Under normal circumstances, Irish Rail operates its class 201 General Motors diesel locomotives singly.
Such was not the case three years ago, when on 23 September 2018, photographer Jay Monaghan and I had the rare privilage of picturing a pair of 201s together at Dublin’s Heuston Staton on a train that had just arrived uproad from Cork.
Five years ago, I was poised at the army bridge near Mosney over the old Great Northern line to photograph the, then new, Belmond Grand Hibernian on its run from Dublin to Belfast.
This luxury tour train made weekly tours of the Irish network in season.
Irish Rail class 201 number 216 was painted to match Belmond’s train set, and was routinely assigned to the train.
Belmond’s choice of a dark navy blue made for challenging photos in conditions other than bright sun. In photos, this shade of blue often appeared almost black, and when lightened using post processing software tended to shift green.
In this view, I selectively lightened the front of the locomotive, and applied minimal lightening to the shadow areas of the entire scene. I’ve attempted to retain the true color of the train as best I can.
Irish Rail class 141 number 167 glides over the River Liffey at Islandbridge, Dublin.
I made this view from my old apartment at Islandbridge in December 2005.
Although I had just recently purchased a Canon EOS3, I was still working with my old Nikon F3s, which is what I used to expose this view on Fujichrome.
At the time there were still a number of class 141/181 General Motors diesels working for Irish Rail.
Over the years, the trees and other obstructions gradually hemmed in my view of the tracks, so that by the time I left more than a dozen years later, it was more difficult to obtain an uncluttered photo of a train crossing the Liffey from the apartment.
On December 28, 2005, toward the end of Irish Rail’s final beet season, I stood on the western shore of the Barrow, where I aimed a Nikon F3 fitted with a 180mm f2.8 lens and loaded with Fujichrome toward the multiple span Pratt truss that crosses the river.
NI Railways 112 (on loan to Irish Rail) worked east across the span at about 5mph with a train of four-wheel empty beet wagons.
Last night I scanned the nearly 16-year old slide using my Epson V600 scanner at relatively high resolution (3200 dpi) then imported the resulting TIF file into Lightroom.
The RAW scan exhibits a minor red tint. To compensate I made a variety of changes. First I moved the black point to the limit of data loss with the aid of the histogram. This adjusted the tonal range of the slide, then I worked with green-magenta and blue-yellow color correction sliders to balance the color, while paying close attention to hue in the shadow areas.
Finally I made some nominal contrast and saturation changes to make for a more pleasing image before outputting as a medium resolution JPG crafted for optimum internet presentation.
Below is the unadjusted JPG along with my final adjusted JPG for comparison. Since every computer screen is slightly different and provide varied interpretations of my images.
the proof of success for my adjustments may be in the color prints that I have yet to make.
In addition, I’ve also included a screen shot of the Lightroom control panel so that you may see how I’ve moved the sliders to improve the scan.
On a day trip to Cork City (Ireland) in April 2002, I made this photo using my Contax G2 rangefinder on Kodak Tri-X.
I had the camera fitted with a 45mm Zeiss lens. Key to the image tonality was an orange filter, which gives the photo a contrasty snap with lots of texture in the sky while lightening the rendiition of the shade of orange paint on the class 201 diesels.
I’d processed the film using a custom mix of Ilfotec HC.
To scan the film, I used my Epson V600 flatbed scanner with Epson Scan 2 driving software. I made nominal adjustments to contrast using Adobe Lightroom.
I made thousands of photos of Irish Rail operations on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO). Typically, I had the film processed at Photocare on Abbey Street in Dublin.
In this photo, exposed on a summer Saturday, Irish Rail class 071 number 083 roars up-road at Enfield with a laden timber train. The signalman hands the staff to the driver. The staff authorized the train movement over the section (in this case Enfield to Maynooth).
This image was made was in the final years of traditional electric train staff and semaphore operation on Irish Rail’s Sligo Line.
I’ve been gradually archiving my Irish Rail slides by scanning them at very high resolution, typically between 3200 and 4800 dots per inch, saving the file in TIF format.
Six years ago on this day I was visiting Cobh Junction at Glounththaune, Co. Cork.
The Irish Rail station at this suburban Cork village continues to make good use of its classic footbridge, of the sort once common to stations across Ireland.
In recent years many of the old lattice-construction foot-bridges have been supplanted by massive modern structures that lack the simple elegance and basic utility of the old bridges—many of which remain in place as unused relics.
Working with my first Lumix LX7, I made these photos of the footbridge and Irish Rail 2600-series railcars that work suburban services that pause at Glounthaune on their way to and from Cork to outlying stations at Cobh and Midleton.
The Lumix LX7 with its Leica lens and cleverly designed imaging system produces extremely sharp photos with great depth of field.
Five years ago, I traveled on the second leg of a two-day Irish Railway Record Society diesel rail tour. We had laid over at Killarney, and in the morning a select portion of the group made a round trip to Tralee and back, before heading eastward for a circuitous trip back to Dublin.
It was a gray Irish day, raining and spitting snow.
Ken Fox was our driver from Killarney in the morning, and Class 076 was our locomotive.
Traveling on the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland Cravens carriages afforded me some great views from the train as we made our way through the lush Spring countryside.
These digital images were exposed using my Fujifilm XT1.
It’s hard to believe that eight years have passed since I made the sprint from my old apartment at Islandbridge in Dublin to the top of the Phoenix Park Tunnel on the Conyngham Road to catch the elusive HOBS on its run toward Dublin’s North Wall yards.
As previously covered in Tracking the Light, Irish Rail’s modern ballast train is known by its initials HOBS, which stands for High Output Ballast System.
Working with my Canon EOS 7D digital camera, I exposed this sequence of images as the train accelerated around the bend at Islandbridge Junction. Old Irish Rail 074 was in the comparatively short-lived silver, black & yellow freight livery.
On the evening of November 27, 2003, I used my old Contax G2 rangefinder to expose this Fujichrome Sensia color slide of Irish Rail’s Nenagh Branch train departing Roscrea, County Tipperary.
This was toward the end of regular locomotive hauled trains on the branch. A few weeks later Irish Rail’s 2700-series diesel railcars would assume most of the runs on this branch, although locomotives with sets Cravens carriages would still occasionally make an appearance on the line into 2004.
It was a dull Friday afternoon in mid June 2005, when DH and I were exploring locations along the Cork Road (Dublin to Cork) between Mountrath, Co Laois and the top of Ballybrophy Bank.
We’d stopped in sight of the tracks on a lightly traveled dirt road, and were cleaning the car, when off to the east we heard the distant drumming of a class 071 in Run-8 (full throttle).
Irish Rail’s class 071s are mid-1970s era EMD diesel-electrics, built with Dash-2 technology and powered with 12-cylinder 645E3 (turbocharged) engine. Their sound is distinctive.
I grabbed my Nikon F3 loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO). As the Friday-only ‘Down Kerry’ (Dublin Heuston to Tralee) came into view, the sun peaked out from a thick overhead cloud-bank. Irish Rail 072 was driven by Irish Rail’s Ken Fox, who recognized us and gave a few friendly blasts of the hooter (horn).
As the train passed on its ascent toward Ballybrophy, the sound intensified—a characteristic of the doppler effect. We could hear the aged EMD until Ken shut off at the top of the bank—several miles distant.
At first glance this view from November 8, 2005, might appear to be an ordinary container train.
It is not.
During its final season carrying sugar beet, Irish Rail took the tops off some 40ft container and fitted them to bogie (8-wheel) flat wagons to haul beet from Wellingtonbridge Co. Wexford to the sugar factory at Mallow, Co. Cork.
These unusual freight haulers were known as ‘bogie beet wagons’, since Irish Rail’s traditional beet wagons were rigid-base four wheelers.
In this photograph at dusk, a laden sugar beet freight reverses into Limerick Junction, having just come up the line from Waterford that crosses the Dublin-Cork main line at grade (to the right of the signal cabin).
The locomotive will cut off and run around the train in order to proceed to Mallow. This was necessary because there was no direct chord at the Junction to facilitate a direct move. The lights at left had been installed to make it easier to reverse the train at night.
I exposed this photo on a tripod using my Contax G2 Rangefinder with 45mm lens using Fujichrome Sensia slide film. I scanned the slide with an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.
When Irish Rail’s Rotem-built 22K series InterCity Railcars (ICRs) were new, they briefly carried set numbers in a painted round circle on the right front above the coupler and adjacent to the headlights. This has been called the ‘green golfball.’
This identification practice was frowned upon and most of the circles were removed after a few months.
Set 7 survived longer than others.
On the evening of December 31, 2009, I made a visit to ‘The Box’ overlooking the wall at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin, where I made this image of ICR set 7 in dramatic winter light using my then new Lumix LX3.
Last night, I found this photo while searching for something else obscure and thought it would make for an interesting Tracking the Light post.
And it’s a was a very good Friday too. Years ago, Good Friday was a busy day on Irish Rail and there was lots to garner a photographer’s attention.
In addition to Railway Preservation Society of Ireland steam excursions, and ‘extra’ Friday-only passenger trains, Irish Rail tended to operate a lot of daylight freight.
So on the morning of March 29, 2002, Hassard Stacpoole and I joined Paul Quinlan at Kildare for a foray to Cherryville Junction (where the Waterford Line joins the Dublin-Cork mainline) and spent the day rolling by the parade of trains.
I made most of my photos on Fujichrome slide film, but also exposed a roll of Fuji Neopan 400 black & white film in my Contax G2 rangefinder with a yellow filter. I processed this in Agfa Rodinal Special (mixed 1-32) for 3 minutes 45 seconds at 20c.
Then after 18 years in an archival box, yesterday I decided to scan a few of the photos for presentation here.
What may have passed as ordinary in 2002, now looks fascinating.
How a year goes by! November 4th last year sticks in my mind as one of the best nights for rainy night photography in a very long time.
I’d caught up with fellow poor-weather nocturnal photographers, Jay Monaghan, Paul Maguire and Kevin O’Brien at Drumcondra in Dublin to catch the elusive Irish Rail ‘HOBS’ (ballast train) hauled by General Locomotives diesel 075.
It was cold and sluicing rain.
After catching the ballast passing Drumcondra station, we nipped across town by rail to Sandymount, where we waited in the rain for another shot.
Working with my Fujifilm XT1 I made these memorable images.
Now, armed with Iridient X-Transformer, I went back to last year’s success and re-interpreted some of my favorite images from that damp Irish evening, which now seems so distant.
Tracking the Light Publishes Daily!
[Note: my intent was to publish this on November 4, 2020, but when composing the post I accidentally posted it immediately. My efforts to reschedule the post had the net effect of disrupting the link. So I’ve reposted it this morning (Tuesday November 3).]
On the morning of 23 November 2004, I exposed this photo of a pair of Irish Rail bo-bos (class 141/181 General Motors diesels) shunting sugar beet wagons at Wellingtonbridge, Co. Wexford, Ireland.
This was a typical scene made a bit mystical by a thick layer of fog.
To accentuate the effect of the fog and compress the elements in the scene, I worked with a 180mm Nikkor prime telephoto lens fitted to a Nikon F3 camera.
My film choice of the day was Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO 100).
I scanned this slide yesterday using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 digital scanner and processed the hi-res scan with Lightroom to scale the image for internet presentation and make minor adjustments in the color balance and contrast.
Between 2000 and 2007, I made more than 1,000 images of the Irish Rail weedspraying train on its annual campaign around the system.
In my early days focusing on this one of kind train (there have been many weed spraying trains, but this one was unique!), I aimed to catch it in unusual places.
On this day in April 2000, I was traveling with intrepid photographer Mark Hodge, and we drove cross-country from Tipperary to County Limerick to intercept the train on the then rarely-traveled Foynes Branch.
Later in the morning, I caught the train coming off the branch at Limerick Check.
The day was wet and dark, but I’m very glad I exposed these photos, despite the fact that over the coming years I made numerous sunny day views of the train.
My Irish friends might wonder, since Irish Rail class 201 number 204 in unlikely to have ever reached Enfield, County Meath on the Sligo Line—although the older C-Class diesel with the same number probably did pass that point (before my time).
Amtrak F40PH-2 204 almost certainly passed Enfield, Connecticut on the former New Haven Railroad’s Springfield-New Haven Line, a route now described as the ‘Hartford Line’. While I have various photos in the 1980s of the 200-series F40PH-2s, it is unlikely that I have a photo of 204 at Enfield.
Then there’s an extremely remote possibility that I have a photo in my collection of a Boston & Albany 4-4-0 with that number passing Enfield, Massachusetts on the Athol Branch. I’ll have to review my B&A roster to confirm they actually had a locomotive with that number and if it ever ran up the branch.
How about Guilford Rail System’s high-hood GP35 204 working the Maine Central with MABA at Enfield, Maine?
Regular Tracking the Light readers might understand my connections to this engine.
(It’s a sister locomotive to former Maine Central 216 that now resides at Conway Scenic where I now work.)