Tag Archives: Digital Photography

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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Amtrak 449 at West Warren—Modified RAW file.

Working with my Lumix LX7, I exposed a camera RAW file of Amtrak’s 449 at West Warren, Massachusetts on May 31, 2017.

This location is old hat for me. I’ve made dozens of images of Amtrak here over the years.

Unaltered Camera RAW file. Although this was scaled for presentation, no changes were made in regards to constrast, exposure, color saturation or composition.

Here I’m presenting two versions.

The top is the completely un-modified camera RAW (no changes to color, contrast, shadow or highlight detail) that I converted in Lightroom to a JPG for internet presentation

On the bottom is a modified RAW file (saved as a Jpg for internet presentation). Here, using Lightroom I’ve applied a mask to the sky area to improve the exposure and better pulling in cloud detail, while adjusting for color and saturation.

The modified RAW file, converted to a Jpg for presentation here. The sky has been alternated using a mask, while a semi-circular mask was applied to the nose of the locomotive to minimize the effects of glare.

I applied a small circular mask on the front of the locomotive to reduce the effects of glare. In addition, I made overall changes to contrast, while boosting saturation, and lightening shadows slightly.

The end-effect is a more saturated and pronounced sky, lighter shadows, a slight warming of overall color temperature, and better controlled highlight areas.

If you don’t like these, you can try it yourself sometime. Amtrak 449 passes West Warren daily between 245 and 310 pm

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Acela Sunset: Miracles of Digital by working with a RAW File.

The long days make for photographic opportunity. While modern digital cameras have the ability to capture scenes previously out of reach with film. Yet, sometimes there’s still work to be done after the fact.

The other day, Pat Yough and I were exploring locations along Amtrak’s former New Haven Shoreline at Madison, Connecticut.

 

“Headlight!”

“It’s the Acela.”

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 27mm pancake lens, I had very little time to prepare for my image.

However, the colors of the evening sky attracted my attention and I knew I needed to use a relatively fast shutter speed to stop the action. I set the ISO to 6400, which allowed me to use a 1/500th of second shutter speed at f3.2.

(I set my camera manually.)

While the front of the Acela was exposed more or less as I’d hoped, the sky detail was washed out.

Later, using Lightroom for post processing, I was quickly able to produce three variations of the original image that brought back sky detail.

Admittedly the original file isn’t the sharpest image. But, I find one the great benefits of the digital medium is the ability to go back to the camera RAW file and adjust color and contrast sliders to make for a more pleasing final photograph.

Which of the four photos is your favorite?

This image was made from the unmodified RAW file. RAW represents the data captured by the camera. However, often there is greater detail in the file than is immediately evident.
This image was made from the unmodified RAW file. RAW represents the data captured by the camera. However, often there is greater detail in the file than is immediately evident.
First adjust variation. Using Lightroom, I inserted a digital graduated filter to bring in sky detail and improve color saturation, while making over all adjustments to contrast. I also cropped the image slightly to minimize the intrusive visual elements on the left.
First adjusted variation. Using Lightroom, I inserted a digital graduated filter to bring in sky detail and improve color saturation, while making over all adjustments to contrast. I also cropped the image slightly to minimize the intrusive visual elements on the left.
Second adjusted variation: My overall work was similar to the first adjusted image (above) except I lightened the shadow areas. This is an interesting example of an illustration, but really doesn't convey how the scene appeared to me, as the trees to the left of the Acela were really pretty dark. In other words I've over compensated. This does show the level of information captured by the camera.
Second adjusted variation: My overall work was similar to the first adjusted image (above) except I lightened the shadow areas. This is an interesting example of an illustration, but doesn’t really  convey how the scene appeared to me at the time of exposure:  the trees to the right of the Acela were  pretty dark. In other words I’ve over compensated in my interpretation. It  does show the level of information captured by the camera.
Third adjusted variation. Instead of using a graduated filter, as with the first two adjusted images, I made all my changes globally (in other words equally to the whole image area). I brought down the highlights, darkened the overall exposure, while nominally lightening the shadow regions to keep them from becoming too dark. I ever slo slightly boosted the saturation. While a little darker than the other images, this was is closest to what I saw at the scene. (Also, notice I've run this image full frame without cropping).
Third adjusted variation. Instead of using a graduated filter, as with the first two adjusted images, I made all my changes globally (in other words equally to the whole image area). I brought down the highlights, darkened the overall exposure, while nominally lightened the shadow regions to keep them from becoming too dark. I ever so slightly boosted the saturation. While a little darker than the other images, this was is closest to what I saw at the scene. (Also, notice that  I’ve run this image full frame without cropping).

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Shocking Railroad Photographic Technique? (Hint, if you’re not viewing Tracking the Light, Click the link)

Every so often I like to stir up the muck, open a few eyes, raise a few fists, and perhaps invoke a couple of smiles.

I made this digital photograph using a recently devised camera technique. I created  the image  ‘in-camera’ using my mirror-less FujiFilm X-T1 with the electronic shutter; I did this without unusual external attachments, filters or complicated post-processing manipulation.

So, how did I do it? And why?

Amtrak_train_160_Readville_shocking_photo_DSCF7878

Shocking railroad photograph? Sometimes a technique is so raw, so radical, or so non-conventional, your eyes will grip the results, while your brain tries to add up the dots.

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Working on the Roll: Amtrak Train 94

I’m between Richmond and Ashland, Virginia, sorting out hundreds of digital photos exposed over the last few days in Virginia on the way to my next series of destinations.

The great thing about digital photography is the ability to review your results during the trip. The bad thing is the desire to look at your pictures instead of the scenery out the window.

Through the miracle of on-board wi-fi I can post my photos nearly as I make them.

Amtrak 95 June 9, 2015. Exposed with a Lumix LX7.
Amtrak 95 June 9, 2015.
Exposed with a Lumix LX7.
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Blue LUAS—Connolly Station.

Window in Time, 2012.

LUAS advertising tram at Connolly Station, Dublin on September 7, 2012. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
LUAS advertising tram at Connolly Station, Dublin on September 7, 2012. Exposed with a Lumix LX3. I like the way the tram echoes the color of the sky.

Here was an opportunity. Back in autumn 2012, a single LUAS Citadis tram on the Red Line was dressed in this attractive blue advertising livery.

It was the sort of item you see in the corner of your eye when crossing O’Connell Street, or when boarding a bus heading in the opposite direction, or when gliding by on the DART.

After a while, I had a few lucky moments, where was able to make photographs of this elusive tram.

On September 7, 2012, I saw it heading to the stub-end turn-back terminal at Connolly Station. This was my chance to make a few images.

In addition to this digital photo, I exposed a few Fujichrome color slides for posterity.

Why slides? In my mind, digital photograph remains an ephemeral format; nice to have, nice to work with, but one good zap to the old hard drive and. . . .

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DAILY POST; West Warren Contrasts; 2010 and 2013

Difficulties of Photographing in the Spring and Summer.

That’s just what you want to read about right now, isn’t it!. Gosh, those awful warm months with the long days, soft sunlight and thick foliage.

Well, here I have two views, both made at about the same location off Route 67 in West Warren, Massachusetts at approximately the same time of the morning. Both views show a CSX eastward freight.

On July 31, 2010, an eastward CSXT intermodal train works the former Boston & Albany at West Warren, Massachusetts. At the time heavy line-side brush made photography challenging. Canon EOS 7D.
On July 31, 2010, an eastward CSXT intermodal train works the former Boston & Albany at West Warren, Massachusetts. At the time heavy line-side brush made photography challenging. Canon EOS 7D.
This sequence of photos was made at almost exactly the same location, but after CSXT performed undercutting work and brush cutting along the Boston & Albany route. These views were exposed on the morning of May 10, 2013.
This sequence of photos was made at almost exactly the same location, but after CSXT performed undercutting work and brush cutting along the Boston & Albany route. These views were exposed on the morning of May 10, 2013.
Slightly closer view that nearly approximates the position of the train in the July 31, 2010 photo.
Slightly closer view that nearly approximates the position of the train in the July 31, 2010 photo.

The first was exposed on July 31, 2010; the second two views were made on May 10, 2013. While I’ve used one of these views in a previous post (see: Quaboag Valley in Fog and Sun, May 10, 2013 ), I thought these made for an interesting contrast with the earlier image.

The primary difference is that in the interval between 2010 and 2013 CSXT cut the brush along the Boston line and performed undercutting work at West Warren. This is just one of many locations that benefited visually from such improvements.

A secondary difficulty about photographing when foliage is at its summer peak is selecting the optimum exposure. In the 2010 image, I took a test photo and allowed for some nominal overexposure of the locomotive front in order to retain detail in the foliage. I then made a nominal correction in Photoshop during post processing to make for a more pleasing image.

This is the 'unprocessed' camera-produced Jpg to show the slight 'over exposure' on the locomotive front.
This is the ‘unprocessed’ camera-produced Jpg to show the slight ‘over exposure’ on the locomotive front.

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Tomorrow: CSX in the snow!

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DAILY POST: Trains Meet on a Summer Morning at Cassandra, Pennsylvania.

Pleasant Morning on the West Slope.

In contrast from the iced grip of winter, these photographs were made on June 30, 2010. This was a gorgeous warm summer’s morning; birds twittered the tree branches as the sun light streamed through a gauzy haze to burn away the dew.

I arrived early at the famed ‘Railfan’s Overlook’ to make photographs in the early light of day. In the distance, I could hear the thunder of a heavy train climbing east toward the Allegheny Divide at Gallitzin.

NS unit coal train with Evolution at Cassandra IMG_1734

Norfolk Southern’s busy former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline rarely disappoints, and this morning it was alive with trains.

Using my Canon EOS 7D, I worked the glinting sun to its best advantage as an eastward Pennsylvania Power & Light coal train clawed into view. As it worked the grade, a westward RoadRailer led by former Conrail locomotive glided down grade.

At the back of the coal train were a pair of freshly painted SD40Es making a classic EMD-roar as they worked in run-8 (maximum throttle).

How I wish I was enjoying a warm June morning on the West Slope right now!

 

 A Norfolk Southern coal train, likely destined for Pennsylvania Power & Light’s Strawberry Ridge plant, works west at Cassandra, Pennsylvnia. Canon EOS 7D with 24mm lens, exposed at f4 1/250th second, ISO 200. Back lit morning sun highlights the grass in the foreground.

A Norfolk Southern coal train, likely destined for Pennsylvania Power & Light’s Strawberry Ridge plant, works west at Cassandra, Pennsylvnia. Canon EOS 7D with 24mm lens, exposed at f4 1/250th second, ISO 200. Back lit morning sun highlights the grass in the foreground.

Coal train at Cassandra IMG_1742

Westward Norfolk Southern RoadRailer at Cassandra, Pennsylvania on June 30, 2010. The morning sun has caught the front element of my lens making for a bit of flare. Notice how this fogs the shadow areas and warms up the scene. Hollywood film-makers love this effect.
Westward Norfolk Southern RoadRailer at Cassandra, Pennsylvania on June 30, 2010. The morning sun has caught the front element of my lens making for a bit of flare. Notice how this fogs the shadow areas and warms up the scene. Hollywood film-makers love this effect.
I've stepped back into the shadow of a tree to control lens flare and stopped down my exposure to allow for better highlight detail on the sides of the RoadRailer. The result is a starker less atmospheric image.
I’ve stepped back into the shadow of a tree to control lens flare and stopped down my exposure to allow for better highlight detail on the sides of the RoadRailer. The result is a starker less atmospheric image.
Morning glint illuminates the helpers at the back of coal train. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens, set at 120mm and at f5.0 1/500, ISO 400.
Morning glint illuminates the helpers at the back of coal train. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens, set at 120mm and at f5.0 1/500, ISO 400.

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Interested in learning more about locomotives and viewing more stunning photographs? See my book: Classic Locomotives published by Voyageur Press.

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Daily Post: Amtrak Cities Sprinter Revenue Run, February 7, 2014

 Photos of Amtrak’s Latest.

Yesterday (February 7, 2014), after several months of testing, Amtrak’s new ACS-64 Siemens built ‘Cities Sprinter’ locomotive 600 made its first revenue run on Amtrak train 171 (Boston to Washington).

My dad and I went to Milford, Connecticut on the North East Corridor to catch the new electric. Pop made some B&W photos with his Leica M3 from the east end of the platform. I worked the curve at the west end with my Canons.

I popped off a couple of slides with the EOS 3 with a 100mm telephoto, and exposed two bursts of digital images using the Canon 7D with 20mm lens.

 

Brand new Amtrak electric 600 leads train 171 (Boston to Washington) at Milford, Connecticut at 10:56am February 7, 2014.  Canon 7D with 20mm lens. f4.5 1/2000th second, ISO 200.
Brand new Amtrak electric 600 leads train 171 (Boston to Washington) at Milford, Connecticut at 10:56am February 7, 2014. Canon 7D with 20mm lens. f4.5 1/2000th second, ISO 200.
Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.
Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.
Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.
Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.

Amtrak_171_ACS_64_engine_600_at_Milford_trailing_1_IMG_4213

Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.
Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens. Amtrak ACS 64 number 600.

By the way the 20mm on the 7D has a field of view equal to about a 35mm lens on a traditional 35mm film camera.

The new electric sure looked nice! I’ll be keen to see the B&W photos and slides when they are processed.

After 171 passed, I made a few photos of a Metro-North local, then Pop and I went over to inspect the recently opened Metro-North station at West Haven, where we made a few photos of passing trains.

Did you get to see Amtrak’s latest electric?

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DAILY POST: Vermonter at Dusk


Ethereal View at Millers Falls, January 2014.

Tim Doherty asked me a few weeks back, “Have you ever tried a shot from the north side of the Millers Falls high bridge?” I’d looked a this several times, but was discouraged by the row of trees between the road and the railroad bridge.

Amtrak
Amtrak‘s northward Vermonter crosses the Millers River on January 12, 2014.

So, on January 12, 2014, at the end of the day (light), Tim and I went to this location with the aim of making images of Amtrak’s northward Vermonter crossing the aged Central Vermont span.

 

As there was only a hint of light left, I upped the ISO sensitivity of my Canon EOS 7D and I switched the color balance to ‘tungsten’ (indoor incandescent lighting which has the same effect as using tungsten balance slide film (such as Fujichrome 64T), and so enhances the blue light of the evening.

 

A call to Amtrak’s Julie (the automated agent) confirmed the train was on-time out of Amherst. Running time was only about 20 minutes (a bit less than I thought) but we were in place, cameras on tripods, several minutes before we heard the Vermonter blasting for crossings in Millers Falls.

The result is interpretive. The train’s blur combined with view through the trees and the deep blue color bias makes for a ghostly image of the train crossing the bridge.

Click to see related posts: Dusk on the Grand CanalAmtrak Extra, Millers Falls, Massachusetts, October 22, 2013

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Daily Post: Busy Morning at West Trenton


Photographing on the former Reading Company.

 The word was out that Norfolk Southern’s Pennsylvania Railroad painted heritage locomotive was to work a detoured stack train over CSX’s Trenton Subdivision to avoid a scheduled engineering project at Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Pat Yough and I planted ourselves at the West Trenton, New Jersey SEPTA station in anticipation. A number of other enthusiasts had similar plans, so there was plenty of company.

Railroad station
Former Reading Company station at West Trenton, New Jersey on the morning of January 19, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.
Railway station detail.
Detailed view of West Trenton station. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
West Trenton station's build date is carved in stone. Lumix LX3 photo.
West Trenton station’s build date is carved in stone. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA
A SEPTA train for Philadelphia’s Airport pulls into the West Trenton station. CSXT’s unit oil train K040 with BNSF locomotives waits in the distance. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
CSXT oil train.
After the SEPTA local departed, CSXT KO40 led by BNSF 9688 and 5523 rolls southward through West Trenton. This section of the old Reading demonstrates how freight and passenger traffic can coexist on the same line. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
CSXT symbol freight Q439   works south behind mixed consist of GE and EMD locomotives. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
CSXT symbol freight Q439 works south behind mixed consist of GE and EMD locomotives. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Switchers have become relatively rare items on modern railroads so I made this grab shot of CSXT 1137 as it rolled by. Lumix LX3 photo.
Switchers have become relatively rare items on modern railroads so I made this grab shot of CSXT 1137 as it rolled by. Lumix LX3 photo.
A SEPTA Silverliner V waits to enter West Trenton Station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
A SEPTA Silverliner V waits to enter West Trenton Station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

 

The much anticipated Norfolk Southern detour I5T, (running as CSXT B100-19) works northward through West Trenton. At the back of the train are a pair of NS diesels to aid with reverse moves necessary for the detour arrangements. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
The much anticipated Norfolk Southern detour I5T, (running as CSXT B100-19) works northward through West Trenton. At the back of the train are a pair of NS diesels to aid with reverse moves necessary for the detour arrangements. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

The former Reading station building at West Trenton is now privately owned (and serves a non-railroad function), while the platforms remain active for SEPTA’s regularly scheduled passenger trains to Philadelphia.

When we arrived, morning clouds were giving way to sun. A pair of westward CSX trains was holding just west of the electrified zone and the radio was alive with activity.

In a little more than an hour we caught three SEPTA trains and four freights. This kept me and my three cameras pretty busy. My goal was not just to photograph the trains, but to capture these trains in this classic railroad environment.

Norfolk Southern 8102 was in clean tuscan-red paint at it trailed at the back of nearly two-miles of double stacked containers. Canon EOS 7D with 100 mm lens.
Norfolk Southern 8102 was in clean tuscan-red paint at it trailed at the back of nearly two-miles of double stacked containers. Canon EOS 7D with 100 mm lens.
Trailing with of NS I5T (CSXT B100-19) passing the West Trenton tower.
Trailing with of NS I5T (CSXT B100-19) passing the West Trenton tower. Canon EOS 7D.
CSXT empty oil train K041 works northward behind the detoured stack train. BNSF locomotives make a bit of color in this otherwise drab New Jersey scene. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
CSXT empty oil train K041 works northward behind the detoured stack train. BNSF locomotives make a bit of color in this otherwise drab New Jersey scene. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

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See related posts:  Exploring SEPTATake a Ride on the ReadingPhiladelphia’s Reading Terminal Revisited

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DAILY POST: Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited


“It never gets old”

Amtrak 449, in sun and rain; one day and the next. Last week, I was over in East Brookfield visiting the LeBeaus to do some videography for a music video. Dennis LeBeau lives a block from the Boston & Albany (CSXT’s Boston Line).

I said to Dennis, “I’m just going to nip down to the bridge to catch 449. It should be getting close.”

“Passes here every day at one-thirty. I’ll join you in a minute.”

I phoned Amtrak’s Julie (the automated agent: 1-800-USA-RAIL) to find out if 449 as on time out of Worcester. As it turns out, it departed Worcester Union Station 4 minutes late.

Worcester is at CP45, East Brookfield is CP64. It takes 449 about 25-30 minutes to run the 19 miles.

Since it was nice bright afternoon, I opted for a broadside view that shows a few of the houses in town. At 1:39, Dennis shouted to me from the road bridge, “He’s around the bend.” I was poised to made my photograph with my Lumix LX3.

This can be tricky since there’s really only a split second to get the train in the right place. If the camera isn’t cued up, all I’ll get is a photo of the baggage car. But I was ready, and put the train precisely where I wanted it.

Amtrak's westward Lake Shore Limited at East Brookfield, Massachusetts on January 13, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited at East Brookfield, Massachusetts on January 13, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 at f4.0 1/1600th of a second. I selected a fast shutter speed to insure I stopped the train. When working broadside, the relative motion of the train to the film plane requires a fast shutter speed than when aiming at tighter three-quarter view.

The train glided through town. I turned to make a few going away views with my Canon, and said to Dennis, “You know that never gets old. I’ve been photographing that train since the 1970s.”

Dennis said to me, “I’ve been watching it since it was the New England States Limited, with New York Central E8s!”

A day later, I was in Palmer (CP83). The word was out that Amtrak 145 (one of the Genesis P42s in heritage paint) was working 449. The weather was foul, but since I was in town anyway, I figured I’d give the train a roll by.

It was stabbed at CP83 by a southward New England Central freight going into the yard, which allowed ample time for photos. Such a contrast in days. Pity the heritage P42 hadn’t worked west a day sooner.

Amtrak has painted P42 145 in its 1970s-era scheme. It sits at CP83 in the driving rain waiting for a southward New England Central freight to clear the diamond on January 14, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
Amtrak has painted P42 145 in its 1970s-era scheme. It leads train 449 which is sitting at CP83 waiting for a southward New England Central freight to clear the diamond on January 14, 2014. Driving rain was the order of the day. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

See: Kid with a Camera 1978Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited catches the glint at Palmer, May 28, 1986.

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DAILY POST: Hampden Terminal Railroad featured in O-Scale Railroading Magazine


Making a Model Railway Seem Full Sized.

Boston & Maine 1220 is a locomotive I recall well. The full sized machine was a regular at East Deerfield Yard in the early 1980s.
Boston & Maine 1220 is a locomotive I recall well. The full-sized machine was a regular at East Deerfield Yard in the early 1980s.

Earlier this year, my friend Dan Bigda asked me to make photographs of his magnificent O-scale layout for a feature article in the January 2014 issue of O-Scale Railroading (recently published).

I made several visits and with the help of Dan Bigda and Dylan Lambert, I exposed several hundred digital images with three cameras.

For close ups and macro views I used my Lumix LX 3 and my father’s Lumix LX-7, while for telephoto images, I worked with my Canon EOS 7D.

Most of the scenes were artificially lit with hot lamps. I positioned twin Lowel halogen lights on tripods to emulate natural light. Depending on the scene, I worked with blend of direct light with light diffused with photo umbrellas.

Almost all the photographs required long exposures and most were made with the aid of a tripod.

Dan’s layout features some fascinating structures, and I made a special effort to capture these as well as making images of the trains. Also, Dan has a great collection of O scale freight cars and well weathered locomotives.

The layout recreates the setting of New England industrial railroading as it looked from the late 1960s until the early 1980s.

It's a look back on the early Penn Central years when GP9s still ruled New England branch lines. Canon EOS 7D photo.
It’s a look back on the early Penn Central years when GP9s still ruled New England branch lines. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Hamden Terminal Railroad blends elements from a variety of New England railroads. Equipment includes Mass-Central's Whitcomb 44-ton diesel as well as a good variety of Penn-Central, Conrail and Boston & Maine equipment.
Hampden Terminal Railroad blends elements from a variety of New England railroads. Equipment includes Mass-Central’s Whitcomb 44-ton diesel as well as a good variety of Penn-Central, Conrail and Boston & Maine equipment.
The layouts main attractions include complex mills, factories and warehouses typical of New England mill towns such as Ware, Holyoke, and Lowell, where I often photographed years ago.
The layouts main attractions include complex mills, factories and warehouses typical of New England mill towns such as Ware, Holyoke, and Lowell, where I often photographed years ago.
I exposed this view of Dan's model of the Bondsville trestle using my Canon EOS 7D fitted with 100mm telephoto. I've set up two Lowel halogen lamps; one with an umbrella for an overall diffused light, the other I've focused on the train to simulate afternoon summer sun.
I exposed this view of Dan’s model of the Bondsville trestle using my Canon EOS 7D fitted with 100mm telephoto. I’ve set up two Lowel halogen lamps; one with an umbrella for an overall diffused light, the other I’ve focused on the train to simulate afternoon summer sun.
Freight cars are an important part of Hamden Terminal, so I staged a variety of images that focus on the cars rather than on the O-scale locomotives.
Freight cars are an important part of Hampden Terminal, so I staged a variety of images that focused on the cars rather than on the O-scale locomotives. For these extreme close-up views I used my Lumix LX3 and focused the camera manually. I then set the self-timer to minimize vibration during the exposure. I set the aperture manually, and selected the smallest possible sized aperture hole (which confusingly is identified with the largest ‘f-number’), in this case ‘f 8’. In addition to my lamps, this image has caught a bit of daylight from the windows above the railroad.
I'm partial to pairs of switchers running cabs out.
I’m partial to pairs of EMD switchers running with cabs facing out.

 

Erie Railroad Mallet compound steam locomotives neither fit Dan's period or location, but since he had one of these locomotives on hand, I included it anyway. I'll admit, that the Erie 0-8-8-0 Camelback Mallets are among my favorite steam locomotives and I couldn't resist posing one on the Hamden Terminal!
Erie Railroad Mallet compound steam locomotives neither fit Dan’s period or location, but since he had one of these locomotives on hand, I included it anyway. I’ll admit, that the Erie 0-8-8-0 Camelback Mallets are among my favorite steam locomotives and I couldn’t resist posing one on the Hampden Terminal!

 

For this view I opted to emulate the lighting on a bright overcast day. Penn-Central black seemed to photograph well on dull days so I went with what worked best on the prototype.
For this view I opted to emulate the lighting on a bright overcast day. Penn-Central black seemed to photograph well on dull days so I went with what worked best on the prototype.
I often use the backlit 'glint' effect for my prototype photos, so I thought I'd try this on the O-scale railroad as well. As with the Erie Mallet, Dan's Boston & Albany tank engine doesn't exactly fit with the period, but I like it anyway! For this view I surrounded the engine with New Haven Alco road-switchers since these locomotives may have coexisted in Framingham or South Boston.
I often use the backlit ‘glint’ effect for my prototype photos, so I thought I’d try this on the O-scale railroad as well. As with the Erie Mallet, Dan’s Boston & Albany tank engine doesn’t exactly fit with the period, but I like it anyway! For this view I surrounded the engine with New Haven Alco road-switchers since these locomotives may have coexisted in Framingham or South Boston.
Penn Central makes for a fascinating subject to model. Here I've emulated late afternoon sun using the halogen lamps. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Penn Central makes for a fascinating subject to model. Here I’ve emulated late afternoon sun using the halogen lamps. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Dan's Hamden Terminal is really a big model railway. While many of my photographs are focused on specific scenes, this view gives a sense for the greater railroad.  Lumix LX3 photo.
Dan’s Hampden Terminal is really a big model railway. While many of my photographs are focused on specific scenes, this view gives a sense for the greater railroad with the tracks extending out of the frame at the top right. Lumix LX3 photo.
I exposed this image with natural light. Dan's Warren truss crosses in front of a window making for a nice silhouette.
I exposed this image with natural light. Dan’s Warren truss crosses in front of a window making for a nice silhouette.

 

Check out January 2014, O-Scale Railroading and their website:  http://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com

Special thanks to Dan for the privilege to photograph his models.

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Daily Post: Boston & Maine Revisited

Pan American Railways, November 2013

Thinking up new ideas everyday takes a lot of effort, so today, I’ll rely on clichés and old ideas with a new twist to fill the gap.

Pan Am Railways
Pan Am’s EDPL (East Deerfield, Massachusetts to Plainville, Connecticut) rolls south on the Conn River Line near Hatfield on November 21, 2013.

Back in the day, in the 1980s, I’d wander up to the Boston & Maine at East Deerfield where I’d photograph trains on well-worn rights-of-way led by first and second generation EMDs. I was thrilled to find freight trains on the move!

The poor ‘ol B&M had seen better days. New England had been in industrial decline since World War I. It was my understanding that the old phrase ‘it’s gone south,’—meaning ‘it’s gone to the dogs’—originated when New England’s textile industries began closing and heading to the Carolinas and Georgia. (Never mind Southeast Asia, China and what not).

Guilford Transportation came about and melded Maine Central with B&M and briefly with D&H. For a few years the railroad was really busy. Traffic was on the upswing, new intermodal trains were introduced, and run-through locomotives from D&H, Maine Central, as well as Norfolk & Western/Norfolk Southern became common.

Then a souring passed over the scene. ‘All that glitters is not gold’, as they say (paraphrasing an English poet), and the well-trodden paths to the Hoosac Tunnel and along the Connecticut quieted for a time.

Things changed again with the dissolution of Conrail. Now Guilford is Pan American Railways and Pan Am Southern. Metallic blue paint has begun to replace charcoal and orange. And traffic is on the rise.

Yet to me, while there’s been some changes, the old B&M is a throwback to another time.

Yes, there’s a few new signals, some new welded rail here and there, and some nice fresh ties. Many of the old searchlight signals and signal bridges are gone and here and there the tracks have been trimmed back. But the B&M has the appearance of retro railroad. It’s like classic rock with spin.

Last week, on November 21, 2013, my old friend Paul Goewey and I went up to East Deerfield. It was like old times. First and second generation EMD diesels were moving freight in every direction while decaying vestiges of New England industry could still be found at every turn.

Just sayin’ it seems to me that at the end of the day, it is what it is, and MORE!

Pan Am Railways
Paul Goewey snaps Pan Am’s MOED (Mohawk Yard to East Deerfield) crossing an early 20th century span in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Lumix LX3 photo.
Greenfield, Massachusetts. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Greenfield, Massachusetts. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
These old diesels are the same age as me! (more or less). MOED crawls through Greenfield. The old signal bridges are fading fast.
These old diesels are the same age as me! (more or less). MOED crawls through Greenfield. The old signal bridges are fading fast.
I find the sound of 645 diesels, old bridges and vine-covered bricks in low autumnal light stirs nostalgia within me.
I find the sound of 645 diesels, old bridges and vine-covered bricks in low autumnal light stirs nostalgia within me.
Back in the day I was delighted to find old B&M EMD diesels wearing pre-McGinnis maroon and yellow paint. That was 30 years ago!
Back in the day I was delighted to find old B&M EMD diesels wearing pre-McGinnis maroon and yellow paint. That was 30 years ago!
Railway bridge.
The East Deerfield hump set on the Connecticut River Bridge, November 21, 2013.
Maine Central 507 leads a short eastward freight across the Connecticut River.
Maine Central 507 leads a short eastward freight across the Connecticut River.
Pan Am's ED2 departs East Deerfield for points north on the Connecticut River Line.
Pan Am’s ED2 departs East Deerfield for points north on the Connecticut River Line.
North of Greenfield, ED2 grinds along on its northward plod. New rail and ties are being installed on this line and soon trains will be zipping along. Just like the old days when 'the Boot' (for Bootlegger) connected Washington D.C. and Montreal. (Amtrak's Montrealer). Like, man, its all coming back!
North of Greenfield, ED2 grinds along on its northward plod. New rail and ties are being installed on this line and soon trains will be zipping along. Just like the old days when ‘the Boot’ (for Bootlegger) connected Washington D.C. and Montreal. (Amtrak’s Montrealer). Like, man, its all coming back!
The big chase! Pan Am's EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction, New York) roars west at Wisdom Way in Greenfield. As we'd say, "To the River!" Stay tuned tomorrow for photos of the BIG EDRJ chase west. (What all this in one day?)
The big chase! Pan Am’s EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction, New York) roars west at Wisdom Way in Greenfield. As we’d say, “To the River!” Stay tuned tomorrow for photos of the BIG EDRJ chase west. (What!? All this in one day?)

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DAILY POST: How Do I Find Trains?

A Beginner’s Course in Paying Attention.

I’m often asked, “How do I find trains to photograph?”

CSX's former Boston & Albany mainline at West Warren on Sunday October 20, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.
CSX’s former Boston & Albany mainline at West Warren on Sunday October 20, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.

The short (and not especially enlightening answer) is that I pay close attention to the railway. (Whichever railway I’m photographing). Here are some basic tips:

1) Always pay attention.

2) Carefully study the details of the operation you wish to photograph: Learn when crews are called, how far they normally work, and what is expected of them en route. How long does it take to make a brake test? How long to make a station stop? How long to make a set-out or pick-up? Where are passing sidings and what are the distances between them. Learn about train weights, locomotive performance, and rates of acceleration and braking. Learn grade profiles and how these can affect train speeds. Find out about slow orders (both temporary and those in the timetable). Keep in mind, a scanner can only help you when you understand the information it provides.

3) Use these details to find out how they may affect when trains run.

4) Learn to distinguish good information from poor information.

5) Never assume anything without good solid information.

6) Don’t assume that everyday is the same (but always learn from the passage of trains, make careful notes as to the times trains pass and how long it takes for them to get between stations, and why.).

7) When interpreting schedules, find out how a specific schedule is to be used by the railway in question.

8) Know what questions to ask, and find the right people to ask.

9) Don’t assume that because someone works for a railroad that they are up to date on operations. Railroaders are like photographers, if three of them answer a question, you’ll get four answers.

10) Don’t expect railroaders to: ‘tell you when the train is coming.’ (see number 9).

11) Remember: on a railway plans will change, trains may be delayed, and no day is ever exactly the same (except in Switzerland).

12) Never assume there isn’t a train coming; you’ll be surprised.

13) When a train passes take the time to learn about it. Was it a regularly scheduled move? Was it an unscheduled extra? Was it running to schedule or was it hours late? Is it scheduled to run daily, three times a week or once a year? IF it runs daily, is it scheduled for the same time every day? If it doesn’t run at the same time, find out why.

14) When nearby a railway always use your ears. LISTEN! One of the best tip-offs that a train is approaching are the sounds it makes. Listen for whistles, engines working upgrade, as well as the sounds of braking, and cars clattering. Listen for switch points being moved or other tips that something may be about to happen.

15) Learn a railroad’s signaling and how its signals are expected to normally work. No two signaling systems are exactly the same. Learn when ‘red’ means a train is coming and ‘green’ means one is not (and vice versa!) Also, when ‘yellow’ means you just missed the train you were hoping to see.

16) Remember, a train is coming (but so is Christmas).

17) Put all of the pieces to puzzle into play.

18) Be patient.

19) Be persistent.

20) Take notes.

21) Accept that everyday is a learning experience.

CSX eastward intermodal freight (probably Q012) passes West Warren, Massachusetts on Sunday morning October 20, 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 40mm Pancake lens. A scanner, detailed knowledge of CSX operations, and patience all helped in executing this image.
CSX eastward intermodal freight (probably Q012) passes West Warren, Massachusetts on Sunday morning October 20, 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 40mm Pancake lens. A scanner, detailed knowledge of CSX operations, and patience all helped in executing this image.

More on finding Passenger and Freight trains in future posts.

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Daily Post: CSX Empty Ethanol Train Catches the Light at Brookfield.


Lucky Photograph Exposed October 25, 2013.

An empty CSX ethanol extra rolls west on the former Boston & Albany at Brookfield, Massachusetts on the evening of October 25, 2013. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with f2.0 100mm lens.
An empty CSX ethanol extra rolls west on the former Boston & Albany at Brookfield, Massachusetts on the evening of October 25, 2013. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with f2.0 100mm lens.

Acting fast, I made the most of an extra move. Earlier in the day, I’d stopped in to Tucker’s Hobbies in Warren, Massachusetts on Friday afternoon October 25, 2013. I was there to visit with Rich Reed who was working the counter.

Back in the day, I’d made many Friday trips to Tucker’s to visit with my old friend Bob Buck, proprietor of the hobby shop (and premier Boston & Albany railroad enthusiast). It’s been a little more than two years since Bob took the final train home, but his spirit still smiles on Warren.

I inquired if Rich had seen much on the mainline (CSX’s former B&A route), which passes within sight of Tucker’s. “No, there’s been nothing except the Lake Shore (Amtrak 449 Boston to Chicago).”

These days, east of Springfield, CSX can be very quiet in daylight. There’s a couple of eastward intermodal trains destined for Worcester (symbol freights Q012 and Q022) that make it over the line in the morning, and recently I’ve occasionally seen trains running to Pan-Am Railways via Worcester and Ayer (Q426 eastbound and Q427 westbound).

Departing Warren for East Brookfield, I turned on my old scanner, just in case.

Driving east on Route 9, I’d just passed the State Police Barracks, when the radio crackled, and I heard a key snippet of information, ‘ . . . clear signal CP64, main to main westbound’ (or something along those lines).

I was just east of milepost 67, and now I knew that train was heading west across the Brookfield flats at milepost 64. But the sun was near the horizon and I had to act quickly if I hoped to make a photograph.

Initially, I thought, ‘I’ll head to the Route 148 Bridge at milepost 67’, but I quickly changed my mind because I realized that the tracks swing slightly to the north before reaching milepost 67, and at the late hour in October, the line might be shadowed. I didn’t want to risk it.

Instead, I pulled off of Route 9, near the old Clam Box road-side restaurant. Here, CSX had cleared the right of way of bushes and trees (during recent upgrading and undercutting work to improve clearances.)

Within a couple of minutes the train came into view. It was an extra westward empty Ethanol train, the first I’d seen in many months on CSX. I exposed several digital photos and made a few images with my father’s Leica M4.

It had been exactly four years to the day, since I made the photos of East Brookfield Station that appeared in my post on October 25, 2013. See: East Brookfield Station, October 25, 2009  Coincidence? Not really. I know the foliage and light angles favor the Brookfields at this time of year.

CSX's empty ethanol train catches the glint of the setting sun at Brookfield, Massachusetts. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens at f8 1/500th of a second ISO 200, daylight white balance.
CSX’s empty ethanol train catches the glint of the setting sun at Brookfield, Massachusetts. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens at f8 1/500th of a second ISO 200, daylight white balance.

See tomorrow’s post for action shots at milepost 67.

 

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See my Dublin Page for images of Dublin’s Open House Event in October 2013.

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Pan Am Railways Crosses the Connecticut, October 17, 2013

Two Perspectives from the Same Vantage Point.

 

New England is famous for its autumn foliage. When making railroad photos in the season, are the leaves the subject, the setting or simply background?

On the morning of October 17, 2013, I made a series of photographs of Pan Am Railway’s (Pan Am Southern) westward freight symbol 190ED between Erving and East Deerfield. Leading the train were a pair of SD40-2s in the latest corporate scheme.

I made my way to the former Boston & Maine bridge over the Connecticut River where there was some very colorful foliage in the foreground and background. Incidentally, this is the location of the ‘icon photo’ used to introduce Tracking the Light.

Connecticut River Bridge with foliage.
Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens; f4 at 1/320 second ISO 200.

As the freight eased across the bridge, I had ample time to compose several images. Working with my Canon EOS 7D with 40mm lens, I exposed a non-conventional image focused on some foreground foliage, and used a low aperture to deliberately allow the locomotives to be out of focus.

I then changed my focus to the locomotives and bridge and exposed several more conventional images. I also had time to pop off a color slide with my dad’s Leica M4.

Freight train crossing river.
Pan Am 606 leads the westward symbol freight 190ED across the Connecticut River at East Deerfield, Massachusetts on October 17, 2013. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens; f4 at 1/320 second ISO 200.

I realize that the image focused on the leaves won’t appeal to everyone. But I find it a bit evocative. It’s more about the foliage than the train, yet the train remains the subject. You cannot help but see the engine’s headlights, like evil eyes, peering from beyond the leaves.

As an aside, the lead locomotive interested me. Pan Am 606 is a variation of the SD40-2 produced with a longer than normal short-hood or ‘nose’ to house 1970s-era radio-control equipment. At this point in time this feature is a left over from an earlier time and its original owner. Pan Am neither has  a need to use such locomotives in mid-train remote service, nor is the locomotive like to remain so equipped. But it is a visually distinguishing feature that sets it apart from other locomotives on the railroad.

Tracking the Light posts new material daily.

See Thursday’s News Flash: Massachusetts Central’s Recently Acquired GP38 makes First Revenue Run

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East Brookfield Station, October 25, 2009

 

Last Look at an Old Boston & Albany Station.

On the Morning of October 25, 2009, I brought my brand new Lumix LX3 out for a test run. I had just received my first digital camera and this was a trial to see if it was any good.

I’d bought it on the recommendation of Eric Rosenthal. My initial hope for the camera was to use as a light meter and to make photos of friends.

Lumix LX3 photo.
East Brookfield, Massachusetts looking west on October 25, 2009—four years ago.

That morning I drove to East Brookfield and made this image of the old Boston & Albany station. Two eastward trains came by and I photographed those on film, not trusting the new purchase for anything important.

I later drove around making photos of local architecture in the autumn color. I soon found that the LX3 was an extremely powerful tool capable of very sharp images and useful for making a great variety of railway photos.

Approximately 11 months later, I received a phone call from Dennis LeBeau of the East Brookfield Historic Society: the station had been torched by vandals and gutted. For another year or so the skeletal remains of the building remained trackside as a sad reminder of what had been.

This Lumix image is exactly four years old today. In the interval, since I made this image I’ve released the LX3’s shutter more than 15,000 times.

 

See Yesterday’s News Flash! Massachusetts Central’s Recently Acquired GP38 makes First Revenue Run

Tracking the Light posts new material daily.

See my Dublin Page for images of Dublin’s Open House Event in October 2013.

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Steam to Kilkenny, August 25, 2013—Part 4

Irish Rail Vignettes: Trains From the Train.

RPSI Kilkenny excursion
Approaching Carlow. Canon EOS 7D Photo.

Traveling by special train allows unusual perspectives of otherwise ordinary operations. It allows for images of technological contrasts and angles not normally possible.

The RPSI’s vintage Cravens are ideal rolling platforms from which to make photos because the windows open. Also, since the train travels at more conservative speeds, you have more time to absorb and record the passing scenes.

I’ll often work with a zoom lens and fast shutter speed (1/500th of a second or higher) as to quickly frame an image and stop the action.

Other opportunity for photos are when the train stops for water, to collect or discharge passengers, and other long pauses at station platforms.  All of these images were exposed during the The Marble City express excursion on August 25, 2013.

Inchicore works, Dublin
Stored 201 class diesels at Inchicore. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Irish Rail 081 shunts the RPSI Cravens at Kilkenny as an ICR arrives from Waterford. It's very rare to see a locomotive in Kilkenny since all the regular passenger trains are multiple units and the freight avoids the station. Canon EOS 7D Photo.
Irish Rail 081 shunts the RPSI Cravens at Kilkenny as an ICR arrives from Waterford. It’s very rare to see a locomotive in Kilkenny since all the regular passenger trains are multiple units and the freight avoids the station. Canon EOS 7D Photo.
Irish Rail 081 shunts the RPSI Cravens at Kilkenny
Irish Rail 081 shunts the RPSI Cravens at Kilkenny

 

Mark 4 at Kildare.
Cork to Dublin Mark4 races up-road at Kildare on August 25, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.

 

Cork to Dublin Mark4 races uproad at Kildare with 201 class 232 pushing at the back  on August 25, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Cork to Dublin Mark4 races uproad at Kildare with 201 class 232 pushing at the back on August 25, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Double ended 2700 class railcar 2751 at Inchicore. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Double-ended single 2700-class railcar 2751 at Inchicore. Canon EOS 7D photo.
GAA supporters line the platform at Drumcondra Station.
GAA supporters line the platform at Drumcondra Station. Lumix LX3 photo.
A 29000-series railcar departs Connolly Station.
A 29000-series railcar departs Connolly Station.

 

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Trams of Gent Part 2

One Europe’s Best Settings For Tram Photos.

 

Gent, Belgium.
De Lijn is Gent’s tram operator. Here a 1970s vintage PCC hums along with a church towering above it. Lumix LX3 photo.

It just seemed there was a photo opportunity everywhere I turned.In addition to these digital photos, I exposed a fair few color slides as well.

What’s that? Yes, film. But those images will remain latent (unprocessed) for some time yet.

Gent, Belgium.
A modern tram makes for a contrast with the medieval castle in the distance. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Gent, Belgium.
Gent’s trams roll through the city center every few minutes on regular intervals. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Gent, Belgium.
How many cities feature trams grinding along in front of ancient castles? Anyone? Canon EOS 7D photo.
Gent, Belgium.
Here I experimented with a low angle using my Lumix LX3. Same castle.
Gent, Belgium.
And for a more traditional view, albeit with a wide angle. Another Lumix LX3 photo.

 

Gent, Belgium.
Once out of the old city center, Gent’s trams pass through more recently developed areas of the city. Lumix LX3 photo.

 

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Sun Scorched Irish Extravaganza—Part 3

 

Classic Views of an Historic Irish Trip.

 

In previous posts I focused on the human side of Irish Railway Record Society’s Dublin-Cork excursion on 20 July 2013.

However, I also made my own share of classic views showing Saturday’s railway excursion at identifiable locations. I’ve displayed a few view here. In addition to digital image I also exposed color slides at key locations.

 

 

See posts from the last few days for more views of Irish Railway Record Society’s 20 July 2013 diesel hauled trip on Irish Rail to Cork, Cobh and Midleton.

Irish Railway Record Society special, 20 July 2013.
Irish Rail 071 and 073 with IRRS Special at Templemore on 20 July 2013.
Irish Railway Record Society special, 20 July 2013.
Irish Rail class 071 number 073 led the excursion on the Cork-Cobh leg of the trip. It is seen during a photographers stop at Rushbrooke, County Cork. The best classic views were made from a nearby road bridge. The train was well spotted for photos. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

 

Irish Railway Record Society special, 20 July 2013.
Irish Rail 071 catches the sun at Cobh, County Cork on 20 July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
Irish Rail_071_Cobh_Vert_IMG_0250
A vertical three-quarter view (or near to it) of Irish Rail 071 at Cobh, County Cork on 20 July 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Irish Railway Record Society special, 20 July 2013.
At Kent Station Cork, engine 071 runs around the train and will follow to Middleton. There doesn’t appear to be anyone in my photo and who’s that shouting? oops. 😉
Kent Station, Cork
Irish Rail 073 reflects into a Mark 4 train at Kent Station in Cork on 20 July 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.

 

Irish Railway Record Society special, 20 July 2013.
Operation to Midleton required a bit of shuffle owing to a lack of run around facilities. Presently this is the end of the branch. Normally the only equipment on the line are double-ended railcars. Photos of locomotive hauled trains here are highly prized and photographers vied for position to get the best views. Locomotive 073 which brought the train from Cork can be seen in this distance. Canon EOS 7D photo.

 

A bit of color: 201-class General Motors diesel number 209 (painted for the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise) on a Mark 4 set at Cork on 20 July 2013.
A bit of color: 201-class General Motors diesel number 209 (painted for the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise) on a Mark 4 set at Cork on 20 July 2013.
Irish Rail 071 catches the sun at Cobh, County Cork on 20 July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
Twin 071s couple on to the excursion at Kent Station Cork. The view from the Dublin-end of the shed is among the best in the city. Lumix LX3 photo.

 

Irish Rail 2800s.
Irish Rail’s 2600-series railcars pause at the back of the train shed in Cork. These are typical of the trains normally assigned to Cork suburban services. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Irish Rail 086 rests with a ballast train at Lisduff as viewed on the return trip of the IRRS special.
Irish Rail 086 rests with a ballast train at Lisduff as viewed on the return trip of the IRRS special. Lumix LX3 photo.

 

 

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Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited East of Palmer, Massachusetts

 Difference of Decades

About four miles east of the center of Palmer (Depot Village) CSX’s former Boston & Albany mainline passes a bucolic setting at the bottom of a broad sweeping field as it heads up the Quaboag River Valley. This is best viewed from Route 67, not far east of the split with Route 20.

One summer’s evening more than 30 years ago, my father and I stood out in the field to make a photo of Amtrak’s westward Lake Shore Limited (train 449). Since that time I’ve returned many times to photograph trains.

Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited.
On March 15, 1986, Amtrak’s eastward Lake Shore Limited heads toward Worcester and Boston on Conrail’s former Boston & Albany main line. Exposed on 120 sized black & white film using a Rollei Model T equipped with an f3.5 75mm Zeiss Tessar lens.

I’ve paired two sets of images here. The black & white photograph was made on March 15, 1986 (‘Beware the Ides of March!’). The color images I exposed a week ago Sunday (July 14, 2013).

Among the changes to the scene over the years has been an increase in undergrowth. A more dramatic change was the recent installation of a voltaic farm (solar panels) on the northside of the field. This alteration has greatly changed the character of the place.

According to an article in a recent Palmer Journal Register, perimeter fencing may soon encircle the voltaic farm. Undoubtedly this progress will further improve the photographs made here beyond all previous measures of aethetic virtue.

Passenger train with voltaic farm.
Approaching CP79 (at the east end of the Palmer controlled siding)Amtrak’s eastward Lake Shore Limited—train 448, catches the golden glow of evening as it passes the field along Route 67 east of Palmer, Massachusetts. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D and 40mm pancake lens.
Amtrak with solar panels.
The recently installed voltaic farm adds a lovely rustic quality to this bucolic New England scene. Soon electricity will be pulsing from these panels to the electric power grid reducing all forms of polution in the region.

 

State Line Tunnel, Canaan, New York July 9, 2013

 

Brand New General Electric Locomotives at a Classic Location.

CSX at State Line Tunnel
CSX eastward Q012 at State Line Tunnel on the morning of July 9, 2013. Despite its name, the tunnel is actually several miles west of the New York-Massachusetts border. Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.

On the morning of July 9, 2013, I visited State Line Tunnel on CSX’s former Boston & Albany mainline. This is a favorite place to catch trains in action on the line.

The air was heavy with moisture and as a result sound carried exceptionally well. I arrived at my location at 6:48 am. At 6:54, I could hear an eastward train blowing for a crossing near Chatham, New York, approximately 10 miles to the west (as per the timetable). At 6:56, the train reported a ‘clear’ signal aspect over the scanner.

Since the only signal in the area is located at CP 171 (the control point east end of the siding at East Chatham) I knew the train was about to cross the New York State Thruway. I then could trace the progress of the train as it sounded for various crossings in Canaan. By 7:04 am, I could cleared hear the engines working upgrade.

A 7:08, CSX’s intermodal train Q012 came into view. In the lead were three factory-clean General Electric ‘Evolution-Series’ diesel-electrics in the 3100-series (model ES44AC). As modelers might say, ‘right out of the box.’ Nice!

CSX at State Line Tunnel
A motor drive has its advantages. I made a sequence of images as the Q012 roared eastward. Canon EOS 7D with 40mm pancake lens.
New CSX GE-built ES44ACs.
This is my favorite of the three images. I like the foliage in the foreground which adds depth.

The train roared into the tunnel below me as I exposed a sequence of images with my Canon EOS 7D and 40mm pancake lens. I’d brought a tripod, but opted not to use it, as hand held gave me greater flexibility.

 

About 40 minutes later, I heard a westward train sounding for Stateline crossing. I relocated, and made images of CSX light engines exiting the west portal of the tunnel.

Until late-1988, this line had directional double track. Since then, just a single main track passes through the tunnel. The railroad uses the 1912-era bore, leaving the older 1840s-era bore void of track.

State Line Tunnel
Headlights gleam inside State Line Tunnel.
State Line Tunnel.
State Line Tunnel is a relatively short bore. The twin tunnels were built decades apart, and at one time both bores had twin tracks in them.
New CSX ES44AC at State Line Tunnel.
The tighter view gives a better view of the new engine but obscures the older tunnel portal. Why make one photo when three will do?
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SEPTA’s Number 15 Streetcar

 

PCC’s on Girard Avenue, July 3, 2013.

In 2005, SEPTA re-introduced regular streetcar service to its number 15 route along Philadelphia’s Girard Avenue using historic President Conference Committee (PCC) trolley cars. These are painted in the old Philadelphia Transportation Company’s livery, which ads class to the service.

SEPTA 15 streetcar.
SEPTA’s number 15 Streetcar makes the corner at 26th and Poplar Streets in Philadelphia. Lumix LX3 photo.

My brother Sean lives just a few blocks from Girard Avenue, and on the afternoon of July 3, 2013, we made a project of photographing the cars in service. While on previous trips we’ve gone for a spin, this time we drove, allowing me to make the maximum number of photos in just a limited time. We’ll take another spin on another day soon!

While SEPTA’s Route 15 seems to run on 10-15 minute intervals, not every service has a PCC. At least one of the runs was provided by a bus. I made an image of this as well because I’ve learned from my study of railways, that it is best to photograph everything and sort out the wheat from the chaff at a later date. (In other words don’t judge your subject).

SEPTA Bus on 15 Route.
While anticipating a PCC I was surprise to see that SEPTA was providing some the 15 services with buses. Yet, this is part of the story, so I made an image of the bus too. A streetcar was not far behind. Lumix LX3 photo.
PCC car in Philadelphia.
This is the PCC that followed the bus. Patience paid off. Lumix LX3 photo.
PCC cars in Philadelphia.
SEPTA PCC cars on Girard Avenue cross Broad Street on July 3, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

This trip, I made digital images with my Lumix LX3 and Canon EOS 7D. On previous trips I’ve photographed the Route 15 in black & white using a Leica M4, and made color slides using my Nikons and Canon EOS 3.

PCC car in Philadelphia.
Instead of the destination, this PCC promotes the Philadelphia Phillies. Lumix LX3 photo.
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Metro North Anniversaries—Part 2

 

Grand Central Terminal and the Hudson Line.

Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central’s colossal architecture exudes magnificence. Lumix LX3 photo.

New York City’s Grand Central Terminal is unquestionably America’s best known railway station. This year it celebrated its 100th anniversary.

The station is also probably the most photographed in the USA. At any given time tourists and visitors are actively making images of its awe inspiring interior.

On the evening of June 29, 2013, I joined the masses in their image making crusade.

I also took a spin up the Hudson Line to Tarrytown, where I made some twilight views of Metro-North.

Grand Central’s most memorable feature is its grand concourse, a vast interior space intended to accommodate tens of thousands pedestrians daily.
Grand Central’s most memorable feature is its grand concourse, a vast interior space intended to accommodate tens of thousands pedestrians daily.

Working with both my Lumix LX3 and Canon EOS7D, I made a variety of digital images. These may soon augment my older images of Grand Central and Metro-North.

Tarrytown, New York.
Metro-North at Tarrytown, New York on June 29, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
Metro-North train.
Metro-North M7 multiple unit glides into Tarrytown, New York. Canon EOS7D with 40mm pancake lens.
Grand Central Terminal.
Passengers flood from a Hudson Line train on Grand Central’s upper level. Lumix LX3 photo.
MTA Metro-North Railroad.
MTA Metro-North Railroad.
Grand Central New York City
Grand Central’s exterior is faced with a blend Bedford limestone and Stony Creek granite. Atop this façade is an enormous neo-classical sculpture of Mercury, Minerva and Hercules that incorporates a huge clock—Time keeping, is of course, integral with railway travel. Canon 7D with 40mm Pancake lens.
Grand Central's concourse.
Grand Central ceiling features a unique depiction of the Mediterranean Zodiac as interpreted by French painter Paul Helleu. Lumix LX3 photo.
The ghost of an early twentieth century bicycle enthusiast crosses Grand Central's  concourse. Lumix LX3.
The ghost of an early twentieth century bicycle crosses Grand Central’s concourse. Lumix LX3.
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Wisconsin & Southern on the old Milwaukee Road at Sun Prairie

 

Here the Atlantics Once Rolled.

Dick Gruber did the driving, John offered historical context, while I made notes. We all made photos. I was working with three cameras; my EOS-3 film camera loaded with Provia 100F slide film, my EOS 7D digital camera, and Lumix LX-3.

John Gruber, says as we inspect a grade crossing near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, ‘Passenger trains were allowed 75mph through here. The Hiawatha’s Atlantics worked here towards the end. It was probably the last regular trains they worked. When I saw them they were pretty dirty.’

Wisconsin & Southern
Wisconsin & Southern’s westward freight L464 hits the a highway crossing near Deansville, Wisconsin on June 1,4 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

Visions of high-speed service on this route were revived in recent years (as part of a Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison route) then dashed again when political philosophy interfered with transport reality. Track speed is 10mph, and the only service is Wisconsin & Southern’s (WSOR) local freights.

WSOR freight
Wisconsin & Southern’s westward freight L464 near Sun Prairie. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens.

We drove from DeForest, pausing for lunch near Sun Prairie, to a lightly used grade crossing near Deansville where we intercepted the WSOR local freight. This was hauled by a clean pair of GP38s clattering upgrade with a long string of ballast cars and mixed freight at the back.

WSOR’s burgundy and silver makes for a pleasant contrast with rural scenery. I can only imagine what it was like with a streamlined A1 Atlantic clipping along with light-weight passenger cars at speed. Different worlds.

 

Wisconsin & Southern
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin: Wisconsin & Southern’s westward freight L464 drops down the grade from Deansville. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens.
Wisconsin & Southern's westward freight L464 at Sun Prairie. Lumix LX-3.
Wisconsin & Southern’s westward freight L464 at Sun Prairie. Lumix LX-3.
WSOR GP38 number 3801
Detailed view of WSOR GP38 number 3801 at Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Lumix LX3 photo.

See yesterday’s popular post on Wisconsin’s DeForest Station. 

 

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Chicago by Night

An Exercise In Using High ISO.

Chicago is well suited for night photographs. On the evening of June 11, 2013, Chris Guss and I took advantage of warm and windless weather to make a variety of railway images in the downtown area.

I employ a variety of techniques to make night photos. This evening, however, I emphasized my Canon EOS 7D and turned up the ISO to unusually high settings in order to stop the action.

Chicago at night
Union Station as viewed from Roosevelt Road. Exposed with my Canon EOS 7D with a 70-200mm f2.8 zoom lens at f2.8 1/40th second, ISO 6400 Camera was firmly mounted on a tripod.

Where color slide film essentially topped out at 400 ISO. My 7D allows me to dial in up to 6400 ISO. Does this offer the same clarity of ISO 100 or 200? No, of course not. But, it’s not so bad either. Is this high ISO technique the only  way to make night photos? Hardly, there are many good ways to go about exposing images at night and this is just one.

Night photo in Chicago.
An Amtrak train passes CP 21st at Chicago’s 21st Street Bridge. Handheld Canon EOS 7D with a 40mm pancake lens, 1/6th second at f.3.2 5000 ISO. It helps to have a rock steady hand.