Here’s an example of when a rainy day allows for a better photograph.
Dublin’s recently extended LUAS Green Line passes the famous Fusilier’s Arch entrance to St. Stephen’s Green.
Two problems with a bright sunny day:
the arch and foliage/trees in the park cast shadows that often make for a less simplified composition
While the popularity of the park on nice days results in a continuous procession of people in and out of the park, making it difficult to frame up a tram beneath the arch. Simply getting an unobstructed view can be problematic.
Certainly you can make some kind of photo here on a bright day, but it will look pretty different than this classical view.
On Satuday 24 March 2018, I shared Dublin’s Claude Road foot-bridge with Paul Maguire and Ciarán Cooney, as we waited for the RPSI Cravens to run from Inchicore to Connolly for a scheduled inspection of the equipment.
It had been completely sunny, but as the time for the train approached, clouds began to dapple the morning sky.
I exposed this view using a Nikon N90S with 180mm Nikkor telephoto lens on Fujichrome Provia100F slide film.
The light was in flux when I released the shutter. Was the train in sun?
I had to wait more than three weeks to find out, since I’ve just received my slides back from the lab.
I made some nominal adjustments to contrast and colour balance after scanning.
Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.
I feature Irish Rail and the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland in my new Railway Guide to Europe, which is now available from Kalmbach Books.
Dublin’s Loop Line is a difficult bridge to picture trains upon owing to a high degree of foreground and background clutter, complex lattice girder construction, and brightly coloured graffiti.
Tank locomotive number 4 is an awkward mass and largely painted black that makes for a hard subject to picture satisfactorily, even on a good bright day.
It wasn’t a bright day; the lighting conditions were flat (low contrast) and bland.
Further complicating matters, there wasn’t more than a few seconds warning before the train entered the scene, so I needed to be poised.
Friends on board assisted my timing by keeping me up to date as to the location of the train.
I made my views from the Rosie Hackett Bridge (opened in 2014) looking down river toward Dublin Port.
Rather than work with a zoom, I opted for my fixed focal length 90mm telephoto on my FujiFilm X-T1. This gave me a wider aperture, allowed for shallow depth of field to help distinguish the train from its background, and is a very sharp lens corner to corner.
As the train clattered across the bridge I made several exposures, trying to minimize the distractions of bridge infrastructure and background clutter.
Although these are nice attempts, I’m not 100 percent satisfied, but without better light and an elevated view, I’m not sure how I could have made substantially better photos.
I’d use ‘gray’ in place of ‘dark’, but apparently the phraseology has assumed new meanings.
I could just say ‘Dublin in Black & White’, but that isn’t really correct either.
Working with my Nikon F3 loaded with Foma Classic 100 black & white film, I made these photos during March 2018 wintery weather in Dublin.
To keep my camera steady for long exposures, I used various tripods, depending on the surface and circumstance.
My exposures varied, but most were between 1 and 8 seconds. I calculated exposure manually using a Minolta IV Flash meter (in reflective mode).
I processed the Fomapan 100 film in Ilford ID-11 stock mixed 1-1 with water at 68F for 7 minutes 15 seconds, plus pre-soak with a token amount of Kodak HC110, then scanned negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
As a follow-up to my black & white posts: On Sunday, 18 March 2018, I also worked with my two digital cameras to expose a few choice photographs of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s The Midlander on its run from Connolly Station Dublin to Maynooth.
Today, the new LUAS Cross City tram line skirts the front of the historic building in a purpose-built cutting.
I visited this much altered location on a bright morning, aiming to feature a LUAS tram in the sun with the old station.
Beyond Broadstone, the tram line has re-used the old railway right of way to reach its terminus at Broombridge.
Photos exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.
The bright wall in the cutting combined with the lightly coloured stone on the station façade along with the silver tram complicated my exposures, because these reflected more light than normally expected for a Dublin city scene.
Ok here’s the story: so as part of Dublin’s Cross City Extension, new extra long Citadis 502 trams were ordered from Alstom. These have nine-sections and are claimed to be among the longest trams in the world to date.
I knew that.
Mark Healy and I had discussed this on the day the photo was made.
We were out to photograph the new LUAS Cross City line.
Then I needed to visit the Bank of Ireland, and run a few errands. It had clouded over the light was flat and dull.
On the way back into the Dublin City center I saw an out of service tram on Parnell Street so, having the Lumix handy I made a few photos as it passed.
Not being up on the new tram numbering, or paying that close attention to it, I though very little of this photo.
It didn’t even make my initial cut.
I wasn’t going to show it on Tracking the Light.
A couple of days later Mark phone to let me know that somehow we’d missed one of the pioneer trials with the new longer trams.
‘Oh?’ I said. ‘What’s the number of the tram in question?’
‘You know, I think I have that.’
Afterwards I looked back through my photos from the day, and here it is! (I blame jet lag).
Now, I warned you that you weren’t going to believe me!
Over the last few years I’ve posted a variety of photos showing Dublin’s LUAS Cross City tram line under construction and trial/training runs.
In December 2017, this new LUAS service commenced from St. Stephens Green (at the north end of the original Green Line service) to Broombridge on Dublin’s Northside. But, at that time, I was elsewhere.
So last Friday (26 January 2018), Mark Healy and I went for a spin out to Broombridge and back. I made digital photos with my Lumix LX7 and colour slides with my Nikon N90S.
Using my old battle-worn Nikon F3T (yeah, that one) fitted with a 1960s-era Nikkor f.14 50mm lens, I exposed a sequence of images in the evening light at Irish Rail’s Heuston Station in Dublin.
I was especially pleased with this view of one of Irish Rail’s Mark 4 sets beneath the train shed. Low light made for contrasty silhouette with lots of texture and exceptional dynamic range.
This was exposed on Kodak Tri-X (black & white negative film) using a fairly wide aperture.
During early October 2017, I processed the film using two-stage development, initially soaking the film in an extremely dilute mix of Kodak HC110 designed to begin development while allowing great shadow detail and greater overall tonality. For my primary development, I used Ilford ID11, diluted 1-1 with water for 8 minutes at 68 degree F. This was followed by a 30 second stop bath and two fixer baths, 1st rinse, hypo-clear batch, 2nd rinse, then 8 minutes in a weak bath of selenium toner (1 to 9 with water), 10 minute final rinse and drying.
I scanned the negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner, with some very nominal final adjustment using Lightroom.
Although my digital cameras feature black & white modes, and I can easily de-saturate a digital file to make a monochrome image, I don’t feel that digital imaging would yield a completely comparable image to this one made the old fashioned way.
A couple of weeks back, I made these views of Belmond’s Grand Hibernian luxury cruise train at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin.
What’s a Kodachrome sky? The old Kodak Kodachrome had the ability to capture a sunny day with vivid contrast; so when you had over-the-shoulder light with fluffy clouds dotting a blue sky we called it a ‘Kodachrome Sky’.
It think it’s safe to say that no one has ever photographed the Grand Hibernian on Kodachrome slide film! And if they have, they will never see their results in vivid colour. (Kodachrome is no longer commercially processed).
The other day on the way to Dublin Airport with Honer Travers, I spied a LUAS trial making its way northward on O’Connell Street on recently completed CrossCity trackage.
This made for an unplanned photographic opportunity. I posed near the Larkin Statue that I featured on the cover of my illustrated E-book on Dublin titled Dublin Unconquered (designed for viewing on Apple iPad and similar Apple devices).
After making a silhouette that mimics my book cover, I turned to make a few going away views of the tram passing Dublin’s iconic General Post Office.
The GPO is a symbol of Irish independence owing to its roles in the 1916 Easter Rising.
Later Honer and I boarded the 747 Bus, which gave me another opportunity to catch LUAS trial trams working CrossCity trackage.
This new LUAS line forms a link between the Green Line and Red Line routes that were formerly completely isolated from one another.
Tracking the Light Posts Daily
If you have access to an Apple iPad, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac and are interested in my E-book Dublin Unconquered you can download the book from Apple iTunes for roughly the price of a sandwich. The book features many carefully crafted photographs along with detailed text and a lovely map.
I realize that today’s title might not catch everyone’s eye.
How about: ‘Clean GM Diesel on a Freight’?
Or, ‘Irish Rail at Rush Hour’ ?
Anyway, this post is about light.
I was waiting on the Up IWT liner (International Warehousing & Transport Ballina, County Mayo to Dublin Northwall container train)with recently painted Irish Rail 071 class diesel number 082.
Just ahead of this Dublin-bound freight was the Up-Galway passenger train with a common set of ICRs (InterCity Railcars).
I was photographing into the sun. My intent was to work the glint effect. (That’s when the sun reflects off the side of the train).
Usually, I find this is most effective when you shade the front element of the lens to minimize flare. Notice the two variations with the ICR.
By the time the freight reached me clouds had partly shaded the sun leaving only a hint of back-lighting.
All the photos were made using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm f2.0 lens. The camera RAW Files were all adjusted for colour balance, colour saturation and contrast using the same ratio of change. (In other words, although I’ve manipulated the final result, all the photos have received the same degree of alteration).
Belmond is a high-end tour train operator that since 2016 has served Ireland with its Grand Hibernian sleeping car train.
This has been a popular topic for railway photographers as it represented a return of the Mark 3 carriage to Irish rails and makes for a decidedly different passenger train in contrast with Irish Rail’s regularly scheduled services.
Yet, as previously mentioned on Tracking the Light, the train itself is challenging to capture in images owing to its largely unbroken dark navy-blue paint.
In dull light this looks nearly black.
I’ve found that the most effective photographs of the Belmond Grand Hibernian are made in bright sunlight.
These views were exposed at ‘the Gullet’ west of Dublin’s Heuston Station. One was made with my Lumix LX7 with the Vivid colour profile; the other two with my FujiFilm X-T1 using the Velvia colour profile.
Files were scaled in Lightroom for internet presentation, but were not altered in post processing in regards to exposure, colour balance, colour temperature or contrast.