Tag Archives: East Deerfield

East Deerfield Railfan’s Bridge Update: Views from the New Bridge.

The old McClelland Farm Road bridge over the Boston & Maine tracks at the west end of East Deerfield Yard (near Greenfield, Massachusetts) had been a popular place to photograph trains.

Guilford SD26 632 leads EDRP (East Deerfield-Rouses Point) westbound at McClelland Farm Road on August 30, 1987. Kodachrome slide exposed using a Leica M2.

Known colloquially as the ‘Railfan’s Bridge,’ this vantage point had been featured in articles in TRAINS Magazine, Railpace and other popular literature for decades.

For more than a year a new bridge, parallel to the old bridge, has been under construction.

Last week, December 6, 2018, photographer Mike Gardner and I made a brief visit to East Deerfield to inspect progress.

The old bridge was still in place, while the new bridge was open and mostly complete.

Inevitably, fences will be installed, and how these may affect photography has yet to been seen. However, looking to the east, the view has been complicated by the erection of new electrical lines.

Below are a few views of the new and old McClelland Farm Road bridges.

Panoramic view of the new and old bridges.

The view looking west from the new bridge.
Here’s the sorry state of the old bridge. How many thousands of photos were made from this span?


Looking east from the new bridge.


The view from the new bridge looking toward the East Deerfield Loop.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Tracking the Light Extra! Pan Am Railways Office Car Train Today.

This morning (November 14, 2018), I traveled with my old friends Paul Goewey and John Peters to make photographs of Pan Am Railway’s office car train.

The OCS began its run at East Deerfield Yard for its run down the Connecticut River Line to Springfield and Hartford Line toward Berlin and then to Plainville, Connecticut.

A gust of wind kicks up the dust at East Deerfield Yard filtering the back lit morning sun. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Normally the bastion of Pan Am’s well-kept FP9s, today the OCS ran with GP40s because of the need to have cab-signal equipped/Positive Train Control compliant locomotives on Amtrak’s Hartford line and related connections.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

I made these backlit photos in the morning from the old ‘East Deerfield Railfan’s Bridge’, a span soon to be replaced as the new bridge is nearing completion.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily and sometimes Twice!

 

 

Headlights too Bright? Now What?

I’d heard complaints about this. You’ll find my solutions are the very end of this blog text.

Pan Am Railway’s 7552, a former CSX General Electric-built DASH8-40C (sometimes simplified as ‘C40-8’), features modern white light-emitting diode (LED) headlights.

The sun went in, so I ‘opened up’ the aperture to f5.6. This exacerbated the effect of LED headlight bleed.

The problem is that these white LEDs viewed head-on are much brighter than ordinary incandescent-bulb headlights. Unnaturally bright headlights may have some advantages; they undoubtedly offer better illumination and can be spotted from greater distance.

However they tend to be mesmerizing, which may have something less than the desired effect from a safety point of view.

I first encountered these headlights about 10 years ago photographing an electric locomotive in Munich, Germany.

With the sun out slightly, I used a smaller aperture and also was nominally  off-axis, two things that help minimize the effects of light bleed.

For photography bright LED headlights pose a couple of problems. They can confuse both auto exposure and auto focusing systems, and as a result may contribute to under exposed and/or out of focus digital photos.

Also, many digital cameras only have a limited ability to handle extreme contrasts, resulting in an unappealing effect that I’ll call ‘light-bleed’, when bright light appears to spill over to adjacent areas of the image. A similar problem is a ghosting effect caused by reflections from external filters or inner elements on some lenses.

So what do you do?

I found that these LEDs are only unacceptably bright when viewed head-on, so by moving off axis, you can greatly reduce the unpleasant visual effects of these bright lights. That’s one solution, anyway.

Here I’m significantly off axis, which virtually eliminates the bleed problems.

Another way to suppress headlight bleed is to select a smaller aperture (larger f-number). I work my cameras manually, so this is easy enough to accomplish. If you are using automatic modes, you’ll need to select an aperture priority setting that allows you to control the aperture. Just mind your shutter speed or you might suffer from motion blur.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

 

 

East Deerfield New Bridge—June 2018 Up Date.

We called it the ‘waste too much film bridge’.

How many thousands of photographs have been exposed from the old bridge at the west end of Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield Yard?

The new bridge is progressing. I made these photos a few days ago.

Old and new bridges at McClelland Farm Road, East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

As mentioned in an earlier post, a new pole-line has been erected to the east of the old bridge that threatens to ruin photographs. How will this ultimately affect views from the new bridge?

Suitable vantage points are key to making good photographs, so I’m curious to see what the new bridge offers. If it turns out to be of little use, I’ll need to find new vantage points.

South approach to the new bridge.

North abutment with Pan Am tracks in foreground.

Looking west from the old McClelland Farm Road bridge.

FujiFilm X-T1 photo -in-camera panoramic composite image.

What do you think?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Pan Am Railways crosses the Connecticut; Old and Older and both Blue.

I had a late start the other day.

After intercepting Amtrak’s southward Vermonter on the Connecticut River Line, I drove to Pan Am’s East Deerfield yard(near Greenfield, Massachusetts)  to see if anything was moving.

Fortuity and patience combined enabled me to make photos of Pan Am Railways POED crossing the Connecticut River Bridge (immediately east of the yard).

In the lead was 7552, one of two (soon to be three) former CSX DASH8-40Cs wearing Pan Am Railways paint, plus one of the railroad’s last remaining 600-series six motor EMDs (619, that began its career as a Southern Pacific SD45) still in traffic.

Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens.

Catching this pair of locomotives together is a coup. I’ve always found transition periods make for interesting photographs; during the last year, these second-hand GE’s have sidelined many of Pan Am’s older locomotives.

Will this be the last time I catch one of the 1980s era GEs working together with a 1960s era six-motor EMDs in Pan Am blue paint?

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

East Deerfield West: Providence & Worcester 2009 leads the Plainville Job.

In 1982, Boston & Maine bought several routes in Massachusetts and Connecticut from Conrail. Among these were lines clustered around Plainville, Connecticut, accessed via trackage rights over Amtrak’s Springfield-New Haven Line.

Today, Amtrak’s route requires advanced signaling on leading locomotives and only a handful of Pan Am’s engines are so equipped. As a result, Pan Am sometimes operates a borrowed Providence & Worcester engine on its East Deerfield to Plainville freight.

As of last week, Pan Am’s EDPL was still operating on a daylight schedule, however with increased Springfield-New Haven passenger services to commence in June, this operation may become nocturnal.

I made these views from the old McClelland Farm Road bridge, a vantage point that will soon be gone when the new bridge opens.

Looking east from the old McClelland Farm Road Bridge.

EDPL prepares to cross over to access the East Deerfield Loop that connects with the Connecticut River line.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Railfan’s Bridge East Deerfield: Old Bridge/New Bridge and some Bad News.

Construction crews are working on the approaches to the new McClelland Farm Road bridge over the tracks at the west end of Pan Am’s East Deerfield Yard.

This work has been on-going for about a year.As detailed in previous posts, the old bridge has been a popular place for photographers for many years and countless images have been exposed from this vantage point.

See: Railfan’s Bridge at East Deerfield—my First Farewell.

The new bridge is being built immediately to the west of the old bridge, and once it is complete and fully open to traffic, the old bridge will be removed.

The view west from the old McClelland Farm Road bridge.

Pan Am GE’s wearing tired CSX paint pass construction crews working on approaches for the new McClelland Farm Road bridge.

The old McClelland Farm Road Bridge at East Deerfield.

Now for some bad news: in conjunction with bridge construction, the above ground electrical line has been relocated and is now carried across the tracks on a new pole-line located to the east of the bridges.

The new pole line can be seen here on the right crossing over the tracks. To the uninitiated this may seem innocuous but in fact it poses an obstruction that may make views of the yard from the new bridge difficult to achieve without heavy cables running right through the middle of the image.

This obstruction poses a new challenge for photographers making photos of the yard and depending on the height of the new bridge mayruin the classic view.

I exposed these views of former CSX DASH8-40Cs leased to Pan Am that had just arrived on road freight POED from Portland, Maine.

Photos made with a FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Four Motor GEs at East Deerfield.

I made this view of a pair of Pan Am Railway’s recently acquired four-motor GE diesels at East Deerfield Yard.

When they were new in the 1980s, these locomotives were intended for moving intermodal trains at top speed.

Conrail’s B40-8s (DASH8-40B) were routinely assigned in sets of three to trailvan and double stack trains on the Water Level Route, while Susquehanna’s similar locomotives would work its double stack trains on the old Erie Railroad ‘Southern Tier Route’

So, I find it odd to see them now in faded CSX paint at Pan Am’s East Deerfield.

Perhaps, its an appropriate photographic metaphor to picture them in fading afternoon light passing the shell of the old tower.

Exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

 

 

East Deerfield October Sunrise—Ilford Pan F.

The other morning at Pan Am’s East Deerfield yard I met up with Tim, a fellow photographer.

He asked, ‘Are you going to take that?’—meaning the sunrise over the yard.

‘Yeah, since we’re here. Why not?’

I’ve only made countless photos of this yard in the morning, but that’s never stopped me before.

For this image, I exposed Ilford Pan F black & white film (ISO 50) using a Leica IIIA with Nikkor f3.5 35mm lens. With handheld meter to gauge the lighting, I exposed this frame at f3.5 1/60th of a second.

My aim was to capture detail in the sky and allow the tracks and yard to appear as a silhouette.

East Deerfield Yard looking east at sunrise. October 2017.

I processed my film as follows: Kodak D76 mixed 1 to 1 for 6 min 30 seconds at 68F, followed by stop bath, 1st fix, 2nd fix, 1st rinse, Permawash, 2nd rinse, then 9 min selenium toner mixed 1 to 9 (one part toner to nine parts water), 3rd rinse, permawash, 4th rinse.

After scanning the negative with an Epson V750 Pro flatbed scanner, I made a few nominal adjustments to contrast using Lightroom, while removing unwanted dust-specs.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day.

Overcast Afternoon at East Deerfield—June 29, 2017.

This is the third in my series of farewell posts on the famed East Deerfield ‘Railfan’s Bridge.’

The McClelland Farm Road bridge over the Boston & Maine tracks at the west end of East Deerfield Yard (near Greenfield, Massachusetts) has been a popular place to photograph trains since the steam era. Work has begun to replace this old span with a new bridge to be located about 40 feet further west.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve exposed a disproportionate number of photos here. Yet, it has remained a good place for railroad photography for several logical reasons:

It’s at a hub; because of the bridge’s location at the west-end of Pan Am Railway’s East Deerfield yard, there tends to be a lot of action and opportunities to witness trains here. While waiting along the line can become tiresome, if not tedious, but there’s often something about to happen at East Deerfield.

The location above crossovers at the throat to the yard, this combined with yard leads and engine house tracks, plus the junction with the Deerfield Loop (that connects with the Connecticut River Line) west of the bridge make for some fascinating track work.

Elevation is always a plus.

There’s ample parking nearby.

The light in early morning and late evening here can be excellent. I’ve made some wonderful fog photos here, as well countless morning and evening glint shots. How about blazing foggy glint? Yep done that here too. And about ten days ago I got a rainbow.

The afternoon of June 29, 2017 was dull and overcast. Mike Gardner and I had arrived in pursuit of Pan Am Southern’s symbol freight 28N (carrying autoracks and JB Hunt containers). We’d also heard that its counterpart 287 (empty autoracks from Ayer, Massachusetts) was on its way west.

As it happened the two trains met just east of the bridge.

I exposed a series of black & white photos on Kodak Tri-X using a Leica IIIa with 21mm Super Angulon lens, while simultaneously working in digitally color with my FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm lens.

Photographer Mike Gardner on the famed ‘Railfans Bridge’ at East Deerfield.

Pan Am Southern’s symbol freight 28N with a Crescent Cab approaches East Deerfield Yard.

Auto racks roll under McClelland Farm Road at East Deerfield West.

Pan Am Southern 28N (left) meets its counterpart, symbol freight 287 at East Deerfield yard.

One of the attractions of the East Deerfield bridge is the action.

Too many photos here? Undoubtedly. But I bet they age well. Especially when the old vantage point has finally been demolished.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

 

No Pot of Gold at East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

This is the second in my series of East Deerfield ‘Railfan’s Bridge’ farewell; See: Railfan’s Bridge at East Deerfield—my First Farewell.

Sunday, June 25, 2017, Tim and I had circled Pan Am Railway’s East Deerfield classification yard trying to find an angle, or a train.

The sun was out, and it was raining. Tim said, “This is some pretty weird weather.”

We crossed the old “Railfan’s Bridge” (McClelland Farm Road), and I looked eastward over the yard and shouted, ‘Holy —-, Look at the rainbow!’

It started out faint, and gradually grew more intense as the sun emerged from a cloud-bank.

Although it hung in the sky for ten minutes or more, there wasn’t a wheel turning. Pity too. I think of all the thousands of photos I’ve made around East Deerfield and in all kinds of light, but I’d never caught a rainbow before!

Exposed using my FujFilm X-T1 with 18-135mm lens and Lee 0.6 graduated neutral density filter.

 

Railfan’s Bridge at East Deerfield—my First Farewell.

The old McClelland Farm Road bridge over the Boston & Maine tracks at the west end of East Deerfield Yard (near Greenfield, Massachusetts) has been a popular place to photograph trains since the steam era.

Known colloquially as the ‘Railfan’s Bridge,’ this vantage point has been featured in articles in TRAINS Magazine Railpace, and other popular literature for decades.

I first visited with my father and brother in the early 1980s, and have made countless photos here, many of which have a appeared in books, calendars, and of course on Tracking the Light.

My friend Tim coined it the ‘waste too much film bridge’ in the early 2000s, owing to our propensity to make an excessive number of photos as Guilford freight trains switched in the yard.

Although hackneyed and perhaps over frequented, it’s been a great place to catch the sunrise, make photos of the locomotives and freight cars, and work the evening glint.

At times, I’ve seen as many as 30 photographers here, all vying for position.

Imagine my surprise last month, when Tim and I arrived to photograph the elusive and much followed Pan Am Railways office car train, expecting to find a wall of lenses, and instead realized that we were the only photographers on site!

In the evening glow, Pan Am Railway’s prized former Canadian National FP9s lead the company office car train off the Deerfield Loop track at the west end of East Deerfield Yard. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

. You can see that the trees have been cut in preparation for the heavy works, expected to begin shortly. Lumix LX7 photo.

How many thousands, or tens of thousands, of photos have been exposed from this vantage point over the decades? FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

I used this opportunity to make some photos of the old bridge, soon to be replaced by a new span located 40 feet to the west.

Why is this my first farewell? Simply, the bridge isn’t yet gone. After it is, perhaps I’ll post a ‘final farewell’.

 

I wonder how the new vantage point will compare?

 

Tracking the Light!

East Deerfield Sunset‑Variations on a Scene.

Groundhog Day 2017.

Mike Gardner and I were in place at East Deerfield Yard (near Greenfield, Massachusetts) to document the arrival of Pan Am symbol freight POED (from Portland, Maine).

As the freight pulled beneath the bridge at the west-end of the yard, I made a series of photographs with different cameras.

I often work with two or more cameras at the same time: digital, black & white film, color slide film (results pending), more digital. That’s my style of making images. I sort out the results later.

Any favorites?

Lumix LX7 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.

Exposed on Ilford HP5 with a Leica IIIa with 35mm Nikkor wide angle lens.

FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 18-135mm lens.

FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 18-135mm lens plus Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter.

FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with 18-135mm lens plus Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter.

Whose Railroad is this?

An old favorite photo location is the Connecticut River bridge at East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Earlier this month, photographer Mike Gardner and I caught two freights crossing this traditional span within just a few minutes of each other.

The first was eastward autorack train symbol 28T operating to Ayer, Massachusetts with Norfolk Southern locomotives. A few minutes later, Pan Am freight POED (Portland to East Deerfield) worked west with recently acquired former CSX General Electric DASH8-40Cs.

Autorack (Norfolk Southern symbol 28T) works east across the Connecticut River. Exposed using a Lumix LX-7. RAW file modified for contrast and color using Lightroom.

Pan Am’s POED with former CSX DASH8-40C diesels. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Pan Am’s POED with former CSX DASH8-40C diesels. Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Historically this was the Boston & Maine’s Fitchburg line; B&M was melded into the Guilford system in the 1980s and in the mid-2000s . Today, Pan Am and Norfolk Southern are partners in operating Boston & Maine lines west of Ayer as Pan Am Southern.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

On the Roll with Norfolk Southern’s Virginian Heritage Locomotive.

Here’s another case of dumb luck. The other day, when Mike Gardner and I headed for Pan Am Southern’s Boston & Maine at East Deerfield, we had vague notions that we’d follow one of their trains.

As with many of our photographic adventures, our plan was little more than a loose agreement that we’d explore and make photos. Mike does the driving, I help with the navigation and interpreting the scanner.

I’d brought a wide selection of cameras, including two Nikon film cameras and my old Rollei Model T for black & white work.

Early in our day we bumped into some fellow photographers who tipped us off on the westward approach of empty autorack train 287 led by Norfolk Southern 1069 painted to honor the old Virginian.

The Virginian is long before my time. It was melded into Norfolk & Western 7 years before I was born. However, I was familiar with the line through my father’s color slides.

As the day unfolded we learned that we had a pair of westward trains to work with. As noted in yesterday’s post, Pan Am’s EDRJ was working with recently acquired former CSX DASH8-40Cs. Initially, it was 287 with the Virginian painted locomotive that caught our attention.

January 5, 2017 East Deerfield, Massachusetts. Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens. Pan Am’s EDRJ (with former CSX DASH8-40Cs) waits for auto rack 287 with NS 1069  to clear the yard before making its double.

Exposed on Fomapan 200 with a Rollei Model T. Film processed in D76.

Pacing view near Charlemont, Massachusetts. Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

To the River!

Pan Am Southern 287 passes the classic location at Zoar, Massachusetts. Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

Eagle Bridge, New York. Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

Horace Greeley’s advice played out well that day! (But we aren’t as young as we were once).

Who’s Horace Greeley? 

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Pan Am’s Wabash Dome Crosses the Connecticut.

Yes, that’s what this is all about.

Should I translate?

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera. Why is a 'digital camera' use film in its name? Not sure, but it certainly causes confusion. And no, there was no film exposed in the making of this image.
Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera. Why does a ‘digital camera’ use ‘film’ in its name? Not sure, but it certainly causes confusion. And no, there was no film exposed in the making of this image.

Ok: Pan Am Railways (which takes its name from the old Pan Am Airways, the name that the railway’s parent organization acquired some years back) bought an old Wabash Railroad stainless steel dome.

Wabash was neither acronym nor a monicker.

Back in the day (before 1964 when the company was melded into the Norfolk & Western), the Wabash Railroad Company operated a Midwestern North American network that connected Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Omaha and Kansas City gateways.

The Connecticut is the north-south river that bisects New England, and which forms the boundary between New Hamshire and Vermont while crossing the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut. (Sorry, I don’t know if the state was named for the river or vice versa).

I made this photograph from the west bank of the river at East Deerfield, Massachusetts last August (2016.)

Hopefully that clarifies any confusion!

Tracking the Light posts everyday.

Details Revaled: Slug Set over the Connecticut.

On June 15, 2016, I posted two views of Pan Am Railway’s leased Slug Set working in East Deerfield hump service and paused on the Connecticut River Bridge east of the yard.

I asked readers to voice an opinion on their preferred image, while explaining that one was exposed on black & white film the traditional way and the other exposed digitally as a monochrome image.

I’ve weighed the comments, email and Facebook messages and found that the response was more or less evenly split, with a slight leaning to the top image (film). One respondent voiced a dislike of both images (see comments).

Below are the two vertical images with details of how they were made.

Number 1; exposed on Ilford HP5 black & white negative film using a Leica 3A with Nikkor 35mm lens. Processed in Kodak HC110 developer.
Number 1; exposed on Ilford HP5 black & white negative film using a Leica 3A with Nikkor 35mm lens. Processed in Kodak HC110 developer.

Number 2. This digital image was made using my FujiFilm X-T1 in a monochrome mode. I altered the output through the addition of a digital 'red' filter, that slightly darkened the blue areas of the image including the locomotive on the bridge.
Number 2. This digital image was made using my FujiFilm X-T1 in a monochrome mode. I altered the output through the addition of a digital ‘red’ filter, that slightly darkened the green and blue areas of the image including the locomotive on the bridge. This adjustment was made in-camera, not in post processing.

Both images were scaled for internet presentation using Lightroom.

Tracking the Light publishes everyday.

Brian’s Blue Diesel Distraction: Pan Am Railways SD45.

Sometimes it helps not to plan too hard. With the sun at our backs we headed out on the open road aiming to find our subject, but situations change, information is imperfect, and unexpected opportunities present themselves.

Tuesday February 9, 2016 wasn’t a day I’d expected to be  making photos. But when at the last minute the task set for the day was postponed and the weather forecast improved, suddenly I had an opportunity to spend the day with cameras in hand.

A snowplow clearing the drive woke me up. I rang my old friend Paul Goewey to see if he was keen on a day’s photography and soon we were on the road.

My thoughts were to head toward Brattleboro, Vermont to intercept New England Central’s job 611, the southward freight to Palmer, Massachusetts.

However, all we knew was that at 8 am it hadn’t departed Brattleboro yard.

Driving north I made a spontaneous decision to divert and instead drove to Pan Am Railway’s East Deerfield Yard. After arriving we heard of an EDRJ (East Deerfield to Rotterdam Junction) that was being prepared for its westward journey.

Pan Am's EDRJ lurked at East Deerfield. The prospect of a day long westward chase across the Boston & Maine's Fitchburg Line reminded me of olden times. But would the train depart promptly? Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1.
Pan Am’s EDRJ lurked at East Deerfield. The prospect of a day long westward chase across the Boston & Maine’s Fitchburg Line reminded me of olden times. But would the train depart promptly? Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1.

So much for our quest of the New England Central.

While we waited for EDRJ to be organized, Pan Am’s POED (Portland to East Deerfield) arrived with a consist of seven EMD diesels.

Pan Am's POED with a monster consist; seven locomotives all old EMDs. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1.
Pan Am’s POED with a monster consist; seven locomotives all old EMDs. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1.

Finally, EDRJ was ready to go.
The sun was out, there was a blue SD45 in the lead (well its was a locomotive that had once been a proper SD45) and we had plenty of daylight. I anticipated following the train all the way to the Mohawk Valley.

Finally, about 11:22 am, Pan Am Railway's EDRJ was on the move with a handsome SD45 in the lead (yes yes, I know, this locomotive no longer has its 20-cylinder diesel. But it sure looks nice!). Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1.
Finally, about 11:22 am, Pan Am Railway’s EDRJ was on the move with a handsome SD45 in the lead (yes yes, I know, this locomotive no longer has its 20-cylinder diesel. But it sure looks nice!). Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1.

Pan_Am_EDRJ_East_Deerfield_DSCF0897
The one caveat was that today’s EDRJ had only two cars. Not the monster freight that I’d expect of Pan AM. Yet, a small consist meant that the train was likely to make good time. Plus it had a pickup at Hoosick Junction and as they say; ‘it is what it is.’

EDRJ catches the sun crossing a field freshly covered with snow near Buckland, Massachusetts. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
EDRJ catches the sun crossing a field freshly covered with snow near Buckland, Massachusetts. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.

The road to Zoar was in better shape than I expected. Here EDRJ works west.
The road to Zoar was in better shape than I expected. Here EDRJ works west.

A few minutes earlier EDRJ had met an eastward train at Soapstone. We opted to continue following EDRJ. I expected to reach the Mohawk Valley by dusk. Such was not the case though, as soon we had another distraction!
A few minutes earlier EDRJ had met an eastward train at Soapstone. We opted to continue following EDRJ. I expected to reach the Mohawk Valley by dusk. Such was not the case though, as soon we had another distraction!

So further and further west we went. Later we found a fortuitous surprise.

Stay tuned tomorrow for our lucky Tuesday prize—handed to us like a birthday cake. Silver stars for going out; gold stars for persistence!

 

Tracking the Light is Daily!

Ballast Train departs East Deerfield

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post; while waiting for Pan Am Southern 14R with Union Pacific SD70Ms, Mike Gardner and I photographed an empty ballast train with an old GP40 departing on the East Deerfield Loop, where it will travel a short distance to crusher for loading.

I thought it made an interesting juxtaposition to show the old EMD with its battered ballast hoppers departing the switches at the west-end with the Union Pacific locomotives waiting in the distance.

Pan Am's empty ballast train departs East Deerfield on October 22, 2015.
Pan Am’s empty ballast train departs East Deerfield on October 22, 2015.

The empty ballast train takes the switch for the East Deerfield Loop track. It will be loaded just a short distance from the yard.
The empty ballast train takes the switch for the East Deerfield Loop track. It will be loaded just a short distance from the yard.

Which is more interesting, the old ballast train or symbol freight 14? You decide!
Which is more interesting, the old ballast train or symbol freight 14?

Which train was the main event? In the future, which may be of greater interest? The lowly ballast train or the symbol through freight with ‘foreign power’? What do you think?

I exposed these photos using my FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less digital camera.

Tracking the Light posts Daily!

Pan Am Heritage Locomotives Cross the Connecticut—July 9 2015

In the early 1980s, I made trips to Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield Yard to catch the waning days of the old GP7s, GP9s, and GP18s.

More than 30 years later, some of those old goats are still on the move, hauling freight and now in heritage paint!

On the morning of July 9, 2015, photographer Mike Gardner and I stopped into East Deerfield and found the Pan Am Railways GP9s getting ready to work east with a ballast train. I made this view of the colorful old locomotives crossing the Connecticut River east of the yard.

Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.
Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.

Foggy Morning, East Deerfield, Massachusetts, June 24, 1989.

Then, as now, east Deerfield was a favorite place to make photos and begin a trip to somewhere else.

To make the most of the long days of summer, I had an early start. At 6:19 am, I made this photo of eastward DHED led by a pair of former Norfolk Southern SD45 and an old Santa Fe SD26. For me the fog made the scene more interesting; it adds depth while providing a painterly chiaroscuro effect.

There’s something tragic, yet intriguing about the state of the line. The ghostly effect of the old double track signal bridge-sans signal heads and the weedy tracks tells of empire in decay. The railroad that forges forward in its own shadow.

You can imagine the low roar of the 20-645E3 diesels amplified and modulated by the morning mist. Perhaps I should have been making audio recordings . . .

 Using my dad’s Leica M3, I exposed this view on Kodak Plus-X. My exposure was between f4.5 and f5.6 at 1/60th of second.

Using my dad’s Leica M3, I exposed this view on Kodak Plus-X. My exposure was between f4.5 and f5.6 at 1/60th of second.

Since DHED had arrived at its eastward terminal, I opted to head west. My next photograph was at Schenectady, New York on the Delaware & Hudson some hours later. Fast forward more than 25 years

Pan_Am_352_East_Deerfield_w_100mm_IMG_9139
Compare the 1989 black & white view (top) with this one exposed in December 2014 from the same location, (previously displayed on Tracking the Light).

 

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

Please share Tracking the Light!

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

Pan Am and the Hawk.

Compositional challenges in four photos.

The other day I was at the old ‘waste too much film’ bridge at Pan Am’s East Deerfield Yard near Greenfield, Massachusetts. An eastward freight was about to proceed into the yard when a hawk landed atop the code lines.

This tightly cropped image was made from the in-camera jpg. If nothing else, I know that my 200mm lens is sharp at f11! That's something, anyway.
This tightly cropped image was made from the in-camera jpg. If nothing else, I know that my 200mm lens is sharp at f11! That’s something, anyway.

Here was an opportunity for an interesting image of the bird and a train in the distance. My intention was make a visual juxtaposition between the two subjects. An interesting concept, but one fraught with technical difficulties.

I faced several problems. The bird was too distant to make for a substantial subject using my longest lens. Furthermore there was too great a distance between the bird and the train to allow both to be in relative focus when using my 200mm telephoto lens. (An even longer lens would have acerbated this problem).

To allow for greater depth of field (relative focus) I upped the ISO on my Canon 7D to 800, which allowed me to set a smaller aperture (f11).

This doesn't really work, does it? It's neither a great shot of the hawk nor an acceptable image of the train.  Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 800 f11 at 1/250th of a second handheld.
This doesn’t really work, does it? It’s neither a great shot of the hawk nor an acceptable image of the train. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 800 f11 at 1/250th of a second handheld.

The larger f-number indicates a smaller aperture opening, while this lets in less light to sensor, it increases the depth of field (thus my need to increase the ISO to allow using a relative quick shutter speed to minimize camera shake). Often when photographing trains I want to use a smaller f-number to help offset the train from the background, but not in this case.

Also, some clouds obscured the sun. This had the dual unfortunate effects of flattening the light and allowing the bird blend into its background, while reducing the amount light on the scene to make an already difficult exposure more problematic.

There were several other problems. Most notably was the effect of the under-growth along the code lines that visually obscured the locomotives in the distance. If I moved to the left to get around the brush, the bird and train no longer had a workable juxtaposition.

Ideally, If I could have been about 10-15 feet higher, I might have been able to make this concept work, but there was no way to gain elevation. In this case I simply exposed the photo with the brush and hoped for the best.

Another difficulty was getting the bird to cooperate. I’m not fluent in Hawkese. But I wanted the bird to turn its head, otherwise it might just seem like a feathered blob, so I made some ‘tsking’ sounds to attract its attention.

Then the locomotive engineer throttled up and the dull roar of dual EMD 16-645E3 diesels startled the bird (or otherwise annoyed it) and it flew away. In the meantime I repositioned to make a series of more conventional photos of the freight train.

On the plus side, as the freight approached, the sun came out making for some photographic possibilities. The train was moving slowly, allowing me to change lenses and exposed a sequence of both digital and film photographs.

Pam Am 352 acclerates toward East Deerfield Yard with a heavy freight. As the train approached the sun came out. Yea! Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Pam Am 352 acclerates toward East Deerfield Yard with a heavy freight. As the train approached the sun came out. Yea! Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

I made this tighter view, while intentionally offsetting the freight to feature the old searchlight style signal on the left. These old signals are rapidly being replaced with modern hardware. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
I made this tighter view, while intentionally offsetting the freight to feature the old searchlight style signal on the left. These old signals are rapidly being replaced with modern hardware. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

As the train got closer, I swapped lenses between my EOS 3 (loaded with Provia 100F) and my EOS 7D digital camera. I made this view digitally with the 7D and 100mm lens. Where's the bird now?
As the train got closer, I swapped lenses between my EOS 3 (loaded with Provia 100F) and my EOS 7D digital camera. I made this view digitally with the 7D and 100mm lens. Where’s the bird now?

 Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

Please share Tracking the Light!

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

 

Colorful Consist Crossing the Connecticut River.

July 10, 2014.

We were waiting for Pan Am Southern’s westward empty autorack, train 206. This was just the gravy: Earlier Mike Gardner, Brian Jennison and I, had already had a productive summer’s day following the Mass-Central and caught Amtrak’s Vermonter in perfect light at Millers Falls.

As we waited for 205, Pan Am’s dispatcher routed its eastward counterpart, loaded autorack train 206 (destined for Ayer, Massachusetts), through the yard at East Deerfield to get it around a track gang.

Pan Am Southern train 206 crosses the Connecticut River at East Deerfield, Massachusetts on the evening of July 10, 2014.
Pan Am Southern train 206 crosses the Connecticut River at East Deerfield, Massachusetts on the evening of July 10, 2014.

This was an unexpected bonus! The train was led by a colorful consist of General Electric diesels. A Union Pacific Evolution-series was up front, followed by a curious former Conrail and/or LMS DASH8-40CW lettered for Canadian National and sublettered for CN’s subsidiary Illinois Central. Trailing was a common Norfolk Southern DASH9-40CW.

It’s just as well I shot this as a digital image and not as a color slide. I couldn’t have fit all this information on the slide mount! (Although I did exposed a frame of black & white film).

We never saw Pan Am’s 205 that day.

Nor did we catch the following unit grain train with BNSF locomotives leading. You can’t win all the prizes.

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

Please share Tracking the Light!

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

Tomorrow: Union Pacific Sunset!

 

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?)

Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.

Please spread the word and share Tracking the Light with anyone who may enjoy seeing it!

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

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

Please spread the word and share Tracking the Light with anyone who may enjoy seeing it!

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunrise at East Deerfield Yard, October 18, 2013


Applying an Old Technique with Today’s Technology.

The other day I arrived at Pan Am Southern’s Boston & Maine East Deerfield Yard shortly after sunrise. Although not a wheel was turning, there was some nice light and I made a selection of images.

My challenge was in the great contrast between the ground and sky. With my Lumix LX3, I found that if I exposed for the track area, the dramatic sky was washed out (too light), and if I exposed for the sky the tracks area was nearly opaque.

Railway yard.
East Deerfield Yard, Massachusetts at Sunrise. Unmodified ‘in camera Jpg’. Lumix LX3 photo exposed using the ‘V’ (for Vivid) setting.

With black & white film, I would have compensated my exposure and film development to maximize the information on the negative, then dodged and burned critical areas on the easel in the dark room to produce a nicely balanced print. I’d done this thousands of times and had my system down to fine art.

I applied this same basic philosophy the other morning at East Deerfield. I made several exposures from different angles. In one of these I slightly overexposed the sky to retain some detail in the track area.

The in-camera Jpg from this still appears both too dark and too contrasty (from my perspective having witnessed the scene). Rather than be content with this inadequate photograph, I took a copy of RAW file that I exposed simultaneously (one the benefits of the LX3 is it allows both a Jpg and a RAW to be exposed at the same time) and imported it into Photoshop. (I always work from a copy and I NEVER manipulate or alter the original file).

Under the ‘Image’ menu, I selected ‘Adjustments’ and then ‘Curves’; I then adjusted the curve to produce a more balanced over all exposure. This is possible because the RAW file has more information (detail) in it than is visually apparent.

While this improved the image, I still wasn’t satisfied. So I selected the ‘Dodge and Burn tool’ (which appears in the tool bar as a angled gray lollipop). Using the ‘Dodge’ function, I very slightly and selectively lightened track areas and foliage that I felt appeared too dark.

Then I used the ‘Burn’ function to selectively adjust the sky areas. If I’ve done this successfully, the scene should appear very close to the way I saw it. Similar techniques can be used to make for surreal and unnatural spectacular landscapes. While I may do that later, that’s not my intent today.

East Deerfield, Massachusetts.
The same image as above, but from a modified RAW file using Photoshop to adjust contrast (both across the entire image and locally). Lumix LX3 photograph.

While modern tools, like those of the traditional darkroom, allow for improvement over in-camera images, the effort does take time. I estimate I spent 10-15 minutes adjusting this photograph.

Because this adds time to the work on the photograph, I don’t want to have to do this any more often than necessary. Most of my photographs are ready to go ‘in-camera’ (as it were).

Tracking the Light posts new material daily.

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

Please spread the word and share Tracking the Light with anyone who may enjoy seeing it!

http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/

Enhanced by Zemanta

Old Boston & Maine Tower at East Deerfield

East Deerfield Yard during a snow squall on the evening of January 21, 2013. Photo exposed with a Canon 7D and 100mm f2.0 telephoto lens mounted on a Bogan tripod; ISO 200 set a f4.0 for 21 seconds.
East Deerfield Yard during a snow squall on the evening of January 21, 2013. Photo exposed with a Canon 7D and 100mm f2.0 telephoto lens mounted on a Bogan tripod; ISO 200 set a f4.0 for 21 seconds.

It’s been a long time since the old tower at the west-end of Pan Am Southern’s former Boston & Maine yard served as intended. Yet it survives as a landmark and lends to the heritage of the place. I’ve photographed this building many times over the years; by day, by night, by sun, and in the fog. This Monday evening (January 21, 2013), I exposed a few time exposures during a snow-squall. The lightly falling snow diffused the light from the yard making for an eerie glow—a quality of light well suited to night-photography. Finding a focus-point in the dark was a challenge, as was remaining out in the frosty evening while the camera exposed the photos.

Enhanced by Zemanta