Tag Archives: Ireland

The Cobh Rambler—Crew Portrait at Mallow

Before Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s  The Cobh Rambler  departed Mallow on Saturday evening (5 October 2019) for Dublin, I was given an important task. 

A group portrait was hastily organized for me to expose.

Sometimes gathering railwaymen for a portrait is like herding cats, but there’s a long tradition in posing them in front of locomotives.

Smiling alongside locomotive 232 leading The Cobh Rambler are some the RPSI members and Irish Rail employees that made our excursion a roaring success.

For this photo I used my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm zoom lens.

Special thanks to everyone that made  The Cobh Rambler  a great day out!

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Faces of The Cobh Rambler—lots of photos!

Saturday wasn’t the brightest or driest day.

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s  The Cobh Rambler departed Dublin Heuston Station as per schedule.

It was raining by the time we passed Lucan South (about 6 miles from Heuston).

By the time we reached Cork it was lashing.

On these excursions I often focus on my friends, many of whom are Irish Rail employees and/or RPSI members.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip a success!

All images were exposed using my Lumix LX7.

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Irish Locomotives Yesterday and Today?

Often I assembled Tracking the Light posts several days in advance of publication (or ‘posting’).

As I write this, rain lashes at my window in Dublin.

If all goes to plan, as you read this my friends and I will be traveling on the RPSI diesel tour to Cork and Kerry, titled the ‘Cobh Rambler.’

Traveling behind diesels, especially the 1970s-vintage 071 class General Motors locomotives, has become a novelty in Ireland since the widespread purchase of Intercity Railcars in the mid-2000s, replaced most diesel hauled trains.

This has made diesel trips, such as that one planned for today, a special treat.

What promises to make this trip especially unusual is the very rare combination of 071 class and 201 class working together. There has been considerable comment and speculation as to which locomotives may work this trip.  Sometimes the locomotive planned for the day is re-assigned, develops a fault, or is replaced for other reasons. 

Over the years I’ve photographed most of the GM diesels in Ireland, and in this post I’ve put up a sampling of the locomotives suggested might work today’s train.

Irish Rail 078 with the Steel Train at Kildare on 7 April 2019.
Irish Rail 225 at Tralee, Co. Kerry in August 1999. Exposed with a Nikon N90S on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO).
Irish Rail 232 with up IWT Liner at Stacumni Bridge near Hazelhatch in March 2017.

Learn more about the RPSI: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

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Parallel Moves: Belmond and Enterprise—Three photos.

On the afternoon of Saturday, 14 September 2019, Belmond’s Grand Hibernian was due at Connolly Station, Dublin .

Earlier I’d caught the train being shunted at Heuston Station, and expected it to make the run with Irish Rail 071 in retro orange paint.

A group of us were in place at Connolly anticipating the navy blue cruise train led by the orange loco.

But which platform would make a better photograph?

At the last minute, photographer Kevin O’Brien suggested platform 3. I owe him one for the idea. As it happened the Belmond and a late running Belfast-Dublin  Enterprise  approached Connolly at the same time.

My friends over on platform 2 didn’t get the view they hoped for since in the final seconds the Enterprise effectively blocked the view of the other train.

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Sunday Steam Charter Crosses the River Liffey.

Yesterday, Sunday 22 September 2019, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland operated a private charter from Dublin Connolly station to Graystones, County Wicklow and return.

For more on RPSI excursions see: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

Photographer Jay Monaghan and I made a run on the LUAS into the Dublin city centre to intercept the return leg, and exposed views of the excursion crossing the Loop Line Bridge.

Congestion at Connolly resulted in the train holding for platform space, giving us time to leg it over to the station for more views. Stay tuned!

Lumix LX7 photo. RAW file adjusted for contrast and localized exposure control, exported as a JPG for internet viewing.
FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm lens. RAW file adjusted for contrast and localized exposure control, exported as a JPG for internet viewing.

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Steam Crew at Mallow

Last Saturday (7 September 2019) I made this classic view of the steam crew with locomotive 85 at Mallow, County Cork.

Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s former Great Northern Railway (of Ireland) compound 4-4-0 85 had been assigned to work the annual Steam Dreams tour and was running around its train.

While the locomotive garnered most of the attention, here I focused on the men who operate it.

Classic?

Yes. This photo follows in a long tradition: Since photography was invented we’ve been making images of steam crews with their engines.

Exposed digitally using my Lumix LX7.

Learn more about the RPSI and their excursion operations: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com/whats-on

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Decades of Difference: A Compound and an ICR.

My first visit to Killarney was in February 1998. It was dark and damp.

It was my among first encounters with a class 201 diesel.

By contrast, Friday, 6 September 2019, Killarney was warm and pleasant.

The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Cravens led by 4-4-0 Compound no. 85 was in the sidings, having arrived earlier from Dublin with annual Steam Dreams excursion. A scheduled Irish Rail train was just arriving.

I like the contrast between the steam locomotive and the ROTEM built InterCity Railcar. There’s more than 70 years between the two train designs , yet they co-exist on the same modern railway.

Exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

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Merlin Under Steam

Main line steam continues to be a feature of Irish railway operations.

Friday, 6 September 2019, I made photographs of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s compound 4-4-0 under steam on its journey from Dublin Connolly to Killarney, County Kerry with the annual Steam Dreams rail tour.

This selection was exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 digital camera. I also made photos with my Lumix LX7 and a Nikon F3HP loaded with Kodak Tri-X.

Thanks to everyone at Irish Rail, RPSI and Steam Dreams for keeping steam alive in Ireland.

See: https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

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Tracking the LIght Views Cuauatemoc!

Mexican Sailing Ship Docks in the Liffey.

This was my second encounter with Cuauatemoc.

No, no, not the legendary Aztec Emperor! He’s been gone for centuries. (Although back in ’79 I explored a pyramid near Mexico City. . . .)

Im’ referring to the majestic  Mexican sailing ship that bears his name, which has docked in the River Liffey at Dublin’s Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.

Yesterday I met fellow photographer Mark Healy for a photographic journey in the Dublin Docklands. This tall ship was our focus.

Seven years ago I photographed the ship on a previous visit.

When we arrived the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins was on deck, speechifying (in Irish, I think?). The sailors stood a attention.

It was as close I’ve had to a political encounter in a fair while.

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.

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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.

Tracking the Light aims to post daily!

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.

Travel Notice: Brian will be traveling over the coming days and weeks, so Tracking the Light notices and responses may become infrequent. However:

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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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