Tag Archives: Czech Republic

Czech Outtakes Part 1

On my  more than a half dozen trips to the Czech Republic I’ve made hundreds of photos of Czech Railways in action.

Here are a couple of outtakes from the selection of Czech photos considered for my book on European Railway Travel.

Both were exposed digitally in October 2016.

Czech class 380 electric in a nostalgic livery at Breclav, Czech Republic.
CD trains on the move at Grygov, Czech Republic.

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A Hint of Colour at Zebreh.

An eastward EuroCity express passenger train running with Slovakian equipment takes the curve on approach to the station at Zebreh, Czech Republic.

It’s mid-October and the trees hint of autumn.

I exposed this view using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera set to the pre-programmed Velvia colour-profile.

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Czech it Out: Something Old, Something New.

Lomapan is a Czech film that’s been around for a long time. Until my recent trip to the Czech Republic, I’d never tried it before, so it was in effect new to me.

These days finding any kind of film can be a challenge. But having the opportunity to try a completely different type of film is a rare treat for me.

I bought several 35mm rolls of Lomapan at Fotoskoda in Prague.

These are a sampling from one roll of Lomapan Classic (ISO100) exposed at the station in Drahotuse, Czech Republic with my Canon EOS-3

My visit there was on a misty afternoon, which made for an ideal setting to expose a few black & white images. I gave the digital cameras a work out as well, but I’ll save those images for another occasion.

Ceske Drahy (Czech Railways) station at Drahotuse, Czech Republic. Canon 40mm pancake lens.
České Dráhy (Czech Railways) station at Drahotuse, Czech Republic. Canon 40mm pancake lens.
Czech Railways logo. 100mm Canon lens.
Czech Railways logo. 100mm Canon lens.
A passenger train looms out of the mist at Drahotuse. 100mm Canon lens.
A passenger train looms out of the mist at Drahotuse. 100mm Canon lens.

I processed the film in Dublin using Ilford ID11 stock solution mixed one to one with water. Overall I’m impressed with the film’s tonality. I scanned the negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.

Art of the Short Pan—Working at Dusk.

As the light fades, conventional daylight photographic techniques  begin to fail to yield  satisfactory results.

In other words, you’ll end up with dark and/or blurry photos using standard settings.

One solution is the pan photo. I’ve described this previously, but I’ll reiterate because I’m often asked how this is accomplished.

Manually select a comparatively slow shutter speed. For novice pan photographers, I’d suggest working at between 1/30th and 1/60th of a second. This is what I’ll call a ‘short pan’. A long pan is more difficult to execute and can be accomplished with speeds up to about 1 second.

One of the most effective types of pan is where the front of the subject is sharp, but the rest of the scene is offset by a sea of blur.

Pick a point in your frame where you’ll place the front of the subject and as the subject passes keep it at that point, all the while moving your camera with the subject. Release the shutter while the camera is moving.

A Ceske Drahy (Czech Railways) electric passes Lysa nad Labem at dusk. This is a trailing view of a locomotive at the back of a train. For this image I used my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a 27mm pancake lens. This is approximately equivalent to a 40mm lens in old 35mm camera terms. My ISO was set to 800, shutter speed was 1/60th of second. Note the position of the front of the locomotive within the frame. This is a key to the success of the panned image.
A Ceske Drahy (Czech Railways) electric passes Lysa nad Labem at dusk. This is a trailing view of a locomotive at the back of a train. For this image I used my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a 27mm pancake lens. This is approximately equivalent to a 40mm lens in old 35mm camera terms. My ISO was set to 800, shutter speed was 1/60th of second. Note the position of the front of the locomotive within the frame. This is a key to the success of the panned image.

A common problem occurs when the photographer stops moving as the shutter is released, which tends to result in a messy unsophisticated blur. Keep panning even after you release the shutter.

Remember to pan with your whole body in a uniform smooth motion.

Don’t hit the shutter button aggressively as that will result in an up-down blur that diminishes the overall effect.

It helps to practice panning.

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Diesel Classics; Czech Goggles.

Among the European diesels with the most distinctive styling are the Czech class 750 (and related classes 753/754/755).

These are colloquially known as ‘Goggles’ because of their extended cab profile.

Last month (October 2016), I was pleased to find a variety of Goggles working freight and passenger services, many of them in fresh paint.

CD Cargo 'Goggles' at Kralupy nad Vitavou. FujiFilm XT1 digital photograph.
CD Cargo ‘Goggles’ at Kralupy nad Vitavou. FujiFilm XT1 digital photograph.
CD Cargo 'Goggles' at Kralupy nad Vitavou. FujiFilm XT1 digital photograph.
CD Cargo ‘Goggles’ at Kralupy nad Vitavou. FujiFilm XT1 digital photograph.
CD class 750 at Zebreh, Czech Republic.
CD class 750 at Zebreh, Czech Republic.
CD class 750 at Zebreh, Czech Republic.
CD class 750 at Zebreh, Czech Republic.
CD class 750 at Zebreh, Czech Republic.
CD class 750 at Zebreh, Czech Republic.
Pushing an empty passenger train in Prague. FujiFilm XT1 digital photo.
Pushing an empty passenger train in Prague. FujiFilm XT1 digital photo.

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An hour and a half at the Station.

Often when I seek places to photograph, variety is a goal. In other words, I’m not just looking for a steady parade, but also lots of different kinds of trains.

Railways in Czech Republic offer great variety. One of my favorite lines is the route that connects Děčín (in the northern part of the country near the German frontier) with Kolin (an important junction 60 kilometers east of Prague).

This secondary route bypasses the Czech capital and serves as a reasonably busy freight corridor. I’d photographed this line at various locations in 2009 using color slide film

On 14 October 2016, Denis McCabe and I re-visited the line and spent an hour and half at the rural station in Stará Boleslav, located in the Labe River Vallay across from Brandys nab Labem.

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The building was a tired but classic structure with lots of character. In addition to mainline action we were entertained by a man unloading some coal wagons for local delivery.

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We arrived by local passenger train and departed with the next scheduled eastward local.

Below is a selection of images I exposed digitally with my FujiFilm X-T1 and processed with Lightroom to improve contrast, color balance and color saturation.

4:05 pm a westward local paused for a station stop with a specially painted electric.
At 4:05 pm a westward local paused for a station stop with a specially painted electric.
4:06pm. Car loads of coal were being unloaded for local delivery.
4:06pm. Carloads of coal were being unloaded for local delivery.
4:16 pm. A westward CD Cargo coal train glides through.
4:16 pm. A westward CD Cargo coal train glides through.
4:20pm. The coal train was immediately followed by this IDS Cargo tank train with an ancient but colorfully painted electric.
4:20pm. The coal train was immediately followed by this IDS Cargo tank train with an ancient but colorfully painted electric.
At 4:24 pm, on the heals of the tank train was this CD Cargo train of new automobiles.
At 4:24 pm, on the heals of the tank train was this CD Cargo train of new automobiles.
4:32pm another westward local passenger train makes its stop.
4:32pm another westward local passenger train makes its stop.
Czech Railways use a blue light for 'stop' on their shunting signals.
Czech Railways use a blue light for ‘stop’ on their shunting signals.
5:01 pm, a diesel powered maintenance train rattles by eastbound.
5:01 pm, a diesel powered maintenance train rattles by eastbound.
5:14pm an electric in one of the older CD liveries leads a coal train eastbound.
5:14pm an electric in one of the older CD liveries leads a coal train eastbound.
5:34pm, our local train approaches as the station master looks on.
5:34pm, our local train approaches as the station master looks on.

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Classic Lines Marred by Graffiti—Rostoky.

Czech Republic is an amazing place to watch, experience and photograph railways in action.

The mix of traditional architecture, a great variety of trains combined with heavy traffic made for lots of visual opportunities. Over the coming weeks I’ll present samples of my most recent Czech photos on Tracking the Light

On 14 October 2016, Denis McCabe and I visited the station at Rostoky, located northwest of Prague.

Among the attractions of this location is that it is a termini for some electric suburban services that still use the classic streamlined Ceski Drahi (Czech Railways) class 451 electric multiple units.

Unfortunately, one of the arriving  451s had been unofficially decorated which marred its classic lines. Undaunted, I made my photographs none-the-less.

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I made these images with my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with 18-135mm lens.

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Tram Noir—Olomouc, October 2016.

 

A brisk autumnal wind blew through cobblestone streets in Olomouc, Czech Republic.

I wandered with camera in hand, making images of trams grinding along in the dark of night.

These images were exposed on Fuji Neopan 400 using a Canon EOS-3.

I processed the film using Kodak HC-110 diluted 1-64 with water, with an extended pre-soak featuring an extremely dilute developer to help process shadow areas.

By design, my results are grainy and heavily textured to accentuate the effect of harsh lighting on the cobblestones and ancient buildings of the old Moravian capital.

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Praha Hlavani Nadrazi by Night

Last week, I made these photos at Prague’s Main Station using my Lumix LX7.

To make this view, I used one of the station shed supports to position my Lumix LX7 and hold it steady during the length of the exposure.
To make this view, I used one of the station shed supports to position my Lumix LX7 and hold it steady during the length of the exposure.
Among the station's architectural attractions are its arched entryway and domed waiting room. Since my visit in 2000 this dome has been restored to its former glory. Lumix LX7 view looking up.
Among the station’s architectural attractions are its arched entryway and domed waiting room. Since my visit in 2000 this dome has been restored to its former glory. Lumix LX7 view looking up.
A CD passenger train waits under the twin span arched train shed. This angle was made by placing the Lumix on the station platform to hold the camera steady during the relatively long exposure. To minimize camera shake I used the self timer (set to 2 seconds).
A CD passenger train waits under the twin span arched train shed. This angle was made by placing the Lumix on the station platform to hold the camera steady during the relatively long exposure. To minimize camera shake I used the self timer (set to 2 seconds).
A double-deck suburban electric multiple unit decorated to commemorate an anniversary of Czech Railways basks in the evening glow at the south end of Prague's Main Station. Lumix LX7 photo.
A double-deck suburban electric multiple unit decorated to commemorate an anniversary of Czech Railways basks in the evening glow at the south end of Prague’s Main Station. Lumix LX7 photo.

I featured : Praha Hlavani Nadrazi (Prague Main Station) in my recent book Depots, Stations & Terminals published by Voyageur Press.

See: https://www.quartoknows.com/books/9780760348901/Railway-Depots-Stations-Terminals.html

Here’s and excerpt of my text:

In 1919, Prague main station was renamed Wilsonova Nádrazi in honor of American president Woodrow Wilson. The name was dropped after German annexation and occupation during World War II, and appears to have been forgotten during the postwar period of Soviet influence that prevailed until the Czech Velvet Revolution in November 1989. The name change was the least of the station’s problems. During this dark period of Czech history, the station was allowed to deteriorate and by the mid-1990s was a dismal shadow of its former glory.

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Postcards from Prague—Trams at Night.

You know you’re having a photographically productive trip when you have a week’s worth of keepers after the first evening out.

Prague, Czech Republic is among the world’s great tram cities.

It’s hard to beat for its variety of cars and paint liveries, combined with stunning urban scenery, a large of number of routes and extensive route mileage (kilometerage?), plus intensive frequency of operation.

I’ve visited before, but I’m still stunned by observing the incredible number of trams gliding through the streets. This is among the most interesting urban railways, anywhere.

Here’s just a few photos from my Lumix LX7 exposed on a rainy evening in Prague.

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Prague Dawn.

In January 2009, Tim Doherty, Denis McCabe and I made photos at a suburban branch station called Praha-Ruzyne, situated west of Prague’s historic center and near the Vaclav Havel (international) Airport. A wire operated semaphore caught my interest.

This scene presents a lesson in composition. It was a visually interesting but stark environment to make photographs.

The Czech capital is a fascinating city with some of Europe’s finest architecture. Unfortunately, none of this is present at Praha-Ruzyne, which is characterized by urban development stemming from the country’s austere period of Soviet-influence.

I opted to work in silhouette and exposed this color slide for the highlight areas of the sky while allowing shadow areas to go black and be virtually free from distracting detail.

  Photograph made using a Canon EOS 3 with 100mm lens and Fujichrome slide film.

Photograph made using a Canon EOS 3 with 100mm lens and Fujichrome slide film.

My challenge was placing the semaphore mast and blade in a position that makes it most prominent. I’ve balanced the composition by putting this signal diagonally opposite from the diesel railcar at lower right. The red lights on the back of the railcar immediately attract the eye, while the semaphore draws it back again.

In the middle is a lone figure crossing the line which both adds a prominent human element that offers a sense of scale, while imposing a poetic element of; ‘man versus his environment’.

The trackage arrangement makes for a complex pattern that reflects the light of the morning sky . On the hill above the train is a large building that hints at the greater urbanity of the scene. Without it, the image might be mistaken for a photo of a rural village.

Two specially difficulties were the array of vertical lighting masts which distract from the semaphore, and the railing along the line that visually interferes with the trackage, but adds a layer of depth.

The trees in the distance beyond the tracks are slightly diffused by morning haze and contribute to sense of depth—an especially important element in this silhouetted view, which would otherwise be flattened by the minimalism imposed by my choice of exposure.

How might this image compare with one at the same location exposed on a bright summer afternoon?

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Brian Solomon’s Night Photo Challenge-Part 4.

Misty Night in the Old Moravian Capital.

Trams pause in the fog at the Olomouc main station. This former provincial capital is now in the Czech Republic, located about three and one half hours east of Prague. It enjoys an excellent passenger service with direct trains to many Czech cities. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Canon EOS 3 fitted with a 100mm lens. Contrast and colour adjusted in post processing.
Trams pause in the fog at the Olomouc main station. This former provincial capital is now in the Czech Republic, located about three and one half hours east of Prague. It enjoys an excellent passenger service with direct trains to many Czech cities. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Canon EOS 3 fitted with a 100mm lens. Contrast and colour adjusted in post processing.

Olomouc—known as Olmütz in the day of the old Hapsburg Empire when it was the capital of Moravia—is an ancient city dating back to Roman times. I found it an exceptionally photogenic small city.

In January 2009, Denis McCabe and Tim Doherty visited Olomouc on a week-long photographic trip to central Europe. On the evening of our arrival from Prague, a heavy fog had settled across the city, making its eclectic architecture, Soviet Era trams, and well worn cobblestone street even more evocative.

We spent several hours walking around in the mist.

Olomouc, Czech Republic, January 2009. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Canon EOS 3.
Olomouc, Czech Republic, January 2009. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Canon EOS 3.

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Stay tuned for the final episode  in my ‘Night Photo Challenge’
For tomorrow’s image, I’ve used  atypical techniques.
I wonder if anyone will notice what I’ve done?

 

 

Daily Post: Trams in Prague, May 2000

Classic Tatras in a Picturesque Urban Setting.

I spent several days exploring Prague in Spring 2000. Unlike many cities in Western Europe, Prague escaped widespread damage during World War II and much of the historic city center has retained its classic architecture.

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Semi-streamlined Tatra T3 trams were standard when I visited in May 2000. Most were painted in the traditional red and cream livery.

Prague also has an extensive public transport network, including an underground metro, suburban and long distance heavy rail services, and one of Europe’s largest tram systems.

The combination of great architecture in a scenic setting along the Vlatva River and well-maintained Tatra trams allowed for many photographic opportunities. The trams also afforded me convenient transport.

I quickly discovered that although beer in the city center was cheap by western standards, it could be obtained for about a third the price and in greater varieties in the suburbs. I also found the Czech’s very personable and so spent several great days wandering around in good company.

I exposed these images with my Nikon F3T on Fujichrome Sensia. I calculated exposure manually using my Sekonic Studio Deluxe hand-held photo cell.

A pair of T3s grind across the Vlatva River on a bright May 2000 day.
A pair of T3s grind across the Vlatva River on a bright May 2000 day. The leading car was only about 10 years old at the time of the photograph.
The T6 Tatras have a boxier car body than the T3s, but added a bit of variety to the photographs.
The T6 Tatras have a boxier car-body than the T3s, but added a bit of variety to the photographs.
Prague has a tram museum and while I was wandering around I saw several historic cars on the city streets.
Prague has a tram museum and while I was wandering around I saw several historic cars on the city streets.
The red and cream Tatras reminded me of my father's adventures photographing PCC cars in Pittsburgh in the early 1960s.
The red and cream Tatras reminded me of my father’s adventures photographing PCC cars in Pittsburgh in the early 1960s.
Tram frequency was excellent and I never waiting long for a car to appear.
Tram frequency was excellent and I never waited long for a car to appear.

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Beer on the Train; Czech Republic, September 2008.

Before boarding  the eastward České Dráhy train IC540  Hutnik at Olomouc for Prague, I bought a few bottles of famous Czech beer to improve my passage. Unlike amply fitted passenger carriages in the Ukraine, CD appears to expect their passengers will supply their own bottle openers. I improvised. Near Kolin I made this image with my Canon EOS-3 and 24mm lens. I focused and exposed manually, using my Minolta Mark IV handheld light meter. Fuji Provia 100F was the media for recording. Since my bottle of Gambrinus was the topic of the moment, I opted for select focus. Not all railway images need to center on trains.

 

Gambrinus beer on an eastward CD train.
Gambrinus beer on IC540 Hutnik.

Tram in Olomouc, Czech Republic, 2008.

Canon EOS-3 with f2.0 100mm lens on Fujichrome Provia100F slide film. This was metered manually to emphasize the cobble stone street.
Canon EOS-3 with f2.0 100mm lens on Fujichrome Provia100F slide film. This was metered manually to emphasize the cobble stone street.

Olomouc is a moderately-sized city off the beaten path in today’s Czech Republic. Historically it was the capital of Moravia in the old Hapsburg Empire and shares an architectural heritage with the Czech capital, Prague. Yet, it is a more compact, digestible version of Prague. The tourists haven’t ‘discovered’ Olomouc, and it has all those old-world central European qualities that I find fascinating and exciting to photograph, including a classic tram system. I’ve visited several times and this image was made shortly after sunrise on a September 2008 trip. Cobblestones make for a classic foreground as a Tatra T3 tram grinds its way from the railway station toward the city center. Olomouc has several tram routes and service is very frequent.

 

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