focal length. Although similar, I wasn’t trying to precisely imitate the earlier view and was working from memory rather than having a print with me on site.

Exposed using my Lumix LX7. I used the ‘A’ mode and dialed in -1/3 to compensate for the bright sunlight and the dark side of the train. This image was extracted from the in-camera Jpeg and compressed for internet viewing, but I also made a RAW file of the same image. Both are to be archived on multiple hard drives.
Exposed using my Lumix LX7. I used the ‘A’ mode and dialed in -1/3 to compensate for the bright sunlight and the dark side of the train. This image was extracted from the in-camera Jpeg and compressed for internet viewing, but I also made a RAW file of the same image. Both are to be archived on multiple hard drives.

Tracking the Light posts Every Day!