As it happens I was at Irish Rail’s Portlaoise Station on my way up to Dublin and I needed a few potential illustrations of the 1840s buildings for my book on European railway travel. I thought, ‘what better time than now to make some up to the minute photos?’
Working with my Lumix LX7 I made these views that I feel capture the atmosphere of the station.
In that photo the train is relatively small in a big scene.
Three days later, David Hegarty and I were again out along the old Great Northern line, this time at Drogheda, to photograph the Tara Mines on the move.
In contrast to the distant view in the earlier posting, the photographs displayed here focus tightly on the locomotive and train using more classic three-quarter angle.
In the top photograph, I used my FujiFilm XT1 with a 90mm fixed telephoto for a tight compressed view (what some photographers might term a ‘telewedgie’).
While in bottom photograph I used my Lumix LX7 with zoom lens set with a wide-angle perspective that approximates the angle of view offered by a 35mm focal length lens on a traditional 35mm film camera.
I prefer the telephoto view for overall appeal; this handles the soft lighting conditions more satisfactorily, focuses more closely on the locomotive and train, minimizes bland elements of the scene such as the ballast and white sky, and offers a high impact image of the train in motion. Also it helps emphasize the trackage arrangement with crossovers between the up and down lines.
Tracking the Light Discusses Railway Photography Daily.
Irish Rail’s quad-track line southwest of Dublin is a popular place for photos.
Last week, Colm O’Callaghan and I made a trip down to Hazlehatch to make photos of trains on the move in the afternoon.
Belmond’s Grand Hibernian was passing down road when Colm said to me, ‘Quick, it’s the inspection car’. I had only a few seconds. I turned around and with little time to compose I fired off a few frames.
Both the train and the inspection car were in motion.
Only see one photo? That’s because you are not viewing this post on Tracking the Light (Hint: click the link).
Irish Rail maintains its 29000-series diesel railcars (built by CAF) at its Drogheda Depot.
Back in Janaury 2003 I photographed the very first of these trains being lifted out of the boat at Dublin port. (Thanks to the late Norman McAdams who had encouraged me to be dockside to make photos for the Irish Railway Record Society Journal).
I was reminded of that event while crossing the now disused trackage (half paved over) by the old Point Depot along the north Liffey Quays near where I made my photos.
These images were exposed last week at Drogheda using my digital cameras.
There’s a lightly used road bridge over Irish Rail’s old Great Northern line south of the former station at Mosney that offers a clean view in both directions.
The Irish Sea is in the distance to the east.
A week ago David Hegarty and I spent a few hours here making photos of passing trains.
I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a fixed focal length 27mm pancake lens, which offers an angle of view rough equivalent to a 41mm lens on a traditional 35mm film camera. In other words it is a slightly wide-angle perspective.
On the morning of 25 August 2017, David Hegarty and I were in position at Malahide looking toward the old Great Northern Railway causeway to photograph a laden Tara Mines Zinc Ore Train led by Irish Rail class 071 locomotive number 077.
I liked this location because it allowed me to picture the whole train in a scenic setting. As you can see the Tara Mines train is very short as demonstrated in this broad-side view (if you are viewing on FB you may need to click on Tracking the Light for the full photo).
To make this work I used a medium telephoto and then in post processing cropped the extraneous portions of the sky and water at top and bottom of the image.
I also altered contrast, colour balance and colour saturation.
I’m not fully satisfied though, because the dark locomotive and dull wagons with relatively flat lighting tend to get lost in the overall scene.
Tracking the Light Explores Photographic Technique Daily.
But an exercise in making better photos on overcast days.
Last month, two days in a row I hoofed it up to Blackhorse Avenue following the good advice of fellow photographer Colm O’Callaghan in order to make photos of Irish Rail’s class 071 diesel- hauled trains.
Blackhorse bridges Irish Rail’s branch the connects Islandbridge Junction with Dublin’s North Wall via the Phoenix Park tunnel. The north-facing portal is just out of sight around the corner in the cutting.
This is a nice place to make photos of Dublin-bound trains bright overcast days. Elevation allows me to minimize the sky, while an old stone-faced overbridge makes an effective frame that adds depth and historical interest to the photos.
Both were exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera fitted with a fixed focal length (‘prime’) 90mm telephoto lens. One makes use of the landscape (horizontal) orientation, the other is a portrait (vertically) oriented photograph.
Which photo do you feel is more interesting?
And yes, I also made black & white photos of these trains.
A few weeks back I posted some views from the Old Cabra Road bridge where an Irish Rail ICR arrived on scene and partially blocked my view of the ever elusive spoil train. (See: Are Two Trains Better than One?)
Just to clarify the significance of that event: Irish Rail ICRs (Intercity railcars) are the standard passenger train on most routes in Ireland.
Furthermore, a public App for your smart phone will alert you where these trains are running most of the time. Finding an ICR on the move is easily accomplished.
By contrast, the spoil train is difficult to find, even for veteran observers. It doesn’t run often, rarely has a rigid path, and tends run off path even when given one. It doesn’t appear on an App, which makes it even harder to find.
It’s like a ghost train and I’ve missed it more times than I’ve managed to picture it.
Colm O’Callaghan and I scored views of the spoil train from Old Cabra road a few days ago. This was one of my favorite from the sequence.
Persistence and patience are the lessons for the day.
Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Trip to Galway and Kilkenny—Part 2.
More photos from my Lumix exposed Saturday 8 April 2017, on the RPSI’s The Marble Tribesman Diesel Tour that ran from Dublin Connolly Station to Galway via Portarlington and Athlone then to Kilkenny via Kildare.
On the morning of 27 March 2017, freshly painted Irish Rail class 071 locomotive number 081 worked the down IWT liner.
I made the time to catch this from my often photographed location at Islandbridge Junction near Dublin’s Heuston Station.
Among the advantages of this spot is good morning lighting on westward trains (where most other places face difficult backlighting), ample elevation and the iconic Wellington Testimonial, which is located in the Phoenix Park on the north side of the River Liffey.
Among the subjects I photograph are Irish Rail’s Cork area suburban trains.
Although not the most varied of operations (2600 series diesel railcars are the rule), the Cork Commuter system is an interesting subject. It provides a reliable, functional and well-utilized transportation system that works on a regular interval timetable.
The scenery is pleasant and over the years I’ve made many interesting images of the trains.
These are recent views made over St. Patrick’s Day weekend (2017).
Thanks to Irish Rail’s Ken Fox for recommending locations and supplying history and context.
The most scenic portion of Irish Rail’s run from Dublin to Cork is the final stretch from Mallow to Kent Station Cork.
A few days ago, Ken Fox, Sean Twohig and I made a survey of this area of Co. Cork looking for locations to picture the Mark4 trains, which are among the only regularly scheduled locomotive powered passenger trains remaining on Irish Rail.
I exposed this view between Mourne Abbey and Rathduff. The lush greenery dotted with blossoming gorse makes for a bucolic scene.
Irish Rail’s Kent Station in Cork City is a cool place to make photos. It’s unusual curved train shed, plus antique platform awnings and brick station buildings have a Victorian appearance that offer a contrast with the modern trains that now serve passengers here.
Using my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit Distagon, I exposed this evening view at Limerick Junction.
At right is the down train from Dublin Heuston destined for Cork Kent Station, on the left is the shuttle train to/from Limerick .
I imported the camera-RAW file into Lightroom, and made nominal adjustments to the contrast while lightening shadow areas. Significantly, I cooled the colour temperature to compensate for the harsh effects of sodium and fluorescent lights to make for a more natural appearing colour balance.
Last year Irish Rail cleared its cuttings on the northern approach to the Phoenix Park Tunnel in Dublin in preparation for introduction of a regular passenger service over the line to Grand Canal Docks.
This work had the secondary effect of improving a number of photo locations, such as this view from the Dublin’s Old Cabra Road.
Last week on advice from Colm O’Callaghan, I opted to work from this vantage point to photograph an Irish Rail empty ‘Spoil train’ [that carries debris left over from line works etc] that had been scheduled to run to the North Wall in Dublin.
Shortly before the focus of my effort came into view an empty Irish Rail passenger train arrived and was blocked at the signal outside the tunnel.
My question to you: are the photographs made more interesting by the presence of the passenger train?
Tracking the Light Intends to Post Every Day, 365 days a year.
Service Notice: Brian will be traveling for the next few days. New Tracking the Light posts will go up daily, but email notices may be delayed. To see the most recent posts, please check: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/
On Monday, 13 March 2017, I photographed Irish Rail 071 in heritage paint working the Sperry rail-defect detection train. (The Sperry equipment is in a yellow container at the middle of the train).
I’d planned these photographs at ‘the Gullet’ (west of Islandbridge Junction between Dublin Heuston and Inchicore) on the previous Friday, but the train was canceled. Patience and persistence paid off in the end. (There’s your tips for the day).
At dusk on the evening of March 2, 2017, I exposed this view of the River Liffey in Dublin.
An Irish Rail DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) electric train is crossing the Loop Line bridge on its way to Connolly Station.
The most prominent elements of the image are the Custom House, an 18th century relic of the British Imperial presence in Ireland, and coloured lights reflecting in the Liffey. The railway takes a secondary role.
When the Loop Line bridge was built in the late 19th century, pundits moaned that it spoiled the view of the Custom House. Were they lazy or just being ironic?
On 14 May 2003, I exposed this trailing view of Irish Rail’s Sligo Liner rolling west along the old Royal Canal near Enfield, Co. Meath.
The liner was hauling kegs of beer, mostly Guinness. Long after it left my view, I could here the class 071 locomotive with its EMD 12-645 diesel roaring a way in the distance.
I intentionally included some foliage in this photograph. Not only do the leaves help block sun from causing flare by hitting the front element of my lens, but they add a sense of depth that would be lost without them.
Below are two views of Irish Rail’s 071 with a ballast train at the old Guinness sidings at Dublin’s Heuston Station.
This locomotive has been popular with photographers since its repainting in the 1970s heritage livery last year.
What I’m trying to demonstrate here are the various effects of lighting and technique. One view was made on black & white film in the fading daylight of early evening. The other is a digital colour photo exposed the following morning.
It was here at Colbert Station Limerick that I boarded my first Irish Rail train, a two piece push-pull led by a 121 Class General Motors diesel. That was just about 19 years ago (February 1998).
The other day, I decided to travel by train to Limerick. Unfortunately on the way out I discovered that my ‘connection’ at Limerick Junction was a bus. Poor show Irish Rail. (Can I blame them for the rain too?)
On the return, my train operated (hooray!). Waiting to board, I made a few photos of the old station, which uses of the traditional terminal head-house and iron train shed arrangement.
Out front it has been cleaned up a bit, but for the most part the station looks much the way it did on my first visit all those years ago. No 121 though.
All photos were exposed using my Lumix LX7 in February 2017.