Last Saturday evening (May 11, 2019), I exposed these digital photographs of Boston’s MBTA Green Line.
At this location three routes effectively converge which makes it an ideal location for shops and car storage.
Decades ago I’d photograph MBTA’s classic PCCs here. With in a few years of my making those images the PCCs were all but banished to the Red Line Mattapan-Ashmont extension. The PCC’s have since become an icon of that route.
Soon MBTA’s streetcar fleet will undergo another transition that will make last week’s photos seem historic.
When I was a young child my family lived in Newton Centre, an historic suburb of Boston located on the old Boston & Albany Highlands Branch, a railroad that had been converted into a trolley line in 1960.
As a five year old, I’d watch MBTA’s PCC cars pass though, typically operated in multiple sets of two and three cars.
The old B&A railroad station was a relic from former times.
On Saturday, May 11, 2019, after dropping my father on the Logan Express bus for a trip to Portugal, I met some fellow photographers and we visited MBTA’s Newton Centre station on the Green Line.
This was the first stop on our photography of MBTA’s trolley car system.
It was a rare sunny day, and I made these digital photos of the trolley cars as they rolled between Boston and Riverside.
Last Friday (22 March 2019), Mark Healy and I met in the Dublin city centre to seek out an elusive tram, recently dressed in a yellow advertising livery.
A steady rain was falling by the time we found it.
I made these photos with my Lumix LX7. In post processing, I adjusted the camera RAW files using Lightroom to improve colour temperature, make the contrast more appealing, and restore texture to the afternoon sky.
After arrival at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), I made my way to the Metrorail light rail station.
You have to take the LAX ‘G’ bus to get there.
Buying the fare took a bit of skill.
Once up on the platforms, which are elevated high above ground level at the Aviation-LAX station, I made a few photos of passing trains using my tired and battle work LUMIX LX7. Then I boarded a Green Line train to change for the Blue.
Yesterday (Wednesday 19 September 2018) high winds attributed to storm Ali resulted in widespread transport disruption across Ireland.
Some railway lines were closed because of downed trees. It was reported that a Galway-Dublin Intercity Railcar (ICR) was damaged when it struck a tree.
In Dublin,LUAS Green Line overhead wires were damaged and service suspended between Cowper and Dawson in the city centre.
As of this morning, LUAS was still only operating a limited service in the city centre and on the southern extremities of the Green Line route.
I went to explore the turn-back operation relating to the temporary Dawson terminus. While trams were only carrying passengers as far south as Dawson Street, the trams themselves were running toward St. Stephens Green to use the facing point crossover on the north side of the Green to reverse direction.
Photos were exposed digitally this morning, 20 September 2018.
Among my themes in Tracking the Light has been; Anticipating Change and Acting on it.
It is easy to sit back in your easy chair and pontificate about the potential for change. Or go from day to day without ever thinking about the effects of change.
Yet, looking back at old photos, what so often catches our interest is how things have changed.
When I was a kid, I’d look back at my father’s photos, exposed 10-20 years earlier and marvel at the changes that had transpired. Amtrak had ended the age of privately operated passenger trains. Conrail and other mergers had swept away many of the classic railroads that appeared in those old images.
Having only lived a few years, it was my mistaken belief that all change was in the past.
Fast forward to 1999. My friend Mike Gardner dropped me in Boston. I was on my way to London and had several hours before my flight. Tim Doherty suggest I make some photos of the Green Line elevated near North Station, which was then due to be replaced.
At the time I thought, “Hmm, but I have plenty of photos of the old El.” True, but these images were already more than a decade out of date. Green Line had introduced a new livery, and most of my views featured PCCs and 1970s-era Boeing-Vertol LRVs.
I made the effort and exposed several color slides of Green Line cars squealing along the old elevated line. I’m glad I did; as predicted the El was removed and these views can never be repeated.
Look around you, anticipate change and make photographs. What you see today may soon be different. Sometimes change is easy to predict; other times it occurs with little warning.
Some of my earliest memories of the Green Line and the Boston Museum of Science
Much has changed since the days when I used to stare in wonder at Boston & Maine 3713 on display out front of the museum while trains of 2-3 old PCCs hummed along the elevated structure across the street.
In mid-May 2015, Pat Yough and I went for a Green Line spin to Lechmere and back, stopping over at the Science Park station for a few photographs.
The steel-girder elevated that once extended toward North Station was replaced years ago by a new tunnel with a steep ramp up to the concrete-faced elevated that still passes the museum.
Lechmere looks much the way that I remember it.
Some places never seem to change . . . and then one day all of sudden they are unrecognizable . That day may be soon approaching. Afterward memories fill the gap where photographs leave off.
My Lumix LX7 with its f1.4 Leica Vario Summicron lens is another fun tool for making photos in the subway. It sure beats my ancient old Leica 3A hands down.
Park Street Station was bright enough so that even back in film days I could get passable photos of paused PCCs in black & white. But these days with the LX7 I can make very publishable handheld views in color.
Using the digital camera in the subway allows me virtually instantaneous feedback. I can check color balance, sharpness, exposure and composition on site. No longer do I need to unfurl wet negatives from stainless steel tanks to find out that I missed my exposure by half a stop.
Of course while instant feedback allows me to make adjustments to the exposure on-site, it does take away some of the thrill of anticipation.
I’ve found that subway images, like most night photos, require a manual exposure override of about a 1/3 to 2/3rds of a stop to compensate for specular highlights (caused by overhead lights and the reflections of same off shiny surfaces such as metal encased columns and enameled station signs).
In other words, I’ll set the Lumix to the ‘A’ (aperture) mode, then dial in + 2/3 overexposure with the toggle wheel. When I don’t make this correction the images appear too dark coming out of the camera. While I can adjust for this in post processing, I’d rather optimize my exposure to allow for the most amount of detail in the RAW file.
Does all that sound too complicated? By making this nominal exposure compensation to lighten my photos in camera, the resulting images will ultimately require less work on the computer and should be easier to use on the printed page.
The photos display in this post have not received post-processing, except for scaling necessary for internet presentation. Here: I have not modified exposure, color balance, contrasts or sharpness.