Working with a Nikon F3 with f1.4 50mm lens loaded with Fomapan 100 Classic, I exposed these portraits of some of the men working Railway Preservation Society’s 18 March 2019 trips from Dublin Connolly Station to Maynooth.
I processed the film in a non-standard way to obtain a period look while giving photos optimal tonality in a contrasty situations.
First: I pre-soaked film it in a very dilute bath of Kodak HC110 (measured 3 parts per 1000 with water, plus wetting agent) for about 7 minutes at 72 F;
Second: primary developer consisted of Ilford ID-11 1 to 1 with water at 69 F for 6 minutes;
Third: following stop bath, two fixer baths, and a thorough 10 minute rinse, I toned the negatives in a 1-9 selenium solution (outdoors to avoid breathing toxic fumes) for 8 minutes. This was followed by several rinse cycles and a final rinse in distilled water.
Negatives were scanned in colour to retain the selenium tint.
Minutes ago (on 4 April 2019) I made this view from Conyngham Road in Dublin as an ICR working a Grand Canal Docks-Hazelhatch service exited the Phoenix Park Tunnel and crossed the lattice bridge over the River Liffey.
Spring is in bloom and the trees are just getting their leaves, yet it is freezing outside with a harsh nip in the wind.
This week Tracking the Light is on ‘auto pilot’ while Brian is traveling.
On 23 March 2019, I set up in Drumcondra along the Royal Canal on Dublin’s north side to photograph trains working the Newcomen Line.
Normally the visually intriguing Newcomen line trackage is only lightly used during midday with most moves scheduled for weekday rush hours.
Instead, Irish Rail typically routes trains on the parallel double-track line via Drumcondra Station; however on the weekend of 23-24 March 2019 works on that line resulted in diversions to the Newcomen Line.
I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera.
I’ll admit that if you’re not closely familiar with Irish Rail’s Dublin operations my title to today’s Tracking the Light post might seem cryptic.
Two of the Irish Rail 201 class General Motors diesels, 231 and 233, are painted in a minimalist silver, black and yellow livery. These are colloquially known in the enthusiast community as ‘raccoons’ (or ‘badgers’).
Engine number 233 has been shy lately and rarely seen out on the mainline.
RPSI stands for the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.
RPSI owns an historic set of Cravens-built passenger carriages.
These are stored/maintained at Irish Rail’s Inchicore works (repair shops), and when they are required for an excursion, Irish Rail makes a transfer run across Dublin to deliver them to Connolly station for boarding.
The graded three-track line from Islandbridge Junction to Inchicore runs through a cutting along Con Colbert Road known as ‘the Gullet’.
While I’ve covered most of this previously, I figure it doesn’t hurt to review the esoteric every so often to avoid confusion.
Tracking the Light is on Auto Pilot while Brian is Traveling.
Last Friday (22 March 2019), Mark Healy and I met in the Dublin city centre to seek out an elusive tram, recently dressed in a yellow advertising livery.
A steady rain was falling by the time we found it.
I made these photos with my Lumix LX7. In post processing, I adjusted the camera RAW files using Lightroom to improve colour temperature, make the contrast more appealing, and restore texture to the afternoon sky.
—Some nocturnal views of Dublin suburban operations—
Working in the gloom of night has its challenges and benefits.
It’s especially challenging when the camera I intended to make film photos was suffering from a flat battery, again (so I thought).
One of my Nikon F3s was again showing signs of no electricity. Changing out the batteries on an railcar, I began to suspect something else . . .
Anyway, last week Paul Maguire, Jay Monaghan and I arrived at Pearse Station as a potential location to picture Irish Rail’s Sperry train that was making its run to Bray to inspect rail conditions.
We decided to try the next station down the line, and traveled on a DART electric train to Grand Canal Docks. With my Nikon dead in the water, I opted to work with my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm digital cameras instead. This changed my perspective as I’d hope to make black & white film photos.
As we waited on the platforms for the Sperry train. I made photos of the DART and suburban diesel railcars, which dominate operations on this route.
Diesel haulage is the attraction of the elusive Sperry train; and on this evening Irish Rail 086 did the honors.
Tracking the Light Posts Daily!
Oh yeah, about the F3T’s battery problem. Later, I discovered that the plastic cartridge that holds the batteries appeared to have developed a short. Luckily, I have a spare F3 and swapped out the cartridge solving this difficulty.
A little while ago I made this pair of photos at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin.
In a repeat of a few weeks back clouds were racing across the sky making for wild changes in the quality of light from moment to moment.
First up was today’s (14 March 2019) IWT Liner from Dublin’s North Wall to Ballina, County Mayo. This had 073 in retro orange. A few minutes later, Irish Rail 080 came around with an empty LWR (Long welded rail train).
The clouds foiled my first effort. But breaks in the cloud allowed for respectable telephoto view of the LWR. On the downside, my 50mm colour slide of same won’t be as impressive as the clouds quickly dampened the light again.
Such are the challenges of photographing moving trains in Ireland.
Working with Czech-made Fomapan Classic in my Nikon F3, I’ve wandered the streets of Dublin seeking timeless images.
By careful chemical manipulation in the processing of the negatives, I aimed to extract exceptional shadow detail, maintain rich black tones and control highlight areas.
I’ve exposed these views over the last few weeks. In many instances, I’ve set my lenses to their widest apertures both to let greater amounts of light to reach the film, but also for the effects offered shallow depth of field.
Weather, including fog, added to the challenge and the atmosphere.
Here’s a few black & white views exposed last week on Kodak Tri-X of Irish Rail’s branch from Islandbridge Junction to the North Wall/Connolly.
Recently, Irish Rail has expanded service on the Grand Canal Docks—Hazel Hatch/Newbridge run and now trains run at least hourly throughout the day.
Following a Grand Canal Docks bound passenger train was the daily Up IWT Liner (Ballina to North Wall, Dublin).
Since these trains were coming out of the relatively harsh midday sun, I opted to work with black & white film, which makes the most of the contrast and allows me to control shadow and highlight detail to a greater degree than with my digital cameras, while giving the images a period look.
To maximize tonality and detail from the negatives I employed a ‘split process’ using two developers.
First I use a very weak solution of Kodak HC110 mixed 1 to 250 to water. To intensify the detail in shadows while avoiding over processing highlight areas, I keep the developer temperature comparatively high (73F) and allow it to work to exhaustion. My second developer is Ilford ID mixed 1-1 for 6 minutes 45 seconds with one minute agitation intervals. Then stop; fix 1, fix 2, rinse for 3 minutes, hypoclear, then a series of final washes. Dry and scan.
When I see a thick fog rolling in during the fading light, I see photo opportunities everywhere.
Fog is one my favorite photographic conditions, and the thicker, the better!
The fine thick mist has many benefits. It acts as a diffuser, which spreads the light, reducing contrast between the brightest highlights and shadows. It also tends to allow for photography in every direction, which opens up numerous angles and perspectives that I may not consider on a bright day.
Most importantly fog adds depth and mystique to a scene, making even the most mundane places intriguing, while masking unsightly elements such as garbage, graffiti and wires.
The other evening a thick fog settled over Dublin and I made my way to Connolly Station. Below are a few views from my Lumix LX7.
On Tuesday, 26 February 2019, working with my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm Fujinon telephoto, I made these digital sunset views from the windows of the Irish Railway Record Society near Dublin’s Heuston Station.
This evening 28 February 2019 at 730pm at these same IRRS premises, I’ll be presenting my traditional slide program General Motors Diesels in North America. Visitors are welcome!
Yesterday, 20 February 2019, Irish Rail operated two Ballina-Dublin IWT Liners—container trains.
The first, running as K801, had the 071 class leader in the as-built heritage-livery.
I photographed this train at Memorial road in Dublin.
The second, running about two hours behind the first, had freshly painted Irish Rail 074 (in the current gray and yellow). I caught this one from above the entrance to Dublin’s Phoenix Park Tunnel off the Conyngham Road.
In both instances, I worked with my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm Fujinon telephoto lens.
The other evening I made a few handheld photos of Irish Rail class 201 diesel number 217 River Fleskat Dublin’s Heuston Station.
217 was working a Mark4 set on the 2100 schedule to Cork.
There are myriad approaches to night photography. In this instance, I worked with my Lumix LX7 without a tripod.
I’m fortunate because I have an unusually steady hand. The Lumix further aids my efforts because it has image stabilization.
I set the camera to ISO 200, and working in ‘A’ (aperture priority) I manually set the lens aperture to its widest opening, which in this case is f1.8. The wider the aperture, the more light passes through the lens to reach the sensor, so having a ‘fast’ lens (one with a small maximum aperture number, such as my f1.8 lens) is a huge benefit.
This set up allowed me work with a 1/10 of second shutter speed, which is adequate speed for a static photograph.
If I had been using my FujiFilm XT1 with the kit zoom lens, my widest aperture would have been about f4.5, which is nearly two full stops slower than f1.8, which means at ISO200, I’d require about ½ second exposure to obtain a comparable result, which is too slow for a sharp handheld image in most instances.
Another way of approaching this would be raise the ISO. So with the FujiFilm set up just described, I could increase the ISO setting to 800, which would boost the effective sensitivity of the sensor by two stops (bringing me back up to 1/10thof a second using f4.5). However, this would also boost the noise level and reduce sharpness.
Back in the old days, I would have used Kodachrome, and that would have required a tripod, and probably some filters to colour-correct for the artificial light. Today, digital cameras when set to ‘auto white balance’ do an admirable job of balancing the colour for fluorescent, sodium vapor and other forms of artificial light that tend to tint an image.
Normally for night work with the Lumix, I’d dial in a 1/3 over exposure compensation (+ 1/3 on the exposure compensation dial) however in this situation the relatively bright night sky where low cloud was illuminated by lots of artificial light combined with the silver body of the locomotive and bright platform lighting, obviated the need for boosting the exposure by 1/3 of a stop.
However, I did make some very subtle changes in post processing to help visually separate the roof of the locomotive from the sky.
Monday, 11 February 2019 was bright and sunny in Dublin.
Although I was only just back across the Atlantic, I made use of the morning when I’d heard that Irish Rail 073 in heritage orange paint was working the down IWT Liner (container train operated from Dublin’s North Wall to Ballina, Co. Mayo).
As this exited Dublin’s Phoenix Park Tunnel approaching Islandbridge Junction, an Irish Rail ICR working the Hazelhatch-Grand Canal Docks service came the other way.
I hadn’t anticipated a ‘rolling meet’, but as luck had it I got two trains for the price of one.
This sequence of photos was exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 27mm pancake lens.
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.
I had Velvia in my Nikon F3 and I was focused on the boats in the River Liffey, when the Saturday laden timber from Sligo rolled out of Dublin’s Phoenix Park tunnel and crossed the bridge in front of me.
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.