Tracking the Light is a blog that focuses on the process of railroad photography, and how certain techniques produce different results. Light, angle and season play an enormous role in the end result.
In yesterday’s Tracking the Light, I featured a misty autumn-morning view of a westward Guilford Rail System freight crossing the bridge over the Deerfield River on approach to the east portal of the Hoosac Tunnel.
Today, I’m featuring a photo exposed a few months later (February 2005) of another westward freight crossing the same bridge: winter versus autumn; south side of the bridge versus the north; and later in the morning. Another difference was my choice of lens: 45mm on the winter view; 180mm on the autumn.
In addition, I’ve included two slightly different versions of the February 2005 photo, as well as one of the photos from yesterday’s post for point of comparison.
This freight was EDRJ, which Pat Yough and I followed all the way to the Hudson River and beyond!
Both images were made from a scan of the same slide, which had been exposed on Fujichrome film using a Contax G2 rangefinder with 45 mm Zeiss lens.
Gray Locomotives in High Sun—Variations on a theme.
High sun—when the sun is at or near the highest point in the sky—can be a difficult time to make railroad photos. The harsh contrast presented by midday light makes for unflattering and abrasive visual conditions. But does that mean we should refrain from photography? I know many photographers who might say ‘Yes.’
Last month on the way to Moosehead Lake, Kris Sabbatino and I paused at Pan Am Railway’s sprawling Waterville Yard where we made a few photos of a freight sitting near the east end of the yard.
Guilford painted GP40s are a rare item these days, and worthy of documentation. Soon all of Pan Am Railways may be swept into CSX, giving a growing urgency to photographs of this New England railroad system.
I made several images of the GP40s idling in the yard using my FujiFilm XT1. In Post processing, I adjusted the camera RAW files making slight changes to contrast, exposure and color temperature. Below are four similar variations of the same scene.
Much to my disappointment, When I told my non-railroad friends that ‘I caught the B&M Slug Set on the road,’ they didn’t match my enthusiasm. (1)
But on June 29, 1986, my pal TSH and I made a morning project of chasing Guilford’s AYRP (Ayer, Massachusetts to Rouses Point, New York) from East Deerfield Yard to the east portal of the Hoosac Tunnel.
We caught this at Wisdom Way in Greenfield, then near Buckland west of Shelburne Falls, then at 10:30am, we caught up to AYRP when it was held for an eastbound at Rices interlocking near Charlemont. Here, I made several photos on Kodak 120 Professional Tri-X using my dad’s Rolleiflex Model T.
I scanned these negatives the other day. Most had never been printed.
Footnote 1. A slug set is a locomotive arrangement where by a powered diesel is coupled with a heavily weighted unpowered unit fitted with traction motors for additional tractive power. Boston & Maine built one such combination where a pair of GP40-2s powered a homemade ‘slug.’
Back in July (2020), I posted a photo of Guilford Rail System 252 under the title ‘Unexpected Surprise’. See: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/2020/07/23/unexpected-surprise/
The significance of the locomotive is that Maine Central 252 (pictured) is now owned by Conway Scenic, where I now work as the Manager of Marketing.
Today’s TTL photograph portrays the same train, Guilford’s EDLA (East Deerfield to Lawrence, Massachusetts) a little later on the same May 1997 evening.
After photographing it near Farleys, Mike Gardner and I had continued east on Route 2.
Here on the Wendell-Erving town line, I had aimed to recreate a photo that I’d made with photographer Brandon Delaney a dozen years earlier, when I caught an eastward train from the same spot. In that earlier photo a derelict barn was standing to the left of the road.
In this view all the remained of the barn was the foundation.
I offer two variation of the same photo. The top is a straight scan without post processing adjustment to contrast, color etc. The second features my processing to improve the appearance of the image.
Since 1983, I’ve been photographing EMD GP’s in the Guilford gray, white and orange.
A few weeks ago, when Kris Sabbatino and I went to chase Pan Am’s SAPPI locals on the old Maine Central Hinckley Branch, I was looking forward to catching Pan Am blue locomotives in Maine.
Yet, at this late date, finding a vintage Guilford engine on the move is a novelty. How many remain?
I made this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit at Shawmut, Maine. I converted the Fuji Raw file using Iridient software, which does a superior job of interpreting the Fuji data. I then imported into Lightroom for final processing.
I took a break from classes at Hampshire College and ventured to Boston & Maine’s East Deerfield yard (near Greenfield, Massachusetts) with some friends for a day of photography.
Among the many trains we saw that day was B&M’s EDSP (East Deerfield to Springfield) through freight that operated with a GP18/GP9/GP7 locomotive combination.
At the time this was a refreshing throwback, as more modern and often mixed lash-ups of B&M, Maine Central and Delaware & Hudson locomotives tended to predominate on the east-west Fitchburg route via the Hoosac Tunnel.
I was especially keen to picture GP7 1566, which was among the last to retain its vertical white nose stripe and harked back to an earlier era.
Photos were exposed on Kodak black & white film using my Leica 3A.
The other day I was scanning some vintage Guilford photos from my 1980s and 1990s file.
This photo came up in the rotation.
Photographer Mike Gardner and I had spent a productive May 1997 day photographing Guilford trains on former Boston & Maine lines.
Toward the end of the day, we caught EDLA (East Deerfield to Lawrence, Massachusetts) working eastbound upgrade near Farley, Massachusetts (east of Millers Falls).
I was working with my N90S fitted with an 80-200 Nikon zoom.
I remember the day well! But when I scanned the slide, I had an unexpected surprise.
Initially, when I saw the lead locomotive, I thought it was Guilford’s 352, a GP40 that has often worked out of East Deerfield Yard. It was only on second inspection that I notice what this engine’s true identity . . .
It was 252! Former Maine Central 252. In other words, Conway Scenic’s locomotive which I see everyday and have hundreds of photos working in New Hampshire.
Wow, that’s kind of cool, to suddenly find a vintage photo I made of this now familiar GP38, back when it was a common freight hauler and not a darling of the tourist trade.