Tag Archives: Europe

Tonight! July 16 2018— Slide Show and Book Signing at the 16 Acres Branch Library in Springfield, Massachusetts.

St. Saphorin, Switzerland.

At 615pm on Monday July 16 2018, I’ll be giving a slide presentation on European Railway Travel. This will be  immediately followed by a book signing for my new Railway Guide to Europe published this year by Kalmbach Books.

The Springfield City Library 16 Acres Branch Library is located at 1187 Parker Street in the 16 Acres area of Springfield.

For details on the library see: http://www.springfieldlibrary.org/library/about/sixteen-acres-branch/

Details on Library events:


Questions call:  Reggie Wilson 413-263-6858

Click here for details on: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.


Märklin’s Mickey Mouse at Köln!

It was a lucky shot. I was changing trains at the Köln Hauptbahnhof in 1999, when I made this photo from the platforms at the east side of the station.

A DB Class 120 electric had been specially painted by or for Märklin model trains to commemorate the 70thanniversary of Disney’s Mickey Mouse.

I wasn’t expecting this locomotive, but as it went by I made a few choice photographs on Fujichrome Sensia using my Nikon N90S and a 105mm lens.

One of the great things about exploring German railways is a tremendous variety of trains complete with unexpected surprises in the form of specially painted locomotives, antiques on the roll, and special trains.

Germany is one of my favorite countries to visit and among the places profiled in my new book: Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe, now available from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.


Tracking the Light posts daily.

Europe’s Most Photogenic Urban Railway? Five Photos—Lisbon Trams.

As far as transit is concerned, Lisbon is the San Francisco of Europe.

Ok, you can nitpick about the methods of propulsion, cables versus juice, but with steep hills, outstanding urban panoramas and quirky twisting trackage in narrow streets and fully functional antique cars, Lisbon’s tram system has lots in common with San Francisco’s famous cable cars.

These cities have lots of parallels too, certainly in layout and appearance, and weather.

I made these photos in the Portuguese capital on a brilliant day in April.

There’s seemingly endless opportunity for photographs. But do you work with the shadows or in the shadows?

Canon EOS 7D digital photo.
View from a Portuguese restaurant. Canon EOS 7D digital photo.

For the tourist, Lisbon’s trams are both transport and an attraction.

Lisbon is among the cities featured in my new book, Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe  available now from the Kalmbach Hobby Store.


You can also get my book on Amazon. If you like what you see, please give me a good review! Thanks!

Red trams make a special circuit for visitors. Canon EOS 7D digital photo.

Canon EOS 7D digital photo.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Modern Alstom Trams in an Old French City; Valenciennes—22 April 2016 Part 2.

As a follow up to this morning’s post on SNCF at Valenciennes, I thought I’d post a few Lumix LX7 photos I made of the city’s modern tram system.

This is a show-case system of Alstom’s tram technology and features street running, trackage in grass-covered central medians, and tram lines on old SNCF railway lines.

The Citadis trams are very similar to those employed on Dublin’s LUAS network, albeit with different styling.

The day started out with pale thin sunlight, which was gradually replaced by a even dull overcast.

Valenciennes on 22 April 2016; Lumix LX7 photo, unaltered JPG image (except for scaling).
Valenciennes tram on 22 April 2016; Lumix LX7 photo, unaltered JPG image (except for scaling).
Valenciennes tram on 22 April 2016; Lumix LX7 photo, unaltered JPG image (except for scaling).
Valenciennes on 22 April 2016; Lumix LX7 photo, adjusted RAW file, with contrast, exposure and saturation altered to improve balance and interest. LX7 photo.
Espace Villars terminus on the Valenciennes tram system.

Click here to order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

I exposed the cover photo in Germany’s Rhein Valley using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

Tracking the Light posts Daily and sometimes twice!

See my earlier post:

On this Day in 2016; Valenciennes, France.

On this Day in 2016, I visited Valenciennes, France.

On this Day in 2016, I visited Valenciennes, France.

It was two years ago today (22 April,  2018), that I made my second visit to Valenciennes, France.

Although it was dull, I worked with my Lumix to make these views of SNCF’s TGV high-speed sets at the Valenciennes former Nord railway station.

Not every day is bright and sunny; not every city is blessed with world-class wonders; and not every high-speed train is moving fast.

Valenciennes has a nice old station and a showcase small-city modern tram system.

Later in the day, I caught up with my Finnish friend Mauno Pajunen, and toured Belgian railway sites in the region.

Over the next few days , I made a high-speed railway journey to Bordeaux and  and then through the Channel Tunnel to London—all part of my exploration that contributed to the content of my latest book; Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

Click here to order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

Tracking the Light posts Daily!


Catching Rail Freight on the Way to the Airport.

Opportunity is the operative.

At the end of April, Denis McCabe and I were on our way to the Basel Airport on the airport bus (image omitted). On the way, we spotted an over bridge on the double-track line that connects Basel with France.

Arriving at the airport, we concluded that we were too early to check in for our flight, so rather than waste time milling around the airport, we doubled back to the bridge, a mere 10 minutes away.

Among the photos I made in the interval at the bridge was this trailing view of an SNCF freight heading to France from Switzerland.

Exposed using a FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.


Tracking the Light Post something new EVERY day!

(It’s more or less true).

Europe’s Most Colourful Tram City? Lots of NEW photos!

I’ll offer Freiburg as one of Europe’s most colourful tram cities.

The combination of variety of cars, a range of paint liveries (advertising and otherwise), interesting trackage plus varied and interesting historic backdrops makes Freiburg hard to top.

Any suggested contenders?

Photos below exposed in April 2016 using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera.


Thalys High Speed Train, The Netherlands, September 2013


Presenting a Modern Railway Vision.

Thalys high-speed train.
Thalys crosses Hollands Diep south of Dordrecht, The Netherlands in September 2013. Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D fitted with f2.8 200mm lens; ISO 800 f4 1/250 second.

I exposed this image of a Thalys at speed crossing a arched bridge over Hollands Diep minutes before the fading orange ball of the sun melted into North Sea coastal fog.

Thalys is an international high-speed train branding applied to services connecting Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris, and Köln-Brussels-Paris. Technologically speaking the train is a French-built TGV, but specially painted and decorated for Thalys services.

This was an evening run from Amsterdam to Paris. Hollands Diep is the coastal estuary fed by Rhein and Meuse Rivers. This bridge features a pronounced sweep up and over the water. Beyond it is an older (and busier) truss that has two main tracks for ordinary rail services (freight and passenger).

I panned this train with my Canon EOS 7D fitted with f2.8 200mm fixed telephoto. The light was fading rapidly, so I set the ISO to 800, adjusted the white balance manually and pre-focused in anticipation of the fast moving train. My exposure was f4 at 1/250 of a second.

Earlier in the evening I’d seen a Thalys fly across the bridge and I recognized that the structure of the bridge mimicked the paint scheme on the train, so I released the shutter to allow for an arching visual flow between train and bridge. This is accentuated by the low light.



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Brian’s Belgian Rail Marathon—August 2013.


Making Use of an SNCB ‘Railpass’ Ticket.

Does Belgium offer one western Europe’s best-kept secret railway experiences?

Belgian passenger train
Interior of the upper level on a double-deck SNCB train. Exposed with my Lumix LX3.
Railway station.
SNCB station entrance at Ottignies, Belgium in August 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

In 1835, Belgium was first on the Continent to adopt the steam railway. It subsequently developed one of the densest railway networks in Europe. Today, (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges—Belgian National Railways) operates one of the best national networks.

Although, often overlooked in favor of more scenic countries, Belgium is a great place to ride trains. I’ll be honest, while I’d made a few trips to Belgium in the 1990s, in recent years I’d generally ignored it in favor of other places. Recently, I’ve been stunned to find what a pleasant place it is to ride trains.

The railway is well integrated with other modes. Services run frequently on regular intervals across the network. On most routes there’s a good mix of local and express trains. The equipment is varied and generally comfortable, and the staff are very professional, courteous, helpful, and smartly dressed.

On the downside, I found that some stations, especially un-staffed smaller ones, were neglected and in a poor state and this tended to detract from the overall experience. By contrast, other stations were in very nice shape.

I’ve made two trips to Belgium this year. Last week (August 2013), I made good use of a 10-ride ‘Railpass’ ticket that I purchased for 76 Euro back in March.

This is an open-ended ticket where you write in your starting station and destination with date of travel for each journey. From my experience its an excellent value, and especially valuable for wandering.

My goal was to make a circular trip to explore potential photographic locations while traveling lines I’d not previously experienced.

SNCB class 18 electric.
Platform level view of an SNCB class 18 electric at Ottignies, Belgium. Lumix LX3 photo.

Beginning in a southern Brussels suburb, I rode south via Ottignies (see yesterday’s post) and Namur to Marloie, and then eastward over a scenic secondary line to a small station called Esneux, where I spent an hour making photos.

From Esneux, I rode northward to Leige, where I found a stunning surprise . . .

(To be continued . . .)

SNCB electric passenger train.
My train to Esneux arriving at Marloie, a small station in southern Belgium. I appear to be on the wrong platform! (Its a good thing SNCB makes prolonged station stops). LX3 photo.
Train interior.
SNCB electric multiple unit interior. Large windows and spacious comfortable seat compensate for a basic functional design. Lumix LX3 photo.


Railway station in Belgium.
SNCB station at Esneux, Belgium, August 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.


SNCB station at Esneux, Belgium, August 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
SNCB station at Esneux, Belgium, August 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.


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