Tag Archives: Ireland

Steam and Semaphores at Cobh, Junction—May 2000.

Cobh Junction on 11 May 2000. Nikon N90S with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO).

Nineteen Years ago, I was traveling with Denis McCabe and Tony Gray to photograph Railway Preservations Society of Ireland’s annual ‘Two Day Tour’.

We stopped along the N25 opposite the water from Cobh, Junction, Glounthaune, Cork, where I used a telephoto lens to expose this view of former Great Northern Railway (Ireland) steam locomotive 171 hauling Irish Rail Cravens carriages on a trip to Cobh.

At the time, an overcast day photo of 171 working tender first didn’t excite me much, and I left this slide with the other ‘seconds’ from that trip

However, in May of this year (2019)—almost 19 years to the day after I exposed the photo—I rediscovered this slide. It was still in the original box in which it was returned to me from the lab. Time has improved my photo and I think it’s pretty neat now.

I scanned it using an Epson V750 Pro flat bed scanner and processed the file using Lightroom.

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The Challenges and Lessons of Main Line Steam—July 2019

My author’s advance copy of July 2019 Trains Magazine just arrived.

Page 17 features my discussion of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s success with operating regular steam excursions on the mainline and what American operators might learn from RPSI’s example.

I’ve spent 21 years photographing and traveling with the RPSI which has made for a rewarding and enlightening experience.

Here’s the cover of July 2019 Train which features Union Pacific’s world famous 4-8-8-4 ‘Big Boy’.

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On this Day: Beer by Rail!



On 10 May 2005, I exposed this color slide of Irish Rail’s Claremorris Liner from Claude Road in Dublin.

This was toward the end of an era; Irish Rail would only move kegs of beer by rail for another year or so after this image was exposed.

At the time I was working with an F3T fitted with a 180mm lens to make the most of the glinting kegs as the train worked west into the setting sun. To minimize flare, I shaded the front element of my lens with my trusty notebook.

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Irish Rail Mark-4 Approaching Kildare.


On 6 April 2019, I was working with a 1980s-vintage Nikon F3HP fitted with an even older Nikkor 24mm lens to expose this view of Irish Rail 219 in ‘push-mode’ at the back of Dublin-bound Mark4 set at Kildare

This slide was among the photographs I exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100F on an excursion to Kildare with Paul Maguire and Jay Monaghan to photograph the Waterford-Portlaoise Saturday steel train (seen in the distance at Kildare station).

I digitized the slide using an Epson Perfection V750 flatbed scanner and imported the TIF file into Lightroom for final adjustment and outputted a scaled JPG for presentation here.

Several weeks ago on Tracking the Light I published a digital view of this same train, exposed moments after I made this slide.


Exposed at 1/1000th of a second at f4.0 on Fujichrome Provia 100F

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Lessons of Time: Orange Railcars on the Causeway—Donabate, March 2000.


It was a cool, clear morning at Donabate on the old Great Northern Railway of Ireland north of Dublin, when I set up with a telephoto lens fitted to my Nikon N90S ( loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II slide film).

Irish Rail’s 2700-series diesel railcars were relatively new at the time, but weren’t the main feature of the morning. I was hoping to catch some NI Railways 80-Class that were on their way down from Belfast.

In retrospect, I’m glad I made use of the clear morning light. The 2700-series railcars were relatively short-lived in traffic, and they only operated in that attractive orange livery for a scant few years.

Some advice: take advantage of new trains in great light and make the best photos that you can, even when those trains don’t seem special to you. Over time your photos will age well.

Irish Rail at Donabate, 4 March 2000.

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Blue Locomotive and Semaphores: Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary.


Just a light engine running toward Waterford to collect a laden sugarbeet train. 

Except the light engine was NI Railways 112, a northern engine that had wandered far and wide on Irish Rail in the mid-2000s.

And the setting was Carrick-on-Suir where mechanical signaling and an antique track arrangement had survived. The date was 11 December 2004. It all seems so incongruous now.

I made this photo on Fujichrome Sensia-II using a Nikon F3 with 180mm telephoto lens. 

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RPSI’s The West Awake—Eight Views from the Train.

One of the pleasures of traveling on an historic train is the ability to make photos of the line and passing scenery.

Modern cameras with rear-displays make this much easier since it isn’t necessary to have your eye to the camera to compose photos, while built-in line levels aid in composition.

Adjustable ISO ratings allow selection of more appropriate shutter speeds for action images.

This is a selection of photos I made from Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s The West Awake excursion on 13 April 2019.

Photos were exposed using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1. The Fuji benefits from an extendible and adjustable rear display that is especially useful on these trips.

Roscommon.

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The West Awake Rail Tour—13 April 2019—Some Lumix views.


Yesterday, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland operated its The West Awake rail-tour in conjunction with Irish Rail.

A special feature of the tour was the unusual multiple-unit operation using a pair of General Motors-built 071 diesels that hauled RPSI’s Cravens to County Mayo.

At  Claremorris the pair of 071s were replaced with locomotive number 071 (class leader) in retro orange for further excursions to Ballina and Westport.

For more about the RPSI click the link below:

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

During the trip I made numerous digital photos using my Lumix LX7.

Below are a dozen of my finest Lumix LX7 views. I’ll post more photos soon! The best are yet to come!

Special thanks to everyone at RPSI and Irish Rail for an excellent excursion to the west of Ireland!

Irish Rail 074 delivers the excursion train to Connolly Station for boarding. The early start resulted in an opportunity for making photos in rosy morning light. Lumix LX7 photo.

Connolly Station.


Multiple working with 071 diesel is unusual.


Friends at Connolly Station.

The West Awake approaches Islandbridge Junction; a different view of my usual spot!
Photo stop at Athlone.


Athlone.


Double header at Roscommon!


Enjoying the trip!


Discussing the finer points of railways.


Westport through the glass.

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Westport.

Kildare; Light; Action!


Irish Rail diesel trains on the move.

On Saturday (6 April 2019), Paul Maguire, Jay Monaghan and I were in position at the road bridge west of Kildare Station on Irish Rail’s Dublin-Cork mainline.

The elusive steel train was holding on the middle road waiting to cross over, while a Mark 4 set from Cork weaved through the loop on its way to Dublin’s Heuston Station.

I made this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm fixed telephoto.

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Irish Rail ICRs at Kildare.

A few views from Saturday morning (6 April 2019) at Kildare on Irish Rail’s Dublin-Cork mainline.

I’d traveled down with fellow photographers Paul Maguire and Jay Monaghan.

We were after the elusive steel train from Waterford, and entertained our wait with the passage of regularly scheduled passenger trains.

I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 .

Tracking the Light is on autopilot while Brian is traveling.

A set of ROTEM-built InterCity Railcars (ICRs) race up road at Kildare. The train was traveling in the 90-100 mph range so I used 1/1000th of a second to stop the action.

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Tram said ‘Click It’—So I thought, yes, I’ll do that!

Tracking the Light is on ‘auto pilot’ while Brian is traveling.

Here’ the LUAS banana yellow advertising tram crosses the River Liffey in Dublin.

On the side of the car it says ‘click it’. Gosh, I’m glad I brought my Lumix!

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Lucky Morning at Islandbridge!

Just a little while ago I was passing the usual place at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin. Although mostly cloudy, I took a glimpse over the wall. A horn hooted from the Phoenix Park tunnel and an Enterprise 201 eased out onto the Liffey Bridge.

As locomotive 206 approached, running light engine toward Irish Rail’s Inchicore Works, the clouds parted and brilliant morning sun illuminated the junction.

Lumix in hand, I made these photos!

Lumix LX7 photo 25 March 2019.

Irish Rail 206; Lumix LX7 photo 25 March 2019.

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Blink of Sun at Derraghmore; Cosmic Moment on Bord na Mona.


The forecast had been for rain. And rain it did, as it often does in the Irish Midlands.

Paul and Jay Monaghan and I had been exploring Bord na Mona’s narrow gauge network centered on the Lough Rea generating station, but had taken a break to photograph Irish Rail.

We spied clearing in the afternoon sky, so resumed pursuit of the narrow gauge. Soon we found a pair of empty trains returning to the bog for loading.

At the level crossing in Derraghmore, County Longford the clouds parted and we made sunny images of the diminutive trains as these crossed the road.

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Green Night in the Irish Capital: All Lit for the St Patrick’s Day Festival.


Below are a few more views of Dublin buildings coloured with green light for the 2019 St Patrick’s Day Festival.

Exposed digitally using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1 cameras.

Trinity College at College Green.
Dublin’s Custom House.

Irish Rail’s Connolly Station on Amiens Street at dusk.

Loop Line Bridge over the River Liffey.

Brown Thomas on Grafton Street.
Harp shaped Becket Bridge in the Dublin Docklands.
LUAS Green Line at St. Stephen’s Green. Royal College of Surgeons at the right.

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Irish Narrow Gauge and an Amazing Sky.


A week ago, Friday 8 March 2019, toward the end of our exploration of Bord na Mona’s Lough Rea narrow gauge network near Lanesborough Co. Longford, the sky grew textured and glowed with evening magnificence.

I made this view of an empty Bord na Mona train crossing the bog on its way to reload.

The trick making this photo work was to expose for the sky while letting the train go relatively dark. I was working with Ilford HP5 black & white film, and during processing, I used two developers followed by selenium toning of the negatives to extract the maximum shadow detail.

My intent was a moody and stark view of the train against the textured sky.

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Narrow Gauge in the Rain: Atmosphere, Charm and Action!


They said we were mad driving to the Irish Midlands in a March rain to look at bog trains.

But we did anyway.

And we did very well.

Friday March 8, 2019, Paul and Jay Monaghan and I made a foray toward Lanesborough, County Longford to observe Bord na Mona’s Lough Rea system in action.

For me this was repeat of similar trip three weeks earlier.

Here’s a hint: Bord na Mona has one of the coolest train sets in Europe.

The whole operation is like a big garden railway. Well, except that it runs in a bog.

Here’s another hint: just because rain is forecast, doesn’t mean it will rain all day!

More soon!

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Irish Rail Quad Track at Lucan South‑Sun, Cloud and Trains!


Irish Rail makes good use of its quad track on the Cork Line in southwest suburban Dublin. Fast Intercity trains overtake slower moving all-stops passenger trains and the occasional freight.

The other day Colm O’Callaghan and I spent sometime documenting the action.

The sky was a tapestry of clouds with spells bright blue sky. In other words a typical Irish afternoon.

I made these views with my FujiFilm XT1 and 27mm pancake lens. Since top speed for passenger trains is 100 mph/160 kmph, I set the camera to 1/1000 second to freeze the action.

In addition to the digital photos I made a few select views on Fujichrome Provia with my old Nikon N90S and 135mm lens. Those remain in the camera.

Irish Rail ICRs work the Dublin-Westport train on the ‘down slow’ line.

A few minutes later a similar consist races by on the ‘down fast’ line. (Outside tracks are designated ‘fast’, inside tracks ‘slow’. Signaling is set up for directional running.

It was overcast when Irish Rail 218 raced by with a Mark4 set for Kent Station, Cork.

Speaking of Cork, I was on the phone to a Tracking the Light reader there when this ICR set with the new ‘blue doors’ worked up-road on the ‘up-slow’ (Up is toward Dublin; Down is away from Dublin). Previously I’ve reported on the change to Irish Rail’s ICRs with the addition of blue doors in place of green. I described these as ‘purple’ (they still look purple to me, but I’ve been informed the color is ‘blue’.)

Trailing view of a Cork-Dublin train on the ‘Up fas’ line.’ Nice burst of sunlight!
IWT Liner
Irish Rail 088 leads K803 (Ballina to Dublin North Wall IWT Liner) on the ‘Up Slow Line’.

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A Moment in Time: Suburban Train Crossing Amiens Street—February 2019.


Every so often everything really comes together.

As Jay Monaghan and I walked along Dublin’s Amiens Street in the fog, I heard an Irish Rail train blast its horn approaching the platforms at Connolly Station.

There wasn’t much time to react. I made fine adjustments to my Nikon F3 as I put the camera to my face and released the shutter.

This image was among photographs exposed on 27 February 2019 on Ilford HP5.

I processed this using a development technique to maximize dynamic range and tonal response.


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Sunday Morning: LUAS Cross City near College Green.


A beautiful thing about Dublin on a Sunday morning is the relative lack of traffic.

Not so pretty is the rubbish, broken glass and other carnage that tends to litter the streets following a lively Saturday night.

To make the most of the scene on Westmoreland Street looking back toward at College Green, I used my FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm and made low angle view of a northward LUAS tram passing the 18thcentury façade of the Bank of Ireland (right).

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Bloody-Red Liffey Sunrise.

This morning (24 February 2019) saw a stunning bloody-red sunrise over Dublin.

I made a series of photos with my digital cameras.

It’s probably just as well I brought three cameras, since halfway through my photography with my Nikon F3 loaded with Kodak Tri-X, the button-battery in the camera ran out of juice.

And you say, ‘of course you brought a spare battery’.

No, no I didn’t.

And why was I photographing a blood red sunrise on black & white film anyway?

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Lanesborough in Colour—more Bord na Mona narrow gauge.


Last Friday’s (15 February 2019) adventure on Ireland’s Bord na Mona at Lanesborough Co., Longford proved well-timed and we caught many narrow gauge trains on the move.

Below are some more of the digitally exposed colour photos made with my FujiFilm and Lumix LX7 cameras.

Any favorites?

Lumix LX7 photo.
FujiFilm XT1 photo with 18-135mm lens.

Also check out:

FujiFilm XT1 photo with 18-135mm lens.

FujiFilm XT1 photo with 18-135mm lens.

FujiFilm XT1 photo with 18-135mm lens.

Lumix LX7 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo with 18-135mm lens.

FujiFilm XT1 photo with 90mm lens.

Lumix LX7 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens.

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Black & White on the Bog.


On Friday, 15 February 2019, during my visit with Stephen Hirsch and Denis McCabe to Bord na Mona’s operations at Lanesborough, I worked with three cameras to document operations.

My FujiFilm XT1 and Lumix LX7 were for exposing colour digital photos, while I employed a Nikon F3 to make classic 35mm black & white images.

I processed the film yesterday using custom tailored formulas.

The first roll was Ilford HP5 that I’d bought a couple of days earlier at John Gunn’s Camera on Wexford Street in Dublin. I processed this using a two stage development, starting with an extremely dilute solution of Kodak HC110 (roughly 1 part developer to 250 parts water) which used as presoak. The weak developer helps activate the chemical reaction and improves shadow detail without overdeveloping highlight areas.

The second stage of development involved Ilford Perceptol mixed 1-1 with water and heated to 71F. Based on past experience, I left the film in the developer for 12 minutes, then stop bath, 1stfixer, 2ndfixer, pre-wash, hypoclear, main wash (10 minutes) and final rinse in distilled water.

After drying, I scanned the negatives with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner and touched up the scans using Lightroom.

Stay tuned for more photos from the Bord na Mona!

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Two Trains on the Move at Islandbridge Junction!


Monday, 11 February 2019 was bright and sunny in Dublin.

Although I was only just back across the Atlantic, I made use of the morning when I’d heard that Irish Rail 073 in heritage orange paint was working the down IWT Liner (container train operated from Dublin’s North Wall to Ballina, Co. Mayo).

As this exited Dublin’s Phoenix Park Tunnel approaching Islandbridge Junction, an Irish Rail ICR working the Hazelhatch-Grand Canal Docks service came the other way.

I hadn’t anticipated a ‘rolling meet’, but as luck had it I got two trains for the price of one.

This sequence of photos was exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera with 27mm pancake lens.

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Steam and Strawberry Fair—County,Wexford, July 2001.


On July 7, 2001, I traveled with the late Norman McAdams to photograph an Railway Preservation Society of Ireland Strawberry Fairsteam special led by locomotive 171.

During the course of the day we caught this colourful excursion at a variety of locations on the Dublin & Southeastern route south of Dublin.

In the afternoon, typical Irish summer weather closed in on us, with heavy skies and haze.

I made this telephoto view of the northward trip at Killurin, County Wexford along the River Slaney. I opted to photograph the train at distance to show the full consist and the snaky track alignment.

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Dublin’s DART: Twenty Years Ago.


Here’s a late 1990s view on Amiens Street in Dublin in front of Connolly Station.

The 1980s-era DART electric suburban train isn’t remarkable; except for a nominal change of paint and end lights, these cars look much the same today.

However, so much else has changed, which makes the photo look dated, and fascinating now.

I exposed this Fujichrome colour slide using my Nikon F3 with 135mm lens, probably in the Spring of 1998, and no later than Spring 1999. At the time of exposure, the scene seemed so unremarkable, I didn’t bother to put a date on the slide mount.

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DART Impressions—1998.


In my first year photographing in Ireland, I made many photographs of Irish Rail’s electric suburban service that is branded as ‘DART’ for ‘Dublin Area Rapid Transit’.

This is a selection of four color slides exposed back in 1998.

Connolly Station 1998.

Howth.

Howth.

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Irish Rail 233

My penultimate post for 2018 that features Ireland’s 201-class diesels focuses on locomotive number 233—second to last in the series (201-234).

In recent times this has worn the minimalist ‘raccoon’ livery, while for a number of years it wore the older Enterprise scheme.

I exposed these views of 233 in the Dublin area over the last three years.

I’ve been featuring the Irish Rail 201 diesels as part of my 20 years in Ireland photography retrospective. I started with the class leader number 201, and have progressed sequentially. Take a wild guess as to which locomotive I’ll conclude the series! (This is not a trick question. You don’t need to consult a crystal ball or take a class in advanced mathematics.).

Irish Rail 233 in Enterprise paint works the down IWT Liner (Dublin to Ballina) at Clondalkin on March 24, 2016. This was shortly before it was repainted into the ‘raccoon’ livery.

In September 2016, Irish Rail 233 works the Belmond Grand Hibernian at Islandbridge, Junction.


Old 233 seen at Dublin’s Connolly Station in September 2018. Lumix LX7 photo.

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Irish Rail 232 in 2017; A 201-Class in Fresh Paint.


As 2018 draws to a close, I still have three more Irish Class 201 diesel-electrics to feature as part of my on-going 20 year Irish Railways Retrospective!

Next up in the queue is Irish Rail 232.

In  Spring 2017, this was the latest locomotive running around in fresh paint, and I’d made a point of catching on the IWT Liner (Dublin to Ballina, Co. Mayo).

Here’s two views from March 2017.

8 March 2017, Irish Rail 232 leads the up-IWT with container pocket wagons viewed from Stacumni Bridge near Hazelhatch in suburban Dublin.
The following week I caught 232 with the down IWT Liner roaring up ‘The Gullet’ from Memorial Road in Dublin.

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Thomastown Cabin at Dusk—On this Day 15 Years Ago.


It was on a damp evening 15 years ago (13 December 2003), that I exposed this 35mm Fujichrome Sensia II slide using my Contax G2 rangefinder with 45mm Zeiss lens at Irish Rail’s station in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny.

At the time, Irish Rail was operating its sugarbeet trains via Thomastown and Cherryville Junction owing to bridge collapse at Cahir, County Tipperary.

I’ve always liked the rich atmosphere of this slide which conveys an era now gone. Irish Rail closed the cabin at Thomastown  a few months later and removed the Thomastown loop when it commissioned the Waterford Mini CTC.

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Borris Viaduct in Silver.

Last month, Ken Fox, Donncha Cronin and I explored the old Great Southern & Western Railway viaduct at Borris, County Carlow, see: Magnificent Vestige at Borris, County Carlow. [https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5Qe].

In addition to digital photos, I made a select few film photographs.

For me there’s something fascinating and compelling about putting a relic of former times on film. It’s just more real.

Miles from Dublin.

View from the viaduct.

Photos were exposed using a Canon EOS3 with 40mm pancake lens on Kodak Tri-X; and the film processed in Ilford ID11 stock developer mixed 1 to 1 with water for 7 minutes 30 seconds at 68F, then scanned with a V500 flatbed scanner and imported into Lightroom for final adjustment.

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Six Years Ago Today; Ireland’s Bord na Mona near Edenderry on 3 November 2012.

On this day six years ago, Denis McCabe and I were on an exploration of Ireland’s narrow gauge Bord na Mona (Peat Board) operations radiating from the Edenderry generating station located near the village of Clonbullogue, Co. Offaly, when we discovered this view from overhead bridge over the double track narrow gauge line.

I exposed my photo using a Canon EOS7D with 200mm prime lens. Nominal overexposure resulted in a slightly washed out image.

Six years after the fact, I worked with the RAW File in Lightroom, to bring back some of the sky detail not apparent in the camera-produced Jpg, while aiming to improve colour saturation and colour balance.

This is a scaled version of the camera JPG. Notice the washed out sky and low colour saturation.

Working with the camera RAW file, I brought back highlight detail while improving overall colour balance and saturation to more closely resemble the original scene.

See: Gallery 8: Irish Bog Railways—Part 1

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Irish Rail at Portarlington, Then and Now Views: Deja Vu all over again.

I was trolling through the archives searching for views of Irish Rail’s Mark 2 airbrake carriages and came across this view of class 071 locomotive 088 at Portarlington in summer 1998.

Irish Rail 088 leads a westward train of Mark 2 airbrake carriages at Portarlington in summer 1988. Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia (100 ISO) using a Nikon F3T with 135mm lens.

It makes for a fascinating comparison with a similar photo I made of the same locomotive hauling the recent Railway Preservation Society of Ireland autumn tour arriving at the modern Portarlington station.

Same locomotive, same location, looking the same direction but viewed more than 20 years apart. The tracks have been re-aligned, platforms extended, new footbridge constructed, and houses built in the distance, while 088 now wears Irish Rail’s gray and yellow livery.

In retrospect, I wish I’d located the vintage photograph prior to the tour so I could more closely match the angle.

The 1998 view is made from the old footbridge which is now out of service. The October 2018 photo was exposed from the modern footbridge, which is situated further east and slightly higher.

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Glounthaune Sunrise—Cobh Junction Glint in 3 photos.

Last week on a visit to Cork, I made these views of Irish Rail’s 2600 railcars working Cork-Cobh and Cork-Midleton services from Glounthaune village looking across the water toward Glounthaune/Cobh Junction station.

I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 and Canon EOS-3 cameras. The Canon was loaded with Provia 100F, and we’ll have to wait for the slides to be processed.

Regular Tracking the Light readers know that I often favor low-light ‘glint’.

This is tricky light to expose satisfactorily. It is a matter of getting the balance between highlights and shadows right, which is a subjective decision on the part of the photographer.

Which is your favourite?

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Railway Preservation Society Ireland—Fall Tour: Ten Lumix Views.

I described the failure of my trusty Lumix LX7 in yesterday’s post:
Final Frame? Lumix LX7 Coils Up

https://wp.me/p2BVuC-5Rm

Despite its failure on the day of the tour, I’d made good use of the camera right up to the end. This versatile picture making device had been a staple of my camera bag for more than four years.

Below are a selection of photos from Saturday 13 October 2018 of RPSI’s The Southwestern rail tour that operated from Dublin Connolly to Cork, then via Limerick, Ennis and Athenry and back to Dublin.

On these rail tours I tend to focus on the people as much as the equipment.

Blocked outside of Mallow.

Operational discussion at Mallow.

 

Kent Station, Cork.

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