I tried to pick and exciting sounding title! These are some more of my thoughts on railroad night photography, the nuts and the bolts:
The other evening at Clontarf Road in Dublin, I was experimenting with various ISO settings in preparation for a more serious photo I was about to expose under the wires on Irish Rail.
Normally with my Lumix LX7, I limit the ISO settings to between 80 and 200, because this camera tends to get noticeably noisy/grainy at the higher settings.
Higher ISO increases the effective sensitivity of the sensor but does so at the expense of image quality, especially in regards to exposure latitude and noise. (Technically that’s not exactly correct, but for the sake of space and clarity that’s how I’m going to explain it here.)
In my night situation using a higher ISO setting will allow me a faster maximum shutter speed, which I need to stop a train in motion. Yet with each one-stop increment the image quality suffers more severely.
Keep in mind with each doubling of the ISO, the camera gains one stop: So, ISO 100 to 200 is one stop, 200 to 400 one stop, etc; and each jump allows an equivalent one stop increase in shutter speed. So in the lighting conditions at my location and using my LX7 aperture set at f1.4, ISO 100 allowed 1/15 of a second; ISO 200 1/30th; ISO 400 1/60th; ISO 800 1/125. Obviously, I needed to go higher than ISO 200 to stop the action. (Or simply pan the train, but that’s a story for another post).
Here are two views of static DART electric trains in low light that I made simply as comparison tests to see how the higher ISO setting compared visually. (Ignore the minor variations in composition).
At the small size displayed for internet viewing there’s only a slight difference. One is at the camera’s minimum ISO setting which is 80; the other is at 800, which three and a third stops faster.
Pearse Station features a capacious Victorian-era balloon-style train shed. Presently this is under-going restoration making for seen very different scene today than this one that I exposed 21 years ago.
I was very impressed by the Pearse Station shed and exposed a number views to make the most of the structure.
This is among my favorites. I’m standing near the south entrance to the shed, and the illumination effects resulting from combination of the broad southward opening and skylights produce an excellent effect on the train and platforms.
My composition is simple, yet clever. I’ve centered the DART train— which some photographers would frown upon, insisting instead on arbitrary placement using rules of thirds or other preconceived notions—and so made the most of the train shed, which is really the subject of my image.
By allowing for greater amounts of interior space to the right of the train, I’ve caused visual tension, while helping to expand the space in the photograph occupied by train shed. This draws the eye away from the train, while the lighting on the front of the train pulls the eye back. Placement of the rails to the lower right corner has another effect, allowing the eye to follow lines of perspective back to the north opening of the shed.
A novice artist might crop this image by cutting the space to the right of the train, moving the corner from the rails, and thus spoiling the intended effects while placing greater emphasis on the DART train, and in so doing ruining my intended composition.
Here’s a late 1990s view on Amiens Street in Dublin in front of Connolly Station.
The 1980s-era DART electric suburban train isn’t remarkable; except for a nominal change of paint and end lights, these cars look much the same today.
However, so much else has changed, which makes the photo look dated, and fascinating now.
I exposed this Fujichrome colour slide using my Nikon F3 with 135mm lens, probably in the Spring of 1998, and no later than Spring 1999. At the time of exposure, the scene seemed so unremarkable, I didn’t bother to put a date on the slide mount.
At dusk on the evening of March 2, 2017, I exposed this view of the River Liffey in Dublin.
An Irish Rail DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) electric train is crossing the Loop Line bridge on its way to Connolly Station.
The most prominent elements of the image are the Custom House, an 18th century relic of the British Imperial presence in Ireland, and coloured lights reflecting in the Liffey. The railway takes a secondary role.
When the Loop Line bridge was built in the late 19th century, pundits moaned that it spoiled the view of the Custom House. Were they lazy or just being ironic?
The Dublin and Kingstown Railway dates to 1834, which makes it among the earliest steam railways built outside of England.
Today the route composes a part of Irish Rail’s electrified Dublin Area Rapid Transit system. Outer suburban and Intercity trains (to Rosslare), plus occasional Railway Preservation Society Ireland steam trains also use the line.
Much of the old D&K is scenically situated along the Irish Sea, yet the electrification masts and wires, combined with sea walls, fences, graffiti and suburban growth can make it difficult to obtain a satisfactory vista with the line.
In late August, I rode the DART from Tara Street Station to Blackrock, where I exposed these views using my FujiFilm XT1.
Here, soft afternoon lighting helped minimize obtrusive elements, but there’s little in the photographs that convey the historic significance of the line.
The challenge continues . . .
Tracking the Light offers a daily views on railway photography.
The other evening some friends and I traveled from the Dublin city centre to Blackrock on the DART-Dublin’s electrified suburban rail-transit service.
The DART branding mimic’s the Bay Area’s third-rail rapid transit brand ‘BART’ (Bay Area Rapid Transit).
While sometimes my rail travel is focused on the making of photos, this trip had another primary purpose; yet with my Lumix LX7 at the ready, I used every opportunity to make photos.
Significantly, Dublin’s Pearse Station, formerly-known as Westland Row, is credited as the world’s oldest city terminus in continuous use. It was opened in 1834 with the Dublin & Kingstown Railway. Of course, the D&K has the distinction as the world’s earliest operating suburban railway.
Yesterday, November 20, 2015, I located my notebook from August 1990. I opened it at random, trying to find some information on photographs I made on Donner Pass that year. Instead I found this observation dated August 7th:
I think digital photography is the future of photography in several areas, but to some extent silver photography will always exist.
Today, I processed two rolls of Fuji Across 100 that had been sitting on my desk for more than year.
Among the photographs was this self-portrait I exposed at Connolly Station, Dublin on April 21, 2014.
In 1984, the DART began electric services between Howth and Bray. This offered an improvement to existing Dublin suburban services by wiring existing routes. The service was later extended to Greystones and Malahide.
The line between Pearse Station (formerly Westland Row) and Dún Laoghaire (formerly Kingstown) had been opened in 1834 and is considered the world’s oldest suburban railway.
The hum of DART’s electric multiple units are a familiar tone of Dublin transport.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve made several images of DART trains during my travels around Dublin. All were exposed with my Canon EOS 7D.
While waiting for my southward train, an 8600-series DART set pulled into platform 6. It was the first DART set that I’ve seen featuring the new Irish Rail logo.
This logo was introduced a few months ago, and thus far I’d seen it on some of the Mark IV and 22000-series Intercity trains as well as a few ‘HOBS’ ballast wagons (HOBS is an Irish Rail abbreviation for ‘high-output ballast system’).
The sun was out brightly, which made for a good opportunity to document this nominal change.
The all-black variation of the logo on the front of the DART car is different from what I’ve seen on other equipment.
From my experience, It’s always a wise move to photograph these types of changes as soon as they appear, because you never know when some little change might turn out to be a short-lived one-off.