Tag Archives: General Motors

TONIGHT: Slide Presentation in Cork City on General Motors Locomotives in North America.

Tonight, Monday 8 October 2018 at 8pm, I’ll be giving a slide presentation to the Irish Railway Record Society in Cork on General Motors Diesel-Electric Locomotives in North America.

The talk will be held at the Bru Columbanus Meeting Rooms in Wilton, Cork City.

I will present a variety of colour slides detailing General Motors Electro-Motive Division diesels at work.

In June 1961, a Rock Island LWT12 with Aerotrain styling leads a TALGO-built consist at Blue Island, Illinois. Kodachrome slide by Richard Jay Solomon.

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Brian Solomon Slide Presentation: General Motors Diesel-Electric Locomotives in North America.

On Monday, 8 October 2018 at 8pm (20.00), I’ll be giving a slide presentation to the Irish Railway Record Society in Cork on General Motors Diesel-Electric Locomotives in North America.

The talk will be held at the Bru Columbanus Meeting Rooms in Wilton, Cork City.

Conrail SD40-2s work as helpers on a loaded coal train at Mineral Point, Pennsylvania in October 1992. Exposed on Kodachrome 25 colour slide film.

I will show a wide variety of colour slides detailing General Motors Electro-Motive Division diesels at work.

This will cover numerous models on many different railroads, and feature some of my most dramatic locomotive photography.

Vintage EMD six-motor diesels lead New England Central 611 at Millers Falls, Massachusetts in 15 November 2017. Exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100F using a Canon EOS 3.

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Irish Rail 218—Sunny Days and Cloudy Days.

Old Irish Rail 218 is a versatile machine as shown in the three views exposed over the years near Heuston Station.

In recent years, 218 has often worked the Dublin-Cork Mark 4 passenger sets, as well as liner freights and performed the occasion stint in permanent way service.

Irish 218 is ready to head down road at Heuston Station in Dublin in summer 2000. It’s along side 204 and 233. Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO) using a Nikon N90S.
On 11 September 2016—15 years after the infamous day—Irish Rail 218 works a Mark 4 set toward Cork. This view is from my often utilized location at Islandbridge Junction. Exposed as a RAW file with my FujiFilm XT1 and adjusted for contrast in Lightroom.
Cloudy days yield opportunities too! On 27 February 2018 Irish Rail 218— now displaying its modified long number—leads a panel train into Dublin’s Phoenix Park tunnel. The next day  snow blanketed  Dublin and surrounding areas causing travel chaos.

Of the 201 class locomotives, 218 is another machine that ranks with numerous photos in my collection.

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Six Vintage 201 photos: Spring with Irish Rail 213!

Years past, I made many colourful photos of Irish Rail 213 River Moy on bright Spring days.

One of my first encounters was in May 1998 at Carlow. I’d arrived by bus (Shhh!!) and made photos of the down train (Dublin to Waterford) at Carlow station using my Nikon F3T loaded with Fujichrome Sensia 100.

View through the fence from the road using a 135mm lens.
213 side-on as it approaches the down starting signal at Carlow in May 1998.

Seven years later, in the Spring of 2005, I was keen to catch 213 on the move, since this was the first Irish Rail class 201 to wear the revised orange livery with bright yellow front end.

I saw this as a big improvement over the original 201 livery.

On 8 April 2005, I photographed 213 in fresh paint with my Contax G2 and 28mm lens on Velvia slide film.
Close up of 213 at Cork’s Kent Station using my Nikon N90S with telephoto lens and Sensia 100 film.
A month later on 8 May 2005, I made this view of 213 light engine at Heuston Station in Dublin. Anyone need a cheap shoe?

And because it fits the theme, I’ve also included a view from April 2006, of 213 descending Ballybrophy-bank racing toward Dublin.

It was on the evening of 17 April 2006 when I caught 213 with Mark3 carriages on the up-Cork passing milepost 62 1/2.

213 hasn’t turned a wheel in many a Spring now. It waits its turn in the sun in a deadline at Inchicore.

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Class 201 Retrospective: Irish Rail 207—River Boyne; 7 photos.

One locomotive; Three variations on the Enterprise livery.

In the last 20 years, I’ve crossed paths with old 207 on a number of occasions. Often on the Enterprise,but elsewhere across Irish Rail as well.

When I first saw 207, it looked like this with a rectangular yellow patch at the ends. I exposed this view on a tour of Connolly shed in August 1999. It was made using a Nikon F3T with 24mm Nikkor lens on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO). File adjusted in Lightroom for contrast and colour balance.
Irish Rail 207—River Boyne on the Enterprise at Belfast Central on 19 April 2000.

To my knowledge it was the only Enterprise201 to receive the large bright yellow patch at the ends, similar to the treatment given to orange 201s (201-205 and 210-215) beginning in 2005. [UPDATE: Kieran Marshall has reminded me that 233 was also treated with the large yellow patch at ends.]

Irish Rail 207 in it’s revised Enterprise livery with larger and brighter yellow ends. This view was exposed at Inchicore works on 15 April 2007. Just over 11 years ago.
Lets just say something was amiss with 207 on 10 December 2007, when Irish Rail 171 towed the failed class 201 (#207) across from Connolly to Inchicore. This view was made from my standard location at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin using a Canon EOS3 loaded with  Fujichrome slide film.

Today, it is one of several locomotives painted in the modern Enterprise livery with asymmetrical purple and scarlet swooshes along the sides.

Another view of Irish Rail 207 from the same vantage point, 9 years after the above image. This one was exposed digitally on 6 October 2016.
Same morning: 6 October 2016.
Nocturnal view at Islandbridge Junction of Irish Rail 207 working the Cork-Dublin Mark4 set on 21 January 2018.

Do you have a favorite class 201 locomotive?

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Class 201 Retrospective: Irish Rail 206, the first of the Enterprise 201s.

As part of my 20 years in Ireland/201 numerical retrospective, this is my opportunity to present  a few views of Irish Rail 206.

When I first arrived in Ireland in 1998, 201-class locomotives numbers 206 to 209 (as they were then identified) were painted for the cross-border Belfast-Dublin Enterprisepassenger service.

On 4 March 2000 Irish Rail 206 works the Enterprise at Donabate. Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO100) using a Nikon F3T.
On 11 May 2005, Irish Rail 2005 was ‘ex works’ following overhaul after its fire, making one of many trips on a Liner (point to point freight). It passes Islandbridge Junction, one of my often used locations. Exposed on Fujichrome using a Contax G2 rangefinder.
Same location, same train on 17 May 2005. Here I’m using a 135mm telephoto lens on my Nikon F3T to bring in the Wellington Testimonial (obelisk).
And almost the same angle on 16 December 2010, this time captured digitally using a Canon EOS 7D. So while these are three photos of the same locomotive on similar trains at essentially the same location, each features a different treatment as result of changes in lighting, season, type of camera, lens focal length, and the angle of composition.

It is my understanding that these four numbers were chosen for the Enterprise201s to pay historical tribute to steam locomotives of the same numbers that had worked the service in an earlier era.

In my time these were painted specifically for the re-equipped Enterprise using De Dietrich carriages (derived from the original French TGV single-level carriages)

Of the four, 206 River Liffey has been my favorite, but until relatively recently it is also one of the more elusive 201s in passenger service (in regards to my photography).

Around 2002, it suffered a fire and was out of traffic for about three years. When it returned, it spent months working freights.

Only recently, have I again found it regularly working as intended. It now wears the latest Enterprise livery, which is laterally asymmetrical and features a giant purple swoop across the side of the locomotive.

I made this digital photo of 206 at Belfast Central Station on 26 March 2018, working as intended. Lumix LX7 photo. The high angle allows for good detail of the roof, which is not often seen from ground level.

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Prelude to RPSI’s Branchline Explorer—7 April 2018

If everything has gone according to plan, as you read this I’m traveling upon Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s diesel-hauled Branchline Explorer rail tour.

I made this photo on 6 April 2018 of Irish Rail 071 (in 1970s heritage livery) leading the RPSI preserved Cravens carriages across the River Liffey at Islandbridge in the fading light of the evening.

Thanks to Jay Monaghan!

An Irish Rail ICR working Grand Canal Docks suburban service exits the Phoenix Park Tunnel on 6 April 2018. Irish Rail 071 with RPSI Cravens can be seen in the distance. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 camera fitted with a 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.
An instant classic: Irish Rail 071 (class leader in retro paint) leads the RPSI Cravens across the River Liffey at Islandbridge in Dublin. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 camera fitted with a 90mm f2.0 telephoto lens.

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Class 201 Retrospective: Irish Rail 204 in four photos.

The unremarkable 204.

Not as rare to my lens as 202, but not as common as say 201, 205, or the seeming omnipresent 215. Today, views of 204 on the move are still pretty neat since it’s been more than eight years since it turned a wheel.

These are all Fujichrome photos, since I never photographed 204 at work using a digital camera. Maybe someday it will return to service. But even then I might take it on slide film for old time sake.

Can you spot the ‘bad’ photo? (read the captions)

Irish Rail 204 races down road at Ballybrophy on 7 April 2007.
Nearly 12 years ago, freshly paint Irish Rail 204 passes Cherryville Junction.
One for the bin? Here we have a fascinating photo of Irish Rail in transition; I exposed this view almost ten years ago to the day: March 2008. Locomotive 204 leads Mark 3s west at Islandbridge Junction as a new Mark 4 set rolls up-road; at left is a four-wheel ballast train led by a pair of Bo-Bos (class 141/181 General Motors diesels), with another Bo-Bo at right working as a station pilot. Look to the upper right in the yard and you’ll see a set of new Rotem ICRs. But this was bad photo: never mind all the railway action, I committed a compositional faux pas; I chopped the top of the Wellington Testimonial in the Phoenix Park! That’s it, pitch the photo! Nothing to see here!
On another day, Irish Rail 204 leads the Platin-Tullamore cement. I was disappointed that an 071 didn’t work the train, but I’m sure glad I made this photo anyway!

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Tracking the Light Special: Irish Rail 071 in Heritage Paint—Now.

At 1007 (10:07 am) this morning (8 February 2018), Irish Rail’s 071 (class leader of the popular 071 class of General Motors-built diesel locomotives) passed Islandbridge Junction with the down IWT Liner.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1with 90mm Fujinon lens. It’s a bit misty in Dublin. Image scaled from in-camera Jpeg without post processing contrast or exposure adjustment.

This locomotive was repainted in 2016 into the attractive 1970s-era livery.

Although, I’ve made a number of photographs of this locomotive in heritage paint before, it’s always nice to see it on the move. I’m told it had been laid up for the last few months and it’s only back on the road this week.

Tracking the Light is Daily.

 

Up Close with Irish Rail 215 in Fresh Paint-Five New Photos.

Irish Rail’s class 201 General Motors-built diesel-electric number 215 (now technically 92 60 02 10215-6) was recently repainted in fresh green and silver paint.

Over the last few days I had several opportunities to photograph this locomotive up-close, allowing for some detailed images.

Here’s a selection of Lumix LX7 views.

Irish Rail 215 works the back of a Mark 4 set on approach to Heuston Station Dublin.
Irish Rail 215 at Dublin’s Heuston Station. Lumix LX7 digital photo.
Irish Rail 215 at Dublin’s Heuston Station. Lumix LX7 digital photo.
Irish Rail 215 at Kent Station, Cork. Lumix LX7 digital photo.
Irish Rail 215 at Kent Station, Cork. Lumix LX7 digital photo. Contrast and saturation adjusted in post processing.

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Irish Rail 071 at Heuston Sidings

Below are two views of Irish Rail’s 071 with a ballast train at the old Guinness sidings at Dublin’s Heuston Station.

This locomotive has been popular with photographers since its repainting in the 1970s heritage livery last year.

What I’m trying to demonstrate here are the various effects of lighting and technique. One view was made on black & white film in the fading daylight of early evening. The other is a digital colour photo exposed the following morning.

Which is the better photograph?

Exposed on Kodak Tri-X with a Nikon F3 with 24mm lens. Film processed using Ilford ID11 stock mixed 1 to 1 with water.
Lumix LX7 photo, contrast adjusted in post processing.

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Classic Kodachrome: Burlington Northern SD70MACs near Edgemont, South Dakota

This is one of my favorite Burlington Northern images. Tom Danneman, TSH and I were photographing Powder River coal operations in May 1995.

We caught this empty train working west of Edgemont with nearly new SD70MACs. Burlington Northern had only a few months left before consummation of merger with Santa Fe.

Three Burlington Northern SD70MACs lead coal empties west of Edgemont, South Dakota on May 26, 1995. Three SD70MACs were standard Powder River coal train power. This photo was run large as an opening spread in my book Modern Locomotives: High-Power Diesels, 1966-2000, a title published by Motorbooks in 2002.
Three Burlington Northern SD70MACs lead coal empties west of Edgemont, South Dakota on May 26, 1995. Three SD70MACs were standard Powder River coal train power. This photo was run large as an opening spread in my book Modern Locomotives: High-Power Diesels, 1966-2000, a title published by Motorbooks in 2002.

Shortly before the train arrived into view some thin clouds softened the sun. While this effect tends to spoil a photo, especially those made on Kodachrome, in this rare case, I think it actually made for a better image.

I feel that the slightly subdued contrast works well with the foreground grasses, the framed tree, and the dark paint on the locomotives.

I exposed this on Kodachrome 25 using my Nikon F3T with 35mm perspective control lens mounted on my Bogen 3021 tripod.

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Irish Rail: Action on the Quad Track at Clondalkin.

September 1, 2014.

Irish Rail’s only four track mainline transits the west Dublin suburbs. This was built toward the tail-end of the Celtic Tiger boom years. Rail traffic flows in fits and starts, but midday on week days can result in some interesting action.

Irish_Rail_Mark4_at_Clondalkin_IMG_8545

Irish Rail 229 leads IWT liner.
Irish Rail 229 leads IWT liner.

Irish_Rail_rail_trucks_at_Clondalkin_MOD1_IMG_8572

The prize this day was catching Irish Rail’s General Motors-built 071 class locomotive 079 hauling the elusive per-way ‘Rail trucks’ (rail train) on its run from Platin (on the Navan Branch) to the per-way depot in Portlaoise.

I worked with my Canon EOS 7D, which handles the cloudy bright lighting conditions admirably.

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Tomorrow: November Light along the Juniata River.

 

Settle & Carlisle—Part 1.

One of the Most Visually Stunning Railways

Britain’s famed Settle & Carlisle is among the great railway lines. Its superb engineering and stunning natural settings, combined with a history of dramatic lighting effects as a result of the surrounding topography have long made this a popular setting for railway photographers.

Many years ago I rode over the line on a trip from Haworth to Arnside via Carlisle, but until a couple of weeks ago, I’d never properly photographed the railway.

My old buddy and fellow railroad photographer, TSH and I used a hired car to explore this fascinating section of railway line. We started near Garsdale and worked our way back toward Settle.

A Leeds-bound class 158 DMU hums along the Settle & Carlisle towards Garsdale in August 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo.
A Leeds-bound class 158 DMU hums along the Settle & Carlisle towards Garsdale in August 2014. Canon EOS 7D photo, August 2014.
Old station buildings at Dent on the Settle & Carlisle in August 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Old station buildings at Dent on the Settle & Carlisle in August 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
As predicted, an EWS coal train led by a General Motors-built Class 66 diesel near Dent. Dappled sun illuminates the valley beyond. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
As predicted, an EWS coal train led by a General Motors-built Class 66 diesel near Dent. Dappled sun illuminates the valley beyond. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens, August 2014.

I’ve often heard that this line carried a bit of freight, and my investigations prior to arriving there indicated we should have seen about 6-7 freights during the course of the day. We saw one EWS coal train. That was all. Thankfully, the regular passenger service operated about every two hours, so at least there was some movement over the line. Bad luck, as they say.

The scenery and engineering was sufficiently impressive to compensate for the comparative dearth of traffic and I made dozens of photographs using film and digital photography.

A northward railcar works toward Dent. Canon EOS 7D.
A northward railcar works toward Dent. Canon EOS 7D.
In the evening, a class 158 emu approaches its station stop at Ribblesdale. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
In the evening, a class 158 emu approaches its station stop at Ribblesdale. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Stay tuned for more S&C views tomorrow!

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General Motors FT 103, The Diesel that Changed Railroading—Tracking the Light Special Post

Streamliners at Spencer: The Real Star of the Show?

Although streamlined steam locomotive 611 was getting most of the attention, historically the most important exhibit was General Motors FT demonstrator 103.

Last night FT 103 was lit up for all to see.

General Motors model FT lit up at Spencer Shops on May 30, 2014. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens on a Gitzo carbon-fiber tripod.
General Motors model FT lit up at Spencer Shops on May 30, 2014. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens on a Gitzo carbon-fiber tripod.

I’ve written about this locomotive in many of my books. It is the most influential American locomotive of the twentieth century because it demonstrated to the railroad industry that diesels offered a cost effective replacement for steam.

In my book Electro-Motive E and F Units (published by Voyageur Press) I offered this context for the FT:

Revolutionary FT

Electro-Motive’s most significant innovation was its development of the first commercially viable road freight diesel. From a technical perspective this was an advancement of the E-unit — the application of this long anticipated new road diesel proved revolutionary for American railroads. Once on a roll, it not only turned locomotive building on its ear, but forever changed the way railroads bought locomotives and operated trains EMD’s F-unit was the most important player in the rapid dieselization American lines.

NS CEO, Wick Moorman pointed out in yesterday’s address at Spencer, that FT 103 was ‘even older than 611,’ while sincerely thanking the St. Louis Museum of Transportation for sending the locomotive for display.

Read more about General Motors streamlined diesels, check out my book Electro-Motive E and F Unit.

Click here for more photos of the Steamliners at Spencer event.

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Streamliner Details, Spencer—TRACKING THE LIGHT SPECIAL POST

Morning Views, May 28, 2014—North Carolina Transportation Museum.

With more than two dozen classic locomotives to photograph, and lots of other relics of interest, I exposed more than 300 image with the Lumix LX-7 in just three hours. In addition, I was also working with my Canons, one for film, one for pixels.

Here are just some of detailed views I exposed with the Lumix. These are macro images, as opposed to wide shots that take in the whole scene. (And, yes, I made plenty of those too.)

General Motors classic FT—'the diesel that did it'.
General Motors classic FT—’the diesel that did it’.
Atlantic Coast Line E3A. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7
Atlantic Coast Line E3A. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7
Alco PA builder's plate. Is this the real thing or a replica?
Alco PA builder’s plate. Is this the real thing or a replica?
It's not all about the locomotives, this fine old passenger car caught my eye.
It’s not all about the locomotives, this fine old passenger car caught my eye.
A bit of work on a Reading FP7A. My dad caught these on the 'Crusader' back in the day.
A bit of work on a Reading FP7A. My dad caught these on the ‘Crusader’ back in the day.
Southern Railway: visions of yesterday and today. Spencer Shops was a Southern facility.
Southern Railway: visions of yesterday and today. Spencer Shops was a Southern facility.

The light was mixed. Nice soft early sun soon gave way to a hazy flat bright light. I’m glad I brought my old Minolta IV light meter, this proved very useful.

The ease of use of the Lumix LX-7 made it an especially valuable too. Today I was working with the electronic view finder, instead of the rear screen display. I wonder if this altered my compositions?

Wabash 1009. What's in a number? (When 1009 =10,000.)
Wabash 1009. What’s in a number? (When 1,009 =10,000.)
Drumhead on the Sandy Creek round-end observation car.
Drumhead on the Sandy Creek round-end observation car.
Erie Railroad E8A 833—last of its kind.
Erie Railroad E8A 833—last of its kind.
Nose view of General Motors FT 103. I'd argue that this was probably the most significant locomotive in the 20th Century. Read about it in my American Diesel Locomotive and EMD Locomotives. Books on the history of American diesels.
Nose view of General Motors FT 103. I’d argue that this was probably the most significant locomotive in the 20th Century. Read about it in my American Diesel Locomotive and EMD Locomotives. Books on the history of American diesels.
Could this be 1956?
Could this be 1956?

I was very impressed by the paint on the Lackawanna F3’s, even if they were built for the Bangor & Aroostook, What are your favorite locomotives on display at Spencer?

One of three DL&W painted F-units on display.
One of three DL&W painted F-units on display.
Washing Pennsylvania Railroad E8A 5711 at Spencer. Perhaps someone else should fling some mud and grime to make things seem more authentic?
Washing Pennsylvania Railroad E8A 5711 at Spencer. Perhaps someone else should fling some mud and grime to make things seem more authentic?

More Spencer Streamliner photos to come over the next few days!

Tracking the Light posts new material every day, with special ‘Extra’ posts on the Streamliners at Spencer event this week!

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Daily Post: Power Shot, Wisconsin Central SD45s


Byron, Wisconsin, March 23, 1996.

It had been a busy morning at Byron. This southward freight had made a meet and was just coming out of the siding, so I had ample time to make images of these SD45s.

Wisconsin Central SD45 loom large as the lead a southward freight out of the siding at Byron, Wisconsin on March 23, 1996.
Wisconsin Central SD45 loom large as the lead a southward freight out of the siding at Byron, Wisconsin on March 23, 1996.

As the train grew close, I made a couple of final images on Kodachrome with my Nikormat FT3 and 28mm Nikkor Lens. I took this low view with a wide-angle to get a dynamic photograph.

I was Editor of Pacific RailNews, and we often had a need for photographs with lots of sky to use as opening spreads. It was a style of times to run headlines, credits and sometimes text across the top of the image. I had that thought in my mind when I made this particular angle.

I was also trying to minimize the ballast and drainage ditch that I found visually unappealing, while making the most of the clear blue dome and allowing for a dramatic position for the locomotives relative to the horizon.

Variations of this image have appeared in print over the years.

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Tomorrow: ‘Oh No! I left the SD recording card in my Computer!’

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Daily Post: Claremorris, County Mayo, February 1998.

General Motors Diesel in Ireland.

Irish Rail class 181 General Motors diesel number 185 catches the afternoon sun at Claremorris, County Mayo in February 1998. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3T fitted with 24mm lens, exposure calculated with a handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell.
Irish Rail class 181 General Motors diesel number 185 catches the sun at Claremorris, County Mayo in February 1998. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3T fitted with 24mm lens, exposure calculated with a handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe photocell.

This was among my first Irish Railway photographs. I’d hired a car in Limerick and was exploring. At the time I knew very little about Irish Rail, but I was fascinated by the Ballina branch passenger train.

What caught my interest here was the juxtaposition of the General Motors diesel with the Claremorris station sign. It was the name of the town in Irish that fascinated me. I also liked the old Irish Rail logo, which seemed to represent the double junction at Claremorrris.

I’d never have imagined then, that this would just one of the thousands of Irish railway photographs I’d expose over the next 16 years!

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DAILY POST: Maine Central at East Deerfield Yard, September 1984.

An Unconventional View of the Ready Tracks.

I was interested to find this collection of Maine Central locomotives at Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield Yard in September 1984. At the time, Guilford’s gray and orange livery was still a novelty.

Using my father’s 21mm Super Angulon on my Leica 3A, I composed this somewhat unconventional view of the ready tracks. This lens was a favorite of mine at the time. I still use it occasionally.

Boston & Maine's East Deerfield Yard
Maine central GP38 260 and a pair of U18Bs were the subjects of interest in my September 1984 black & white photograph. Today, the contrast of the steam-era infrastructure with the diesels makes for an unusual compelling railroad photo. Exposed on black & white film with a Leica 3A fitted with a 21mm Super Angulon lens.

The composition works despite being foreground heavy and exposed on the ‘dark side’ of the locomotives. The image nicely integrates the infrastructure around the locomotives while offering a period look.

At the time I was studying photography at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and made regular visits to photograph the Boston & Maine.

See my earlier post: Johnsonville, New York, November 4, 1984.  

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Tomorrow: A Bird, a Tram, A Canal!

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DAILY POST: BNSF SD70ACE at Enola, Pennsylvania.

 Location and Locomotive.

Tight view of BNSF Railway SD70MAC 9261 at Norfolk Southern's Enola Yard. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.
Tight view of BNSF Railway SD70MAC 9261 at Norfolk Southern’s Enola Yard. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D.

Fifty years ago, it would have been pretty neat to see a Burlington GP30 at Pennsylvania Railroad’s Enola Yard. Yet for the context of that photo to be fully appreciated, it would help to have the location of the locomotive implied in the image.

A few weeks ago, Pat Yough and I were driving by Norfolk Southern’s Enola Yard and spotted this SD70ACE. These days, BNSF locomotives on Norfolk Southern and CSX are not unusual occurrences. Not in Pennsylvania anyway.

After a tight image of the locomotive, I stood back and made a few views intended to convey location.

It’s not what you see, but the images made of what you see.

The sign at the left conveys location and provides a bit of information about safety conditions at Enola. Canon EOS 7D.
The sign at the left conveys location and provides a bit of information about safety conditions at Enola. Canon EOS 7D.
In this view the sign is the subject, and the locomotive just a decorative background. Canon EOS 7D.
In this view the sign is the subject, and the locomotive just a decorative background. Canon EOS 7D.

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Daily Post; Washington Summit‑30 years After Exposure.

 Modern Technological Miracle: Post Processing.

In mid-July 1984, I heard the distinctive roar of EMD 20-cylinder engines working an eastward train on the west slope of Washngton Hill. My friends and I were positioned at the summit of the Boston & Albany route, as marked by a sign.

We often spent Sunday afternoons here. Rather than work the more conventional location on the south (west) side of the tracks, I opted to cross the mainline and feature the summit sign.

As the freight came into view, I was delighted to see that it was led by a set of Conrail’s former Erie Lackawanna SD45-2s! While these locomotives were more commonly assigned to helper duties at Cresson, Pennsylvania on the former PRR, during the Summer of 1984, all 13 of the monsters worked the Boston & Albany.

Conrail
In July 1984, Conrail 6666 leads an eastward freight on the Boston & Albany at Washington Summit, Hinsdale, Massachusetts. This photograph is unpublished and previously unprinted. It was exposed on 35mm Tri-X using a 1930s-vintage Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar lens. Post processing allowed for localized contrast control to maximize the detail in the original negative.

I have a number of photos of these machines, both on the B&A and PRR routes. However this image of engine 6666 never made my cut. Back lighting and hazy afternoon light had resulted in a difficult negative. My preferred processing techniques of the period didn’t aid the end result, and at the time I dismissed the photograph as ‘unsuitable’.

The other day I rediscovered this unprinted view and decided to make a project of it. Now, 30 years later, I felt it was worth the effort. I scanned the negative and after about 30 minutes of manipulation using Adobe Photoshop, I produced a satisfactory image.

I made a variety of small and subtle changes by locally adjusting contrast and sharpness. These adjustments would have been difficult and time consuming to implement using conventional printing techniques, but are relatively painless to make digitally. I’m really pretty happy with the end result.

For details on this technique, click to see: Kodachrome Afternoon at West Springfield, February 1986.

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Tomorrow: Something completely different!

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DAILY POST: Spirit of Summer, Lake City, Pennsylvania

Hazy Damp Morning, July 1987.

Here’s a view from my summer wanderings with TSH in July 1987. We’d camped along the Water Level Route at Lake City, Pennsylvania and spent the day watching and photographing trains.

The morning weather began heavy and damp, but as the day continued a thunderstorm rolled off Lake Erie and cleared the air.

Conrail
Conrail SD50 6793 leads a westward train on the former New York Central at Lake City, Pennsylvania at 8:05am on July 25, 1987. I exposed this with a Rollei Model T, using T-Max 400 black & white film. F5.6 1/125th of a second. Processed in Kodak D76 1:1. I calculated exposure with a Sekonic Studio Deluxe handheld photocell. The camera’s Carl Zeiss Tessar allows for an exceptionally sharp image. I’ve reduced the scan to just a fraction of its original size for internet display.

Conrail was busy and presented an unceasing parade of trains. For this view, showing a pair of SD50s, I used my father’s Rollei Model T. I went low to emphasize the weedy grass, while using the old station to frame the train and provide historical context.

The combination of the grass, the thick white sky, and hazy light says ‘Summer’ to me.

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DAILY POST: Campaign Train, Aug 2010.


New England Central at Montpelier Junction, Vermont.

Brian Dubie's campaign train
Dubie campaign train approaches Montpelier Junction, Vermont on the afternoon of August 28, 2010. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

A freshly scrubbed GP38 led a pair of Pennsy passenger cars in a classic old-school whistle-stop campaign tour of Vermont.

On August 28, 2010, my dad and I drove to the Georgia high bridge (near St. Albans, Vermont) to intercept a New England Central special train hired by gubernatorial candidate Brian Dubie.

It was a sunny warm summer’s day, and we made numerous photos of the special as it worked its way south.

This pair of images was exposed at Montpelier Junction, where the train made a stop for the candidate to make a speech to his supporters. Traditionally, this was where Central Vermont met the Montpelier & Barre.

I used a telephoto for these views in order to emphasize the bunting and flags that marked the train’s distinctive qualities. Several of my photographs of the train appeared in Private Varnish.

B Dubie 4 govnr campaign train at Montpelier Jct IMG_4331

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DAILY POST: Kodachrome Afternoon at West Springfield, February 1986


Making and old Slide Even Better.

Conrail
Conrail’s sunday TV9 departs West Springfield yard at 3:55 pm on February 9, 1986. The film had a decidedly red color bias (Kodachrome as it aged tended to shift towards the red). This has resulted in a pinkish cast that is especially noticeable in the snow. The image is also off-level. I corrected these problems and others after scanning the slide. See below.

Here we have a typically New England scene; a fresh blanket of snow has fallen and the sky has cleared to a clear blue dome. Perfect light right?

Not exactly. The great contrast between the brilliant bright snow and the shadow areas makes for a difficult exposure. Complicating matters was Conrail’s rich blue paint.

While I was fortunate to catch Conrail’s TV9 leaving West Springfield Yard, I faced an exposure conundrum. If I exposed for the train, I risked grossly over exposing the snow, furthermore if I simply set the camera based on the snow on the ground, I’d end up with a pretty dark slide.

In the end I compromised, and stopped down enough to retain detail in the snow, while leaving the rest of the scene reasonably exposed.

However, 28 years later I’m still not satisfied with the slide.

There are three problems. I was concentrating on the exposure and the moving train (while trying to manipulate two cameras simultaneously) and I missed the level by about two degrees. Secondly, the Kodachrome film had a decidedly red bias, which resulted in pinkish snow (hardly what my eye saw that day).

I was easily able to correct these flaws after scanning the slide. I imported it into Photoshop and made three changes.

1) I cropped and rotated the image to correct for level.

2) Using the red-cyan color balance sliders, I shifted the highlights and mid-tone areas to toward cyan to minimize the excessive red in the scene. (cyan is the color opposite of red)

3) I made a localized contrast adjustment on the locomotives by outlining the area I wanted to change and then making a slight change using the curves feature.

I’ve illustrated the original unmodified scan two intermediate steps and the final image.

Here I've corrected the level; and using the color balance sliders I've shifted the color balance in the highlight and mid-tone areas to eliminate the pink-cast.
Here I’ve corrected the level; and using the color balance sliders I’ve shifted the color balance in the highlight and mid-tone areas to eliminate the pink-cast.
The last step requires a subtle localized contrast adjustment. I selected the area to be adjusted and made a very minor change to the contrast and color balance. For this example I've grossly exaggerated the area selected strictly to illustrate where I've made the changes.
The last step requires a subtle localized contrast adjustment. I selected the area to be adjusted and made a very minor change to the contrast and color balance. For this example I’ve grossly exaggerated the selected-area strictly to illustrate where I’ve made the changes. Obviously the extreme contrast change looks absurd when viewed out of context.
Here's the final image. One last change require the use of the burning tool; I made a few light passes around the seem between the area of localized contrast change to minimize the effect. My feeling is that if you can quickly perceive the adjustment, then the effect is too extreme.
Here’s the final image. One last change require the use of the burning tool; I made a few light passes around the seam between the area of localized contrast change to minimize the effect. My feeling is that if you can quickly perceive the adjustment, then the effect is too extreme.

 

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Click below to see related posts:

Springfield, Massachusetts, April 2004

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DAILY POST: Springfield, Massachusetts, April 2004

Old Pointless Arrow and the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Springfield, Massachusetts Union Station, where Boston & Maine, Boston & Albany and New Haven once shared common space. Today, its a local Amtrak hub. Exposed with a Contax G2 with 28mm Biogon lens.
Springfield, Massachusetts Union Station, where Boston & Maine, Boston & Albany and New Haven once shared common space. Today, its a local Amtrak hub. Exposed with a Contax G2 with 28mm Biogon lens.

Ah Springfield! Probably best known because of the Simpson’s cartoon set in a mythical city of that name. Could be Springfield, Massachusetts, or Illinois, any of a couple dozen other cities with this common name.

On April 5, 2004, I met Tim Doherty for lunch and we made a few photos in Springfield.

A visit to Union Station found a westward CSX freight with a Conrail blue General Electric DASH8-40CW rolling through.

Later, we went down to an footbridge near the Basketball Hall of Fame to catch Guilford Rail System’s elusive EDPL (East Deerfield to Plainville, Connecticut) freight.

In 1982, Boston & Maine bought several Connecticut-based former New Haven Railroad operations from Conrail, and EDPL was one the only remnants of that transaction. At the time, the freight ran once a week. Catching it was a matter of planning and good luck.

Westward CSX freight rolls through Springfield Station on April 5, 2004.
Westward CSX freight rolls through Springfield Station on April 5, 2004.
Guilford's weekly EDPL against a backdrop of the Springfield skyline on April 5, 2004.
Guilford’s weekly EDPL against a backdrop of the Springfield skyline on April 5, 2004.
This slightly closer view of the same train suffers (or benefits, depending on your perspective) from tree-branch shadows on on the front of the locomotives. Contax G2 photo.
This slightly closer view of the same train suffers (or benefits, depending on your perspective) from tree-branch shadows on on the front of the locomotives. Contax G2 photo.
Guilford's EDPL with Springfield's top tourist attraction (or one would assume); the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Guilford’s EDPL with Springfield’s top tourist attraction (or one would assume); the Basketball Hall of Fame.

I exposed these photos on Fujichrome Velvia 100F (RVP100F) color slide film using my Contax G2 rangefinder with a 28mm Biogon lens. The film was processed locally in Springfield at ComColor, which back then offered a 2-hour turn-around time for E6 films (processed and mounted).

In 2008, ComColor ceased processing E6 film. At the time, I was told my rolls were ‘the last run.’

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The Amherst Railway Society ‘BIG RAILROAD HOBBY SHOW‘ is on this weekend (January 25 and 26, 2014) at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

See: http://www.railroadhobbyshow.com/

Brian Solomon will cover the train show in Tracking the Light.

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Daily Post: Busy Morning at West Trenton


Photographing on the former Reading Company.

 The word was out that Norfolk Southern’s Pennsylvania Railroad painted heritage locomotive was to work a detoured stack train over CSX’s Trenton Subdivision to avoid a scheduled engineering project at Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Pat Yough and I planted ourselves at the West Trenton, New Jersey SEPTA station in anticipation. A number of other enthusiasts had similar plans, so there was plenty of company.

Railroad station
Former Reading Company station at West Trenton, New Jersey on the morning of January 19, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.
Railway station detail.
Detailed view of West Trenton station. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
West Trenton station's build date is carved in stone. Lumix LX3 photo.
West Trenton station’s build date is carved in stone. Lumix LX3 photo.
SEPTA
A SEPTA train for Philadelphia’s Airport pulls into the West Trenton station. CSXT’s unit oil train K040 with BNSF locomotives waits in the distance. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
CSXT oil train.
After the SEPTA local departed, CSXT KO40 led by BNSF 9688 and 5523 rolls southward through West Trenton. This section of the old Reading demonstrates how freight and passenger traffic can coexist on the same line. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
CSXT symbol freight Q439   works south behind mixed consist of GE and EMD locomotives. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
CSXT symbol freight Q439 works south behind mixed consist of GE and EMD locomotives. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Switchers have become relatively rare items on modern railroads so I made this grab shot of CSXT 1137 as it rolled by. Lumix LX3 photo.
Switchers have become relatively rare items on modern railroads so I made this grab shot of CSXT 1137 as it rolled by. Lumix LX3 photo.
A SEPTA Silverliner V waits to enter West Trenton Station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
A SEPTA Silverliner V waits to enter West Trenton Station. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

 

The much anticipated Norfolk Southern detour I5T, (running as CSXT B100-19) works northward through West Trenton. At the back of the train are a pair of NS diesels to aid with reverse moves necessary for the detour arrangements. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
The much anticipated Norfolk Southern detour I5T, (running as CSXT B100-19) works northward through West Trenton. At the back of the train are a pair of NS diesels to aid with reverse moves necessary for the detour arrangements. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

The former Reading station building at West Trenton is now privately owned (and serves a non-railroad function), while the platforms remain active for SEPTA’s regularly scheduled passenger trains to Philadelphia.

When we arrived, morning clouds were giving way to sun. A pair of westward CSX trains was holding just west of the electrified zone and the radio was alive with activity.

In a little more than an hour we caught three SEPTA trains and four freights. This kept me and my three cameras pretty busy. My goal was not just to photograph the trains, but to capture these trains in this classic railroad environment.

Norfolk Southern 8102 was in clean tuscan-red paint at it trailed at the back of nearly two-miles of double stacked containers. Canon EOS 7D with 100 mm lens.
Norfolk Southern 8102 was in clean tuscan-red paint at it trailed at the back of nearly two-miles of double stacked containers. Canon EOS 7D with 100 mm lens.
Trailing with of NS I5T (CSXT B100-19) passing the West Trenton tower.
Trailing with of NS I5T (CSXT B100-19) passing the West Trenton tower. Canon EOS 7D.
CSXT empty oil train K041 works northward behind the detoured stack train. BNSF locomotives make a bit of color in this otherwise drab New Jersey scene. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.
CSXT empty oil train K041 works northward behind the detoured stack train. BNSF locomotives make a bit of color in this otherwise drab New Jersey scene. Canon EOS 7D with 20mm lens.

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See related posts:  Exploring SEPTATake a Ride on the ReadingPhiladelphia’s Reading Terminal Revisited

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DAILY POST; Retro Railroading at Greenfield


Pan Am Railway’s EDMO roars west on the Boston & Maine.

It’s almost like stepping back to the 1970s; three EMDs powered by turbocharged 16-645 diesels working under searchlight signals with a carload train.

Pan Am Railways
On January 12, 2014, Pan Am Railway’s EDMO (East Deerfield, Massachusetts to Mohawk Yard) works the old Boston & Maine Fitchburg route at Greenfield, Massachusetts. The line on the left is the Connecticut River route running south toward Springfield. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with an f2.0 100mm lens.

This is a nice contrast to the parade of  double-stack containers and unit trains that characterize most American mainlines. While the details of the motive power have been altered since they were built, the spirit of the operation reminds me of watching trains more than 35 years ago.

If you think about it, as point of comparison, if in 1979 you were to see 35 year-old motive power and a traditional freight train that probably would have been either steam engines, or EMD FTs leading 40-ft cars.

Sure, you could argue that Pan Am’s paint scheme is a relatively recent development, and the locomotives have been modified since the 1970s (the lead former Santa Fe SD45-2 had its 20-645E3 swapped with a 16-cylinder engine among other changes), but that belies the point.

EDMO. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with an f2.0 100mm lens.
EDMO. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with an f2.0 100mm lens.
Tight view of Pan Am 616.  Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with an f2.0 100mm lens.
Tight view of Pan Am 616. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with an f2.0 100mm lens.

For similar posts, click to see: Pan Am Southern at Millers Falls, Massachusetts, October 2013Pan Am Railways Ayer Massachusetts, January 17, 2013;  Boston & Maine Revisited, PART 2Boston & Maine MERU, February 10, 1985

My book Classic Locomotives published by Voyageur Press is available from Amazon.

Also see my big hard cover classic: Modern Locomotives

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DAILY POST: Lucky Afternoon

I went to the Post Office and Scored a Train.

The other day, I had a few packages to send out. I’d delayed going to the post office until after the school buses were out, using the logic that if I waited, I wouldn’t get stuck behind one on the way back.

On the way into the PO, I heard a distant whistle. And while at the desk, a train rumbled by.

New England Central’s (NECR) former Central Vermont line runs on a slightly elevated gradient behind the Monson, Massachusetts PO. This is on the climb up State Line hill, and heavy trains make a good racket coming though town. This freight, however, wasn’t very heavy and the engines weren’t working too hard.

I made an expeditious exit after mailing my packages, and started south on Route 32. No sooner than I was south of town, I found myself looking at the back of a school bus!

And this bus then stopped, as required, at the South Monson grade crossing.

I could hear the southward climbing. It had already gone through. Fortunately, once over the tracks, the bus driver kindly pulled in to let traffic around. I sailed southward, and arrived at State Line crossing. Once out of the car, I could hear the train working.

New England Central's daily freight at the Massachusetts-Connecticut state line. Notice the granite marker to the left of the locomotives. Exposed with a Lumix LX3, set at ISO 200.
New England Central’s daily freight at the Massachusetts-Connecticut state line. Notice the granite marker to the left of the locomotives. Exposed with a Lumix LX3, set at ISO 200.

Although the light was fading, there was enough to work with. While, I’d left most of my cameras at home, I had my Lumix LX3 in my coat pocket. I set up a shot immediately south of the Massachusetts-Connecticut state line, and included the granite marker at the left of the image.

After the train passed, I followed it to Stafford Springs, where I made a few more photos. As it turns out, these NECR images are my first railway photos for 2014.

New England Central's GP38s lead a southward freight through downtown Stafford Springs, Connecticut on January 9, 2014.
New England Central’s GP38s lead a southward freight through downtown Stafford Springs, Connecticut on January 9, 2014.
NECR
New England Central’s GP38s lead a southward freight through downtown Stafford Springs, Connecticut on the afternoon of January 9, 2014. Lumix LX3 photo.

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DAILY POST: Timber and General Motors, June 10, 2006

Westport, County Mayo, Ireland.

This pair of images will never be repeated. Here we have Irish Rail’s afternoon passenger to Dublin consisting of  Mark 3 set led class 201 number 222 (known colloquially as the ‘Bishop Tutu’).  That same afternoon, at about 3:40pm an empty timber with a mixed pair of 121/141s arrived from Waterford.

Irish Rail at Westport

The afternoon Westport-Dublin passenger is ready to depart Westport on June 10, 2006. Nikon F3 with Nikkor f2.8 24mm lens.
Irish Rail empty timber train.
Irish Rail 146 and 134 arrive at Westport with an Empty Timber from Waterford on June 10, 2006. Nikon F3 with Nikkor f2.8 24mm lens.

What was unusual that day was an electrical power cut had required the use of portable generators at the station, making for an unusual discordant cacophony at the normally peaceful location.

Despite the racket, I went about making photographs. Here, I carefully composed both views from the footbridge by the signal cabin using the same angle to show the contrasting trains in the classic scene. It was the end of an era. Soon all would change.

Since that time, Irish Rail has retired the small General Motors diesels. The 121s made their final runs in 2008, the 141s finished a couple of years later. The Mark III passenger carriages were withdrawn from traffic; today passenger trains to Westport run with Irish Rail’s Rotem-built 22000-series railcars.

I exposed both photos on Fujichrome with my Nikon F3 fitted with a 1960s vintage Nikkor f2.8 24mm lens.

I returned to Dublin on the evening passenger train, also with Mark 3s and a 201 class General Motors diesel.

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DAILY POST: Black & White Scrapbook


Scans of Prints Showing Limerick Junction

Irish Rail
A Dublin bound train has the starting signal to depart Limerick Junction. In the lead is a Class 201 General Motors diesel number 215 (again!). Limerick Junction North Cabin is at the left. Exposed with a Rollei model T on black & white film.

On May 16, 2001, I was on my way from Dublin to Kilarney by train. Rather than take the most efficient route, I aimed to wander a bit on the way down.

I changed trains at Ballybrophy for the Nenagh Branch to Limerick, then traveled from Limerick to Limerick Junction where I’d time my arrival to intercept the weekday 10:34 Waterford to Limerick cement train.

At the time I was making good use of my Rolleiflex Model T to document Ireland and Irish railways in black & white.

I’d process my negatives in my Dublin apartment and make 5×7 proofing prints at the Gallery of Photography’s darkrooms at Meeting House Square, Temple Bar. Often, I schedule one day a week for printing.

Over the course of a half dozen years, I exposed several thousand black & white images, and made hundreds of prints. Sometimes I’d give prints to friends on the railroad. On more than one occasion I’d later visit a station or signal cabin and find my work displayed on the wall.

However, most of the prints remain stored in boxes. While this may help in their preservation, it doesn’t allow people to enjoy the images.

Here I’ve displayed just a few photos, where instead of scanning the negatives, I’ve scanned prints and this shows both my cropping of the image and the borders. I developed a distinctive border style for my square images that I felt worked well with the format.

In the dozen years that have passed since I exposed these photos, Limerick Junction and the trains that serve it have changed dramatically. The semaphores, cement trains and Class 121 diesels are all gone.

Irish Rail 133 works the Limerick Junction-Limerick push-pull set as the train departs the Junction on May 16, 2001. After this train departed, the signalman in the cabin gave the cement train the signal to cross the Cork line (at right), then reverse into Limerick Junction.
Irish Rail 133 works the Limerick Junction-Limerick push-pull set as the train departs the Junction on May 16, 2001. After this train departed, the signalman in the cabin gave the waiting cement train the signals to cross the Cork line (at right), then reverse into Limerick Junction.
Here a pair of Class 121s leads the 10:34 Waterford-Limerick empty cement across the 'square crossing' at Limerick Junction. In America, we'd probably call this the 'Diamond at Limerick Junction'. Although this image was exposed as a square, I cropped the negative in printing to better focus on the railway infrastructure. The top third or so of the original negative just show clouds.
Here a pair of Class 121s leads the 10:34 Waterford-Limerick empty cement across the ‘square crossing’ at Limerick Junction. In America, we’d probably call this the ‘Diamond at Limerick Junction’. Although this image was exposed as a square, I cropped the negative in printing to better focus on the railway infrastructure. The top third or so of the original negative just show clouds.
The Cement train crew gets off the engines after stabling the train in the sidings. After exposing these photos I boarded a train for Mallow and Tralee.
The Cement train crew gets off the engines after stabling the train in the sidings. After exposing these photos I boarded a train for Mallow and Tralee.

 

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END OF YEAR POST

Tracking the Light in 2013.

Searchlight signals
Blue sky and red signals; the old Boston & Maine-era searchlight protects the Bellows Falls diamond. In the steam era an old ball signal protected this crossing, then with Rutland Railroad.

Here, a potpourri of images illuminated the net; covering everything from unit oil trains to obscure eastern European transit. So, looking back, 2013 has been a productive and busy time for Tracking the Light.

My original intention with Tracking the Light was to disseminate detailed information about railway photographic technique. Over time this concept has evolved and I’ve used this as a venue for many of my tens of thousands of images.

Among the themes of the images I post; signaling, EMD 20-cylinder diesels, Irish Railways, photos made in tricky (difficult) lighting, elusive trains, weedy tracks and steam locomotives are my favorites.

Since March, I’ve posted new material daily. I’ve tried to vary the posts while largely sticking to the essential theme of railway images. I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts and will tell your friends about this site! There’s more to come in 2014!

Happy New Year!

Brian Solomon

General Motors Electro-Motive Division SD45 diesels
Southern Pacific 7547 leads a manifest freight timetable east at Brock, California, on SP’s East Valley line on April 28, 1991. This 35mm Kodachome image was scanned with an Epson V600. Minor adjustments were necessary using Photoshop to lighten exposure, correct contrast and color balance. The photo is seen full-frame.
Wisconsin Central
Wisconsin Central as viewed from across a cornfield at Byron, Wisconsin on December 3, 1994. Exposed with a Nikon F3T with 28mm wide angle lens on Kodachrome 25 color slide film. Scanned with a Epson V600 scanner. No post processing except as necessary to scale image for internet use and insert byline tag.
Bord na Mona
Bord na Mona trains are loaded with peat. A section of temporary track sits in the foreground. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D fitted with a 28-135mm lens.
New England Central freights
New England Central freights 604 and 606 at Palmer, Massachusetts. Lumix LX photo.
2-10-0 locomotive
Exposed with a Nikon F3T with 24mm lens with R2 red filter on Fuji Neopan 400, processed in Agfa Rodinal Special.
Bluebell Railway.
My known good spot: here a Bluebell train works the bank north of Horsted Keynes. Lumix LX3 photo.

See: Burlington Northern at Sunset, Whitefish, Montana July 5, 1994Tram in Olomouc, Czech Republic, 2008Donner Pass Part 1Bluebell Railway Revisited, July 2013-Part 2Boston & Albany Milepost 67, Brookfield, Massachusetts; Irish Rail, Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford, December 2005 . . .and more!

 

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Screamer kicks up snow near Shirley, Massachusetts. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens. Contrast adjusted in post processing.
Screamer kicks up snow near Shirley, Massachusetts. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens. Contrast adjusted in post processing.
Croydon Tram
This tram was difficult to miss in its iridescent special livery.
Tube station.
The National Gallery and Trafalgar Square are among London’s largest tourist attractions. This poster describes Victorian interest in art and places photography in period context. Lumix LX3 photo.
New General Electric DASH8-40B on New York Susquehanna & Western
In 1989, New York, Susquehanna & Western served as the court appointed operator of Delaware & Hudson. By virtue of the 1976 Conrail merger, D&H had been granted trackage rights on the former Erie Railroad route from Binghamton to Buffalo, New York. On this March morning, a new NYS&W General Electric led an eastward double stack train on the old Erie near West Middlebury, New York, 384 miles from Jersey City.Exposed on 120 Kodachrome transparency film with a Hasselblad 500C with 80mm Zeiss Planar lens

 

Locomotive drive wheel
A study in motion: drive wheel, cylinder, valves and valve gear of locomotive 92212 at Kingscote. Canon EAS 7D photo.
PRR Suburban Station.
The former Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station as seen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
rail freight

I made this photograph with my Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens, set at ISO 400 f 4.5 at 1/1000th. In post-processing I made minor adjustments to contrast and saturation to match how I perceived the light at the moment of exposure.

 

Irish Rail Gray 077 Leads Ballast Train
A landscape view of Irish Rail’s HOBS at Islandbridge Junction near Heuston Station in Dublin on August 2, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Pan Am 618 roars west at Wisdom Way on November 21, 2013.
Pan Am 618 roars west at Wisdom Way on November 21, 2013.
Distant signal for Nicholastown gates. Nikon F3 with 180mm lens, Fujichrome slide film.
Distant signal for Nicholastown gates. Nikon F3 with 180mm lens, Fujichrome slide film.
Oil train catches the glint.
Away we go into the sunset hot in pursuit of an oil train. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens set at f6.3 1/1000 second at ISO 200.
CSX_oil_train_K040
First of four eastward unit oil trains; CSX K040 with a mix of CSX, KCS, and BNSF locomotives.

 

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DAILY POST: Revisiting Derby Curve.

Photographing on the old Boston & Maine in the Snow.

Old Boston & Maine.
Pan Am Railways’ local freight ‘FI-1’ works west at Derby on its return to Fitchburg Yard. This is the approximate location of the photo in Ball’s book, but a bit higher. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.

A few weeks ago I called into Tucker’s Hobbies to visit with Rich Reed who was working the counter. I picked up a copy of Don Ball Jrs’ classic book Americas Railroads, The Second Generation.

I remember finding a copy of Ball’s book at the Wilbraham Library when I was in Junior High School and being very impressed by the photographs and their arrangement.

In October 1981, my parents drove me to Brattleboro, Vermont on a windy, rainy evening to watch a slide show that Ball was presenting. After the show, I spoke to him briefly. I met him once again, two years later on Steamtown’s Vermont final run from Bellows Falls to Rutland. Ball was running the operation at the time.

Anyway, as I was thumbing though the pages, I came across an image at the bottom of page 29 of a pair of Boston & Maine GP9s in the 1970s-Blue Bird livery with a long freight. The location looked familiar, but I couldn’t place it. The caption read ‘Lunenburg, Massachusetts.’

This puzzled me. I’m usually very good with picking out specific locations. I have a memory for that sort thing  . . . most of the time.

“Hey Rich, where’s this?”

“Lunenburg, that’s Derby Curve just west of the new interlocking. We were there a few months ago to roll by the NS intermodal train.”

Indeed we were, I remember!

So then, on Thursday, December 19, 2013, Rich, Paul Goewey and I were back in that part of the world, and we went to the very spot where Don Ball made his photograph. That wasn’t really why we were there, but we were.

The reason for our visit was that the lighting angle suited a westbound train. More to the point, Pan Am Railways’ POED (Portland to East Deerfield) freight had stalled about a mile to the west. A light engine had come out from Ayer and had tied onto the head-end to assist the train up to Gardner.

A Boston-bound MBTA train shoves eastward with the locomotive at the back. This is one of the old 'screamers' featured on Tracking the Light on December 21, 2013.
A Boston-bound MBTA train shoves eastward with the locomotive at the back. This is one of the old ‘screamers’ featured on Tracking the Light on December 21, 2013.

Instead of standing precisely in Ball’s shoes, I scrambled up the side of the hill to get a slightly higher angle. We photographed the parade trains, including the struggling POED. Looking back at Ball’s photo, it is interesting to see how much the location had changed over the years. And the railroad too!

EDPO at Derby
Pan Am Railways was having a difficult time. POED with 102 cars and weighing 4,882 tons, had stalled climbing the hill west of Shirley when its lead locomotive suffered some electrical difficulties. To get the train moving, this Norfolk Southern GE DASH8-40C was sent from Ayer to assist. The train is on the move heading west at Derby Curve just after 1:34 in the afternoon. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Trailing view of Pan Am Railway's POED. The failed locomotive is a former Southern Pacific SD45. I wonder, had I seen this locomotive on Donner Pass or climbing the Siskiyou Line? Anyone have a roster handy? Today its Pan Am 611, what was it back then?
Trailing view of Pan Am Railway’s POED. The failed locomotive is a former Southern Pacific SD45. I wonder, had I seen this locomotive on Donner Pass or climbing the Siskiyou Line? Anyone have a roster handy? Today its Pan Am 611, what was it back then?

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DAILY POST: Vermont Twilight

Ghost of the Balls in Bellow Falls.

Searchlight signals
Blue sky and red signals; the old Boston & Maine-era searchlight protects the Bellows Falls diamond. In the steam era an old ball signal protected this crossing, then with Rutland Railroad.

Twilight, apparently, may strictly defined by the specific position of the sun below the horizon.

‘Civil Twilight’ as defined by the National Weather Service, is ‘the time at which the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon.’ Key to this period is that ‘there is enough light for objects to be clear distinguishable.”

I’ve always used the term in a more general sense to indicate the time of day when there’s a glow in the sky (before sunrise or after sunset). I suppose, the more appropriate title for these evening photographs would ‘Dusk at Bellows Falls.’

Anyway, it was the end of day’s photography in October 2004, when Tim Doherty and I visited Bellows Falls to witness the arrival of Guilford Rail System’s WJED (White River Junction-East Deerfield) freight.

This train worked interchange from Vermont Rail System’s Green Mountain Railroad and I made a series of atmospheric images at the passenger station. In the lead was a former Norfolk Southern high-hood GP35, a rare-bird indeed.

Bellows Falls is one of my favorite places to make railway images. I’ve been visiting as long as I can remember. My family had been taking day trips to Bellows Falls, and some of my earliest memories are of the tracks here. But, I’ve rarely made photos here at this time of day.

Twilight? Dusk? Evening? How about: dark enough to warrant a tripod, but light enough to retain color in the sky?

Guilford’s WJED eases past the Bellows Falls passenger station. Exposed using a Nikon N90S with Fujichrome.
Guilford’s WJED eases past the Bellows Falls passenger station. Exposed using a Nikon N90S with Fujichrome.
WJED shoves back on the interchange to collect cars from the Green Mountain Railroad.  The Rutland had been gone more 40 years when I made these photos; more than 50 now. Which went first? The Rutland or the balls at Bellows Falls?
WJED shoves back on the interchange to collect cars from the Green Mountain Railroad. The Rutland had been gone more 40 years when I made these photos; more than 50 now. Which went first? The Rutland or the balls at Bellows Falls?

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DAILY POST: Focused on the Details

 Irish Rail Close-up and Real.

Footbridge at Clonmel, County Tipperary on November 19, 2004. Exposed with a Nikon F3 on Fujichrome slide film.
Footbridge at Clonmel, County Tipperary on November 19, 2004. Exposed with a Nikon F3 on Fujichrome slide film.

It would be something else if it were unreal, no?

I’ve always liked to make macro views of railways. Examining the texture, colors, and shape of the equipment, track and structures allows for better appreciation of the subject.

One of the best times to make close ups and detail photographs is under dramatic lighting; low sun or stormy light, where richer qualities make for more pleasing tones. Even the most mundane and ordinary subjects seem more interesting with great light.

Yet, detailed views can also make use of dull days when by focusing on texture and using extreme focus can compensate for flat lighting.

Irish Rail made for an especially good subject for detailed images, in part because there was so much antique equipment to photograph. Well-worn infrastructure is inherently fascinating. Here out in the open metal has been doing a job for decades and often it shows the scars from years of hard work, like an old weaver’s time weathered hands.

I’ve made hundreds of Irish Rail close-ups over the years. Here a just a few. Look around railways near you and see what you find! Sometimes the most interesting photographs can be made while waiting for trains.

Distant signal for Nicholastown gates. Nikon F3 with 180mm lens, Fujichrome slide film.
Distant signal for Nicholastown gates. Nikon F3 with 180mm lens, Fujichrome slide film.
Signal cabin interior at Rathmore. I like lever 23 the most.
Signal cabin interior at Rathmore. I like lever 23 the most. Exposed with a Contax G2 fitted with a 16mm Hologon, focused manually.
Crows congregate on the Carrick on Suir footbridge on December 11, 2004. I made this image with my Nikon F3 with a 180mm Nikkor telephoto while waiting for an empty sugar beet train. Do you think the crows care about blue NIR diesels?
Crows congregate on the Carrick on Suir footbridge on December 11, 2004. I made this image with my Nikon F3 with a 180mm Nikkor telephoto while waiting for an empty sugar beet train. Do you think the crows care about blue NIR diesels?
On Spring evening, Enfield cabin catches a fading wink of sunlight.
On Spring evening, Enfield cabin catches a fading wink of sunlight.
Irish Rail.
Irish Rail 175 basks in the November sunlight at Mallow, County Cork. Canon EOS 3 with 24-70mm zoom lens.

Also see: Irish Rail at Ballybrophy, June 2006Irish Rail Freight April 25-26, 2013 and Looking Back on Irish Railways 1998-2003

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DAILY POST: Irish Rail at Ballybrophy, June 2006.

Views of Action and Architecture

Ballybrophy is a rural station on Irish Rail’s Dublin-Cork main line. It’s probably the smallest community on the route to retain an active passenger station and survives as result of it being the connection to the Nenagh Branch.

Most trains blitz the place at track speed. A few miles east of the station is a summit known as the top of Ballybrophy Bank. Here a lightly used road crosses the line on a bridge which offers a nice view for Cork trains.

Irish Rail
A Dublin-bound train led by an 071-Class flashes through Ballybrophy. What this photo can’t convey is the sound. I could hear this General Motors locomotive in full ‘run-8’ (maximum throttle) for several minutes before the train appeared into view. Powered by a 12-cylinder 645 turbocharged diesel, this machine makes a characteristic drumming sound that permeates the landscape. The sound receded as the train charged to ‘the top of Bally Bank’. Contax G2 rangefinder with 28mm Biogon lens.

I’ve made many visits to Ballybrophy over the years, both to ride the Nenagh Branch and to photograph trains on the mainline.

These images were exposed on an unusually sunny June 3, 2006 using my Contax G2 rangefinder.

 

The classic old stone railway station at Ballybrophy is a treasure. There’s plenty of time between trains to study the architecture. Contax G2 with 45mm lens.
The classic old stone railway station at Ballybrophy is a treasure. There’s plenty of time between trains to study the architecture. Contax G2 with 45mm lens.
Freshly painted Irish Rail 215, a General Motors-built 201 class diesel, leads a Cork-bound train that has just crested ‘Bally Bank’ on its down-road run. Contax G2 with 28mm Biogon lens.
Freshly painted Irish Rail 215, a General Motors-built 201 class diesel, leads a Cork-bound train that has just crested ‘Bally Bank’ on its down-road run. Contax G2 with 28mm Biogon lens.

The classic old stone railway station at Ballybrophy is a treasure. There’s plenty of time between trains to study the architecture. Contax G2 with 45mm lens.

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DAILY POST: Rochester & Southern EMD Switcher


Brooks Avenue Yard, September 23, 1987.

Among my favorite locomotives are Electro-Motive’s classic end-cab switchers, of the sort introduced in the mid-1930s with EMC model SC.

I became familiar with this type as a result of an O-Gauge Lionel NW-2 dressed for Santa Fe that my father bought for me about 1972. Later, I watched and photographed full scale switchers on Penn-Central, Conrail and Boston & Maine.

This type in effect emulated the shape of the common steam locomotive, allowing the engineer to look down the length of the hood, instead of a boiler. Electro-Motive wasn’t first to use this arrangement, which Alco introduced in the early 1930s. But, it was the Electro-Motive switcher that I found to have a classic sound and shape.

EMD SW1200
Rochester & Southern SW1200 107 is posed in front of the Brooks Avenue yard office between 9:45 and 10:15 am on September 23, 1987. I made this photograph with a Leica M2 with 50mm Summicron lens on Kodachrome 25 slide film. At the time was doing a lighting test with my Sekonic Studio Deluxe light meter. Puffy clouds were rapidly passing over and intermittently blocking (and diffusing) the sunlight. I made careful notes of changes in exposure which varied by two full stops between ‘full sun’ and shaded. —
Incidentally, I published this image on page 53 of The American Diesel Locomotive (MBI Publishing, 2000).

 

 

When I was studying at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the late 1980s, Rochester & Southern’s Brooks Avenue Yard was just a few minutes away. I routinely stopped by the yard to see what was going on.

At that time, R&S 107—a former Southern Pacific SW1200—could be routinely found drilling cars. Over the years, I made a number of images of this old goat.

I left Rochester in 1989. I wonder what has become of this switcher? Does it still sport the SP-order oscillating lights?

See previous Tracking the Light posts:  Lehigh Valley 211 at Lincoln Park, Rochester, New York;  Genesee & Wyoming at P&L Junction, November 4, 1987; and Two Freights 24 Hours Apart

 

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