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.
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.
And because it fits the theme, I’ve also included a view from April 2006, of 213 descending Ballybrophy-bank racing toward Dublin.
213 hasn’t turned a wheel in many a Spring now. It waits its turn in the sun in a deadline at Inchicore.
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.
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.]
Today, it is one of several locomotives painted in the modern Enterprise livery with asymmetrical purple and scarlet swooshes along the sides.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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?
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?
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
New England Central at Montpelier Junction, Vermont.
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.
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.
Old Pointless Arrow and the Basketball Hall of Fame.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!