Tag Archives: East Brookfield

CSX Eastbound at East Brookfield: Two Views.

As a follow-up to recent posts on CSX’s Boston Line, I offer this pair of photos of an eastward Intermodal train passing CP64 in East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

I’d photographed this train arriving in Palmer [CSX: EARLY MORNING INTERMODAL—FIVE VIEWS AND THE SPIRIT OF RAVENNA, then zipped up to West Warren to intercept a westbound [CSX West Warren Waterfall- http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2019/07/02/csx-west-warren-waterfall/].

Knowing I had a few minutes while east and westward trains made their meet at CP79 east of Palmer, I explored locations at Warren and West Brookfield. I concluded that summer-time brush along the line made many of my traditional photo locations un-workable.

So, I went over to East Brookfield, where the overhead bridge offered a clean view of the tracks. One photo was exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 the other with a Lumix LX7.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Lumix LX7 photo.

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CSX Q264 Meets Sunrise at East Brookfield.


This is a follow up to last week’s post: February Sunrise and Headlight on the Horizon. (see: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2019/02/06/february-sunrise-and-headlight-on-the-horizon/).

A week ago, on Wednesday February 6, 2019, Paul Goewey and I caught CSX’s Q-264 rolling through CP64, the interlocking at East Brookfield near the train’s terminus on the East Brookfield & Spencer Railroad (the local short line switching railroad that unloads the autoracks for regional distribution).

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 90mm lens, I exposed this view at ISO 800.

I also made a grab shot with my Lumix LX-7.

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February Sunrise and Headlight on the Horizon.


This morning, February 6, 2019, my photography began with this westward view at CP64 in East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

‘Headlight!’ I announced, as I watched the sun tickling the distant hills.

Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Paul Goewey and I anticipated the passage of an eastward CSX autorack train.

Sometimes the thrill of photography is that distant twinkle on the horizon and wondering how it will play out.

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Looking Like a Scene from Kubrick’s 2001: A Stereo Space Odyssey.

A lesson in Night-photography.

It was an arctic evening at East Brookfield when we crossed the bridge over the tracks near CP64.

There it was, making an alien roar: the Loram rail-grinder in the old sidings.

Hard snow on the ground and the moon rising.

‘This will just take a couple of minutes’.

We were on our way to a gig at Dunny’s Tavern, but I wanted to make a few photos of this machine. Interestingly, it was my old friend Dennis LeBeau that both invited us to the gig and alerted me to the Loram grinder.

I tried a few photos using my Lumix LX7 in ‘night mode’. But the extremely low light levels didn’t make for great results.

Handheld ‘Night Mode’ has its limitations. This isn’t the sharpest photo and the shadow areas are muddy and lacking detail.

Another view in ‘Nightmode’. Compare this view with the photos below.

So then I balanced my LX7 in the chain-link fence, dialed in 2/3s of a stop over exposure, set the self-timer to 2 seconds, pressed the shutter and stood back.

I did this several times until I made an acceptably sharp photo.

I exposed a RAW file using A-mode with 2/3s of a stop over exposure. By using the self-timer I minimized vibration. In lieu of a tripod, I positioned my Lumix LX7 in the chainlink fence. (Special secret technique!). This is the unmodified RAW file in the Lightroom work window.

 

I manipulated the RAW files in Lightroom to better balance the information captured during exposure.

Using contrast and exposure controls in Lightroom, and gauging my efforts using the Histogram (top right) I adjusted my photo to look like this.

The improved image from the RAW file.

I know someone will moan about the tree at left. There’s nothing I can do about that, it’s part of the scene. Sorry 2001-fans, no black slab! So far as I can tell, anyway.

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Final Photo of 2017.

This was the last photo I exposed in 2017.

It was about 4 degrees Fahrenheit at East Brookfield, Massachusetts, when I made this view at 9:38pm on December 31st looking west toward CP64.

The signal had just changed from all red (stop) to red over flashing green (Limited Clear) on the main track.

I exposed the photograph with my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens with the camera mounted on a Gitzo tripod.

Using the ‘A’ mode with aperture set to f2.8, the exposure value boosted by about 2/3rds of a stop, and ISO set to 400, my effective shutter speed was about 5 seconds. A length of time that seems like forever when you are standing alone in the dark with an icy wind in your face.

I checked my exposure and focus and thought to myself ‘good enough’. Which means that if it were warmer, I’d make another image.

This image is a scaled version of the camera-produced Jpg. I did not alter contrast, exposure, sharpness or make other visual corrections during post processing.
Some purest somewhere may someday examine my file and determine that it was made in 2018, and it would have been If I was in Ireland. I don’t bother recalibrating my camera’s clock when I switch time zones. It’s just one of those things.

CSX’s Q007 was lined west. But opted not to wait for it.

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Three Quarter Light; CSX’s Q012 Intermodal freight at East Brookfield

On June 28, 2017, I made a sequence of digital photos of CSX’s Worcester, Massachusetts-bound intermodal freight symbol Q012 passing CP64 (dispatcher’s control-point 64 miles west of Boston) at East Brookfield.

This was one of several exposures made with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Using a 135mm focal length, I’ve aimed to show the freight passing the remains of the small yard at East Brookfield.

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CSX 611 at East Brookfield on the old Boston & Albany.

CSX 611 is a AC6000CW—a big GE diesel by any measure.

In January 2001, My pal T.S.H. and I were making an inspection of the old Boston & Albany between Palmer and Worcester, Massachusetts ( reliving a trip we’d made in the summer of 1984).

Brian Solomon_581952
CSX 611 leads a westward freight on the Boston & Albany route at East Brookfield in January 2001. Black & white 120 size negative scanned using an Epson V750 flatbed scanner and adjusted for contrast using Lightroom.

I exposed this view using a Rollei Model T that I’d bought from Mike Gardner.

My intent was to recreate a view I’d made of westward Conrail freight at the same location 16 years earlier.

Sadly, the old Boston & Albany station at East Brookfield was destroyed by arson in Autumn 2010.

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Conrail Camel at East Brookfield; Fixing a Dark Slide.

(If you are not viewing Tracking the Light, please click on the post to see the variations from Dark to Light.)

Kodachrome was a great film but it had its failings. It’s spectral sensitivity tended to render blue too dark in relation to the other colors.

An unfortunate result of this sensitivity was that at times of high sun, when there is a greater amount of ambient blue light, Kodachrome was both less sensitive and produced an unacceptably constrasty result that over emphasize the already unflattering light of midday.

For this reason, I often put the camera away during midday, or switched to black & white.

This slide is an exception. On June 29, 1989, I photographed an eastward Conrail freight with C32-8(a model known colloquially as a ‘Camel’)  passing the old Boston & Albany station at East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

The unaltered scan from the original Kodachrome 25 color slides. Owing to the time of the day, the slide is contrasty and as a result of the sensitivity curve of the film, it appears underexposed.
The unaltered scan from the original Kodachrome 25 color slides. Owing to the time of the day, the slide is contrasty and as a result of the sensitivity curve of the film, it appears underexposed.

I have many better photographs of these unusual locomotives and superior views of the old station, both of which are now gone. Yet, I’m glad I made this slide.

For years, it remained in its yellow box as returned to me by Kodak. Although sharp, it wasn’t up to par with my slides from the time and so I’d deemed it unworthy of projection.

Today this is a pretty interesting image and through the comparative ease of digital processing, I can compensate for some of the failings of the film.

Using Lightroom, I’ve been able to adjust the contrast, exposure and color balance to make for a more acceptable image.

I’ve presented three variations: the above image is the unmodified scan (scaled for internet presentation); the other two have various levels of adjustment aimed at producing a more pleasing image.

In this variation, I made some quick adjustments to color temperature, overall exposure, while lightening the shadow.
In this variation, I made some quick adjustments to color temperature, overall exposure, while lightening the shadows.

This version required more intensive work in post processing. I've locally adjusted shadows and highlights, while further tweaked overall exposure and made localized changes to color balance.
This version required more intensive work in post processing. I’ve locally adjusted shadows and highlights, while further tweaked overall exposure and made localized changes to color balance.

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Autumn Foliage—Two Tips for Digital Photographers

Here’s two tips for making more brilliant autumn foliage photos:

  1. Aim to catch late season foliage when there are more brown leaves than green.
  2. Don’t use the auto white balance. Instead set your white balance manually, preferably to ‘cloudy’ or ‘shade.’ This will accentuate the red, yellow and orange hues of the leaves.

 Late season foliage offers fewer green leaves and more red and brown. By contrast early season foliage may only feature a few brightly colored trees offset by a virtual sea of green. While when you outside the eye is drawn to the odd red tree, in a photograph too often the lone red tree is lost in the otherwise green foliage.
Late season foliage offers fewer green leaves and more red and brown. By contrast early season foliage may only feature a few brightly colored trees offset by a virtual sea of green. When  you are outside the eye is drawn to the odd red tree, but in a photograph too often the lone red tree is lost in the otherwise green foliage.

CSXT eastward autorack train symbol Q264 rolls through East Brookfield, Massachusetts in late October 2015.
CSXT eastward autorack train symbol Q264 rolls through East Brookfield, Massachusetts in late October 2015.

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New Book Features East Brookfield Station!

My recently published Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals highlights railway architecture around the world, including Helsinki, Tokyo, and London.

As an author, I always like to add a personal touch to my books, and when possible include items of local and special interest. If you scour my pages, you’ll often find photos made in Palmer, Massachusetts and Dublin, among other favorites.

Among the topics covered in the recent effort is a small section on the former Boston & Albany station at East Brookfield, Massachusetts. I’d photographed and researched this building over the years. Sadly, it was destroyed in an arsonist attack five years ago.

This photo of the East Brookfield station was one of the first images I made with my new Panasonic LX3 digital camera. I was testing the camera (which I'd bought to use as a light meter) on an bright October morning in 2009. There were two eastward CSXT freights coming and I was trying to gauge the light. CSXT had just recently put a new roof on the old building. Less than a year after I made this view it succumbed to fire. This photo is reproduced  on page 83 of my book.
This photo of the East Brookfield station was one of the first images I made with my new Panasonic LX3 digital camera. I was testing the camera (which I’d bought to use as a light meter) on a bright October morning in 2009. There were two eastward CSXT freights coming and I was trying to gauge the light. CSXT had just recently put a new roof on the old building. Less than a year after I made this view it succumbed to fire. This photo is reproduced on page 83 of my book.

On Pages 82 and 83, I discuss East Brookfield and its demise as part of greater story on lost stations. In my text, I mention that a period photo of the old station still hangs in East Brookfield Pizza, a few blocks from CSXT’s former B&A mainline.

My friend Dennis LeBeau has helped preserve East Brookfield’s history, and has a collection of glass plate negatives exposed by William Bullard, a local photographer working from the 1890s through the World War I era. Several Bullard photos appear in the book.

The other day, I called into East Brookfield to give Dennis his contributor’s copy of Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals. We went down to East Brookfield Pizza to show the owners and staff the book, and I had Dennis and company pose with the Bullard photo of the station.

On October 30, 2015, Dennis LeBeau holds his signed copy of Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals at East Brookfield Pizza where the old William Bullard photo that he supplied to the restaurant hangs on the wall.
On October 30, 2015, Dennis LeBeau holds his signed copy of Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals at East Brookfield Pizza where the old William Bullard photo that he supplied to the restaurant hangs on the wall. The restaurant and the photo get a mention in my book.

I exposed this view the other day. It shows the Keith Block and the site of the old station.
I exposed this view the other day. It shows the Keith Block and the site of the old station.

Railway Depots, Stations & Terminals was published by Voyageur Press and is now available for sale. Get yours today!

See Amazon for a link.

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Amtrak’s Confusing Coincidence or Numerical Harmony?

I phoned Julie—Amtrak’s automated agent, as you do when you’d like to know if a train is running on time. Amtrak 448, the Lake Shore Limited was a little more than an hour late leaving Springfield.

Dennis LeBeau, Wolfie the dog, and I waited at the bridge in East Brookfield, Massachusetts east of CP64. I said, “448 left Springfield 40 minutes ago. It’s about 25 minutes to Palmer, so it ought to be between Warren and Brookfield by now. We should be seeing a headlight in a couple of minutes.

Brookfield is milepost 66 on the old Boston & Albany. There hasn’t been a station there in my lifetime. East Brookfield is at the east end of long tangent, which provides lots of warning for eastward trains.

Dennis looked west, “There’s your headlight, just like you said.”

I wandered back and forth on the bridge trying to find the most suitable angle. Ultimately I settled on this spot to the north of the mainline. All things being equal, I wish I’d brought my Fuji X-T1; this would have made a nice 135mm view to bring in the green trees and track-ladder in the distance.

Exposed with my Lumix LX7 at f1.7 1/800th of a second, ISO 200 at 7:16pm on May 20, 2015.
Exposed with my Lumix LX7 at f1.7 1/800th of a second, ISO 200 at 7:16pm on May 20, 2015.

Engine 48 was leading train 448 at CP 64. Got all that? Great! Too often, I have to explain the fundamental difference between an engine number and train number.

To the uninitiated this seems like a trivial difference. But to those in railroad operations it could be life or death.

Really it’s a question of hardware versus software. The locomotive is the hardware, the train is a service. Today engine 48 leads 448, but tomorrow it will lead another train with another number. On the timetable, everyday train 48 and train 448 are combined as one between Chicago and Albany. And there’s the confusing coincidence. Train 48 and locomotive 48 are different; one being a service, and the other an engine.

Nice light on engine 48, no?

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Lots of Locomotives at East Brookfield Four Years Ago Today.

On this day in 2011 (January 31), I exposed this view of a CSX light-power move rolling westward through East Brookfield, Massachusetts on the former Boston & Albany mainline.

I used my trusty Lumix LX3, a camera with which I exposed many thousands of railway photos before it finally gave up the ghost.

ISO 200, f5.6 1/800th of a second.
ISO 200, f5.6 1/800th of a second. Notice that I’ve included the shadow of the lead locomotive at the far left of the frame. If cropped, this image would have less impact. 

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Special Post: Electric Train Music Video


Rock and Roll Panic by The Big Gunz.

Thomasina the Cat is among the stars of Rock and Roll Panic the Third Rail Mix on YouTube. See http://youtu.be/1DweE3JLpEA
Thomasina the Cat is among the furry stars of Rock and Roll Panic the Third Rail Mix on YouTube. See http://youtu.be/1DweE3JLpEA

Tracking the Light takes a diverging route: Cats, Lionel, Beer, and Rock and Roll. Take a look at my most recent production. I’ve filmed and edited a short music video.

The soundtrack is the song Rock and Roll Panic performed by The Big Gunz of  East Brookfield, Massachusetts. Popular for their evening entertainment at Dunny’s Tavern, the Big Gunz are a classic trio consisting of  Paul, Tommy, and Dennis LeBeau.

Rock and Roll Panic third rail mix was filmed with my Canon Eos 7D and Lumix LX3 cameras, and has a train in almost every scene!

Check it out, click here for the link to: Rock and Roll Panic third rail mix

http://youtu.be/1DweE3JLpEA

 

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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

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

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CSX at East Brookfield, Massachusetts, June 26, 2013

 

Ballast Train at Work

On the evening of June 26, 2013, I arrived at East Brookfield to find Dennis LeBeau observing CSX’s undercutting operations immediately east of CP64.

CSX ballast train.
CSX ballast train in the East Brookfield yard. Exposed with Canon 7D and 28-135mm lens. RAW file modified in post processing to adjust for contrast and exposure with mild sharpening.

Over the last few years, CSX has been improving its former Boston & Albany route between Selkirk Yards (near Albany, New York) and its Worcester, Massachusetts terminal.

Conrail improved clearances on the line in the mid-1980s and began running international containers on double-stack trains in 1989 (I first photographed an eastward Conrail double-stack in Spring 1989). However, CSX’s desire to run larger domestic containers on double stack trains has required further clearance improvement.

Once complete, the Boston & Albany route will be clearance compatible with most of CSX’s former Conrail mainline, which should allow for more traffic to be sent to Worcester. The clearance improvements are coincident with the recent closure of Beacon Park Yard at Alston, Massachusetts in favor of expanded facilities in Worcester.

On Wednesday evening, CSX had every track in East Brookfield occupied, as it cleared equipment from the mainline to allow east and westbound freight to pass (Amtrak had cancelled train 448 (Boston section of Lake Shore Limited). Once traffic had passed, work crews resumed their re-ballasting of the recently undercut mainline.

Three trains at East Brookfield, Massachusetts.
On the evening of June 26, 2013, East Brookfield was a hot bed of railway activity. Dennis downplayed the scene, ‘I’ve seen it like this before . . .with Conrail in the 1980s!’. Canon 7D with 200mm lens.

CSX intermodal train.
A General Electric Evolution-series diesel leads an eastward intermodal freight through the work-zone east of CP64 in East Brookfield, Massachusetts. Decades ago Boston & Albany had three main tracks between East Brookfield and Charlton. A tower near the location of today’s signals controlled the plant. Today, the line is dispatched remotely from Selkirk, New York. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

CSX Intermodal train East Brookfield_
Wide view: A General Electric Evolution-series diesel leads an eastward intermodal freight through the work-zone east of CP64 in East Brookfield, Massachusetts. The old B&A station once stood to the right of the mainline. This burned to the ground in 2010. Lumix LX3 photo.

I was one of a half-dozen civilians observing the activity. Late in the day, the sun emerged from a cloudbank to provide some soft lighting and I kept three cameras busy, documenting the changes.

East Brookfield, Mass.
Observing the on-going work at East Brookfield. Lumix LX3 photo.

Recording changes on CSX at East Brookfield, Massachusetts.
Recording changes on CSX at East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

 

CSX's westward Q427 eases over freshly ballasted track at a walking pace as it approaches CP 64 at East Brookfield. The signals showed 'red over flashing green' —Limited Clear. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
CSX’s westward Q427 eases over freshly ballasted track at a walking pace as it approaches CP 64 at East Brookfield. The signals showed ‘red over flashing green’ —Limited Clear. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

East Brookfield, Mass.
Dennis LeBeau rolls by Q427. Lumix LX3 photo.

 

CSX ballast train at East Brookfield. Lumix LX3 photo.
CSX ballast train at East Brookfield. Lumix LX3 photo.

Ballast train at work.
Discharging ballast on the former Boston & Albany at East Brookfield. Lumix LX3 photo.

Ballast train at work.
Discharging ballast on the former Boston & Albany at East Brookfield. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

SD40-2 detail.
CSX SD40-2 8854 works at ballast train at East Brookfield. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

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