Here’s a great concept that blends the conviviality of a pub with the rolling urban vistas provided by a streetcar.
Helsinki has a virtual maze of narrow-gauge tram tracks and the pub tram makes hourly circular tours. The car itself is one of the last non-articulated trams in regular service in the city and is painted a distinctive red.
On an earlier visit to Helsinki in 2002, I photographed the car, but was unable to ride because it had been booked for a charter. In July 2015, Markku Pulkkinen and I took a spin on this unusual railway vehicle. I think it is the only city tram that I’ve ever seen with a loo.
The pub tram is great way to see Helsinki. Every city should have one!
For more than a half century, Dv12 diesel hydraulics have worked Finland’s 1,524mm gauge lines. (Purists will note that in their first decade this type was classified as Sv12).
During my recent visit to Finland I was delighted to find many of these old diesels still on the move. Some have been painted in the new white with green livery, but others were struggling on in their traditional paint, albeit with a green splotch painted across the front.
The Dv12 is to Finland, what the GP9 was to America, and the 141/181 Class General Motors diesels are to Ireland.
These are just a few detailed views made of these classic locomotives.
In July, Helsinki’s new circular Airport service began, including operations on stretches of newly built track.
Firstly, I’ll admit complete failure on my part to experience the train on my arrival at Helsinki Airport. I was aware of the new service, and looking forward to riding it. However, I couldn’t find the train. I was told that I needed to take a bus to the station. So I bought a two-zone ticket, and when a bus arrived with the destination board reading ‘Helsinki Railway Station’ (or something like that), I got on.
I was halfway to Helsinki before I realized my mistake! Before I knew it, I’d been deposited at the Helsinki Central Station in the city center. This was a bitter defeat.
On the plus side the bus turned out to be considerably faster than the train.
A little more than a week later, I finally had opportunities to experience the new service. This is operated with Stadler Flirt electric multiple units.
I made my first pass over the route on 30 July, 2015, and on the morning of 31 July 2015, Markku Pulkkinen, Sakari K. Salo, and Juhani Katajisto provided me a tour of the line by car.
Tomorrow, I’ll explore some necessary digital manipulation of an airport train photograph to demonstrate my experiments with Adobe Lightroom as a tool for making a photograph more effective.
Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.
Every so often a train stops in a photogenic location, which provides ample opportunity to make a variety of images.
Such was the case the other day, when Petri and Pietu Tuovinen, Markku Pulkkinen were providing me tour of greater Kontiomäki.
This pair of Finnish Sr2 electrics had brought a loaded iron ore train west from the Russian-border and were waiting for a path to continue toward Oulu at the junction with the electrified line at the west leg of the Kontiomäki triangle.
While the train was stopped, I used the moment to expose photographs with three cameras. These are a few angles made digitally with my FujiFilm X-T1 mirror-less camera, and my pocket-size Lumix LX-7. The slides remain latent.
Since the lighting was relatively even, my goal was to obtain the most impressive angle that features the contours and colours on the Sr2s. VR is in a transition from the older white and red livery to a new white with bright green scheme.
Finland is a great place to make railway photographs. Two of my favorite features of the country are the long days of summer, (in late July the sun remains above the horizon to well after 10 pm), and the overnight sleeping car trains.
Low rich sun light and long unusual-looking consists of sleeping cars and auto-carriers make for many photographic possibilities.
During my visit three night trains served Oulu in each direction daily. These run between Helsinki and northern cities at Kemijärvi, Kolari, and Rovaniemi.
Not every evening is clear and bright. Too often it rains. But last Saturday evening the sky was free of clouds and the air was clear, making for nearly ideal conditions.
These views are of IC 266 (Rovaniemi – Helsinki) led by a pair of Soviet-built Sr1 electrics. At Oulu cars are added to the train using a Dv12 diesel, which provides ample time to make photographs of the train arriving and standing at the station.
My host, Markku Pulkkinen, explained the train’s daily routine, suggested locations for photographs, and provided transportation. I made these images with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera. The challenge of working with very low sun is navigating the shadows successfully.
In railway photography timing is everything. In Finland, some of the mystery of when trains operate has been revealed through the miracle of a public service application for smart phones and mobile devices.
Thanks to the careful attention of my guides. Petri and Pietu Tuovinen, and Markku Pulkinen, we arrived at the timber loading terminal at the end of a lightly used VR branch just in time to catch the arrival of this VR empty timber train.
In the lead were a pair of venerable Dv12 diesel-hydraulic locomotives. These are the GP9s of Finland and have worked all types of traffic.
The overgrown branch line with very light rail is a total contrast with Finland’s mainlines, which feature excellent track and manicured infrastructure.
An old light 2-8-0 is positioned near the end of track as a display. Finland was still operating wood-fired steam in revenue service into the 1970s.
I felt like a Victorian explorer being led through forests by expert guides. Petri and Pietu Tuovinen, and Markku Pulkinen led me a long a disused track.
“There is a locomotive turntable here.”
Indeed! Masked by trees, hidden from view, and located off the end of a lightly used branch line at Ammansaari, Finland is the old turntable once used to spin light steam locomotives.
Few visitors are afforded the privilege of seeing this relic. It was like finding a Mayan pyramid in the rain forest.
I exposed these photos digitally using my FujiFilm X-T1. For effect, I set the camera to the preset that emulates black & white film with a red filter. For posterity, I also exposed a few color slides.
My old Contax with real black & white film would have served me well here.
At Oulu, Finland, the sun hangs in the northwestern sky until after 11pm. For a visitor from more southerly regions this late light is fascinating.
My host Markku Pulkkinen showed me this foot bridge over the main railway yard and I made a series of photographs with my FujiFilm XT-1. This image was tricky.
A Swiss-designed class Sr2 electric was preparing to head south with an overnight freight. I found an alignment to capture this train departing against the backdrop of the low sun. My difficulty was in selecting the right exposure.
If it was light enough to capture the details of the locomotive than the sky would have been blasted (over exposed), yet if I exposed to retain color and detail in the sky, than the railway yard and locomotive would have been virtually opaque.
Ultimately, I made several exposures using my camera’s histogram to guide me. I avoided clipping the highlights, while allowing the shadow regions to slip to the lower end of the graph.
After the fact, I used Lightroom (recently installed on my new MacBook) to adjust the highlight and shadow areas to hold detail, while pumping up the saturation a little.
I’ll admit the end result looks a bit surreal. But then again, I found the whole setting surreal from the get go!
I processed the file and made my adjustments while riding on the upper level of a VR train heading toward Kontiomäki.
I’ve featured Helsinki Central in several books. It will be among the stations covered in my next book on railway terminals, stations and depots. This busy city center station was the inspiration for Buffalo Central Terminal and Cincinnati Union Station.
Last night I made these views at dusk using my FujiFilm X-T1 with a 27mm pancake lens.
I’ll be traveling in Finland for the next ten days.
I made this photo a little while ago using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens. Nearly 14 years ago I made a similar view on Fujichrome film using my Contax G2 rangefinder that appeared as a center spread in TRAINS Magazine.
I visited a variety of cities on my travels in Finland in early September 2001. One dull afternoon I was in Koupio changing trains.
An express passenger train was due in from Helsinki, so I made my way to the west-end of the station platform where I exposed this view of a 1970s-era Soviet-built Sr1 electric.
Using my Rollei model T, I opted for a low-angle to add a sense of drama to the arriving train. My primary interest was this relic of Soviet railway technology, so I allowed it to get as close as possible before releasing the shutter.
American with German camera photographs Soviet-built electric in Finland! Yea!
In July 2002, my friends Markku Pulkinnen and his wife Marja-Liisa hosted my visit to Oulu, Finland.
I’d taken an overnight train from Helsinki. Markku and I spent several days photographing VR (Finnish Railways) action around Oulu, before embarking on an adventure north of the Arctic Circle to explore Swedish iron ore railways.
I made this panned image one afternoon of a southward passenger train gaining speed after it departed the Oulu station. This is a common class Sr2 electric, a type derived from a Swiss prototype as used on the Bern–Lötschberg–Simplon (BLS) class 465 and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) class 460.
Although Finland is relatively flat, I found it a wonderful place to explore and make railway photos. In the summer, Oulu benefits from very long days. While the sun goes down, twilight remains through out the night. As result of Markku’s hospitality, I was afforded great insights into Finnish and Swedish railway operations.