Tag Archives: industrial railway

Sun on the Bog; Nice Light on Bord na Mona—February 2018.

This is a follow-up to Friday’s post:

February 2018 Foray into the Irish Bog in search of Narrow Gauge freight. [https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5jR]

The Irish Midlands are famously cloudy.

However, when the evening sun shines it makes for some wonderful photographic opportunities.

In February, Denis McCabe and I waited out the clouds, and caught two pairs of laden Bord na Mona trains in bright sun.

These images were exposed near Rathangan, Co. Kildare.

FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Tracking the Light posts daily.

Bord na Mona, Lanesborough, October 2013—Part 1

A Busy, Bright and Clear Day Visiting Irish Narrow Gauge.

A laden Bord na Mona approaches Lanesborough in October 2013. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scanning.
A laden Bord na Mona approaches Lanesborough in October 2013. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.

Last week, Mark Healy and I made another venture to photograph Bord na Mona’s (Peat Board) three-foot gauge industrial railway. This time we chose the network focused on feeding the Lough Rea Power Station at Lanesborough in County Longford.

Although we departed Dublin under cloudy skies, by the time we reached the Midlands, the clouds parted and we enjoyed most clear sunny weather for the remainder of the day.

Empty train heads out for reloading against a backdrop of the Lough Rea Power Station at Lanesborough. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scanning.
An empty train rocks and rolls as it heads out for reloading against a backdrop of the Lough Rea Power Station at Lanesborough. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.

From past experience, I’ve found that clear days are by far the best time to photograph Bord na Mona’s trains at work. The heavily harvested moon-like landscape of the peat bogs doesn’t translate as well on dull days. Also, the brown and cream livery on the locomotives and aluminum peat wagons look best with sun on them.

Finding a clear day in the Irish Midlands isn’t so easy. The weather is famously dull and changeable. On more than one occasion I’ve found that a forecast for fine weather proved overly optimistic.

Bord na Mona
Backlit view of a laden Bord na Mona train as it approaches the highway bridge at Derraghan Cross in October 2013. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.

For this excursion, I brought four cameras. Yes, four. In addition to the two digital cameras (Lumix LX3 and Canon EOS 7D), I had my Canon EOS-3 and a Rollei Model T 120-size camera both loaded with Fujichrome Provia 100F.

There’s certain types of images that I still like to put on film. Also, while I expose a lot of digital images (and make multiple back-ups of each and every file) I’m very reluctant to trust digital imaging for long term applications.

So, in the event of a digital apocalypse, I’d like to have a few Bord na Mona photos on color transparency film for posterity.

My film has yet to be processed, so here are a few of my recent digital results.

Bord na Mona
An empty scuttles below the road at Derraghan Cross. Lumix LX3 photo.
A pair of laden trains amble toward Mountdillon on their way to Lanesborough. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.
A pair of laden trains amble toward Mountdillon on their way to Lanesborough. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.

 

A bit of foliage at Mountdillon. Canon EOS 7D with f2.0 100mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.
A bit of foliage at Mountdillon. Canon EOS 7D with f2.0 100mm lens. Photo unmodified except for scaling.
A lone locomotive with a per-way vehicle rests quietly on the bog. The turf has been exposed for harvesting and blackened by recent rains. This can make for some very tricky exposures. I used my handheld Minolta Mark IV light meter to help gauge the settings. Also, I made several test photos to keep the tones within an acceptable range. Simply using the camera meter resulted in a washed out locomotive and a lightly colored bog. Lumix LX3
A lone locomotive with a per-way vehicle rests quietly on the bog. The turf has been exposed for harvesting and blackened by recent rains. This can make for some very tricky exposures. I used my handheld Minolta Mark IV light meter to help gauge the settings. Also, I made several test photos to keep the tones within an acceptable range. Simply using the camera meter resulted in a very washed out locomotive and a lightly colored bog. 
Lumix LX3 Photo.

Tune in tomorrow for more highlights from this most recent Bord na Mona adventure!

Also see previous Tracking the Light posts on Bord na Mona, including: More Adventures with Ireland’s Bord na Mona—September 2013Bord na Mona, Lanesborough, August 10, 2013, Irish Bog Railways—Part 5, August, 2013, and Irish Bog Railways—Part 3, March 2, 2013.

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Bord na Mona, Lanesborough, August 10, 2013

A Pleasant Summer’s Day Exploring an Irish Narrow Gauge Railway.

Bord na Mona trains.
Laden Bord na Mona trains approach Lanesborough, County Longford on the morning of August 10, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.

Last winter, I made several visits with my friends to Bord na Mona’s network focused on the Lough Ree Power Station at Lanesborough, County Longford. (See: Irish Bog Railways—Part 2 February 16, 2013Irish Bog Railways—Part 3, March 2, 2013), On Saturday, August 10, 2013, I returned for another day of photography on this fascinating system.

Having explored various Bord na Mona railways (see: Irish Bog Railways—Part 1Irish Bog Railways—Part 4, August, 2013), I find that the lines around Lanesborough are the most interesting and photogenic. Here variety of scenery and operations are exceptionally conducive to my photography.

Summer offers more pleasant temperatures and longer days, but also brings more foliage, taller grass and other challenges that I didn’t experience in February!

Bord na Mona trains.
A tractor cuts road-side hedges near Lanesborough. Taller grass made this location more difficult than in February. Canon EOS 7D photo.

I think its safe to say that I didn’t get bored with Bord na Mona. From the first moment trackside, the railway seemed to be buzzing with trains. The section of double track running east from Lanesborough toward Mountdillon was especially busy.

 

Bord na Mona trains.
Empties work the double track east of Lanesborough on August 10, 2013. The Lough Ree Power Station looms in the distance. Canon EOS 7D photo.

I even had another opportunity to catch one of the ash trains on the move. (See: Bord na Mona’s Ash Train). Perhaps my bold proclamation of its elusivity has tipped the scales in my favor—a sort of reverse jinx, as it were.

Or maybe, its my persistence. It’s nice to get a lucky catch, but likewise, the more time spent trackside, the better the odds of seeing the unusual, as well as the elusive, the rare, and the obscure. Having a better sense for when trains run helps too!

Bord na Mona trains.
An empty Bord na Mona ash train passes Mountdillon on its way back to the Lough Ree power station at Lanesborough. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Bord na Mona trains.
Running meet on the double track between Mountdillon and Lanesborough. An empty rake of peat wagons meets an empty ash train. The intense clattering of narrow gauge trains gives the network a feeling of a large model railway.
Bord na Mona
An empty rake near Derreghan Cross Roads with the expanse of harvested boglands on the right.

 

Bord na Mona
Empty trains take a passing siding at Derraghan More on the way out to be reloaded. Canon EOS 7D.
Bord_na_Mona_
An empty rake waits for a pair of laden trains near Derraghan More. Canon 7D photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Irish Bog Railways—Part 4, August, 2013

 

Bord na Mona’s Blackwater Network Revisited.

It was fifteen years ago that I made my first acquaintance with Ireland’s bog railway, a narrow gauge network operated by Bord na Mona (peat board). At that time, a tourist train run as the Clonmacnoise & West Offaly made regularly scheduled trips from the Blackwater depot near Shannonbridge in County Offaly.

As I recall, it was an oppressively damp day. Having arrived under swollen skies, I checked in at the booking office, skeptical if the line was even in operation, only to learn that not only was it running, but that the first couple of trains were sold out!

Using the time between tourist trains, I made some black & white photos of the peat trains, then returned to ride the line.

On another occasion two years later, I returned with my father, and family friend Tom Hargadon, and made another spin out on the bog. Since that time, the Clonmacnoise & West Offaly excursion has been discontinued.

Bord na Mona narrow gauge.
My August 2013 visit to the Blackwater network found the bog under rapidly changing skies. Lumix LX-3 photo. Contrast modified in post processing.

 

A Busy Irish Narrow Gauge Industrial Railway.

In early August 2013, I reacquainted myself with Bord na Mona’s Blackwater network, having explored other of Bord na Mona’s railway operations in recent months. See earlier posts:

Gallery 8: Irish Bog Railways—Part 1

Irish Bog Railways Part 2 

Irish Bog Railways Part 3 

Bord na Mona narrow gauge.
Empty Bord na Mona narrow gauge train heading out to be loaded. August 2013. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens.

Blackwater is from my experience, by far the busiest of Bord na Mona’s operations, as the West Offaly power station at Shannon Bridge has the most voracious appetite of the peat burning plants served by Bord na Mona narrow gauge railways. Quite simply there were trains crawling everywhere I went.

The day featured a rapidly changing sky. This made for some wonderful lighting and visual effects, but also resulted in me getting unexpectedly soaked when the sky suddenly opened up. One minute it was sunny, the next there was near horizontal rain! On my next visit I’ll bring plastic bags and a jumper!

Bord na Mona narrow gauge.
In addition to laden and empty peat trains, Bord na Mona operates various type of maintenance  trains. Many of these are hauled by older and more eclectic looking locomotives. August 2013. Canon EOS 7D with f2.8 200mm lens.
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.
Bord na Mona
A sudden downpour drenches the boglands near Shannonbridge. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Bord na Mona
A laden Bord na Mona train crosses the Shannon near the West Offaly power plant. Discharge from the plant warms the river making it ideal for lilly pads to grow. Lumix LX3.

 

See tomorrow’s post for more Irish Bog Railway photos!

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